Color, 1975, 88 mins. 48 secs.
Directed by Gilberto Martínez Solares
Starring Cecilia Pezet, Enrique Rocha, Delia Magana, Veronica Avila
Mondo Macabro (Blu-ray & DVD) (US R0 NTSC) / WS (1.85:1) (16:9)

Rarely Satanico Pandemoniumhas a film's title been more appropriate than Satanico Pandemonium, a wild and woolly Mexican nunsploitation outing that gives those Satanico Pandeomoniumblasphemous Italians a run for their money. (And yes, its title was later used as the name of Selma Hayak's character in From Dusk Till Dawn). Directed by Mexi-horror veteran Gilberto Martínez Solares, who also helmed a few wrestling monster pictures as well as the better chunks of Face of the Screaming Werewolf, our story revolves around sweet young Sister Maria (Pezet), a tranquil and benevolent nun who spends her afternoons wandering through the woods, picking flowers and admiring the birds. Unfortunately her life changes when she's confronted by a swarthy naked guy (Rocha) prone to gnawing on apples. Back at the convent, she finds her prayers insufficient to block the evil influence now creeping into her soul; she even retires to her chambers at night where she indulges in violent fantasies and whips herself into a sexual frenzy. The strange man keeps reappearing (once in the form of a lesbian nun who ravishes her on the floor!), and she realizes he may actually be Satan himself, intent on making her an instrument of evil. Soon enough she's causing all kinds of trouble, making moves on young village boys, provoking suicides, and spilling innocent blood in a rampage of demonic lust.

Complete with ferocious performances, plentiful nudity, and even psychedelic swirling opening credits, this delirious yarn is yet another variation on Ken Russell's The Devils (including an amusing nun orgy with the sisters hopping about shouting "Hail the Mother Superior!" while Maria hallucinates flocks of sheep). The Satanico Pandemoniumpotent atmosphere resembles a fairy tale come to life complete with isolated forests and antiquated village streets where evil can run rampant in Satanico Pandeomoniumfull view of ignorant townspeople. The ironic denouement indicates that the filmmakers weren't taking all of this too seriously, so don't feel guilty about kicking back and enjoying a curious variation on the religious horror craze from the 1970s. In fact, watch it back to back with the later Alucarda for maximum effect.

Rescuing another outrageous gem completely unknown to most English-speaking viewers, Mondo Macabro first brought this film to DVD in 2005. Taken from the original negative, the transfer was excellent for the time (apart from being interlaced, alas) with powdery colors and razor-sharp detail. The optional English subtitles are well-written, and the mono Spanish audio offers few complaints (though not stereo as the packaging claims; it's always been mono.) As for extras, the biggest is "The Devil Went Down to Mexico" (15m1s), an English interview with screenwriter Adolfo Martínez Solares (the director's son). Starting with Solares' all-star Mexican horror romp House of Terror, this enjoyable featurette covers all the bases and offers a nice primer on south of the border exploitation. Much time is spent on Satanico Pandemonium itself, with several anecdotes about the actors offering some amusing subtext to the main feature. Next up is "House of the Writhing Nun" (11m13s) in which Redemption founder Nigel Wingrove talks about the nunsploitation genre and his own cinematic contributions, Sacred Flesh and Visions of Ecstasy (plus clips from other naughty nun films like The Sinful Nuns of St. Valentine). Also included are a gallery of Mexican lobby cards, Italian release artwork, a text history of nunsploitation, a Mexican nunsploitation filmography (there's more than you'd think!), a bio and filmography for the director, and the ubiquitous Mondo Macabro promo reel.

Satanico PandemoniumIn 2020, Mondo Macabro brought the film back into circulation on Blu-ray (with the DVD going in and out of availability Satanico Pandeomoniumon and mostly off over the years in between) with a choice of two viewing options. The first is a fresh scan of what is referred to as "pre-print materials" on the menu but advertised as a new 4K scan of the negative. In any case, it looks excellent with nicely saturated color and the most detail by far of any available option. However, as the menu notes, it has an intermittent "optical fault" that was not fixable and so a separate scan of a theatrical print was commissioned. The latter looks, well, like a print with a grainier appearance and less impressive color; it may be more technically faultless but really the first option is better and any imperfections are minor enough. The DTS-HD MA Spanish audio is in solid condition throughout and comes with optional English subtitles. Both prior featurettes are carried over here, plus the usual Mondo Macabro promo reel, but there's also a new audio commentary by Diabolique's Kat Ellinger and Samm Deighan; anyone familiar with their past collaborations should know that they have a great rapport together and have an infectious glee that's present here as well. As they note from the outset there's very little tangible production material out there about this film, so instead they take the critical reading approach to contextualize this in the grander scheme of Mexican horror, nunsploitation, Satanic cinema, and much more.


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Updated review on May 14, 2020.