Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

I don’t know what to say, actually. I went into this film directed by the late Joe D’Amato under the alias of Dario Donato, expecting some ultra sleazy nunsploitation as only a master of exploitation such as Joe D’Amato can execute. Say like his nunsploitation nudity sex fest ‘Images in a Convent’. I didn’t get that here with ‘Convent of Sinners’. Oh, there was plenty of nudity and lesbianism and nuns occasionally pleasuring themselves, but this movie was far less concerned with exploitation and more concerned with the corrupt Catholic Church as seen through the eyes of Joe D’Amato.

When we first meet young Susanna (Eva Grimaldi), she was being brutally raped by her father. Would you believe it when I tell you that this is the good news for young Susanna as her distraught mother ships her off to the local monastery to begin her new life as a nun.

Almost immediately upon entering the convent Susanna knows that this isn’t the life for her. It’s not that she has anything against nuns, but she has no vocation for it. She believes in God but figures she could better serve God by being a good wife and a mother, things which have been taken away from her against her will.

Regardless, her bed has been made and things might be a little easier for Susanna considering she’s caught the adoring eye of the Mother Superior (Aldina Mortano). At least until Mother Superior started fondling her and trying to stick her tongue down Susanna’s throat. Admittedly, this isn’t cool what Mother superior is doing, but it is better than the byproduct of Mother Superiors questionable behavior that has caused Susanna, through no fault of her own, to fall on the bad side of Mother Superior’s previous main squeeze and second in command, Sister Theresa (Karin Well), and Sister Theresa is a complete lunatic. Now Sister Theresa has only one goal in life, a goal that has nothing to do with being the bride of Jesus, and this is to make Sister Susanna’s life a living hell. Sadly, Mother Superior can’t help because she’s deathly ill, not that Sister Theresa cared anyway.

As bad this situation has become for our heroine, the good thing for Sister Susanna is that she has the kind and benevolent Sister Ursula on her side, as played by actress Gilda Germano who will soon rename herself Jessica Moore and show up in a string of D’Amato softcore flicks that we can’t wait to see. Yes, this nothing to do with anything. Also looking out for Sister Susanna is lustful priest Don Morel (Martin Phillips) who might be falling in love with the tall nun sporting the piercing eyes and the pouty lips. But will these people be able to help Sister Susanna against the single force of nature that is Sister Theresa who will bitch slap, flagellate, whip, burn, bound, imprison and eventually accuse of Sister Susanna of being possessed by Satan? Well, these are the days before the crusades and Joe D’Amato seems to have a real problem with the Catholic Church, so we’re going to go ahead and say no, she has no chance.

Joe D’Amato was truly a filmmaking enigma. The man shot pornography, and by most accounts he made some pretty good porn, not that I’ve seen any of it. Okay, so that’s not true, but we will move on. While he was great director of exploitation films on top of being a fine cinematographer, after watching ‘Ator: The Flying Eagle’ it was pretty clear that he just wasn’t much a standard film director. Then I watch this film ‘Convent of Sinners’ which could very well be the best straightforward film of D’Amato’s that I’ve seen. Sure, there were exploitative elements in the film, but not nearly as many as one would’ve expected from a D’Amato nunsploitation film, and the exploitative elements that were in the film generally played in service to the plot. A legitimate, well thought out and well constructed plot. Crazy, I know… but true.

There was a scene were a sister was pleasuring herself by a statue, and while that image in itself is probably as blasphemous as you can get, it does serve the purpose of highlighting the writer / directors protestation with forced celibacy. Or another scene where I believe every single nun was naked taking a bath, and while that scene went on a little long it did highlight the deteriorating mental state of Mother Superior. I mean Gabriel Tinti was in this movie, and he wasn’t playing a sleazeball, instead presented here as the lone voice of reason, looking resplendent with his gray hair and Cardinal uniform, as he attempted to get to the bottom of the demonic charges laid against Sister Susanna.

While ‘Convent of Sinners’ has a bare minimum of the D’Amato nonsense that we’ve come accustomed to, it certainly isn’t devoid of it. The previously mentioned nuns relationship with the mute farm hand, while tastefully done (!) was somewhat unnecessary for the most part, and self flagellation masturbation is a brand new form of autoerotica that I was previously unfamiliar with. Thanks Joe.

But all that being said, D’Amato was trying to get a message across, even if he was using a sledgehammer to get the point home. Sister Susanna is not possessed by the devil, people have said as such, but with the wheels in motion the Bishop tells his young lustful priest ‘The Church is Never Wrong’. In 1986 the late Joe D’Amato had a problem with this kind of thinking and created a social statement damning it. And then in 1997 he would make ‘The House of Anal Perversions’. Not that I’ve actually seen that. Okay, so that’s not entirely true, but we will move on.

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