Sunday, 11 July 2010

SS Experiment Love Camp (1976)

Whipped cream bikini contest!

This film is one of a couple of Nazisploitation films directed by Sergio Garrone. It gained notoriety when it was banned as a video nasty, mainly due to it's lurid cover art, but to be honest they needn't have bothered. It's in poor taste certainly, in fact the opening scene is a couple of naked women being electrocuted until they swear alliegance to the Führer, but it's far too ridiculous to take seriously. In fact coming off the heels of the thoroughly depressing Women's Camp 119, SS Experiment Love Camp is something of a relief.

One of the first things you notice is that none of the characters seems to be taking things very seriously. When the female prisoners first file into the camp they start giggling and joking in the shower room like it's a Porky's prequel. After an examination by the cruel Dr. Renke (Patrizia Melega) and the kindly Dr. Steiner (Attilio Dottesio), they are told they are going to be part of a grand experiment along with very best soldiers of the Third Reich. The great soldiers, meanwhile, sit around in the barracks ribbing eachother and laughing it up like they're in a high school locker room. One moustachioed guy wonders what they're doing at a death camp instead of at the Russian front, and gets a big laugh when he says "I hope it's a secret mission of a sexual nature!" Hahaha... genocide.

Turns out he's right though; the great experiment involves pairing up the soldiers with the female prisoners and doing lots of softcore fucking. To what effect it's unclear; I believe there's some vague reference to fertility research. Sometimes they fuck in a giant fish tank, I guess testing the effects of shrinkage on Teutonic dongs. The bald, oafish sargeant (Serafino Profumo) also uses the tank to punish a girl who is less than enthusiastic about her participation in the experiments. First they boil her alive and then freeze her to death, all within a couple of minutes. That's some pretty impressive temperature control on that tank, especially since it looks like the control box was constructed by a five year old. Those girls who do survive though, don't seem too unhappy with the arrangement. After being supplied with fresh marmalade one girl even says "If they keep treating us like this, they've got my vote!"

While her reaction might be a little too blasé, the girls in this experiment have it pretty lucky compared to some of the others. The uggos are used as test subjects in grisly experiments, such as uterus transplants and the testing of high pressure environments on human eardrums (conlusion: it's bad). The experimental failures are loaded up onto a cart and dumped into the furnaces, where they twitch and spasm behind some horribly unconvincing superimposed flame. Some of the girls are loaned out to a local brothel as entertainment for the troops. One timid girl isn't happy with her new employment, and after the sadistic bald sargeant forces her to dance for everyone's amusement, she waits until he's asleep and then stabs him with a fork. She tries to escape on foot, but she's shot and strung upside down in front of the prisoner's cabins as a warning to the others.

The leader of the camp is the sadistic Colonel Von Kleiben (Giorgio Cerioni), a peroxide blonde with 70s hair and big ol' sideburns, like a Nazi Doc Savage. He also has a terrible secret. You see, Hitler may have only had one ball, but he still had one up on the Colonel, who had both of his bitten off by a would-be rape victim back on the Russian front. Kind of a stupid move really, putting your family jewels in the mouth of an unwilling woman. Von Kleiben discovers that Dr. Steiner is actually Jewish, and uses this information to blackmail the doctor into performing a testicular transplant. But who will be the unlucky donor?

Well, luckily one of the German soldiers, Helmut (Mircha Carven), has fallen in love with one of the prisoners, Mirelle (Paola Corazzi). Even though they've never spoken and their interactions have been limited to exchanging cigarettes and fucking in a room full of clipboard-hugging scientists, theirs is a love that is eternal, destined to be etc. Since Helmut is due back on the Russian front in a few days, Von Kleiben offers to extend his post if he participates in some "experimental surgery". Helmut agrees immediately and in a graphic surgery scene that should have most of the male audience crossing their legs and wincing, Operation Lollybag is completed successfully. Really successfully actually; it seems they are both fully recovered within a day.

Apparently Helmut doesn't even realise his plums are missing until he goes to boink Mirelle that night. He's unable to perform, and one of the most overly dramatic sequences ever committed to film he starts tearing at his hair, clenching his fists and generally acting completely insane. Despite Mirelle's gentle reassurance that "it happens sometimes", he runs naked and screaming into the night. After learning the true nature of the procedure from Dr. Steiner (who commits suicide out of guilt) he heads to the brothel, where Von Klieber is giving his new boys a thorough test run. In the best line in the film, Helmut confronts him and shouts "You bastard! How have you been doing with MY BALLS?" Helmut then goes on a mad rampage, shooting up the joint and attempting to rescue Mirelle and escape the camp. It doesn't go too well.

It's really this whole testicle sub-plot that saves the movie from being a complete bore. All of the elements are there - there is a fair amount of blood, near-constant nudity, and plentiful sex scenes - but it's all treated in such a matter-of-fact manner that it's kind of dull. Maybe the seriousness of the subject matter kept Garrone from making things too lurid and sleazy. I mean, in an interview of the DVD Garrone even says that these movies can help people learn about the holocaust. Really? Ain't nobody picking up SS Experiment Love Camp to get a history lesson, especially one that is riddled with such unconvincing sets, inauthentic costumes and bad dubbing. Besides, it's not like people are going to look at your holocaust porn and say "oh, at least it wasn't TOO sleazy". If you're going to exploit one of the greatest tragedies in human history, you might as go for broke. That's what my mother always said.

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