Monday, January 19, 2009

Satanico Pandemonium (1975): Or, Spiked Penance Belts Save Lives

Greetings my fellow readers! It is I, The Duke, back from the gutter, and this time I’ve brought something back with me! I know it has been a while since I last regaled you with my acumen on all things cinematically awesome, but I swear the results will be worth the wailing and gnashing of teeth that my absence no doubt caused you all.

The holiday season saw me taking my annual trip to Roma for Saturnalia, and as typical during this festive time, I consumed way too much food, and had my way with way too much young flesh. Let us start from the beginning: A rather long train ride, during which I could only amuse myself by counting the gypsy dung carts that I saw passing by the window outside, and suddenly I was in the outskirts of Rome, in a little village called Nomentano. This year the festival was being held in the church Corpus Domini, a fitting name given what was about to take place.

As luck would have it, I had been elected Saturnalicius princeps due to a rather large donation that I had sent the Vatican earlier in the year, a gift consisting of several man-eating boars reared in Sardinia, a gilded cross depicting a nude Jesu, and 52 coupons to Taco Bueno for $1 off a taco with purchase of a large soft drink. This meant, of course, that I would preside over the festival and generally bear the brunt of all the fornication, something that I welcomed with much satisfaction.

Donning a loose toga, I reclined on a silken couch and watched the merry-making. Such sights I beheld! A Moor, who bore a striking resemblance to a rotten tree trunk, presented a staged version of Hamlet using only trained monkeys. A troupe of nymphs from Moldavia took the stage only to disrobe and begin fondling each other, which went on for 5 solid hours until someone thought to ask them how much longer the show was, much to their surprise and embarrassment. Seems they weren’t part of the show at all and instead had thought the central stage open to public lounging. The list goes on and on.

A week later, I awoke facedown in a gutter, nude except for a crown of thorns on my head. I vomited, righted myself, looked around for my clothes, only to instead pick up a half-empty goblet of wine. Suddenly, the monkey-trainer was at my side, one of his leashed charges ambled over to me. “Josephus wants you to have something, sir”, the Moor mumbled. I glanced down to see what the monkey proffered to me, and it was…

Satanico Pandemonium. The name rolls off the tongue like a hot Jujube. As most of you are well aware, my dedication to all things nunsploitation knows no bounds and so it was with bated breath that I put this one in the royal DVD player. I was greeted by a never-ending cavalcade of depravity, a movie that enters the exclusive company of Alucarda and School of the Holy Beast.

Our movie tells the story of one Sister Maria, a hot young nubile nun who blissfully wiles away the day, picking flowers, never knowing the hidden sexual desires hovering barely beneath her tanned flesh. Whilst out picking flowers one fine summer day, Sister Maria is rudely interrupted by a nude man. As with anyone who suddenly finds themselves staring at naked Mexican genitals, she flees in a blind panic. Coming upon a shepherd boy named Marcello, she relaxes, but not for long as the Mexican dude shows up again, only this time with clothes, offering Maria an apple (see where they are going here?)

"Excuse me, I'm looking for the nearest Ambercrombie & Fitch..."

Thinking back on his throbbing Latino member, Sister Maria flees in terror, back to the convent. Seems Mr. Handsome Latin-dude is none other than the Prince of Darkness Himself. His Infernal Majesty has nothing on his normally busy schedule, so he decides that today he’s going to corrupt a sexy young nun. Note to Self: Upon reaching life goal of becoming The Devil, put this at the top of your to-do list!

Life in the convent is just how you usually see 16th century convents depicted, i.e. – lots of nuns singing in chorus, lots of nuns eating with wooden spoons, lots of nuns doing nun things. This particular convent has two dark-skinned servant nuns, who are treated as outcasts by everyone but the kind Sister Maria. Finding one of them crying, she consoles her. Sister Outcast is suicidal, it seems, but Maria assures her that if she is steadfast and loves God, then all will be well. At this point I’m wondering why they don’t start making out, and am disappointed when this fails to happen. Luckily, my patience was about to pay off!

