Bruno Mattei (or should I call him Stefan Oblowsky?) is a director that is known for making films that don’t make much sense. He has given us the wacky Rats: Night of Terror and the lovably bad Hell of the Living Dead, all films that incoherently string scenes together to form somewhat of a narrative. It makes you wonder, though, as Claudio Fragasso has written all the movies listed above and has had a pretty big hand in each one. Maybe he is the problem?
The Other Hell, which was directed by Bruno, is the perfect example. As reported on the features in Severin Films fantastic Blu-ray release, Claudio Fragasso directed 80% or so of the film, and after sitting down and trying to digest what I just witnessed, you have to place most of the blame on him. Maybe old Oblowsky doesn’t deserve all the “hate” he gets for these messes his name ends up on… haha. Yeah right.
I would love to read the screenplay for The Other Hell and see if it is as incoherent as the movie. The film bounces from one surrealistic scene to the next, with no attempts at stitching the story together. It’s as if Claudio Fragasso went into a deep nightmare state when writing the story and whatever regurgitated up was put on paper.
If I was to attempt to explain the plot of The Other Hell,; I don’t know if I could effectively convey how strange and disorientating this film is. From what I can gather from watching the flick, a convent becomes home to some nuns who are being possessed/controlled by a mysterious presence living in the attic. Mother Vincenza (Franca Stoppi) has a hand in what is going on, but she spends most of her time smirking or scowling at the priest who was brought in to investigate the mysterious deaths. As Father Valerio (Carlo De Mejo) investigates, he begins to realise the problem isn’t just some mass hysteria, but an actual issue of supernatural nature…I think. Honestly, scenes cut to different scenes, people come and go or die and the main character ends up screaming his head off for no reason. Cue a wacky doodle ending with a “surprise” cameo from Simone Mattioli, who played the suave son of bitch James in Burial Ground.
The Other Hell rightly belongs in the sub-genre it is labelled under, which is nunsploitation. The reason I say this is because the other nunsploitation film I watched (Dark Waters) was just as incoherent as this one. I assume when one is making a nunsploitation movie, they are required to throw plot out the window. Oddly enough, though, nunsploitation does not mean gratuitous nun nudity, which made me very sad inside.
Whether or not The Other Hell is a good film, bad film, or a transmission from an extraterrestrial race of alien nuns, Severin Films dedicates all their time in making sure the Blu-ray is a stellar package worth owning. Once again, they pass with flying colours, providing a vast improvement in video transfer over past releases. There are moments of film degradation, and the audio tends to hiss and pop a bit, but overall, the film looks and sounds better than it rightfully deserves. I will admit, though, I was a bit surprised at the number of special features included. There was a new interview with actress Franca Stoppi, who reminisces working on this film and the other film she was shooting at the same time. Other than that, we have some archive interviews with Director Bruno Mattei and Actor Carlo De Mejo and an Italian spoken, English subtitled commentary. Not exactly void of features, but not bursting at the seams either.
Most horror fans are going to get a good laugh out of The Other Hell. They will love the messy plot, random weird scenes, out of nowhere violence and the borrowed Goblin score from Beyond the Darkness (honestly, the highlight of the film, which wasn’t even original.) Just don’t go in expecting a story. Instead, go in expecting another Mattei/Fragasso “masterpiece.”
Audio Commentary With Co-Director/Co-Writer Claudio Fragasso Moderated By Freak-O-Rama’s Federico Caddeo
Sister Franca: Interview With Actress Franca Stoppi
To Hell And Back: Archive Interviews With Director Bruno Mattei and Actor Carlo De Mejo
DISCS: 1 RUN-TIME: 88 min ASPECT RATIO: 1.66:1 RESOLUTION: 1080p AUDIO: Dolby Digital Mono LANGUAGE: English, French, Italian SUBTITLES: English REGION: Region Free RATING: NR PRODUCTION DATE: 1980 RELEASE DATE: April 25, 2017
At the peak of his ’80s excess, Italian sleaze maestro Bruno Mattei – using the alias ‘Stefan Oblowsky’ – stunned audiences with this Nunsploitation shocker about a series of brutal murders in a depraved convent. And while his cinematic legacy may remain controversial, Mattei here delivers a surprisingly stylized yet undeniably blasphemous orgy of stabbings, stigmata, Satanism, sexual violence and graphic savagery that ranks among his very best. Franca Stoppi (THE TRUE STORY OF THE NUN OF MONZA), Carlo De Mejo (WOMEN’S PRISON MASSACRE) and Franco Garofalo (HELL OF THE LIVING DEAD) star in this filthy nugget (Mondo Digital) – written by the notorious Claudio Fragasso (RATS: NIGHT OF TERROR, TROLL 2) and featuring a score ‘borrowed’ from Goblin – newly transferred from a 35mm print discovered behind a false wall in a Bologna nunnery!