Nazisploitation is a subgenre of exploitation film that takes the more mainstream Women in Prison formula and places it in a Nazi concentration camp or brothel. Almost universally tasteless as a thematic element for titillating entertainment, Nazi-themed films of depravity, torture, and crass sexploitation were delivered consistently throughout the 1970s. Like the subgenre of Nunsploitation (exploiting nuns), there are very few stand-out examples and many, many piss poor movies in this category that you might stumble across. Here are some of the most notable and better examples to get you started if curiosity gets the better of you.
LOVE CAMP 7 (1969) – Two female agents are asked to infiltrate a Nazi prison camp where the inmates are retained as sex slaves for the recreation of German officers. Their goal? Rescue a Jewish scientist who is key to the success of the Allied war effort. LOVE CAMP 7 established the template for other genre films to follow, infusing whipping, lesbianism, torture, acts of degradation and a violent finale with overt Nazi imagery. This entry in the Nazisploitation line-up is relatively reserved compared to the later extremes delivered by the films it inspired. It provides the catalyst for a decade of Nazi themed exploitation films and the subject matter is cutting edge exploitation for the time it was released.
ILSA, SHE WOLF OF THE SS (1974) – Ilsa is the commandant of a German prisoner of war camp where experimentation is being conducted to prove that females can withstand torture and physical adversity better than males in an effort to prove Ilsa’s theory that women make superior warriors for the Nazi cause. Produced by David F. Friedman after a small acting role in LOVE CAMP 7, he modified the formula to put a sex-crazed female with a huge breasts in charge of the proceedings. Ilsa’s sideline experiments include sleeping with male prisoners; killing them after a one night stand if they don’t satisfy her sexual desires. None of them succeed until an American comes along – then she’s smitten and weakened by his well-endowed charms. As a bit of trivia, ILSA was shot on the set of Hogan’s Heroes (1965 – 1971) after the popular television comedy show wrapped production, allowing for the incendiary finale to be executed on a relatively modest production budget. ILSA was so popular as an exploitation icon, her death in this film was ignored and lead actress Dyanne Thorne would portray the Ilsa character again in:
ILSA, HAREM KEEPER OF THE OIL SHEIKS (1976) – This film is the nastiest of the bunch with the action relocated to a harem in the Middle East.
ILSA, TIGRESS OF SIBERIA (1977) – All the action is moved to a Russian gulag; this Canadian production has had rights issues for years and is a bit harder to find as a home video option.
ILSA, THE WICKED WARDEN (1977) – Directed by Jess Franco and featuring his muse Lina Romay as one of the tortured inmates, this film ups the ante by tossing in a bit of cannibalism meshed with Franco’s auteur style. It’s also frequently referenced as WANDA, THE WICKED WARDEN, being more of an unofficial continuation of the Ilsa series.
THE NIGHT PORTER (1974) – Renowned film critic Roger Ebert’s review of this film states “THE NIGHT PORTER is as nasty as it is lubricious, a despicable attempt to titillate us by exploiting memories of persecution and suffering. It is, (I know how obscene this sounds) Nazi chic.” If that’s not a calling card for the curious, I don’t know what is. After the end of World War II, a former Nazi concentration camp officer (Dick Bogarde) has moved his life underground to avoid war crimes prosecution. Taking a quiet job at a Vienna hotel as the eponymous night porter, he runs into a familiar female (Charlotte Rampling) checking in as a guest with her composer husband. During the war, he had established a rapacious, sadomasochistic, and non-consensual relationship with her while she was a prisoner under his control. The psychological damage she incurred provides the impulse for them to reunite in a co-dependent relationship rooted in both physical and mental abuse of the submissive woman. This film really pushes the boundaries on fetishizing Nazi iconography with sexual depravity. It plays as a serious drama with pure exploitation elements delivered in flashbacks as well as current re-creations of their past activity. Sometimes argued to be an arthouse film, THE NIGHT PORTER does play to baser interests and fits easily into a category of “classy” Nazisploition.
SALON KITTY (1976) – This Tinto Brass film is based on historical fact. Before being destroyed by an air raid in 1942, the actual address for the house of ill repute that inspired this tale was 11 Giesebrechtrsaße, Charlottenberg, Berlin. In the 1930s, the Nazi regime assumed control of a brothel with the express purpose of seducing German dignitaries, foreign visitors and diplomats into revealing their true opinions and potential confidences regarding the Nazi party. The movie takes this core conceit and elevates it to an aggressive exploitation film, focusing on the selection of the prostitutes and their training regimen of “entertaining” amputees, freakish midgets and grotesqueries in preparation for seductive espionage. In the end, there’s subversion and rebellion at play to provide a framework for the sideshow of rampant nudity, perversions, and violence. Brass has an uncanny ability to showcase his actresses in the most beautiful way possible, despite the circumstances of their situation. This may be the most refined of Nazisploitation fare.
BEAST IN HEAT aka SS HELL CAMP, LA BESTIA EN CALORE (1977) – This film gained notoriety when it was prominently banned by the UK as a Video Nasty. Admittedly, this Italian production is actually pretty bad, squeezing everything it could from a rock bottom budget. It does innovate the genre by adding a mutant beast to the sleazy activities while signifying the dying breath of a waning exploitation cycle, thus warranting a mention here. A half-man/half-animal monstrosity is the creation of beautiful German doctor (and part time SS officer) – and why not since Nazi jackboots just don’t seem to be enough. In addition to your standard torture and abuse, the mutant runs rampant on the female prisoners in an effort to quell his chemically enhanced libido attributed to the doctor’s daft experiments.
One of the hallmarks of the Nazisploitation genre are the lurid titles for many of the films. Titles like SS EXPERIMENT CAMP (1976), THE GESTAPO’S LAST ORGY (1977), and NAZI LOVE CAMP (1977) may spark curiosity, but will ultimately provide the viewer with a re-visitation of the films and themes mentioned here. There are even x-rated variations like PRISONER OF PARADISE (1980) starring hardcore icon Seka and John Holmes as well as STALAG 69 starring Angelique Pettyjohn (who also had a role in Elvis Presley’s CLAMBAKE (1967) and the 1968 Star Trek episode “The Gamesters of Triskelion”).
For the adventurous exploitation fan, you’ll find some rewarding material and a slew of mediocre fare. Start with these essentials and you’ll know if you want to (or need to) explore further. If you feel something worthy is missing from this list, please let us know in the comment section below.
Contributed by: Drew Beckmann