Tuesday, 17 February 2009


I've set up a Delicious account for the Video Nasty Project where I'll be posting any bookmarks relevant to the project. Please feel free to cross-post anything interesting from your own accounts - Video Nasties, horror films, exploitation cinema, censorship - it's all welcome. I've imported some of my own bookmarks to get things started.


Monday, 16 February 2009

Killer Nun

Director: Giulio Berruti
Writers: Giulio Berruti and Alberto Tarallo
Italy 1978

Despite a title that suggests a cheap exploitation romp, "Killer Nun" is a surprisingly tasteful production based on the real life story of a Belgian nun, who develops a brain tumour and murders patients in her charge to pay for black market morphine. The morphine angle is played down and the murders played up, with the brain tumour a cause of temporary psychosis that bequests the film a handful of wonderfully surreal Argento-esque murder scenes, spatters of red blood on the dreamy white-and-cream of the rest of the movie.

But while it is subtle, beautifully filmed in parts, and home to some decent acting from La Dolce Vita's Anita Ekberg as Sister Gertrude, I don't want to praise Killer Nun too highly. The workmanlike way it plods through the story makes its eighty minute running time seem a lot longer, and for the most part it plays as an erotic thriller in the mold of Emmanuel and other softcore of the period but without that much actual sex, and the promise of a lesbian romp with Sister Metheus, played by the stunning Paola Morra, that never materialises.

The Argento-influenced death scenes are what makes Killer Nun worth a look. The first gory murder is accompanied by Alessandro Alessandroni's superb twisted disco theme music and sends a shiver up your spine, while a later drawn-out acupuncture torture scene reminded me, with its shallow depth-of-field close-ups and excruciating tension, of Fulci at his best. The dazed atmosphere and muted palette of the rest of the film compliment these scenes perfectly. It is just missing the dynamism that makes the best horror an edge-of-your seat experience even when there isn't anything horrific happening, the gaps filled with flabby storytelling and boring dialogue - a common problem with Video Nasties, but one I'm learning to ignore.

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

The Real Cannibal Ferox

I never really considered that the Cannibal exploitation genre had its basis in anything other than racist myth, my understanding being that cannibalism was restricted to complex cultural rituals for dealing with the dead in some isolated tribal societies. However CNN is reporting a pretty gruesome tribal cannibal murder in the Amazon after which the victim's family "saw his body quartered and his skull hanging on a tree".

I'm intrigued as to how often these reports surface and how many of them turn out to be true. Were the Cannibal exploitation films inspired by reports like this - or more interestingly, are the reports inspired by the films?