Director: John Hayes
Vinegar Syndrome

Vinegar Syndrome's latest limited edition DVD – like MURDER ON THE HIGH SEAS only available free with the May or June bundles – is THE CUT-THROATS, an oddball softcore World War II quickie from BABY ROSEMARY director John Hayes.

Toward the end of World War II, an American colonel (E.J. Walsh) recruits six men (although only five show up) to infiltrate a German country club in search of the a high-ranking general's (William Guhl, THE FARMER'S OTHER DAUGHTER) secret war room in search of intelligence that could significantly shorten the war. Arriving just after the general and his men have left, the soldiers take out the guards silently with arrows, knives, machetes, and garrotes; and then discover the country club is actually a Nazi brothel, and that the madam (Janice Douglas, ALL THE LOVIN' KINFOLK) and her girls are just as willing to satisfy the enemy. While the men are distracted pairing off with the girls, the colonel searches for his actual goal: a fortune in German jewelry hidden somewhere on the premises. When they ambush the returning general and his men after a night of pleasure, the women take up arms to defend themselves and prove more formidable.

Opening up with a credits sequence over a drawing of a cowboy with a lasso and a country song about someone named "Jimmy Johnson", the film is no western but the first scene does indeed feature a lassoing cowboy of that name (John Keith, A SCREAM IN THE STREETS); but he's roping tree stumps in the middle of a German forest in his downtime only to be quickly killed off by a German soldier (an uncredited Michael Pataki, who later starred in Hayes' GRAVE OF THE VAMPIRE) when he interrupts him molesting a German maiden (Sandy Carey, DEEP JAWS). It's not a Nazisploitation film by any stretch of the imagination so much as a mash up of ideas from THE DIRTY DOZEN and KELLY'S HEROES that give way to a couple softcore vignettes in which one Italian/Irish soldier makes love to a wench in Der Fuhrer's bed to a recording of one of his speeches, another soldier is doused in baby powder, massaged, and tickled, a threesome becomes violent when one of the guys makes a move on the other (all is forgiven the next day it seems), and a female mime strips off her make-up and her clothes before silently seducing another soldier. The violence includes a ropey decapitation, a lot of red paint splatter, and an attempted poetic bit involving a wounded couple and a grenade.

Most of the cast were regulars of the film's director John Hayes – including Jay Scott (KISS OF THE TARANTULA) and Marland Proctor (PSYCHIC KILLER) – who put out a string of softcore and hardcore features throughout the seventies including GRAVE OF THE VAMPIRE, GARDEN OF THE DEAD, and DREAM NO EVIL (which he would remake as a hardcore effort titled BABY ROSEMARY featured in one of Vinegar Syndrome's earlier hardcore double bills with Hayes' more conventional HOT LUNCH). The rather nondescript score – apart from the vocals – was the work of the extremely prolific Jaime Mendoza Nava (THE LEGEND OF BOGGY CREEK), and the film was shot by cinematographer Paul Hipp (THE BOOGENS) and camera operator Henning Schellerup (SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT), veterans of an equal amount of softcore/hardcore exploitation and wholesome Sunn Classics programming. The ever divine Uschi Digaard (THE GODSON) is on hand as the general's secretary who celebrates the end of the war by letting a soldier slurp liquor off her pendulous breasts. Not an unheralded classic, but certainly nice as a free bonus feature.

Released on VHS in the late 1980s by American Video, who oddly did not release it under the title SHE DEVILS OF THE SS to tie in with their ILSA releases, and then later by Something Weird Video, THE CUT-THROATS comes to Vinegar Syndrome from a 2K scan of 35mm vault materials in a single-layer, progressive, anamorphic 1.78:1 widescreen transfer that is crisp and colorful with non-distracting damage here and there. The sole extras are a photo gallery and the film's theatrical trailer which includes an uncovered take of the sex scene between Scott and BLUE MONEY'S Inga Maria while the version in the finished film places a plant in between the camera and the actors' genitals. The DVD was pressed in 1,500 copies and is only currently available free with the June or July bundles, although remaining copies may be sold at conventions and through Diabolik DVD. (Eric Cotenas)