By: Juan Miguel Martinez
“Satanico Pandemonium” – the name of this film alone conjures wicked images, and ones of panic. This film is set apart from other nunsploitation films of Mexican 70’s cinema, as this is one that veers more into sexual, almost pornographic territory. The film is shot in the Michoacan countryside, a land of plentiful lakes and misty forests. The rain blankets valleys and mountains, and rumblings in the sky are constant. It is something that translates to the themes of this film, as it is about self doubt and the constant pangs that desire will have on a person, when not allowed to satisfy.
Gilberto Martinez Solares was born in 1906, 4 years before the Mexican revolution erupted across the country, forcing boys to become men and men to become killers. While he took part in war, he left to Paris in 1930 to establish a photography studio, but came back to Mexico shortly after to make films. He had photographed one film and got the taste for it. Most of his films fell into obscurity, because the market for his brand of sensory overload wasn’t quite ripe yet. He made Satanico Pandemonium in 1975, at the age of 69. It would prove to be his swan song, something that really grabbed the attention of the public because of the burgeoning nunsploitation genre.
Catholicism is ingrained into the Mexican consciousness, something brought to the shores of Veracruz in 1512. There was pain and anguish in the mercy of Christ, and he hurts you because he loves you. It comes with a price, but he can’t be watching all the time, can he? Sister Maria answers this question, played with a melancholy restraint by Cecilia Pezet. She is walking along a brook one day when she is approached by Luzbel himself, played by Enrique Rocha, presented as a strapping young man.
Sister Maria is obsessed, not possessed. Satan is an external force in this film, and he is presented properly. He is not a puppeteer – he cannot make you do anything you do not want, but he sets the stage for you to make a decision. Maria finds herself flagellating her skin, with the lacerations proving orgasmic. Aside from this, the film takes the route of being a traditional love story and sidesteps the blood drenched delirium of “Alucarda” and “Veneno para las hadas”. These were two other films that were squeezed into the Mexican 70’s exploitation canon before censorship took hold and films like these were banished.
The film itself is hard to find, but can be obtained on www.mondomacabro.com, a website that deals in “The wildside of world cinema”, you can also stream if for free if you are into that sort of thing on Tubi
Accompanying today’s film pick is a song called Arrival by King Diamond
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