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I've given Satanico Pandemonium a couple two or three viewings and still can't penetrate it satisfactorily. If you haven't seen it yet, and call yourself a Eurotrash movie fan, well, there's a reason; when a nunsploitation movie, released on Blu-ray by Mondo Macabro, fails to arouse much interest, you know the level of specialization in the movie is working like a perfect chastity belt.
Not that nunsploitation isn't already pretty specialized, and in case you've read this far, but are new, know that nunsploitation is exactly what it sounds like; a genre for reprobates who are turned on sexually by nuns, larded with the twin tent-pitching attributes of bloody violence and blasphemy. (A note to my readers who might now be asking "why do they let people who hate horror etc. review these movies" just stuff it. I love horror, Eurotrash, and all of those sleazy genres, but I'm not so much of a devotee that I can't dislike some of them for what I'll call ‘reasons.')
Satanico Pandemonium follows the story of Convent Cutie Sister Maria, (Cecilia Pezet) delightfully hot enough to resemble a young Winona Ryder. Sister Maria is a good gal, she helps tend the sheep, and loves everyone. She really loves the weird looking dude Luzbel (Enrique Rocha) whom appears in the bushes like a special effect from a Sid & Marty Krofft TV show: Blink! There he is! Blink! Now he's naked! Blink! Now he's gone! Now, I am not the type to be puritanical, so I was able to figure out pretty quickly that Sister Maria really wants the D, as the kids say.
For what it's worth, it's about 20 minutes in before Maria admits to herself her feelings towards Luzbel, finally dropping her habit, revealing her ‘habit hamsters' (I guess?) and getting down to business! Yeah baby! Erm, actually that business is wrapping thorny vines around her waist and scourging herself with thorny whips. Maria ain't cheating on Jesus that easily!
And this, then, is the reason I couldn't fully appreciate Satanico Pandemonium, and a note to you readers, again, just because I couldn't appreciate it doesn't mean that you can't or shouldn't. If your fandom is so fragile you can't handle someone not liking a movie that you do, maybe you should take a few minutes off. At any rate, and despite a decent number of exploitation attributes, Satanico Pandemonium takes itself very seriously, both as an art movie and as an examination of the effects of chastity and blind religious obeisance. In order to pull off such a balancing act, director Gilberto Martinez Solares, and writer Jorge Barragan needed probably to put more lead in their feet, more pedal to the metal, more stabbing and stamp-licking (if you catch my drift) in the stew, but their reach seems to have exceeded their grasp. (Maybe it's simply impossible to make a convincing case when your tools are lesbian sex and stabbings depicted with a rubber knife.)
No mistake, there are aspects to admire in Satanico Pandemonium, aspects best explained by my unedited notes: "Devil nun is 1 hott racist", "Supa Hott works low-level crimes against humanity and a few other topless hotts", "Sexy ocular trauma", and lastly "In the end, it's kinda fuckin' deep." But, are these things enough? Can they offset slow, sloooow pacing? Where actors seem to by trying to walk in slow motion? And scenes that drag on way too long? Should we rush to watch a movie that my notes also describe as "boring as hell despite a few good sex scenes and a little bit of gore"? Only you, my enraged exploitation-reader, can decide that! As for myself, I can but cautiously Recommend this release. It's Mondo Macabro, with a few good extras, so if you're a completist, nunsploitation fanatic, or lapsed Catholic, knock yourself out. (Others should simply satisfy their curiosity with a rental.)
Mondo Macabro flings you two versions of the movie, one from pre-print, which has a minor flaw or two, and one from a positive print scan. You might notice differences in detail level or color, and there are a couple minor scratches in the pre-print version. Overall, detail levels are pretty good, and variable throughout the movie, but nothing to really complain about. Sometimes things are a bit soft, sometimes grain is a little heavy, but overall both versions are fine, with the edge going to the pre-print version.
Your audio option is a Spanish language DTS-HD 1.0 Mono track with Optional subtitles in English only. Dialogue is clean, clear and distortion free (great if you speak Spanish for sure). The mix is fine and appropriately weighted, though dynamic range is a tad thin.
Mondo Macabro delivers a small selection of extras (so as not to offend God, I suppose) including the usual mind-bending selection of Mondo Macabro Previews, which unspool like a sick, short dance party. A new Commentary Track comes from the knowledgeable film critics Katt Ellinger and Samm Deighan, who do a deep dive into many serious aspects of the movie. In addition to being entertaining, the commentary will give you a grudging admiration of the movie, if, like me, you were nonplussed. (Nunplussed?)
Extras returning from previous releases are a 15-minute Interview with writer and director's son Adolfo Martinez Solares, who goes into detail about the movie, and Mexican horror in general. An 11-minute Featurette gives the low-down on nunsploitation, accompanied by movie clips.
Mondo Macabro delivers this Blu-ray presentation of a lesser-light in the nunsploitation genre, depending on how seriously you want to take it. Though sleazy, the emphasis seems to be on a spiritual/philosophical bent, rather than simply degrading nuns with tons of violence and sex. Those elements are certainly there, and lead actress Pezet is indeed a ‘hott', but pacing can drag. AV quality is probably about as good as it gets for this movie, though extras are slight. Recommended for serious Eurotrash and nunsploitation fans, but just a Rent-It for casual fans.
- Kurt Dahlke