Dark Habits (1983) Poster

(1983)

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8/10
A love/hate story about heroine
dutchtom124 January 2004
This film made after Almodovar's first more upbeat outrageous films, is a film that tells of the end of the Movida Madrilenia, a movement existing in the early eighties in Madrid that was defined by a mixture of new romantic punk and pop, and the ironic use of Spanish folklore and the 'housewife' culture. When people in this subculture started to commonly use heroine, the downfall of the movement had begun. This film is about the choices that people had to make at the end of this era. some stayed junkies, others died, some went back to the small towns where they had moved from, others went on to give up on drugs and become more constructive. The convent where the nuns reside can be interpreted as the habitation of this irreverent movement, frequented by police searches, dealers, artists, and junkies. The movie has some great musical moments which indicate that Almodovar might one day take his hand to this genre. The religious element interwtined with (homo)sexuality will certainly be proliferated again in the forthcoming movie La Mala Educacion. The movie also contains a cameo of a Spanish 'Harrold Robbins' type of writer, who is featured sitting at one of the tables wiping her mouth with a handkerchief as Yolanda sings in a night club at the beginning of the movie. This authopr refers to the character of sister Rata de Callejon, who has a secret career as trashy novel writer. The film is somewhat darker than most of Almodovar's early movies, but is very gentle, provides enough comedy and the characters above all remain very human, all of them have their virtues and vices.
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9/10
Very Very Funny, but it helps if you speak Spanish
ekeby8 June 2007
Finally saw this film today. I laughed out loud many times. It's just so wonderfully outrageous. The nuns are played by actresses that went on to play leads in Almodovar's later films: Women on the Verge, All About My Mother, etc. The actress who plays Sister Rat figures prominently, which made me very happy, as she has had mostly very minor roles in his subsequent films. She first came to my attention in Talk To Her. She plays the concierge, and asks the reporter why her tenant is in jail. The reporter says he's innocent. She replies, I know, but innocent of what? She has right-on deadpan delivery that just knocks you out, and it's on full display in Dark Habits.

The film is less neatly constructed than Almodovar's later works, and one might say the ending is somewhat messy. Still, it's interesting to compare it to his incredibly polished work of the last ten years. While the uninitiated (to Almodovar) may find parts of it a little shocking, it's not nearly as raw as it would be if it were made today--certainly the lesbianism is tame by today's standard.

Other reviewers are right that a lot of the English subtitles miss the ironic tone in the script. But don't let that stop you . . . It's Almodovar! Even second tier Almodovar with inadequate subtitling is better than 99 percent of everything else!
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definitely worth watching
cyn_duncan14 October 2003
This is early Almodovar, and if you've seen his other early films, you know what to expect. If you haven't seen them, then you might be surprised. The film is funny, unpredictable, and endearing in a kinky, warped kind of way. Almodovar's nuns are wonderful characters. With straight faces and looks of piety, they do outrageous things without batting an eye. There are probably many ways to interpret the film, but I think it's about acceptance. We're all "sinners" in one way or another, as the nuns would say, and it's not up to us to judge or condemn other people. The sisters are very forgiving - in fact, they love sinners! - and they create a little haven where marginal people can find shelter. They are eccentric, they do things that mainstream society condemns, but they don't really do any harm to anyone and maybe even help some people find their path in life. This isn't the Catholic Church's idea of what a convent should be like, and I understand that very devout people would be offended by the way Almodóvar treats the subject. Still, he does it in a kind of gentle, good humored way and he offers an alternative vision of religious devotion that can make you laugh if you aren't too uptight about these things. Things don't always make sense, but that's fine, things don't make sense in life sometimes, either. Just sit back and watch, and enjoy the twists and turns.
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8/10
It's not every day you see a nun on smack…
contact_charlie1 March 2006
It's not very often that you can go back this far in a director's career and find a film this good.

It's sure as hell not sentimental; it's a black comedy - you've got parody, satire and a dark-humour rolled into one.

There already signs of Almodóvar's skill at film-making, already touches of Almodóvar's trademark whit and humour. It starts out with a girl at a crossroads in her life: on the one hand, a drug fuelled crazy future… the other, the stability of a convent. Or is that the other way round? For those familiar with Almodóvar's films, there are some of the reoccurring themes you'd expect to find, amongst others: prostitution, nuns, drugs, and dealers. More specifically, Dark Habits seems to deal with (to me anyway) a novelist (Almodóvar's film's often touch on creativity/ those involved), the idea of what is good, and along a similar vain, our abilities to turn a new leaf.

