Like its fellow exploitation sub-genre, the woman-in-prison movie, the nunsploitation film serves to perpetuate the male fantasy that women are purely sexual beings with no conscience or moral compass to guide them. In these films, lesbian sex is as commonplace in the convent as it is on the cellblock, with even the heroines so morally bankrupt - so all-consumed by the desires of the flesh - that they’d gladly condemn themselves to an eternity of hellfire for but a fleeting moment of poorly filmed simulated sex. These films would probably be offensive if they weren’t so hilariously irresponsible and thoroughly misguided, and as such, this sub-genre is one I find myself irresistibly drawn to.
The Killer Nun (aka Suor Omicidi) is one of the more curious examples of nunsploitation cinema. Loosely based on an actual case involving a Belgian nun who offed hospice patients in order to feed her morphine habit, it’s not one of the more salacious or sordid example of the genre you’ll come across, but, what it lacks in skin and sleaze, it actually makes up for with an involving story and surprisingly giallo-esque sensibilities.
Sister Gertrude (Ekberg) is a nun recovering from surgery to remove a brain tumor; however, Gertrude develops an addiction to morphine during her recovery, as well as a change in her once compassionate personality. As the head of a convalescent home, Gertrude finds herself growing incapable of caring for those in her charge, as she can't even care for herself. She grows increasingly violent, lusts for the touch of a man, and torments all of those around her, including her young protégé', Sister Mathieu (Morra), who also has more than professional feelings for her teacher. As Gertrude slips further into an abyss of drug dependency, promiscuity, and rage, the inhabitants of the convalescent home begin turning up dead, with all signs pointing to Gertrude as the culprit.
As I said, The Killer Nun is actually fairly tame when compared to other films of its ilk. While there's a healthy amount of nudity (almost exclusively featuring the voluptuous Morra), much of the sex is implied, save for a fully clothed hallway tryst between Gertrude and a stranger she picks up in a cafe. The film is rather gruesome, however, with some fairly explicit death scenes, as well as a flashback/dream sequence featuring Gertrude's brain surgery. While nothing here is any more or less graphic or perverse than your average 70's Italian exploitation, The Killer Nun’s engrossing tale of madness, depravity, and redemption elevates it above its peers. Make no mistake; The Killer Nun is still chunk of Euroszleaze cheese, but it’s the kind that tastes a lot better than it smells.
Blue Underground unleashes The Killer Nun on Blu-ray with an attractive-yet-occasionally grainy 1.85:1 widescreen transfer. The image is remarkably clean in terms of wear and tear, but there are moments where excess grain rears its ugly head. Overall, though, the picture quality is a marked improvement over its DVD counterpart, and complimented by a much cleaner audio mix, including a welcome Italian DTS HD Mono track that’s exceptionally crisp and well-balanced.
Extras are carried over from the DVD release and include a poster and stills gallery (HD), a short interview segment with the director entitled "From the Secret Files of the Vatican" (SD), and the film’s theatrical trailer (HD).While not as comprehensive a set as B.U's usual offerings, it's as feature packed as a film as obscure as this could hope to be.
The Killer Nun isn't going to drop jaws the way it did back upon its release, but it’s still a risqué and satisfyingly sleazy romp that sports a few “oh they didn’t” moments and a surprisingly solid story that holds it all together. Blue Underground’s presentation is, as always, well above par, and fans of this curious little sub-genre should have no reservations about adding this one to their collections.