Written by: Michael Den Boer on November 21st, 2006
Theatrical Release Dates: Italy, 1973
Director: Domenico Paolella
Cast: Anne Heywood, Ornella Muti, Pier Paolo Capponi, Luc Merenda, Martine BrochardDVD released: 2005
Approximate running time: 100 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Letterboxed Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono English
DVD Release: Argent Films
Region Coding: Region 0 PAL (UK)
Retail Price: $27.95
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 Nun and The Devil, a film that is arguably one of the genres greatest entries. The Nun and The Devil is also known under the title of The Nuns of Saint Archangel.
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.
The Nun and The Devil, is presented in a letterboxed widescreen that frames the image in an aspect ratio of about 1:85:1 and the image doesn’t appear to be cropped. Colors look good with some room for improvement and details are a tad too soft a times. Print Damage is minimal and there are no problems with compression or artifacts and edge enhancement is kept to a minimum. Overall this non-anamorphic transfer while watch able could have been better if the transfer was anamorphic and the source material were stronger.
This release comes with one audio option an English language track which is presented in a Dolby Digital mono. Outside of some minor instances of hiss there are no problems with distortion or any other major sound defects. Dialog is clear and easy enough to follow.
This release comes with absolutely no extra content and this is a great shame since this is one of the most important films to come out of the Nunsplotation genre. Overall this release is far from perfect and until a definitive release of this film comes along this edition is more then adequate to fill the time tell then.