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Love Letters from a Portuguese Nun

Love Letters from a Portuguese Nun -1977
Die Liebesbriefe einer portugiesischen Nonne
Jesus Franco (as Jess Franco)

Mariana Alcoforado love letters
Mariana Alcoforado uncredited
Erwin C. Dietrich (as Manfred Gregor)
Christine Lembach dialogue

Erwin C. Dietrich producer
Max Dora executive producer

Susan Hemingway – Maria Rosalea
William Berger – Father Vicente
Herbert Fux – Satan
Ana Zanatti – Mother Alma, the Grand Priestess
Aida Vargas – Antónia, a Nun (as Aida Kargas)
Vítor Mendes – António Fernando Queiroz de Melo, the Mayor
Isa Schneider – Antónia, a Nun
Herman José – Manuel Gonçalves, the Prince (as Hermann Krippahl)
José Viana – The Grand Inquisitor (as Jose Viana)
Patricia Da Silva – Maria’s Mother
Victor de Sousa – Inquisitor’s Aid
Nicolau Breyner – Prince’s Aid
Esther Studer – Josefina, a Nun
Dagmar Bürger – Nun
Anton Diffring – Old Priest

Review by Sven Soetemans

Holy Moses!
Tsk, tsk…. My poor, old and deeply religious granny should know what I’m watching here. Nunsploitation! Foxy looking nuns doing tricks with their willing and ravishing bodies, in blood-soaked and satanic-themed movies! Blasphemy, my old granny would call it…and she would be right as well.

Call it what you want …it’s still fun! It’s pretty deranged to see a bunch of nuns bringing sacrifices to Satan. And it’s even more messed up to see Lucifer actually appear then and sexually violate an innocent young disciple.

Who else than Jess Franco could have been responsible for this? The Godfather of Sleaze tried out every subgenre of eurohorror in his long, fertile career and this stylish, well cinematographed film represents his bizarre nun-fantasies.

A young girl named Marie – played by Susan Hemingway – is caught fooling around with her boyfriend by a frustrated priest. He intimidates her poor mother to force her into a convent. The nuns there, led by Alma Mater Ana Zanetti (who looks a lot like an exquisite version of Susan Sarandon, take unusual interest in her young and sensual body. Lovely convent this is! Mother Superior is a horny devil-worshipper and the priest is a perverted masturbator!

Which brings me to the MESSAGE of this film! Yes indeed, message! Jess Franco’s films don’t often carry a message but this `Love Letters from a Portuguese Nun’ does. Franco directly criticizes the historical hypocrisy of the Catholic Church and shows how Catholic superiors abused their powers.

This really is one of Franco’s finest achievements. Although the film exaggerates extremely when it comes to sleaziness and absurd situations, it also brings forward a lot of style and beauty. The acting is above average and the locations are beautifully chosen. The best aspect about the whole film is the truly magnificent music by Walter Baumgartner, who made a career out of filling exploitation soundtracks.

Love Letters from a Portuguese Nun may not be top-quality cinema, but it shows a lot of goodwill and depth. And it’s beautiful to look at. Hallelujah!

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