Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Images in a Convent (1979): or, How to Have Fun by Having Nun

What can one say about Joe D'Amato's 1979 film Images in a Convent? Well, lots of things, starting with "ZANG!" Though the action takes place entirely inside the walls of a convent, D'Amato's approach to the subject is anything but "conventional" (see what I did there?) as he gives us a bevy of Brides of Christ whose main devotions seem to be to the løøstful arts.

The story, what there is of it, is briefly told: a Countess or Duchess or something whose father has died is sent to the convent for her own protection, as her løøstful uncle is, well, løøsting after her, both bodily and financially. The girl herself is no angel, as a flashback sequence between her and Uncle Bellybumper shows in no uncertain terms. Will her godless, worldly ways bring the Devil himself to this holiest of convents?

Well, the Devil DOES show up in the form of a young artist and student of statuary, but to be quite honest, he's a little late. By the time he arrives the Duchess has already been molested in her sleep by one of her new sisters (talk about your sound sleepers!), and said sister has been whipped profoundly by her superior, only later to have the elder nun kiss her little boo-boos (and hoo-ha) and make them all better. And it only goes downhill from there. While the duchess's Machiavellian machinations to escape the convent with her statuesque and possibly Satanic lover (presumably so she can get back to Uncle Hornious Doggius) don't help matters any, one gets the feeling that even without her arrival it wouldn't have been long before the whole place devolved into a Bacchanalian orgy of truly Olympic proportions and stamina.

Other things happen as the story unfolds: the duchess tries to gauge the artist's trustworthiness by setting him up with a less experienced but money-hungry sister, with predictable results; the artist tries to force his own Ionic Pillar on the Mother Superior; the whipper and whipee who earlier made whoopee indulge in several more excursions into saintly sadism; and the whipper is later sent on an errand that ends quite badly, if you consider a floppy phalanx of phalluses to the face to be a bad end, which I'm not at all sure she does.

There's some worry about the convent having been built on the site of a pagan temple, and the "unknown god" sculpture that remains seems to exert some diabolical influence. (Why? Why would they build a convent, a house of God, but LEAVE the idolatrous statuary that looks like nothing more than Satan's Sunday portrait?) But really, it's hardly necessary--these sisters were on their way down well before the Devil showed his horned head.

The film was shot nicely with some beautiful sets, and the plot was serviceable to the real raison d'etre of the film, which was to show cavorting nuns. In that it succeeds like gangbusters. The eyecandy is quite nice, the twists of the plot suitably sacrilegious and perverse (the exorcist's fate is quite a good touch, I think), there are some truly surprising and explicit scenes (wooden arts and crafts, the aforementioned violent conquest of Nunia) and after the end credits roll the whole thing makes you want to go take a shower--with a nun.

I give it 2.5 out of 3 thumbs. I wasn't bored, I was titillated, and I had a good time. Bonus for the trailers on the first of the two-disc special edition DVD and for the long-winded but still fun-to-watch-on-fast-forward documentary on disc 2 about the films of Joe D'Amato, whose filmography I'm going to have to investigate further. Definitely one of the most 'sploitative of the nunsploitation genre I've seen, and that's not a bad thing at all.

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