A little background on nunsploitation, the genre came to fruition in the 1970’s particularly in heavily Christian European countries although examples exist in the US and Asia. The focus is usually on young attractive nuns who overcome the repression and oppression of convents, religious rules, patriarchy and social conventions regarding women. This often, but not always, involves an awakening to sexual freedom or the voicing of a dissenting opinion. The films range from outright pornography to “high art” (Ken Russell’s 1971 “The Devils”). Most of them are set in medieval times with the inquisition being a favorite focus. “Killer Nun” is an exception, being set in the present day.
The story (purportedly based on a real life newspaper headline) concerns Sister Gertrude (Anita Ekberg) a well-regarded nun at a hospital for the elderly and insane. A series of confession booth monologues cue us to a past sexual abuse and a desire to “destroy all men just as they destroyed my happiness.” A bizarre flashback/hallucination/nightmare informs us that Sister Gertrude has recently undergone an operation on her brain tumor.
Italian sex icon Anita Ekberg had fallen along way since her “La Dolce Vita” (1960) days, but she had more name recognition and box office draw than the rest of the cast put together. Her acting is not altogether impressive, but she pulls off malicious glee and complete insanity quite well and fills in the rest of the time with confusion and aloofness. Unfortunately she has too dramatic of a face (not helped by makeup more befitting a prostitute than a nun) to make the part believable yet is far too old and haggard to be marketable as exploitation material.