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Ilsa: She-Wolf of the SS

Related: cult films - David Friedman - Jess Franco - sadistic warden trope - Nazi exploitation - exploitation films - video nasties - women in prison films - simulated - softcore - sexploitation - 1974 films

Ilsa - She Wolf of the SS (1974) - Don Edmonds [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

"The film you are about to see is based upon documented fact. The atrocities shown were conducted as 'medical experiments' in special concentration camps throughout Hitler's Third Reich. Although these crimes against humanity are historically accurate, the characters depicted are composites of notorious Nazi personalities; and the events portrayed, have been condensed into one localty for dramatic purposes. Because of its shocking subject matter, this film is restricted to adult audiences only. We dedicate this film with the hope that these heinous crimes will never occur again". --Herman Traeger [David Friedman], producer via the opening message of the film. [Dec 2006]

Compare the previous opening message to the one of the 1962 film Mondo Cane, they both lay claim to a certain 'reality' that needs to be told and shown. While Ilsa admits fictionalization, Mondo Cane purports to be actual footage.


Ilsa: She-Wolf of the SS is a 1974 sexploitation film produced in the United States of America. The film was produced by David F. Friedman.

It starred Dyanne Thorne as "Ilsa," commandante of a Nazi concentration camp; her character was very loosely based on that of Ilse Koch. Ilsa conducts sadistic scientific experiments designed to demonstrate that women are more capable of enduring pain than men are, and that therefore women should be recruited to fight in the army. Ilsa is also portrayed as having a voracious sexual appetite -- they call her the black widow -- for men whom she discards by castrating, torturing and murdering them afterwards.

The film spawned several equally edifying sequels:

These latter films are standard women in prison films which use exotic settings to render the exaggerated sadism of the plots more plausible.

The film dedicates itself to the memory of the victims of the Holocaust. Despite this attempt to reach for social relevance, the film is banned in Germany and in Norway. Elsewhere, its over the top subject matter has turned the film into a cult movie. Perhaps the best explanation for its notoriety is that it is a cinematized version of the "men's adventure" subgenre of pulp fiction. Nazis tormenting damsels in distress were perennial favourite subjects for the lurid, sub-pornographic covers of sensationalistic "true adventure" magazines such as Argosy in the 1950s and 1960s; the film seeks to be a more explicit version of the same sort of sexual fantasy.

Interestingly, this film was released the same year as The Nightporter, which might be called the highbrow entry into the Nazi exploitation genre.

See also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ilsa:_She-Wolf_of_the_SS

Amazon review

  • Ilsa - She Wolf of the SS (1974) - Don Edmonds [Amazon.com]
    This notorious Canadian sexploitation cult classic is one of the most sick and sadistic features ever released to a general audience, and the only film that producer David F. Friedman, the king of sleaze himself, was so ashamed of that he removed his name from it. Statuesque, buxom blonde Dyanne Thorne is Ilsa, the ruthless commandant of a Nazi medical camp who subjects her patients (mostly naked women) through the most painful and brutal tortures she can think of to prove the superiority of the female sex to Nazi high command. At night she goes through the male prisoners like boy toys to be discarded and castrated the next day ("Once a prisoner has slept with me, he'll never sleep with another woman!"), until she meets a man she can't conquer in bed. It proves to be her downfall. Vamping it up with a corny German growl, Thorne leers with gargoylish delight at her latest diabolical tortures: grotesque, gangrenous infections, exploding sex toys, boiling alive, and a dinner centerpiece involving a naked girl, a noose, and a melting block of ice that leaves her dangling by meal's end. Directed with an artless bluntness and a cold cynicism, it's a brutal, nasty film, utterly tasteless yet perversely fascinating. It was reportedly shot in a week on sets left over from the sitcom Hogan's Heroes, and proved so successful that it spawned two official and one unofficial sequels.
    Anchor Bay's restored print is letterboxed and reportedly restored. The DVD edition also features commentary by Thorne, producer Friedman, and director Don Edmunds, moderated by humorist Martin Lewis. --Sean Axmaker for amazon.com

    Jess Franco sequel

  • Ilsa - The Wicked Warden (1978) - Jesus Franco [Amazon.com]
    Prolific Spanish sexploitation legend Jess Franco's entry into the Ilsa sweepstakes is actually a knock-off called Greta, the Mad Butcher. A red-tressed Dyanne Thorne is the (what else?) sadistic warden of a Latin American political prison posing as an institution for sexually disturbed women, but despite the name change she's still the arch, statuesque Joan Crawfordesque dominatrix with big hair, a bigger bust, and a Nazi growl. Franco muse Lina Romay is Greta's smoldering, often naked sex slave, a willing masochist who falls in love with a new prisoner (who just happens to be an undercover agent searching for her missing sister) and finally turns on Greta in a ferocious cannibalistic revolt. In between are the usual women-in-prison tropes (catfights, long showers, floggings, and electroshock interrogations) and a few new twists, including a perverted game of pincushion sex and a violent gang rape organized in the spirit of "experimental therapy." It doesn't quite reach the threshold of violent sadism established by Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS, but it's no Girl Scout picnic either. Franco brings his unique sensibility to the Ilsa genre and provides a modicum of craft to the film, making it by default the most accomplished of the otherwise bluntly directed series. --Sean Axmaker for Amazon.com

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