Nunsploitation, Part I: Borowczyk + Suzuki

September 25, 2010 | By

Sister Marina contemplates the essence of Christ's blood.

Exploitation. Sexploitation. Blaxploitation. Mexploitation.

And nunsploitation, which is a narrower genre in spite of being open to any country or language or culture feeling a need to satirize or take rude shots at nuns doing things they shouldn’t but are compelled to do by themselves, by divine push, by evil possession, by drugs, or whatever weird stressors the writer and director feels would give them an excuse to show nuns in various forms of undress and / or lewd behaviour.

The genre may in fact have died out simply because pokes at Catholicism and its offshoots just aren’t popular anymore on the screen, and perhaps recent church scandals have been so horrific, seeing a naked nun just doesn’t cause a ripple anymore.

Moreover, nudity is taboo on U.S. screens, and the MPAA does not like seeing nuns in distress, as was the case with Abel Ferrara putting a nun in grievous sexual harm in that thing called The Bad Lieutenant (1992), which isn’t a nunsploitation film (and for that matter, neither is 2010′s Machete), but illustrates the disdain the MPAA has for nuns not involved in their normal routine, or not singing under the tutelage of Whoopi Goldberg.

Cult Epics’ 2-disc set, The Nunsploitation Convent, gathers Walerian Borowczyk’s Behind Convent Walls / Intérieur d’un couvent  / Interno di un convento (1978), and Norifumi Suzuki’s outrageous anti-Catholic assault School of the Holy Beast / Seijû gakuen (1974).

Suzuki’s film is briliantly vulgar in the way hallowed concepts of faith, fidelity, and western morality are attacked, whereas Borowczyk’s film is more like an elaborate series of witty, naughty gags with delayed punchlines and visuals no one would dare put on film today (and make them funny, no less).

Borowczyk’s sense of the absurd and the ridiculous are rampant in Behind Convent Walls, and I’d suggest starting with that review, before moving on to School of the Holy Beast. I’ve also cross-linked all the Borowczyk titles in the archives, which hopefully will provide an overall wide  glimpse into the lunacy of this forgotten madman who began as striking animator in his native Poland.




Mark R. Hasan, Editor

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