Sunday, October 30, 2011

Isla: The Wicked Warden (Jess Franco, 1977)

Do you recall that heated discussion I had with myself not so long ago–you know, the one about the colour of the stockings worn in the classic women in prison flick Women's Prison Massacre? You remember, part of me thought they were dark charcoal grey, while the other part thought they were black. You don't, eh? Are you sure? Okay, I believe you. There's no need to get testy. Anyway, as I sat down to watch Ilsa: The Wicked Warden (a.k.a. Wanda, the Wicked Warden and Greta - Haus ohne Männer), my brain readied itself for yet another hosiery-based entanglement; a collants conundrum, if you will. It's not that I expected there to be any issues regarding the firm-fitting garments worn throughout this movie, it's just that I like to be prepared for anything that is thrown my way. Low and behold, when a new inmate is handed her uniform, after being thoroughly hosed down, of course, she asks the guard: don't I get any panties? Laughing, the guard tells her flatly, no, this is all you get. I'll admit, I was a tad disappointed when I found out there will be no tights, stockings, nylons, pantyhose, or even socks for me to grouse about in this film, which, judging by the camera angles employed during the opening shower scene, was clearly directed by Jess Franco, the master when comes to focusing his lens on what really matters. On the other hand, the prospect of watching an extravagantly sleazy film without the usual array of perverted burdens hanging over my head was actually quite liberating. Besides, only a real sadist would force women to wear crotch-constricting lingerie in a tropical environment. Oh, that's right, Ilsa/Greta is a sadist. The only logical explanation I think of is that she's grown soft over the years. And, for some strange reason, has changed her name to Greta, dyed her hair red, and relocated to an unknown corner of Latin America.

Armed only with her trusty whip, her always improving German accent, and her trademark ample bosom, Greta (Dyanne Thorne), tired of torturing for the betterment of humanity (conducting medical experiments on prisoners of war is so last season), has decided to start inflicting pain on others for profit and political reasons. You see, the country she currently resides has enemies–and, judging by the number of women languishing in "the hole," it has a lot of enemies–and thanks to Greta, she has ways of making them talk. If you think about it, her mistreatment of dissidents makes sense (it's an excellent way to ingratiate yourself to a new government), but how does one earn money from degradation? Why, that's simple, you film the degrading acts with a hidden camera and sell the footage to unscrupulous pornographers.

A steady flow of cash, a chummy relationship with the nation's corrupt government, and the occasional free massage administered by the sanitarium's most attractive inmate, life at Clinica Las Palomas is pretty sweet for Greta and her dedicated staff. Who would have guessed that a tiny tittied troublemaker posing as a patient would be the person to threaten Greta's cushy existence? Not me, that's for sure. It just goes to show that a morally bankrupt woman with large breasts is no match for a self-righteous woman with small breasts.

Opening with some tranquil shots of an unnamed jungle, Jess Franco (Eugénie de Sade) quickly ushers us into the soft and squishy realm of feminine hygiene. Implying from the get-go that's there's a huge discrepancy between Greta's day-to-day life and that of the "patients" under her care, we're treated to a duel bathing sequence. On the one hand, we see Greta soaking in a tub without a care in the world; her massive jugs are covered with frothy bubbles. And at the other end of the bathing spectrum, we have a group of woman showering with low-grade soap as two burly female guards gawk at them. How burly were the guards, you ask? Well, let's just say, if my head happened to become lodged between either one of their chunkier-than-usual thighs (don't ask me how it got in there), the chances of me being rescued would have been pretty slim, as my screams for help would have been muffled by at least five or six undulating layers of pale, vein-covered flab.

Just a second, let me enjoy that mental picture for a little while longer. Okay, I'm good. Now, where was I? Ah, yes, showering. A group of female inmates are showering, when all of a sudden, one of them starts to scream. It would seem that this is all part of a not-so elaborate rouse to distract the guards so that another inmate could grab her "uniform" and flee the clinic.

