Please note:This is not a post glorifying or condoning Fascism or Naziism in any way,shape or form.This is look at a sub genre of exploitation film.
Trends and fads come and go with the exploitation and horror genre.There was the Italian cannibal craze of the late 70’s and early 80’s.The Mondo films of the 1970’s, and more recently the slasher phenomenon of the 1980’s and 90’s.The Zombie craze has always been present,but by now it’s so dumbed down and gentrified that everyone and their mother seems to have a love affair with the undead.Thanks to shows like The Walking Dead. (Or as I like to call it, “Zombies For Yuppies)
In recent years we’ve had a string of Nazi-themed horror films.They do make the perfect villains.After all, who doesn’t like to see Nazi’s get killed? They have no redeeming qualities whatsoever.Films such as Dead Snow, Iron Sky, Nazi’s At The Center Of The Earth and a new Nazi-Zombie hybrid film 4th Reich is currently in production as we speak.The films villains, ironically enough will be played by Andreas Schnass and Tom Savini. Quite a unique on-screen duo the director who gave us the Violent Shit franchise and who is undoubtedly the master of low-grade shot on VHS splatter.And the makeup wizard who’s effects helped propel Dawn Of The Dead to its cult status as the “Citizen Kane” of action horror.It seems histories most hated bad guys are creeping their way into the world of depraved cinema once again.
A craze that was very popular during the golden era of exploitation filmmaking, was the “Nazi-Sploitation” phenomenon.There a lot of different theories as to what kicked off this sub-genre.I consider it’s origins to come from 2 films ,the infamous 1974 Grindhouse flick Ilsa: She Wolf Of The SS.As well as Tinto Brass’ 1977 film Salon Kitty.Both these films set the 2 formulas that most Nazi-Sploitation films would end up following.
In the “Ilsa formula”, as i refer to it.The movie is generally set in a prison camp where a sadistic female officer engages in actions of sexual perversion and sadomasochistic torture.Certain clone’s were released through out the late 70’s including SS Experiment Camp (1976) and The Beast In Heat (1977).Nothing is these types of films is glorifying Naziism.They’re essentially torture-porn set with a concentration camp backdrop.
Trivia note:Ilsa was actually filmed on the old set of Hogan’s Heroes.The sets were going to be demolished, But When producers told the production company that the sets would be destroyed during the films conclusion.They were eager to give them one last use.
The other formula is what I refer to as the “Kitty Formula.” Salon Kitty is a fictionalized account of an actual brothel that existed in Nazi Germany.Officers would be recorded during sex to see if their loyalty to the reich was real or simply a facade.Bruno Mattei, who in my opinion was the master of Z grade exploitation filmmaking.Released SS Girls in 1977.The film is a blatant rip off of kitty, though with not as a depressing storyline.And although the title might be a bit misleading, Elsa, Fraulein SS (1977), was heavily inspired from a lot of aspects from Kitty.
The sub-genre’s death knell would be sounded by the film The Gestapo’s Last Orgy (1977).Although all of these films were heavily laden with Nazi Imagery, They focused more on soft core sex than anything else.Not once had their been dialogue about Hitler’s persecution of the Jews.This film broke that rule.And this sub-genre was placed in the grave along with several other spin off’s exploitation film had cooked up.
So is this sub-genre making a comeback? Although exploitation film is somewhat a product of a bygone era, One thing will always be certain:It’s always OK to kill Nazis.