Obviously being in subtitles is going to exclude this for some, but others are whole-heartedly recommended; even if it isn't the best Almodóvar film, I've found it the most enjoyable so far. (I haven't heard a quote better than "I'm Sister Rat of the Sewers. I was keen to meet you" recently.)

Oh, and look out for the tiger ;-)
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10/10
What "Entre Tinieblas" did to me.
mm331118 March 2007
Warning: Spoilers
I arrived to Madrid in 1982 and stayed there until 1989. Knowing the Spaniard people and their culture was a great experience for me. When "Entre Tinieblas" showed up, I saw it in a theater by El Callao. Still today, 2007, I have not been able to recuperate from this movie. There is no topic of conversation that includes movies that I resist to talk about Almodovar and his "Entre Tinieblas". "Entre Tinieblas" is, in my opinion, the best of Pedro Almodovar. I had fun with this movie since beginning to end and I am still having fun. What a great movie! I believe Almodovars work is great but, "Entre Tinieblas" is extraordinary! Yolanda running away for the convent with the reach lady and the convulsion that the Madre Superiora had is incredible! All, all in this movie is unique. Good Almodovar, GOOD!!!
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9/10
Very unusual, provocative and unpredictable movie
dave k26 September 2005
The very fact that you are going to watch nuns snorting cocaine, and even craving for it, should give you an idea of how far Almodovar went to give an alternative view of what a "convent" is in this movie. I watched it in the original language (Spanish)and found it brilliant and extremely entertaining, a very good concentrate of the "early" Almodovar, with His portrayal of a depraved 80's era in Madrid, and His usual intermingling of stories... Also, the viewer is seldom allowed to know what to expect next, and the whole atmosphere in the movie is just so unconventional... Definitely worth watching, hopefully it doesn't lose too much in English..
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8/10
"Entre tinieblas" or "Wondering about"
David Traversa26 December 2010
"Entre tinieblas": "In the Dark" maybe "Wondering about", "Somebody that has lost his/her way" would be the closest translation to the Spanish title.

"Dark Habits" is so parochial, so banal, that changes completely the message of this movie.

I just saw it today, out of nostalgia, since I own a copy, but very seldom I see a movie more than once.

Throughout the years I've seen this one three times! Every time it excels the last view. It isn't the best Almodovar. At the time he didn't have the money (and therefore the incredible terseness of his more recent filmography) nor the experience to make a work of art of every single frame, as he has accustomed us during the last several years. But this films grabs you from the very beginning with such guts that it's impossible to point out its formula.

It's simply magic.

Cristina Sánchez Pascual is not Greta Garbo, but again, like the movie itself, she has "something" in her personality that mesmerizes you whenever she's on the screen.

The way Chus Lampreave ("Sor Rata de Callejón" or "Sister Rat of the Back Alley") delivers her lines is comparable to the way Carol Channing or Eartha Kitt used to delivered theirs: Sheer pleasure to the ears and the brain.

I don't know how it could sound to somebody that needs to read the translation, but for a Spanish speaking person this woman is unique. She could read the telephone book and make it irresistibly funny.

The character of the Marquess (Mary Carrillo) is Almodovar 100%, when she comments to the Abbess Julia: "I'm a cosmetician", "¿Really?", "Of course, see my face?" and she shows an incredibly clownish face that only an inebriated cosmetician would have done.

And the Bolero that Lucho Gatica sings --"Encadenados" "Chained Together"-- is simply so gorgeous that one could melt on the spot out of utter delight, I swear. (I have to find it on "You Tube"!!).

