• Satanico Pandemonium (Mondo Macabro) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Mondo Macabro
    Released on: May 26th, 2019.
    Director: Gilberto Martínez Solares
    Cast: Enrique Rocha, Cecilia Pezet, Delia Magaña
    Year: 1975
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    Satanico Pandemonium – Movie Review:

    Cecilia Pezet plays Sister Maria, a sweet little nun with a heart of gold who really only wants to help people and do the right things in life. She enjoys long strolls through the farmlands and forests surrounding her convent and is a friend to a few of the children in the area. One day while out meandering in the woodlands surrounding her abode, she runs into a naked and surprisingly sinister man (Enrique Rocha). After their encounter, his grim visage begins to haunt her day and night.

    Maria returns to the convent to get back to her nunly duties but finds that the man’s sinister and Satanic influence is beginning to take hold of her no matter how hard she prays against it. She tries and tries to behave herself but by the time the movie hits the half way mark, it’s obvious that she just doesn’t have what it take to stand up to a man who turns out to be ol’ scratch himself. She whips herself and ties a belt of thorns around her waist, as any good Catholic would be apt to do in her situation, but it’s too little too late. Before you can say ‘lesbo-a-go-go’ the devil appears to her as a wily and randy sister of the cloth only to make mad and evil love to her on the floor of her room.

    The Mother Superior starts to notice Maria’s unusual behavior and it isn’t long before there’s a dead body or two appearing around the convent, obviously the result of some mysterious but evil deeds. Will the good nuns of the convent be able to help Maria save her soul or will Maria kill everyone and run off with the devil himself to become his bride?

    Satanico Pandemonium has everything a good nunsploitation film should have and then some. Gratuitous nudity? Yep, and a good amount of it. Whipping? Sure. A lesbian encounter? That’s here too. This Mexican film hits all the requirements that the Italians laid out for the subgenre and makes sure it that it hits all the right notes at all the right times. It all works though – Satanico Pandemonium is pretty entertaining stuff and while it doesn’t go as far as some of the other nasty nuns films made in and around the same era in terms of sex and violence, it certainly has enough of it to keep things interesting.

    The film also does a good job of toying around with the theme of Catholic guilt. Sister Maria (who is very well-played by cute as a button Cecilia Pezet), at least initially, knows that what she’s doing is wrong and we see her go through the motions of punishing herself for it, even if that same punishment yields some rather unusual results. Her belief in the devil (brought to life in a surprisingly restrained turn from Enrique Rocha) already strong because of her religious upbringing, it’s obviously solidified in the physical sense when he manifests and has his way with her, which is something that her conscience has trouble overcoming.

    All of this wonderful weirdness is wrapped up in a very attractive package in terms of the film’s cinematography. Some very Bava-esque primary lighting hues illuminate the hallways of Maria’s convent and the camera does a fine job of capturing the gothic architecture of the building with some great, slow, lingering shots.

    Satanico Pandemonium – Blu-ray Review:

    Satanico Pandemonium debuts on Blu-ray from Mondo Macabro on a 50GB Blu-ray disc with two different transfers offered. Both are framed at and each gets just under 22GBs of disc space. When you select ‘play’ on the disc you’re greeted with the following disclaimer:

    "We were delivered two scans for the film on this disc. The first, taken from pre-print materials, turned out to have a slight optical blemish on some reels. We asked the licensor to correct this and they eventually supplied us with a scan taken from a positive print, according to them the only 35mm source that did not have this issue. The flaw is minor and not present on every reel. However we felt it best to give the viewer a choice on which version they prefer. Each has its merits and demerits."

    And that last sentence proves true. There are noticeable differences in color timing and in detail levels between the two options. There are some noticeable, albeit very faint, vertical scratches noticeable in the pre-print version that aren’t in the positive print version, but both versions look pretty decent here. Detail isn’t always reference quality and some scenes do look softer than others but regardless of which option you go for you get a much nicer, better defined and more textured presentation than the old DVD was able to provide. The pre-print version looks to have better compression and a more naturally filmic look to it, but hey, it’s never a bad thing to have options.

    The only audio option offered up on the disc is a Spanish language 24-bit DTS-HD 1.0 Mono track. Optional subtitles are provided in English only. No problems to note, the audio is clean and clear and while range is understandably limited by the single track source material, there’s about as much depth here as you could expect. The dialogue is clear enough and easy to follow and everything is properly balanced.

    Mondo Macabro offers up a new audio commentary from film critics Katt Ellinger and Samm Deighan from the Daughters Of Darkness podcast and Diabolique Magazine that starts off by discussing the mysteries that surround the film’s director Gilberto Martínez Solares and his lengthy career, and how there isn’t a lot of information out there about this film. There’s talk about the locations, the use of the natural world and the supernatural world in the film, how it compares to other nunsploitation pictures (Alucarda in particular), the use of Biblical references in the film, the depiction of repression of sexual desire in the picture, the unusual structure employed in the film, the idea of Satanism as liberation and the depiction of Satan as legitimately sinister in the film. There’s talk here about how Mexican and Italian religious cultures share similarities in terms of Catholic dominance, how specific scenes have a ‘haunted feeling’ to them and whether or not our lead is trying to run away from something and quite a bit more. This is often times more analysis than trivia and facts, but it’s an interesting discussion that explores some insightful ideas.

    Carried over from their previous DVD release is a fifteen-minute featurette entitled The Devil Went Down To Mexico which is basically an interview with Adolfo Martinez Solares, who just so happens to be not only the screen writer, but also the son of the director, the late Gilberto Martinez Solares (who earlier had directed a few lucha libre films like Santo And The Blue Demon Vs. The Monsters). Conducted in English, Solares discusses not only Satanico Pandemonium but Mexican horror/exploitation films in general. Solares has a lot to say about the film and he goes into quite a bit of detail about the reasons it was made and how it was made as well, and also provides some interesting stories about a couple of cast members.

    Also carried over form that DVD is an eleven-minute interview with Nigel Wingrove, head honcho over at Redemption Video, who gives his take on the nunsploitation subgenre. Overtop of Nigel’s words we’re treated to various film clips from a few different Redemption titles. For those who aren’t so well versed in nasty nun territory, this serves as a nice primer on the subject.

    Rounding out the extra features are the Mondo Macabro promo reel, menus and chapter selection options. The text bios from the DVD release have not been carried over to this Blu-ray release.

    Satanico Pandemonium – The Final Word:

    Satanico Pandemonium is certainly a compelling little nasty nun film one worth checking out, artsy and exploitative at the same time and featuring some decent performances and nice camerawork. Mondo Macabro’s Blu-ray release ports over most of the extras from the DVD and includes a new commentary alongside two different scans of the film – recommended!

    Click on the images below for full-sized Satanico Pandemonium (pre-print scan version) screen caps!

    Click on the images below for full-sized Satanico Pandemonium (positive-print scan version) screen caps!