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The Other Hell

Film Review

The Other Hell


Question: How bad do you like bad movies?  If you like bad movies a lot, do you like Ed Wood?  If you like horrendously bad movies, but Ed Wood is just a bit too horrendous, then try films by Italian director Bruno Mattei.  Ed Wood he is not, so you Ed Wood fans wouldn’t appreciate him, but he is Bruno Mattei, with a style of badness that can be compared to none other.


Ok, we know the Italian film industry has a tendency to rip off popular American films and recycle them into their own scrapple.  The Other Hell actually creates a savory scrapple using elements from Carrie, The Omen, Rosemary’s Baby and The Devils all mish-mashed into one incoherent plot!  In this film, a convent is terrorized by an unknown force as nuns become seemingly possessed.  An abbot is called in who decries that the strange goings on can only be the work of Beelzebub.  After reporting his findings to the Vatican, the archbishop sends in a private investigator, Father Valerio, played by Carlo DeMejo (who also starred in City of the Living Dead), to find a rational explanation.


Soon, nuns are being butchered in barbaric ways with kitchen utensils while a decomposed head is discovered in the tabernacle of the chapel.     Father Valerio is convinced this is the work of a madman and…    Oh what the hell.  I’ll cut to the chase and ruin the ending for you.  If you make it this far into the movie, you’re obviously not watching for intellectual content anyway.  It goes like this:  Mother Superior had sex with the devil when she was but an acolyte.  She became impregnated and gave birth to a daughter with telekinetic powers.  The previous Mother Superior had tried to drown the Hell-spawn in scalding, hot water, but failed, leaving the little darling with a mass of burnt flesh instead of a face.  Satan’s little tot exacts her revenge by forcing Mother Superior to choke herself to death.  Now she’s all grown up and mentally deranged due to the fact that mama had kept her hidden all these years from the rest of the abbey.  Why did it take this long for her to finally snap and start killing nuns?  Who knows?  The script was probably cranked out and rewritten several times during its shooting. 


And yes, it is as bad as it sounds, and I loved every minute of it!!!  Not only were the plot ideas recycled from hundreds of other Italian clones, but the soundtrack by Goblin was shamelessly ripped off and used without the bands’ permission throughout the film, and quite well I might add, thus adding to the fun of this film.  Bruno Mattei, like Ed Wood, you got to either love him or hate him.  He creates cinematic cheesiness like no other!!!  This film wasn’t released in The U.S. until 1985 under the title Guardian of Hell.  The American distributors credited Mattei with the pseudonym Stefan Oblowsky.  Funny thing is most distributors outside of Italy always used a pseudonym for Mattei in the credits!


The Other Hell (1980)  a.k.a. The Presence; Guardian of Hell
Director: Bruno Mattei.
Cast: Franca Stoppi; Sandy Samuel; and Mattei regular Frank Garfield.


©Humberto Amador


This originally appeared in Deluded Fanzine in the Summer of 2000.

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