Tuesday, June 24, 2008

School of the Holy Beast (1974): or, Naughty Nuns Need Love Too

Short of opening a store called “Much Ado About Naschy”, my one dream in life is to partake in every blasphemous film that the nunsploitation genre has to offer. I’ve been privy to the delicious delights of Images in a Convent, I’ve had the flesh flayed from my very bones by the unholy Italian cooter-fest that is Malabimba, The Malicious Whore, but I must say, dearest friends, that nothing prepared me for the latest treasure to grace the royal dvd player…

First, however, I must recount how I happened upon this particularly tasty morsel. The Vicar’s latest trip to Scandinavia had been particularly fruitful, he having returned with not one, not two, but three caged werewolves, a sack of leper ears, a petrified wood claymore that takes three men to even move, and a stone bell that upon ringing produced the exact pitch required to shatter bone. Any of these would have made a king beggar his kingdom to acquire, but what I was most interested in were the map fragments he had found stuffed up a tree in the Sund region.

The Vicar tossed the fragments my way as he began very loudly making a list of the Christians who were to be the first to fight the werewolves in his amphitheatre. I say “very loudly” because the slave pits were near to the garden we sat in, so no doubt he meant to be overheard, for I could hear wails and moans drifting up through the rain grates. Letting the Vicar prattle on, I quickly assembled the fragments into a serviceable map and could see that it pointed to a place inside of Kastelholm Castle. A wave of my hand later and my servants were off, preparations were made, and two days afterwards I strode in that very place.

The resident priest, a particularly obese fellow who affected a high-pitched twitter whenever the word “nun” was mentioned, waddled around showing me the grounds. A direct descendant to the deposed King Eric XIV, Father Randier resembled his ancestor, both in girth and in lasciviousness. Quickly discerning why I had ventured to his remote abbey, the Father took me back into the less traveled environs of the chapel. Dust covered every surface, mice scratched within the walls, and bats flitted about overhead. Deeper we delved, down stone stairways worn smooth by centuries of pilgrims. Water ran down the walls, cutting crevices in the granite.

Soon we leveled out into a gigantic chamber, obviously far older than the church above it. The floor was a mosaic that depicted, among other, far worse, things, giant unnamable beasts emerging from rips in the sky, fire raining down upon the villages beneath; women and men alike either cowering in fear or being ripped asunder by the monstrosities. Wishing I had time to do a charcoal rubbing for the Vicar, I followed the priest onward.

The ceiling was lost in shadow, so I was unable to guess at the size of the room we were in. I began to realize, as we were nearing a gigantic altar, that all was dead quiet here. No mice, no bats, no water dripping. I did notice that there were numerous tiny hoof prints in the dust under our feet, but no other signs of passage were visible. The altar before us loomed up out of the dark. The marble and granite edifice was an abomination unto everything good and holy. To try and put into words what the “artist” had wrought would only result in confusion and finally madness, so I will refrain. Know this: I shall not return to this place, even under penalty of death. When the end times begin, this will be their catalyst.

The Father reached up and grabbed something off the lowest part of the altar, and turned quickly, offering it out to me. Madness gleamed in his eyes and a single tear of blood welled up and fell down his cheek, his mocking laugh as he handed me this possession haunts me to this day, and now I see what he was about, for I have witnessed the unholy fusion of lust and awesome that is:

School of the Holy Beast! The title says it all, but reveals so little. Once again, the Japanese put the sword our Western conceptions of depravity and ‘sploitation. Spawned in 1974, SotHB represents the pinnacle of nunsploitation movies, in my humble opinion. We have nuns, we have nuns making out, we have nuns being whipped with rose bushes, we have super awesome bearded priests who like to fornicate with nuns, we have nuns getting kicked out of windows, and we have nun masturbation. What more could one ask for?!

Our movie opens with Maya, a pretty girl who, for at the time unknown reasons, wants to join the local abbey. During the opening credits we are treated to a montage of her enjoying her last day as a free woman, which includes hanging out with her boyfriend at an amusement park, playing games and such. Oh, and FUCKING! I guess she figures, “Hey, I’m gonna be a nun tomorrow, so I better get sexed while I can!”. One moment she’s naked in bed, the next she’s at the abbey.

"Nookie today, nun tomorrow!"

The Abbess, a cranky older nun who takes no shit, gives her the ground rules, which basically consist of having no lewd thoughts, which would be all well and good if only this abbey wasn’t filled to the brim with horny nuns! Maya is required to kneel, stark naked, before an overly large crucifix while committing herself as a bride of Christ, and poof, she’s a nun.

Life at the abbey is hard. The sisters work sun up to sun down, toiling in the wheat fields or cleaning up the place. They also take time out to strip to the waist and self-flagellate themselves with a whip. Unfortunately for them (and us), they sleep in full habits, but when bath time rolls around things get interesting! Wearing super thin cotton robes, the nuns pour endless pitchers of water over themselves, revealing their nunly splendor very quickly. I kept hoping for someone to drop their soap, but alas it was not to be.

"Tied to the whippin' post... Tied to the whipping post!"

The nuns also attend classes, where they are instructed in the art of avoiding adultery, which basically amounts to even thinking of adultery. Maya and another trouble maker are singled out after they question the validity of the virgin birth. The trouble doesn’t stop there when the trouble maker offers Maya some whiskey that she smuggled in. Another nun rats them out and they are forced to stand topless, facing each other, under the watchful eye of the Abbess, whereupon they whip each other with bullwhips. Needless to say this scene gave rise very quickly to the Duke’s Duke.

"Oh yes he did, and he wants you to use them as well!"

