“The Other Hell” (1981)

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By Jerome Reuter

 The Other Hell is a 1981 Nun-Sploitation film, directed by Bruno Mattei. It’s also one of the more subdued entries in the sub genre, and one of the more bizarre entries in Mattei’s filmography. It’s somewhat of a mixed bag of  different exploitation tropes merged together. Part possession film, part mystery, and part supernatural horror flick.

This is another product combining the team of Mattei and writer Claudio Fragasso. These two always had a way of creating products that were entertaining, over the top, and most importantly, memorable. Unlike some of Mattei’s other works however, this one has a bit more originality. There’s nothing blatantly copied, except for the films soundtrack. Here Mattei lifts Goblin’s score from Buio Omega (aka Beyond The Darkness.)

That’s one way to ensure your film has a good soundtrack. When in doubt, use a pre-existing one.

Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, lets move onto the film. For those of you unfamiliar with the Nun-Sploitation sub genre, let me give you a general idea. In short, the easiest way to describe it is ‘nuns behaving badly.’ Most of these titles  a small step away from soft-core pornography. Many are best known for depicting sexually explicit adventures and kinky convent hijinks. After all, what DO nuns do when the habits come off?

This one takes place in this sub genre’s most common locale, a convent. A series of bizarre events are taking place, and the church decides to intervene. This is done with a common theme you’ll find in many horror films from around this time period; an exorcism. With the success of Friedkin’s magnum opus, many films were quick to capitalize on the fears and phobias of Catholic guilt.

Much of the films plot focuses on a priest investigating the events in question, and our villainous mother superior. Much like most of Mattei’s works, you can count to a lot of poor dubbing, and over the top behavior. Which is half the fun of his filmography.

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Aside from that, one of the more intriguing aspects of this film is its aesthetic choices. With its bright use of colors, and its interesting camera work, at times it feels much like a Giallo film. This was most likely an attempt to mirror the cinematography techniques used in Suspiria. With the use of a lot of reds and blues, it really has a look to it, one you might not typically see in a film like this. The pacing of the plot even flows more like a crime thriller, than a supernatural horror film. Which I’ve always felt really works in its favor.

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This films easy to find, and always a joy to watch. Unlike what King Diamond one said, nuns appear to have lots of fun. (even if it’s at their own expense)

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