There’s nothing like seeing a young woman storming into a convent and systematically slaughtering every singly nun she comes across before setting the place ablaze to grab your attention. That’s just the opening sequence, set in the 1960s. Flashforward to forty years later, and the convent has since become an abandoned dump that local college kids break into and vandalize. When a group of co-eds come to leave their mark, and get high, a run-in with Satanists leaves them all battling with demons for their very lives. And souls.
The Convent is what happens when you blend Mike Mendez’s sense of humor, a colorful UV light aesthetic, and influences from films like Evil Dead II, Demons, and Night of the Demons. And Adrienne Barbeau refusing to put up with any demon bullshit. A splatstick horror comedy full of blood, guns, and demon nuns, The Convent is meant to be a fun Halloween party and offers up the perfect seasonal treat to close out the Retro Nightmares Cinema Series.
The unique use of blacklights originated from Mendez’s lack of faith in CGI at the time. Talented special makeup effects artist Screaming Mad George introduced him to blacklight reactive contact lenses, which in turn inspired Mendez to incorporate blacklight effects in other areas of the film. Neon pentagrams, fluorescent blood, glowing eyes and more further set this wacky horror comedy apart from most.
While it draws obvious inspiration from Halloween themed ‘80s horror comedy Night of the Demon, The Convent has zero interest in mirroring the same pace. The body count is much higher and comes at a much more rapid pace. The Convent doesn’t really take itself seriously in any capacity unless we’re talking gore and kills. Then it delivers in spades.
If you’re going to go full-blown weird, then it helps to ground the film with a genre vet like Barbeau. Revealed to be the grown version of the opening scene’s nun killer, Barbeau’s Christine is the experienced demon killer and exposition deliverer. She’s not the only recognizable name in the cast, either. Look for Bill Moseley, just a couple years away from joining the Firefly clan in Rob Zombie’s House of 1000 Corpses. He plays Officer Ray, a beat cop tired of chasing college kids away from the convent. His partner? Officer Starkey, played by Coolio. You read that right. Coolio.
The Retro Nightmares Cinema Series screening of The Convent also comes with exclusive new in-theater content from Multicom Entertainment that gives an in-depth look at the behind the scenes filming. It rounds out a double feature themed around obscure horror, with underseen ‘80s slasher Sweet Sixteen screening first on October 11. Come for the weird giallo-esque slasher and stay for the even weirder gory horror comedy with heart. Of all the films part of the Retro Nightmares Cinema Series, The Convent is the one most meant to be seen on the big screen with a crowd.
Watch both Sweet Sixteen and The Convent in a special double feature this Thursday Nationwide. Get tickets at www.retronightmares.com.