• Sinful Nuns Of Saint Valentine, The



    Released by: Kino/Redemption
    Released on: May 28, 2013.
    Director: Sergio Greico
    Cast: Jenny Tamburi, Paolo Malco, Françoise Prévost
    Year: 1974
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    The Movie:

    Sergio Grieco’s 1874 nunsploitation picture, The Sinful Nuns Of Saint Valentine, may not be as sexy or as sleazy as nasty as other entries in the genre, which is actually kind of surprising when you note that the director would later make Violence For Kicks and Beast With A Gun. In fact, the movie has more in common with Ken Russell’s The Devils – though it never reaches heights as delirious as those. It stands to reason, however, that this picture has noticeably less in common with the more extreme nasty nun films like those made by Joe D’Amato and Bruno Mattei in the late seventies through the mid-eighties. That’s not to say that the film is a disappointment, however, because it’s actually quite well made, but it’s a good idea to keep your expectations in check if you pop this one into your player hoping for salacious thrills.

    The story is set in Spain and revolves around a beautiful young woman named Lucita (Jenny Tamburi) whose family disapproves of her relationship with a young man named Esteban (Paolo Malco). In order to keep them apart, Lucita’s family arranges to have her locked up in a remote convent. Luicta and Esteban decide that before this can happen, they’re going to run off and be wed in secret but before they’re able to arrange that, Esteban is accused of heresy. Lucita winds up in the convent, and Esteban makes his way in to save her but once he’s there, hiding, he bears witness to the horrible treatment doled out to the nuns at the hands of Sister Incarnation (Françoise Prévost).

    After a series of strange events at the convent, the Inquisition arrives and decides that the whole lot of them is in league with the devil. The convent is ordered sealed and the nuns are basically left there to die. Esteban finds himself having to go to unusual lengths to try and save the woman he loves without being found out (and then subsequently executed!).

    So if this doesn’t deliver loads of lesbian nuns rubbing up on each other or oodles of ultra-violence, what good is it? Well, we get some mild T&A and a bit of violence but nothing like what we’ve seen in the other more notorious nunsploitation pictures made over the years. What we do get, however, is a decent story and some fine acting in addition to some excellent location work and cinematography. A decent score helps things out a fair bit too, but this is one that’s more impressive visually than aurally. The script treats the material seriously, the plot manages to craft an interesting and fairly dark tone and the movie makes similar points about the dangers of mixing church and state that Russell’s picture made prior. We feel enough for Lucita and Esteban that we want them to make it out of the convent with their lives and sanity intact – they’re very much the underdogs here and it’s easy to want them to ‘win the day’ so to speak.

    Performances are okay. Tamburi is pretty and likeable while Malco is stalwart and strong as the male lead. As is often the case in movies like this, however, the antagonists take it. Françoise Prévost makes the most of her turn as the twisted sister in charge while the man who plays the leader of the inquisition also brings much strange enthusiasm to his role. An interesting and quirky supporting cast also helps, adding an additional element of bizarre to some of the proceedings. Ultimately, this one plays reasonably well as a serious take on the concept. Sex plays out here, but surprisingly tastefully and the torture scenes are short and not particularly gratuitous. The movie is well paced but it wraps everything up unusually quickly, bringing the ending on rather suddenly and not to the film’s benefit. Decent enough, but far from a superlative example of nunsploitation.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    The Sinful Nuns Of Saint Valentine is presented on Blu-ray in an AVC encoded 2.35.1 widescreen transfer in full 1080p high definition. As seems to be the norm with the Kino/Redemption Blu-ray’s, the transfer was mastered from the original 35mm negative and does not appear to have undergone a complete restoration. The elements used here were in decent enough but expect moderate grain and mild specks throughout in addition to a few scratches here and there. The first couple of minutes look a little rougher than the rest of the movie, but overall, this is a decent looking picture. Detail is solid as is texture, we definitely see ‘more’ than we would be able to on DVD. There is a bit of fading in some of the colors in certain shots but generally this is a pretty strong picture.

    The only audio option on the disc is an Italian language track lossless Mono track. There are no alternate language options, and subtitles are provided in English only. There aren’t any issues of note here. The audio is clear and well balanced and if any hiss or distortion works its way into the mix, it’s minor enough that it went unnoticed. The score has some nice depth to it and overall, for an older low budget movie, the audio quality is solid.

    Extras are limited to a trailer for the feature, trailers for a few other titles available in the Kino/Redemption line, menus and chapter selection.

    The Final Word:

    Though light on extras, the Blu-ray release of The Sinful Nuns Of Saint Valentine from Kino’s Redemption Films line sounds good and looks even better. The movie itself? If you’re a fan of the genre it’s worth seeing – just don’t go in expecting a hyper sexualized of nuns gone wild, as this is a more serious attempt at telling a story all too similar to The Devils of Loudun.
    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!