Text by Stefanos Chen
Wondering what Heeb‘s Germany Issue release party (taking place tonight at Union Pool in Brooklyn) will be like? Well, this list of our four favorite Nazi exploitation films should give you a pretty good idea of the ambiance you can expect. Please note: This event is strictly BYOB (bring your own bullwhip), but there will be copious amounts of beer, some of New York’s hottest DJs and "burnt Jew cookies."
llsa, She Wolf of the SS (1974) â€¨
By far the most influential of its ilk, Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS remains the gold standard in shitty exploitation cinema. Based loosely on the real-life “Bitch of Buchenwald,” Ilse Koch, Ilsa stars Dyanne Thorne as the domineering warden of “Medical Camp 9,” a fictional women’s prison in Nazi Germany. The film revolves around Ilsa’s single-minded quest to prove that women have a higher tolerance for pain than men. This stalwart feminist decides to prove her theory by torturing naked female prisoners. Amid scenes of post-coital castration and electrified sex toys, Ilsa quickly devolves into a stalag battle of the sexes. Add in some Mengele-inspired grotesqueries like acid baths and gangrene-spreading ointments, and you have all the ingredients for a remarkably unappealing movie. Did I mention it was filmed on the set of Hogan’s Heroes? Actually, it’s probably best not to think about it.
Salon Kitty (1976)
Before reaching the absolute heights of quasi-historical porn with the 1979 release of Caligula, Italian director Tinto Brass regaled audiences with Salon Kitty, the (sort of) true story of the Third Reich’s sexiest brothel-turned-sting operation. In 1939, Nazi soldiers installed hidden microphones throughout the Salon Kitty, an upscale bordello in Berlin, to catch chatty Johns off guard. To facilitate the process, the SS specially “trained” a group of girls to “coax” their clients into confessions. This, essentially, is their X-rated biopic. But instead of playing to its strengths—perhaps some heavy rotation on Skinemax—the studio makes this shit sound like Schindler’s List. The theatrical trailer ensures us that, “above all else, this film is about…the courage and sacrifices needed to reconquer human dignity.” Never mind the Sieg Heiling prostitutes or the blood-soaked bacchanalian orgies, this movie is about the human condition. So while Salon Kitty may not technically qualify as a genuine Nazi-sploitation flick, I sure as hell felt exploited by the end of it.
Last Orgy of the Third Reich, a.k.a. Caligula Reincarnated as Hitler (1977)
Besides establishing the definitive Nazi-sploitation mise-en-scene (boobs and swastikas), Tinto Brass would set another major precedent for the genre; namely, constant freaking Caligula references. Case in point—the gleefully vulgar Last Orgy of the Third Reich, a.k.a. Caligula Reincarnated as Hitler. Like Ilsa before it, the Last Orgy dons all the familiar bells and whistles sleaze fans had come to expect. But what sets this film apart is its deluded sense of importance. With all the gravity of a Stanley Kubrick, director Cesare Canevari leads his crew through a Jewish banquet (where the Nazis have their guests for dinner), incestuous coupling, human sacrifice and a bevy of scat-filled sex scenes. If that’s not enough, Canevari even flirts with a bit of romance between a Nazi officer and a comely Jewish prisoner. Because nothing says puppy love like a little Stockholm syndrome.
La Bestia in Calore (The Beast in Heat) (1977)
Landing at our top spot for the most depraved and worthless exploitation film to ever namedrop Hitler is the infamous La Bestia in Calore, a.k.a. The Beast in Heat, a.k.a. SS Hell Camp, a.k.a. Horrifying Experiments of the SS Last Days. Surpassed in stupid aliases only by its director, Luigi Batzella, The Beast in Heat strikes the perfect balance between nauseating screenplay and laughable execution. Cashing in on the success of Ilsa and its many sequels, the film stars Salvatore Baccaro as the titular man-beast, a genetically altered monkey turned anti-Semite. Predictably, the beast has a fondness for naked Jewish extras. But what really launches the film into the upper echelon of shitty cinema is its ridiculously shoestring budget. After splurging on one of the worst-looking laboratory sets ever staged, Batzella decided to pad the film with old footage from another war movie he directed. For continuity’s sake, he even rehired some of the same actors. In one scene, painted guinea pigs are cast as flesh-eating rats. In another, the cameraman’s shadow can be seen on an oversized swastika lawn ornament. To this day, The Beast in Heat remains one of only a handful of films to be permanently banned in the UK. Never mind the children, for the sake of England’s next wave of directors, let’s hope it stays that way.