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.


meschi said...

That actually sounds like an ok film. another one to get a hold of. on another note, Ive just managed to get a hold of fight for your life. Havent watched it yet, saving it for a late night :)

Ben said...

Yeah, it's not that bad at all. It isn't one I'll watch again but I did enjoy it. Glad you got hold of a copy of Fight for your Life!