SS Girls


Nov 15, 2010

Written for Varied Celluloid by Prof. Aglaophotis!

The Plot: It’s war in the 1940’s. The efforts of the Third Reich are being threatened by traitors amongst their ranks. Nazi General Berger is ordered to assign the eccentric Count Hans Schellenberg to assemble a crack team of prostitutes, trained to have sex under any condition and convert his manor into the private brothel Blumenstrauss. It is here in Blumenstrauss that the conspirators are treated to countless delights, to lure them into admitting their turn-coat ways prompting their immediate execution. However, the love blossoming between the hostess and Schellenberg is starting to rub Schellenberg’s ex-flame Frau Inge the wrong way. Will Blumenstrauss continue to stand against the love triangle inside or will it collapse at the end of the war?

The Review
Of what few Nazisploitation movies I’ve seen, I can honestly say SS Girls is one of the most unique. That may sound awkward considering that the premise behind SS Girls has been done before (Nazis rooting traitors out through sex), but its presentation is unlike any other I’ve seen. It isn’t dark and cruel, it isn’t straight forward and serious. No, SS Girls is actually… kind of funny.

SS Girls is the kind of movie that you can imagine being adapted from a comic book because its so zany, over-acted and sexual that it almost mocks the theme of the sub-genre it’s in. Hans Schellenberg is a thoroughly funny and cartoonish character brought to life by Gabrielle Carrara’s attention to physical acting, his enormous Scicilian grin and wild, beady eyes (as well as an almost Joker-esque dub actor). Despite this, he has his intense moments too, particularly when he’s confronted by Frau Inge about their past relationship. Every character in the movie is very much like Hans, though; everyone has either a very humorous or light attribute about them that adds to the movie’s overall theme of silliness and seriousness. There’s one character who is known for mutilating people indiscriminately and mixing women’s blood with his cognac, but rather than coming across as scary he’s just plain nutty. That’s not even getting to his sidekicks, which consists of Crazy Kurt from Women’s Camp 119 and a Japanese Imperial soldier with a Sharpie Swastika on his head band named Wang!

Being a B-Movie lover, I feel the need to point out a familiar face in this movie. If your a fan of Strike Commando, Exterminators of the Year 3000 or Yor: Hunter from the Future, then the character of Prof. Jurgen will look awfully familiar. Just picture him with a scruffy beard and he’ll look just like Le Due/Papillion/Pag. Yep, Luciano Pigozzi is in this movie! He’s actually not too bad in the movie, though it’s probably the most serious role I’ve seen him in so far.

I think the only character who isn’t light or humorous in the movie is Ivano Staccioli who is once again playing a straight-laced high-ranking Nazi officer. He is a lot more animated and shows a lot more range in this than in Women’s Camp 119, so there’s still some fun to him. Plus, I think Bruno Mattei realized how classy this guy looks playing piano because he has Ivano doing the same here as he did in Women’s Camp… although here he’s smoking a cigarette while a drunk Flapper in a sheer dress dances on top of it. Funny enough a lot of actors and actresses showed up here from Women’s Camp: Gota Gobert, probably the only German performer in the whole movie, shows up again though she doesn’t get the best line in the movie this time… in fact, I don’t think she has any lines. She doesn’t even beat anyone up! Marina Daunia is really good in this movie as she brings a lot of intensity and power to the role and still manages to come across as being a longing and sexual person. Yet in Women’s Camp 119 Daunia’s role amassed to a Jewish prisoner who had maybe one line, a few staring shots and some lip syncing… before her character got shot in the head. Even the random Nazi Doctor in the poison bullet scene from Women’s Camp showed up in this as a groping butler. This use of actors reminds me of when I was doing High School plays and the class would be split into two groups performing the same play, but no one played the same character.

The movie is pretty well shot; it has its signature Mattei extreme close-ups and overall smooth camera work to it. Granted, the cinematography isn’t on the same level as say, Andrezej Zulawski; there’s nothing really impressive and the camera tends to go over a few rough pans, but the man knew where to point the camera and that shows here. I think the only time the lighting and shots don’t match up is when Magal is strip teasing in a room lit by red light, but once we get a close-up of her the red light is barely there. The setting is also very good, there’s a lot of fairly impressive architecture, almost like the crew traveled to Loire Valley, found and furnished one of its many lost castles and filmed Nazi Porn there.

