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John’s Old School Horror Corner: The Other Hell (1981), another incomprehensible Italian horror that doesn’t even deliver the gore

March 17, 2014

MY CALL:  This Italian horror fails to deliver the gore we’ve come to expect and is directed so poorly it’s about unwatchable.  But I won’t lie, I was somewhat entertained by its level of bonkers nonsense.  SIDEBAR:  Also marketed as Guardian of Hell, this Italian film was originally titled L’altro inferno.

80s Italian horror has a way of catering to our inner perverted intoxicated teenager.  It’s always so over-the-top.  Not five minutes into this movie and we see a hot topless dead nun on an altar in some sort of alchemical laboratory.  An overly sanctimonious nun mutilates the attractive body’s genitals while reciting zealous rantings about the Devil and the vagina being a gate to Hell.  Normally this would serve as a reliable sign that this would be one of those so bad it’s good gory Italian sensations.  Sadly, this submission falls short.

Nuns behaving badly.

“Bonkers” would best describe the storytelling style of this film.  Nuns go crazy, randomly show up dead and kill people, a priest spontaneously combusts, house pets become evil, there are a few strangulations and stabbings, and there is hardly any sense of sound explanation or pacing.  Put simply: weird shit happens, then we watch some filler scene that neither explains what happened nor establishes the events to come, then more weird shit happens…then just wash, rinse and repeat until you run out of running time, adding over-the-top acting, terrible writing and provocative imagery as necessary.

What’s with the large mannequin-esque dolls everywhere?  What’s with the ninja-masked nun chick?  WTF is going on in this movie!?!

After several inexplicable murders occur at a convent, the somewhat young Father Valerio (Carlo de Mejo; City of the Living Dead, The House by the Cemetery, Contamination, Manhattan Baby) is sent to investigate.  His faith is tested with temptation and his sanity is tested by the chaotic script.  I’d explain the plot more but…honestly, it was hard to keep track of what the Hell was going on.

Father Valerio and an evil nun.

Director Bruno Mattei (Hell of the Living Dead, Zombi 3) seems to try and fail to capture the off-the-cuff tangential stylings of Dario Argento and Lucio Fulci.  Even though neither of them were terribly talented storytellers, their direction was slightly less erratic (most of the time, LOL).  You practically could have randomly ordered the scenes of this movie without reducing the followability of this senseless plot.  For all I know, that may be exactly what the editor did!

So…this guy is in the movie.  I have no idea why.  Really.  No idea.  And why he dies in a dog attack I also have no idea.

The effects are weak and the gore is minimal, especially for an installment in Italian horror.  Not sure why.  Maybe red paint and chicken livers weren’t on sale that week.  Just to be clear, you all agree that 70s and 80s Italian horror appeared to simply use red paint and butcher’s trimmings as blood and guts, right?  Super thick and bright red with a few random chunks.  Normally crazy gore is what makes these Italian films fun and watchable.  Perhaps that’s likewise why this film was so disappointing.

I enjoyed bits here and there and, I must admit, I was somewhat entertained.  So while I’m not specifically going to recommend this to anyone, I won’t warn off any adventurous horror fans either.

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