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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » The Other Hell (Blu-ray)
The Other Hell (Blu-ray)
Severin // Unrated // April 25, 2017 // Region A
List Price: $29.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Kurt Dahlke | posted January 19, 2018 | E-mail the Author
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The Other Hell:

Not sure how many Bruno Mattei films (Or nom de plume Stefan Oblowsky in this case) I've seen or reviewed. He's directed at least 8000, so it's hard to keep track. But one thing occurs to me while watching The Other Hell; I've been internally mispronouncing his last name as 'Muh-tie', when it should actually be 'Muh-tay-ee'. Such musings are sidelined when a crazed nun cuts the still bloody vagina out of a long-dead corpse within the first five minutes of the movie. Gimme that ol' Muh-tay-ee magic!

Once upon a time, disingenuous video-merchants may have tried luring you into their musty shops representing The Other Hell as a Nun-sploitation movie. Don't be fooled! Although the movie takes place in a Convent and includes intestine fondling, no nuns were harmed in the making of this movie, neither were Catholics tricked into buying many tickets. In fact, the only one who may have been exploited is you! The Viewer! Who hoped to get an eyeful of sexy nuns licking each others' stamps or receiving a few lashes from the whip. Nope, Mattei here is making a Statement! Is it a statement about the Catholic Church? Or is Mattei merely attempting to demonstrate that he can direct a drama? (He can't, but he's better here than in any other Mattei movie I've ever seen, and if that's an ambiguous statement, well, I own it.)

The in-arguably fierce Franca Stoppi headlines as an intense nun with a lot on her mind. She's got an acolyte with the stigmata, she's got a mysterious figure running around the convent, and she's got a secret lab with beakers and stuff, where people can dissect corpses if they so desire. It sounds great, and many a sleaze-critic has fallen over exclaiming how sleazy and irredeemable the movie is. After multiple viewings over the years, I still don't get it.

While there's plenty of startling imagery, such as a room full of weird hanging child-sized mannequins, a great knife-as-phallus scene, and that stigmata effect; which still looks great even by today's standards, there's a lot more psychodrama than the average punter is looking for. The plot generally takes a full half-hour to pick up any steam, and the best part, the creepy mysterious figure, isn't fully addressed until the third act, when it should be the horrific engine that drives the entire movie. Whatever the case, even at his best, Mattei is most adept at making head-scratchers that either shakily engage you after 4 or 5 pints, or leave you wondering what just happened. The Other Hell is Mattei failing at a much higher level than usual, and for that, you Euro-Trash fanatics may consider it Recommended.

The DVD

Video:
This 1.7:1 ratio 1080p transfer comes from newly discovered elements hidden behind the walls of a derelict convent. Or so it seems, I'm not going to challenge the assertion for fear of the fate of my mortal soul. It's not the best looking Blu-ray I've laid eyes on, with dark scenes especially murky and lacking in clarity. In general, heavy grain abounds. Detail levels are acceptable as far as close-ups are concerned, but lose punch the wider and deeper depth of field becomes. Colors are vibrant in brighter scenes, but again, murk prevails, film damage is evident (though only mildly distracting) throughout, and the transfer struggles to resolve hidden details in dark scenes, leaving us with some clunky chunkiness.

Sound:
Audio tracks in English, French, and Italian, arrive in 2.0 Mono LPCM format. Dialog is mostly clean and clear, without a ton of dynamic range, and as is par for the course, is looped to within an inch of its life, so syncing is often lagging. In fact, I think I just heard a line of dialog now, even though the movie stopped playing some time ago. The score and dialog are mixed together nicely, with the music enjoying a bit more punch and range.

Extras:
Extras consist of a moderated Commentary Track with co-writer/director Claudio Fragasso, in Italian with English subtitles. Sister Franca gives Stoppi 13 minutes to opine about her various turns in exploitation-land. To Hell and Back consists of 12 minutes of archival interviews with Mattei and actor Carlo De Mejo. Lastly, you get the Theatrical Trailer.

Final Thoughts:
The Other Hell finds exploitation journeyman Bruno Mattei failing at a higher level than usual. Startling imagery and sleazy elements mill about, occasionally making some kind of sense, and less occasionally driving the plot forward. Not as grimy and reprehensible as other reviews would have you believe, this one is Recommended for Euro-Trash and nunsploitation fans only.

- Kurt Dahlke

~ More of Dahlke's DVD Talk reviews here at DVD Talk I'm not just a writer, I paint colorful, modern abstracts, too! Check them out here KurtDahlke.com

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