Monday, October 25, 2010

Ilsa: She Wolf of the SS (Don Edmonds, 1975)

If you were to attempt to make a gripping drama about the day-to-day struggles that come with living at an SS run concentration camp during the Great Patriotic War, how would you start things off? Some might open on a small patch of flowers flourishing next to an electrified fence–you know, try to capture the dichotomy between the beauty of nature and the scourge that is manufactured oppression. Others might cut to the chase and opt for a closeup shot of a swastika flag gently flapping in the midday sun. Well, the director of the justifiably infamous Ilsa: She Wolf of the SS doesn't care what you think, as he has decided that a side view shot of some mild commandant straddling followed by some not-so mild castration is the best way kick off your concentration camp movie. Right then and there, you know this film isn't going to about illuminating the populace about the ills of Nazism, a discredited movement whose sole appeal was that they had cooler uniforms than their drab enemies. Particularly Karl Diebitsch and Walter Heck's all-black SS uniform, manufactured by Hugo Boss. Utilizing the well-worn: titillate then repulse method of exploitation filmmaking, director Don Edmonds (Tender Loving Care) seems to revel in causing your aroused feelings to quickly turn into one's of revulsion and disgust. Having us cheering on a man's genitals to plunge as far as they can vaginally go one minute, only to have us wincing uncontrollably a mere ten seconds later when those very genitals are unceremoniously removed without even as much as a half-hearted auf Wiedersehen was a tad jarring.

If you enjoy watching men being tortured by female Nazis–and who doesn't?–you better savour the first five minutes, because after that you won't see any men harmed until at least the film's chaotic coda (throats are slit, necks are garrotted). No, this particular camp, Medical Camp #9, is all about performing gruesome experiments on young women. The camp commandant (the mild straddler I alluded to earlier), a stern lass named Ilsa (Dyanne Thorne), wants to help the Third Reich by making its soldiers become more resilient. And if that means employing maggots (mealworms), infectious diseases, pressurized chambers, scalding hot water and electrified dildos, than so be it (you gotta support the Wehrmacht).

A new shipment of ladies arrives at the camp, and you can tell immediately that Ilsa doesn't like Anna (Maria Marx) and Rosette (Jacqueline Giroux). The latter is merely an annoyance, in that she seems to ask way too many questions. It's the former who gets Ilsa's panzer panties all in a twist. You could sense the tension between then when they first meet. The way Anna stood naked before her, proudly displaying her no-nonsense breasts and bulbous pubic region seemed to irk Ilsa (the others sheepishly attempted to shield those particular areas with a balled up clump of their ratty clothes). However, the fact she won't satisfy the shapely commandant's perverted desire to hear her subjects scream whenever she would violently poke and prod them is what really puts Anna's organic structure in danger.

Realizing that their days as relatively attractive women with all their limbs are numbered, Anna and Rosette try to get a revolt going. Only problem being all their bunkmate's are all showing the signs of having resided at a concentration camp where medical experiments and gang rape are not only commonplace, they're in the brochure. (Medical Camp #9: "Come for the syphilis, stay for the sexual humiliation."). In other, less offensive words, they've been there way too long to be any sort of shape to help.

What these spunky gals need is a couple of strapping men. And wouldn't you know it, there are a bunch living in a dorm across the way. Employing prisoners of war and other riffraff to do menial work, the camp has a sizable number of non-Nazi men to choose from. The two Anna and Rosette convince to assist their cause are a dapper American newcomer named Wolfe (Gregory Knoph) and Mario (Tony Mumolo), a wily camp veteran.

If Mario has the demeanor of a man who has no testicles, well, that's because he doesn't have any testicles. His sole reason for helping the girls is based on his lack of testicles. In fact, almost every facet of his existence revolves around his missing testicles and exacting revenge on the person who removed them from their scrotal perch.

