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Nuns Are Spooky

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"They have the skirts too of course, so many skirts and veils that you could never hear or see their feet. "Hover Nuns" we used to call them. [...] They're damn spooky."
John Rodgers, on his time in a Catholic School.

Nuns follow a spiritual calling, and the word "ghostly" used to be a synonym for "spiritual" (see, for example, Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott, and the King James Bible which refers to the Holy Ghost), so maybe this is why nuns in movies are sometimes otherwordly, and seem touched by the supernatural in ways that are frankly disturbing. Other times it's more that the nun's reason for having become one is less about being 'called' than a try at redemption or willing away some horrible trauma in the past.

There is an exception, of course, for when Nuns Are Mikos. Contrast Naughty Nuns. Compare and contrast Nuns Are Funny, Stern Nun, Women's Mysteries, Virgin Power, and Nun Too Holy. For when they're actually villains see Sinister Minister.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Kichikujima- Mariko Glaccias is a nun and former agent of the Vatican who later marries Yoshikazu and had five kids. She also has tentacles when she gets angry.

    Comic Books 
  • Warren Ellis's Fell features a recurring character that is a crazy nun wearing a Nixon Mask. Ben Templesmith's artwork certainly works well for the spooky factor.
  • The Italian comic book Suore Ninja (literally "Ninja Nuns") featured an extremely creepy werenun. And a less creepy and very sexy one (infected by the former with a bite), at least until her transformation in a monster isn't triggered.
    • A third nun, Sister Valerio, has a typical male name, a hook in place of a hand, and an impressive Porn Stache. Justified when it's revealed that they're the result of a job Gone Horribly Wrong: she used to be a normal Ninja Nun, but a witch transformed his left hand in a sadistic tv host, forcing her to cut it, and before dying cursed her with the stache and a name change.
    • Also, the Ninja Nuns themselves: every generation the Catholic Church has three nuns subjected to Training from Hell with ninjas until they develop Charles Atlas Superpowers, and uses them as assassins and troubleshooters.
  • The Sisterhood of Blood in Requiem Vampire Knight is an order of vampire nuns that guards Dracula's brides. Make no mistake: they might be dressed in chainmail bikinis, but they are more creepy than sexy. Their daily activities include processing blood from still fresh bodies all day long, and any foolish vampire male caught sneaking into the convent to try their luck with the brides is punished with castration and a rod shoved where the sun doesn't shine. And as if that wasn't enough, their Mother Superior pilots an Humongous Mecha to utterly demolish any trespassers.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Blues Brothers: The Penguin (with the extremely intimidating name of Mother Stigmata) does not walk, she glides. Doors open and close without her touching them. Of course, this is all Played for Laughs.
  • The Omen (1976): The nun at the hospital seems quite sinister, as she tells Gregory Peck that she can't give him any information. She then rises silently up the paternoster lift.note .
  • In Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo, the gliding dark spectre which prompts Kim Novak to jump to her death turns out to be—a spooky nun.
  • The dwarfish nun from Federico Fellini's Amarcord. We never see her face or hear her voice.
  • In A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors, Freddy's story is told by a spooky nun who turns out to be the ghost of his mother.
  • The black comedy film Death Becomes Her has three. Bruce Willis meets the trio at a hallway leading to a morgue. Like Penguin, they do not walk, they glide. Ghostly sobbing for added creepiness.
  • Spy Hard has gun-toting nuns.
  • Invoked in The Town, where Doug MacRay and his gang don nun masks and habits with rubber faces to rob an armored car.
  • When the evil alien first appears in Species - The Awakening, she's disguised as a nun.
  • The blind nun on the cover of The Devil Inside, formally pictured atop this page, definitely fits this. However, she's merely a background character with no plot significance.
  • While the Mother Superior in The Song of Bernadette is a sweet old dear, Sister Therese Vauzous the novice-mistress is hell on wheels. Dame Gladys Cooper has been described as "positively cadaverous" in this role, and she is: by the time she gives Bernie her big "The Reason You Suck" Speech, she appears like a living, whispering skull.
  • Marketa Lazarová: The nuns are seen carrying doves into their church and may or may not be able to influence events through shared chanting.
  • Good Lord, have mercy! Valak, the main antagonist in The Conjuring 2 assumes the form of a spooky nun. It serves as a means to mock the faith of our heroes.
    • The Nun tells the story of how Valak got its nun disguise.
  • The villain of the obscure german slasher flick, School's Out 2, is a spear-wielding killer nun with the face covered in white.
  • In the Puerto Rican film What Happened to Santiago, not once or twice but five times a nun carrying a lamb walks through the scene, including the scene where Santiago collapses. It is very surreal.
  • Notably averted in the horror film The Devil Within Her. Lucy the protagonist's sister-in-law, a nun, is easily the most moral character in the film, and ultimately saves her nephew by performing an exorcism to rid him of Demonic Possession.

