Saturday, January 2, 2010

NUN OF THAT (2009)

So was it Quentin Tarantino or Stephen Romano that reignited the spark for grindhouse exploitation? While the days of sleazy back-alley theaters and hillbilly-infested drive-ins are long gone, the spirit of low-budget actioners dripping with sex and violence is still very much alive. And while Tarantino and his buddy Rodriguez spents buckets of Weinstein money to make their Death Proof and Planet Terror features look genuinely ill-used, scratched and cobbled-together, the rest of us have been making movies look like that for free.

Then enter Stephen Romano and his runaway hit faux-film history book Shock Festival. A painstakingly documented sortid stories of movies and filmmakers that never existed, complete with beautiful mock posters and lobby art courtesy of the author, Shock Festival grabbed the attention and imagination of countless indies, resulting in a DVD collection of trailers for these fictional movies. And out of that came Richard Griffin’s ode to that bizarre hybrid of crime and fetishism “nunsploitation”—the tongue-in-cheek and terribly cheeky Nun of That.

After novice nun Sister Kelly is expelled from her convent for delivering a beat-down to a perverted priest, she is sumarily attacked by a trio of rapists, which she manages to subdue (i.e. murder horribly), and encounters a trio of gun-toting nuns, who, well, manage to “subdue” her. She is sent to Heaven, which looks like a seedy nun-filled nightclub, where she is serenaded by Jesus Christ himself in a rousing musical number. Christ then informs her that she will be sent back to Earth as an envoy to take down the mob. Faster than you can say, “Sure, why not?” (or as Sister Kelly shrugs, “Okee dokee”), she goes through some quick training with Ghandi and a pair of demon ninjas and is resurrected among the living as the newest member of the Order of the Black Habit. Renamed “Sister Wrath”, she joins “Sister Lust” and “Sister Gluttony” and they go about kicking ass for the Lord. They encounter greaseball goombahs with porno mustaches, pimps, prostitutes and “Viper” Goldstein, master of “Jew Jitsu”. And by this point, things have gotten too silly to be terribly offensive. Gunplay and martial arts ensue. Throwing star yarmulkes are thrown. Vibrators are used for blunt force trauma. Lesbian urges are explored. It’s truly exploitation at it’s finest minus the mean-spiritedness of the genuine article.

Directed by Richard Griffin (Splatter Disco) and written by Griffin and Ted Marr, Nun of That is everything you’d want in a violent sleaze comedy. Kudos to the cast—which includes cameos by both Debbie Rochon and Lloyd Kaufman—and more kudos to Griffin for abstaining from applying digital damage to the beautifully-shot feature. Nun of That captures the feel of the ‘70s without resorting to the gimickry of burns, skips, scratches, etc. One look at a mobster’s John Holmes mustache tells you everything you need to know about the movie’s Neverland time period.

(On a personal note, I have no idea if Griffin suffered through a Catholic childhood—he gets all the lingo correct, but I suspect that if he did, it was a limited exposure. Because no true Catholic harbors sexual nun fantasies. “Nunsploitation” is truly the invention of either the envious Protestants or those utterly warped by Christianity. The real Catholic student knows that those vestments and wimples conceal no human form!)

The Camp Motion Pictures DVD is chock full of extras including the nifty original Nun of That trailer that sparked the project. 

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