What it is about the idea of a cloistered gathering of women that captivates audiences so, in particular Japanese audiences? Is it the sexually submissive environment found in a shogun's harem or is it the close quarters and restricting movement that are forced upon those confined to a women's prison camp? I’m going to go out on a limb and say that it’s the anticipation that at some point, somebody is going to get naked. Usually a “new fish” that while adaptable and street smart, will have to struggle to find herself (often literally) as she fends off the attacks of a butch female in charge (prison warden, headmistress, etc.). And then there are the lesbians. If Japanese Cinema has taught me anything, it’s that if more then three women appear on screen at any given time, statistically, one of them will be a lesbian. To prove such a hypothesis, may I suggest SINS OF SISTER LUCIA (Sudojo Lucia: kegasu), a nunsploitation flick populated with perverse priests, sex starved prison escapees and enough bad habits to constitute an extended stay in rehab.
After being caught seducing one of her school teachers and stabbing
one of her father's associates in the gut, Rumiko (Yuki Nohira) is committed
to a convent as a means to avoid scandal and hopefully provide a bit of discipline.
Upon her arrival, the headstrong Rumiko is greeted with taunts and humiliation
and renamed Sister Lucia in an attempt to absolve her of her sinful ways, but
this firecracker is not about to drop her juvenile delinquent status without
a fight. While her daily lessons teach that sexuality is a work of Satan, who
corrupts women through their lust and loins, it becomes painfully obvious by
nightfall that the convent doesn’t bother to practice what it preaches.
At night, the sisters' sleeping quarters become a den of iniquity, a lesbian
playground of which Rumiko wants no part. Gathering her belongings, Rumiko is
about to hit the bricks when she overhears the headmistress engaged in a forbidden
rendezvous with a visiting priest. Confronted by Rumiko, the headmistress denies
knowing any man in the biblical senses and punishes Lucia by tying her to a
chair and locking her in the basement as way of making penance.
Later that night, two recently escaped convicts break into the church's cellar, where they stumble upon and subsequently rape the tied-up Rumiko. Free from her restraints, Rumiko seizes the opportunity that has so invasively presented itself, by informing the duo of the congregation of sex starved females that are only one floor above them, egger for the touch of any man. As word gets around that men are within their midst, the sisters begin to disappear from their scheduled duties and teaching to cater to the convicts' every whim, save for Rumiko who watches over the debauchery like an anti-guardian angel. Of course it isn't long before the headmistress gets wind of the male presence and rallies against all sins of the flesh, but with their libidos finally liberated, it’s going to take more than the threat of eternal damnation to get these sisters to act right.
SINS OF SISTER LUCIA (Sudojo Lucia: kegasu) doesn't come close to the level of depraved mastery that Norifumi Suzuki's SCHOOL OF THE HOLY BEAST (Seiju Gakuen) does, but its not for lack of trying. Brimming with blasphemous imagery and rampant nudity, the picture leaves no sacrilegious stone unturned. At the heart of any good nunsploitation picture is a permeating sense of sexual suppression and subjugation. As such, SISTER LUCIA is textbook naughty nun fare. Every character, male and female, is starved for sexual contact, having been deprived of their physical needs either by prison walls or the restrictions of their religious beliefs. Likewise, the film satisfies all nunsploitation fundamentals and provides several scenes of naked nuns cavorting and fornicating in nothing but their wimples. If anything separates SINS OF SISTER LUCIA for its rather small subgenre, it’s the slight incorporation of elements most often associated with home invasion pictures. It’s no FIGHT FOR YOUR LIFE but the introduction of the two convicts is an interesting turn that helps get the film back on track after a lag in tempo at the picture's half way point.
WET ROPE CONFESSION, FAIRY IN A CAGE and the PINK TUSH GIRLS series made Koyu Ohara a valuable commodity to Nikkatsu, proving himself to be both a prolific and competent director for the studio. Helming over 30 pictures in about the span of a decade, director Koyu Ohara's films tend to be overshadowed by fellow Nikatsu Studio directors such as Yasuharu Hasebe and Masaru Konuma, who directed his own nunsploitation film with CLOISTERED NUN: RUNA’S CONFESSION (Shudojo Runa no kokuhaku), which was followed by Ohara's own RUNA'S CONFESSION: MEN CRAWLING ALL OVER ME (Runa no kokuhaku: watashi ni muragatta otokotachi). Where as both Yasuharu Hasebe and Masaru Konuma have seen multiple DVD releases of their films in the U.S., SINS OF SISTER LUCIA marks Koyu Ohara's debut in America, surprising given that the audacious titles to many of his films alone would peak the interest of any window shopper. Take for example WHITE ROSE CAMPUS: THEN EVERYBODY GETS RAPED (Shirobara gakuen: soshite zenin okasareta), a title that may not leave much to the imagination, but is certain to cause more than a few double takes.
SINS OF SISTER LUCIA is presented in a brand new anamorphic widescreen (2.35:1) transfer, taken from the original negative. The picture tends to lean on the grainy side but the print shows no discernable blemishes or markings. Black levels show depth and flesh tones appear accurate, living up to the level of quality that fans have come to expect form Mondo Macabro. Audio is offered in a Dolby Digital stereo mix, which feature the film's original Japanese language track with optional English subtitles. The track is more than serviceable, as are the subtitles, as they are easy to understand and follow.
Extra features include two brief essays by Pete Tombs, one about Nikkatsu Studios and the other about the film itself, with the later providing a bit of history on the nunsploitation subgenre. Previously available on Mondo Macabro's other Nikkatsu releases, “The Erotic Empire” is a 24-minute documentary that thoroughly covers the Nikkatsu Studios Roman Porno era from its inception to the revival that it is seeing today. Jasper Sharp, author of Behind the Pink Curtain: The Complete History of Japanese Sex Cinema is becoming a permanent fixture of Mondo Macabro’s Nikkatsu Erotic Cinema line and I wouldn’t want it any other way. Providing a nine-minute on screen interview, Jasper shares his encyclopedic knowledge of Japanese cinema, covering the film's finer points and pronouncing every title and name correctly, a feat which in and of itself is impressive. Trailers for THE WATCHER IN THE ATTIC, NAKED RASHOMON, THE PROSPERITIES OF VICE, ASSAULT! JACK THE RIPPER and FEMALE PRISONER: CAGED! can be found along side SISTER’s, and as always, Mondo Macabro's promo reel is on hand to tease us of titles to come. While not as fun or as sleazy as FEMALE PRISONER: CAGED!, and nowhere near the level of story telling as THE WATCHER IN THE ATTIC, SINS OF SISTER LUCIA proves to be a devilish delight of straightforward exploitation that should be avoided by those seeking absolution. (Jason McElreath)
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