  • The Armchair Thriller Quiet As a Nun played upon the quietness of a nunnery and The Faceless appearance of nuns as a form of horror.
  • Good Omens: Parodied with the Satanic nuns of the Chattering Order of Saint Beryl, a band of affable Punch Clock Villains who are only scary if you have a phobia of little old ladies who don't know when to shut up.
  • In Victor Hugo's Les Misérables, the hero escapes Inspector Javert, in one memorably spooky scene, by ducking into a small monastery in Paris, and immediately is convinced the place is haunted as he witnesses the self-flagellating rituals of the resident nuns.
  • The werewolf hunting, gun toting Sister Eileen in Dreadful Skin by Cherie Priest is a subversion since she's the heroine.
  • Sister Malcinea, the apparently faceless nun from Italian writer Stefano Benni's Elianto. She's actually a very powerful succubus in disguise and the actual sister of she-devil Carmilla, one of the novel's protagonists.
  • Skippy Dies takes place next door to an all-girls Catholic school. Legend has it that the basement is haunted by the ghost of a former nun. When Mario and Ruprecht sneak in there, Mario flips out because he has a crippling fear of nuns.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Parodied in Four On The Floor, with the videogame spoof "Karate Nuns".
  • Subverted in Call the Midwife; though Jenny is a bit freaked out when she first arrives, the nuns are very nice and ordinary.
  • American Horror Story: Asylum has the nuns of Briarcliff, headed by the undeniably spooky Sister Jude. Then there's Sister Mary Eunice, an innocent, kindhearted nun who spends most of the season as a victim of demonic possession.
  • Jack Taylor: In the episode "The Magdalen Martyrs," one of his clients have asked him to trace the identity of a nun who had abused her charges physically and psychologically at a Magdalene laundry, one of whom included the client's mother, and as we find out later, Jack's mother. The nun was so terrifying that all the girls called her "Lucifer".

    Tabletop Games 
  • Another parody: Ground Zero Games' "Nuns with Guns" miniatures, which are what the name suggests.
  • Similar to the above example, but played straight: Warhammer 40,000's Adeptas Sororitas, a religious order dedicated to kicking ass, taking names, and setting the bad guys on fire.
    • A much spookier example, the Sisters of Silence. As the name implies, they take a vow of silence once their noviciate is over (using sign language with each other), but their most distinguishing feature is that they're all blanks (their very presence nullifies any psychic activity around them). Depending on the level of Anti-Magic they exhibit, their effect on any normal people they're near can range from Uncanny Valley to full-on Humanoid Abomination. They're used to crew the Black Ships, the Inquisitorial fleets that ferry (sometimes kidnap) young humans with psychic ability to Terra before they can be corrupted by Chaos.

    Video Games 
  • In Chrono Trigger, the nuns in the church of the past appear to be creepy, but this is later shown to be because they are secretly all Nagas.
  • Painkiller has demon nun enemies.
  • The battlenuns in Brütal Legend managed to prove that this trope and its opposite are NOT mutually exclusive.
  • In Tales of Monkey Island Chapter 3: Lair of the Leviathan, there is a picture of Sister Agnes, a nun with a creepy face, which is what Noogie is afraid of.
  • Double from Skullgirls usually takes on the appearance of a nun of The Trinity, but her true form...
    "Have you come to give confession? I'll gladly accept your tithe... in blood."
  • Nun massacre by Puppet Combo
  • Despite being a nun in a horror game, Sister Agnes from Castle Red is an aversion, being one of the friendliest characters in the game. She lives up to this trope a bit more in the E Ending, aptly named "Lost and Damned."
  • You can don a nun headdress as a power-up in The Binding of Isaac, and combining it with Body Horror-causing items or demonic items can produce this effect.
  • The Evil Nun games follow Sister Madeline, an insane nun who kidnaps children to either use them in a ritual or force them to do her laundry.

  • And yet another parody, sort of—the Satanist, gas-mask wearing "Little Sisters of Belial" in Scary Go Round.
  • There's something a little off about Sister Edith in Silent Hill: Promise.
  • Guilded Age: The Sisters of the Bloodshot Eye are evil nuns that wield rulers with razors on them.

    Web Originals