Thursday, 4 August 2011

Video Nasty #23 - Gestapo's Last Orgy

Gestapo's Last Orgy from 1977 holds the dubious honour of being the best of the Italian Nazi Exploitation films, far superior to fellow DPP detainees, the trashy Beast In Heat and the incredibly dull SS Experiment Camp. Having said that, any pretense that director Cesare Canevari's film is a serious Holocaust drama is quickly dispelled by the sheer amount of sleaze and decadence on show. Arriving towards the end of the short lived cycle of Nazi exploiters, audiences were demanding ever increasing amounts of depravity and they were not to be disappointed.


The story concerns a love affair between Starker, the commandant of a House of Dolls style concentration camp for Jewish women, and Lise a beautiful inmate Starker is drawn to, by her determination to die. Starker refuses to give in to her request and sets about brutalizing Lise with various forms of torture and sexual humiliation, but slowly his will breaks down and he falls in love with his captive. Some years following the war Starker rendezvous with Lise in the dilapidated ruins of the former camp to rekindle their love affair but Lise has some other ideas...


At times Gestapo's Last Orgy suffers something of an identity crisis - it's never quite sure if it wants to be a serious meditation on the nature of power and control, or a tow-the-line sexploitation shocker. Mostly it's the latter and beyond the accomplished photography, evocative score and decent performances, the film serves up enough sexual sadism to give even the most jaded sleaze fan pause for thought. At one point Lise is made fellate the barrel of Starker's pistol, while in another scene, a menstruating girl is savaged by a pack of alsatian dogs wild with the smell of blood. Canevari doesn't skimp on the violence either - inmates are seen lowered into baths of caustic quicklime, and in one of the film's most tasteless moments, some elderly and pregnant women are seen writhing in the flames of a crematorium.


Gestapo's Last Orgy has a certain sophistication uncharacteristic of the films of the Nazi cycle, with Canevari riffing on two obvious films - The Night Porter (the director borrowing the framing device and the flashback structure from Liliana Cavani's film); and Saló, for its scenes of excess and perversion (like a scene where the camp officers are dining on the roasted flesh of an Jewish infant). Unlike Pasolini's film, Canevari has little to say about politics and history and the film is resigned to some well worn clichés of the genre, like a female gestapo dominatrix, and the kindly camp doctor who restores Lise's will to live, both indulging in a truly cringe worthy love scene (to the strains of the mawkish but strangely infectious theme song).


Exploitation Digital's DVD of Gestapo's Last Orgy (avaiable as part of a triple set including The Beast in Heat and Red Nights of the Gestapo) is a mixed affair. The transfer is decent enough, but falls short of the stellar Beast In Heast image. Framed at 1.85, the picture is for the most part sharp and in fine condition however the last five minutes of the film has been culled from a very degraded VHS source. Still, the film is fully uncut. Audio is offered in English and Italian. The English track is good although there are some instances when it gets rather hissy, usually in the absence of dialogue or effects. The Italian track is much cleaner but inexplicably no English subs have been supplied. Extras consist of a gallery of promo materials and the film's Italian trailer under the L' Ultima Orgia del III Reich, and trailers for four other Exploitation Digital titles.

7 comments:

  1. Always wanted to see this one, thanks for the reminder!

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  2. Thanks for the comment Jesper, I was thinking no one would have any interest in this movie and the comments would be few and far between !

    Not sure if I would recommend anyone rush out and pick this up, but it's worth seeing anyway if it comes your way... I think my favourite Italian Nazi Exploiter is Red Nights of the Gestapo, but I'm not really an expert !

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  3. This does sound pretty nasty Wes, I guess the fact it seems to have pretensions of being taken seriously in and around all the exploitation makes it that little bit more unpalatable for detractors of the genre. I've only ever seen SS Experiment camp and that was so terrible it put me off any of the other examples! Keep going Wes you're doing an excellent job but I am beginning to worry for your sanipeasant please tell me you don't have a dog!

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  4. Yeah... thanks Mart for the comment, I know you have no interest in this kind of film and who could blame you. SS Experiment Camp is pretty terrible - Jeez, I'll have to dig that out soon enough. Well we're just past halfway thru the Nasties and I remain relatively healthy and sound of mind, and no dogs have been brainwashed as one Tory politician warned. Next up is House by the Cemetery and I'll try to get that rolling quick, and get that damn swastika off the top of my page !

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  5. I'm not sure what happened with the iphone typing at the end of my last comment, sorry!

    I don't envy you the thought of SS coming up. Good point about the swastika on the front page of your blog.

    I'm really looking forward to House...

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  6. I have not seen any of the Nazisploitation movies - they may or may not have been available at some of the video stores I frequented back in the day - but I think I was a little scared to subject myself to them back then. I will have to see some at some point just to kind of mark it off the list. So this might be in my future. Wish me luck.

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  7. The Naziploitation genre is no great shakes Craig, but if you like lots of beautiful Italian starlets bearing all for Cinema, these films are recommended for that alone. Personally, Gestapo's Last Orgy and Red Nights of the Gestapo are the high watermarks of the genre... Gestapo's Last Orgy was one of the more banned titles of the Video Nasties era but I found a copy sitting comformtably on the shelf of my local videoshop in the early nineties. I think more than anything else, the VHS sleeve - pictured above, would be a definitel no-no in this day and age, such is the offensive power of the swastika...

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