Hmm, this one I need to explain.
I blame my mother-in-law, bless her. No seriously, this was all her fault. Well, I say ‘her fault’, but anyway, here’s the story: we were paying her a visit the other day, and, well, she’s been buying some movies of late, via mail-order. Not over the internet you understand, but via a catalogue/flyer through the letterbox from the retailer Zoom, she’s been ordering cheap DVDs, war movies of all things, but hey, whatever. So anyway, we over there and she was talking about the last few DVDs she’s watched and she tells me about one called ‘Nude Nuns with Big Guns‘.
“Well,” she admits, “It wasn’t what I expected.”
Just the title was enough to provoke a giggle from me. “What,” I asked her, “what exactly did you expect?” I picked up the DVD case and shook my head, started to lose it, frankly, it was so funny. Well, I haven’t laughed quite that much in quite awhile. It felt good, you know? Its obvious I should laugh more, you know, with someone rather than at someone or a movie etc. but life hasn’t really been like that of late. How strange that I only notice something like that when writing something down like this.
Norma is 77 and she’s a gentle lady widowed nearly a year ago, and she’s been ill during the last few months, and she’s just managing to turn things around, find her feet with the new ‘normal’ that is her life now. Well, ordering films like ‘Nude Nuns with Big Guns‘ is some kind of normal.
So anyway, I’d never seen this film but with a title like that, how could anyone resist? Of course, that’s the whole reason why the film has that title, it has little else- the title is everything, which is a pity. A film with a title like that shouldn’t just be self-knowing, or winking at its audience, it should have a few twists, pull the rug from under the audience somehow, subvert expectations, offer some commentary even if its your basic ‘hey-this-is-a-Tarantino-Rodriguez-spoof‘ kind of thing. Instead this is literally naked nuns with big guns, that’s all this thing is- even expecting very little you’ll still be disappointed, and it wears the description ‘exploitation movie’ with a very capital ‘E’.
Sister Sarah (Asun Ortega) and her sisterhood have been abused by their corrupt Church whose leaders are in partnership with the despicable El Chavo’s ‘Los Muertos’ biker gang, using the Church as a cover for making and distributing drugs and running sleazy brothels. Beaten and nearly killed by a forced drug overdose, Sarah has a (drug-induced?) vision of God setting her on a righteous mission to save her sisters and persecute the infidels who have sullied Gods Church and terrorised the area. The Lord’s work requires arming herself like a Holy Rambo and smiting all those that deserve it, especially the priests that dump Sarah’s lover, Sister Angelina (Aycil Yeltan) into the sex-trade.
In style, its obviously aping the Grindhouse films of Tarantino and Rodriguez; Planet Terror, Death Proof, Sin City and Machete– its no accident that Nude Nuns with Big Guns dates from 2010, just around that period that those films were causing such a stir (2005 – 2010). Its almost ironical that Nuns makes those films look so good in comparison, that it reveals a sophistication, say, in Planet Terror (a guilty fave of mine) that perhaps might have escaped viewers who thought it looked cheap and lazy. Fair enough, Nuns is obviously a VERY cheap indie film -it cost something ridiculous like $85,000 which wouldn’t get you a title sequence on a Tarantino film these days, but that’s no excuse for the film not tipping its hat to the audience a little more (indeed, it would seem the very excuse TO tip the hat to forgive that very awkward cheapness). I think this is what disappointed me the most- it should have been ridiculously funny, but whatever humour is in this film falls flat. Sister Sarah should have been cracking knowing one-liners like a Holy Dirty Harry or something, and all the excess of the breasts and guns (there’s LOTS of boobs, guns and sex) should have been delivered as self-knowingly and irreverently as it obviously deserves, but instead its almost alarmingly serious. Witty one-liners and winks in the script cost nothing and is where low-budget films can really shine compared to the pedestrian studio-mandated limits of bigger-budget films.
I’m hardly a religious person, but the way the Church is portrayed in this film is beyond irreverent, its almost blasphemous and offensive and could insult more religious-minded viewers. They might not be the intended audience anyway but a little more respect would have left a better taste to the proceedings, something a sense of humour would have facilitated. Its all so very deadpan, so very serious. I suppose the director, Joseph Guzman would argue it is indeed all tongue in cheek and humorous and not intended to offend but if so he failed. Any one-liners they do try to drop in (“Listen up! There’s a vigilante on the streets going around and killing the bad guys. In case you guys forgot, we are the bad guys!”) fall flat- either delivered badly by an obviously limited cast of low-rent thespians or directed and edited badly. The music score is unusually good quality, but slips into a Sin City parody as it progresses, only further cementing what the film is trying to be.
I suppose one has to allow for the films limitations in budget and cast, but that said, there is a cynicism to the whole thing that wore me down. Its naked Nuns, its guns, its boobs, its sex, its drugs, its… well, as if that would just be enough somehow. Maybe it is to the adolescent crowd, and I imagine this film may have fans (somewhere) but really, well, some films are so bad they can even be fun, like guilty pleasures (Life Force, yay) but others are just, well, bad. This is one of them.
Oddly enough, my mother-in-law says she doesn’t want the DVD of this back. Destined for the Bin of Shame, then.