Saturday, May 27, 2017

#2,360. SS Hell Camp (1977)

Directed By: Luigi Batzella

Starring: Macha Magall, Gino Turini, Edilio Kim

Tag line: "Horrifying experiences in the last days of the S.S."

Trivia: The film was listed as one of the DPP's 72 video nasties in the UK and even made the final list of 39 official titles for prosecution

Noted for their scenes of sadistic torture and unspeakable violence, the Nazisploitation films of the ‘70s always found new and exciting ways to shock their audience. Yet as vile and bloody as these movies could sometimes be, 1977’s SS Hell Camp pushed the envelope even further, and ranks as one of the most disturbing Nazisploitation flicks that I’ve ever seen.

SS Officer/scientist Dr. Ellen Kratsch (Macha Magall) has created what she believes to be the perfect man: a dwarf-sized Neanderthal (played by Salvatore Baccaro) whose voracious appetite for sex is never satisfied. To keep him happy, Dr. Kratsch regularly selects one of the Gestapo’s prettiest female prisoners, strips her naked, then has her tossed into the creature’s cage, where the poor girl is violently raped, then beaten to within an inch of her life.

At the same time this is going on, a group of Italian partisans is taking the fight to the Nazis, sabotaging their supply chain and killing every German soldier they come across. In an effort to crush this rebellion, Nazi Capt. Hardinghauser (Edilio Kim) teams up with Dr. Kratsch, whose “interrogation methods” have been known to get results. But while Kratsch and Hardinghauser are busy brutalizing one prisoner after another to obtain information, the remaining Partisans are planning an all-out attack that, if successful, will drive the Germans from their territory once and for all.

SS Hell Camp (also released as The Beast in Heat) is, in essence, two movies in one; a large portion of the film is dedicated to the Partisan army and their battles, and while some of these scenes are, indeed, exciting (especially an early sequence in which the group sabotages a railroad track), this entire section features far too many characters, and the footage lifted from another (bigger) movie to flesh out the fight scenes feels out of place.

In addition to this, we’re treated to what goes on inside Dr. Kratsch’s laboratory and, for better or worse, this is where SS Hell Camp truly distinguishes itself. In the opening minutes, we witness the rape and murder of a beautiful young woman, who is thrown, kicking and screaming, into the creature’s cage. Both she and the monster are naked (unlike most movies of this ilk, SS Hell Camp contains equal amounts of male and female nudity), and by the time it’s over, the girl is dead.

Yet as troubling as this opening is, it’s nowhere near the film’s most outrageous sequence. Later on, there’s a scene where the good doctor interrogates three nude male prisoners (she swats two on the genitals with her riding crop, then takes off her top and rubs her breasts up against the third man, hoping to make him talk). From there, things get downright disgusting: one unfortunate girl has electrodes attached to her vagina, while, just next to her, a naked man is tied upside-down and occasionally dunked into a large tub of water. Yet, for me, the most shocking scene in SS Hell Camp comes when Dr. Kratsch’s creature, after raping yet another woman, tears out his victim’s pubic hairs with his bare hands, then pops them into his mouth!

Macha Magall is both sinister and sexy as Dr. Kratsch, and does a decent enough job in the lead role, but in the end, SS Hell Camp fails to deliver the goods, giving us a war story that isn’t all that interesting and a series of gross-out sequences that falter under the weight of their own excesses.

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