Le Monache di Sant’Arcangel, Sisters of Satan and The Nuns of Saint Archangel are the other names for this film by Domenico Paolella who started his career all the way back in 1939 and also directed Stunt Squad, Women of Devil’s Island and Story of a Cloistered Nun.
Based on authentic 16th Century records and a story by Stendhal — sure, whatever you say — this film really hits all the expected sleazy beats of nunsploitation but it invented it, coming early in the cycle that really got going between The Lady of Monza and The Devils.
The Sant Arcangelo Convent is where Sister Julia (former Miss Great Britain Anne Heywood, who was also in The Fox and The Killer Is on the Phone) is doing everything she can to become Mother Superior. This all happens as the nuns may take on celibate vows yet make love to one another and invite men inside the walls of their holy place. Of course, this just means that we get a square up reel after holy men come in and torture these sinning women, all before Julai is forced to drink poison.
Shot in a real convent — Fossanova Abbey in Priverno, Latina — that has to be a Jess Franco-like trick, as somehow they were never told exactly the movie that was getting made. I can’t even imagine the condemnation that followed.
Look, I don’t want to be some kind of drooling leering fanboy, but if you make a movie with Ornella Muti as a nun, well…it’s going to be something I’m going to watch.
Twilight Time’s new release of The Nun and the Devil has an audio commentary with critic Kim Newman and Italian cinema expert Barry Forshaw, interviews with Luc Merenda and Martine Brochard, a profile of Domenico Paolella, a nunsploitation interview with Marcus Stiglegger and a trailer. You can get it from MVD.