Running through the jungle, the fugitive, a brunette woman named Rosa Phillips (Esther Studer), is being pursued by rifle-wielding guards in khaki shorts. Eventually finding her way to the home of Dr. Arcos (Jess Franco), the wounded (a couple of bullets grazed her during her perilous flight to freedom) escapee thinks she has found sanctuary. But think again, Miss Phillips. You're going to have to stagger more than a couple of miles through some dense bush to escape the clutches of Greta, the torturer. Mumbling about shock treatment as she's carted away, the doctor wonders why Rosa, a woman who is supposedly being treated for a sexual abnormality (nymphomania, lesbianism, and prostitution are the clinic's specialties) would need to be tortured.

Repeatedly denied access to the notorious facility, Dr. Arcos, intent on exposing the clinic's wrongdoings, needs to find a trustworthy witness, one who will uncover the veil of wickedness that hangs over the place, and put an end to Greta's reign of terror once and for all. And the witness he's been looking for literally lands in the backseat of the doctor's car. Her name is Abbie Phillips (Tania Busselier), and she's the sister of Rosa Phillips. Determined to find out what happened to her sister, Abbie allows Dr. Acros to have her committed to Las Palomas under an assumed name.

Reborn as Abbie Garcia, a teacher, who according to her forged medical records, was caught having sexual relations with a number of underage students, the undercover patient quickly finds herself at the mercy of the thick thighed guards I alluded to earlier. Commenting on the fact that she doesn't need a bra, the guards remove her clothes and hose her down. Cackling like a couple of wart-covered witches on payday when the water they're spraying fails to penetrate the density of her "pubic nest" (what she lacks in boobs, she more than makes up for in pubes), the guards clearly enjoy their work. When they're finished, one of the guards hands her her uniform (a white shirt that looked like the kind of garment a small child might wear if her or she were playing a doctor in a school play). Realizing that the shirt they gave her isn't going to provide her with the coverage she requires to feel comfortable, she says, "I would like to have some panties." As you would expect, more laughter erupts from the guards, who basically tell her that's it as far as clothing goes.

You'll notice, as she's being denied panties, that there's a number on her uniform. Which is nothing new, as most prisons, clinics and sanatoriums give their "guests" a number (it's a tried and true method when it comes to dehumanizing the people you want to control). What is new, however, is the punishment for when someone fails to use it while referring to either themselves or the other inmates. For example, if you say, see Abbie across the room and you would like to get her attention, don't call out, "Abbie." Instead, try shouting her number, which, in Abbie's case, is 41 (be careful, though, I'm not sure if Greta allows shouting within the walls of her clinic). If you don't, you'll get your number branded just above your left breast. Nowadays, of course, that wouldn't be seen as much of a punishment, as self-mutilation is all the rage. But back in the 1970s, the surface of your flesh was sacred, and having a number burnt into your chest would no doubt severely cramp your style.

While the guards might not have been impressed with the size of 41's breasts, 14, 10, and 24 can't seem to get enough of them (14, in fact, says, and I quote, "her tiny tits excite me"). Who are these mosquito bite aficionados? Well, all I know about 24 is that she has an English accent and has the number 24 branded above her left nipple. As for 14 (Peggy Markoff). Let's see, she's a post-op trans woman who enjoys knitting, lesbianism, and watching shower fights (oh, and get on her good side and she might let you call her 7). Who's kidding who? The only number in that group that really matters is 10 (Lina Romay), the sexist woman to roam the halls of a shoddily run correctional institute since a certain pigment challenged enchantress in dark charcoal grey stockings headbutted her way into my heart. Sauntering into the clinic's sleeping quarters, her arms akimbo, the short-haired slice of gorgeosity is clearly in command (keep an eye on her when sits on her bed, it's obvious she hikes up her uniform with the sole purpose of reveling more of her delicious pussy). Unfazed over the fact that 41 didn't notice her exposed vagina (not even a cursory cunt coup d'oeil is thrown her way), 10 jumps to her feet (which are covered with a pair of beige boots) and starts to inspect 41's super-tight body.

