Nazi exploitation  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Nazi exploitation (also Nazisploitation) is a subgenre of exploitation film and sexploitation film that involves villainous Nazis committing criminal acts of a sexual nature often as camp or prison overseers in World War II settings. Most follow the standard women in prison formula, only relocated to a death camp or Nazi brothel, with an added emphasis on sadism, gore, and degradation. The most infamous and influential title (and the one that set the standards of the genre) is perhaps Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS (1974), a Canadian production. Its surprise success and sequels led European film makers, mostly in Italy, to produce dozens of similar films depicting Nazi atrocities. While the Ilsa series and Salon Kitty were profitable, the other films were mostly box-office flops and the genre all but vanished by 1980.

In Italy, these films are known as part of the "il sadiconazista" cycle which is largely inspired by the art-house films Salon Kitty by Tinto Brass, Liliana Cavani's The Night Porter, and Pier Paolo Pasolini's Salò. Prominent directors of the genre include Paolo Solvay (La Bestia in Calore, aka The Beast in Heat, SS Hell Camp), Cesare Canevari (L'ultima orgia del III Reich, aka Last Orgy of the Third Reich), and Alain Payet (Train spécial pour SS, aka Hitler's Lust Train, Love Train for The SS), all from 1977.

Contents

History

A blend of sexual imagery and Nazi themes was to be found as early as Des Teufels General (The Devil's General) (1955) by Helmut Käutner. The acclaimed 1964 film The Pawnbroker includes a flashback scene showing nude women kept in a concentration camp brothel. But the earliest sexploitation film set in a Nazi camp was Love Camp 7 (1969). It was also the vanguard of the modern women in prison genre that emerged in the early 1970s.

Love Camp 7 established the pattern for the many films that followed. The story resembles a "true adventure" pulp yarn from a men's pin-up magazine of the period. In order to rescue a Jewish scientist, two female agents infiltrate a Nazi Joy Division camp where prisoners are kept as sex slaves for German officers. There are scenes of boot-licking humiliation, whipping, torture, lesbianism, and near-rape, culminating in a violent and bloody escape. The stock characters include a cruel and perverse commandant, a lesbian doctor, sadistic guards who freely abuse the prisoners, and a sympathetic German who tries to help them.

The Ilsa influence

Producer David F. Friedman had a small acting role in Love Camp 7. He went on to produce Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS in 1974. Ilsa was unique in that the camp commandant was a sexy, sex-crazed woman played by the busty and frequently nude Dyanne Thorne. Between sex scenes, Ilsa subjects her male and female inmates to horrific scientific tests, much like Josef Mengele's notorious Nazi human experimentation at Auschwitz. Some of the tests on hypothermia and pressure-chamber endurance were factual. Others were pure fantasy. For example, to prove her theory that women can endure more pain than men, Ilsa has a male and female prisoner flogged to death.

The character is also loosely based on "The Witch of Buchenwald", Ilse Koch, the wife of the commandant of the Buchenwald concentration camp. Koch was known for having perverse sexual dalliances with the prisoners and was rumored to have had lampshades made from human skin.

Ilsa includes the standard elements of sadism, degradation, whipping, sexual slavery, graphic torture, and a bloody finale with Ilsa shot dead and the camp set ablaze. The film was a surprise hit on the drive-in theater and grindhouse circuit. Ilsa was resurrected for three profitable sequels that ignored her Nazi origins and are closer to the women-in-prison genre. As a freelance mistress-for-hire, she became Ilsa, Harem Keeper of the Oil Sheiks (1976), commander of a 1953 gulag in Ilsa, the Tigress of Siberia (1977), and the warden of a corrupt Latin-American prison in Ilsa, the Wicked Warden (1977).

Nazi films from Italy

Meanwhile, filmmakers in Italy were creating their own Nazi movies with Ilsa-type villains. In 1977 Malisa Longo starred in Helga, She Wolf of Spilberg as a black-booted, leather wearing and sexually sadistic commander of a prison camp for women. That year Longo also starred in Fraulein Devil (aka Elsa: Fraulein SS) as Elsa, a former hooker with a penchant for S&M, who manages a Nazi "Pleasure Train" populated by prostitutes.

One of the most notorious films in this genre is La Bestia in Calore (aka SS Hell Camp), also from 1977. German actress Macha Magall played Dr. Ellen Kratsch, another icy blond Nazi who is sexy yet thoroughly evil. This film, with its extensive and graphic scenes of torture, brutality and rape, was initially banned in England. A milder, edited version was released in the U.S. as SS Experiment Camp 2. Magall was also in SS Girls (1976), another story set in a Nazi brothel.

The Nazi exploitation subgenre presented an opportunity for Italian studios to make very low cost horror pictures whilst tapping a previously ignored market — the exploitation war film. The Italian films are different from "Ilsa" in many ways — they focus on far more extreme aspects of human abuse (the most extreme example is probably in SS Hell Camp).

The films of 1976 include: SS Experiment Love Camp, depciting soft core sex scemes and the castration of an SS officer. SS Hell Camp, Luigi Batzella's second Nazi film, featured a sexually crazed mutant. SS Girls, Bruno Mattei's first of two Nazi films, is a blatant copy of Salon Kitty. SS Extermination Camp featuring star Lorraine de Salle and direcited by Bruno Mattei takes a more historical approch to the experiments which were based upon actual documents. SS Special Section Women stars John Steiner as a sex-crazed SS Commandant whose love for a Jewish girl costs him his manhood. Achtung! The Desert Tigers, from Luigi Batzella, is interwoven with stock footage and scenes at a Nazi camp in the desert where tortures abound.

