Sex, Swastikas, and Sadism: Nazi Sexploitation: an overview and the ten best
Nov 5, 2001 (Updated Nov 10, 2005)
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NAZI SEXPLOITATION, A FORGOTTEN GENRE:
In the mid 1970's a whole slew of World War 2-themed Sexploitation films were churned out (most coming from Italy) in the wake of the highly successful ILSA, SHE WOLF OF THE SS. Most of these films, typical 70's softcore porn pieces with swastika-sporting actors, followed the standard "Women In Prison" formula; the locale having been transferred to the Nazi death camps and field brothels. In Italy these films are known as part of the "il sadiconazista" cycle, the bulk of which were influenced as much by ILSA as they were by 3 controversial Italian art-house films: Liliana Cavanis The Night Porter, Tinto Brasss Salon Kitty and Passolinis SALO.
SALO was a major influence on the genre, though it dealt with atrocities commited by Italian Fascists rather than German Nazis. For this reason, it is excluded from the list below. It should, however, be noted for its importance to the cycle.
SSEXPLOITATION AS LOWBROW ART
These film makers had discovered that it was easier to get violently sexual situations past the censors if they were presented within the context of having basis in the historical facts of Nazi war atrocities. Of course, none of these films had any interest in being factually correct. The filmmakers were solely interested in making a few bucks by exploiting 1970's movie audiences' craving for weirder and wilder psycho-sexual delights. These films pushed the boundaries of bad taste to their lowest limit.
Though sex, swastikas, and Sadism sold lots of tickets for ILSA and SALON KITTY, the other entries in the genre were generally box-office bombs, which meant that by the 1980's no more of these films were being produced.
THE APPEAL OF IL SADICONAZISTA
It's difficult to pinpoint the appeal of these films. Any first year psychology student could interpret these films' appeal in relation to bondage fetishes, rape fantasies, misogygny, etc. More likely, the fundamental appeal is simply the fact that a whole slew of beautiful women get naked frequently. For others the appeal of a film like ILSA, SHE WOLF OF THE SS stems from the audacity of the images, and the bad taste campiness of the acting and direction. One thing is certain, these films make no apologies and force their contents upon the viewer on their own moral terms. Though blatant exercises in cinematic depravity, these films approach the brutality of the Nazi war camps in a much more visceral way than saccharine films such as Spielberg's sentimental SCHINDLER'S LIST.
Make no mistake, the majority of these films are in the poorest of possible taste; yet they present material in a manner which pulls no punches, a spectacle which would never fly in today's age of political correctness. These films blur the lines between good and evil when they present Nazi atrocities in a manner that may not only repulse the viewer, but also spark the prurient interests of the viewer. If the spectator experiences titillation during scenes of torture and rape, then that spectator has in some way identified with the antagonist. To most people, the thought of this is absolutely unacceptable. To those that understand that repulsion and titillation all come from the same place in the human psyche, these films hold a certain power, if not charm. To these people, the appeal is apparent. Still, there are others that simply worship schlock, and even more that just want to see a big pair of boobies jiggle across the screen.
Of the twenty or so films that comprise the short-lived "Chicks in Concentration Camps" exploitation genre, here are the top ten:
10. FRAULEINS IN UNIFORM - Also known as GRETCHEN SANS UNIFORME and FRAULEIN WITHOUT A UNIFORM. Swiss master of erotica, Erwin C. Deitrich presented this exploiter (original title: EINE ARMEE GRETCHEN) about women being recruited for "special assignment" by the Gestapo. I'll give you one guess as to what that "special assignment" was. Also known as SHE DEVIL'S OF THE SS, this one goes light on the violence, but delivers plenty of naked chicks running around in battlefields as live shells explode around them. This bizarre flick is more offensive than other genre entries because the happy young recruits don't really get punished, and the Nazis aren't portrayed as bad guys! They just love sex and their Führer!. The final scene features one of the wildest exploitation images of the 70's; women running naked through a battlefield as live shells explode around them.
