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Lash of the Penitentes 1936
Description: Current footage of Penitentes - a sect of Catholic religious fans who engage in self-flagellation - is combined with fresh footage about a murder. http://theendofbeing.com/2010/04/03/lash-of-the-penitente-exploitation-cinema-and-los-penitentes/: “According to Grindhouse Cinema Database, the movie is generally considered lost and notes that, “heavy editing of the prints even resulted in a 35-minute ver that has no scenes featuring [Marie] DeForest. This version, featuring Joseph Swickard, is known to be the ver that’s mainly accessible on VHS today.”
Released: 13 Apr 1936 Director: Roland Price, Harry Revier Writers: Roland Price (story), Zelma Carroll (screenplay) Actors: Marie DeForrest, William Marcos, Victor Justi, Josef Swickard Genres: Crime, Drama, Mystery
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Lash of the Penitentes Reviews:

The Library of Congress print of this bizarre, apparently hybrid movie clocks in at 45 minutes, so if you've seen a shorter version, you haven't seen the 'whole' film. Cobbled together from what appears to be three or possibly four various pieces of footage, The Penitente Murder Situation (as the LC print is titled) outlines in bare feature the adventure of a newspaperman into the barrens of Fresh Mexico, where he stumbles upon a hardcore Catholic sect of peons who practice bizarre rites of self-flagellation. He hooks up with a cooperative local 'boy', Chico, who escorts him, unseen, to a number of secret rituals. At the end of the movie the reporter is murdered so that the 'secret' of the sect stays within the local community. The distinct sets of celluloid contain some apparently silent footage, which appears to be real, of Fresh Mexicans performing their Nice Friday ceremonies (these segments were clearly shot at 16FPS); extremely terrible hand held footage with enough pan shots to give anyone a headache; incredibly dull footage of the reporter and Chico standing around 'watching' the natives; and some ve ry fine dramatic footage that is clearly staged--especially nice is the circular shot of the police interrogation at the end of the film. Credited director-cinematographer Roland Price was probably responsible for the hero shots, but I can't imagine the boy who also shot Marihuana: Weed With Roots In Hell and Son of Ingagi being capable of the 8 or so competent mins in this film. Penitentes was apparently butchered by the Hays Office, but the extant footage is still cute powerful stuff, as the movie details whipping, nudity, and crucifixion. Narrator Zelma Carroll flubs few lines and sounds like he was given a single take to record his unctuous overdubs. He also sounds like he was well lubricated for the task at hand.This is truly a roadhouse classic, a movie so strange and so ineptly made that I search it difficult to criticize. Essential viewing.


45 minutes? 38 minutes? 58 minutes? I've personally seen three versions of this one and there they are. I can't quite say what the difference is though. It seems like certain scenes were just longer. And also more repetitious.A silent black and white schockumentary that shows up among the mondo films.It's supposedly based on a real situation but we know what THAT means.Religious mania, whipping, fleeting nudity, and melodramatic facial expressions cute much sums it up. But its short running time keeps it from getting boring.There probably is no official version. The game just gets re-used when they search more related footage.Definitely a curiosity piece.


Actress Marie DeForrest plays the lead female character, Raquel. Her topless stage in this movie was a rarity for the 1930s.This is in the fictionalized part of the film, not the documentary part. The locals know she has been talking to the boy who has secretly been filming their rituals. They slay him and then abduct her from her home. She is taken by foot near the top of a mountain and stripped to the waist. They tie her wrists to a board and raise her a several feet from the ground, hanging by her wrists. She receives a brutal whipping as punishment.This is the only part of the movie that made folks sit up in their seats and look in amazement. I saw this movie in the early 1960s in a grindhouse theater. It is on DVD, but all of DeForrest's scenes are slash out.



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