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Movie Reviews

The Convent  

Just when you thought that 'Urban Legends: Final Cut' had nailed the lid shut on the coffin of late nineties horror movies, along comes another that is instead a refreshing mix of the ridiculous slasherthon flicks of the early eighties and the ironic, self referential (and now rather tedious it seems) films of late. Oh but that's not all. With tongue firmly in cheek, director Mike Mendez also throws in some wacky and bizarrely filmed scenes that would'nt look out of place in an MTV video and at times his creation spills over into the sci fi genre! This movie is called 'The Convent' - a fitting title to a movie that is ultimately laughing at itself and not other gore flicks. I am pleased to say that I enjoyed this ludicrous celluloid caper and chuckled heartily until the absurd ending which is begging for a sequel, and rightly so.

The film kicks off in 1959 when ex-pupil Christine, coolly puffing on a cigarette, strolls into her school chapel - filled with nuns deep in prayer - in sunglasses and a slinky black coat only to pull out a chunky sawn off shotgun and shoot the holy congregation to kingdom come. Marching down the aisle she pumps several rounds into a babbling priest and douses the mother superior in petrol. With a flick of a cigarette, the rosary wielding nun is up in flames as the mysterious Christine walks calmly out of the building.

It is then present day and we are introduced to Mo, a goth dressed up like a dog's dinner with a fuzzball hairdo, and Clarissa, a goody two shoes virgin, who are discussing their trip to the haunted convent where the maniacal Christine (Adrienne Barbeau - popular with John Carpenter movies), who still lives in town, killed several bible-bashing holy people.

A virgin and a goth - two character staples of the horror genre, but Mike Mendez obviously thought that this wasn't enough and decides to go the whole hog and we are introduced by Clarissa to her other chums, a dozy cheerleader, two equally thickheaded jocks, a nerd and a dope smoking moron. No revolutionary horror flick character developments there then.

Anyway, Clarissa and her pals, after stopping off at the spooky home of Christine, proceed to the convent but their stay is cut short after the town sheriff and his deputy (played by a hilarious Coolio) discover the naughty kids and send them home. Mo however, hides in the convent as it isn't the first time she has been in trouble with the law. What she doesn't realise though is that she is being watched by the undead ghosts of the convent who are planning on doing a little hellraising of their own.

Teens are dispensed with at ease in short scenes where blood n' guts take a backseat to flourescent goo and neon glowing body parts. Coolio and Barbeau steal nearly all of the scenes whilst the rest of the amateurish cast are left to fight for the spoils.

'The Convent' will almost certainly be a cult film because of two things: I cannot think of another movie of its kind that is as incredibly outrageous and mirthful, and there are a handful of scenes that the viewer will never forget, including a posessed dog, a doped up jock receiving oral sex from a vampire zombie, and police officer Coolio opening fire at Clarissa - screaming at him for help - because she has interrupted his mealtime! Although there are a few dull moments, primarily those involving the cast members who don't seem to realise they are in a movie which is mocking them ie: they play it straight, these are outweighed by the pros. I doubt that 'The Convent' will get a theatrical release in the US because of its short running time (75 minutes) and eventhough the movie is very well shot with excellent lighting and a great atmosphere about its sets and locations, it can't hide its low production values and some performances are quite poor. It went straight to video here in the UK and sadly I believe it'll do the same in America. Mind you its going to be released in cinemas in France so there's still hope!

Simon Savory

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