Sunday, 21 August 2011

Video Nasty #29 - Love Camp 7

Directed by Lee Frost and produced by exploitation independent Bob Cresse, Love Camp 7 from 1969, has its origins in a previous Frost/Cresse collaboration Mondo Bizarro, a 1966 mockumentry which included a scene where some Germans get their kicks from a stage show depicting a Jewish woman being beaten and whipped by some Nazi officers. Such was Bob Cresse's fetish for Third Reich regalia and S&M that this short vignette was expanded into a feature length film about two female army agents infiltrating a Nazi "love camp" to gain information from the wife of a German scientist being held there...


In the history of Sexploitation Cinema, Love Camp 7 occupies a pivotal moment. Hardcore sex was still some years away, but Frost and Cresse's film was a definite move towards something with a harder, more darker edge. If the films of Doris Wishamn or the Findlays leave you wanting, Love Camp 7 should provide ample amounts of depravity. While not overtly explicit, Love Camp 7 is ground zero for the Nazi sexploitation film. The precise formula wouldn't be worked out until the arrival of Ilsa She Wolf of the SS in 1974, which in turn helped shape the Italian cycle of Nazi camp films, but all the staple elements of the subgenre are present in Love Camp 7 - a sadistic commandant, routine punishments and elaborate tortures, humiliating medical examinations (by a butch SS Fräulein), as well as a sympathetic guard appalled by the threatment of the prisoners ("Perhaps in another time, in another place things could be different between the two of us")

Producer and Nazi-at-the-weekend Bob Cresse
Bob Cresse was notoriously miserly when it came to budgeting his films and Love Camp 7 is no different. Bookended with some ill-fitting stock footage of London, the film is strictly poverty row stuff. The sets are so sparse and minimally lit that they have an almost Brechtian quality at times - perhaps Cresse funneled the bulk of the budget into his beloved uniforms which at least look authentic. Lee Frost, an accomplished director of no-budget exploitation films (The Thing With Two Heads and The Black Gestapo) does a decent job behind the camera, and delivers at least two stand out sequences - a surprisingly visceral scene where a prisoner is whipped by a guard - the bruising quite visible on the actress' naked flesh; and a sequence where one of the female agents is molested by a guard, to the accompaniment of an eerie flute refrain on the soundtrack, and intercut with the second agent making love to the kind guard. Of course none of this is remotely sexy with Frost's camera flailing around writhing chunks of flesh, the poor unfortunate actresses who look genuinely distressed, having to endure being groped and manhandled by the sweaty overweight, ruddy faced male cast. Bob Cresse cast himself as Love Camp 7's commandant although at times his portrayal is more akin to a dandified Roman emperor. Cresse also bags the film's best line with the rather tortuous - I cannot guarantee that will love Love Camp 7, but I can guarantee that you will love in Love Camp 7.

A quick cameo by Blood Feast producer David Freidman
Love Camp 7 has been issued on DVD in various territories - in Australia the film was released on the Siren Visual Entertainment label, in the UK there was an unofficial release courtesy of the dubious sounding DVD Classics. Both DVDs are now hard to find, but are no great shakes, sourced from a VHS copy of the film. In the US, Image had plans to release the film through Something Weird DVD but the release was cancelled, the film available only as a DVD-R directly from Something Weird. The picture quality is reportedly dire.

7 comments:

  1. When you say unofficial regarding the UK dvd release do you mean in terms of legitimacy? The reason I ask is I'm surprised the film would be passed by the bbfc even in these more lenient times.

    ReplyDelete
  2. And you would be right Mart. The UK DVD is completely unoffcial in terms of a BBFC rating - there isn't one, and with regard to the rights to distribute the film, which I would I say is dubious at best... Still, you can get a copy from Amazon UK Marketplace, so it's definitely out there...

    ReplyDelete
  3. Did you read that hilarious review on that martketplace link Wes? If not go and have a look.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Yeah, that's great... I like the way he mentions "wide-screen" like it's some new fangled process... I like the twin airbags thing as well - expect to see that appearing among these pages at some stage. Ultimately his review is no more ridiculous than mine... I actually referenced Berthol Brecht, surely a first and a last for Love Camp 7...

    ReplyDelete
  5. Great review, Wes. You mention The Black Gestapo - I remember that one in the stores back before the VRA, but not sure if I have seen it or not. Have you seen that one, Wes?

    ReplyDelete
  6. I've seen something from Cresse - and was not much impressed. Sounds like this wouldn't change my mind.

    ReplyDelete
  7. If one was to do a PhD on American Exploitation Cinema, this would be mandatory viewing I must say, as it's one of the more extreme films of this era - it certainly feels stronger than the Ilsa films that followed. As far as I know this has yet to be given a wide release on DVD - it's out there in various under the radar guises - a cheapie UK DVD, a mysterious Australian DVD, but I think the film has yet to be rolled out on R1...

    ReplyDelete