There are worse movies than ILSA, SHE-WOLF OF THE S.S., movies with more graphic torture, more violent sex, more overall repulsive content. They just never received as much publicity as this one, which played theaters around the world in the anything-goes 1970s and spawned a series of sequels. The best that can be said about ILSA is that, unlike the worst...read more
There are worse movies than ILSA, SHE-WOLF OF THE S.S., movies with more graphic torture, more violent sex, more overall repulsive content. They just never received as much publicity as this one, which played theaters around the world in the anything-goes 1970s and spawned a series of
sequels. The best that can be said about ILSA is that, unlike the worst of this wretched genre, at least the filmmakers don't seem to be enjoying their work--it's simply exploitation for money. That's hardly reason, however, for anyone but students of deviant psychology to view this.
In Nazi Germany, the sadistic Ilsa (Dyanne Thorne) is the commandant of Medical Camp 9, a concentration camp where women are sterilized before being sent to work in brothels. Other female prisoners are used for medical research, infected with diseases as guinea pigs for possible cures that are
usually more painful than the diseases themselves. In a hidden room, Ilsa conducts "private research" to prove her theory than women are better able than men to endure pain. The sexually frustrated Ilsa also uses her male prisoners as a pool of potential lovers; when they inevitably fail to
satisfy her, they are castrated.
Ilsa's lusts are met for the first time by Wolfe (Gregory Knoph), an American prisoner with an infinite amount of sexual stamina. He plans to use this ability as part of a plan that the prisoners are hatching to break out. Ilsa is excited to be able to show off her research to a top-ranking SS
General (Wolfgang Roehm), who comes to visit the camp. She welcomes him with a dinner at which a naked woman with a noose around her neck is forced to stand atop a block of ice; when it melts far enough, she is hanged. Believing that Aryans are "true men," Ilsa offers herself to the General, but
is disgusted when she learns he only wishes to be urinated on. The next morning, she sends for Wolfe. Eager for his attentions, she lets him tie her up, but after he has done so, he gags her as well and leads the other prisoners in a rebellion. The prisoners overcome their captors, but rather than
flee with Wolfe and the few other unharmed workers, most decide to stay and take revenge on their tormentor. Shortly thereafter, German troops sent by the General arrive, murder Ilsa and everyone else, and raze the camp so that the approaching Allies will never know what happened there.
ILSA was filmed on the same sets as the TV series "Hogan's Heroes"; viewers can decide for themselves which is the greater atrocity. ILSA treads a line between camp and cruelty, with each aspect negating the other. On one level, this is a sexploitation film that exists to display the bodies of a
horde of zaftig women (none more so than the buxom Thorne). The smirky treatment of both female and male sexuality is so inane as to be parodic. The sex and violence are for the most part kept separate, aside from a thankfully brief gang rape scene. But while the various tortures inflicted by Ilsa
in the name of "research" are largely unseen and implied, they are still far too real to coexist with the sexploitation elements for any but the most jaded and perverse viewers. Enough of those exist, however, that the film was followed by two sequels, ILSA, HAREM KEEPER OF THE OIL SHEIKS (1976)
and ILSA, TIGRESS OF SIBERIA (1977). The unrelated ILSA THE WICKED WARDEN is a retitling of GRETA THE WICKED WARDEN (1977), a similar but unrelated film also starring Thorne as an Ilsa-like character. (Graphic violence, extensive nudity, sexual situations, adult situations, profanity.)
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