Killer Nun DVD Blu-ray Review

Killer Nun DVD Blu-ray Review
Directed by Giulio Berruti. Starring Anita Ekberg, Joe Dallesandro, and Alida Valli.
Updated: 04-21-2012
There was a joke I used to tell when I was a kid: "What do 7-Up and a nun have in common?" The punch line referred to the caffiene-free soft drink's ad slogan, which was, "Never had it. Never will."
But saucy Sister Gertrude's drink of choice is obviously something a little harder… some 7 and 7 perhaps? That could be a drinking game for Killer Nun: every time the bride of Christ raises her skirt, you raise your glass.
And… you might get mildly buzzed. If you're a lightweight.
I must say, I don't get the whole 'nunsploitation' thing, but when I get the Blue Underground disc of Killer Nun to review, I was actually somewhat giddy – I am a fan of both Anita Ekberg and Joe Dallesandro. Not necessarily for their acting (I type the word oh so loosely) but for their personas and places in rock 'n roll history. As it turns out, both are miscast and somewhat underwhelming in this flick. Filmed in the late 70s, Killer Nun hasn't got the sense or kitsch, fun, or naughtiness one could expect in the earlier part of the era.
Ekberg as Sister Gertrude (her name basically says it all, tonally) is severe and matronly, even when indulging her alter-ego, a sexually-insatiable lesbian who never met a man she didn't like. Let's just say, she one nun with lots of bad habits. Those moments of sleaze are few and far between as mostly the plot plods along in a hospital setting, where Gertrude is a morphine-addicted nurse to the elderly and self-appointed angel of death. The elements of exploitation are there, but they are handled far too reverently and restrained by director Giulio Berruti (whose only claim to fame I can find is as the writer of Baba Yaga [also recently on disc]).
Ekberg's acting is in line with the somber feel of the film, while the underused Dallesandro plays his usual one-note as the doctor who first begins to suspect the pious nun as the perp of the evil goings-on. Neither one of them acts quite badly enough to inject some badly-needed camp. Alida Valli (Eyes Without a Face, Suspiria) as the mother superior is quite good. Overall, the international cast is hit and miss.
There are some scenes rife for fun, such as the cruel crushing of an elderly patient's false teeth against the hospital floor, and wheelchair bound oldster getting a naughty tongue-lashing. Don't want to get your hopes up, though. There's a tad of the tawdry, but not enough to satisfy fans of the nunsploitation genre. There's a bit of blood here and there, but not enough to satisfy fans of horror. There's a smidge of suspense, but not enough to satisfy fans of thrillers. It's set in the 70s, but there's no sense of time or place to satisfy fans of the old-school.
Some of the extras are worthwhile — From the Secret Files of the Vatican is about the real-life case which inspired Berruti to write the script in the first place, and also outlines some of the devilish deceit and trickery which went on behind the scenes (for instance, the filmmakers wrote fake screenplay pages so they could film in a real convent).
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Reviewed by Staci Layne Wilson
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