Maria heads to her room, which is perfect for cloistering. Doing just that, she begins to pray, only she can’t stop thinking about Mr. Juan Long Dong who so fabulously introduced her to cock earlier in the day. Deciding, rightly so, that the only cure is self-flagellation, Sister Maria employs the use of a spiked belt and a whip. Baring herself to the waist (ahh, yes!), Maria wraps a leather belt, studded with spikes, around her midsection, then begins to whip her back via the tried and true over-the-shoulder method, commonly employed by priests and nuns alike.

"When a problem comes along, you must whip it!"

The servant nuns interrupt this personal time with news of a sick cow. Sister Maria heads to the barn, where she quickly concocts an herbal remedy for the hapless bovine. Satan beams himself directly into the barnyard, eating another apple, as is his custom. Tossing the half-eaten apple at Maria, he teleports out again. Maria spies the apple and flees back to her room in horror. Upon entering the room she strips to the waist again, revealing that she’s still wearing The Punishment Belt™. She doesn’t notice, however, the nun hiding behind the door!

Turns out this nun is in love with Sister Maria (as we all are, by this time), and proceeds to confess her love. Not being able to contain herself, she jumps Maria’s bones, furiously kissing her on the mouth and teats. Suddenly, this sex-starved Sister is replaced by Naked Gypsy Satan! The Son of Darkness sure does love teleportation. He finally reveals himself as Satan (as if we weren’t already aware, come on, he’s eating apples for Christ’s sake, the Devil’s Own Fruit!) and tells Sister Maria that should she ever want or need him, then she has but to speak his name and he’ll come a’runnin’ (or in his case, teleporting into her shower, bed, etc).

"You're good, but you're no Naked Gypsy Devil..."

This visitation causes Maria to slide off into the precipice of darkness. Suddenly, the paintings in the hallways take on new meanings, revealing devil faces and such. She has dark thoughts, naughty thoughts that won’t go away even with the employment of The Punishment Belt™ or the liberal use of a Sham-Wow™. This is evidenced by her accosting of poor Marcello, the shepherd boy. Maria finds him sitting on a riverbank as the sheep graze nearby. Sitting down next to him, she wastes no time in revealing too much leg, before finally jumping on Marcello and kissing him. Obviously fearing eternal damnation (and, perhaps, hairy Mexican vagina), he flees in terror.

"With the power of Satan!"

Sister Maria is conflicted by the thoughts she’s having, and contemplates suicide via scissors after having a vision of snakes inhabiting her drinking cup at the evening meal. The Mother Superior tries to help, offering Maria solace, but she’s having none of it. The Naked Gypsy Devil’s pull is too much to resist! Not content with molesting under-aged shepherd boys, Maria goes prowling the convent at night. Entering the kitchen, she sees the suicidal servant nun about to hang herself by climbing upon the kitchen table and stringing a rope through the rafters. Instead of just watching like anyone would, Sister Maria goes the extra mile by rushing into the kitchen and shoving the girl off the table, then satisfactorily watching her swing!

Performing assisted suicide is just the beginning of this night’s activities for Sister Maria, however. Next she sets off to young Marcello’s house, to finish what she started earlier. Marcello lives with his elderly grandmother, who welcomes Sister Maria into the house. While the old lady nods off in the living room, Maria sneaks into sleeping Marcello’s bed, naked, and begins to sex him up. Horrified beyond belief to be this close to a naked woman, Marcello struggles mightily, until Maria gives up, grabs a nearby knife, and stabs him repeatedly!

Now, my dear readers, what follows are one of the greatest mind-fuck scenes ever. We see Maria stab Marcello (with the most obvious use of a stunt knife in the history of film), she stands up, covered in blood, looks at the bed with a horrified look, the camera pans over and… it’s Marcello’s aged grandmother in the bed, dead! WTF?! The confusion is further compounded by the fact that, during their initial struggle, Marcello grabbed the necklace from around Sister Maria’s neck, clutching it in his dead hand. Only, when the camera pans back, his body is nowhere to be seen! Sister Maria sets the house on fire and flees.

