Satanico Pandemonium (1973)
By: Michael Helms on June 20, 2005  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
Mondo Macabro (USA). All Regions, NTSC. 1.85:1 (16:9 enhanced). Spanish 2.0 Mono Subtitles. English 90 minutes
The Movie
Director:Gilberto Martinez Solares
Starring:Cecilia Pezet, Enrique Rocha, Delia Magana, Veronica Avila, Sandra Torres, Adarene San Martin
Screenplay:Adolfo Martinez Solares
Country: Mexico
What other subgenre of horror can put sex and violence into the same frame so effectively and efficiently as Nunsploitation? Satanico Pandemonium does it with simplicity and above average attention to torture, self flagellation, violent death and female nudity.

In a picturesque forest a nun (Cecilia Pezet) picks flowers and generally communes with nature. The sudden appearance of a sopping wet, nude man who casually says hello ruins this idyll and sends her running. Only stopping to pray furiously she is again interrupted, this time by a young boy with a lamb. While conversing with the boy, more her style, the naked man, now fully clothed, turns up once more, this time offering her an apple. If the heavy-handed symbolism of the above hasn't yet hit you it will as our nun runs back to the convent just in time to observe the verbal and physical abuse of two black African nuns before settling down for her usual communal meal. While eating, the man magically appears at a window. Disappearing just as quickly he leaves an apple. The nun who is known as Sister Maria, comforts the put upon sisters of colour before attending to her own needs. Cue weird keyboard music. Taking off her top she dons a barbed wire belt and begins to whip herself into shape as she ponders the activities of the day especially meeting naked man. Next up another sister walks in, tells her she loves her and off-screen goes down on her. Sister Maria is in ecstasy until her new lover transforms into the apple man, identifies himself as Lucifer and promptly departs, leaving her in tears. From here on it's downhill for Sister Maria and her vows as she gets up to all sorts of mayhem including the attempted seduction of the little shepherd boy and his eventual death, snake hallucinations at the dinner table, a casual stabbing, excess drinking, aiding suicide, strangling Mother Superior, and worse (for her) being forced to view her own torture at the hands of the Mexican Inquisition that involves the removal of a vital body part. Acquiescing to the Devil's desires Sister Maria eventually finds herself chosen to be the new Mother Superior and presiding over an orgy until everything goes pear shaped for her in a welter of blood and blades.
A stunning transfer from the original superbly exposed negative makes Satanico Pandemonium one of the best looking films from the early 70s yet be committed to disc. From the pale blue robes of the nuns to blood smeared scenes from a Hellish inquisition to constant fleshtones, the art direction and cinematography of Satanico Pandemonium work in tandem to create constantly colourful and interesting visuals even when the action flags. Unfortunately, the last twist end scene demonstrates the only blemishes and they are large but the scene itself is virtually unnecessary unless you were a producer looking to prime an audience for a sequel.
The stereo mix is hardly cutting edge but well organised and presumably orchestrated by one Gustavo C.Carrion to keep things naturalistic but effective. Massed singing female voices feature prominently as do bells, trippy keyboards and a dirge like string section that gives the film an all-round eerie feel. All Hell breaks lose in the orgy sequence for some Mexican party music that puts acoustic guitars into the forefront but that's helped by having two nude guitarists and a naked lute player. Sound effects such as wildlife and a thunderstorm are also put to good, if subtle use that's not likely to provide anyone without a run down pacemaker any sort of shock.
Extra Features
Two documentaries. The Devil Went Down To Mexico is a 15 minute interview with Adolfo Martinez Solares that gives a background to Satanico Pandemonium firstly by documenting some of his father's previous work (with great graphics) involving nearly 200 features (he was the most prolific Mexican director ever) some of which included Santo movies along with the Tin Tan & Lon Chaney Jr. effort La Casa Del Terror (The Face Of The Screaming Werewolf). Then, Adolfo who also worked on the screenplay, notes the direct influences on the production before giving details on the day to day events of the shoot including the use of prostitutes in the cast, one of which who was a master chess player. Curse Of The Writhing Nun is basically an information saturated 11 minute interview with Nigel Wingrove, the man behind Redemption/Salvation Films, on his obsession with nunsploitation. An image gallery includes stills and lobby cards from the Italian release of the film and there's also a textual history of nunsploitation along with a filmography that's taken from the work of that other great expert on nunsploitation, Canadian Steve Fentone, and his definitive tome AntiCristo. In other words this disc delivers more than enough to create above average knowledge on the subject of nunsploitation and makes it very easy to take in. But that's not all as Mondo Macabro's own preview trailer which also appears amongst the extras is just as interesting.
The Verdict
Mondo Macabro is a boutique label swimming around in the deepest pools of foreign exploitation film history that like Blue Underground actually cares about it's finished product Not only ensuring the best presentation of the film itself but surrounding it in self-generated extras that actually inform and instigate further interest in the filmmakers and beyond. The Satanico Pandemonium disc is the perfect example of this. Having said that Satanico Pandemonium might not be completely worth genuflecting to forever being too contemplative and overtly symbolic for it's own good at times but in the pantheon of nunsploitation it towers over something like the highly over-rated Killer Nun. For all enthusiasts of nunsploitation and nascent viewers alike Satanico Pandemonium is definitely worth eyeballing if just to witness the charismatic talents of Cecilia Pezet, who as Adolfo reports, disappeared entirely from the film industry several years later.
Movie Score
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