Satánico Pandemonium ✞
As a child my bedtime began with diligent prayer. Satan was my biggest fear, and my little heart couldn't bear the threat of hell. My family wasn't even that religious, which goes to show how frightening the Church's word can be for a kid. Our Catholicism was a small part of our Latin American identity. We didn't think to question it. For a time church was a weekly routine, spurred on by family friends. So when we moved away, church didn't stick. By the time I was in high school, I had grown into a passionate atheist. At one point in my early 20s, I kept a picture of a blood-soaked and fully erect Lucifer in my wallet. I had not turned to the dark side. It was just an edgy gesture to spite 'God,' which understandably disturbed my girlfriend at the time (more for the hard-on than the blasphemy). It was a juvenile statement, a more objectionable version of what filmmaker Ken Russell was saying in 1971's The Devils: fuck organized religion and its hypocritical zealots. Though more of a historical drama than exploitation, that's the film that kicked off a rush of nunsploitation in the '70s. You'd think I would've seen a handful of sacrilegious cinema by now. Well... I'm lacking, but I intend to correct this.
I've started with the Mexican horror flick Satánico Pandemonium (aka La Sexorcista, 1975), squarely a nunsploitation film one might see at a grindhouse double feature. It has all the spicy elements you're looking for in a nun flick: self-flagellation, bright red blood, Satanic temptations, taboo sex, and unexpected plot developments. It's bolstered by Cecilia Prezet's lead performance of Sister Maria, in which she fluctuates between good and evil with such ease that it's sometimes hard to see the switch. Enrique Rocha, too, kept me on my toes with his quiet version of the charming Lucifer. The style of the film itself is quiet, featuring probably the least amount of dialog of the movies I've seen thus far this month. Satánico relies more on its dreamy aesthetic, dramatic action, and the emotions in Sister Maria's close-ups.
*** spoilers ahead ***
It gets more chilling when Maria goes full Satan. When she sees the Monja de Color place a noose around her neck, Maria pushes her off her footing with glee. In the end, the suicidal nun appears again, still with the noose, as one of the sisters that stabs Maria. It's a pretty depressing arc for the nuns of color, but at least they get some vengeance. I can appreciate it. Though, Solares wasn't as successful with the queer representation.
This has been day 12 of 31 days of horror.
Note: This movie isn't easy to find. I suggest Hoopla.