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Le Scomunicate de San Valentino (The Sinful Nuns of St. Valentine) (1974): Step on a Crack, Break Your Mother Superior’s Back

Le Scomunicate se San Valentino (The Sinful Nuns of Saint Valentine) (Sergio Grieco, 1974)

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When a problem comes along, you must whip it.

I have to start off by asking how you can begin with a title like The Sinful Nuns of St. Valentine and manage to go so hideously wrong. And yet here I am, having watched Sergio Grieco’s ridiculous attempt at making a nunspolitation flick last night, asking that very question, because The Sinful Nuns of St. Valentine goes so hideously wrong at every turn it could have, resulting in an incoherent mess of a movie that you would do very well to avoid at all costs.

photo credit: Mubi

“So… are you a nun or a lay preacher?”

The main thread of the plot involves Lucita (The Psychic‘s Jenny Tamburi), a novice at the Convent of St. Valentine during the days of the Inquisition. She’s hopelessly in love with Esteban (The House by the Cemetery‘s Paolo Malco), who’s currently being hunted by said Inquisition on suspicion of heresy and the murder of a bishop (which of these two things is more serious depends on which Inquisitor you happen to be talking to at any given time). Lucita’s friend Josefa (When Men Carried Clubs and Women Played Ding-Dong‘s Bruna Beani in one of her final screen appearances) is also a novice, but has a lot more trouble, shall we say, conforming to the rules, which leads to a lot of topless flogging (and some turned-on nuns). On her way to an audience with the abbess (Spirits of the Dead‘s Françoise Prévost), Josefa is murdered, on the same night Lucita and Esteban plan to run away together; when Lucita is found wide awake and dressed in her bed, pretending to be asleep, the Inquisitor in charge of the case (The Godfather‘s Corrado Gaipa) assumes her to be guilty. Oddly, she does not protest her innocence, despite the abbess believing she had nothing to do with it…

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“Oh, you lost a jellybean? Let me get that for you…”

…none of which actually makes one bit of difference considering none of it actually goes anywhere. Character motivations are subject to the whim of Grieco (who also wrote, “loosely inspired by a drama by Victor Hugo”, we’re told) rather than any attempt at continuity; these characters are nothing more than plot devices, and Grieco makes no pretensions to anything more. That’s the main problem with this movie; one can’t get invested enough in the characters to care once things start going really off the rails in the final half-hour; it’s impossible to even hint at the events of same, but I think they’re meant to inspire horror, and instead we get nothing so much as mild amusement. *

Clip, because I couldn’t find a trailer. Engsubs!

About Robert "Goat" Beveridge

Media critic (amateur, semi-pro, and for one brief shining moment in 2000 pro) since 1986. Guy behind noise/powerelectronics band XTerminal (after many small stints in jazz, rock, and metal bands). Known for being tactless but honest.

One response »

  1. Pingback: L’Altro Inferno (The Other Hell) (1981): …Is Where You Are When You’re Done Watching This | Popcorn for Breakfast

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