Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Review: Nun of That

Text © Richard Gary / Indie Horror Films, 2015
Images from the Internet

Nun of That
Directed and edited by Richard Griffin
Scorpio Films Releasing
91 minutes / 2009
The film can be seen HERE.

Religious comedies take a fine hand to craft, to be funny and irreverent with a feel and knowledge for the reverent. I’m not sure if I’m making sense, but it sure describes this film pretty well.

Based on the Strong Women and Blaxploitation genres (think Coffy [1973], Ms. 45 [1981] and Savage Sisters [1974; aka Ebony, Ivory & Jade], a group of super-Nuns – you heard me – take on the mob (of course, it’s the cartoonish versions of Italianos that would have made Joe Gallo crazy). And I’m sure that somewhere, some Mameluke is saying this is part of the “War on Christians.”

Sarah Nicklin as Sister Wrath
After a wonderful prologue where a nun on a stripper pole (no nun nudity here) guns down a bunch of mobsters, we get to meet the heroine of the piece, Sister Kelley (the amazing Sarah Nicklin), definitely a nun with an attitude problem that a few years of anger management may not have the power to cure. After beating up a pedophilic priest, she’s sent away to the bad nun parish in a poverty-stricken neighborhood. On the verge of being raped by a pimp in full Superfly regalia and his two goons, she does away with them with a can of whoop-ass, only to be shot by – yep – more nuns.

In heaven, she argues with her guardian angel asking where he was when she was shot; he defensively answers, “Getting smokes, Bitch! Do you know how hard it is to get menthol here?!” That line had me laughing hard enough to stop the film to gather myself. It’s a wild ride, indeed. And the film’s only just starting.

After meeting the J-Man (Michael Reed, and in a very cool idea, he also plays the Devil later in the film) and some training by the hosts of heaven (e.g., martial arts from Ghandi!), she comes back as a holy crusader known as Sister Wrath, as a member of the Order of the Black Habit, which is sort of like the nun version of the Black Ops. Don’t worry, I won’t be giving away too much more of the story, it’s just too delish. But I will be discussing observations of moments of course, as that’s mah thang.

Some of the humor is very subtle. For example, during a nun slumber party with a bottle of champagne to celebrate a victory, one of the priests named Father Thomas is looking through a crack in the door and enjoying the activity. One might think Doubting Thomas, but it’s more likely Peeping Tom is the reference. Less subtle joke that had me laughing refers to being so unlucky that someone could “fall into a vat of tits and come out sucking your thumb.” Such language from a woman of the cloth!

All the nuns in the order are named for the Seven Deadly Sins, including Sister Lust (attractive Shanatee Wilson, who easily is a take-off of Pam Grier sans the amount of curves) and Sister Gluttony (Ruth Sullivan, who was so memorable in The Disco Exorcist); a funny bit is that while all the sisters have a special cross around their neck, Sister Gluttony has three. Brilliant.

Not only is there a lot of incredibly funny material, but it is actually quite smart. The name of a tough-as-a-biker-bar hangout for nuns (most played by men)? Why Bar Nun, of course. And Italians/Catholics aren’t the only ones who get the treatment, there’s a mercenary killer named Viper Goldstein (David Lavallee, Jr.) so some Jewish jokes can also be made (more than one had me howling, such as “We invented ‘Old School’” and “Jew-Jitsu”); even Mohammed is taken down a notch, but don’t tell you-know-who.

I just have one question, and this may sound like a snipe but I say it in total respect: could you find faker looking moustaches and wigs? Wow! I take it as part of the humor, rather than a lack of trying.

The |Devil  (Michael Reed) and Mama Rizzo (Rich Tretheway)
And even with all the yucks, there is a gender politics and body politic that underscores the events. For example, a priest would rather side with mobsters because they’re men and are “supposed” to be in charge rather than with the nuns because they are women. Also there is much gender switching, with a man playing the woman who is running the mob (Rich Tretheway channeling Divine-meets-Little Orphan Annie), and as I said, many of the other nuns are definitely male.

There are two notable cameos. One is by the a bit unrecognizable Debbie Rochon thanks to a habit, who would be so powerful a few years later in Griffin’s Exhumed (2011), and the other a very hysterically funny Lloyd Kaufmann as the Toxic Av…I mean, the Pope, doing the worst Italian accent I have ever heard. You can just tell he ad-libbed his lines.

I mean, this is the kind of film I would imagine someone like Quentin Tarantino would twist his nut to have made, or at least watch.


Bonus video mock trailer (not from this film, but same characters)
Winner of the 2008 48-hour film award, where films are created in 2 days:





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