Impressed with what 41 has to offer, tightness-wise, 10 tells her that she'll play with her later. Running late for an appointment, 10 shows up at the door of Greta's swanky pad and proceeds to give her a massage. You should have seen the sublime curvature of 10's wonderfully proportioned backside as she straddled Greta, it was a thing of rotund beauty. Changing positions, Greta returns the favour. However, not by giving her a massage, but by sticking pins in her chest (I loved the close up shots Lina Romay's dark eyes during this sequence). If she screams, she'll send 41 to the hole (10 has made it clear to Greta that she likes 41). Luckily for 41, she doesn't, scream, that is.

Remember when I said Ilsa: The Wicked Warden was all about this woman trying to find her missing sister? Yeah, well, it's not about that at all. Okay, maybe it is about that (how the fuck should what things are about). But in my mind, what the film really about is one woman's epic struggle to obtain a clean culo. And besides Greta, who do you think is the one woman at Clinica Las Palomas in a position to demand a pristine culo? Why, it's 10, of course. And who do you suppose she wants to be her primary culo cleaner? You guessed it, she wants 41. Walking up to 41 in the shower, 10 tells her, "you turn me on," and instructs her to wash her back and to scrub her culo. As I watched the suds slowly trickle down the sharply defined contours of her sturdy back, I couldn't help but notice that her culo wasn't being scrubbed at all. An increasingly frustrated 10 catches wind of this as well and yells, "I told you to scrub my culo!"

A sense ease began to wash over me as the soap finally started to make its way into 10's culo. Unfortunately, this ease wasn't shared by the actually owner of the sublime culo sort of being scrubbed. Dissatisfied with the manner in which her culo was being attended to, 10 decides to express her unhappiness through physical violence (the chaotic nature of the brawl that ensued gave the audience some excellent shots of 10's partially scrubbed culo). What's the penalty for fighting in this joint? I have no idea. What I do know is that inept culo scrubbing gets you strapped to a table and tortured. After injecting some sort of numbing agent into 41's vagina with a syringe (a bug-eyed Dyanne Thorne looks right at home with a syringe in her hand), Greta tells her, "shock therapy will calm your nerves." And judging by the white foam leaking from her mouth, I'd say it didn't work at all.

No doubt wondering if her decision to come here was a wise one, 41 spends the next couple of days naked, shackled, and forced to listen to the paranoid ramblings of 20 (a woman with a terrible scar on her neck who's locked in the cell next to hers). When she's finally released from the hole, 41 is consoled by 14 (I'm no doctor, but I'm sure the faintness of her eyebrows will help soothe her pain). If you're wondering what kind of punishment 10 got for fighting in the shower, don't bother. The so-called "wicked warden" and 10 are in cahoots with one another (you scratch my back, I'll urinate all over yours). Returning to the hole, Greta whips a naked woman with one eye chained to a wall for some shits but hardly any giggles (I'll admit, the twitchy nature of the one-eyed lady with stringy blonde hair was strangely alluring), beats 20 in her hay-covered cell (20 manages to call Greta a "vampire cunt" before her beating commences), and tortures a patient that 41 might be interested in.

Telling 41 that she has information regarding the whereabouts of her missing sister, 10 arranges a meeting in the lavatory. With 14 there as moral support, 41 proceeds to beg 10 to tell her what happened to her sister. Unsatisfied with the quality of her groveling, 10, who is sitting on the toilet while all this is transpiring, instructs 41 to lick her boots. After she's finished, it's time to–you guessed it–clean her culo. Unsure whether or not 10 was going #1 or #2, 41 wipes her culo with a small piece of newspaper. Standing with a priggish air of a woman who is having her culo cleaned by someone other than herself, 10 tells 41 to lick her culo. "It's not so bad, lick it clean," she coos softly to the reluctant culo licker, as 41 struggles to maintain her composure as the entirety of her oral infrastructure soon finds itself fully engulfed within the tantalizingly plump confines of her magnanimous culo. You know what the say? Real sadness is the sight of freshly cried tears coagulating on the edge of a prison toilet seat as a result of being forced to clean a beautiful woman's culo with your lengua. Nevertheless, her sadness quickly turns to happiness as 10 declares 41 to be her friend.

