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  • School of the Holy Beast

    Posted in: Disc Reviews by David Annandale on July 8th, 2005

    (out of 5)

    After a wild night with a man she just met, Yumi Takigawa enters the convent of St. Clore as an apprentice nun. She hasn’t joined out of religious conviction. Her mother was a nun here, and died under mysterious circumstances when Takigawa was born, and she has come here to find out what really happened. She encounters all the necessary ingredients of a nunsploitation movie: lesbians, a lustful priest, plenty of whippings, lashings of torture, and tons o’ blasphemy

    Watching this 1974 film (based on a comic series) is to realize that the terms “over the top”, “blasphemous”, “delirious” and “outrageous” are sorely inadequate. Most films of this kind promise much, but are hopelessly ham-handed in their execution. This is energetically shot, the colours are eye-poppingly sumptuous, the climactic torture sequence (involving our heroine bound naked by thorny vines and whipped with roses) is a jaw-dropper, and there’s even a touch of the supernatural. So is the merciless attack on religion, of a ferocity that one cannot imagine a Western filmmaker getting away with, especially in this day and age. Screen this at a Republican Party convention, and watch half the audience drop dead of a stroke. For connoisseurs of sleaze, you are about to encounter a masterpiece.


    The sound is the original Japanese mono. There is a little bit of buzz going on, but nothing severe. The job gets done, and this is a film that is over thirty years old now. The tones are certainly warm enough, and the sound isn’t thin.


    The aspect ratio is the 1.85:1 indicated on the case, but is in fact a glorious 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen (and believe me, director Norifumi Suzuki makes full use of the format, with frequent compositions gorgeous enough to bring a tear to your eye). The colours are very strong (though they do sometimes fluctuate), and print is in good shape, and is quite sharp. There is some grain at the start, but it soon almost completely vanishes. The blacks aren’t always as strong as they should be, however.

    Special Features

    Apart from the trailer, the extras are two interviews. The first is with Takigawa, who talks about her experiences shooting the film. The second is with critic Risaku Kiridoushi. Though there are some interesting nuggets to pry from what he says, but he spends far too much time on endless redundancies and pointing out the completely obvious. The menu’s main screen is animated and scored.

    Closing Thoughts

    You know how so many exploitation films seem so promising based on the poster or trailer? Here’s one that goes way, way beyond not only what it promises, but what you could possibly imagine. Believe the hype. This isn’t just the ultimate Japanese nunsploitation pic, it’s the ultimate nunsploitation film, period.

    Special Features List

    • Interview with Actress Yumi Takigawa
    • Interview with Critic Risaku Kiridoushi
    • Theatrical Trailer
    Posted In: 2.35:1 Widescreen, Cult Epics, Disc Reviews, DVD, Gay/Lesbian, Mature

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