Sunday, March 30, 2014

Lager SSadis Kastrat Kommandantur (1976)

... aka: Camp of Lost Girls
... aka: Captive Women II: Orgies of the Damned
... aka: Dachau no. 2
... aka: Horreurs nazies (Nazi Horrors)
... aka: Nazi Experiment Love Camp
... aka: S.S. Experiment
... aka: S.S. Experiment Camp
... aka: S.S. Experiment Love Camp

Directed by:
Sergio Garrone

With its gleefully nasty and over-the-top mixture of nudity, sex, torture, gore, sadism and camp sensibilities, plus its charismatic star, ILSA, SHE WOLF OF THE SS (1974) is clearly the standard by which to measure all of these other Nazisploitation films by. Hey, if you're going to be sick and tasteless, you might as well go all out, right? While S.S. Experiment Camp certainly tries its best to provide all the essentials, it lacks both the edge and the enthusiasm necessary to make it a memorable film in its subgenre. Things begins on a familiar note, with a nude woman strapped to an electric chair being forced to recite a pledge to Hitler. When she refuses to comply, she's shot up with a drug, tossed into an oven and is roasted alive. A truck load of specially-selected young women arrive at the medical / prison camp soon after and learn that things could be so much worse. After all, what they're about to be forced to do is a "great honor" and a "privilege." The name of the game here folks is sex experiments. And if you're willing to spread your legs for the Third Reich you gets lots of nifty little perks. Like marmalade.

Run by the blonde-haired, blue eyed, impotent (more on that later) Colonel von Kleiben (Giogio Cerioni), the camp employs two primary doctors; Dr. Renke (Patrizia Melega), a stern, stone-faced lesbian loyal to the cause, and Professor Abraham (Attilio Dottesio), a world-famous scientist and German traitor (i.e. Jew) who's hiding out there under the alias of "Dr. Steiner." The new arrivals are immediately stripped naked and given a physical. Some are sent off to Magda's (Paola Lelio) whorehouse, while the more fertile of the group are kept around and forced to have sex with "the fine physical specimens of German manhood" (aka young soldiers). One of the ladies, Mirelle (Paola Corazzi) ends up falling in love with handsome male subject, Sgt. Helmut Gruber (Mircha Carven), and vice versa. But Mirelle has some competition from the Colonel, who also has his eyes on the strapping young soldier's manhood prize. Confused? Well, we'll get to that here in a bit.

Some of the ladies do what they gotta do to stay alive, while others resist and end up in the ole oven. Dunya (Almina De Sanzio) starts having sex with the lez doctor in hopes it'll make her time there go more smoothly, while another of the ladies, Sonia (Matilde Dall'Aglio), puts in an energetic romp with a soldier in the camp's water tank Jacuzzi bath (!!) The bath has a switch where it can be turned icy cold as one woman deemed a "frigid Puritanical bitch" soon finds out. A blonde teenage virgin in the group loses her virtue to a brutish general (Serafino Profumo) and retaliates by stabbing him a bunch of times with a fork before trying to escape. She's shot, hung upside down and bleeds to death. Lots of other women also die on the operating table as the doctors attempt to perfect "ovary transplants" or shoot high-pressure air directly into their eardrums. The Colonel meanwhile decides to test claims that Helmut is "a verifiable stud; the best of the lot" by drugging his wine and bringing in two prostitutes. After finding out Dr. Steiner's secret identity, the Colonel blackmails him into performing a testicle transplant because a Jewish woman had bit his off awhile back when he raped her. This leads to a violent retaliation from our sensitive, love-struck hero, who finally proves to have balls during the finale. Figuratively speaking, of course.

This is nothing but straight-up trash, which is OK if you're a fan of sleazy violence, technical ineptitude and almost non-stop full frontal nudity from a bunch of (mostly) homely-looking women. The acting is so terrible, the dialogue so awful ("What have you been doing with my balllllssssss!?!"), the sets so pathetic and the direction so nonexistent there's not a single moment that's the least bit believable, let alone disturbing or even offensive. In fact, although this was on the original video nasty banned list in the UK, upon reevaluation in 2005 they allowed it to pass completely uncut because they found the whole thing - in their own words - "very mild and poorly executed." This is indeed bad. Really bad. But... I gotta admit I was pretty entertained throughout. I'll go hang my head in shame now.