Not having any other real use, the convent also doubles as dead body storage. Marcello and his grandmother are both brought to the convent, I guess to await burial. Sister Maria uses this opportunity to sneak down and pry the necklace from Marcello’s lifeless hand. Somehow both Marcello and his grandmother were killed by Maria, yet Maria was making out with Marcello AND the grandmother? I re-watched this scene 3 times and still couldn’t figure out what the director intended. Ahh well, suffice it to say that Maria’s secret was safe, though just for the moment, as Mother Superior sees Maria fleeing the makeshift morgue.

Maria goes to her room, and the Mother Superior follows, confronting her. Sister Maria decides there’s no going back, so she promptly denounces God, which causes the Head Nun to turn her back and begin praying for Maria’s immortal soul. Maria realizes through some buried instinct that since she’s the instrument of Satan on earth that she can do anything she damn well pleases. Muttering a quick prayer to the Devil, she conjures an Infernal Strangling Rope™ out of thin air, and proceeds to strangle the Mother Superior with it!

"When erotic asphyxia goes horribly wrong..."

She wraps the body in a sheet and drags it down into the crypts, hiding it in a handy tomb. A funeral is had for the grandmother and dear Marcello, which causes Maria to have 2nd thoughts as to her current life situation. She flashes back to taking communion and what that meant (obviously, it means she’s a cannibal), and this causes her to begin to repent her sins to God.

Suddenly, Naked Gypsy Devil ports straight in, dressed to the nines. Using his smarmy Mexican good-looks, he purrs to Maria that she now has a choice. He points down the hill, and we see a procession of nuns, bearing flaming crosses and torches. He informs Maria that they’ve found out about the Mother Superior’s death, and know that Maria did it, and they are coming to hand her over to the Spanish Inquisition (which she obviously didn’t expect, since NO ONE EXPECTS THE… eh, you know the rest).

"Maria's friends at the convent warned her about Beer Bong Nite..."

He fills her mind with visions of what they’ll do to her, visions that resemble quite well the last party that the Vicar threw in my honor. We see them pouring boiling liquid down her throat, we see them using a yard rake on her tits, plucking her eyes out, and generally giving her what we call The Satanic Make-Over™. His Infernal Majesty informs her that he can make it all go away, that he can give her the world, if she will just accept him.

"Hell. Yes."

At first she rejects him, but as the torch-bearing nuns get nearer, she reconsiders and cries out that she’ll accept Lucifer’s bargain. Suddenly, the burning crosses turn to crosses covered with flowers, as the Sisters crest the rise and inform Sister Maria that she’s the new Mother Superior! She will lead them into a new realm of nunnery.

Heading back to the convent, with Satan in tow, Maria opens the door to… the Best Little Convent in Mexico! Debauchery is in full swing. The director gives us a nice panoramic shot of the corruption. A naked, singing nun stands in the doorway, strumming a guitar whilst displaying her cultivated bush. Other nuns dance in a drunken circle around a large table. One nun, naked, holds another in her lap, also naked. The mind struggles to take all of this in. Satan turns to Maria and says, “You should go to the window and address your people, they are waiting to hear from their new Mother Superior.”

"The party room at the Hilton ended up being worth the money..."

Maria walks over to the window, opens it, and sees a crowd of sheep. I’m sure there’s a deep meaning here, about how the Devil corrupts and we follow blindly like sheep, but I just chose to nod sagaciously and to get back to watching the naked nuns. Suddenly, all of the nuns, naked or otherwise, rise up and stab poor Sister Maria to death! Before we can wonder why, a quick star-wipe takes us to Maria, lying dead upon her bed. The convent is back to normal and we learn from some passing nuns that Sister Maria has died in her sleep due to the plague! The End!

"Et Tu, Sister?"

Now, I’m sure we can all agree that the use of the “Oh, it was all just a dream!” ending is typically NOT something we can accept, but I feel in this case it works. I’m sure the plot of this movie can be explained away by some existential mental meanderings: Naked Gypsy Devil represents the plague, the evil plague corrupts young life, nuns like debauchery and playing the guitar whilst naked, etc. However, I choose to believe that the plague was the means, not the end, that the Devil used it as his instrument to deflower the minds of young, sex-starved nuns, before they succumbed to the ravages of The Great Mortality.