This movie doesn't deserve 8 points, I simply gave it 8 points in my vote because of its masterly ways to grab one's imagination with not too many resources. I adore this movie. It's imperfect, the photography is not very good, the acting leaves a lot to be desired, the sets are in general quite poor..., the script...MMM-mmm, but the movie is sublime!!
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8/10
Nuns on smack.
zetes9 May 2010
What else do you need to know? Honestly, this isn't Almodovar's best work. In fact, it's pretty sloppy story-wise. But I enjoyed the heck out of it. Cristina Sanchez Pascual plays a heroin-addicted singer who hides out in a convent after her boyfriend overdoses. The nuns there are, shall we say, a little quirky in that they are mostly on drugs (heroin, cocaine, acid - but not pot; at one point a nun says "you know I don't do soft drugs"). Also, one's a lesbian and another writes lurid romance novels and together they have raised a pet tiger. They all have names like Sister Snake and Sister Rat, because the humiliation is sacred. There's really no compelling reason the nuns are on drugs. It's just kind of a shocking, humorous detail. I think Bunuel would have loved it, though the film itself isn't particularly blasphemous. It doesn't view the nuns or Catholicism cynically. It just exists in its own, weird Almodovar universe. The plot is not very strong, so the whole thing just kind of fizzles, but it's entertaining. Carmen Maura plays one of the nuns, but she's not an extremely important character. On the Region 1 DVD, though, she graces the cover.
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7/10
very funny, very almodovar
AzTeCa6725 October 2004
Maybe you have to speak Spanish to understand the lines of this crazy nuns. Almodovar's fans will love this movie, it's very Almodovar. the end is kind of strange but like someone said "is more important the trip than to get there". The nuns of Dark Habits use drugs, write lurid pulp novels, design high-fashion habits, and keep a tiger in their courtyard. Yolanda (Cristina Sanchez Pascual) gets caught up in the head nun's scheme to regain the patronage of a wealthy noblewoman,the end is kind of strange but like someone said "ïs more important the trip than to get there".it offers its own charms and comic delights I give a 7 out of 10 but I really enjoy it.
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Odd to say the least
sunznc1 January 2008
Nuns doing drugs. Acid, Heroin, Cocaine. Could be funny, wild and colorful. However,....this is not a witty, wacky, madcap that keeps you entertained like "Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown". That is a funny, colorful, wacky, madcap that you can't stop watching. This is played very subtle, very low key, almost as if it was made by someone who hadn't ever seen anyone on Acid or Cocaine. I can tell you first hand no one acts this low key on those drugs. The set design here is good. But the dialogue and the blocking of the scenes is not. It almost appears amateurish. Also, my DVD picture looks washed out and the sound isn't good. I usually LOVE Pedro's films but I would avoid this one. It isn't great.
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Confusing, incoherent and extremely bizarre.
dgs10 September 1999
Maybe the one line summary is wrong, that's the problem with Pedro Almodovar's flick, you don't know what its supposed to be: ironic, satire, parody, black comedy or a serious drama. It's got a lounge singer hiding out in a convent (remember this is a 1983 movie, made way before Sister Act) after her lover ODs. The nuns are former losers, street trash, etc. who are given punishable names like Sister Rat-in-the-Sewer or Sister-Damned and their Mother Superior shoots up heroin. Are they making fun of Catholics or what? Nevertheless, this is a bit funny, while being a little boring. Recommended to the Almodovar/Spanish/foreign fans who shouldn't expect this one to be better than his usual films.
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6/10
Sister Act with the Almodovar Touch
blanche-223 April 2012
"Dark Habits" from 1983 was Pedro Almodovar's first film made with a decent producer, film company, and budget. There are signs of his later brilliance in films like "Woman on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown" and "All About My Mother," but even for the quirky Almodovar, this is one strange film.

"Sister Act" is vaguely reminiscent of this movie, only in the fact that "Dark Habits" concerns Yolanda, a nightclub performer (Cristina Sánchez Pascual) whose boyfriend (Will More) overdoses while she's in his apartment. Yolanda panics, afraid she will be accused of killing him by the police, so, wearing her red sequined gown, she hides out in a Madrid convent.

This is unlike any convent depicted before or since. Some of the nuns, like Yolanda herself, are drug addicts, doing heroin and coke. One nun has a pet tiger. Another writes sexy novels under a pseudonym. Another nun designs fashions and is in love with the local priest. The Mother Superior is a lesbian and falls in love with Yolanda. The nuns all have strange names, depicting that man is the lowest form of animal: Sister Snake, Sister Rat, etc.

The big problem at the convent at the moment is that the Marquesa (Mary Carillo), now that her generous husband is dead, has decided to withdraw patronage from the convent. One of the nuns gets information about the Marquesa's daughter and decides to blackmail her with it.

"Dark Habits," I believe, suggests the Movida Madrilenia, a hedonistic countercultural movement that took place in Madrid after the death of Franco. It was meant to represent a new Spanish identity, an identity characterized by freedom of expression, use of recreational drugs, and even a new dialect. It was a hedonistic culture that more or less destroyed itself by the overuse of heroin. At the end of the era, Madrid was left with drug addicts, dead junkies, people leaving Madrid for their original hometowns, and for others, rehabilitation and a useful life.