The props in this movie are pretty neat, especially the ones made specifically for the film. Ever seen a Nazi Pope? You will if you see this movie! There’s even this ridiculous sexual Training Montage (guest starring Salvatore Baccaro again) where a woman is having sex with a… uh… I actually have no idea what she’s having sex with. It looks like a starved prisoner of war who is literally just skin and bones making him look like a huge special effect… but its head is moving perfectly and actually looks like a human head attached to the skin and bones body! Speaking of which… there is some bestiality in the movie. Nothing overt mind you, just a bunch of very happy looking dogs laying on top of naked women as they caress their coats. Sadly, the sex can get a little tedious here and there, like one scene where Magall and Daunia are making out during a thunder storm and the scene feels like it goes on for ten minutes. The girls are VERY sexy, though. They found some very lovely looking ladies to be nude in the movie, though if you’re not a fan of overgrown bush… be prepared to see several small forests.

Typical of Bruno Mattei there is a fair share of stock footage, although it’s actually fairly seamless. The stock footage soldiers, complying to their Captain’s orders against on-coming tanks, matches pretty well. For a moment I was actually under the impression that this movie had a budget beyond Nazi uniforms! The stock footage soldiers and action started to bust open when the soldiers attack the Russians in the ruins of a village and the only authentic footage is of the Captain shooting wildly at the camera (in front of a chain link fence that looks like someone’s backyard).

Once again, this being a Mattei film, this movie has a great soundtrack. The score – composed by Gianni Marchetti – mostly consists of saucy Italian Jazz with just a hint of Bossa. The soundtrack makes every scene sexy, intense and overall delicious with its combination of playful female vocals, harmonicas, piano tunes and guitar strings.

Sadly, as much fun as I had watching this movie, I can’t bring myself to give it full credit. I’ve watched enough Nazisploitation films to get the idea that many clichés were required, seeing how most Italian exploitation movies were knock-offs and unofficial sequels anyway. Also, considering this is WWII we’re talking about, most of the time the movie won’t have a happy ending and I get that. However, did THIS Nazisploitation movie need such a depressing ending? Halfway through, the zany sexiness just peters out; it’s like the movie suddenly remembered it was taking place in WWII and realized it needed to be more realistic. Suddenly, characters who seemed so confident or comical break down and become so overly serious and remorseful that they simultaneously become irrational. Hell, even the hookers hop aboard the Irrationally Depressed Nonsense Train when they have no real reason to be depressed in the first place!!

I keep getting the feeling that Bruno needed to give Ivano Staccioli’s characters more back story; it’s like Bruno kept looking at the guy and saying ‘your character will change EVERYTHING in the end’ and Ivano just quirked an eyebrow and shrugged as if to say ‘Sure thing, boss.’ Ivano’s character does have more reason for his actions here than Women’s Camp 119, but it’s still abrupt and hollow. Besides, in Women’s Camp 119 it was thematically appropriate because the movie was dark and depressing to begin with, but this one was the exact opposite. Not that I really wanted a completely upbeat ending – I know not all stories about WWII ended lightly – all I’m asking for is a little consistency.

This review covers the release done by Exploitation Digital. The transfer is pretty good and viewable, although the other source material used to present the movie as it was meant to be seen is a little off. There’s a scene near the end where Ivano’s character shoots an injured soldier and the only line he says is muted much like the deleted scenes in Red Nights of the Gestapo. I’m assuming the line was muted to cover up the original Italian dialogue, yet the ending of the movie leaves the original Italian dialogue in place. It’s too bad they never dubbed it, the last lines would’ve been perfect if they were dubbed… glad I know a little Italian.

I’m going to check out the Shriek Show release of SS Girls, though, because apparently this one is missing a few scenes: much like the DVD releases for Trick or Treat and The Serpent and the Rainbow, the back of the box features two screen shots that aren’t shown in the movie, one of the executioner laughing his head off and the other of the Crazy Kurt guy pointing a revolver at Gabrielle Carrara. There is a pretty good interview with Bruno Mattei on it though, most of which he spends talking about his inspiration for SS Girls and how the Nazisploitation craze sprung up in the first place.

The Conclusion
Well, as much as I practically despise the padding and out-of-place ending of this movie, I honestly can’t help but recommend SS Girls because let’s face it: with movies like Women’s Camp 119 and The Gestapo’s Last Orgy, a sub-genre of exploitation this cruel NEEDS a movie as fun as SS Girls. It’s a well shot, funny, sexy romp into Exploitation. Trust me, it’s the most fun you’ll have in this sub-genre.