SS Hell Camp | Varied Celluloid

SS Hell Camp

Posted by Josh Samford On September - 16 - 2010
Review submitted by our good friend Prof. Aglaophotis!


The Plot: It’s World War II. As the terror of the Nazis rage on, rebel factions struggle to fight the soldiers of the Third Reich using sabotage and all the combat they can. However, as the rebels continue to wreck havoc, the commanding Nazis are forced to use extreme measures to stop them. One such measure includes the torture techniques of Dr. Helen Kratsch (Macha Magall), who has recently broken technological boundaries by creating an artificial man with a monstrous and often deadly libido. The leader of the rebels, Drago, must go toe-to-toe with the Nazis if he wishes to find his captured son and wife and lead the rebels to victory. The question is, how will he do it if killing is against his principles? Furthermore, will the horrifying experiments of Dr. Kratsch and the brutal Nazis draw an end to the Rebel faction?




The Review
It’s hard discussing just how awkward watching this movie is. Part of the movie feels like a deeply serious and brutal exploitation flick while the other part just feels like an over-the-top violent dark comedy. It’s almost like the director and writers were at odds at how they wanted to make this movie. Did one set out to make a Nazisploitation Comedy and did the other set out to make a disturbing and depressing Nazisploitation movie? Regardless of the intent, SS Hell Camp is a surprisingly entertaining romp into depressing and disturbing Nazisploitation. With that out of the way, I guess I should really start on the quality of the film.

The movie is surprisingly well shot and the transfer on the Shriek Show DVD is pretty clear and good looking. However, the camera work does get a little shaky and it’s also worth noting how blurry the imagery gets during close-zooms. Most of the costumes, sets and props are pretty accurate to the times, though there are some casual 70’s/60’s wear that pops up and I’m sure there’s a pair of modern men’s briefs hanging from a clothesline in one scene. Despite the quality of film and props, though, the movie is flawed to no-end. There’s one scene in particular where some Nazis are driving up to their headquarters which is a mansion on a hill (so it’s really not a ‘Camp’ then). What you see in the wide-screen edition is a crewman continually glancing at the car rolling up the hill as he saunters off-screen… which I’m a little disappointed no one pulled him off. Immediately after that, a huge Swastika statue in front of the mansion catches not only the sunlight it faces… but also the shadow of the camera and crew members. If there are any fans of the silly French in Action video series and miss the filler scenes of old Parisians on the sets staring and even smiling at the camera then you’re in luck here because there’s a few moments where some old Italian dudes do the same, with one of them walking casually towards it!

Before we even get much of a plot, we’re introduced to the saucy Macha Magall and her beast-man (played by the hairy Salvatore Baccaro, known mostly for his half-naked/fully nude roles). Both of these characters are funny, but are also very violent. When Dr. Kratsch isn’t striking sexy poses, she’s cutting off aroused manhoods and watching women being tortured to death. The beast spends most of the movie unconvincingly screwing screaming women while making some of the funniest faces directly at the camera as possible. Even he however tends to get a little too wicked. What the beast does to one of the women is so gross I had to stop the movie and take a breather the first time I watched it. What’s funny to me is that even though what he did involved a rather cheap and unrealistic effect, it was still just creep-out disgusting to watch… and really, I liked that the movie elicited that reaction from me!

There is a LOT of nudity in the movie, too. Not just bush and breasts, but labia and tons of limp penises. You can kind of tell just how many actors came from porn studios though: a lot of the women are nice looking and shapely and there’s one guy with a handlebar mustache, goatee and huge tattoos on his leg and chest. Yeah, the man just screams average 1940’s European citizen… a gang member maybe? Now that I mention it, I think there’s a Nazi soldier in the main torture scene who looks like a Confederate soldier.

