THE CONFESSIONAL (1976) – This outrageous and over-the-top tale from the cinematic netherworld is about a crazed, mass-murdering priest. When he listens to his parishioners confessing their sins to him in the confessional booth he decides some of them are so evil they deserve to die for their sins.
Our protagonist commits his murders by strangling people with Rosaries, by slipping them poisoned communion wafers and by stabbing them with crucifixes. And not even sharpened crucifixes, either, just long and kind of thin metal crucifixes that he inflicts puncture wounds with. That’s gotta hurt with those comparatively dull edges.
This way our killer has of using priestly paraphernalia as his m.o. makes him seem like a really dark version of a campy villain from the 1960’s Batman television series. (“Special Guest Villain: Donald O’Connor as The Priest”) Our serial killer also has a wheelchair-bound elderly mother whom he torments Whatever Happened To Baby Jane? style.
The priest’s partner in crime is one of those older ladies (familiar in Catholic communities) who cook and clean for the priest. In this case she’s like a cross between Frau Blucher from Young Frankenstein and Irma Bunt from the James Bond novels.
In one of the many painfully awkward dialogue exchanges in this film our lead dismisses a foreign Cardinal’s views on letting priests marry and admitting women to the priesthood by saying “I’m not interested in the opinions of renegade Belgian Cardinals.” I think all of us Dave Barry fans will agree that “Renegade Belgian Cardinals” would make a great name for a rock band!
Brace yourself for the frustratingly dark ending to this weird movie. It’s one of those “trumph of evil” endings that are so popular in horror flicks, but the killer priest is so thoroughly hateable that it’s particularly galling to see everything come together nicely for him at the end with some unwitting assistance from the figure audiences might mistakenly believe is the hero of the film.