Nunsploitation insanity from the late Italian trashmeister Bruno
Mattai (a.k.a. Stephen Oblowsky) that even by traditional nunsploitation
standards is profoundly trashy and perfunctory, and frankly not very
entertaining at all.
THE OTHER HELL (a.k.a. L’ALTRO INTERNO and GUARDIAN OF
HELL) followed Bruno Mattai’s
HELL OF THE LIVING DEAD and the more
like-minded TRUE STORY OF THE NUN OF MONZA. Like those films THE OTHER
HELL was an exploitation quickie, released in early 1981 in its native
Italy (where it flopped), followed by a U.S. VHS release in 1987 and a
2002 DVD. It has, inexplicably enough, become the most popular of the
abovementioned films, and one of the key entries in the so-called
Nunsploitation movie cycle.
A nun is murdered in a convent whose mother superior,
the domineering Sister Vincenza, is a depraved psychopath. When a father
superior enters the convent to investigate the killing a nun is
seemingly possessed by Satan, spasming and bleeding from the mouth. An
exorcism is performed, and appears to have some effect, yet the nun
winds up inexplicably bleeding to death. Father Valerio, a young
investigative-minded priest, is called in to take over the
Sister Vincenza thwarts the investigation at every
turn, but this doesn’t deter Valerio. Rooting through the convent he
discovers many suspicious elements, including hanging dolls, a rotting
severed head enclosed within the convent’s altar and a mysterious
The weirdness spreads beyond the convent, to a
groundskeeper who’s bitten to death by apparently possessed canines.
Clearly there’s a scary supernatural presence afoot, and it seems to
spring from the sequestered nun--who, it transpires, is Sister
Vincenza’s daughter, birthed from a union with (wait for it) none other
than the Big D. himself!
The cut-rate nature of this production is evident in
the murky cinematography, stilted acting and bland filmmaking, although
there are a few enjoyably campy moments (such as an alleged telepathic
baby that’s clearly an inanimate doll). Bruno Mattai’s evident
motivation in making this film was to finish it as quickly as possible
so he could move onto his next trash-fest (which, for the record, was
wannabe CALIGULA AND MESSELINA).
Obviously we don’t watch movies like this one for great
art, but even by exploitation movie standards THE OTHER HELL is pretty
crappy. The sex-and-nudity quotient is surprisingly restrained, while
the other exploitable elements--stabbings, burning, animal killings (at
least one of which, a chicken beheading, is real), telekinesis--are too
poorly staged to make much impression. As for the narrative, it is, in
true Mattai fashion, hopelessly underdeveloped and filled with gaping
plot holes. At least Goblin contributes a music score that’s very
characteristic--and so doesn’t fit the trashy imagery on display here.
Bruno Mattai was often referred to as the Italian Ed
Wood, i.e. not a moviemaker known for subtlety or artfulness. He
could, at least, usually always be counted on to deliver the
exploitation movie goods, but not in THE OTHER HELL!
THE OTHER HELL (L’ALTRO INTERNO; GUARDIAN OF HELL)
Director: Bruno Mattai
Producer: Archangelo Picchi
Screenplay: Claudio Fragasso
Cinematography: Giuseppe Berardini
Editing: Liliana Serra
Cast: Franca Stoppi, Carlo De Mejo, Francesca Carmeno, Susan Forget,
Franco Garofalo, Paola Montenero, Sandy Samuel, Andrea Aureli