Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, October 19, 2017


Joe Dallesandro and Anita Ekberg
THE KILLER NUN (aka Suor Omicidi/1979). Director: Giulio Berruti.

Sister Gertrude (Anita Ekberg) is the head nurse in a hospital that also seems to function as a convalescent home. Gertrude is convinced that she is dying, even though there is no medical evidence to suggest this, and she seems to be unraveling in other ways. She causes the head doctor, Poirret (Massimo Serato) to lose his job, and Dr. Roland (Joe Dallesandro) takes his place. Periodically Gertrude ditches her habit, goes into town, and picks up a man for hot sex, but of more concern is that she seems to be murdering the patients at the hospital. Is she losing her mind, or is someone else responsible for the deaths? The Killer Nun has a good idea but its execution is poor, as the film is saddled with weak direction, slovenly editing, a poor musical score, and a lack of basic coherency. As for the cast, any film that boasts both Anita Ekberg [Back from Eternity] and Joe Dallesandro [Wiseguy] in the same picture has to have its interesting moments, and it does. And the Mother Superior, whom Gertrude calls a bitch at one point, is played by no less than Alida Valli of Hitchcock's The Paradine Case! The Killer Nun might have been a superior horror picture but it has absolutely no style, and the murder sequences have no suspense or panache. Ekberg is okay, and still looks great, if a little more zoftig, at 48; she did a few more films after this one. The film introduced Paola Morra, who plays Sister Mathieu, a nun who is in love with Gertrude but has sex with Dr. Roland when he discovers she's stolen some morphine. Gertrude tells Mathieu that she prefers men, but will sleep with women if they wear silk stockings! If Dario Argento had directed this picture, it might have amounted to something.

Verdict: Anita Ekberg as a nun! Not since Frank Sinatra as a priest in Miracle of the Bells (which also starred Alida Valli) has their been such delightfully absurd casting. If only the movie were better! **.


angelman66 said...

Omg. A curiosity to say the least. I love love love the wooden Joe D though, I own 4 of his films, the best being Heat opposite Sylvia Miles in my opinion! One of the most beautiful men ever on film, and generously showing off his fleshly assets at every turn!
- C

William said...

Ha, I bet a few people, seeing the title and that cast, probably wondered if I'd accidentally posted one of my infamous fake April Fools movies, but this one actually exists. When I saw Ekberg was playing the nun with Dallesandro in the supporting cast I thought I had to be seeing things.

I have never seen Joe's classic Warhol films, but I'm going to check them out.