Five teenagers, one nun, three bank-robbing sociopaths and an isolated seaside villa. What could possibly go wrong? Quite a lot if director Franco Prosperi has anything to say about it. La Settima Donna concerns Sister Cristina, played by the inimitabe Florinda Balkan (Don’t Torture a Duckling), whose seaside educational retreat takes a turn for the worse when a trio of loathsome bank robbers (led by Ray Lovelock, Let Sleeping Corpses Lie) get a hankering for a bit of home invasion. What follows is a catalogue of warped sexual brutality as Lovelock and his cohorts abuse and humiliate the Sister and her class. Cristina turns the other cheek so long as the suffering is survivable, but Lovelock and his cronies grossly overestimate the good Sister’s capacity for forgiveness when they commit the mortal sin.
With no chance of escape and the death of all seemingly imminent Sister Cristina takes the responsibility of defending her surrogate children unto herself, and uses her captor’s assumptions against them. It?s a turn that’s as sudden as it is merciless, and Balkan’s performance as the be-habited deliverer of cosmic justice is unforgettable.
Re-titled The Last House on the Beach for a stateside video release (an obvious bid to cash-in on the notoriety of Wes Craven’s similarly titled 1972 shocker), La Settima Donna (The Seventh Woman) owes a greater debt to Sam Peckinpah’s controversial 1971 opus Straw Dogs and shares with it the concept of a humble individual who turns violent when pushed too far. Though it creeps dangerously close to the sleaze precipice at times there’s more than enough genuine artistry backing La Settima Donna to make it a worthwhile exploitation diversion. Its climactic scenes of holy vengeance rank among my personal favorites, and I’m proud to have been given the opportunity to share them here. But this clip is about more than just the sweet taste of revenge – it also features an unlikely cameo by an American icon!
Kevin Pyrtle is a cult cinema fanatic and arachnid aficionado, and the founder of and head-writer for Wtf-Film.com.