aka GUARDIAN OF HELL
(Italy - 1981; US release 1985)
Directed by Stefan Oblowsky (Bruno Mattei, Claudio Fragasso). Written by Claudio Fragasso. Cast: Franca Stoppi, Carlo De Mejo, Andrew Ray (Andrea Aureli), Francesca Carmeno, Susan Forget (Susanna Forgione), Frank Garfeeld (Franco Garofalo), Paola Montenero, Sandy Samuel (Ornella Picozzi), Tom Felleghy, Simone Mattioli. (R, 89 mins)
A relative latecomer to the '70s Nunsploitation craze, 1981's THE OTHER HELL is a bit of an outlier as far as the subgenre is concerned, in that its focus is primarily on horror and there's no onscreen sex. One of the key components of Nunsploitation is its recurring depiction of sexually repressed nuns letting themselves go and giving into their wicked, uninhibited carnal desires, usually with other sex-starved nuns. Though the mainly Italian subgenre really took off in the mid '70s, it began with the serious drama THE NUN OF MONZA in 1969, directed by Eliprando Visconti (nephew of Luchino Visconti) and starring British actress Anne Heywood. Heywood would find a niche in roles that depicted her in various states of prudish sexual repression, most notably the 1979 American film GOOD LUCK, MISS WYCKOFF, aka THE SHAMING, where she played a 40-year-old spinster schoolteacher in a small town in the 1950s who loses her virginity via rape and falls in love with her attacker. Domenico Paolella's STORY OF A CLOISTERED NUN (starring Catherine Spaak and Suzy Kendall) really got the ball rolling in 1973, which he followed quickly that same year with Heywood, back for more nunsploitative action in THE NUNS OF ST. ARCHANGEL. After that, the floodgates were open, with Florinda Bolkan in Gianfranco Mingozzi's FLAVIA THE HERETIC (1974), Francoise Prevost in Sergio Grieco's THE SINFUL NUNS OF ST. VALENTINE (1974), Susan Hemingway in Jess Franco's LOVE LETTERS OF A PORTUGUESE NUN (1977), Laura Gemser in Giuseppe Vari's SISTER EMANUELLE (1977), Anita Ekberg in Giulio Berruti's KILLER NUN (1978), Ligia Branice in Walerian Borowcyk's BEHIND CONVENT WALLS (1978), Paola Senatore in Joe D'Amato's IMAGES IN A CONVENT (1979), Zora Kerova in Bruno Mattei's THE TRUE STORY OF THE NUN OF MONZA (1980), and Eva Grimaldi in D'Amato's fashionably late CONVENT OF SINNERS in 1986. Though Italy was the primary purveyor of Nunsploitation, Japan got into the act with 1974's SCHOOL OF THE HOLY BEAST, 1976's CLOISTERED NUN: RUNA'S CONFESSION, and 1978's SISTER LUCIA'S DISHONOR, among a handful of others.
|Franca Stoppi (1946-2011)|
Vestron Video released it on VHS in 1987 with new artwork. FCG had GUARDIAN/OTHER in US theaters at the same time as another already several-years-old Italian acquisition, Andrea Bianchi's incredible Oedipal epic BURIAL GROUND, and below is visual proof of them playing in a first-run theater in Toledo, OH at the same time. It's hard to believe that actually happened, but there it is. FCG only released a few titles before folding, including Paul Naschy's THE CRAVING in 1985 (a retitling of 1980's THE NIGHT OF THE WEREWOLF), Mattei's RATS in 1986, Bobby A. Suarez's Filipino post-nuke WARRIORS OF THE APOCALYPSE in 1986, and John Grissmer's BLOOD RAGE re-edit NIGHTMARE AT SHADOW WOODS in 1987. I'm not sure how FCG managed to get such schlocky films prime spots in first-fun theaters, but I'd like to think it involved Franzese reminding a National Amusements regional manager "Nice little five-screen ya got there in Toledo...be a real shame if somethin' happened to it."
|GUARDIAN OF HELL opening in Toledo, OH|
on September 13, 1985, at the same theater as
BURIAL GROUND, somehow in its second week.