By now, the Redemption label of Kino Lorber is synonymous with Blu-ray releases you would never expect to see. Chock-full of nudity, lesbianism, vampires, and zombies, every film feels like a piece of film education of which Quentin Tarantino would be proud. Considering they’re mostly European releases, this make even more sense. But not all of them can be winners (I’ll never forget when my friend and I were able to coin the phrase “Zombie Knife Fight”). It seems that the nunsploitation genre isn’t as fun as you would think it should be — or at least that’s the case with Sergio Grieco’s The Sinful Nuns of St. Valentine.
Esteban (Paolo Marco) is on the run from the Inquisition (insert Monty Python joke here). After being chased on horseback and shot in the arm, Esteban defeats his captors in a sword duel and heads to a convent to be nursed back to health. While at the convent, his star-crossed lover, Lucita (Jenny Tamburi) is days away from taking her vows. Just like the Montagues and Capulets of Romeo & Juliet, Esteban and Lucita are bound by history to be kept apart. But strange things are afoot at the convent. Lucita’s roommate, Josefa (Bruna Beani), spends her time writhing nude in Lucita’s bed when she’s not having her way with her lady parts, but not before someone offs poor Josefa, framing Lucita, while Esteban receives assistance from The Abbess (Françoise Prévost). Let the whipping, sweating, and fornication commence!
As is always the case with any Blu-ray release from Redemption, The Sinful Nuns of St. Valentine is an as-is affair. Presented in a 2.36:1 ratio with an MPEG-4 AVC encode, it comes full of white specks, scratches, hairs, flicker, and noise. You name it, they’ve got it. They always make a big deal about their releases coming from remastered 35mm elements, but they never take the time to clean any of their releases up. I don’t mind so much, it helps remind you that you’re watching something shot on actual film, and coming from 35mm elements definitely improves clarity for the most part. These films doubtfully ever looked as good as they do here, aside from their original theatrical releases. Softness crops in here and there, but for the most part, things look sharper than you’d expect. Detail isn’t immaculate, but Redemption has definitely given these films a better-than-they-deserve conception. The only audio track is an Italian LPCM Mono that sounds reasonable enough with English subtitles, but there are no special features aside from trailers for additional Redemption releases: Virgin Witch, Black Magic Rites, House of Whipcord, Marquis De Sade’s Justine, and Killer’s Moon.
What’s funny about The Sinful Nuns of St. Valentine is that they appear to be more sinful than co-writer/director Grieco lets us see. While one nun is being whipped topless, he cuts to a shot of Josefa biting her lip in ecstasy, but when she’s having her way with Lucita, there’s barely any nudity involved and everything happens off camera. You expect a lot more from this type of film, yet it seems as if Grieco was trying to be more mentally titillating than visually. Needless to say, it just doesn’t work. Not to mention that just because someone is willing to take her clothes off, doesn’t mean that they should. Tamburi fits the bill just fine, but being subjected to Prévost just isn’t playing nice. Not to mention that the story is as convoluted as you’d expect from a ’70s erotic thriller. Nothing ever makes sense in these movies, and usually you could pass it off if there were enough skin on display, but by claiming your film is “loosely based” on a play by Victor Hugo just makes the whole thing even more of a bust.