The convent serves as a microcosm of this movement. Here one sees art, drugs, music, and homosexuality.

A fascinating if sometimes uncomfortable film, and certainly not representative of the later Almodovar, who himself has distanced himself from this offbeat, dark film.
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10/10
it's all about trust
bjoga14 March 2000
Unfortunately it has been taking a wrong interpretation in the comments in this site. It's like "Via Lactea" from the top director Bunuel. The surrealistc way that Almodovar treats the nuns is like a "tapa na cara" of the catholic church... It's a film about trust, about perseverance. Like somebody saying: "You don't have to be afraid, nobody have the power to judge you, the intolerance is the home of the unfortune". The drugs trip of Marisa Paredes trip is similar Peter Fonda's trip in the Roger Corman's "The Trip"(1972 ?). Carmen Maura and her Tiger are lovely (I love that bongo!!!) "Dark Habits" (Maus Habitos, here in Brasil) is a very very good film.Oh, I was forgetting Chus Lampreave doing the erotic writer (like Marisa Paredes in "Flower of My Secret"), I think she is just GREAT !!!! ENJOY IT !!! DON'T BE AFRAID !!! (Excuses for my mistakes .... and if someone want to discuss, write me a e-mail)
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6/10
Sister Manure, Sister Rat, Sister Damned, Sister Snake.
lastliberal9 December 2007
I am an Almodovar fan, but even I did not fully appreciate this film. It was like Sister Act without all the singing.

When a prostitute has to escape after her lover dies from an overdose she provided to him, she naturally goes to this cloister. Why not? She fits right in with dope users, heroin addicts, obsessive-compulsives, and cheap fiction writers.

Only, I remember laughing during Sister Act. There just wasn't that much that was funny here, and there was only one musical number. There wasn't even a sex scene!

It was strange, and only recommended to those who really appreciate Almodovar and want to see all his films.
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What??
Gordon-1110 February 2004
On the DVD box it says the film is very funny. However, I didn't find the film funny at all. It is not because of the language barrier. There is nothing I find funny. The nuns may be atypical, but they are not funny. The film is more of a thought provoking film that explores social and religious issues. Labelling it funny doesn't do it justice.
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4/10
Slow
artpf13 November 2013
Yolanda sings in a seedy nightclub. When her boyfriend dies of an overdose, she fears the police and seeks refuge in a convent that saves women from the streets. These off-beat nuns include a heroin using abbess who loves Yolanda, one who writes romance novels under a pseudonym, another raising a tiger in the convent yard, and one who designs fabulous fashions and is in love with the local priest.

They plan an evening extravaganza starring Yolanda to celebrate the abbess's birthday and to convince their wealthy patron not to abandon them.

Very slow moving movie with subtitles.
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Great fun
jm1070119 January 2012
Ignore the mediocre reviews. Dark Habits is delightful, no less so than Almodóvar's later, more popular movies. This is not in any way interesting only because it shows how much better he got later. That's absurd.

This movie is great fun, deadpan, outrageously irreverent but never mean-spirited, affectionate, hilarious but in a subtly low-key way, wildly imaginative and yet gentle and sweet. I loved it. Julieta Serrano as the Mother Superior and Chus Lampreave (who has a larger role than in his later movies) as Sister Alley Rat are especially delightful.
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7/10
A cross between illusion and reality
Salih Shakir12 May 2010
I experienced a lot of different emotions when I viewed this film. I am aware that Almodovar's films bring a very unique insight to entertainment but this film was a very complex set of personal indifference. From one perspective the ideality of shedding the light on possible strains on the individual lives of Nuns when they are exposed to elements such as prostitutes, drugs and passion that lead them astray from their path is interesting. Yet still the idea of Nuns living secret drug addicted lives from each other and confiding in prostitutes for guidance is a bit extreme and can be very offensive to those belonging to the Catholic faith. The binding story line of the General Mother's struggle between her sexuality, religion, friendship, heroine, and economic deprivation is approached in a well stream lined format. Almodovar links the various indiscretions of the outside world to a down to Earth understanding of the psychological affects of those exposed to them. Then contrasts his ideas with the undertone of the forbidden love and lost of the General Mother. This allows the audience the experience of the social impact on religion while enhancing awareness of sacrifice and struggle representatives of the Catholic faith may face. I would recommend watching this movie with a degree of discretion in regards to balance of art and the reflection of idealism.
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