JOE D’AMATO WEEK: Immagini di un convento (1979)

Originally called La casa del dio sconosciuto (House of the Unknown God), this movie starts by informing you that it was very loosely inspired by Prosper Mérimée’s La Vénus d’Ille before quoting Blaise Pascal: “The last function of reason is to recognize that there are an infinity of things which surpass it.”

Then a whole bunch of nuns get possessed and get it on.

I mean, you can lock up gorgeous nuns but in the Mondo D’Amato they are going to spend most of the movie flipping out, touching one another and rehabilitating a wounded man by repeatedly hiding the bishop. Yet that young man has brought the devil with him!

Paola Senatore stars as Isabella, the duchess who has been left in this convent for her own protection and that doesn’t go so well. Marina Hedman is Sister Marta and you may remember her from Play Motel, a movie that rivals this one for sheer prurience. Aïché Nana plays the Mother Superior, which is probably an inside joke, as she’s most famous for dancing an infamous striptease during a private party at the Rugantino restaurant and nightclub on the Viale di Trastevere in Rome that got so much attention, it caused a national scandal and inspired the orgy scene in Fellini’s film La Dolce Vita. Sister Veronica is Giovanna Mainardi, one of the female guards of SS Experiment Love Camp. Sister Giulia is Maria Rosaria Riuzzi from Emanuelle and Francoise and Salon Kitty. Finally, the exorcist who tries to fix it all is Donald O’Brien, whose Italian film credentials are beyond reproach: Dr. Butcher, M.D.KeomaEmanuelle and the Last CannibalsYeti Giant of the 20th CenturyThe SectGhosthouse and about fifty more.

This movie — moved along by the Nico Fidenco soundtrack — feels like a nightmare and then a dream and then another nightmare and then a priest leads the nuns through the convent trying to get Satan out of their midst while a murder happens and every nun unleashes their full wanton carnal needs as they struggle to the altar. Sure, it’s exploitation, but in the hands of D’Amato, it approaches scumbag art.

Images in a Convent is part of Severin’s new Nasty Habits box set. It also has Cristiana Devil NunStory of a Cloistered Nun and Bruno Mattei’s The True Story of the Nun of Monza. You can order it from Severin’s website.

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