The final shot of the film shows The Devil following yet another young nun while she goes about gathering flowers, or perhaps she’s off to paw a shepherd boy. The cycle continues.

Satanico Pandemonium has been made semi-famous by Quentin Tarantino’s evangelizing of it, and he even named Salma Hayek’s character in From Dusk Till Dawn after the film’s title. I’m glad he approves, and makes me wish he’d throw caution to the wind and make a big budget nunsploit film. Make it happen, Quentin! I, for one, loved it, and as I said earlier, rank it right behind Alucarda and School of the Holy Beast in terms of nun defilement. I highly recommend to all my readers that you should hunt down a copy and your earliest convenience.

Three enthusiastic Thumb’s Up!


The Vicar of VHS said...

Duke! I'm so happy to hear that you've returned to the castle safely and are up to your old tricks again! Of course the Blood Moon a fortnight ago should have been my first clue that something Ducal this way came...

And what a stellar return. Satanico Pandemonium is definitely one of my top nunsploitationers as well--it has everything you want and more. The "more" of course being Nude Gypsy Satan.

As to the "it was all a dream" ending here, I took the movie to be the spiritual temptations the plague-ridden Sister Maria was going through on her deathbed, given visual representation. Thus her embrace of Satan right before her actual death is a sign that, despite a life of nunnery and devotion, at the last moment she pitched headlong into the very pits of Hell. It's a very medieval morality-play type story, the moral being: God's just waiting for one little excuse to roast your ass, so watch it.

You know I share your love for Alucarda, and recently I got to see School of the Holy Beast for the first time. I agree that SP comes in 3rd to those two (or perhaps fourth...details to come soon, I hope), but what rarefied company.

This brings up an interesting point: Alucarda and Satanico Pandemonium both have the Devil and supernatural happenings as part of their narrative, while School of the Holy Beast, The Killer Nun, and others take a more worldly, non-supernatural approach. I think the latter is much more cynical, don't you? It's not the Devil making them do these things, but mere human corruption in a universe where God either doesn't exist or else has thrown up His hands and turned away. I know which variation *I* prefer, but I'd be interested to hear what your subjects and my parishioners think.

Welcome back!

Tenebrous Kate said...

Excellent review as always, Duke! Thanks for gracing us with your noble wisdom. And Nude Gypsy Satan. I must posit that the Satan in this movie is perhaps the suavest ever committed to film--he's one cool dude, and he demonstrates in the end that can rock a devilish Liberace cape like no other.

As to the Vicar's point regarding the supernatural forces at play in "Alucarda" and "Satanico Pandemonium"--both are Mexican films, and I think it reflects the culture that these movies are less erotic fare (like most of their Euro and Asian counterparts) than they are allegorical films that include erotic elements. The nunsploitation genre is basically "Women In God's Prison" at its core, and here it's a spiritual, rather than a literal, imprisonment. I don't perceive either approach as being more or less cynical--if you look at "Flavia the Heretic," for example, that is not a cynical film in spite of its distinctly un-supernatural stance. And "School of the Holy Beast" isn't cynical--it's fucking INSANE ;)

Word verification--Conves! I'm a couple letters short of hilarious synchronicity.

The Duke of DVD said...

First of all, thank you both for the kind comments. I do aim to please.

Second of all, my #1 dream in life is now to see made a movie called "Women in God's Prison". I shall be the executive producer, of course, as well as talent scout. Vicar, you shall direct, and perform the duties of nipple icer. Kate, you can be the cinematographer, and I will accept no less than 30 iced-nipple close-ups per hour of footage.

We'll shoot entirely in 70mm, use THX-rated sound, and spend around $30 million on promotion alone, which will include Crucifix Fleshlights handed out at the premiere.

Too bad Alfred Bailou has passed. He would be the perfect warden...

Karswell said...

Hmmmm, a bride of Christ, or slave to Satan... the choice for some of us is pretty obvious.

Now where'd I leave that pitchfork polish?

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