Sunday, March 15, 2009
SINS OF SISTER LUCIA (1978) d. Koyu Ohara
Reviewed by Rick Trottier
I once saw a comic strip about a dorky teenage boy who experienced a whopping boner during his high school math class and was asked to come to the board to solve an equation. To keep from displaying his “lodgepole” in front of the pretty and popular cheerleaders in the room, the unfortunate youth tried to quiet his tumescent Doric column by thinking about screwing the teacher, who was a withered old nun named "Miss Acidcrotch". Whether this worked for our cartoon hero, I can’t quite recall, but I know many a man who used this technique during moments of physical stress to great success. Sadly, viewing SINS OF SISTER LUCIA will erase this procedure from your repertoire, for SINS OF SISTER LUCIA is easily one of the most erotic nunspolitation motion pictures ever made and should have you rearing like a stallion by the end of the film.
SINS OF SISTER LUCIA is the story of Rumiko, the manipulative and dissolute daughter of a wealthy businessman who is discovered by her father in the midst of appalling larcenous and sexual acts. The prim daughters of Japanese tycoons do not engage in such behavior, so to correct Rumiko, she is sent to a convent. The traditional methods of “sisterly” redirection do not seem to work on the rebellious and defiant girl, even after she is indoctrinated as “Sister Lucia”. Before long punishments of all types are visited against Sister Lucia, but during one spell of restraint and confinement, two escaped convicts stumble upon our helpless heroine, they ravish her and in a fit of patient diplomacy, she convinces them to help turn the tables on her oppressors, but not for long. Eventually another turnabout is orchestrated landing “Lucia” in an even more dreadful predicament. What started as an intensely seductive cinematic affair erupts into an orgy of licentious and salaciously lewd acts that would delight any devotee of Japanese debauchery.
SINS OF SISTER LUCIA is more than just an intense Asian softcore movie, it is also a very beautiful film and for those who are willing to risk the perils of its taboo subjects, the rewards are great. Typical of most Japanese cinema, it is shot very wide and with an eye to dynamic imagery. While there are few exterior sets, those that we see are quite striking. Even more impressive are the interior sets that are rich with strong architectural features, beautiful sacramental scenery and a mix of stark black and whites blended with blazing colors. From the crisp and clean look of the nuns’ habits, to the silky porcelain skin tones of the “sisters”, to the stunning visual beauty of altars and rooms inside what is suppose to be a sanctum of worship but is something else entirely, SINS OF SISTER LUCIA is exquisitely lovely and a joy to watch from a purely artistic standpoint. Added to the visual splendor is a musical soundtrack that, while used sparingly, does add to the sense of having stepped into a sanctuary during a High Holiday. Beyond these sublime sensual strengths, SINS OF SISTER LUCIA works on an entirely different level.
A close friend who had lived in Japan for a number of years and has regularly visited that nation since once referred to Japanese film as “utterly screwed up”. How could you not make such a statement about a land that has brought us tentacle-porn epics like the “Overfiend” series? Long before such animated horror-shows were birthed, films like SINS OF SISTER LUCIA were foisted upon the world by companies like Nikkatsu and they were violent and erotic, bizarre and beautiful. One of the reasons that SINS OF SISTER LUCIA has such a potent impact is that beyond the Japanese fascination with forbidden sex, lesbianism, rape and bondage/discipline there is commanding imagery created through the carefully orchestrated juxtaposition of religious iconography and sexual deviancy. While this is nothing new to historians and certainly goes back to the days of The Inquisition and beyond, there is something about the way the Japanese carry this off that has even more weight than the sleaziest European flicks of the late 70s and early 80s. Maybe it is the high pitched voices of the Japanese girls subtitled in English or possibly their delicate facial features framed by nuns’ habits. Maybe it is the cool and emotionless Catholicism of sisters walking down convent corridors and then engaging in all manner of copulation. For whatever the reason, SINS OF SISTER LUCIA is packed with scenery that with leave its mark on your mind and soul and of course, presented by our good friends at Mondo Macabro, this film transfer looks AMAZING. All the blacks and whites are crisp and clean, while the colors are vibrant and the audio is as clear as a bell. SINS OF SISTER LUCIA looks like it was filmed and then projected yesterday. When you’ve got a beautifully shot motion picture that evidences great care and thought when it comes to composition, camera angles and general creativity and it looks fabulous too, you’ve got yourself a real winner.
On the story side, SINS OF SISTER LUCIA is not terribly complex. It is the age-old tale of “bad girl needs to be taught a lesson so she’ll fall into line and not embarrass her family”. What starts off as a straight forward yarn about a hot-blooded and hard-headed young lady steadily devolves into one opportunity after another to go down an even more lurid path and engage in even more depravity. While there are “twists and turns” in the plot, they are far more manufactured than surprising and are just vehicles for piling on the pulchritude. SINS OF SISTER LUCIA is not about writing or acting, it is a powerful stimulant to the senses and must be openly admitted to be such. Once you confess your sins, it is much easier to enjoy them.
Typical of the many other Mondo Macabro DVDs I’ve seen, SINS OF SISTER LUCIA has an impressive bonus features menu. There is a two-part text segment to start called “About the Film” which looks first at Nikkatsu Films and then SINS OF SISTER LUCIA specifically. After that is an exceptional 24 minute documentary called “The Erotic Vampire” which is an expose and retrospective exploring Japanese erotic horror and exploitation films. This is one of the more compelling mini-features I have seen in some time and should deeply impress those who wish to know more about our Oriental exploitation brethren. After that is a 9 minute “Interview with Jasper Sharp”, which is a discussion with British film historian Jasper Sharp regarding SINS OF SISTER LUCIA, its director and its place in Japanese film lore. There is a segment called “Nikkatsu Film Trailers” of which there are six little known gems. Finally, there is the extensive “More from Mondo Macabro” promotional trailer montage. While I have seen many of their wildly entertaining films, I never tire of this ever expanding trailer loop and certainly want to own ALL of their wares.
SINS OF SISTER LUCIA is the very definition of a movie for hedonists. There is no deep religious message, neither is it philosophically profound, nor is it amply arcane. SINS OF SISTER LUCIA is no different than that first bottle of wine you swiped from your parents’ liquor cabinet or that first naughty magazine you found in the Big Boys’ Clubhouse when you snuck in late one evening. This is pure Forbidden Fruit and like The Apple, it is more than just a tasty treat. It looks wonderful, swinging from that tree, a mix of scarlet shades and gleaming skin over tart interior flesh. Just as a true Epicurean approaches a wine tasting by appreciating the hue and bouquet of a vintage before sampling it, let your eyes and ears bask in the splendor of SINS OF SISTER LUCIA and leave the more analytical centers of your brain to get the much needed rest they deserve.