The Plot: Olga (Dyanne Thorne) is the headmaster of Gulag 14, a horrid soviet workcamp where most who show up never leave. When a young man is sent there as a political prisoner in defiance of their communist regime, he refuses to break under the intense torture they put him through. This entices Olga as she is intent on having him break and declare the greatness of Joseph Stalin. As she tortures and kills the prisoners one by one, this one man still refuses to break no matter what. When the time comes though, she wants him fed to the tiger in the middle of camp. Lucky for him he is able to dodge the tiger’s attempts long enough for the camp to go into full revolt as all of the prisoners and guards are killed off. Skip forward a few years and this same man is now free after battling his way out of that cage. He is sent to Montreal as a guard for Olympic athletes from the USSR. When he takes the athletes to a brothel locally after their begging him, he runs into an old friend… Olga. She’s still alive and now running the Montreal underworld. She kidnaps him once again and intends to do what she once tried: to break him.

The Review: Are you looking for a cheap prison based exploitation film? Maybe something with a decent bit of female nudity and some softcore sex scenes? Sure, you’re probably thinking “well I can get that from ANY Women in Prison flick!” and right you are. Although, how about all of the already mentioned great stuff – but throw in a little bit of gory violence to boot? Well sir, you may want to share those lucky numbers because you just won the lottery because I have two words for you: ILSA FILMS. I’ve already reviewed the original Ilsa: She-Wolf of the SS here on the site and actually heard back from the director! Looking back I’ve grown to respect the original Ilsa a lot more now than I did back then; but the rest of the series has turned out to be rather hit or miss. Ilsa: The Wicked Warden was a real disappointment as it just never seemed to get off the ground. A lot of back and forth scripting that seemed to bog the film down and lead to much boredom. Even under the watchful eye of Jesus Franco, often thought to be a king in the softcore world of exploitation, I could not get into the movie. Tigress of Siberia at least bumps up the violence and starts off with two very cool gore sequences. one featuring a spear through the mouth followed by the same poor sap having his head crushed by a massive hammer while his brains fly in the air and his blood leaking head feeds a tiger several feet below. The quality of any film goes up with an intro like that. Follow it up with a tiger mauling and Dyanne Thorne nude and simulating being double penetrated by two ruskies… well, we have us one heck of a first 15 minutes for just about any film! Add to this the massive amount of torture and gory violence in the film spread throughout the full length of the movie and you have what is without a doubt the goriest of all the Ilsa movies. Does that make it the best in the series? Not exactly.

Okay, so you’ve got two guys sitting on the left and right side of a table with chainsaws. They cut into the first six inches of of the table and hold their saws there. Then two convicts, who had each accused one another of stealing, set their arms in the center and begin an arm-wrestling contest. The loser? His arm goes into one of the chainsaws and he is sawed into pieces in the next room. Now if you’re not thinking “quality time”, then what’s wrong with you? This sequence is just part of the really great first half of Ilsa Tigress of Siberia. The problem, and you will have read this everywhere if you have searched out any reviews for the film, is that at roughly the halfway point Tigress changes from being an actual Siberian based Ilsa film with brutal torture sessions and gratuitous nudity – into a Montreal based espionage thriller with Ilsa taking on the heads of a couple of local crime families. It is so unfortunate since in my opinion the setup with the beginning of the film turned out so strong it was looking to topple all other Ilsa films in terms of violence AND sex! Not that the Montreal segments aren’t interesting or fun, in fact they are and even feature a decent bit of violence as well – but it doesn’t really compare to those first thirty minutes of sheer brutality and mayhem. Ilsa moving away from standard slice and dice torture sessions to the cleaner and more efficient mental torture is also a major letdown. These segments border on being simply ridiculous, not only because such technology does not exist but because for pete’s sake this is an Ilsa movie! Although I normally wouldn’t encourage it, but sometimes genre really should dictate what is or is not suitable for a film. If you’re not aware, basically Ilsa hooks up on some new modern technology and instead of simply dismembering her subjects; now she places them in a chair with a monitor in front of them that flashes disturbing imagery. This disturbing imagery then sets off transmissions in the subconscious that a machine attached to the subject can read out and discover their worst fears. Ilsa, err, Olga then uses this information by placing the subject in an isolation tank that somehow uses hallucinogenic powers that trick the subjects into thinking they are witnessing their very worst fears. Like I said, is this James Bond or an Ilsa flick?

Overall Ilsa: Tigress of Siberia is a fairly decent Ilsa flick. It doesn’t do enough to really be great, but it surely isn’t anything worthy of hatred. Most out there disagree with me on this point however it would seem as the general consensus from what I have seen is that The Wicked Warden is the far superior film and that Tigress is the weakest of the series. I simply don’t see that however. Tigress makes a departure from some of the series and its usual motif but for the last film of the sort it needed the new life in my estimation. I won’t say it is a great movie or anything close to it, far from that, but it’s definitely more entertaining than The Wicked Warden but a lesser film than the original (still looking to get Oilsheeks). I recommend it for completest of the series and exploitation fans all around but if you’re expecting a film to rival the original – this won’t leave you satisfied. Though if you’re wanting a little more gore and Dyann Thorne in about three kinky softcore threesomes – this is the film you have waited your entire life for! It’s a three out of five, and well deserving of it too.

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