SS Experiment Camp (1976)

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“That Nazi’s hot!”

Words you don’t expect to be saying on a drizzly Thursday night in front of the TV. Oh who am I kidding? Give me some Hugo Boss Jack-booted and slightly camp eye candy any day, I’m not ashamed. Blame Helmut Berger, Dirk Bogarde and all the other fine actors who’ve stepped into the leather boots of a morally troubling antagonist over the years, making me question just what it is about these movies I’m so drawn to.

Well sometimes you just want to be appalled by something, don’t you? Sit down to watch A Serbian Film, The Human Centipede, or I dare say Speed 2: Cruise Control and you’ll come out of the room satisfied and dirty and in need of a long hot shower. I get my freak show kicks all over the place but nothing makes you feel quite as wrong as Nazisploitation. Whether its the high end Salon Kitty with its camp Dietrich-cum-Lady-Gaga heroine rubbing oversized shoulder-pads with midget porn and slaughter-house footage, or bad old Ilsa She Wolf of the SS, with Dyanne Thorne looking like Krystle Carrington’s Nazi cousin with her blonde bangs and giant tits… you want nasty, go Nazi.

Salon Kitty alone features so much queer imagery mixed up in its dark maze of fetish and horror that I’ll be coming back to delve deeper into that in a future blog and podcast.

So I finally went for it and grabbed the 88 Films release of SS Experiment Camp. This film reportedly kicked off the ‘video nasty’ scandal, although I could have sworn that honour goes to Driller Killer, but either way the image of a naked girl bound naked upside down under the gaze of an evil Nazi commandant was always going to ruffle feathers. Think of every heartbreaking, infuriating and downright shocking image you’ve ever seen of ‘life’ in a concentration camp. Got it? Okay. Throw that away. Stamp all over any semblance of good taste. Replace the gaunt, emaciated victims of the holocaust with cheap, make-up-covered centrefold vixens, sprinkle in some rape, mutilation and any excuse for bare breasts and you’ve got this film.

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Turned off? Repulsed? Horrified? Offended? You should be. The sheer horror loses its power when you see the execution of most of these films. I mean on one hand it makes you even more angry that they were made with such flimsy budgets and flimsier moral compasses, something so weighty, so unbelievably tragic, reduced to a tawdry sex movie with added blood and gore. But on the other hand, you came here to be shocked and offended so pipe down and watch the rest of the damn movie.

If you stick with it you’ll get a damp squib attempt at a love story, a predatory lesbian (obviously), a forced testicular transplant that must be seen to be believed, and – for fellow queer viewers and ladies who like men – you get some damn fine male flesh on show. In my ongoing crusade to re-address the balance in a genre seemingly hellbent on turning women into sex dolls splayed on a slab to be prodded, I’d like to salute the rather beautiful Mircha Carven.

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Playing Nazi soldier Helmut, he’s the piercing blue eyed boy of the third reich is considered the most virile of the lot (yeah right, he’s never picked up a Luger in those manicured model hands), and after falling for a female POW during one of the camp’s many sexperiments he becomes the object of the commandant’s unwanted attention. He’s got something the boss Nazi wants – balls, big ones, and he’ll stop at nothing to get them.

No, this really happens. Somewhere amongst the rape and torture and terrible 70s hair, a beautiful man’s balls are at peril. I’m describing it in a way that makes it sound interesting, quirky and exciting, but the execution of this and all the other plot lines is so inept its rendered almost dull. But watch it for Mircha, watch it for the boys in the barracks being coraled to take part in the naked experiments which are carried out – and I quote the marketing of this fine piece of work – “in pursuit of a better tomorrow!”

SS Experiment Camp (Sergio Garrone 1976) 88 Films DVD Screenshot 003

Then go get that shower. You’re gonna need it.

(JL)

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