SS Girls
Italy / 1977
Directed by Bruno Mattei
Starring
Gabriele Carrara
Macha Magall
Marina Daunia
Color / 93 Minutes / Not Rated
Format: DVD (R1 - NTSC)
Exploitation Digital
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Review by
Brian Lindsey
 
 
6
    5   10 = Highest Rating  
ACHTUNG! CHEESE ALERT! This totally shameless rip-off of Salon Kitty by crapmeister Bruno Mattei (Hell of the Living Dead) doesn't quite plumb the depths of tastelessness that other Nazisploitation films do, but so far it's the most entertaining I've seen. Substantial parts of it are laugh-out-loud hilarious — though clearly not intended to be taken that way.
    It's 1944 and Germany is losing the war. Hitler is desperate to identify all potential conspirators who could betray him and the Reich. To this end fanatical SS officer Hans Schellenberg (Gabriele Carrara) is assigned to set up an elite bordello for the entertainment of high-ranking Nazi commanders, staffed with a bevy of specially trained whores. Using their erotic skills to learn what the guests really think of Der Führer, the girls are to report all disloyal or defeatist comments they overhear. The zealous Schellenberg is empowered to render swift justice to any traitors thus discovered...
    I had a good time with SS Girls. It's not bogged down with grim, sordid torture scenes, instead offering a heaping platter of cheesy chuckles served up by a harem of naked Euro-sluts. Some of the badly dubbed dialog is absolutely hysterical. (For a typical example, check out the audio link near the bottom of the left-hand sidebar.) Of particular note is the astonishingly overwrought 'performance' — if you can call it that — of Gabriele Carrara as the demented Schellenberg. Jack Palance's legendary drunken turn in Jess Franco's Justine is an exemplar of underplayed subtlety in comparison! I can't recall seeing anything quite like it. Ever. At first I was merely stunned by Carrara's wretched, over-the-top histrionics. Then the laughs came. The scene in which he sentences a group of officers to death, screaming at the top of his lungs while dressed in a sort of 'gay Nazi pope' costume, has to be experienced to be believed. (It's almost like something out of a Monty Python skit — only it's not supposed to be funny.) Carrara scews his face up in the most ludicrous expressions of ecstasy whenever his character speaks of the "glorious" Führer, as if someone was sticking an electric cattle prod up his ass. (And he's enjoying it.)
    The other main performers exercise considerably more restraint. Luciano Pigozzi, a very familiar face to any fan of Italian cinema, doubtless picked up a few quick and easy lire as the mad Nazi scientist whose unorthodox conditioning regimen (which includes stick fighting and rifle practice while wearing togas!) turns the prostitutes into "highly trained individual love machines." Slinky Macha Magall is the madam chosen by Schellenberg to ride herd over his stable of harlots; she's sexy and thankfully doffs her clothes a lot more often here than in SS Hell Camp. Nearly stealing the show, though, is raven-haired Marina Daunia as Frau Inga, Schellenberg's scar-faced aide de camp. This fleshy sexpot was born to play the dominatrix/dragon lady type, and while she disappointingly has little to do (or show) in the first half of the film she more than makes up for it in the second.
    Other than running about 10 minutes too long (Mattei, who also co-scripted, tacks on a pointless soliloquy by a minor character near the end), SS Girls hits all the right Eurotrash notes. There's oodles of female nudity (with some lesbianism and S&M in the mix), a number of scenes in very bad taste (that thankfully don't get too revolting), and loads of unintentional humor. Mattei even tosses in a bit of action in the form of a Russian tank attack. Dieses ist erfreulicher Käse!
    A word to any history buffs out there (like yours truly)... We don't watch movies like this for their historical veracity, of course, but one can't help but notice things the average viewer will miss. Actually, SS Girls — compared to other films of the genre — does a better job than most in getting the Nazi uniforms and regalia correct. There are still plenty of goofs (a Luftwaffe parachutists' badge on an Army tunic, for example) but they're fairly trivial. Except, that is, for the ridiculously anachronistic hair styles. Not a single officer of any WWII army had long hair covering his ears, much less a 'do that's collar or shoulder length. It's incredibly STUPID to think that a production would go to all the trouble and expense of acquiring the uniforms, weapons, vehicles and set dressings of a particular time period yet not require its actors to cut their hair to match. I've seen this again and again in a host of war flicks; it instantly destroys any sense of reality a film is trying to establish. Now this doesn't really matter very much when it comes to so-bad-it's-good exploitation trash like SS Girls, but come ON... How much does a freakin' haircut cost? So you'll spend the money to rent historical uniforms and vintage cars but not insist the actors get a quick trim? How idiotic is that?
    For the lack of a few simple haircuts you end up with performers looking like refugees from a costume party and, most importantly, an audience unable to suspend their disbelief.
A good quality print (displaying the Italian title Casa Privata Per Le SS, "Private House of the SS") was used for this latest Media Blasters/Exploitation Digital DVD. The film is presented in 1.85 anamorphic widescreen with a solid, if unremarkable, mono audio track. This isn't to say there aren't any problems; in one scene the video appears to wobble every couple of frames and the final few lines of dialog at the end are spoken undubbed, in Italian, with no subtitles provided. But apart from these minor quibbles I was pleasantly surprised by the disc's A/V specs. In certainly fares better in this regard than MB's previous Nazisploitation offering, SS Hell Camp.
    A 9-minute featurette with director Bruno Mattei is included as an extra. In the interview Mattei speaks briefly of his foray into the Nazisploitation genre, repeating the oft-stated claim that he's never liked any of the films he's made. He also aims a few barbs at U.S. filmmakers and their comparatively large, overly specialized crews. ("Put ten Americans together and you have a team of idiots.") Additionally, the DVD comes with a smallish photo gallery, the film's original theatrical trailer (in Italian with no subs) and trailers for Media Blasters releases SS Hell Camp, Emanuelle and the Last Cannibals, Elsa: Fraulein SS, and Porno Holocaust. This latter promo is different from the 'hardcore' trailer seen on other MB discs in that it does not include any explicit sex scenes. 6/08/05
UPDATE In March 2008 Media Blasters re-released SS Girls as part of the three-disc SS Hell Pack, which also includes SS Experiment Love Camp and SS Camp: Women's Hell.
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