Thursday, April 30, 2015

Italian Nazisploitation: SS CAMP: WOMEN'S HELL

Review by: Jason Krueger

Director: Sergio Garrone

Cast: Paola Corazzi, Rita Manna, Giorgio Cerioni

Exploitation Digital / Region 1 / Unrated / 1.85:1 widescreen / Dolby Digital Stereo / 96 minutes

Extras: Photo Gallery, Interview with Sergio Garrone, Original Trailer, Exploitation Digital Trailers

NOTE: This title is Out Of Print


In the world of the exploitation films, there are many sub-genres. The one in which I have been interested lately is nazisploitation. I have watched a few in the last couple weeks and they are a bit unnerving. I have recently watched Gestapo's Last Orgy, SS Hell Camp, and SS Camp: Women's Hell. I can already tell you that there isn't a huge difference between them in regards to content, and I have a feeling it will be the same across the next three films I have purchased. All three films have scenes of sexual and physical torture. There is plenty of nudity, usually coming at you in large groups: for instance, a shower scene. They also have a tendency to lean towards the plot of your basic revenge film.

So don't make the mistake my sister-in-law made and think these are pro-Nazi films. They are very much anti-Nazi, and that is the way it should be. This particular film had everything mentioned above, but included a female lead character that was black. Yes, her character's back story is a little absurd and your first reaction will be, I never ever saw a black Jewish woman in Schindler's List. That's okay, just get over it. You must understand that this was also written in the seventies, at the time of the blaxploitation film. This is strange, but I like how it worked in the film since I am a huge fan of Pam Grier and all of her work. I would assume that exploitation fans of this time period also liked the idea of the crossover between sub-genres.

Directed by Sergio Garrone, this film was definitely made to shake the viewer to their core. It opens with a large group of female prisoners being forced to work as sex slaves for the German soldiers. This being said, there are lots of uncomfortable sex/rape throughout the first third of the film. The middle of the film deals with many of the women being experimented upon. This deals with tons of stomach churning physical abuse that makes you realize that Eli Roth wasn't the creator of torture porn. The final third of the film is the revenge portion. Here is when our black lead character helps women escape by procuring machine guns and doing her best Pam Grier impression by taking out Nazi's right and left. No, I'm still not sure why she was there and I don't know where she learned how to be Rambo, but I had fun watching her do it. Garrone did a good job of building the story into these three acts and he got actors that weren't as bad as you would expect for this type of film. Another thing you wouldn't expect from this type of film is a decent soundtrack. I may be being too nice, but I liked the music. It had a touch of Godfather plus some of that seventies Italian horror sound that works well for me.

You also saw a bit of Spaghetti Western influence with the camera work in this film, he did direct two Django films after all. If I have to rate this film, I would give it a 7/10. Again, you have to be reminded that I am rating this against other films within the sub-genre. I have only seen two other nazisploitation films, but I've seen many women in prison and blaxploitation films. This film is definitely more watchable than the other two nazisploitation films I mentioned earlier. It is also better than Women's Prison Massacre, but not better than many of my favorite blaxsploitation films. So it falls right in the middle of all of the films I've seen within the three genres. It is also a film that only appeals to people looking in this area of film. The casual film viewer, like my wife, will find it to be utterly detestable. The exploitation/grindhouse type of viewer will see it and like it. I think they, like myself, will recommend it to other like-minded individuals. They will do this because it does a good job of paying homage to other types of films, while bringing something a little different into a seemingly predictable genre.

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