Speaking of unrealistic effects though, I have to say this movie is almost immaturely obsessed with blood. There are several scenes where someone is shackled or is being electrocuted and blood will be coming from the shackles or electrodes around their skin. It’s even worse when it happens to the women the beast rapes to death and blood oozes from their mouths. Why? Deaths in tentacle hentai often make more sense than this (and trust me, that’s not a lot). Still, there’s a lot of torture and brutality that goes around in the movie. I think about the least violent scenes involve the shooting between the Partisans and the Nazis. Not only are the shooting/explosion deaths tame by comparison, but are often spliced in with very blatant stock footage. It makes the action in the movie fair, but not entirely memorable; not even the scenes with the decent stunt work or a shot that looks like a Nazi getting zonked in the nuts are worth much. It’s a shame too, the scenes with the Partisans aren’t very exciting or interesting, at least not until near the end.

The Partisans themselves are kind of funny. Apparently one of the rebels has the help of a Texan because one of them speaks with a Southern accent! If not for incongruous accents, the rest of the Partisans just sound bored out of their skulls. Actually a lot of the dubbing is pretty goofy; the minor character General von Kloser sounds like he belongs on an episode of Hogan’s Heroes. Thankfully, the voice of Dr. Kratsch sounds nice and sexy, much like Macha’s performance in the movie and there are a lot of hilarious quotes, too.

The soundtrack is pretty effective in using crazy-sounding electric guitars for many of the torture and sadness scenes. There is one particular song that plays when Drago’s around that sounds a little John Carpenter-esque, too. The performances aren’t too bad, though the character of Drago seems to change out of nowhere at the movie’s requisite downer ending. I’m pretty sure Gianni Franco from Rats shows up, but he doesn’t get much screen time; I kept waiting for him to say “Stupid Nazi, needs a kick in the balls!” It’s a little hard to judge the acting because the movie is so choppy in its themes that it’s hard to tell which performances are the most appropriate.

Come to think of it, the Nazis in this movie are terrible. When the soldiers aren’t letting their guns slip off their shoulders and aren’t tripping over everything, they’re portrayed as bored looking, gun fumbling, bumbling dolts. One of them even gets stabbed by an old lady. An old lady stabbed a goddamn Nazi!! Even the Captain in charge of the Nazis comes across as a total klutz in his introduction, even when he’s straight-up executing people! Just about the only nasty Nazi character aside form Dr. Kratsch is a nameless Sergeant with thick ‘70’s style sideburns who feigns having sex with a beautiful young woman, but then blows her clitoris off!

I have to admit though, Hell Camp does hit on an important social aspect about the Nazis that most Nazisploitation movies ignored: Religion. Throughout the entire movie, Drago is trying to do what’s right for his people and country, yet he’s so devout that he doesn’t want to kill the people he’s up against. Also, there’s a few moments in the movie where some of the Nazis get offended by blasphemy against Christian faith. I bring this up because a lot of Nazis were Christian and it’s so easy to forget that such brutal militants at that time could be. Maybe I’m so used to Return to Castle Wolfenstein, but it was still interesting to me. Granted, much like the gore effects, it is brought to rather stupid proportions; not only with Drago’s conflict, but also with the fact that a Jurgen Prochnow looking religious Nazi disobeyed an order simply because his commanding officer knocked a crucifix over.

Well, that does lead us into the best and funniest aspect of this movie and it’s something I’ve only seen in one other film. That aspect? A hard-hitting, butt kicking priest! Yes, this movie pre-dates Dead Alive in having a priest who ‘kicks ass for the Lord…’ NAZI ASS! It’s rather brief, but it’s a glorious scene watching Don Lorenzo go on a Nazi-punching rampage after they disgrace his church. I guess this proves the Lord really is the best.


The Conclusion
This is a pretty goddamn funny movie, but it’s a little too dark for its own good. It’s the Exploitation equivalent of the Adam Warren comic series Empowered: just when you think things are going to get zanier and sexier, Willy Pete pops up and burns your boner down to a nubbin’. Still, it’s brutal, sleazy and it’s got a lot of swastikas and really, that’s all you need in a Nazisploitation movie.



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