Sunday, February 8, 2015

SS Lager 5: L'inferno delle donne (1977)

... aka: Dachau
... aka: Nazi Holocaust Camp
... aka: Red Roses for the Führer
... aka: SS Camp: Women's Hell
... aka: SS Camp 5: Women's Hell
... aka: S.S. Lager 5: A Hell for Women

Directed by:
Sergio Garrone

This sleaze-fest was filmed back-to-back with the equally trashy and equally ridiculous Lager SSadis Kastrat Kommandantur (released here as S.S. EXPERIMENT CAMP) and there are a lot of similarities between the two movies. I mean a lot. Same director, same writers, most of the same cast, same exact cheap-looking sets and nearly identical plots. Even most of the same characters have been recycled. Unlike the first, this stoops to using black-and-white stills and film footage of corpses from real Nazi concentration camps at several points; something that makes this seem even scuzzier than it already is. A truck full of female prisoners arrive at Camp 5, a facility that doubles as both a medical experiment camp and a whorehouse. One of the doctors comes in, calls the ladies "leeching parasites" and informs them they are there "...for science and for the comfort of our heroic soldiers." Rotund Madam Magda (Paola Lelio) comes in and selects the best-looking ones for work in her whorehouse (cue groupie shower scene) and the rest are ushered off to the barracks to await their fate.

In the lab, Colonel Strasser (Giorgio Cerioni and his bleach blonde pompadour) and his gynecologist assistant Karl (Vincenzo Amici) conduct various grueling experiments. They're working on skin grafts and trying to create some kind of flame-retardant goop for soldiers to use in the war as well as a healing agent for said burns, so numerous ladies get their legs set on fire. Having already gone through a thousand prisoners in just six months, bald-domed Lt. Hans (Serafino Profumo) is getting fed up with them. After all, that's costing Germany money they can make from selling their personal goods, forcing them to do factory labor, extracting gold from their teeth and using their ashes as fertilizer. Jewish "political enemy" Professor Abraham (Attilio Dottesio) is on hand to help with the experiments and is only spared death because he's a brilliant scientist. Abraham's daughter Edith (Paola Corazzi) also is being kept there and out of harm's way solely because of her dad... at least for the time being.

At the whorehouse, tough prisoner Alina (Rita Manna) finds herself more popular with the Nazis than she would like since she's a "rarity" (Jamaican) in those parts. She entertains Strasser by fastening a banana to her panties and doing an erotic dance for him and becomes his willing "black slave whore" several times a day, not because she necessarily wants to but because she's trying to distract him while fellow prisoner Deborah (Paola D'Egidio) orchestrates an escape. Several of the other girls are also in on it, including Erika (some unbilled actress who also played the prisoner "Elsa" in the other movie), who keeps butch Kapo Greta (Patrizia Melega) busy with massages and lesbian overtures so she can steal some tranquilizers from the infirmary. Deborah and three others drug the guards' wine, try to escape up through the oven and end up getting roasted alive instead. Erika and a handful of others who helped them are then taken to a dungeon and go through some pretty brutal tortures administered by Hans and Greta.

This one gets off to a slower start than usual, but rest assured things pick up in a big way with fully nude women being smacked, abused, whipped, raped, murdered and mutilated in various ways. One has her nails ripped off with pliers and then gets her fingers set on fire. Another is repeatedly punched in the stomach with a knuckle claw. We also get a head crushed in a vice, a branding, a tongue ripped out, an abortion, an electrocution, a shower cat fight and death by firing squad and poison gas. This is nastier, more mean-spirited and more violent than the director's previous Nazisploitation effort, yet it has a happier and more optimistic ending. It also has slightly more action, with gunfights and multiple explosions during the obligatory breakout finale. That's enough to score it a half point higher, though it's still essentially the same cheap, tasteless, horribly-acted piece of trash using real-life atrocities as a platform to do little else other than shock and titillate.

This title somehow managed to bypass any theatrical or VHS release here in America, but it's now available on DVD from Media Blasters / Exploitation Digital in a three film set called "SS Hell Camp;" which includes both of Garrone's movies as well as Bruno Mattei's useless SS GIRLS (1977). There was also a follow-up set, "SS Hell Camp II," which includes SS Hell Camp (1977; aka The Beast in Heat), the superior THE GESTAPO'S LAST ORGY (1977) and Red Nights of the Gestapo (1977).

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