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(The Films of Nigel Wingrove)

Studio: Kino Lorber
Year: 1989
Cast: Louise Downie, Elisha Scott, Dan Fox
Director: Nigel Wingrove
Release Date: November 27, 2012
Rating: Not Rated for (adult themes, nudity)
Run Time: 00h:19m:57s
Genre(s): foreign


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This short, experimental film has been tough to get a hold of for years, thanks, in large part, to it being banned in the UK. Now that such a ban has been lifted, we can see for ourselves what the fuss was all about.

Movie Grade: B

DVD Grade: B

When we hear of a film being banned in a country, we assume it contains a massive amount of sex, violence, depravity, or all of the above. In the case of the 1989 short film, Visions of Ecstasy, it was banned in its native country of Great Britain solely for blasphemy. Sure, there’s plenty of the aforementioned prerequisites for most banned films (the first seven+ minutes involve nothing but hard-pounding music and a nun rolling around, bloody, and with her breasts exposed), but whether or not this was obscene, let alone blasphemous enough to be banned has been in question for over 20 years now. Fortunately, we’re now able to judge for ourselves just how “sinful” Visions of Ecstasy really is, as Kino Lorber unleashes the short film on DVD, complete with the feature- length film, Sacred Flesh, a 2000 film from the same controversial filmmaker.

Said controversial filmmaker is Nigel Wingrove, who founded Redemption Films in 1992, after the banning of Visions of Ecstasy. Wingrove’s company is responsible for producing some of the most influential horror films of the last few decades, and, more importantly, introduced the world to other filmmakers like Jess Franco and Dario Argento. Wingrove set a strange kind of bar very high in the brief, erotic music video-esque Visions of Ecstasy, showing us scripted, hypnotic footage that can only be controversial. The difference between this and, well, fetish porn (I wish there was a more delicate way to describe such a thing), is that Wingrove clearly has an artistic vision, and, for the most part, he’s realized that vision, keeping things interesting, beyond the blood and bared breasts. Sure, there’s no real story and not a single line of dialogue, but this is nearly 20 minutes that will stick with you regardless of whether you think it’s as blasphemous as the British did back in the late 80s.

Given the short length of the feature, it doesn’t make much sense to call everything else on this disc an “Extra Feature.” Instead, we simply have a great package of all-things Nigel Wingrove and a whole hell of a lot of eroticism, no matter how you slice it. There are a couple of even shorter Wingrove films, namely the eight-minute Axel from 1988 and the two-minute Faustine from 1990. There’s also a 24-minute documentary from 2009 titled Hail Mary! A Brief Peek at Nunsploitation, which features interviews with Wingrove that focus on a subject that’s pretty well spelled-out in the title. Another Wingrove interview, this time from 1990, is here, as well as 10 minutes of outtakes from Visions of Ecstasy, but the real highlight here, is the inclusion of the 2000 feature, Sacred Flesh (72 minutes). This is essentially an extended version of many of the themes and visuals we experienced in Visions of Ecstasy, only with much more nudity, graphic sex, and horrible acting. Sacred Flesh is certainly the more titillating of the two, but, unfortunately, it’s also much less interesting.

Posted by: Chuck Aliaga - December 12, 2012, 7:01 pm - DVD Review
Keywords: blasphemy, erotic, nun

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