Red Nights of the Gestapo
Italy | 1977
Directed by Fabio De Agostini
Ezio Miani
Fred Williams
Isabelle Marchall
Color | 108 Minutes | Not Rated
Format: DVD (R1 - NTSC)
Exploitation Digital
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Review by
Brian Lindsey
    5   10 = Highest Rating  
In May 1941, with final preparations for the Nazi invasion of Soviet Russia well underway, Hitler's deputy Rudolf Hess on his own initiative made a secret solo flight to Scotland. It was a harebrained scheme to convince the British government to engage in peace talks with Germany. Correctly, Hess saw a two-front war against Britain and Russia as a potential disaster for the Reich. His idea for preventing this wasn't as well-reasoned. For his efforts Hess was imprisoned in the Tower of London, while at home he was denounced by Hitler as a lunatic. The furious Führer ordered a purge of anyone in Hess' orbit that might be contaminated by such 'defeatism', even if they had no idea what he'd been up to.
    That's the historical catalyst for Red Nights of the Gestapo, a not-quite-typical entry in the Italian Nazisploitation sweepstakes.
    Hess' SS liaison officer, Standartenführer Werner Uhland (Ezio Miani), is swept up in the anti-Hess purge. He knew nothing of the peace proposal or secret flight yet has to pay regardless. Faithful to Party and Fatherland, the young SS colonel every inch the blond, blue-eyed Aryan ideal is summarily arrested for treason and stood before a firing squad. But he isn't shot. Gestapo captain Ritter (Daniele Dublino) has a special assignment for him, an assignment he's in no position to refuse. The order is given personally to Uhland by no less than the Reichsführer himself, Heinrich Himmler, chief of the dreaded SS. The plan is this. Uhland will appeal to a childhood friend, Helmut von Danzig (The Devil Came from Akasava's Fred Williams), to convene a meeting of prominent members of Germany's anti-Nazi intelligentsia in a castle outside Berlin. The aristocratic von Danzig has extensive contacts with these men, civilians in the fields of academia, law and business. During this secret conclave a conspiracy will be hatched to depose Hitler before the dictator leads Germany to destruction. Serving as host, Uhland is to represent a dissident faction within the SS that opposes war with Russia. In reality he's laying a velvet-lined trap, one baited with fine food, wine, and women. Hidden microphones will record everything. Whether by spoken treason or blackmail-ready sins of the flesh, the leadership of the intelligentsia will be decapitated in a single night...
    Writer/director Fabio De Agostini certainly doesn't display any originality with his scenario, as the basic plot is pretty much in the same vein as Salon Kitty and SS Girls a Nazi officer assembles a stable of sexy sluts to entrap high-level traitors to the Reich; kinky debauchery offering plenty of nudity ensues, climaxed by a "Night of the Long Knives"-style massacre. What makes Red Nights of the Gestapo a bit different is the relatively highbrow level of dialog. Taking periodic breaks from the sleaze, characters discuss matters of social responsibility, class distinctions and politics. That the film avoids the Holocaust this isn't a T & A flick set in a death camp, thank goodness! keeps it from sinking to the bottom of the Crass Barrel. Aside from one mild S&M scene there is no torture, and gore for gore's sake is nonexistent. Red Nights is much more about general kinkiness and the fetishism of Nazi regalia than sadism.
    As laudable as this comparatively high-minded approach to the trashiest of genres might be it is also a double-edged sword. Mainly, the film is excessively talky. Sleaze fans will get restless during the various political/philosophical discussions as they await the next parade of degraded flesh. (A happy exception being the out-of-the-blue kneeslapper provided by Nazisploitation vet Georgio Cerioni, who, during a drunken anti-Hitler rant, suddenly drops trou and greasily farts into a hidden microphone he's discovered. Take that, Adolf!) Further drawing out the proceedings is a subplot about Uhland's wife, a dutiful Nazi until she realizes just what hubby does for führer und fatherland, that doesn't really go anywhere. A good 10-15 minutes could easily be cut from the running time.
    So it drags somewhat, but otherwise Red Nights is a higher quality example of the genre. Agostini uses his small budget wisely, with nicely lensed, richly-appointed interiors compensating for the fact that 95% of the production is studio-bound. Happily, more attention than usual is paid to getting the uniforms and period detail right. (There's at least one notable anachronism, however the 1970s VW minibus used for a Wehrmacht ambulance.) The film features a couple of genuinely hot actresses, chief among them sexy Isabelle Marchall as the cooperative French prostitute. Rest assured that the entire rank and file gets wicked and/or naked on a continual basis. Lesbianism, masochism, nymphomania and even lactation (!) are among the forbidden items on the menu, supplemented by the inevitable kinky floor show or two. If it's a Nazisploitation movie, you ARE going to see a topless fraulein in an SS officer's cap at some point, period.
Red Nights of the Gestapo is presented fully uncut on Exploitation Digital's DVD, via an exemplary anamorphic transfer. The source print is nearly pristine, marred only by damage at the 1:00:58 mark and lasting for just a minute or so. Otherwise it's practically flawless, boasting vivid colors and deep, rich blacks. Complimenting the visuals is a solid mono audio mix (dubbed English only) that's notably crisper and cleaner than is usually the case for such flicks. A reel of deleted footage (sans audio), an image gallery and trailers for this and other Nazisploitation/Nunsploitation titles from Exploitation Digital comprise the extras. Given such generally high marks the reader may be puzzled by my overall DVD rating of '5'... At $27, I feel the disc is a bit pricey. Were it eight or ten bucks cheaper I'd likely give it a '6'. NOTE: Errors on the packaging incorrectly list the running time as 103 minutes (actually 108) and the aspect ratio as 1.85:1 (in reality 2.35). 1/01/07
UPDATE In 2008 this DVD was reissued as part of the bargain-priced SS Hell Pack 2 collection... which unfortunately is now out of print (as of 2012).