Why are we still obsessed with naughty nuns movies like Benedetta

Benedetta isn’t unique, but misbehaving nuns is his kind (Photo: Alamy Stock Photo)

Bad habits die hard, as people flock to see the newest nuns behaving badly. That is why the scandalous Benedita is a cinematic win.

Benedetta was the sensational title that got tongues wagging at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival, boasting hot lesbian nuns and blasphemous sex with a wooden Virgin Mary icon.

Catholic protesters slammed at New York Film Festival premiere, it proves poorly behaving nuns still have the power to shock – and let’s be honest –
We are happy.

Benedetta is the “true” story of a seventeenth century nun who falls into lust with a novice and announces that Jesus asks her to brush her – a return to the glory days of the “nuns” era in the 1970s.

These are usually low-budget films set in a monastery full of gorgeously fake nuns whose repressed sexuality has found outlets in lesbianism, homosexuality and “body humiliation.”

There’s likely to be a sadistic mother boss (in Benedetta played by Charlotte Rampling) and a lecherous priest, while you can confidently expect the Spanish Inquisition (or its devil-busting equivalent).

2FWTR8A France.  Virginie Evira in a scene from the new (C) Pathe movie: Benedetta (2021) Plot: A 17th-century nun in Italy suffers from religious visions and disturbing thrills.  A companion helps her and the relationship between the two women develops into a romantic affair.  Reference: LMK110-J7122-190521 Provided by LMKMEDIA.  Introductory only.  Landmark Media is not the copyright owner of this movie or TV footage but only provides service to recognized media outlets.  pictures@lmkmedia.com

Benedetta, a 17th century nun in Italy who suffers from disturbing religious visions and excitement (Photo: Alamy Stock Photo)

2HGJ9WE France.  Virginie Evira and Daphne Patakia in the new (C) Pathe movie: Benedetta (2021).  Synopsis: A 17th-century nun in Italy suffers from religious visions and disturbing excitement.  A companion helps her and the relationship between the two women develops into a romantic affair.  Reference: LMK106-J7796-210122 Provided by LMKMEDIA.  Introductory only.  Landmark Media is not the copyright owner of this movie or TV footage but only provides service to recognized media outlets.  pictures@lmkmedia.com

A companion helps her and the relationship between the two women develops into a romantic affair (Photo: Alamy Stock Photo)

Most of the movies are pretty awesome and low-rent but there are some notable exceptions. Director Ken Russell’s The Devils, co-starring Vanessa Redgrave and Oliver Reed, basically set the mold and remained censored for decades due to a thrilling scene that includes a massive cross.

Like Benedetta, directed by Paul Verhoeven (The Showgirls), the tone is deliberately provocative and daring.

Predominantly European, although with a thriving Japanese subgenre, “nuns exploitation” was most likely a reaction against the rise of feminism.

These sisters may do it to themselves (often in a tickle, soft sexual focus) but, as a bride of Christ, their bodies should belong only to God.

On the big screen, naughty nuns in all their forms still obsess over us.

There are nuns singing in The Sound Of Music (1965) and Sister Act (1992). There are old-fashioned British festivals like Nuns On The Run (1990), where Robbie Coltrane and Eric Edel were convicts who dressed cross-legged and hid in a convent. There are also horror nuns, most recently via 2016’s satanic horror The Conjuring 2.

And there’s the enduring ‘nuns and guns’ dynasty exemplified by Lindsay Lohan’s submachine gun The Sister in Machete (2010).

Why the call? Is it corruption of innocence? The inner drama of a closed world order? Those gorgeous monochromatic clothes (and the magic with what lies underneath)?

One thing is for sure, even with the decline of nuns in the real world, when it comes to nuns in movies, we’re not about to kick the habit.

Benedetta is in cinemas now.


On screen naughty nuns through the ages

The Nun and the Devil 1973

Editorial use only.  There is no use for book cover.  Mandatory credit: Filmstore / REX / Shutterstock (1642033a) The Nun and The Devil Film and Television

Hot nuns is the name of the game (Photo: Moviestore/REX/Shutterstock)

The former Miss Great Britain stars in a typical Italian nuns movie that includes hot nuns as well as huge exaggerated amounts of actual nudity, lesbianism, and torture.

Dark Habits 1983

Nuns and drugs are not an obvious coupling (Photo: Anna Muller/Tesauro/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock)

Nuns and drugs are not an obvious coupling (Photo: Anna Muller/Tesauro/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock)

The monastery’s antics come no more than in Pedro Almodóvar’s dark Spanish comedy, in which nuns indulge in LSD and lesbian excursions, coca-docking with prostitutes.

The Sound of Music 1965

Film ... The Sound of Music (1965);  Julie Andrews is portrayed as Maria, in a scene from the film.

This classic video was based on being a naughty nun when you think about it (Photo: Twentieth Century Fox)

The wayward novice Maria cuts her curtains to make a fluffy dress, then seduces her boss with the help of a singing wooden doll – the guitarist!

Devils 1971

Editorial use only.  There is no use for book cover.  Mandatory credit: Filmstore/REX/Shutterstock Photography (1627664a) The Devils, Vanessa Redgrave Film and Television

The devil must be in us (Photo: Moviestore/REX/Shutterstock)

Vanessa Redgrave’s hunched Sister Jane whips her sisters into a naked demonic frenzy in front of a 17th-century priest of Oliver Reed in Ken Russell’s closely-censored classic cult.

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