Sunday, April 30, 2017

The Other Hell (Severin)

By Mrparka 
                Sometimes an exploitation film surpasses its intent; either due to its cultural relevancy, social message, its sheer success at entertainment, or connectivity to the audience. This is not the case with “The Other Hell”. “The Other Hell” is pure exploitation without much to offer except sleaze, cheese, and absurdity. Severin films happily brings this unbashful, ballsy exploitation film to remastered blu-ray and DVD.
                Nuns at a convent begin to die in blasphemous and extreme ways; these tragic circumstances eventually lead to a detective priest trying to figure out what is happening. “The Other Hell” is a bit of a talkative fair, many scenes consist of a couple of robed men or women chatting about the strange occurrences without much else to offer. There is a semi-interesting subplot of two priests who share completely different fundamental values when it comes to demonic possession; these conversations are probably the most profound. When these scenes aren’t hogging the screen, it is business as usual; exploding glass, unexplained wind, creepy cats, and some scenes trying to be so utterly blasphemous that one can’t help but shake their head and smirk at the audacity. The scene guiltiest of this in particular is when a rotted head is found in the altar box, the most sacred of places! “The Other Hell” follows strange rules to set up scenes, for example our groundskeeper of the convent, Franco Garofalo (Hell of the Living Dead), has his very own kennel on the premise of the church. This is of course done so he can be destroyed by what he loves, vicious dogs. With scenes like this, the foreshadowing becomes fairly obvious but nothing seems to happen with purpose, most scenes appear to be shoe-horned in.  So when a few non-flesh eating zombies pop up out of their upright coffins and begin screaming, it’s not as shocking as the film thinks it is. The dubbing is fairly poor, although some of the performances are still solid, including Franca Stoppi, who plays the mother superior of the convent. She is stern, yet creepy, and over the top crazy when she needs to be. The film takes freely from “The Exorcist” and “Carrie”, but manages to have a creative muscle to flex here and there, including the hanging disfigured mannequins which resemble a secretive character and are the best piece of foreshadow in the film.
                The score is by Goblin mostly from the film “Beyond the Darkness” where they borrowed Franca Stoppi from as well; it works with the film and is almost immediately recognized by horror fans. The score and Stoppi aren’t the only things borrowed, “The Other Hell” was actually being filmed at the same time as “The True Story of the Nun of Monza” which also stars Franca Stoppi and Franco Garofalo. Some of the same sets appear in the both films. Bruno Mattei is credited as the director on both films, but it seems that Claudio Fragasso actually directed most of “The Other Hell”, according to the commentary. Both of these directors have sort of a schlock reputation which is held up here. The gore isn’t as plentiful as one would think, but the film has its share of Italian style violence.  The camera work feels like it comes from a director who isn’t afraid to try something new. This is greatly appreciated and helps the film while also seeming to help solidify Claudio Fragasso’s claims at being the film’s director, as he was in his mid-twenties at the time of the film’s creation.  All and all “The Other Hell” is worth checking out for fanatics of nunsploitation, exploitation, Italian horror cinema, and/or someone who might want to get a laugh out of it. 
                The Blu-ray features are ported over from the Shriek Show disc including a commentary with Claudio Fragasso (in Italian), a Trailer, and interviews with Franca Stoppi and Bruno Mattei.  The best of these features is the commentary where Fragasso laughs and argues with the moderator of the commentary. The film is an improvement from the old DVD, but the print isn’t in the best of shape and will most likely never look better.
The Other Hell
Label: Severin Films
Color 88 minutes In English Closed Captioned
All Regions Widescreen Anamorphic 1.66:1 Dolby Digital Mono
Production year: 1980 Horror Not Rated
Director: Bruno Mattei
Cast: Franca Stoppi, Carlo De Mejo, Francesca Carmeno, Susan Forget

Bruno Mattei's 'Nunsploitation' Classic Now Uncut & Uncensored In HD For The First Time Ever!

At the peak of his '80s excess, Italian sleaze maestro Bruno Mattei - using the alias 'Stefan Oblowsky' - stunned audiences with this Nunsploitation shocker about a series of brutal murders in a depraved convent. And while his cinematic legacy may remain controversial, Mattei here delivers a surprisingly stylized yet undeniably blasphemous orgy of stabbings, stigmata, Satanism, sexual violence and graphic savagery that ranks among his very best. Franca Stoppi (THE TRUE STORY OF THE NUN OF MONZA), Carlo De Mejo (WOMEN'S PRISON MASSACRE) and Franco Garofalo (HELL OF THE LIVING DEAD) star in this filthy nugget (Mondo Digital) - written by the notorious Claudio Fragasso (RATS: NIGHT OF TERROR, TROLL 2) and featuring a score 'borrowed' from Goblin - newly transferred from a 35mm print discovered behind a false wall in a Bologna nunnery!

Special Features:

Audio Commentary With Co-Director/Co-Writer Claudio Fragasso Moderated By Freak-O-Rama's Federico Caddeo
Sister Franca: Interview With Actress Franca Stoppi
To Hell And Back: Archive Interviews With Director Bruno Mattei and Actor Carlo De Mejo
Review Quotes:

GENUINELY UNHOLY... Just watching it, you feel as though you're damned to eternal Hellfire.
-Anticristo: The Bible of Nasty Nun Sinema and Culture



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