The director also made a number of spaghetti westerns (including numerous Django films), a couple of horror flicks filmed in Turkey featuring Klaus Kinski and another Nazi exploitation flick called SS Camp 5: Women's Hell (1977) featuring most of the actors seen in this one. Wizard and Video Gems both issued this on VHS and there was a 2005 DVD from Exploitation Digital. The "sequel," S.S. Experiment Camp 2, was actually a re-titling of La bestia in calore ("The Beast in Heat").


Saturday, March 29, 2014

Babysitter, The (1980) (TV)

Directed by:
Peter Medak

Needing a fresh start, the Benedict family have recently moved from Chicago to a large country home on an island off the coast of Seattle. Dad Jeff (William Shatner), a dentist, has immersed himself in work, tries to stay away as much as possible because he doesn't want to deal with his wife and may have a mistress on the side. Mom Liz (Patty Duke) is unhappy, unfulfilled, feels neglected and is still fighting an alcohol addiction; which had gotten so bad before it was the catalyst for their move in the first place. Desperate for a purpose in life, she's channeled all her ill-feelings and misery over into her role as "good mother" and is smothering and overly-protective when it comes to 12-year-old daughter Tara (Quinn Cummings), who she seldom even lets out of her sight. Being prevented from playing with children in the area, Tara is lonely and bored herself and has developed a crush on an older neighborhood teen named Scotty (David Wallace). The family is vulnerable and at their breaking point, and that's the perfect time for 18-year-old orphan Joanna Redwine (Stephanie Zimbalist) to come into their lives. After all, she's a lovely, polite, well-mannered, intelligent, confident and compassionate young lady... at least at first.

After "accidentally" causing a car accident, Joanna shows up to check in on Liz and plies her with a sob story about how she'll soon be kicked out of her home by her foster parents. Liz sympathizes with her plight and offers her a summer job there doing house work and serving as a babysitter and companion to Tara. Joanna moves in and quickly proves to be an excellent cook and housekeeper, not to mention wise and mature beyond her years. She becomes a friend to Tara, encouraging her to spend more time outdoors and helping her get over her fear of water and snakes. She also becomes a confidant and shoulder to cry on mom, who is frequently upset at her husband's absence and casual neglect. As for Jeff, well he can't help but notice how attractive she is. But as things in these sort of films always do, everything eventually starts unraveling. Joanna proves herself to be a murderous psychopath with a history of tearing apart families and then murdering them before moving on to the next one and trying again.

A masterful manipulator, Joanna manages to convince Liz she can do no wrong and encourages her to start drinking again until she's a pathetic hysterical drunk. She quickly moves in on Scotty; heartlessly stealing the impressionable young Tara's crush (who will later die in a mysterious boating "accident") and dresses in mom's sexy black negligee in an attempt to seduce dad. She stops cooking and doing her housework, trashes the house during a party, turns the bitter spouses against one another and alienates the daughter from both parents. Overhearing her lying, neighboring psychiatrist Dr. Lindquist (John Houseman) immediately suspects something is off with Joanna and begins investigating matters. Though juvenile records are sealed, he is able to find the young girl's former foster mother (Virginia Kiser), who blames her for the death of her infant child. He also eventually learns Joanna has some (plastic-wrapped) skeletons in her closet... but can he reach the family before it's too late?

Director Medak had just made the excellent ghost story The Changeling (1980) with George C. Scott prior to this one and, while it's clearly not in the same league, it still isn't a bad little thriller. The entire cast does competent work and Jennifer Miller's plausible script features good characterizations and is quite sly and perceptive at times. It's also very similar to the later Poison Ivy (1992), with a charming and seductive young sociopath moving in on a vulnerable family and leaving them more screwed up than they were before she came into the picture, and also shares definite similarities to such later films as The Hand That Rocks the Cradle (1992). The intrigue unfortunately isn't sustained through to the end though and it eventually opts for a routine and predictable finale.

The Babysitter debuted on ABC in November of 1980. There was an American VHS release through HBO and it was also issued on tape in Brazil by Orion (as A Enviada do Mal), in Finland by Hollywood Home Video (as Lapsenvahti), in the UK and a few other countries. There's no DVD as of this writing, but the film has played on the MGMHD Channel.

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