Do you think Greta would ever lick 10's culo? Probably not. In fact, I don't think she realizes how truly special her culo really is. You could say, Greta's decision to underestimate the power of 10's culo is what ultimately lead to her downfall. While she's busy letting a general with a mustache slobber all over her plum pantyhose adorned legs in a sleazy motel room and hosting vile orgies that pit a rag-tag collection of depraved male convicts up against an adorable gang of mildly deformed female patients (poor number 9, how did she wind up in this group? she's way too cute to be violated in such a heinous manner), 10's culo is quietly gaining strength. And a strong culo, is a dangerous culo. If I took anything away from Ilsa: The Wicked Warden, it's that once a person licks your culo, the bond you share with that individual is unbreakable.

video uploaded by theskunk


  1. I wonder how many put their lengua in Francoculo...

  2. Hey, Jian Ghomeshi is writing a memoir. 1982. Is he going to write about Chilliwack?

    I have some plaid (black/white/grey plaid) tights. But I've never been to prison or the loony bin, and hopefully never will be. " Royal Canadian Institute for the Mentally Insane..hey, that's the loony bin, eh?" (Sorry, I never pass up a chance to quote Strange Brew.)

    Still searching for flights to Iqaluit. Someday.

  3. @Kev D.: I almost bought a used car at Francoculo Ford over in Tonawanda back in '02.

    @Karim Amir: The book's called "1982"? Interesting, my favourite Miss Kittin and the Hacker song is called "1982."

    Why would he write about Chilliwack? I thought he was from Thornhill. ;)

    Plaid tights, eh? I like the sound of that. In fact, that's what the ladies in my tragically nonexistent Women in Prison screenplay are going to be wearing.

    Speaking of prisons, I hope you caught the pro-Shawshank letter that was printed in EW a week or so ago (the letter writer took issue with the magazine's nonchalant claim that Pulp Fiction was "hands down" the best film of the '90s).

  4. I did not see that pro-Shawshank letter, but I'd like to buy that guy/girl a drink! Or something non-alcoholic if s/he prefers. :) (Big raspberry to Pulp Fiction.)

    I just googled '1982' and 'Canadian music' and Chilliwack appeared.

    Hey! St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador was a Jeopardy! clue. I giddily shouted out the answer. We haven't started the Tournament of Champions yet.

    I've really enjoyed the CBC 75th anniversary festivites. :D

  5. Even I took exception with the way the original article casually stated that Pulp Fiction was the best film of the '90s. As the letter writer points out, the film is basically just a collection of bits and pieces ripped off from countless 1970s-era drive-in movies (which I sort of agree with, since I've been watching nothing but those types of movies over the past few years).

    Okay, that's makes sense.

    Billy Bob Thorton and his egregiously large soul patch were on Jimmy Fallon last night. Unfortunately, there no Jian Ghomeshi-style blow up. It went more like this, "Oh my gosh! You're Billy Bob Thorton! Remember Sling Blade? You were awesome in that."

    Yeah, not to brag, but I got that one, too. But then again, I should always get those. Anyway, just watched the first Tournament of Champions episode, the teacher with the beard is back.

    I saw Alan Thicke on the CBC the other day.

  6. This is either my favorite Ilsa film, or least favorite. It is incapable of falling in the middle, however.

  7. I have yet to see Ilsa: Harem Keeper of the Oil Sheiks and Ilsa: The Tigress of Siberia, so I can't really tell you what my fave is. :(

    Scrub my culo.

  8. Tigress is a weird one, probably because Roger Corman got hold of it. (my review). Harem Keeper... I'd have to watch it again. It is very "yay America!" which turns me off, but the eye candy is pretty awesome (Uschi Digard, obviously, and I believe Haji and Joyce Gibson make appearances.

  9. All this skinning of onions regarding Ilsa films is irrelevant. ALL OF THEM ARE GREAT. The real shame is that so few commenters here will be able to see them in their proper environment, which would be (1) a Times Square theater pre-1980, (2) A drive-in, hopefully as a triple feature or (3) the Gold Coast Cinema, a movie theater INSIDE a Las Vegas casino. By the way, Dyanne Thorne had a Vegas act...