REVIEW: ILSA: SHE WOLF OF THE SS (1975)(Chopped Version)
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One of my major pet peeves is the releasing of a film that is notorious for nudity, sex, violence, and gore—and releasing it cut and chopped to pieces, removing the nastiest of the aforementioned characteristics that gave the particular film its notoriety. Today, the Koreans have royally pissed me off in releasing an 87 min. version of ILSA: SHE WOLF OF THE SS, the Korean Import version, where 9 minutes has been removed from the film. Generally, all scenes showing below the waist frontal nudity has been completely cut out. If anyone has read my posts they will realize that I am a fan and connoisseur of women who choose to leave their pelvic regions unshaven. I am a fan of “the bush”. If I were to choose an era of porn films to watch, the ’70s would be my predilection.
I have seen the uncut version of ILSA: SHE WOLF OF THE SS, directed by Don Edmonds, numerous times (just never reviewed it) and I instantly was aware that scenes were butchered from the get-go. I was outraged. I felt that my craving and admiration for films that were made during a time period when women chose to let their pubic hair run wild, almost resembling a furry bikini. Bless the bush! For fashionable reasons, as well as hygienic, most women (especially younger ones) generally keep their growth trim and neat, some going so far as to completely shave off or get a Brazilian wax (removal of ALL hair downstars) leaving all parts out in the open—just flopping in the wind.
Getting back to ILSA, every single shot involving bush has been removed, made quite apparent when the audio goes silent or ends abruptly. Sadly, because many of the scenes involving ILSA torturing the prisoners are crimes of a sexual nature (for both men and women) and turn a shocking and quite nasty film into a more lighthearted Nazi affair.
The plot of ILSA: SHE WOLF OF THE SS revolves around a Nazi warden named Ilsa (Dyanne Thorne), who runs a death camp in Nazi Germany that specializes in “medical experiments” that are trying to prove that women can withstand more pain than men and, therefore, should be allowed to fight along the front lines during the war. Sadly, true to history, many of the Nazi’s experiments were as ridiculous and twisted, as well as self-gratifying, as the character Ilsa’s were in the film.
The Korean version of ILSA is still semi-enjoyable to watch, but about as fun or entertaining as watching an R-Rated feature on regular television that has all the naughty goodies edited out. Due to the amount of nudity, both upper and lower, much of the film loses its bite. In fact, the film not only loses its bit but completely bites!
Ilsa is probably one of the most well-known and popular exploitation films of the genre, and IS the most famous Naziploitation films ever made. The series consists of ILSA: SHE WOLF OF THE SS (1975), ILSA: HAREM KEEPER OF THE OIL SHEIKS (1976), and ILSA: THE WICKED WARDEN (1977) a.k.a. WANDA THE WICKED WARDEN and GRETA: HAUS OHNE MANNER. ILSA: TIGRESS OF SIBERIA was produced in Canada in 1977 (also, although not credited, Roger Corman and Ivan Reitman were co-producers on this film) but when Anchor Bay remastered and re-released the first three Ilsa films the owners of the film would not sell and therefore a well-done version of Ilsa is not available on dvd or blu-ray (to my knowledge).
The ILSA films have a special charm, mostly charming in way that buxom actress Dyanne Thorne carries herself (and her breasts) so elegantly across the screen. She has the mean, heartless, Nazi bitch down pat. The torture scenes look very nasty (the portions that were left intact on the version I saw) and the make-up effects were particularly gruesome, especially the one involving a woman being boiled alive. I read that Joe Blasco did the make-up and was very inventive in his use of prosthetics for the various wounds from all the various torture techniques.
Some of the mutilations of the body were quite grimacing and nasty. When I think of how much bush was cut out from this print (one can tell I think about bush a lot), I have to make reference to SCHINDLER’S LIST, another film about the Nazis and one that is not really meant to be exploitative but is just as shocking (if not more so from the incredible budget, acting, and talent associated with it) but not as gruesome because Spielberg chose to keep most of the nasty particulars left up to the viewer’s imagination (which may be even worse in some cases). [Speaking of SCHINDLER’S LIST, I just spent about 25 minutes foraging through a large portion of my movie collection trying to find my copy so I can revisit it. I believe that I have not watched it since I saw it in the movie theater.]
One part of the success to the first ILSA film is part in due to a 42nd Street grindhouse theater in New York. The film was popular enough that a sequel was warranted even though one particular part of the plot occurred (Just trying not to spoil anything for our “virgin” Ilsa viewers out there!).
I mentioned earlier that the set of Hogan’s Heroes was used for the whole film and the reason that occurred was because the studio was going to demolish the mock Nazi camp (which would have cost them demolition fees) and because the Nazi camp was going to be burned down in the script for the ILSA film, the studio saved money on destroying the set. SHE WOLF OF THE SS really has a big-budget look to it because of the exterior set pieces they got to use during filming. The film was made in just nine days and looks very well made considering that fact.
For all you sexploitation addicts out there, look for appearances by Uschi Digard (ILSA: HAREM KEEPER OF THE OIL SHEIKS) and Sharon Kelly a.k.a. Colleen Brennan (SUPERVIXENS), naked and abused (unless one is viewing the same cut version that I am!) in the film. This is reason alone to go out and pick up the uncut version of ILSA: SHE WOLF OF THE SS from Anchor Bay, as well as pick up the other ILSA’s. These films are top-notch Nazisploitation flicks and a head above the rest of them. If this particular cut of ILSA were the original version with all scenes of nudity and torture, I would have thoroughly enjoyed it, but because it was not I deem this Korean print of the film horse dung.
This review was sponsored by my friends over at ZOMBIEBLOODFIGHTS.COM