You see, while Ilsa loves to torture people for the sake of national security, she also loves cock. You could say it's her one true weakness, that, and an inability to say no to creepy Obergruppenführers when they inevitably ask her to expel urine on them. Her insatiable need to have an erect penis immersed inside the pure, reasonably unsullied confines of Aryan vag on a semi-regular basis is actually what leads to her downfall. She acquirers her daily allocation of cock from the ranks of the camp workers, and if their cock doesn't meet with her high standards (i.e. hump heartily until she achieves orgasm), she will instruct her black clad minions to haul you down to the lab, where she will personally take away your junk.

When Wolfe is eventually summed to stick his prick in Ilsa's shock-haired tissue box, Mario shoots him a "dude, your balls are so going to be in a jar by sunup" look. What Mario doesn't know is that Wolfe has a trick up his sleeve–his sleeve being his penis. As Ilsa points out, it's not exactly the largest rake in the tool shed–his rake being his penis. But as she soon finds out, its thrusting prowess is second to none. Craving its long lasting power like were an overly buttered piece of toast, Ilsa has become so captivated by Wolfe's unflappable shaft, that her dedication to sadism seems to waver over the course of the film. Actually, the opposite happens, as her desire to make Anna scream hits a fever pitch. Nevertheless, it's her obsession with Wolfe's steady member and Anna's plucky determination that cause the rebellion's plans to move forward at an accelerated pace.

I know what you're thinking. You mean to tell me, the fate of democracy depends on one man's ability to not shoot his goo inside a curvy blonde Nazi doctor in an expedient manner? Ridiculous as it sounds, Ilsa: She Wolf of the SS is all about postponing the ejection of seminal fluid. Simple as that. Anybody who tries to tell you otherwise has obviously chosen to approach the film from a perspective that is different than mine, and I respect that. But deep down they know I'm sort of right.

The off and on nature of Dyanne Thorne's German accent was, I wanna say, "adorable," but that doesn't feel right. Okay, how 'bout this: The manner in which Dyanne Thorne's German accent seemed to fluctuate from scene to scene was oddly endearing. Yeah, that'll work. To be fair, the only instance where I recall this actually happening occurred whenever she would say the word "Reich," as in the "Third Reich." At first, I noticed that she pronounced in the Anglo-American way. But then she started saying it the German way. It's as if her accent gradually got better as the film progressed.

As far as lady Nazi's go, Dyanne Thorne (Ilsa, Harem Keeper of the Oil Sheiks) isn't really my type. On top of being cruel, I like my lady Nazis to be card carrying members of the Itty Bitty Titty Committee (a.k.a.Winzig Brüstchen Ausschuss). Also, Ilsa's ample protrusions repeatedly hampered the symmetry of her fabulous SS uniform. Although, I thought the wide-eyed pride of Greenwich, Connecticut looked amazing whilst standing in front of a blood-spattered wall.

Is it possible for one to grow tired of female pubic hair? I didn't think it was humanly possible, but there were a few moments during this film where I actually thought to myself: "Someone get that poor woman a pair of pants. Her clit's gonna get hypothermia." But then again, it's pretty hard to electrocute a person's genitals if they're wearing pants.

The mayhem of the finale was an unbelievable mishmash of outdoor stabbings, stealthy strangulation, topless knife-wielding, pulsating arterial spray (thanks to makeup artist Joe Blasco), and bullet-ridden corpses. Some of the deaths, especially the one's performed by the guys who take their orders from an ex-poultry farmer/wannabe Mongolian, were wonderfully staged. It's the shame Ilsa and her female subordinates didn't wear skirts throughout the film, because that would have made things perfect. Yeah, that's right, perfect. Sure, the torture scenes are a bit much at times, there's no mention of Alfred Naujocks, and the camp seemed to lack guard dogs, but there's no denying that this film is a well-made piece of exploitative trash.

Oh, and just for the record, the skirts I would have chosen for the female Nazis would have been black with a smallish slit in the back. As far as length goes, I would say, oh, about ten centimetres above the knee. I think that would allow you to commit unspeakable atrocities and still look chic at the same time.

video uploaded by theskunk


  1. I really struggled with my reaction to this movie for a number of years. The first time I saw it, I got that uncomfortable feeling of looking into somebody else's brain and becoming privvy to his graphically realized and unsavory-to-me fetishes. Then a few years back I had the privilege to meet Edmonds and Thorne at a convention and hear them speak about their work together, and they were both so disarmingly HONEST about the motives behind making the "Ilsa" movies (to whit: make bundles of dough through shocking audiences). Having revisited "She Wolf" since then, it's grown on me.

