Friday, March 7, 2014

School Of The Holy Beast

School Of The Holy Beast (Seiju gakuen, Convent Of The Sacred Beast) Directed By Noribumi Suzuki, starring Yumi Takagawa. (1974)
Director Noribumi (or sometimes Norifumi) comes off like a Japanese Bill Maher in this scathing retaliation against the Catholic Church. His frightening religious fire and brimstone imagery is shocking in a beautifully colorful, phantasmagoric way and it just occurred to me that this is the 3rd film I've reviewed of his, along with the ghastly Star Of David: Hunting Beautiful Girls and Sex And Fury.
   I should've known what to expect going in, but I forgot who I was dealing with. This Pinky Violence, Nikkatsu cinematic juggernaut is quickly becoming my favorite new Japanese director. All of his films have a linear theme of depravity, iconography and sadism all bathed in that 60's Batman style lighting.  
   Protagonist Maya (Yumi Takagawa) is just a metropolitan girl surrounded by invading Western motifs in 1970's Japan. I like this director's use of American culture and his demented perspective on religion, he likes to use dashes of both throughout his films.
   The credit montage of sex, drinking, bumper cars and shooting galleries is the last fling before this attractive girl decides to devote her self to God. According to Maya, she's going to where "woman are no longer women" you hear that Sally Field? That little flying act you had, led straight into eternal sanctimony with Jesus!
Jeez, put your arms down, you martyr!
   The nuns lay down the principles in the convent and all look sullen as if they now are confined to a prison (most likely because that's what a convent is). Of course, like all Nunsploits there is punishment for the wicked and even self immolation, done topless in the most gratuitous way possible. Suzuki loves to flirt with bizarre fetishism and isn't afraid to cross untouchable boundaries like Nazism, water sports on Christ or a blood drenched portrait of the Last Supper. The nuns all carry whips so that if they get the urge to sin, they beat the normality out of themselves. 

Take a sip, this is Bill Murray's favorite whiskey

   One radical nun, who carries whiskey and a switchblade, humiliates the teacher by saying there's no way Jesus could've been an immaculate conception and Mary must've had a lover. Sister Ishada (Emiko Yamauchi) is the bad apple that begins to spoil the bunch and figures the new girl must've ratted her out for sneaking in a bottle of liquor.

Yeah, brighten up our day

    When someone sins (even in minor ways like over eating), there's always a pair of prying eyes waiting to tell. The only entertainment the callous, hypocritical nuns in charge have, is to watch two topless girls in a whip fight. The girls lash each other and strip the skin, I'd imagine Ken Russell would snicker (and take notes).

Not even the Republican Party?

   There's an especially erotic lesbian sequence in a flower patch, as two girls fornicate, it incites another to obscenely licks her fingers Col Sanders style. It turns out Maya entered the Abbey by her own free will in order to solve the mystery of her parents murder. Later on a sickly old women tells the morbid tale of her strange birth, spawned from her mother's suicide. The plot starts to thicken very fast, and conspiracies start racking up as porn pictures are found and confessions are made.
   Father Kakinuma (Fumio Watanabe), a bearded wizard-like priest shows up to dole out more punishment, this time through rape and psychological torture! He's a sociopath that hides behind the cloth and uses it to (secretly) get laid. According to the essential book Tokyoscope by Patrick Macias, director Suzuki worried less about offending the Catholic church and more about criticizing the Emperor (which was off limits at the time). 
   Maya, temporarily escapes and goes back to a swanky nightclub where she involves her boyfriend and his pal (who looks like an Asian Squiggy). I was a bit confused as to why she would lock herself into this forced nunnery situation, when she's able to leave whenever she'd like! It sort of weakens the plot, if she can just go at a moment's notice.   
   The comedic device for this film is strange as the two men rape the vice abbess in her sleep and she enjoys it. I also like this white cat periodically howls, it was a nice touch.


   No prank this unfunny is worth what happens next, as the female perpetrator's breasts are squeezed with thorns and beaten with sharp roses in a kaleidoscopic circle (or a ring around the rosie).

You said it sister

   Sister Ishida is ejected from the convent after threatening to expose their rampant hypocrisy. It goes even further as the bearded priest has completely lost his faith and we're shown evidence through real Nagasaki footage. Almost all the nuns have been impregnated by Kakinuma, and as usual the torture barometer reaches a caustic level of blasphemy. There's a reoccurring bladder bursting moment in one of Suzuki's High School films that reaches a new level of depravity, involving a crucifix.
 It all ends on the most demented note possible during a dreadful Christmas night with the ghost of Maya's mother stabbing her incestuous husband in the back with a cross. They really pour the dread and misery on pretty thick, although nothing compares to Hunting For Beautiful Girls. Suzuki worked with the mighty Sonny Chiba in The Killing Machine and directed some of the most astounding Pinky Violence Girl Gang Flicks like Terrifying High School and Girl Boss Guerrilla, he's a serious force to be reckoned with and criminally underrated.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED (For those very jaded and un-offendable)!

Color me Outta here!


  1. It's really twisted that's for sure and one of the most entertaining Nunsploits

  2. I´m going to see this, I hope I can find it


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