Monday, March 14, 2011

Women's Camp 119 (1977)

Director: Bruno Mattei

Starring: Ivano Staccioli, Ria De Simone, Nello Rivie, Gabriele Carrara, Giovanni Attanasio, Sonia Viviani

More info: IMDb

Plot: A prisoner is forced to serve as a Nazi doctor's assistant, giving her a front row seat for the horrible goings-on at the infamous concentration camp Rosenhausen.

My rating: 3.5/10

Will I watch it again? Noop.

I'm confused. Bruno Mattei made this and SS GIRLS in the same year. SS GIRLS was actually pretty fun in large part to the outrageous performance by the lead, Gabriele Carrara. That flick felt like it had a story to tell and enough ideas and crazy scenes to make it watchable. WC119 is just one big "what the hell are you trying to accomplish?".

It's probably the most accurate of all of its Nazisploitation predecessors in that nearly all (if not all) of the experiments the evil Nazi doctor conducts are based in fact. Having read quite a bit on the subject as a student, it's horrifying the shit they did back then and Mattei's got it right there on the screen. So, on one hand, he's going down the checklist of nasty Nazi doctors' goings on with the prisoners in the camps. On the other hand, he's showing us a lot of nudity which is not titillating but there's so much of it that he's got to be going for the exploitation angle.

These prisoners have their numbers tattooed on their chest.
That's using the ole exploitation noggin!

One particular scene that gets a lot of notoriety is based on actual events. This experiment involved finding the quickest and most effective method of warming a body that is dangerously close to death from being submerged in very cold water like what happens when German pilots eject from their planes over the icy waters of the English Channel and beyond. They discovered that the warmth of a naked female on a male proved very effective. There's more to it than that but this is the basis for this scene. In WC119 they take a Polish priest, put him in cold storage (much like you'd find a corpse on a slab in a morgue) and have two female prisoners work their "magic" to bring him back to life. It's not enough to show it but we have to see that the observing Nazis are getting quite warmed up themselves. Is Mattei trying to tell us something about us, the viewer? Hmmmm. Alessandro Alessandroni's sombre, tragic theme (that's enough on the other side from being a love theme) adds a nice touch of sadness and wonder to it all.

There's a sub plot about the doctor's Jewish assistants taking some other prisoners and escaping only to find themselves dead or caught and then executed. Hell, EVERY lead and secondary lead dies. That was unexpected and they all die in a most shocking and amusing way within minutes of the end.

The drei lookers of Camp Rosenhausen!

For as much as I loved Carrara in SS GIRLS (1977), his role is much too small here but he's still over the top and silly fun but in that serious, he's an evil Nazi sort of way.

Though this film is certainly fiction based on fact, the film's coda showcases a few of the real life evil bastards that are loosely portrayed like Josef Mengele and what they did and what their outcome was.

Mattei had to have been trying to make a serious film but there's far too much sensationalism and exploitative content to make that happen. I'm sure if he had a considerably larger budget to break away from the constraints of being forced to crank out a cheap, nudity-laden piece of throw-away entertainment, he might have succeeded but the exploitation trappings keep it from being anything but a curiosity and a dull, minor entry into the Nazisploitation genre.

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