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satanico pandemonium

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    Ian Jane
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  • Satanico Pandemonium

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    Released by: Mondo Macabro
    Released on: 5/31/2005
    Director: Gilberto Martinez Solares
    Cast: Cecilia Pezet
    Year: 1975
    Purchase From Amazon

    The Movie:

    Cecilia Pezet plays Sister Maria, a sweet little nun with a heart of gold who really only wants to help people and do the right thing in life. She enjoys long strolls through the farmlands and forests surrounding her convent and is friend to a few children in the area. One day while out meandering in the woodlands surrounding her abode, she runs into a naked and evil man (Enrique Rocha) who's visage soon begins to haunt her day and night.

    She returns to the convent to get back to her nunly duties but finds that his sinister and Satanic influence is beginning to take hold on her no matter how hard she prays against it. She tries and tries to behave herself but by the time the movie hits the half way mark, it's obvious that just doesn't have what it take to stand up to ol' scratch himself. She whips herself and ties a belt of thorns around her waist as any good Catholic would be apt to do in her situation but it's too little too late and before you can say lesbo-a-go-go the devil appears to her as a wiley and randy sister of the cloth only to make mad and evil love to her on the floor of her room.

    The Mother Superior starts to notice Maria's unusual behavior and it isn't long before there's a dead body or two appearing around the convent courtesy of some mysterious but obviously evil deeds. Will the good nuns of the convent be able to help Maria save her soul or will Maria kill everyone and run off with the devil to be his bride?

    Satanico Pandemonium has everything a good nunsploitation film should have and then some. Gratuious nudity? Yep, and lots of it. Whipping? Sure. A lesbian encounter? That's here too. It hits all the requirements that the Italians set out for the subgenre and taps each one of them on the head as it walks around it quaintly. It all works though - Satanico Pandemonium is pretty entertaining stuff and while it doesn't go as far as some of the other nasty nuns films made in and around the same era in terms of sex and violence, it certainly has enough of it to keep things interesting.

    The film also does a good job of toying around with the theme of Catholic guilt. Sister Maria, at least initially, knows that what she's doing is wrong and we see her go through the motions of punishing herself for it, even if that same punishment yields some rather unusual results. Her belief in the devil already strong because of her religious upbringing, it's obviously solidified in the physical sense when he manifests and has his way with her, which is something that her conciense has trouble overcoming.

    All of this weirdness is wrapped up in a very attractive package in terms of the film's cinematography. Some very Bava-esque primary lighting hues illuminate the hallways of Maria's convent and the camera does a fine job of capturing the gothic architecture of the building with some great, slow, lingering shots.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    Aside from some minor (and I mean really minor) print damage, this anamorphic widescreen 1.85.1 transfer taken from the film's negative looks gorgeous. If you pay attention at the very end of the film you'll notice some dirt and I saw one horizontal scratch on the image during play back but quite honestly, I was really looking for them. If I hadn't been, I probably wouldn't have noticed anything. The colors are picture perfect and there aren't any mpeg compression issues nor are there really any edge enhancement problems. Flesh tones are lifelike and natural looking, grain is kept to a minimum, and for the most part, this is an exemplary transfer.

    Though the packaging states that the soundtrack is in Dolby Digital Stereo, it sure sounded like Mono to me. Either way, it's no big deal as the quality of the track is just fine. There are no problems with hiss or distoration and the subtitles are free of typos and easy to read.

    The first extra on the list is a featurette entitled The Devil Went Down To Mexico which is basically an interview with Adolfo Martinez Solares, who just so happens to be not only the screen writer, but also the son of the director, the late Gilberto Martinez Solares (who earlier had directed a few lucha libre films like Santo And The Blue Demon Vs. The Monsters). Conducted in English, Solares discusses not only Satanico Pandemonium but Mexican horror/exploitation films in general. Solares has a lot to say about the film and he goes into quite a bit of detail about the reasons it was made and how it was made as well, and also provides some interesting stories about a couple of cast members.

    Up next is an interview with Nigel Wingrove, head honcho over at Redemption Video, who gives his take on the unsploitation subgenre. Overtop of Nigel's words we're treated to various film clips from a few different Redemption titles. For those who aren't so well versed in nasty nun territory, this serves as a nice primer on the subject.

    Rounding out the extra features are a biography and filmography for Gilberto Martinez Solares, a text piece on the nunsploitation subgenre, a listing of Mexican contributions to the genre, and some still galleries. The ever present Mondo Macabro promo reel is included on this release as well.

    The Final Word:

    Satanico Pandemonium never really received a proper release in North America but Mondo Macabro makes up for that with this fantastic DVD release. Gorgeous picture quality, fine audio and some interesting extras make this compellign little nasty nun film one worth checking out.
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