Exploitation Digital, the Number 1 outfit for the sleazy world of naughty Nazis (by way of Spaghetti cinema that is) does it again! Following their superb looking releases of ELSA: FRAULEIN DEVIL, SS HELL CAMP, SS GIRLS and Sergio Garrone’s SS EXPERIMENT LOVE CAMP, comes another Garrone endeavor -- SS CAMP: WOMEN'S HELL (aka SS CAMP 5: WOMEN'S HELL). Actually, Garrone made SS EXPERIMENT LOVE CAMP and SS CAMP: WOMEN'S HELL back to back, using much of the same main cast (in similar parts), as well as the exact same sets. Though the films naturally feel similar to each other at times, SS EXPERIMENT is undoubtedly the nastier of the two. Still, this doesn’t mean that you won’t want to grab your soap-on-a-rope and hit the shower before SS CAMP is all over.
Just like in SS EXPERIMENT, a truckload of imprisoned women are shipped to a concentration camp (“Camp 5” to be exact) for various purposes. Some of them will be utilized for lab experiments, while others will entertain the soldiers at a nearby whorehouse run by a hefty Madame, who is seemingly a prisoner as well. The experiments basically add up to setting fire to a patch of skin on a woman’s leg in order to test out a burn-healing ointment that they’re working on. Colonel Strasser and Dr. Karl, the two men conducting the nasty procedures are primarily deadpan, leaving most of the cruel behavior and overacting to the over-the-top Colonel Hans, complete with shaven head and wicked slanty eyes. Another doctor named Abraham is a prisoner who is opposed to the inhuman experiments, and has no choice but to assist them, as his young daughter is also held captive. What does all this plotting lead up to? The female prisoners are planning an escape, but as you might have guessed, it’s not going to be that simple.
Commencing with authentic black & white concentration camp stills, SS CAMP: WOMEN’S HELL does not shy away from its intent of indulging in tastelessness like a wild raccoon gutters through a crammed garbage pail. Brief clips of skeletal WWII subjects being brought into camps and mutilated bodies being thrown about only encourage this matter, but don’t provide anything credible in the film's narrative, with its pack of healthy-looking women often seen showering or orgying around with the Reich soldiers. During most of the first half, the film offers nothing new to the Spaghetti Nazi cycle, but rather reassures us of the typical women-in-prison cinema tactics that makes these kinds of things tempting to a thrill-seeking audience. Then, after a botched attempt at an escape, a quartet of ladies are burnt alive in a gas chamber, and another quartet is subjected to some very gruesome torture, including a tongue-tearing that gives MARK OF THE DEVIL a run for its money. Rape, abortion and other touchy subjects are explored before the Nazis get their just desserts. In what is most likely a nod to Blaxploitation movies (and also due to running out of ideas in general), the hero is a Jamaican female freedom fighter who seduces the Arian-looking Colonel Strasser (Giorgio Cerioni, the dead ringer for American actor Ron Ely) by dancing naked with a banana as a strap-on, and later proving how handy she is with machine gun.
Exploitation Digital’s excellent quality release of SS CAMP: WOMEN’S HELL presents the film in an anamorphic widescreen transfer carrying its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio. The image is sharp and looks very pleasing, with bold, nicely saturated colors and natural skin tones, and barely no noticeable defects in the source print. The daffy English dubbed audio track does not have the most robust-sounding dialogue, but is fine overall, with the sometimes goofy synth music score coming out fine as well.
Extras include a good video interview with director Garrone, in Italian with English subtitles. Garrone doesn’t see commercial films like his Nazi efforts as something that should be frowned upon, but feels that modern reality TV is the real trash of the entertainment world. Stating that SS EXPERIMENT LOVE CAMP and SS CAMP: WOMEN'S HELL were made one after the other in a matter of weeks, he admits the only films of this sort he saw beforehand were SALON KITTY, THE NIGHT PORTER and SALO since he admired those films’ directors (I imagine admiration of Don Edmonds was out of the question). There’s also the original trailer, a brief photo gallery, and trailers for other Exploitation Digital Nazi-related DVD releases. (George R. Reis)
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