Confused Views: Shocking Nazi arm-licking threesome

With Tarantino's Grindhouse set to appear on DVD, Matt checks out the controversial exploitation series, Ilsa...

Grindhouse is coming out on Blu-ray. Hooray! Give us hug, you Weinstein-surnamed sons of guns. All is forgiven.

After the marketing catastrophuck that marred the film’s release, followed by a lengthy period of time with no mention of the full cut, I suspected the full Grindhouse presentation would never get a proper home video release.

My favourite part of Grindhouse is the fake trailers, which, with the exception of Machete, were not included on the film’s individual DVD releases. They’re brilliant and it’s great to see that some of them are being turned into films now. The one I liked best is yet to exist as a full length film and is probably the most difficult sell. I can’t imagine it would be easy convincing people to finance a film called ‘Werewolf Women of the SS’. 

I’ve been so excited that I’ll soon be able to see the extended Werewolf Women trailer that I was inspired to revisit a trilogy of films that, no doubt, had some influence over Rob Zombie’s trailer. I’m not sure that many of you will have seen Ilsa She Wolf Of The SS (or its two official sequels, with spoilers following for all three. I’ll not be touching on Jess Franco’s Ilsa The Wicked Warden, as it’s not an official sequel) and I’m not entirely sure whether that’s a good thing or not. I can’t help but feel that, if most people had seen this film, they would probably think I’m slightly deranged for rather liking it. Who they are to be so judgemental, I don’t know, the bloody trout-sniffers.

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Ilsa She Wolf Of The SS starts with a warning message. It’s a sombre note letting us know the intentions of the filmmakers. They want to shed some light on the awful things that happened in Nazi concentration camps. From there the next obvious stop is a gratuitous sex scene. And by gratuitous, I mean I’m fairly confident that I saw a bit of scrotum. Then we’re straight into a shower scene. Goodness, Ilsa certainly likes to be sure that her breasts are clean.  Anyway, such were the horrors of concentration camps.

So, who is Ilsa (played by Dyanne Thorne)? Well, she’s an ultra-violent hyper-feminist nightmare come to life. Kind of. Or rather, she’s a buxom hate-monster that likes sex and torture in equal measure. Sort of. She’s a dark-hearted dominatrix with a taste for experimenting with the human body. Here, she’s also a Nazi officer in control of a concentration camp where she’s conducting gruesome experiments in her quest to prove that women are better equipped to deal with pain than men. She’s also a foxy strumpet whose deep red mean streak appears to come from sexual dissatisfaction.

It’s hard to know if this film has an agenda beyond shocking and titillating. It does appear to. Things being open to interpretation, it’s either a pro-feminist statement or an attack on feminism. Sure, Ilsa is the most powerful character in the film, aggressively pursuing her feminist cause whilst most of the male characters struggle, as a result of being unable to control their sexual urges.

Ultimately, though, she’s undone by her own sexuality and is punished by a more powerful male, who regrets giving her power. Most likely, I’m reading too much into a film that’s been given no more thought than “Let’s make it really gory and with loads of massive knockers!”

Is it really appropriate to use the atrocities that took place in concentration camps as an excuse for cheap thrills? No, it’s not, but I couldn’t help but feel like that’s part of the point. It adds an extra layer of taboo. Plus, with its pre-film warning and insistence that this is all based on the truth, it struck me as quite similar to how modern tabloid newspapers work, with all the naughty words in bold capitals.

If the point of this film was a voice, it would spend the entire runtime whispering in your ear, “Isn’t it disgusting? Mmm, yeah it is. Look at it, really have a look. Cor, isn’t it terrible, all of the filthy naked details and all of the grizzly injuries? Isn’t it shocking? Big whopping tits all bouncing around and painful torture? How terrible. Keep looking so you can know how gruesome the sexiness of it all is.”

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Where propriety is concerned, I again think there’s a case for not taking the film too seriously. After all, we’re talking about a film with a scene of Ilsa doing a wee on a Nazi general. At his request. He’s into it.

