26 user 57 critic

Flavia, the Heretic (1974)

Flavia, la monaca musulmana (original title)
R | | Drama, Horror | January 1977 (USA)
During the late Middle Ages, a young woman who's been forced to become a nun by her corrupt father teams up with an army of Muslims who are invading the area, to destroy the convent and kill everyone who wronged her.


Raniero di Giovanbattista (story), Sergio Tau (story) | 5 more credits »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Florinda Bolkan ... Flavia Gaetani
María Casares ... Sister Agatha
Claudio Cassinelli ... Abraham
Anthony Higgins ... Ahmed (as Anthony Corlan)
Spyros Fokas ... the French Duke (as Spiros Focás)
Diego Michelotti Diego Michelotti ... Flavia's Father
Raika Juri Raika Juri ... Sister Livia
Jill Pratt Jill Pratt ... Mother Superior
Franca Grey Franca Grey ... Village Girl
Laura De Marchi ... Tarantula Cult Woman
Eduardo Filipone Eduardo Filipone
Ciro Ippolito Ciro Ippolito
Carla Mancini
Luigi Antonio Guerra Luigi Antonio Guerra
Giuseppe Pertile Giuseppe Pertile ... Bishop


Italy 1400: A convent of nuns are invaded by the Tarantula Sect on their annual pilgrimage. The cultists defile the place of worship, orgying in the chapel and desecrating the altar. One nun decides she can't take the religious oppression any longer and flees the convent upset that all the leaders are male. Written by <arviga@online.no>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


She Launched A River of BLOOD


Drama | Horror


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


The movie takes place in Italy circa 1400. At one moment Flavia and Abraham are on the beach eating roasted ears of corn. See more »


Flavia Gaetani: [addressing Christ on the cross] Why... why? Why is God male? The Father the Son and the Holy Ghost - all male. Even the twelve apostles. All twelve of them - males.
See more »

Alternate Versions

The 1994 UK Redemption video was cut by 1 min 24 secs by the BBFC with edits to topless nudity, the rape of the swine-herder's daughter, a nun's breast being burnt and her nipple cut off and shots of Flavia peeling skin from an ankle wound during the flaying scene, as well as heavy edits to a horse being castrated. The 2008 Shameless DVD was fully uncut. See more »


Referenced in The Cinema Snob: Unidentified Flying Oddball (2017) See more »

User Reviews

Sisters Without Mercy
27 September 2007 | by NodriesrespectSee all my reviews

Too many sources routinely lump this thought-provoking period drama in part based on historical fact together with the superficially similar "nunsploitation" which was a mainstay in '70s Euro trash cinema, overlooking the righteous anger that drives the whole endeavor. Perhaps coincidentally it was also director Gianfranco Mingozzi's singular attempt at narrative film-making outside of many well-received documentaries.

Safely set within a historical context, FLAVIA charts the growing rebellion of an early 15th century Italian nun (Florinda Bolkan's career performance, even surpassing her sterling work in Lucio Fulci's devastating DON'T TORTURE A DUCKLING), locked away in convent by her not so nobleman father in a desperate attempt to curb the girl's budding sensuous nature. Wondering why women are relegated to secondary roles at best in life as in holy scripture, she is confronted by ways in which male domination can rupture female lives, inspiring revolt fueled by the ranting of semi-crazed older Sister Agatha (indelibly portrayed by veteran actress Maria Casarès from Marcel Carné's LES ENFANTS DU PARADIS) and - more constructively - by a Muslim invasion. Joining the oppressors and perhaps unwittingly manipulating them to do her bidding, Flavia truly becomes the outcast she already felt herself to be, with expected tragic results.

With its breathtaking widescreen compositions by Alfio Contini, who shot Michelangelo Antonioni's ZABRISKIE POINT, this is an uncompromising and austere account of one woman's fierce yet ultimately futile fight against patriarchal society which allotted her no rights beyond childbearing or whoring as Sister Agatha wryly remarks. A lengthy drug-induced fantasy sequence clearly modeled on Ken Russell's otherwise far more flamboyant DEVILS notwithstanding, the movie turns out relatively stingy in the skin department, making something of a mockery out of its semi-porn reputation. This is a serious work deserving rediscovery and restoration of its unjustly tarnished reputation.

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Italy | France



Release Date:

January 1977 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Flavia: Heretic Priestess See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


| (uncut)

Sound Mix:



Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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