The church is corrupt, and apparently at the head of a major drug running operation. So intense and paranoid are their efforts in producing said drugs, that they force nuns into working in the nude so as nothing can be stolen on the way out. When one of these nuns goes on a mission from God to avenge those who have not been all that nice to her and fires some large weaponry, the title has come full circle, and we have possibly the most succinct move title ever. Yes, there are nuns in a state of undress, and yes, they have big guns.
Such is the point to which the bar of Joseph Guzman’s Nude Nuns With Big Guns is set. Everything about it makes it clear that this is the firmly and wilfully schlock fest that abounded in the 70s and 80s, and no, try as it might, it is not a porn parody of another film.
We open with a school bus being driven into the desert. On board are Father Bernardo, and three nuns. They’re making a delivery, of suitcases full of heroin to Chavo our drug-dealing, bikie-gang-leading, poor-man’s-Antonio-Banderas antagonist, who inadvertently becomes the film’s protagonist.
Chavo checks the three suitcases, and when he finds one package of smack missing, boards the bus to find out which nun took it. He shoots two, leaving behind Sister Sarah, the nun of the title. In exchange for the loss of drugs (Chavo shot through them to kill the nun who stole them, as you do), Father Bernardo gives Sister Sarah to Chavo to do with as he pleases. In a film like this, the only option is to get her addicted to heroin and force her to work in Titty Flickers, his strip club-cum-brothel (and oh how that preposition changes with those two locations).
After one too many sexual assaults, and a near-lethal dose of heroin, Sarah hears the voice of God telling her to take revenge on those who have done her wrong, namely Chavo and his gang, as well as the priests and nuns who have become corrupted off the drug profits. She holds no mercy in her killings, and her first victim is the same man who nurses her back to health
The bulk of the movie is then spent with Chavo and his cronies, as they are entrusted with a mission from Rome to find out who is killing their fellow clergyman. Now, as if murdering two nuns for drugs wasn’t evidence enough that Chavo was not a nice man, we get treated to a lovely scene where a married couple and their teenage daughter rock up to Chavo’s gas station, only for the man to be intimidated (and shot) by Chavo, and for Chavo to then order the rape of the mother, and implied later rape of the daughter.
This scene stuck out to me, as it literally contributes nothing to the story. It’s long and protracted, and it doesn’t really exist for the purposes of building up tension – it literally seems as though the scene is there so the film can have a rape scene. And given that it’s got plenty of those later on, and they’re somewhat tenuously connected to the story, this one is just nasty, and sleazy, and gratuitous. I’m gonna put it down to the particularly bad acting of the woman who plays the mother, but it almost seems like it could’ve been meant as black comedy – the face she pulls when she realises how far up merde creek sans paddle they are is just too ludicrously bad for anyone to take it seriously – except that there’s no other indication that there’s anything darkly humorous about the scene.
It’s like it’s meant to be funny…but there’s nothing to laugh at…
But anyhow, Chavo and crew go for a bit of a rape-apalooza (particularly his two right-hand-men Half Breed and Kickstand, the latter of whom gets his name from being a big, muscular black man and the film going along with that steretype) and then return to the story, where yet another priest has been killed (offering the film’s only genuinely funny line – when Chavo sees the body of the priest, he says “he should’ve prayed harder” in a way that had me chuckling for a while). They go to a few local strip joints, where we’re treated to some really charming camera angles like the one below. And that’s what a large majority of the film is – Chavo and his crew wandering back and forth between two strip joints, with the occasional scene with Sister Sarah thrown in for a bit of spice.
And let’s talk about Sister Sarah for a moment. And Sister Angelina. It’s not enough for this movie to be dripping in unenjoyable sleaze, it needs to make sure that its nuns are also lesbians! That’s why they were forced into the drug-factory side of their church in the first place! Turns out that Sister Sarah has the hots for Sister Angelina, and the two are kind of on the run together, with the only real complexity being that Angelina isn’t 100% on board with all the killing.
Ah fuck it, let’s wrap up the rest of the movie.
