Directed by Sergio Grieco
Starring Françoise Prévost, Jenny Tamburi, Paolo Malco, Franco Ressel, Corrado Gaipa Corrado Gaipa
Kino Lorber (Blu-Ray & DVD) (US R0 HD/NTSC / WS (2.35:1) (16:9), Image (US R1 NTSC), Redemption (UK R0 PAL), Another World (Scandinavia R0 PAL) / WS (2.35:1)
One of the many, many nun-themed exploitation films churned out in Italy in the 1970s, The Sinful Nuns of St. Valentine is one of the more familiar largely by virtue of the fact that it was the very first one released on DVD. The film was apparently never dubbed into English and barely played outside its native country upon its original release, but when it was picked as one of the initial releases from Redemption Films on DVD, it managed to find an audience and, though far from the label's best, looked positively brilliant next to some of its digital peers like The Bloodsucker Leads the Dance. In the end it's actually more restrained and sedate than some of the wilder nunsploitation offerings like Flavia the Heretic or Images in a Convent, but there's enough filth here to make it worth a look when you're not in mixed company.
After being wounded in a sword fight, Esteban (New York Ripper's Malco) is on the run from the law with a death sentence hanging over his head. He decides to hide out at the convent where his true love, Lucita (Women in Cell Block 7's Tamburi), has taken vows and is putting up with the advances of her lesbian roommate, Josefa, not to mention a sadistic Abbess (Prévost) and a visiting inquisitor, Father Onorio, whose idea of punishment involves hanging nuns up half naked by the wrists. Things go from bad to worse as Lucita's disapproving dad (Ressel) comes gunning for Esteban and the entire convent is swallowed up by murder, betrayal, and a mass death sentencing straight out of Poe.
Despite the convent setting and occasional mild dashes of nudity and sadism, this is one of the tamer entries in the cycle and often feels more like a trashy romantic paperback novel vaguely crossed with The Beguiled. The most familiar face in the cast, Malco does what he can considering he spends the film bleeding and wounded or hiding out most of the time, not to mention the fact that he's saddled with an unflattering blond mop of a hairdo that tends to be at odds with his status as a heroic figure. It's all fairly well mounted and entertaining enough as far as these things go, but just bear in mind that the naughty nun craze hit much greater heights elsewhere.
The aforementioned Image DVD from 1998 was letterboxed but not anamorphic and looked pretty dull at the time, with the intervening years not exactly adding to its luster. The 2013 remaster from Redemption through Kino Lorber is a massive improvement, not surprisingly; there's no digital clean up here and the colors still look pretty drab and earthy (as intended), but it's much sharper, richer, and cleaner than before. It's pretty comparable to previous releases like Black Magic Rites, and fans should be happy to see it looking so much healthier than the old master from fifteen years ago. The PCM Italian mono audio track also sounds better, but it's still limited by the source consisting of lots of dialogue and some very sparing period music. The sole extras are other Redemption trailers for Virgin Witch, Black Magic Rites, House of Whipcord, Marquis De Sade's Justine, and Killer's Moon.
Reviewed on May 23, 2013.