SACRED FLESH Original Soundtrack by Band Of Pain
Nigel Wingrove’s SACRED FLESH is now over two decades old and, as with most things of this kind of vintage, it’s tough to comprehend the controversy it courted in an age where any of us can obtain terrorist beheading videos or footage of a woman being anally penetrated by a giraffe on our phones within a few seconds. Wingrove fought tirelessly for years, saddled with £40,000 of legal fees and losing his flat in the process, against the BBFC ban on his earlier picture VISIONS OF ECSTASY (1989), which fell foul of pathetic ancient blasphemy laws for manifesting “contempt for the dignity of Christ by presenting him as a living man and not as a symbol”. As Wingrove has noted with an undercurrent of understandable bitterness, he could have escaped a ban had he portrayed the Messiah as a piece of wood rather than a flesh-and-blood man.
The filmmaker fought his way back to professional success by becoming a distributor and building the ‘Redemption’ empire from scratch – while also making SACRED FLESH in eight days on digital video, selling it to various overseas territories and enjoying a two-week theatrical UK run at the ABC Piccadilly in April 2000. A wilfully contentious, playful ode to 70s nunsploitation pictures, it included a memorable sequence in which a nun slips a crucified (female) Christ the tongue and lost 25 seconds to the BBFC under their archaic sex guidelines, just in case anyone was driven into a frenzy by a “medium close shot and medium shot of female genital detail and masturbation”.
For its distinctive soundtrack, Wingrove commissioned Steve Pittis to write the score, having become familiar with his work with Band of Pain, specifically the 1999 album “Reculver”. BOP began life as a side project of Pittis’ band Splintered, who had enjoyed decent levels of exposure via assorted CD releases and John Peel Sessions but were winding down by 1996. Band of Pain’s debut album “Argento” was released in 1994 followed by a musical homage to Kubrick’s A CLOCKWORK ORANGE. Pittis’ career would branch off into various directions including a notably unpleasant experience being (his words) “mugged off” by Universal Pictures in regard to the music for Brett Ratner’s feeble Hannibal Lecter film RED DRAGON.
With key influences encompassing the debut, self-titled album of German rock band Faust and the pulsing score of John Carpenter’s THE THING, Band of Pain sculpted a suitably brooding, ambient score for SACRED FLESH. The eerie, rumbling synth drone of the title track helps establish a repetitive two-note motif and an overwhelming sense of portentousness that does indeed echo Carpenter at his most menacing. The sexual moans and recurring running water motif of “Submission” captures the sexual shenanigans of the backdrop, though “The Cell” provides welcome balance by striking a note of melancholia. Stripped of the context of the film, it’s a very listenable exercise in electronic unease. As an appropriate footnote, the original CD release in 2000 contained a 16 page booklet with images of the film’s most explicit scenes; naturally, distributor pressure stripped it back to the mild 4 page affair adorning its more readily available incarnation.
- Sacred Flesh (2:31)
- Elizabeth, Bride of Christ (5:02)
- Strength to Resist (4:04)
- Submission (4:03)
- In Media Vita (4:59)
- Beat Out Desire (3:44)
- Sacred Flesh – Full Extended Version (4:26)
- The Ambush (4:17)
- The Cell (4:05)
- Sister Ann (6:56)
- Sacred Erosion (3:32)
- Revelations (2:34)
The SACRED FLESH soundtrack is available to buy on CD and Digital HERE
Review by Steven West