The Lash of the Penitentes (1936)

Released as Forbidden Fruit: The Golden Age of Exploitation Pictures, Vol. 9 as part of the Something Weird/Kino Classics line, The Lash of the Penitentes is an astounding bit of before your grandparents exploitation sleaze, a report on a murder within the hidden non-English speaking New Mexican cult of Catholic masochists known as Los Hermanos Penitentes.

Hey, happy easter a few days late, because these guys and ladies went absolutely wild during Lent, basically whipping the sin out of themselves before crucifying for real one of the lucky ones of their close-knit group.

Somehow, cinematographer Roland Price (Marihuana: Weed With Roots in Hell as well as early censor-baiting titles like How to Take a Bath and How to Undress in Front of Your Husband) was able to film the rituals and worked with Harry Revier (the maker of Child Bride) to make a murder mystery film that could go all over the country as an exploitation film, whether in a censored 35-minute version of a fully berserk 48-minute epic of Catholicism mixed with ecstatic devotion.

I love that Kino is releasing things like this, pieces of exploitation history that once only lived in dusty old film cans. Seeing them on my shelf makes my heart grow several sizes larger due to joy.

You can get The Last of the Penitentes from Kino Lorber.

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