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Film / School of the Holy Beast

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School of the Holy Beast (originally titled, 聖獣学園 Seijū gakuen) is a 1974 film made by Toei Company. It is a Nunsploitation film which is a subgenre of Exploitation Film.

A young woman, Maya Takigawa, becomes a nun at the Sacred Heart Convent to find out what happened to her mother years earlier. She encounters a lesbian mother superior, lecherous archbishops, and uncovers many dark secrets. The convent also practices brutal discipline and encourages masochistic rituals such as self-flagellation. In one scene, two nuns are forced to strip to the waist and whip each other severely with heavy floggers. Later, Takigawa is tortured and whipped by a group of nuns armed with rose-thorns.


The following tropes include:

  • Ambiguously White: The nun named Janet, as far as her features go.
    • Subverted with Nataly Green. An implicitly French nun as seen from the montage that implied she gets off from an Air France airplane and her name (though she bears an English surname), but the actress that played her didn't look rather convincing. The actress that played Janet (who is even credited as Marie Antoinette) would've pulled it off better.
  • Always Someone Better: The Abbess recalls to the priest about how she and Sister Mary/Michiko (Maya's mother) both coming into the convent at the same time, were always compared to each other that concluded with Mary/Michiko being better at everything she did than herself. And at the time, was up for the position of becoming the Abbess.
  • Asshole Victim: Nataly Green who starts the witch hunt is later killed by being pushed out of a window by Maya and later near the end, Father Kakinuma who after having sex with Maya (culminating his committing incest though unwittingly) gets stabbed by the Abbess with a crucifix to the back.
    • The Abbess as well who was the one that tortured Maya's mother (who was also a nun, she had hung herself and then gave birth to Maya) and gets Hoist by Her Own Petard.
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  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Maya stays looking like she hasn't gotten a single scratch on her despite being abused so much during her stay in the abbey.
  • Black-and-Gray Morality: Corrupt abbey full of sadistic nuns that encourage medieval tortures, and run by a lecherous priest that rapes one of the nuns vs. young woman who becomes a nun to find information about her mother and is not above stirring up trouble, blackmailing, and spying.
  • Blood from the Mouth: Hisako.
  • Cassandra Truth: Hisako who refused to confess about the man that got her pregnant was not believed by the nuns that it was Father Kakinuma. She gets tortured so much, she dies as soon as she urinates on the image of Jesus.
  • Camp: Some scenes count, particularly whenever the villains show up.
  • Cat Fight: A rather bloody one. The two girls that were ordered to whip each other twenty times. Despite that, it's still played for Fanservice.
  • Corrupt Church: Corrupt Abbey, is more like it.
  • Covers Always Lie: As what you can see from the poster, there is a stark naked figure of a woman, vertically suspended by what looks to be vines tied to all four of her limbs, facing the nuns. Suffice to say that no such scene ever occurred in the film, not even as a torture scene.
  • Crucified Hero Shot: A villainous and hellish version. Father Kakinuma gets stabbed in the back with a crucifix after finding out that he had sex with his own daughter (Maya) and calling out in madness that she's God with the last shot of him looking as if he was an inverted cross.
  • Destination Defenestration: There is no glass, but Nataly Green dies after getting kicked out of the window by Maya. Landing on a spiked fence is what most likely killed her.
  • Disguised in Drag: Maya's two male friends dress as nuns and sneak in to the convent so they can rape the Abess.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Which they try to justify it's for the sake of the Lord, though they're just plain medieval looking. The aforementioned scene which the nuns whip each other was their punishment for eating the food for the inventory. And if you're a nun and you get pregnant, you'll be strapped to a chair and be brutally beaten and tortured to death, though that last part may just be an inadvertent case and only if she was too weak to survive. Maya's mother was subjected to this punishment but killed herself soon after then gave birth to Maya, while Hisako may have been left and simply died on her own.
  • Exploitation Film: Of the Nunsploitation sub-genre of pinky violence.
  • Gainax Ending: The last shot is of Maya walking in the city, most likely indicating that after everything that happened, she just left.
  • Hollywood Nuns: Even though it's Japanese.
  • Hope Spot: Inverted. The candle left inside of the bell tower where she's also held captive is a stroke of luck in her part, though it's high up on a table. She opts to knock it down risking the candle's flame from going out as it hits the floor, rendering the effort futile. Fortunately, that's not the case and the candle remained ablaze, allowing her to burn through the ropes as planned.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Nataly Green. Maya swings from the bell's rope and kicks her out to a window, sending her to be impaled on a spike-like fence, dead.
  • Miss Exposition: The old lady Maya is taking care of is the one who provides the story that Michiko/Sister Mary was tortured for her breaking of discipline while she was pregnant and then had hung herself, giving birth to Maya afterwards. She then takes her home with Michiko's rosary tied to the baby.
  • Naughty Nuns: They run the gamut (the lesbian mother superior thing is just a tip of the iceberg), appropriate enough with one nun calling them off as hypocrites.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: A clip from the witch hunt scene is used and we're given the image of a nun being forced to confess who was the man she was with and the following tortures she was given. Next, there's a scene with a nun grabbing a hatchet and hacking at something. Those who aren't familiar yet with how things go in this movie might've thought she was hacking the poor woman to pieces.
    • The trailer makes Maya look like the innocent protagonist who gets to go through hell for no good reason when in fact, she didn't even join the convent for anything but to find information regarding her mother. Whatever it takes. And later, about her father.
  • Nuns Are Spooky: Those who implement punishments are given this treatment.
  • Nun Too Holy: The whole point of this film.
  • Parental Incest: The priest sleeping with Maya who by now, is aware of the knowledge that it is her father and intentionally doing it to make him feel guilty of incest. Among other sins anyway.
  • Porn Stash: A nun is outed for stashing lewd pictures of men and women in sexual acts inside of her pocket bible. She hides her face in shame while the nun simply decides to confiscate them.
  • The '70s
  • Stealth Pun: After Maya allows her male friend to rape the Abbess in her sleep and he comes, he makes a sign of the cross and utters "Zah-men". The Cult Epics sub only wrote it as "Amen", but those who understood Japanese would most likely have seen what they did there.
    • That is, the Japanese word "gomen" meaning "sorry".
  • The Stoic: Maya. Even when she was being severely punished, she doesn't seem to be the least bit reactive to the tortures.
  • A Taste of the Lash: The film's favorite method of disciplining and punishing. In fact, during Maya's first sleep as a nun, she overhears a fellow sister beating herself causing another sister to tell her that she'll get used to it.
  • White Shirt of Death: Nataly Green is dressed differently from the other nuns, she being white all over including her veil. She gets the bloodiest, goriest death. Not that we care.


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