Note: This film's alternate title SHE DEVILS OF THE SS should not to be confused with the inferior American-made SHE DEVILS OF THE SS which was also released under the titles CUTTHROAT COMMANDOS and SS CUTTHROATS.
9. SS GIRLS - Also known as PRIVATE HOUSE OF THE SS. Bruno Mattei's rip-off of SALON KITTY (see below) offers some saucy S&M. It's an enjoyable and highly watchable entry in the genre, but is outdone by the superior SALON KITTY. Nazi prostitutes are trained in every fashion of sleazy lovemaking so that they can get their victims to confess before execution. SS GIRLS features almost wall to wall full frontal nudity and some soft-core sex, plus some bondage and whipping to round things out. The film's biggest asset is undoubtedly the beautifully cruel Frau Inge, enthusiastically played by Marina Daunia (who also appeared in SS EXTERMINATION CAMP!)
8. NAZI LOVE CAMP 27 - AKA LA SVASTICA NEL VENTRE and LIVING NIGHTMARE. Sirpa Lane stars as the hot blonde beaten into submission by the Nazi love camp commandant. He gives her the choice of screwing him or his dog. She winds up falling in love with one of the kinder, gentler Nazis and tries to escape, that is until the commandant finds out! The torture, humiliation, and the required lesbianism are augmented with hardcore sex scenes. The original Italian title translates literally to "Swastika in the stomach".
7. DEPORTED WOMEN OF THE SS: SPECIAL SECTION: AKA DEPORTATE DELLA SEZIONE SPECIALE SS. One of two Nazi Sexploitation movies starring John Steiner (the creepy looking guy that played Longinus in CALIGULA), proving Steiner really loved his work in the genre. Steiner tries to convince one of his prisoners to fall in love with him through humiliation and exposure to hellish tortures. The usual rape, lesbianism, and shaving scenes we come to expect from the il sadiconazista cycle... saved by Steiner's over-the-top performance. DEPORTED WOMEN OF THE SS: SPECIAL SECTION was the film that introduced the razor-blade-up-the-vagina defense for anticipated rape.
6. SALON KITTY - AKA MADAME KITTY. CALIGULA director Tinto Brass' opulent epic film about a Nazi commander (John Steiner again) who overtakes the famous Salon Kitty brothel and packs it with new girls of good Aryan stock and impeccable National Socialist credentials. Their mission is to spy on their military officer clients and report back to their controllers about anyone who seems to be wavering from the Party line. The pubic-hair eating mutant from SS HELL CAMP (see below) also makes a surprise appearance in this film. Lot's of nice bordello/cabaret scenes and a decent budget elevate this one somewhat from the other entries in the genre, though it's still sleazy as hell. This was the second most successful of the Nazi Sexploitation films.
5. SS EXPERIMENT CAMP - AKA WOMEN'S CAMP 23 - THE SEED OF DEATH, LAGER SSADIS KASTRAT KOMMANDANTUR, Captive Women II: Orgies of the Damned, and SS Experiment Love Camp. Spaghetti Western director Sergio Garrone presents this ridiculous story of a Nazi commander who seeks to cure his impotency by having a healthy guard's testicles implanted in his scrotum. The castrated victim doesn't seem to realise the unfortunate result of this operation until he goes to bonk one of the French prisoners. This provides one of the most amusing scenes when he confronts the commandant and says "What have you been doing with my balls?". The testicle-deprived guard seeks revenge by freeing the prisoners of the camp who go on a berserk rampage. Fans of ovarian and testicular surgery will not want to miss this entry in the SSexploitation cycle.
4. SS EXTERMINATION CAMP - Also known as KZ9 - Lager di Sterminio, S.S. EXTERMINATION LOVE CAMP, SS CAMPO DE SEXO Y VIOLENCIA, SS CAMPO EXTERMINATION and WOMEN'S CAMP 119. Lorraine De Selle of MAKE THEM DIE SLOWLY stars in Bruno Mattei's hyper-disgusting account of a Jewish woman doctor who is recruited from the ranks of prisoners to help in conducting "medical research". A sadistic Obersturmbahnfuhrer takes particular pleasure in letting his insane "pet", a bald retard named Karl, rape the prisoners while he watches. The standard Nazi atrocities are documented: babies chopped up, nude women beaten and thrown into gas chambers to choke on their own vomit, lesbianism, bald retard-rapists on leashes... You know, the usual stuff.
