Self flaggelation, a priest impaled in the throat by a cross floating in water, and a perfectly used Evil Dead camera POV shot leading to a nun being shoved off a ledge. What more could you possibly want from a nunsploitation horror movie? If you said more, then you’re not just greedy, but you are also lucky that there is such a film in Severin Films latest release DARK WATERS, Mariano Baino’s feature debut from 1993.

DARK WATERS tells the tale of Elizabeth, a young woman pursuing the mystery of why her recently deceased father was donating to a remote convent on an island. Hoping to meet there with her friend, she travels across country in crowded bus in the heat, only to get to her next destination as a storm arrives. Little does she know that the bizarre townsfolk that she’s encountered are the least of her worries.

Inspired by the works of H.P. Lovecraft, Baino struck out to make a visually striking horror flick that plays with your mind while also delivering some shocks. And despite the horror of the productions getting in the way, I believe that he did just that. A perfect pairing for this film would be Izzy Lee’s short film, INNSMOUTH, also inspired by Lovecraft, now streaming on Shudder.

As things proceed at the distant island convent, we bear witness to activity not usually related to nuns and priests, as we find out that they are truly worshiping a monstrous creature from the depths of the sea. In their attempts to coax it from the water, blood is shed, as well as dark rituals aplenty. And for once, it’s nice to see a burning cross that wasn’t placed by the KKK.

For a smaller budget film, you really don’t see the seams until towards the end. But by that time, I was already extremely invested in the story, that I found it was easy to overlook the minor flaws. The consistent theme of truly blind followers that acted beyond bizarre makes a strong statement, that makes just as much sense today.

This release is extremely packed, given that the film didn’t have a big release stateside originally. There are multiple featurettes about the making of the film, as well as several short films from Baino. The most intriguing feature is a 50 minute one that includes the lead, the director, and the English crew that went to the Ukraine and Russia for the production. They candidly discuss the difficulties of working with a crew that speaks a different language and lacks a work ethic of any sort. Not to mention the attempted revolution taking place while they were in country.

DARK WATER is now available from Severin Films and currently selling with a beautiful enamel pin of the amulet the nuns are trying to recreate for the awakening. That set is available here.

Elizabeth: Louise Salter (INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE)
Mother Superior: Mariya Kapnist (RUSLAN AND LUDMILA)
Sarah: Venera Simmons

Director: Mariano Baino (THE TRINITY OF DARKNESS, LADY M 5.1)
Writers: Mariano Baino, Andy Bark
Cinematography: Alex Howe (BATMAN BEGINS, X-MEN: FIRST CLASS)

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