To keep her from marrying the generically handsome Esteban, Lucita is forced to join a convent where hot nuns play hide the rosary and the Abbess fills her holiness with uncredited males who end up buried in the garden. When one of the lesbian nuns ends up pierced, and not in a good way, Lucita is taken by the inquisition, which finds that nuns answer questions best when topless. Can Esteban save Lucita? Will the mad Abbess have her wicked way with the young hero? Will a bunch of nuns become hysterical and rip off their habits? Guess.
Shot like a spaghetti western and making forays into romance and swashbuckling adventure, The Sinful Nuns of Saint Valentine suffers from a lack of wild, gleeful sinning. For sinful nuns, these girls are far to tasteful. With so little to titillate, and a diluted message, it is up to the story and characters to carry the show, and for a time, it looks as if they might. But the pace is too slow, the editing too rough, and the characters too simple for a successful drama.
Considered part of the nunsploitation genre of the 1970s, this is exploitation light. Probably the most plot-heavy film in the movement, there is a lot going on, and with a more skilled director and a lot more cash, I could imagine this being adapted as a PG sword epic. Esteban is a mainstream hero and except for one mild sexual encounter, thinks he’s in The Return of the Son of the Second Cousin of Monte Cristo. After an extensive period of hanging out in a huge “secret” room, he tries to rescue the girl, with sword swinging. It isn’t horrible, but swashbucklers are hard to make. This comes out as a C-level adventure film when it should have been an A-level exploitation pic.
The only time it comes into its own is in the brief torture sequence and at the climax, when a group of wall-up nuns go insane and tear off their clothing. It isn’t erotic, but it does keep your eyes on the screen.
The anti-religious message is stated strongly, and then withdrawn. For most of the film, anyone connected to religion is shown to be, at best, a useless hypocrite, and at worst, a psychopathic murderer. The two powerful figures, The abbess and the priest, both kill and torture gleefully, but the abbess doesn’t even have the excuse that she believes she’s doing the right thing. She just murders people as it suits her fancy. At least the priest believes he is acting for some higher power (actually, I’m not sure why that is an improvement). But after showing the Church to be devoid a value and making it clear that God is nowhere to be found, religion is suddenly let off the hook. All of the suffering is blamed on just two people, both of whom are shown to be insane, and the inquisitor gives a speech on kindness. It’s as if they made the film, and then realized they’d have to get it past Catholic censors.
You are likely to enjoy the The Sinful Nuns of Saint Valentine if you are in the mood for some background nudity and swordplay. However, it doesn’t deserve it’s relatively good reputation within the nunsploitation genre, and is not the key film that its few supporters have made it out to be.