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Mondo Macabro presents
Satanico Pandemonium (1973)

"The Devil is in me. I don't fear Hell, for I AM Hell."
- Sister Maria (Cecilia Pezet)

Review By: Mark Zimmer   
Published: June 09, 2005

Stars: Cecilia Pezet, Enrique Rocha
Other Stars: Delia Magaña, Clemencia Colin, Sandra Torres, Adarene San Martin, Patricia Alban
Director: Gilberto Martinez Solares

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nudity, sensuality, sadomasochistic abuse, mortification, self-flagellation, mutilation, extreme violence, gore, child molestation, corpse desecration, suicide, torture, demonic possession, generally naughty nuns)
Run Time: 01h:28m:40s
Release Date: May 31, 2005
UPC: 843276011499
Genre: horror

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer

DVD Review

The nunsploitation rush that came in the wake of Pasolini's The Decameron and Ken Russell's The Devils often promised much in the way of misbehaving nuns, with sexual repression and ritualistic torment fueling the fires in the convent. More often than not, these ended up being talky and frankly not all that deviant, which is disappointing for their target audience, to say the least. After all, your typical nunsploitation fan isn't going to be too shocked at nearly any atrocity thrown up on the screen. For the most part this 1973 Mexican entry in the subgenre satisfies many of the promises that its sisters fall short in fulfilling.

Sister Maria (Cecilia Pezet) is taking a peaceful walk in the woods when she is suddenly confronted by a nude man (Enrique Rocha). Fleeing him, she is plagued by visions of him everywhere, tempting her with an apple, until finally she is seduced by him (in the form of one of the other nuns). Sister Maria goes off the deep end, especially after she learns her new lover is Luzbel, Lucifer, Mephisto: the Devil. She immediately goes on a rampage of sin, murdering other nuns, including the Mother Superior, as well as assorted depravities with a young boy whom she also murders, and so forth. Before long, Maria must make a choice between facing the Inquisition (depicted in a bloody fantasy sequence) and corrupting and damning all the other nuns of the convent.

The sex factor is pretty high here, with Sister Maria eagerly disrobing with frequency. The expected lesbian nuns, sadomasochistic abuse and blasphemy are here to a gratifying extent as well. The weakest point is the ending, which undercuts much of the entertainment value of the preceding hour and 20 minutes, but it was apparently necessary to meet censorship concerns. The alternate title, La Sexorcista, notwithstanding, there are no exorcisms and it's plainly just intended to capitalize on William Peter Blatty's notorious book.

So the slime one wants from such a film is here in as high a quantity as nearly any other nunsploitation picture I can recall. The style is reasonably good as well, with prolific director Gilberto Martinez Solares (maker of over 200 films, including 50 starring comedian Tin-Tan) doing a workmanlike job of bringing the story to vicious life. Some things are a little obvious, most notably the parallels to the Garden of Eden (Luzbel's nudity, the proffered apple), which feel a little clumsy. There's an interesting sensation of being swept away by uncontrollable impulses, as Sister Maria suffers brief moments of guilt before moving on to her next atrocity. The murders are particularly noteworthy, as the rhythm of Sister Maria's stabs with the knife take on the rhythm of sexual penetration, a metaphor that is doubled by the visuals and the squishing audio. Sister Maria, prior to her possession/corruption also goes into a sexual bliss as she mortifies herself with a belt of thorns and whips herself (in graphic detail). It's a very, very wrong but simultaneously erotic combination of repression, religiosity and sexuality.

While Rocha doesn't get much to do, other than look sinister, Pezet does a great job with the lead role. She plausibly seesaws between chastity and depravity, innocence and lasciviousness, all with little more than her facial expressions. She really makes this picture work, to the extent that it does, and is worth the price of admission. This certainly isn't for mainstream audiences, but those who go in for the violently perverse and/or have a nun fetish will be very pleased (though they may want to shut off the DVD before the coda hits, in order not to spoil the fun). Now I need to go make a good Act of Contrition.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: On the positive side, the source print looks flawless and has excellent color and black levels. However, something went horribly wrong in the transfer process, especially in the lighter scenes. These are a painful-to-look-at mess of digital artifacting, with an apparent demonic combination of digital noise reduction and edge enhancement making the outdoors sequences a complete disaster. The aspects of nature, especially tree branches against sky, look terrible on a larger screen. Lines are broken up, rings and haloes are everywhere and backgrounds seems to thrub and move like masses of digital worms. This might look quite good on a smaller (27" or less) set, but on anything bigger it will have some very serious issues.

Image Transfer Grade: D+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access

Audio Transfer Review: The sole audio is a 1.0 mono Spanish track. It has mild hiss and acceptable range, but the eerie score sounds quite fine. Dialogue is clear throughout and I was able to understand most of it with my rudimentary and mostly-forgotten Spanish.

Audio Transfer Grade: B


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 12 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
Cast and Crew Biographies
Cast and Crew Filmographies
1 Documentaries
1 Featurette(s)
Packaging: generic plastic keepcase
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. Galleries
Extras Review: Some of the extras here are devoted to this film in particular. Primary among these is a 15m:06s documentary with the director's son, screenwriter Adolfo Martinez Solares, who gives some useful background information regarding his father's career and the making of the picture. There's also a bio of the director, a set of Mexican lobby cards, and a few bits of the Italian artwork for the release under the title, La Novizia Indemoniata.

However, the bulk of the extras are devoted to the nunsploitation genre in general. An 11m:12s featurette, House of the Writhing Nun, includes an interview with nunsploitation director and fan Nigel Wingrove, as well as a brief history of his company, Redemption Video and his film Visions of Ecstasy, which was banned in the UK for blasphemy. There's a text history of naughty nuns on film and a filmography of other Mexican nunsploitation, all too little of which is available on DVD. It's a decent enough package for the film and neither overwhelms nor leaves one aching for more.

Extras Grade: B


Final Comments

Top-notch steamy nunsploitation that will make you have to say ten Our Fathers and twenty Hail Marys at your next confession. An unfortunately shabby transfer of very nice source elements, but there are some entertaining extras along for the ride.


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