The following scene nearly caused my death as the blood left my brain, and traveled with much speed to my nethers. Two nuns, lying in the abbey greenhouse, furiously getting’ busy with each other. Much kissing and teat sucking ensues, and there’s even some business going on downtown as well, which was apparently taboo to show at the time. I was greatly amused at its replacement, however. During this scene, footage of a woman holding her fingers up to her mouth in a V shape and flicking her tongue up and down was show, simulating cunnilingus obviously. I laughed uproariously at this! I’m glad they felt the need to beat us over the head with what was going on. Yes! These nuns are doing this to each other! They really are. For true!

At this point, The Duke enters the event horizon, the point of no return...

Unfortunately, this is the last of the really good scenes between two nuns, but that doesn’t mean the movie goes downhill, oh no! Far from it! First we have some dirty pictures that are discovered inside a school book during a surprise inspection of the nun’s quarters. The Abbess confiscates these, only to use them later to perform naughty, self-manipulative deeds on herself.

Maya really hates the Abbess, and wants to give her a taste of her own medicine. Sneaking out of the abbey, Maya meets up with her boyfriend, whom she recruits along with his ugly friend, to head back to the abbey with her, both of them dressed as nuns. Telling them that there’s a particularly sex-starved nun that wants their services, she sneaks them into the Abbess’s room. Wasting no time, her boyfriend gives the Abbess the ride of her life, which she protests against for all of 2 minutes before succumbing to the devil’s delights. The boyfriend’s goofy sidekick gets 10 seconds worth of sloppy seconds before Maya forces them to leave for fear of detection.

"Hey, I called dibs!"

Unfortunately, despite getting the boys out of the abbey successfully, Maya is found out. For punishment, she is wrapped in rose bushes while naked and whipped with more thorn bushes! These nuns don’t mess around with their punishments! It is around this time in the picture that we find out about Maya’s origins. Seems a former resident nun is actually her mother, she having apparently hung herself shortly after giving birth to Maya. Maya’s need to return to the abbey is left in the dark, for now.

Soon, Father Kakinawa shows up to inspect the place for the Vatican, apparently. Resplendent in his purple and black robes and his god-like long hair and beard, he resembles a sort of Japanese Jesus Christ. He wastes no time, however, in cornering a hapless nun and slipping her a length, for the good of the Lord of course. A wicked, evil-looking Head Nun shows up with the Father. She dresses all in white and is apparently something of a celeb in the nun world. She also apparently loves the Father a little too much.

"The power of Christ comp.... eh, who am I kidding, I just love doing this shit."

Meanwhile, another nun is accused of witchcraft. Not wishing to employ the time-honored tradition of witch detection (which includes the use of ducks, and things that float), the new Head Nun uses the “Pee Pee on Christ” Method.

In this form of witch hunting, the person in question is force-fed a gallon of sea water and then placed on a seat-less chair, with a Christ icon placed on the floor underneath. If the person is righteous, why of course they couldn’t possibly befoul a religious symbol with their foul bladder contents! If they are a witch, however, well then of course they’ll piss all over everything, including the crucifix.

Sadly, this nun was not pure and obviously worshipped Satan, because she can’t hold out too long before emptying her bladder all over Jesus, who died for her sins. Being found naughty in the sight of the Lord, she is about to be taken care of when Maya steps in, smashing all religious iconery in view. This enrages the Abbess, who attempts to toss Maya into a handy vat of acid that the abbey keeps around for just such an occasion. Turning the tide of battle, Maya trips the Abbess into the acid instead, where she slowly sinks out of sight.

This pisses off the Head Nun, so Maya is tied up at the top of the bell tower in the abbey. While the other nuns enjoy Xmas night, the Head Nun climbs up to give Maya some poison, all the while informing her that she’ll be enjoying the company of Father Jap Jesus’s bed that very night.

Unbeknownst to her, however, Maya has slipped her bonds with the help of a handy candle! While getting whipped, Maya swings on the bell rope, kicking the Head Nun out the window! Brilliant! Maya takes the place of the Head Nun in Father Jap Jesus’s bed, whereupon he comes in a sexes her up. Finally getting a good look at her, he demands to know who she is. It is then that Maya drops the big bomb… Which I won't spoil here. Any astute reader or nunsploit fanatic can probably guess, but for those wishing to go into watching this movie with a virgin mind, I shall refrain from spelling it all out.

As a final coup de grace, the Abbess, who we last saw sinking into a pit of acid, comes out of nowhere to stab Father JJ in the back with a particularly sharp crucifix! Whew!

Rarely do we find a movie like School of the Holy Beast, in which we are both titillated and entertained by narrative. In fact, in all my travels I have yet to encounter another nunsploitation movie such as this: one that delivers a coherent and enjoyable plot while at the same time debasing nuns. School of the Holy Beast gets 3 Thumbs Up from me, and I'm also proud to announce that it is the 2008 Crucifix in the Back Award recipient.


Karswell said...

>I have yet to encounter another nunsploitation movie such as this

And I'll be the first to second that encounter. Or non-encounter... ah hell, let's call it nunsploicounter.

Tenebrous Kate said...

A very fine review of what's probably the Gold Standard of the nunsploitation subgenre, Duke.

Just when I thought this movie couldn't be improved upon, you go ahead and throw in winking Buddy Christ censored bars. I am, indeed, floored by your genius.

Kitty LeClaw said...

Doesn't everybody love a good cooter-fest? And there is no muff like Italian muff.

The Vicar of VHS said...

>>Doesn't everybody love a good cooter-fest?

We are DEFINITELY attracting a higher level of Exploitation Connoisseurs around here lately! Huzzah!

Greg B. said...

One of my favorite nusploitation joints. Leave it to the Japanese to beat (or at least flagellate) the Italians at their own game.

Nick Cato said...

There's a midnight screening of this in NYC at the Landmark Sunshine in September---can't wait!

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