Sarah leaves Angelina behind to go on a few more killing sprees, and gets shot in the side. She checks into a motel run by another lesbian named Butch (named ironically, I assume, as she’s pretty feminine despite denim shorts, a flannelette shirt and a bad attitude) who has to interrupt her sexy time with Beverly, a random extra character. Holed up in her room, Sarah extracts a bullet from her side and cauterises the wound (nowhere near as disturbing as the movie thinks it is) and then begins the rest of her rampage. Butch is first to go, then Mother Magda. Mother Magda is the sinister head-nun (I’m not going to dignify calling her a Reverend Mother) who is firmly in the corrupt pockets of the church, and is the one who’s responsible for sending Sisters Sarah and Angelina off to the drug houses. See how subtle they’ve been with her name too? Well, thing is that that doesn’t really tie in to the whole point of Mary Magdalene at all…anyhow, Sarah chokes her with a string of rosary beads, and she’s dead
Then comes a whole bevy of people, many of them random patrons of the brothel (and there’s whores and customers-of-whores whose deaths are shown as big deals, even though they’re literally introduced in the scene where they die). Kickstand and Half Breed get killed too (Kickstand also raped an elderly nun earlier in the film, and his death isn’t given anywhere as much a sense of come-uppance as that action deserves) and then finally Chavo
Chavo has kidnapped Angelina, and Sarah walks in on him in the process of raping her – orders him off her, then Angelina shoots his dick off. Chavo actually picks it up and holds it in his hand screaming, before Sarah shoots him dead. The two ride off into the sunset together (not literally) and the Church orders a new priest to go after the nuns, leaving the film on a sequel hook that will hopefully never be developed.
It’s not like you expect too much from a film with a title like Nude Nuns With Big Guns, but given the spate of recent gleefully unashamed B-Movies that have come out in the wake of the Tarantino/Rodriguez double-up Grindhouse, you expect one that’s a bit more fun than this. While the title and plot seem like a ripe field of parody for the film to harvest, the final result is, in fact, not much different from the grindhouse films that Tarantino and Rodriguez were sending up. I guarantee, had this movie come out 30 years ago, it would’ve been caught in the Video Nasty furore – as it is, I’m surprised it hasn’t been more controversial, save for the lawsuit surrounding it – which is only targeting people who have downloaded the film over BitTorrent services. For the record, if they’re going to try and target people over downloading a film – they would be better served choosing a film that is worth paying money for.
I didn’t like this movie, if you couldn’t tell. I thought it would be a ridiculous romp of cheesiness and over-the-top violence, but nothing works. It’s all filmed as though someone pissed all over the lens before each take (but not in a stylistic way, like From Dusk Til Dawn), the acting is, across the board, entirely awful, and there’s no fun to be had. It seems to think that it’s this B-grade homage to grindhouse cinema, but it just seems like an actual grindhouse film released a few decades too late; that’s not a compliment as to how well it recreates the genre.
Everything about it is sleazy – but not in an enjoyable way – and it all seems really half arsed. There’s a heavily anti-Catholic sentiment running through the film, which leaves a bad taste. It’s also weird – and you can read the implications of it however you’d like – that the main character of the film is really Chavo. He’s certainly the most interesting, and the one who gets the most screentime. Everything to do with Sister Sarah – which could’ve been played for the over-the-top farce that it calls for – is kind of morose and solemn.
There’s no joy or satisfaction that’s meant to be extracted from her revenge (a la Taxi Driver, which the end scene is not so much homaging as plagiarising) and there’s not enough seriousness played to make any of it an effective drama (as they tried to do with I Spit On Your Grave). Even the violence, and there is a lot of it, is pretty low-key. Word of advice, filmmakers, if you build a premise around a nun carrying hand cannons, your audience is going to expect a bit more in the way of entertaining violence. Also, said cannons will do a lot more than leave pretty little headshots – they’re more likely to blow half the victim’s face off! That would have made this film more ludicrously entertaining! As it is now, it just looks like they couldn’t afford much in the way of special effects.
And it’s all so cheap! Not in a low-budget sense – it clearly didn’t have much money to throw around, but it just looks lazy, slapped-together, and more than anything, an excuse to have a whole lotta boobs on screen
It even looks like they tried to make it a fun film – every character gets introduced with a freeze-frame and title card of their name, but most of these characters only gave one or two lines, so what’s the point!? Oh, and there’s (give or take a few) 30 pairs of breasts on screen (60 breasts for your viewing pleasure!) – each one gets their own title card during the end credits – as well as all the other characters who show up on screen. For some reason, treating everyone in this film as though they deserve their own title card inthe credits makes the movie seem lazier!
This is a film that needed to be sleazy, cheesy, over the top and ridiculous fun. Instead, what we got is a nastily sleazy, lazy, piece of crap. It’s not fun, it’s not really entertaining, and it’s certainly not well made. It’s highly, highly derivative (if you want an idea of the score of the film, listen to the music in Robert Rodriguez’s Sin City and Planet Terror then combine them – with little to no effort whatsoever) and all around comes off as utter schlock.
I’m not a prude. I often enjoy movies that set out to offend or be completely ridiculous. If this had been one of those films, there’s a lot of promise it could have delivered. My irritation with it has possibly made it seem worse than it is – it’s not actively offensive, per se, though I suspect it’d like to be… It’s just really lazy, and not something that needs to take up too much of your time or attention.
You might see the title and think “hilarious!” (that’s what I did) but it’s really just a big waste of time. Had promise, didn’t deliver. Forgive the lack of detail in the plot summary, but this movie wasted my time, and I put more effort into this review than was put into the film as a whole.