Often when a gay person is going through a tough time coming out to their parents, and all the old arguments are going round, the gay person may trot out the old standby “Would you rather I be dead/on drugs/pregnant/etc.?” [My Dad indicated that he would rather I be on drugs.] But rarely does this particular zinger turn to “Would you rather I worshipped Satan?” which this movie has the courtesy to explore.
We begin with this woman giving birth on the floor of a barn, and having someone immediately take her baby away so “he” won’t get her. We next join this woman Justine as she arrives at this convent. Now, is Justine that baby all grown up? Or was that just a scene-setting baby? Hell, I’ve watched the movie and even I don’t know.
Anyway, one of the first things we notice is that the nuns at this particular convent dress like bloody mummies. They are completely swathed in white bandages, which look like they’re seeping blood from the inside. They also all have a massive bloodstain issuing from their crotches. This is there, and quite prominent, but never remarked upon. Justine meets Alucarda, this very intense black-haired girl who hears voices and takes an instant shine to her. They start to have a very close relationship, all secrets and smiles and hugs and whirling in the fields. One day they come upon this gypsy-type charm seller who tells Alucarda that he can get rid of her dreams, and then she will come to him. They run off, and find this old temple draped in red robes, which can be very suggestively arranged over sculptures to suggest gore without actually showing anything. Alucarda gets all intense with Justine, saying “The time is very near when you will love me as I love you—love me to death!” Alucarda wants to make a pact that they will die together, and Justine says “alright,” then, when it involves cutting themselves, “No, wait!” Then they open this crypt that is there, and loose this spirit that possesses Alucarda for sure, Justine seemingly less so, although she goes into a catatonic state.
They are found by the sisters and returned to the convent. One of the nuns promises to be “close by,” though I don’t know how close she can be without hearing Alucarda scream “Satan! Satan! Satan!” a few minutes later. Then the charm seller guy magically appears in their room. He kneels over Justine and rocks in time with her in a way that is obviously meant to suggest sex, but without showing anything. He then makes them take their clothes off and then they have this whole blood ritual, and then it starts to rain blood outside. They are now full-fledged daughters of Satan, and are issued a badge, ID card, keychain, coin purse, set of 12 collector’s cards, decoder ring and coupon packet, good for savings of up to $12 at local merchants.
They wander over to this fortuneteller’s, and before you know it are having orgies with her whole crew, numbering about 30. While this is happening one of the sisters at the convent is praying for them, and just getting a face full of blood for a thank you.
SPOILERS > > >
Then the Sapphic Satanists join the rest of the convent in a round of religious instruction—in this amazing church with multiple repeating crucifixes—and interrupt the proceedings to declare their love of Satan. They are then asked to repent in front of this statue of Christ which has, uh, quite a basket.
Now, one of my favorite things about Christians is how they are always so upset that some movie or song or whatever is going to present being gay in a not-negative light and all the impressionable boys and girls are going to see it and spontaneously turn gay. I like this because it presupposes that being gay is so intrinsically appealing to them, and it’s all they can do to resist it. And of course, the least little Janet Jackson song could easily just push them over the edge. A similar thing happens here. Having heard the duo’s praises to Satan, they all have to flagellate themselves and pray for the strength to resist his force. Well, it wouldn’t be that bad if you didn’t kind of want to do it already, right?
So the convent folks realize that Alucarda is possessed by a sixth-level demon [demon levels 1-5 are not that bad, apparently] and realize they have to try an exorcism. Justine is stripped and tied to a cross, where she is stabbled multiple times [in the name of exorcism] and she dies. Then she gets up and kills a woman. Some guys says the women are “the foul receptacles of Satan” and someone else responds “Someone must have contaminated her.” After a while Alcaruda has gained the ability to set people on fire with her mind [cool], but eventually Justine is killed via holy water, and Alucarda goes apeshit but is eventually stopped by seeing a crucifix. The end.
< < < SPOILERS END
One of the ways this movie is interesting is how it explicitly ties the lesbianism to Satanism. The impression is that since the convent [and the church as a whole] wouldn’t accept the love between the two women, they just go whole-hog on the rebellion tip and become Satanists. But somehow it’s doesn’t come off as offensive in a Cruising-type “being gay makes you a killer” message, but more about how the rigid teachings and rituals of the convent get into so much trouble because they can’t adapt to difference or changes in their routine. Also, since all the good nuns are dressed in bloody-looking rags, with nasty blood stains issuing from their crotches, there’s the implication that their religious vows keep them in kind of a tortuous position that they just accept, whereas Alucarda and Justine wear what they want and aren’t restrained by what they “should” be doing.
I’m sure there’s a lot more to it, and could use more careful examination, but somehow this movie didn’t make that much of an impression on me. I started watching another movie right after because this movie just seemed so slight [kind of amazing after all I’ve just described], and the next day I had almost completely forgotten it. I was surprised to learn that this is by the same director as Dr. Tarr’s Torture Dungeon, which kind of wowed me, because this one, while being structurally very similar [things devolve more and more into chaos], this one just didn’t get under my skin and… like I said, by the next day, I had forgotten it. But who can divine the secrets of the movie-watching brain? Not me.
Sure, it is visually interesting and has lots of weird goings-on, although it ultimately didn’t leave that much of an impression on me.
DR. TARR’S TORTURE DUNGEON is also by the same director, and is quite creepy and scary, about lunatics who have taken over an asylum.
HEAVENLY CREATURES is also about a couple of young girls’ sapphic affaction leading them to murder because their relationship is condemned.