Ilsa She Wolf Of The SS looks great (the sets were borrowed from Hogan’s Heroes) and zips along at a brisk pace. There’s a lot of stuff in here that simply has to be seen to be believed. A final example I’ll leave you with is a sexy threesome where some lucky devil gets to have his way with two women (or maybe not a lucky devil, it’s hard to remember who ends up getting tortured and who doesn’t). Now, I’m not claiming to be an expert in cinematic ménage a trois, but I do think it’s odd that while he’s busy with one of the ladies the other can think of no better way to add to the eroticism than by licking his arm. Kinky.

Ilsa Harem Keeper Of The Oil Sheiks is the second Ilsa film. Without wishing to give too much away, she appears to have been unshot in the face by the start of this film. Both sequels work in the way that they just take the character and put her in a different situation. They’re not story follow-ons.

It’s immediately apparent that this second film isn’t going to be able to match the first. Four minutes before someone takes their shirt off? Come on! That’s insane. What we’re offered here is a heartbreaking and sensitive take on Arabian slave trading, with lots of boobies and a bit of gore.

This sequel is noticeably toned down from the first one and even makes a concession to bring in a female audience by titillating them with lots of hairy male bottoms. There is still a fair amount of debauched silliness. One of the key scenes involves a millionaire prince selling off sexy slaves. The problem? They’re falling apart. Prior to the auction, a doctor has to glue a piece of someone’s ear back on and has to paint over some gaping open wounds on another woman’s chest. It’s really quite confusing.

The real problem with this film is what’s happened to the title character. She’s still fairly brutal in her maintaining the sheik’s harem, but she’s having some emotional issues. All she wants is someone to love! By the time we get to the end, which features both an exploding dildo and a surgically placed vagina bomb as key plot elements, Ilsa is a soppy lovelorn wreck and the film is a sham. A boob-heavy sham with a bunch of icky maiming thrown in, but a sham nonetheless. The character has lost her very figurative balls, is weak, struggling under pressure from her boss and is even, at times, a bit reasonable. Awful.

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The third film in the series is Ilsa Tigress Of Siberia. This one starts similar to Harem Keeper, in as much as it seems a case of new location, same story.  This time, she’s running a Russian prison camp. It’s really very gory, but the wait for breasts is a full 14 minutes! Perhaps it’s due to the frosty conditions. Still, it’s Dyanne Thorne, and so, when the boobs in question finally arrive, they are fairly described as “like Mother Russia herself!”

Insolence at this prison camp is punished by being lowered into a pit, a pit which serves as the dwelling for a hungry tiger. Which gives me an idea to liven up the next series of X Factor. If at the end of the show the contestant voted off didn’t get to sing, but rather had to try to survive an encounter with wild tiger, I’d watch. I’d probably tape it. I might even vote.

Ilsa spends the first part of this film hanging out with four bulky dunderheads that run the camp under her command. Each evening they find trivial ways to compete against each other. The two winners get to bed down with Ilsa, the two losers recover by getting it on with two women that seem to live in a sauna.

At around 40 minutes, the film suddenly changes. There’s a very sudden pseudo-climactic battle that ends the beginning and then we cut to 20 years later in Montreal, with Ilsa running a brothel. A former prisoner, in town competing in a sports event, bungles across it and suddenly the film loses its grip on reality entirely, much to my delight. Then it’s all spying, secret agents, brain washing, incompetent machinegun toting ninjas attacking secret disco parties and bulky henchman drowning millionaires by putting them in barrels and sinking them under the ice. In other words, it’s glorious. And whilst Ilsa hasn’t entirely recovered her mojo, she’s certainly back somewhere close to her bastardful best.

In conclusion, the Ilsa trilogy is the set of films for you if you like to pretend you live in a world where atrocities are sexy and breasts never come in sizes smaller than ‘awooga’.

It turns out that Ilsa actress Dyanne Thorne now runs her own company performing weddings in Las Vegas. Either that, or it’s a front to Ilsa’s newest violent sauce-a-thon.

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