Saturday, March 5, 2011

Flavia The Heretic (1974)

FLAVIA THE HERETIC is a film that has been on my radar for some time now, but until today I had never gotten around to seeing it. The nunsploitation genre is one I find every bit interesting as I do entertaining. So it was quite a joy to be able to pop in the Synapse DVD of one of the most notorious films in the genre.

Gianfranco Mingozzi directs Florinda Bolkan (DON'T TORTURE A DUCKLING, LIZARD IN A WOMAN'S SKIN) as the title character who is a nun in an Italian convent in the year 1600. After the convent is invaded by the Cult of the Tarantula who defile the alter with orgies, and other general blasphemy and insanity, Flavia begins to hallucinate and can no longer bare the Religious oppression that church life, and Christian life has forced upon her. She flees the convent and rebels until she is captured and punished for her sins.

That in a nutshell is FLAVIA THE HERETIC. You really do need to see it to get the full picture however. There are all the staples of the exploitation film- gore, copious amounts of nudity, taking a subject matter and using it in contrast to how it is normally viewed. FLAVIA goes deeper. It is obvious Mingozzi has something to say about feminism, more so the dominant status of males in the world and religion, and the inherent oppression that organized religion has always had. It is a well made film, with something to please many crowds. Gorehounds will have their bloody fun, the midnight movie crowd gets some surrealism and the arthouse crowd gets a film with deeper meaning. It really struck on every level with me, personal feelings towards any commentary the film had aside. It was successful in getting its message across, but most importantly it was successfully entertaining. What good is a message in a movie if you don't give a shit about the movie itself?

Everything works for this movie from the acting, to the direction, the set decoration is superb and the score is top notch (as expected from a future Oscar winner). I would say it gives Ken Russell's THE DEVILS a run for its money on best nunsploitation, but it does fall a bit short of that landmark film.


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