Demons, Horror

The Other Hell (1981)

Comments Off on The Other Hell (1981) 23 October 2017

other hell

Studio: Severin

Theatrical Release: January 22, 1981 (Italy) / September 6, 1985 (USA) 

Blu Ray Release: April 25, 2017

Director: Bruno Mattei

Not Rated

Review by Travis North

Bruno Mattei could never really be considered a great horror director but there are times when he can make at least an interesting or entertaining genre film. See Rats or Women’s Prison Massacre for good examples. I have wanted to see The Other Hell for quite a while but I wasn’t sure what level of Mattei I would get.

This was written by frequent Mattei collaborator Claudio Fragasso and to be honest this is not one of his most coherent efforts. If you are not used to Italian horror it takes some getting used to, because you foolishly expect a plot or a narrative you can follow. Movies like this show you that it is sometimes more about mood than making sense. This one starts off with two nuns in the basement of a convent (some cool location shots which contain piles of real human skulls) leering over a topless deceased nun. This unfortunately is some of the only nudity in the film, so sickos looking for nun fucking can put their pecker back in their pants. One nun goes on a hilarious misogynist rant about vaginas and cuts out the dead nun’s uterus. She then stabs the other living nun for no reason, as some cheap red eyed demon looks on.

A young priest is sent in to investigate these strange occurrences, but things don’t get much better. Is it the work of a person, or could it be the devil? People are attacked by dogs, an old priest bursts into flames, multiple stabbings, and a baby is dunked into boiling water. Why much of this happens is a mystery to me. It’s moderately enjoyable but not as great as it sounds. It does drag a bit. There are some classic Mattei touches like the use of animal stock footage with an owl who fly’s by in slow motion for no reason. And since this is Italian horror, there is some random real animal violence inserted into the film as well to act as a red herring for one character. In this case a chicken has its head lopped off for real.

This does have some redeeming qualities beyond the gory elements. It’s always nice to hear a Goblin score, even if much of it is lifted from other films. I have to say I was actually slightly impressed with Mattei’s direction in The Other Hell. Beside the locations, there are actually some decently creepy and atmospheric shots in this. One involves a hallway filled with dolls hung by their necks. What this has to do with anything I don’t know, but it looks cool.

I do have to mention that much of this films doesn’t look all that hot on Blu Ray. It is very grainy in spots, while other shots look pretty good for a film of its era. I have to lay some blame on Mattei here though, since there were a few shots that were blatantly out of focus. They certainly don’t look any more impressive with a higher definition.

There is a full length commentary provided, as well as some interviews with one of the nuns and another featuring Mattei. It is interesting to hear that this movie was shot concurrently with Nun of Monza, which would I assume make a nice double feature with The Other Hell. There is also a trailer and reversal artwork. Overall an appropriate amount of bonus features for an average movie. I think they help to cancel out the crummy picture a bit. 

Movie Rating: ★★½☆☆ 

Blu Ray Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

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