Bottom of the Barrel Movie Reviews: The Ilsa Trilogy

WARNING: The following post contains screenshots of torture and female nudity. If you are offended by such images, scroll down quickly past them and do not read the article, look at the screenshots, or watch the films they are taken from. If you ignore this warning and are offended (despite the clear nature of said warning), and still want to bitch, please direct any complaints and questions to that brick wall over there. Thank you.

If there is a queen of exploitation cinema, Dyan Thorne is it, based solely on her performances as Ilsa. The first (and most exploitative) of the Ilsa films was 1975’s Ilsa, She-Wolf of the SS.

Ilsa is an evil warden at a Nazi death camp. She believes women can withstand more pain than men and so should be allowed to fight on the front lines. To prove her theory she conducts “medical experiments” on the female inmates, that is, she tortures the shit out of them. There is also the bit where she fucks the male inmates and castrates them when they finish first.

(“Vonce a prisoner has slept vith me, he vill never sleep vith a voman again.”)

Sucks to be them.

This is a film meant to show a lot of nudity, sex, and violence. As if that wasn’t exploitative enough, they tack on a message at the start of the film saying it was based on fact but characters and locations have been condensed for the purpose of the film, and that they dedicate the film in the hope such crimes never happen again.

That sort of message might work on a serious film, but on an exploitation film like this, it has the total opposite effect and makes it reek of even more exploitation in a desperate bid to gain some sort of respectability.

(Look familiar? She-Wolf’s other claim to fame, besides the all the sex and violence, is that it was filmed in secret on the set of Hogan’s Heroes)

Anyway, Ilsa goes around torturing and killing the female inmates in the day, while fucking and castrating the members of the male work detail at night, until she gets to Wolf , who calls himself a freak of nature who can last for hours. (On a side note I should sue the producers for ripping me off without my permission…ahem...)

That is the basic premise but let’s face it: we don’t watch these films for the story – we watch them for the sex, gore, and nudity. And this film has plenty of it:

Shit happens and an escape is organised, complete with slow motion gun fights and people falling to ground and dying, without actually being shot. Top quality film making, all round.

Anyway, the good guys escape, the Nazis get what’s coming to them, and Ilsa has her brains blown out.

However, even death could not keep such a character down, for Ilsa would be back in 1976’s Ilsa: Harem Keeper of the Oil Sheiks.

Ilsa now works for an Arab sheik who enjoys importing females to use as sex slaves. A movie star and an American millionaire's daughter, are among his latest victims. Along comes a delegation with a secret agent, determined to get to the bottom of things.

More nudity (especially from Ilsa’s African assistants, Satin and Velvet) abounds,

(Yeah. If they played their cards right, they could have me...)

along with more torture (tits in a vice, flesh eating ants, and an explosive dildo of sorts),

(“Ah! The old ‘tits in a vice’ trick”)

and of course, more general sleaze.

While not as nasty or sadistic as She-Wolf, Harem Keeper still has a load of erotic sleaze and exploitation – which is the only reason you would watch these films in the first place.

Ilsa would return again, this time under new director, Jesus Franco (director of that “masterpiece” of European exploitation cinema, Vampyros Lesbos) in Ilsa: The Wicked Warden (also released as Greta the Torturer, Greta the Mad Butcher, Greta the Sadist, Ilsa: Absolute Power, and Wanda, the Wicked Warden).

Ilsa (now a redhead) is the warden of a South American mental hospital for “the purpose of treating sexual deviation in women. Harmless abnormalities such as nymphomania, lesbianism, prostitution.” Yes, that is a direct quote from the movie.

A journalist goes undercover and checks in to the hospital to discover what has happened to her sister, even though no patient has ever actually left the hospital – which should be a pretty clear indicator of what happened.

All the Ilsa trademarks are here – tits,



and 70’s bush.

(everyone loves a good shower wrestling scene)

However, there is more than just that subplot. Ilsa and one of the guards are forcing the inmates to have sex with male prisoners bussed in, filming them and selling it as porno flicks, and there was something about the government fighting a group of rebels. Maybe I was too drunk at the time to get it (or not drunk enough) but somehow it all comes to end with a big break out coinciding with a rebel attack or something

I do remember the movie ending with the inmates eating Ilsa and this scene is intercut with stock footage of lions eating meat. Seriously!

So can I recommend these films? Not really. Unless you are a fan of cinematic sleaze and exploitation, there is no reason you would want to these. But for horror fans of said sleaze and exploitation, and gore, these films are worth a look.

And yes, there is a fourth Ilsa film (Tigress of Siberia) but from all reports, it turned more towards soft core porn and away from the nastiness of She-Wolf and Wicked Warden. Perhaps a review of that sometime in the future.

(cross posted at The Asylum)

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