So last week I was at an electronics chain (which shall not be named, but you know how there are some places where you can get a pretty good buy, and then there are places where you can get a better buy? This place was better than those places, if you know what I mean: Best Buy) and I made what most people would call an "impulse purchase." It was a boxed set of 20 "grindhouse" films, allegedly from the 60s and 70s. So I guess it is what everyone would call an impulse purchase.
Anyway, I have decided that I will watch and review ALL of these movies for this blog, because it will give me something to write about, and more importantly, it will force me to actually watch all of them, and get the most out of my impulsiveness. Then again, I might not finish them-- something else might catch my attention.
GRINDHOUSE #1: WOMEN'S CAMP 119 (1977)
So as a way of introduction, let's look at a few of the IMDb keywords for this movie: experiment, homosexual, death, nazi exploitation, frozen corpse, female frontal nudity, rape, depravity, 1940s, pubic hair, uterus, nipples. That should give you an idea!
Women's Camp 119, also known as Kz9 - Lager di Stermino, also known as SS Campo De Sexo y Violencia (natch), was directed by a man named Bruno Mattei. An IMDb user review calls the film his best, boasting that it contains no stock footage, which is a lie.
I know this because toward the end the allies are shelling the death camp and we keep seeing the same shot of a tank firing a missile AT NOTHING and seeing it explode, on the GROUND, after which we see the interior shot of the camp with the actors going WHOA! and some lights flashing. As in, Mattei was off camera, flicking the light switch on and off.
So yeah, it is very cheaply made, which I guess is the idea. The concept is that bunch of women (lesbians and communists, we are told) are taken to a Nazi camp where a doctor played by Ivano Staccioli is carrying out dastardly experiments to perfect the Aryan race. I know this because he keeps saying things like "we need to continue doing these experiments aimed at perfecting the Aryan race, because then the Aryan race will be perfected because of our experiments!"
Speaking of the talking, apparently the film was originally in Italian. My version is dubbed in English and also subtitled in what is probably German, but could also be some kind of Nordic language. At the beginning it actually has 2 sets of subtitles overlapping on the screen! It's very disorienting!
The transfer is bad, which again, is probably the idea. They didn't rush a print of this thing to the Library of Congress when it first screened, if you know what I mean-- it literally looks the the DVD is taken from a VHS tape. At one point you get that rotating image thing VCRs used to do, and you had to either slap the side or hit the tracking button, remember? You remember.
And this movie is "Nazi exploitation," which is a genre, I guess. At the end of the film there are a couple of slides that talk about some Nazis who managed to duck tribunals and are now leaving peacefully on their farms or something-- and this is right after a woman-- a woman we were maybe supposed to recognize maybe-- (All the naked women look the same, but maybe I just wasn't taking the time to analyze their faces)-- this woman suicide-bombs and kills the main Nazi villain. So I think this movie is like a fatwa against some Nazis who were still alive in 1977.
So there's a philosophical question posed here. If a movie is meant to make you hate Nazis, and the movie is very badly made, so you end up hating the movie, is that like, a point for Nazis? I suppose there was a noble effort going on here-- getting people to be against Nazis is noble, if sort of easy. But using hordes of naked women to achieve your objective? We've gone down the ladder of intolerance pretty far, but we're still on the ladder, you know? Exploiting women to attack Nazis?
Obviously this movie was bad, but it's hard to rate, because you can't compare like, No Country For Old Men Apples to Naked Women and Nazis Oranges. Since this was the first film of the series I will give it a FIVE out of TEN, and the others will be judged against it. Onward! 19 more to go.