Very bad people in and out of uniform
So I was watching Deported Women of the SS Special Section (1976) the other day because that’s a perfectly normal thing for a person to watch. Right? No? Well I watched it anyway because I’ve been enjoying the crazy old exploitation movies that make up Full Moon’s Grindhouse Collection and because this one’s got a really interesting actor named John Steiner in it. He’s playing an evil Nazi this time and let me tell you it’s kind of a shock to see the cheerful British hero from Hunters of the Golden Cobra (1982) being so skin-crawlingly diabolical. (Well it was for me anyway. Most normal people know Steiner from films like Caligula and Salon Kitty so it’s my own damn fault for not knowing about Steiner’s grotesque typecasting.)
Deported Women of the SS Special Section is an example of the sleazy sub-genre known as “Nazisploitation films” in which hammy actors in German uniforms do lots of horrible depraved things before getting satisfyingly killed off in the cathartic finale. The acting in these films tends to get a bit loopy. No subtlety needed here; just a few brave and/or broken victims amongst a gaggle of shrieking overacting Nazis.
Steiner overacts with the best of them constantly soliloquising over how evil/angry/horny he is. (Those are the three main states of movie Nazis: evil angry and horny — occasionally all at the same time.) He plays a particularly unpleasant commandant named Herr Erner and the object of his twisted desire is a female captive named Tania (Lina Polito) who once spurned Herr Erner’s advances thus becoming the focus of his obsession. Herr Erner’s final fate is a particularly nasty one which I won’t relate here but suffice to say that the Nazis from Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) got off comparatively lightly.
If you know about the Nazisploitation genre at all you probably know about Ilsa She-Wolf of the SS (1975) which is far and away the most famous example of the form. This Canadian production features loads of nudity and cruelty with Dyanne Thorne as the frequently nude and cruel title character. It was shot on the sets of the classic sitcom Hogan’s Heroes (!) and had three sort-of sequels.
For entertainment value few Nazisploitation films measure up to Bruno Mattei’s SS Girls (1977). It’s not that SS Girls is a good film — on the contrary it’s quite wretched. But that sort of helps. Everything in SS Girls is so cartoonish it’s impossible to take seriously. For one thing there aren’t any heroes in the film. Not a single one. Everybody in SS Girls is a Nazi or a Nazi collaborator. In fact they’re all crazy Nazis shouting all their lines and laughing like early Batman villains. Most of these movies get bogged down with showing all the requisite terrible things that Nazis generally do. The Nazis in SS Girls do only two things. They have sex and they kill other Nazis.
If you’re going to watch Nazis do anything those two things are pretty good choices.
Plus the sexual depravity is like something a 13-year-old came up with. We’re more likely to see the characters playing horsey than having sex. Hmm that sounds dirtier than it is. By “horsey” I mean that the guy goes around on his hands and knees with a big grin on his face and the woman sits on his back like he’s a racehorse. Even in underwear (and remember 1940s underwear is very very frumpy) this kind of activity looks a bit innocent. Its almost as innocuous as a piggyback ride which come to think of it is another frequent orgy activity in this film.
Anyway most of the crazy Nazis get executed by the craziest Nazi who puts on lipstick and a Pope’s hat for the occasion (?!). Then the remaining crazy Nazis execute each other and then themselves while having another one of their PG-rated sex orgies. Only by being supremely stupid can a movie like SS Girls wind up being an almost inoffensive experience.