Father Goddard (Richard Burton), an austere schoolmaster-priest at a Roman Catholic boarding school in England, considers standout student Benjie Stanfield (Dominic Guard) to be an ideal candidate for the priesthood. But Stanfield’s friendship with local hippy, Blakey (Billy Connolly,) leads to murder.
His confession to Father Goddard that he’s killed Blakey – and his tormenting of Goddard based on the rule that the priest cannot reveal anything shared in confession – drives the priest insane and he goes into the woods to dig up the corpse.
Lashings of Catholic guilt pervade this totally bonkers potboiler, and it might never have been released had it not been for the star presence of Burton (looking much the worse for wear after years of alcoholism), the film’s only point of interest.
The inevitable twist ending might strike some viewers as a bit of a stretch, and, indeed, the final scene – which features an Agatha Christie-style explanation for various mysterious events – is laborious.