Written by: Michael Den Boer on May 9th, 2009
Theatrical Release Date: Italy, 1973
Director: Domenico Paolella
Writers: Tonino Cervi, Domenico Paolella
Cast: Anne Heywood, Ornella Muti, Pier Paolo Capponi, Luc Merenda, Martine Brochard, Muriel Catalá, Claudia Gravy, Maria Cumani Quasimodo, Claudio Gora, Duilio Del Prete, Luigi Antonio Guerra, Gianluigi Chirizzi
DVD released: April 21st, 2009
Approximate running time: 100 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Letterboxed Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono English
DVD Release: Exploitation Digital
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $19.99
Synopsis: Sister Julia (Anne Heywood) is an ambitious nun, who wants to replace the current mother superior. She is not the only nun vying for the position of mother superior and with the help of Don Carlos, she is able to eliminate all of her rivals. Her niece Isabella has recently joined the convent and as part of Julia’s deal with Don Carlos, she is supposed to give her virgin niece to him for his helping her obtain the mother superior. When word gets out that that the nuns have been naughty at Saint Archangel. The church sends an investigator who uncovers all the dirty secrets that the nuns of Saint Archangel have so desperately tried to hide.
Before Domenico Paolella directed Story of a Cloistered Nun, he would make his debut into the Nunsplotation genre. With The Nuns of Saint Archangel, a film that is arguably one of the genres greatest entries. The Nuns of Saint Archangel, is also known under the title of The Nun and The Devil.
The film is filled with beautifully composed and lit compositions that look like masterfully crafted works of art. Domenico Paolella also makes full use of iconic images, most notably during the scenes where the nuns of trail are being tortured. Another moment is which his direction excels is when Isabella a nun and her lover Fernando try to connect physically with each other as they talk between two fences that are about five feet or more apart.
The acting is not only good, it at times is excellent. With the standout performance being Anne Heywood (The Nun of Monza, Satan’s Wife) in the role the devious mother superior Julia. Heywood is utterly convincing in the role as her character meticulously climbs her way to the top. Her characters’ final moments are mesmerizing. She delivers what is arguably one of cinema’s greatest death thralls as her character contorts on the floor, after drinking poison.
In one of her earliest roles Ornella Muti (The Most Beautiful Wife, Oasis of Fear) is cast in the role of a young novice named Isabella. And throughout the film, she looks unglamorous and at times androgynous, like when she dresses up like a boy. This is far from the more seductive type roles she is known for, still she does an admirable job.
The plot is well written and all the cast exceeded my expectations. The film features a solid score from Piero Piccioni, who also composed scores for Story of a Cloistered Nun and Camille 2000. Ultimately The Nuns of Saint Archangel features many of the Nunsplotation genres staples like lesbians, torture, murder and deception. With its scenes of torture being some of the most brutal ever in any Nunsplotation film.
After a lengthy delay The Nuns of Saint Archangel finally makes its region 1 DVD debut. Exploitation Digital presents The Nuns of Saint Archangel in a 1.85:1 letterboxed widescreen. This transfer has been flagged for progressive playback. Colors and flesh tones fare well. Outside of some instances where the image looks soft, the image generally looks crisp. There is some very minor print damage and edge enhancement is minimal.
This release comes with one audio option a Dolby Digital mono mix in English. There is some mild background noise that is present throughout. Dialog is clear and everything sounds balanced.
Extras for this release include an image gallery with twenty seven images which include posters, stills and box art for other home video release of The Nuns of Saint Archangel. Rounding out the extras are trailers for other Exploitation Digital titles that are also available on DVD. In 2005 The Nuns of Saint Archangel was released on DVD in the UK by Argent Films under the title The Nun and The Devil. Audio / Video wise this DVD release from Exploitation Digital is on par with the Argent Films DVD release, with the main difference being that the Exploitation Digital transfer is progressive and the Argent Films transfer is interlaced. Overall The Nuns of Saint Archangel get an average DVD release from Exploitation Digital.