Friday, May 11, 2007

The Convent (2000)

The Convent is a raucous, ridiculous and fun film directed by Mike Mendez before he did The Gravedancers. Fans of gory horror films that feature a prominent vein of goofy comedy are sure to love The Convent.

It’s 1959, and a Catholic school girl, named Christine, approaches a convent with a leather jacket slouched over her shoulders, a cigarette dangling from her mouth, big sunglasses on, a barrel of gasoline and a bag of weapons, all to the sounds of “You Don’t Own Me.” She enters the convent and proceeds to beat the nuns and priest inside with a baseball bat before lighting them on fire and gunning them down. The whole place soon goes up in flames and the story becomes local legend…

Forty years later, the convent is abandoned and is said to still be haunted by the nuns and priest. Rumor has it that Christine went bonkers after the nuns forced her to have an abortion. Christine was locked up in a mental institution for a number of years, but now she resides in town, living as a recluse.

A group of college kids go looking for a little excitement at the convent, but soon get kicked out by two cops (Bill Mosely and Coolio in two memorable cameos!), all except for Goth chick Mo, that is. She is snatched up by the local satanic cult as a virginal sacrifice. Things go kablooey and the demons are mistakenly set loose by the bumbling Satanists.

When the rest of the college kids begrudgingly return to look for Mo, they are attacked by the demons and they themselves are turned into demons. The demons don the nuns’ and priest’s clothes and are intent on bringing forth the Antichrist. One of the few survivors, Clorissa, escapes to find Christine (the adult Christine is played by the kick ass Adrienne Barbeau) to see if she can again stop the nuns. Turns out Christine killed the nuns and priest not because of a clandestine abortion, but because they were demons who wanted her unborn baby to turn into the Antichrist! The demons have returned to try and finish the ritual that they started, this time with Clorissa’s geeky and virginal brother. Can Christine save the day…again?!

Director Mike Mendez really packed this movie chock-full of his love for cheesy, over-the-top ‘80s horror films like Night of the Demons, Evil Dead and Demons. His exuberance and excitement for the genre is apparent and contagious!! If anything, this movie will make you appreciate the giddiness Mendez has for the genre and hopefully you’ll start feeling equally giddy!

This is a movie that never takes itself seriously and has fun emulating horror films from the past. It winks at the audience while paying homage to ‘80s horror and creating a wholeheartedly entertaining flick. From the stereotypical characters (jock, stoner, rich boy, horny couple, geek, Goth, Final Girl, Satanists, etc.) to its over-the-top gore (decapitations, head squishings/explosions, stabbings, shootings etc.), The Convent is a real throwback film.

It also helps that the script, written by Chaton Anderson, is downright hilarious! And not with that subtle, self-effacing, satirical humor so popular nowadays, either! No, the one-liners are packed full of cheesy, corny goodness, like something straight outta the 80s!

The special effects are worth mentioning as well, as the demonic nuns ooze florescent-colored blood (quite a clever way of getting around the MPAA rating board; this movie got away with a PG rating). The gore is never hardcore or realistic, but it’s never meant to be that way. Instead, it functions as mostly comedic and over-the-top, but that’s exactly what Mendez was going for.

Adrienne Barbeau (The Fog, Creepshow) is perfectly cast as the adult, tough-as-nails Christine. Her whisky-drinking, chain-smoking, Harley-riding, gun-toting and otherwise larger-than-life demeanor fits beautifully in the action-packed film. It is also a pleasure to see Bill Mosley (House of 1,000 Corpses, The Devil’s Rejects) in a small cameo as a dope-smoking cop along with Coolio. The rest of the cast gives pretty cheesy performances, but that’s the whole point, isn’t it?

If you’re in the mood for a fun film that reflects the energy and enthusiasm of 80’s horror movies, look no further than The Convent.

Available on Amazon!

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