When it comes to exploitation films, one of the first names that should pop into your head is Bruno Mattei. The Italian director is known in some circles as “The Italian Ed Wood”, and for good reason; he is renowned for consistently using stock footage, soundtracks from other films, horrible acting, and eye-rolling dialogue. But you’d be hard-pressed to find somebody who does exploitation better.
THE OTHER HELL is one of his forays into Nunsploitation films, and it’s a doozy. It’s not a great film, but it is certainly entertaining. And while I find his zombie films much more fun, I still have to suggest to you to give this one a look…that is, if like this sort of stuff (and thankfully, I do!).
If you are not familiar with THE OTHER HELL, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Severin Films & CAV Distribution:
At the peak of his ’80s excess, Italian sleaze maestro Bruno Mattei using the alias Stefan Oblowsky stunned audiences with this Nunsploitation shocker about a series of brutal murders in a depraved convent. And while his cinematic legacy may remain controversial, Mattei delivers a surprisingly stylized yet undeniably blasphemous orgy of stabbings, stigmata, Satanism, violence and graphic savagery that ranks among his very best. Franca Stoppi (THE TRUE STORY OF THE NUN OF MONZA), Carlo De Mejo (WOMEN’S PRISON MASSACRE) and Franco Garofalo (HELL OF THE LIVING DEAD) star in this nugget written by the notorious Claudio Fragasso (RATS: NIGHT OF TERROR, TROLL 2) and featuring a score borrowed from Goblin, newly transferred from a 35mm print discovered behind a false wall in a Bologna nunnery!
The cover of the Blu-ray, as shown above, is a duel-sided beauty that lets you choose how you want to display the film on your shelf. I personally love the skeletal nun, as it is much more provocative and mysterious.
THE OTHER HELL is shot well and looks very good onscreen, thanks to the HD restoration. I like the story of how a 35mm print of the film was found behind a false wall in a nunnery in Bologna; it makes the film even more interesting for me. And, thanks to the discovery, a true upgrade was given to the picture and sound. Both are impressive, and I will state Blu-ray is definitely the way to see the film.
The acting is wooden and stiff, which are typical traits of a Mattei film. Those of you who have experienced his films in the past know what I’m talking about…but if this is your first time, do not expect much in regard to the cast. Thankfully, it is also a part of the film’s, uh, “charm”, so it’s easily sidestepped.
The special effects in THE OTHER HELL are pretty laughable. The bit of gore we get is recycled, and the other effects (such as the baby in the flashback) are so obviously fake, it’s hard to watch them with a straight face. But still, schlocky is what Mattei is famous for, therefore it’s no surprise to see them as such.
The storyline in THE OTHER HELL is a confusing mish-mash of several Nunsploitation films. There’s a singular plotline that peeks through, but it is never really fleshed out well enough to reveal its intentions. And when the Big Reveal is shown, it comes across as more of a joke than anything.
Still, if you are fan of Mattei’s work (and I am), this film will definitely merit watching. It’s full of all the campy, cheezy stuff we’ve come to expect from the legendary filmmaker’s works, and it fits right in with the rest of his filmography. I personally loved it, and I’ll probably give it another viewing later on.
The film is available now.
• Audio Commentary With Co-Director/Co-Writer Claudio Fragasso Moderated By Freak-O-Rama’s Federico Caddeo
• Sister Franca: Interview With Actress Franca Stoppi
• To Hell And Back: Archive Interviews With Director Bruno Mattei and Actor Carlo De Mejo