    I love that you point out Ms. Thorne's weird charm! She's really... rather... *likable*, maybe BECAUSE she's so over-the-top eeeevil. And man alive, does she ever *look* the part of the devil's dominatrix. On that fashion-tangent, I entirely endorse your alterations to the uniform skirts, BTW.

    Have you caught "Harem Keeper" yet? It's much more forward in its camp value, but I miiiiight just prefer it over "She Wolf."

  2. Maybe it's got something to do with the green tea I've been drinking lately, but I'm starting to see SS uniforms all over the place nowadays. I mean, I could have sworn the gray jacket Kim Kardashian was wearing in New York the other day had a definite Third Reich vibe about it.

    Don Edmonds and Dyanne Thorne are pretty straightforward on DVD's commentary track.

    I'm glad you agree about the skirts. Though, I should have point out that one of the female Nazis, the drunken lesbian who shaves the prisoners, does wear a skirt in the film. However, it's way too long, and you only see it for a split second.

    No, but I saw your blog entry dedicated to the "Harem Keeper," and I must say, the outfits look fabulous.

  3. Speaking of amazing Nazi chick outfits, I've always loved Alison Doody's outfits in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, classy as they are. My favorite is the silk blouse deal when they're at the castle. For the record, I think Jews are awesome.

    My favorite Nazi-sploitation movie is probably SS SPECIAL SECTION WOMEN aka DEPORTED WOMEN OF THE SS SPECIAL SECTION, which is an odd mix of Fassbinder-esque solemn melodrama and total sleaze. Basically, the sexier Jewish women are rounded up and sent to a castle, where they are tortured and exploited by lesbian guards. Muff diving ensues.

    As luck would have it, I posted a review of Don Edmonds TERROR ON TOUR, his opus about a fake KISS band cutting up groupies backstage. You may enjoy that type of thing.

    Also, I updated the TWISTED NIGHTNARE review with video of the flashback scene, and I also chronicle the hair of the victims. You should check out the video of the hot chick in the film whose hair changes from shot to shot. While the creepy German guy in WEREWOLF suffers from everchanging hair syndrome, this particular character might be the single greatest achievement in human history in this regard (that is, hair continuity errors with a single character).

    Well...a happy and safe Halloween! You probably don't have to worry about safety so much up in Canada. Down here, people will stab you for your bag of candy (or for your sweet Olivia-Newton John costume circa XANADU). I just recently woke up, it's 6 AM, and I'm already drinking. That's either a horrible sign or a fucking GREAT sign. :P

  4. I've never saw Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. I will, however, check out Alison Doody (Doody? For realz?) and her outfits, as I'm sure someone has an online shrine dedicated to her.

    Yeah, Jews rock!

    Thanks for the SS-related recommendation.

    I've always been curious about on Terror on Tour -- the film's garish VHS cover seems to have a cult following to call its own.

    I'll definitely look at that video.

    I love hair continuity errors!

    An Olivia-Newton John costume circa Xanadu?!? My brain would explode trying to decide which of her many super-terrific costumes I would wear.

  5. I had a friend of mine who was obsessed with this film. One day, he decided to rent a copy of it so that I could see what all the fuss was about...

    For me, this film was about as exciting as watching a group of nuns force - feed broken glass to a classroom full of heathen children while screaming "repent, you little bastards!!"

    I can understand (to some degree) the concept of people getting turned on by the sights and sounds of buxom young ladies getting spanked by dirty old men in front of a camera or watching other various forms of punishment being performed for personal gratification. I'm even willing to accept the idea that certain actors and actresses enjoy performing such acts in front of a camera for personal gratification. But this movie takes the concept of fetish and... Well, you get the idea.