Article Title:Nunsploitation!
Author or Credit:Craig Young
Published on:25th October 2006 - 12:00 pm
Story ID:1461
Text:‘Nunsploitation' was a product of the sixties. As society secularised, previously staunchly Catholic societies reveled in the relaxation of censorship and opportunities for creative freedom that arose in its wake. Anti-clericalism found an outlet in these sixties films, which coupled nuns with lesbian and straight sexual interludes alike, along with the odd lashing of bondage and discipline. Surprisingly, there was some feminist critique interwoven into the screenplays in some cases, condemning the male-dominated repression of the institution. Although most of these films are set in the Middle Ages or early modern Europe, Killer Nun (or Suor Omicida, or Deadly Habits) is a late seventies nunsploitation flick set in contemporary Belgium. It starred Anita Ekberg, from Fellini's La Dolce Vita, as the central protagonist. It was directed/co-written by Giulio Berruti and co-written by Alberto Tarallo. Ekberg is Sister Gertrude, who is recovering from neurosurgery, although her Mother Superior (Alida Valli) dismisses Sister Gertrude's fears about rushed recovery. Unfortunately, soon enough, it becomes clear that Sister Gertrude's fears were legitimate, as the hapless nun spirals into psychosis and addiction to morphine and heroin at the geriatric hospital where she works. As well as initiating a lesbian affair with Sister Matthieu (Paola Morra), Sister Gertrude expels concerned Dr Patrick Roland (Joe Dallesandro) from the hospital, and a reign of terror is initiated, in which Sister Gertrude inflicts humiliating calisthenics on one group of elderly inmates, stomps on an elderly woman's dentures, reads gory hagiographic details of the lives of tortured saints to her hapless charges and is judged to have thrown an elderly man engaged in sex with a nurse out of a window. As if this weren't enough, Sister Gertrude goes into a nearby town, picks up a man at a bar, and has impersonal heterosexual sex as well. Finally, the Mother Superior is convinced that she must do something about the aberrant behaviour of Sister Gertrude...but is she really the perpetrator of murder, or is someone trying to frame her? Well, yes, it's actually Sister Matthieu, the minx. Anyhow, Mother Superior throws the framed "Killer" Nun into a psychiatric institution, where her tormented screams of insanity echo down the corridor. I've always thought Killer Nun would make an excellent musical. Perhaps Sing A Long A Killer Nun? Sadly, it has never been novelised, although it does pop up in studies of nunsploitation as a genre, several of which are listed below. Killer Nun is a neglected camp classic, and should be venerated for its sheer tawdriness and excess. Craig Young - 25th October 2006    
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