Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The most feared Nazi of them all: Ilsa

Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS (1975)
Starring: Dyanne Thorne, Sandi Richman, Jo Jo Deville, Gregory Knoph, Tony Mumolo, Uschi Digard, Maria Marx, Nicolle Riddell, and Georoge "Buck" Flowers
Director: Don Edmonds
Rating: Six of Ten Stars

Ilsa, the big-breasted Nazi commandant of a concentration camp (Thorne), supervises a series of "medical experiments" that involve torturing women in the most gruesome and unusual fashions. Her hope is to prove that women are more psyscially tough than men, so that Hitler and his generals were allow them to serve on the frontlines of war. She is also on a quest for the ultimate orgasm... and when the freakishly well-endowed prisoner-of-war Wolfe (Knoph) is placed in her camp, she may well achieve it.

I don't often use posters with all the logos and taglines in place to illustrate articles, but the original one for this movie captures everything it's about with such accuracy that I simply had to use it.

One of the truest statements on the poster is that it's a "Different Kind of X." This is a movie that puts the "porn" in "torture porn." The various female torture victims are completely naked while they are cut, stabbed, frozen, cooked, beaten, raped and everything else in between. Ilsa is a sadistic maniac who would give Jigsaw and his girlfriend from the "Saw" series nightmares.

This isn't the sort of film I watch because I'm looking for entertainment; if I hadn't declared the "Nazis Quit!" mini-blogathon, I probably never would have watched a Nazi torture porn film. The too realistic violence in films like this make me ache in the various parts of my body where I've had broken bones or deep cuts, and all the screaming sets my nerves on edge. I had an idea of what I was in for when I slated this film for review--it was legendary when I was a kid and I dissuaded my friends from trying to rent it back when we were young teens and my family was the first with a VCR in the neighborhood--but I had no idea how bad it was.

Not "bad" in the sense of incompetent filmmaking and lousy acting [for the most part... a couple of cast-members must have been sleeping with the director or producer in real life, or I can't see how they ever made it past an audition, and some of the put-on German accents are hilariously awful). No, I'm referring to the fact that five minutes doesn't pass in the film where there isn't a scene of violent sex or brutal torture. It is amazing how much they managed to cram into one movie.

There is so much crammed in here, so much that had me cringing and squirming and making me wonder if I'd ever have an appetite again that the film virtually flew by. I think this is quite possibly one of the most effectively paced films I've ever seen. In fact, I think the only other movie that's had that effect on me--causing me to lose track of how much is left of the movie--once I started watching films with an eye toward writing reviews was "JFK." As much as it made me uncomfortable, I have to give the director credit for keeping me engrossed even as I was repulsed by what I was watching.

While this is without question a sleazy B-movie, it's a testament to its effectiveness that it's very watchable (assuming you want to watch scenes of rape and torture). When a film works as hard to be as offensive as this one is, it is usually boring or unintentionally hilarious. Neither is the case with this film. Heck, I wish there were scenes that were unintentionally funny, because I might be able to have some dinner right about now if there had been. (The closest we get is when Gregory Knoph tries to act, or even deliver lines. It's little wonder that this was his first and only screen credit.)

There are few films I've seen that make Nazis more disgusting that how they are portrayed in "Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS." The sad part is that many of the horrible acts shown in this film probably were perpetrated on human beings in real life.

If you're looking for a sleazy Nazi movie, you won't go wrong if you can lay your hands on a copy of this movie; it seems to be out of print in the United States--I borrowed the copy I viewed from a friend who gave me a long warning about the film, because he knows my tastes do not run in this direction. (He also lent me some other, lesser Nazi "torture porn" films which I will watch for the blogathon once my stomach settles.)

However, if you're a pain-numbed gorehound who thinks "Saw" is for pussies and "Urban Flesh" is too tame, maybe you will find yourself disappointed with what this, unarguably, superior early example of the "torture porn" horror subgenre.


  1. You're right, it's the pacing that makes ILSA one of the most eminently watchable exploitation movies ever. I actually think that was the most surprising aspect of the film!

  2. Yeah. I was surprised at how good a movie it actually, especially since the first crack I took at watching one of these Nazispoitation films ended with me giving up after about 15 minutes it was so bad. (I'll have to revisit that film for Movies You Should (Die Before You) See when I can work up the stamina.)