FLAVIA THE HERETIC

FLAVIA THE HERETIC

a.k.a. FLAVIA, LA MONACA MUSULMANA; FLAVIA; FLAVIA LA DEFROQUEE; FLAVIA THE REBEL NUN; FLAVIA, PRIESTESS OF VIOLENCE; FLAVIA, HERETIC PRIESTESS; THE HERETIC; THE MUSLIM NUN; THE REBEL NUN)

Well, I didn't expect to see this infamous nunsploitation title on blu-ray any time soon... I've reviewed FLAVIA twice before for SGM, and my synopsis of the film (below) is lifted from those reviews:

The setting is 15th Century Italy. As a young girl, Flavia wanders through a straw field during the aftermath of a bloody battle. A handsome soldier rises from the human debris and gives her a charmed smile. Clearly flattered, Flavia's flirting is cut short by her father's arrival on the scene as he raises his sword and decapitates the rival soldier in front of her.

With the air filled by dry ice and its quietly disturbing build-up, it could be argued that the above opening is the most atmospheric scene of the entire movie.

To curb her youthful lust, Flavia's (Florinda Bolkan, DON'T TORTURE A DUCKLING) father banishes her to a nunnery. It's here that she witnesses a visit from the infamous Tarantula sect, who whip the nuns into a frenzy of simulated sex and hallucinating images of Christ-like knights. The Tarantula scene is bizarre indeed, filled with striking (albeit tame) images, all shot with undeniable finesse by director Gianfranco Mingozzi. Most effective is the sight of the nuns laid in crucifixion postures on a marble floor. Simple, but provocative.

Flavia escapes the convent and stumbles waywardly out into the outside world, through some beautifully shot Italian countryside. Again, though, she bears further witness to the evils of man Resting at a nearby farm, Flavia is shocked when she spies the farmer raping a young lady in the pigpen. When her attempt to thwart the rape by throwing a rock at the farmer proves unsuccessful, Flavia flees the scene. Moments later the farmer catches up with her on his horse, and propositions her - surmising that she only reacted so violently to what she saw because she was jealous.

Flavia survives the farmer's advances, however, and instead is captured and taken back to the convent to witness more brutality perpetrated against women by men. With the help of her friend, Sister Agatha (Maria Casares) and an invading army of Muslims, Flavia decides it is time to show the women-hating males and sexually confused nuns a thing or two

FLAVIA is a film I'd always wanted to see uncut, back in the golden days of searching high and low for bootleg videos of films never made available in the UK.

I never managed to get hold of FLAVIA back in those times, and the more it eluded me the more its status was elevated in my mind. When I finally did get to see it, courtesy of Synapse's R1 release from a few years back, I was underwhelmed.

In my original review I berated the film for being misogynistic, slow and poorly dubbed. And it mostly is.

But having had this opportunity to give it a fresh viewing, I must say FLAVIA has grown on me. I found it's a pace a lot more agreeable this time around, taking in the sumptuous cinematography each time the storyline lulled. And the poor dubbing of peripheral characters is alleviated by the fact that it's preferable to watch an English language version of the film, as both Bolkan and Higgins delivered their dialogue in English. As for the violence - it's still a catalogue of sexual atrocities committed upon women by men. But, I suppose, this is largely true of how life was back in those times. And Mingozzi at least films it with an eye towards aesthetics. He doesn't wallow in the gore - most of what you see (nipple-slicing, flaying, burning of flesh) appears very briefly on screen.

And I still love FLAVIA's more absurd moments, such as the aforementioned Tarantula scene, and the bizarre image of a naked woman climbing into the gutted carcass of a cow oddly artistic.

Scorpion Releasing are responsible for bringing FLAVIA to blu-ray, and thankfully their disc is region free.

Their new transfer proffers the uncut film in its original 1.78:1 aspect ratio and is enhanced for 16x9 televisions. The 1080p HD presentation is housed as a nicely sized MPEG4-AVC file. Colours are nicely boosted and viewers finally get a sense of just how beautifully photographed this film is at times. Taken from a largely clean print, this compression-free transfer does what any good HD rendition of these films should do: makes it look better than ever before, but without robbing it of that authentic 70s feel.

English audio is preserved in its original mono form and sounds no worse off for that fact.

The disc opens to a static main menu page. There isn't a scene-selection menu but the film does have 16 remote-controllable chapters.

There are no extras, unless you count the handful of trailers for other features that are on offer. The films previewed are SEIZURE, SOMETHING WAITS IN THE DARK, DOGS, DEATH SHIP, SORORITY HOUSE MASSACRE and THE HOUSE ON SORORITY ROW.

I will also note that the cover sleeve contains some nice colour reproductions of theatrical artwork for the film from around the world on its reverse.

FLAVIA THE HERETIC improves each time I watch it. Its surreal final 30 minutes are pretty masterful, all told - and the largely silent finale is undeniably harrowing. The film is served well on Scorpion Releasing's attractive blu-ray.

By Stuart Willis


 
Released by Scorpion Entertainment
Region All
Rated 18
Extras :
see main review
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