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Sex, Swastikas, and Sadism: Nazi Sexploitation

By: Max

I decided to make this list as a result of three things:

1) Watching Nazi Love Camp 27
2) Sending a friend a text message reading, “Watching a movie called Nazi Love Camp 27… Thinking of you…” and then having a serious conversation with them about Nazi Exploitation films.
3) Reading an article by Chris Bickel, titled “Sex, Swastikas, and Sadism: Nazi Sexploitation: an overview and the ten best” — hence the title of this list.

The text below is from the pre-list portion of Bickel’s article.

NAZI SEXPLOITATION, A FORGOTTEN GENRE:

In the mid 1970’s a whole slew of World War 2-themed Sexploitation films were churned out (most coming from Italy) in the wake of the highly successful ILSA, SHE WOLF OF THE SS. Most of these films, typical 70’s softcore porn pieces with swastika-sporting actors, followed the standard “Women In Prison” formula; the locale having been transferred to the Nazi death camps and field brothels. In Italy these films are known as part of the “il sadiconazista” cycle, the bulk of which were influenced as much by ILSA as they were by 3 controversial Italian art-house films: Liliana Cavani’s The Night Porter, Tinto Brass’s Salon Kitty and Passolini’s SALO.

SALO was a major influence on the genre, though it dealt with atrocities commited by Italian Fascists rather than German Nazis. For this reason, it is excluded from the list below. It should, however, be noted for its importance to the cycle.

SSEXPLOITATION AS LOWBROW ART

These film makers had discovered that it was easier to get violently sexual situations past the censors if they were presented within the context of having basis in the historical facts of Nazi war atrocities. Of course, none of these films had any interest in being factually correct. The filmmakers were solely interested in making a few bucks by exploiting 1970’s movie audiences’ craving for weirder and wilder psycho-sexual delights. These films pushed the boundaries of bad taste to their lowest limit.

Though sex, swastikas, and Sadism sold lots of tickets for ILSA and SALON KITTY, the other entries in the genre were generally box-office bombs, which meant that by the 1980’s no more of these films were being produced.

THE APPEAL OF IL SADICONAZISTA

It’s difficult to pinpoint the appeal of these films. Any first year psychology student could interpret these films’ appeal in relation to bondage fetishes, rape fantasies, misogygny, etc. More likely, the fundamental appeal is simply the fact that a whole slew of beautiful women get naked frequently. For others the appeal of a film like ILSA, SHE WOLF OF THE SS stems from the audacity of the images, and the bad taste campiness of the acting and direction. One thing is certain, these films make no apologies and force their contents upon the viewer on their own moral terms. Though blatant exercises in cinematic depravity, these films approach the brutality of the Nazi war camps in a much more visceral way than saccharine films such as Spielberg’s sentimental SCHINDLER’S LIST.

Make no mistake, the majority of these films are in the poorest of possible taste; yet they present material in a manner which pulls no punches, a spectacle which would never fly in today’s age of political correctness. These films blur the lines between good and evil when they present Nazi atrocities in a manner that may not only repulse the viewer, but also spark the prurient interests of the viewer. If the spectator experiences titillation during scenes of torture and rape, then that spectator has in some way identified with the antagonist. To most people, the thought of this is absolutely unacceptable. To those that understand that repulsion and titillation all come from the same place in the human psyche, these films hold a certain power, if not charm. To these people, the appeal is apparent. Still, there are others that simply worship schlock, and even more that just want to see a big pair of boobies jiggle across the screen.

Not on MUBI from Bickel’s Top 10:
Deported Women of the SS Special Section (1976)
Fräuleins in Uniforms (1973)

 

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Rosa Pozo

12Mar12

SS NAZIS

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Salem Kapsaski

9Aug11

I'll have to look for the interview. Two more films for your list: SS Nazi Convoy (films/ss-nazi-convoy) and The Beast in Heat (/films/the-beast-in-heat)

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    Max

    10Aug11

    Awesome. And, I changed the title of Beast in Heat to SS Hell Camp. :) ...and I added a still.

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Salem Kapsaski

24Jun11

Great list! Love Camp 7 should fit the (mubi.com/films/love-camp-7) Also in case you missed it, there was a good interview with Mrs. Dyanne Thorne (Ilsa) in last month's Fango.

Max likes this

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    Max

    24Jun11

    Thanks Salem. Done. And, could you link me to the Dyanne Thorne interview? I'd love to check it out.

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