1977 saw the release of Gestapo's Last Orgy (aka Caligula Reincarnated as Hitler), which depicts a love affair between a camp Commandant and a prisoner. SS Camp 5: Women’s Hell is SS Experiment Camp's sister film featuring the same cast and crew. Red Nights of the Gestapo is a softcore sex film with SS soldiers abusing women in a castle. Helltrain (SS Heltrain) is about a brothel train managed by the SS. Nazi Love Camp 27, starring Sirpa Lane as a Jewish girl forced into a brothel, is notable for its hardcore sex scenes and for being written by famed scripter Gianfanco Clerici.

By the end of the decade the genre had run its course.

Nazi pornography

Adult films also exploited Nazi scenarios in a string of sadomasochistic "roughie" pornographic films in the '70s and early '80s. Examples include the Mitchell brothers' Hot Nazis, Nazi Love Island with John Holmes and Seka, and Hitler's Harlot. One of the last entries, Stalag 69 (1982), starred Angelique Pettyjohn as an Ilsa-type SS officer. The story was largely a remake of Love Camp 7, bringing the cycle back to its origins. The genre remained mostly dormant for the next two decades. In 2006, Mood Pictures, a Hungarian producer of S&M films, released Gestapo, Gestapo 2, and Dr. Mengele in 2008, all of which are set in a Nazi prison camp and pay homage to Ilsa and the Italian exploitation films.

2007 to the present

In 2007, as part of Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino's tribute to expolitation cinema, Grindhouse, director Rob Zombie created a trailer for a fake film called Werewolf Women of the SS, starring Nicolas Cage and Udo Kier. According to Zombie, "Basically, I had two ideas. It was either going to be a Nazi movie or a women-in-prison film, and I went with the Nazis. There's all those movies like Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS; Fräulein Devil; and Love Camp 7—I've always found that to be the most bizarre genre."

On December 18, 2007, Zombie posted an entry on his MySpace page, asking if people would want to see a feature-length version of Werewolf Women of the SS.

In spring, 2008, Wild Eye Releasing released the first feature-length Nazi exploitation movie in nearly 30 years, titled Blitzkrieg: Escape from Stalag 69 and playing off the trappings of the genre, with many homages to earlier entries. The title itself is an extension of the adult film Stalag 69. A scene paying tribute to the ape monster in SS Hell Camp was allegedly removed from the film and appears in the DVD release.

Themes

Most of the Nazi exploitation films have stalag settings with young female inmates like Women's Camp 119. Their tormentors are female or male Nazi officers in SS uniforms, usually speaking with a fake German accent and irrelevant or mispronounced German words, who often use "experiments" as excuses to implement sadistic physical violence (perhaps inspired by the work of people like Josef Mengele, who performed medical experiments that often killed people). There are scenes of sexual conduct or, more routinely, exposed nude bodies of the victimised inmates. The level of violence depicted in these films may often reach the gore level.

It should be noted this genre mainly focused on female SS officers. It presented them as lusty as well as buxom women such as Dyanne Thorne's Ilsa, who also sexually abused their male prisoners (mainly in non statutory female on male rape fashion). As the setting is a Stalag, not a concentration camp, the prisoners are mainly Allied soldiers, not Jewish civilians.

There are also many films that do not follow the conventions of Nazi exploitation, such as Bordel SS (1978) of José Bénazéraf, Salon Kitty (1976) of Tinto Brass. These films are not usually considered as "prototypical" Nazi exploitation films and qualify more for the "art house" sub-genre. However, because of the vague term, even the film Il portiere di notte (The Night Porter) (1974) by Liliana Cavani that — in the opinion of many — lacks the exploitation motive, may be deemed one such film.

Legal status in Britain

Sometime in the early 1980s, Nazi exploitation films made their way onto the British market, made popular by the growing VHS home video technology. With major Hollywood studios steering clear of the new format, it was left to small, domestic companies to populate the shelves with tapes. A small company from England, GO Video, purchased the rights to an Italian film named SS Experiment Camp. The company ran a marketing campaign with full page ads showing a naked woman hanging from her feet, a swastika dangling from her wrist and an SS commander looming in the background. Adverts for the film in video rental stores became a target for protestors, who picketed such stores and petitioned for the film to be banned. After the Video Recordings Act, most of the Nazi exploitation films (labelled 'Nazi Nasties') became illegal in the UK. The following Nazi exploitation films were banned:

  • SS Experiment Camp (SS Experiment/Lager SSadis Kastrat Kommandantur)
  • The Beast In Heat (SS Hell Camp/La Bestia in Calore)
  • Gestapo's Last Orgy (Last Orgy of The Third Reich/Caligula Reincarnated as Hitler/L'ultima orgia del III Reich)
  • Love Camp 7
  • Deported Women of the SS Special Section (Le Deportate della sezione speciale SS)

Of the above films, only SS Experiment Camp is now available in the UK.

Israeli literature

In Israel specifically, during the 1960s "Stalag fiction" was pocket books whose stories focused on the unique features of this genre. The phenomena took ground in parallel to the 1961 Eichmann trial. Sales of this pornographic literature broke all records in Israel as hundreds of thousands of copies were sold at kiosks. They were inspired by Ka-tzetnik 135633's The House of Dolls, the experiences of a Jewish girl prostituted in the "Joy Division" (Block 24) of the Auschwitz camp, the factuality of which is disputed.

Holocaust pornography

Holocaust pornography, known also as Stalag porn following the 1955 publication of the The House of Dolls, functions at the extreme end of Jewish pornography.

See also




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Nazi exploitation" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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