Last night I had the very questionable pleasure of watching one of the all-time classics in trash cinema,Ilsa, She-wolf of the SS.
Ever since it’s original release back in 1975 Ilsa has carried a notorious reputation for being one of the most vile, lurid, exploitive movies ever made. Which I am here to tell you it completely deserves.
Filmed on the same sets that were used for the classic tv series Hogan’s Heroes, Ilsa is a highly fictionalized version of the life of Nazi war criminal, Ilsa Koch, the famous Bitch of Buchenwald.
Now of course, the real life Koch was an ugly, squat little thing that was the wife of the Buchenwald commandant, who had nothing in common with the valkyrie blonde in the movie other then bloodthirstiness. Koch is infamous for collecting the tattoos of prisoners and keeping them in albums, as well as using human skin to make lamp shades and human fat for soap. When the most extreme acts of perversity and violence in the Nazi camps are talked about, more often then not it’s a reference to Koch’s acts.
Which I guess made her the ideal subject for a full on example of what I can only call Torture Porn.
By the way I don’t have too many pictures from the movie to post since in practically every scene there is at least one topless woman in the frame at all time. Which makes posting in a family friendly environment, just plain difficult.
Ilsa begins with a title card speaking out on the cruelty and evil of the Nazi’s and a hope that we never see the likes of them again. This scene cuts away to an opening of Ilsa making what appears to be passionate love to a good looking man with his arms tied to the bed. When the scene ends we find out that Ilsa is a Camp Commander of Medical Camp 9 and the man was a hapless Prisoner of War. The man thanks Ilsa for promising to never send him back to the camp.
Smiling, Ilsa castrates him and kills him extremely graphically and with blood flying everywhere and lots of agonized shrieks.
And of course we are off.
For the next hour and a half we get to watch both men and women, being boiled, skinned, burned, flayed, shot, stabbed, electrocuted by dildo, ensanguinated, and for some reason, spanked, all while Ilsa and her big boobed blond angels of death stand around laughing boisterously.
There is some little plot, even an attempt at a love story, but mostly just sexual torture. In the end the camp prisoners revolt and start wiping out the camp guards, Ilsa is shot in the head, which by the way is pretty odd when you figure that Ilsa came back for three full blown sequels, but then it has always been hard to keep a good Nazi down.
I have to admit that as a lover of trash cinema I wanted to like Ilsa way more then I did. The film has a huge rep as a classic in the genre, and it certainly does everything it can to shock and revolt any reasonably well adjusted person who saw it. The acting is terrible and broad. The dialogue is both simplistic and highly insulting. And the violence is so extreme that it truly crosses over into pornographic, especially when you figure the women being tortured are supposedly Jewish woman taken from other camps.
Still, the film is amazingly camp, and while everything in this film is prurient , wrong headed and vile, there are several scenes that are so earnest and so wrong that it was really hard not to laugh my ass of at them and actually have a good time.
So I guess it comes down to this as my recommendation. If you are a sadist with a sense of humor, Ilsa She Wolf of the SS is a must have stocking stuffer. However, if you aren’t on a sexual predator list, have a healthy family life and are not twisted, this is a film you might want to think long and hard about before you watch it.
I’m not saying that it isn’t worth a look, but it’s most definitely not for everyone and it actually managed to even offend me, and that just isn’t that easy to do.