3. THE GESTAPO'S LAST ORGY - Also known as LAST ORGY OF THE THIRD REICH DES FILLES POUR LE BOURREAU, BOUREAUX SS, L'ULTIMA ORGIA DELL III REICH, LA ULTIMA ORGIA DE LA GESTAPO, and CALIGULA REINCARNATED AS HITLER. In addition to the typically sleazy tortures, this film features an orgy between Nazis and their Jewish prisoners. Also, this film features the Nazi scientist who informs his dinner guests that they can solve the world's hunger problems by eating inferior races... which they proceed to do, taking a poor young prisoner, sprinkling her with cooking oil and cooking her up right on the spot. Daniela Poggi (appearing here under the pseudonym "Daniela Levy") plays Lise, a Jewish survivor of a Nazi concentration camp, who lures her former tormentor back to the scene of his crimes. Considered a classic of this sub-genre, director Cesare Canevari's film is a relentless and shocking depiction of suffering in the face of unparalleled brutality.
2. SS HELL CAMP - Also known as BEAST IN HEAT, NAZI HOLOCAUST, SS EXPERIMENT 2 and HORRIFYING EXPERIMENTS OF THE SS NAZIS. An evil female Nazi doctor (read ILSA clone) creates a hairy mutant hunchbacked testosterone monster that brutally rapes women and eats their pubic hair (??!!). The Italians try to stop the depraved perverted Nazis who have been having fun by machine gunning old women and babies, castrating men, pistol-raping, and torturing women with flesh-eating rats (seemingly played by hamsters). Eventually a partisan uprising forces the errant wanna-be-Ilsa into a cage with her "beast-in-heat". All the actors--including those playing the Nazis--sport truly atrocious hairstyles. One of the most revolting films ever made, this is absolutely a classic in the genre!
1. ILSA, SHE WOLF OF THE SS - Dyanne Thorne stars as the buxom ILSA, commandant of a Nazi medical camp. Through ghastly and perverted experiments, she is trying to prove her theory that women can withstand much more pain than men, and should therefore be put on the front lines of the war. She falls in love with an American P.O.W. who's ability to control ejaculation eventually becomes her undoing. Shot on the HOGANS HEROES set, this was a runaway drive-in theatre hit that spawned the entire sick and twisted genre. ILSA, SHE WOLF OF THE SS isn't quite as nasty as some of the others on the list, but far more cohesive and entertaining than any of the Italian knock-offs. Not more than 5 minutes ever goes by without some form of sex or violence (or both) invading the frame. This is everything a sleazy drive-in movie should be, and then some. ILSA is the GONE WITH THE WIND of Nazi Sexploitation. This comment from the internet movie database (IMDB.com) sums up the appeal of ILSA: "If you found this film to be at all entertaining you are in need of strict medical supervision. this is pornographic, rabid filth and anybody who likes this type of film is a sad specimen of humanity. I pity you. get help!"
Other films worth mentioning in the SSexploitation cycle: THE NIGHT PORTER, SS CAMP 5, ACTUNG! THE DESERT TIGERS, SS CUTTHROATS (CUTTHROAT COMMANDOS), HELLTRAIN (SPECIAL TRAIN FOR HITLER, TRAIN SPECIAL POUR SS), LOVE CAMP 7, HITLER SUCKS, RED NIGHTS OF THE GESTAPO, HELGA: SHE-WOLF OF SIELBERG, NATHALIE - FUGITIVE FROM HELL, FRAULEIN DEVIL (aka ELSA FRAULEIN SS),BLUE ICE, and STALAG 69
Most of these films are difficult to find unless you are (an idiot like me) interested in paying $20 a piece for third generation bootlegs. ILSA, SHE WOLF OF THE SS has been issued on DVD by Anchor Bay with a priceless commentary track. This release is highly recommended for your next drunken Friday night movie viewing.