Review: SS Hell Camp (AKA La Bestia in Calore) (1977, Video City Productions)




Category: Exploitation
Directed by:
Luigi Batzella

Written by: Luigi Batzella, Lorenzo Artale
Starring: Gino Turini, Macha Magall, Edilio Kim, Salvatore Baccaro, Xiros Papas
Music: Guiliano Sorgini
Cinematography: Ugo Brunelli

As a horror film collector I’ve found out that you can find some pretty obscure movies in the weirdest places. Goodwills/Salvation Armies, used furniture stores, bargain bins at Big Lots and Wal-Marts. I found this low-budget, video nasty (which is still banned in the U.K. and Australia by the way) in the used bin at FYE on break from work one day. It’s a reissue of course, not a very well done one but that’s how I prefer to watch these older movies, the original VHS goes for some big bucks on Ebay. This was originally released by Video City, one of many small companies that attempted  to capitilize on the home video market that was popular from the late 70’s through the 80’s. Like most other companies of this caliber, they focused on horror/exploitation films and softcore porn. They were cheap to produce and sold pretty well. Unfortunately Video City bit off more than they could chew and couldn’t meet the big distribution demands that they claimed they could meet and were wiped out by companies such as Vestron and Empire (now Full Moon Productions). Therefore their releases are notoriously hard to find and lusted after by VHS and horror film collectors. Very few of their titles have been reissued but there have been a lot of distributors popping up specializing in bringing back obscure grindhouse films, such as Synapse Films and Shameless Entertainment, so there’s hope.

Now back to this movie. At the time the Nazisploitation subgenre had a bit of cult following, especially with the underground hit Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS, and director Luigi Batzella (who’s used a number of pseudonyms over the years) hopped right on the bandwagon along with a number of fellow Italian filmmakers. Sadistic, domineering, Nazi scientist Dr. Ellen Kratsch (who’s based heavily on Ilsa) creates some kind of “Manbeast” thing that resembles a retarded Andre the Giant who speaks only in grunts and dispatches POW’s to him to get raped and tortured. There’s a secondary storyline of Italian revolutionaries battling the Nazi troops.

As with most exploitation films of this era you’re presented with shitty production, poor audio dubbing, low-budget sets and bad special effects. Most of the “battle scenes” are just WWII stock footage interspersed throughout the film. The storyline is pretty boring and the acting is awful, which is expected since the main selling point for these movies were the graphic torture and rape scenes. There’s actually not too much gore in this movie, although the torture scenes are pretty disturbing you really only see a little bit of clearly fake blood. People are shot fairly often throughout the whole movie but you never see a drop of blood on them. The torture scenes are pretty brief, although there are a lot of rape scenes, but by exploitation standards this is pretty tame. Most of the movie just consists of boring battle scenes and shitty, tedious dialogue. So if you’re a B-Movie fan and want to check out 4 minutes worth of torture framed by a lackluster storyline with a few rapes sprinkled in there check this out, otherwise I would just watch Ilsa or The Night Porter or something.





3 thoughts on “Review: SS Hell Camp (AKA La Bestia in Calore) (1977, Video City Productions)

  1. Yea this one was kind of dull once you get past the novelty of the poor quality. I did find the crazed ape man quite funny though, especially as he was supposed to be a raging rapist, but because of the category of porn this just about fitted in to, he couldn’t even have a boner. Maybe impotency drove him that angry, who knows. He also looked a bit like one of my friends, so it added to the comedic value.

    • Yeah I was expecting this movie to be a lot gorier and interesting but it just dragged on. As with a lot of late 70’s Italian exploitation films, they just threw a shitty movie together in an attempt to make a buck. I just scooped up 3 more nazisploitation movies from the used bin at FYE, hopefully they fare better than SS Hell Camp!

  2. Fingers crossed. It must’ve been a great part for the ape man to put on his resumé though, I’m surprised he isn’t up there with Pacino or Hoffman.

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