Sunday 3 March 2013

Nude Nuns With Big Guns

Nun’s The Wiser

Nude Nuns With Big Guns
2010 USA
Directed by Joseph Guzman
Havana Films Blu Ray Region B

Nuns? Yes.
Nude nuns? Oh yes.
With guns? Affirmative.
Big guns? As the film carries on the guns get a bit bigger so... yes, very much so.

As you can see from my blindingly scientific and rigorous critical technique above, I have perhaps come to the conclusion that Jospeh Guzman’s grindhouse homage, Nude Nuns With Big Guns, does exactly what it says on the tin.

That’s not always a recommendation , of course, and if you’re a somewhat seasoned film watcher like me and you come across a title of this kind of... um... calibre, you’ll know that even if the writers/directors of these kinds of things managed to live up to the title... it can still be a dull and deadly affair with the name of the tale being just about the only thing that’s interesting about it.

I’m happy to report, however, that Nude Nuns With Big Guns exceeded my expectations for it.

This film seems to be based, from what little information I can glean, on Guzman’s original short of the same title, which is actually just one scene which would then make it’s way into the final feature, with the actresses and roles slightly changed around. But it’s made, I would think, with the wave of modern grindhouse movies very much in mind and it does nothing to hide its influences, perhaps wearing them on it’s celluloidal sleeve just a little too obviously but in a way that will, I suspect, be much appreciated by fans of this kind of work. You know the kind of stuff I’m talking about here...

Grindhouse: Planet Terror, Grindhouse: Death Proof, Machete (reviewed here), Hobo With A Shotgun (reviewed here)... this film is very much trying to hold its own with these kinds of movies and, I have to say, it succeeds at this very well. Right from the outset we have a modern day take on the early 70s exploitation thriller which really makes sure that no grimy, sleazy stone is left unturned to make up the proper ingredients for a jaw dropping and mostly quite dumb hour and a half of escapist mayhem.

The villains are unpleasant and vicious, of course. They do nasty things like rape and kill... but that’s always a good way to get the audience’s back up and ensure that when the time for final retribution comes, as it does in this tale of an abused nun coming back for revenge and doing “the lords work” in her best “old testament” style of anger, wrath and fury... the audience is on her side when it comes to the films tough and “if you’re a geezah cross your legs” grizzly denouement.

But of course, since it’s trying its darndest to be a tight, little exploitation movie, you can be sure the path to revenge will take the sleaziest of routes possible as the titular Sister Sarah (played unflinchingly by Asun Ortega) and her “lesbian lover nun sidekick” spend as much time out of their habits as they do getting back in them and going into battle fully locked and loaded. The film gets all the clichéd genre thrills squeezed into its short running time and, even when the characters in the movie are being their most unpleasant, you can be sure that the filmmakers will put something humorous or “knowing” into the editing style to give you a little smile, even at the most inappropriate of times.

The film asks you to suspend your disbelief because one of the things you have to accept about the landscape and network of villages this plays out in, is that all the nunes and priests are drug dealers and are the religious equivalent of a kind of low life mafia. Against this backdrop, Sister Sarah walks as God’s right hand gun, and if the movie does tend to make you think of the lone western gunman roaming the desert and doing the Lord’s work, then I really think it’s supposed to. In terms of the twisted morality and the prevalence, no matter how grim, of an angry, vengeful justice of sorts, the tone of this movie comes across no less as a modern, but not that modern, take on the classic Italian spaghetti western idiom.

And it has a lot of help with that on the musical front too, with Dan Gross’ score being a definite cross between emphasising a kind of rerun of the heavy Planet Terror music (and it’s really close on that front) and a typical Morricone meets Nicolai mode of spaghetti western scoring in the quieter passages. So if you find yourself thinking the locations and some of the stylistic tweaks are similar to something you’ve seen in those Italian oaters... I really don’t think you were supposed to think any other way.

It’s not going to be everyone’s cup of tea, fair warning. The villains are very well played, which also means they’re thoroughly unpleasant and commit atrocities you might have a hard time having fun with... but like I said earlier, that’s all part of the tension and release part of the game on these kinds of revenge movies and if you can handle this kind of stuff then you shouldn’t have a hard ride with this one.

The performances on this are all very good including a little bit of business with modern character actor Bill Oberst Jr that will come back to haunt you if you stay to the films, enigmatic, last minute or so of footage. If you’ve seen and loved films like Machete and are also into watching such lowly 70s fodder as They Call Me One Eye and The Blood Spattered Bride in the spirit in which they are intended, then you shouldn’t find yourself having too much of a problem and probably quite like, Nude Nuns With Big Guns. If you’re anyone else, however, I’d definitely say “stay away”.

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