Review Date: July 20, 2000
Released by: Anchor Bay Entertainment
Release date: 7/11/2000
Region 0, NTSC
Widescreen 1.66:1 | 16x9: Yes
From the opening message of the film:
"The film you are about to see is based upon documented fact. The atrocities shown were conducted as 'medical experiments' in special concentration camps throughout Hitler's Third Reich. Although these crimes against humanity are historically accurate, the characters depicted are composites of notorious Nazi personalities; and the events portrayed, have been condensed into one localty for dramatic purposes. Because of its shocking subject matter, this film is restricted to adult audiences only. We dedicate this film with the hope that these heinous crimes will never occur again".
HERMAN TRAEGER, Producer
Here we take a look at the first in a series of Ilsa films, Ilsa: She Wolf of the SS, presented complete and uncut on DVD courtesy of Anchor Bay Entertainment.
Ilsa (Dyanne Thorne) is the warden of a Nazi concentration camp. Here at this camp they perform medial experiments on the female prisoners, filling them with all sorts of virus' and then injecting them with experimental drugs which never end up curing them and only end up causing a long, painful death for the victims. What's worse is that Ilsa enjoys these experiments and she often takes some of the female prisoners to torture them sexually, finding out how much pain they can withstand. Ilsa's goal is to prove that women can withstand more pain than men and should therefore be allowed to fight in combat.
While the prison's medical experiments are conducted only on women there are men there as well. They are workers at the prison and are forbidden to talk to the female prisoners, with death as the punishment for any male and female prisoners caught talking. The men also serve another purpose, however. Ilsa has a strong appetite for sex and she uses the men to satisfy her sexual cravings. Once she's done with them she castrates them, leaving them half the man they once were...IF they survive the castration.
Things change for Ilsa when an American prisoner named Wolfe (Gregory Knoph) arrives. Ilsa takes a liking to him and brings him into her bed. But it turns out Wolfe has a special gift - he has the ability to control his orgasms and to not have one during sexual intercourse if he chooses. He does this when in Ilsa's bed, making love to her all night without climaxing. She spares him the castration, knowing she has quite a gem on her hands. Wolfe uses this to his advantage; he meets with the male and female prisoners to plan an uprising, which they hope will lead to freedom. But for some of the prisoners it's too late, they are too far into death to enjoy freedom outside of the camp. When the uprising begins they only have one thought on their minds - revenge - revenge for the horrendous acts performed on them. Will this be the end of Ilsa? Or will their obsession with revenge cause the uprising to fail?
I had absolutely no idea what to expect when going into this film. After reading the back cover and viewing the opening warning message from producer Herman Traeger (real name David F. Friedman), I decided this was not a movie I should watch with my wife. Well, lets say I'm glad I made that decision. The film is extremely graphic - girls getting vibrators with electric coils inserted into their vaginas, electrodes being hooked onto their clitoris and nipples, floggings, castrations and more. And keep in mind some of these scenes are shown in graphic detail, but it doesn't go as far to show full penetration. Acting was decent, except for when anyone had to die or act as if they had been shot - that was just plain BAD. The crew did a good job making the sets and wardrobes look convincing, especially when you take into account they had no money to work with. What I didn't care for was that the blood often looked like red paint, but that's the way it is with low budget movies it seems (another film that comes to mind that has the same 'red paint blood' is Deadbeat at Dawn).
I don't enjoy movies about torture, but Ilsa: She Wolf of the SS was moderately enjoyable for me. The graphic scenes weren't too difficult to sit through, especially after some of the cannibal movies I've seen lately. The story itself was good and, sadly enough, it truly is based on actual events that occurred during the Holocaust. Any movie that reminds us of the suffering people had to go through is a good movie. Hopefully it helps to prevent things like this from happening again. Just keep in mind that you've been warned - this is a graphic movie many may have trouble sitting through.
Anchor Bay presents Ilsa: She Wolf of the SS in an anamorphic 1.66:1 widescreen transfer. Overall the image quality is good, but there are a few minor problems. First, there were a few specks that appeared during the playback; that's a minor complaint as they're few and far between. The bigger problem was what appears to be some print blemishes. At a few points throughout the film there are some white lines that appear on the screen that fade out after a few seconds. It's quite obvious that they are not part of the film and they appear at numerous points throughout the film. The first appearance of these white lines is during the opening scene when Ilsa is making love to a prisoner. Another is when Ilsa is viewing the new female prisoners that are brought in naked - there are a few times when a white line appears on the left hand side of the screen. But they're extremely faint, so it's unlikely you'll see those particular ones unless you have some really good eyes or are sitting close to your TV. So you can have an idea of what I'm talking about I'll give you a specific example of these white lines. One place where it's a most noticeable is at 56:49, where the male prisoners are talking in their room - in the middle of the screen you'll see two white lines that last about 10-20 seconds. There's also some minor scratches in the print that appear throughout the film. Again, these problems are hardly noticeable but still something I observed throughout the film and it does end up hurting the image quality rating a bit, but not very much.
Two other problems were grain and compression artifacts. There are some scenes with slight grain but not very many and it's hardly noticeable. Same with compression artifacts - there are some scenes with some minor compression artifacts, but they're also few and far between. I wouldn't be surprised if most people didn't notice any of the problems that I pointed out unless they have a large TV or sit close to the screen.
The image itself is extremely sharp. Colors are solid, with the numerous blood scenes (or red paint, whichever you choose) really standing out. Flesh tones (which you're going to see lots of) appears accurate and well balanced.
Ilsa: She Wolf of the SS is presented in Dolby Digital mono sound. Sound was perfect. No distortion was present and dialogue was clear throughout the film. Of course you're not going to get anything spectacular with a mono track but I feel this is as good as it's going to get for mono sound.
Anchor Bay didn't go heavy on the extras but they did include a commentary track, which, if I had to choose, would be my most desired extra on any DVD. The commentary track is with star Dyanne Thorne, director Don Edmonds and producer David F. Friedman. It's moderated by humorist Martin Lewis. This was a great commentary track with lots of information about the movie itself, cast and crew previous and future works, and much much more. Some cool facts about the movie that are discussed during the commentary are:
- Film was shot on the set of Hogan's Heroes
- Budget for the film was $150,000 (which they claim there was no way they got it all)
- Dyanne Thorne, to this day, receives over 200 letters a month regarding her Ilsa character (probably going to get a lot more now that these DVDs are out)
- Many members of the cast and crew used pen names (including producer David F. Friedman [this is his real name - note that he uses the false name of Herman Traeger in the opening text])
There's lots more information of course, but you get the idea. "Humorist" Martin Lewis did a great job keeping the commentary moving, asking lots of good questions about the movie and the individuals themselves to keep the conversation going. He did throw in a few corny jokes but not very often so it's totally bearable. Everyone in the commentary was laid back and comfortable. It's easy to tell they're are still friends to this day.
Also included is a theatrical trailer and talent bios. As I mentioned this isn't heavy on extras but the commentary track is quite good, which definitely ups the value of this DVD and scores the supplements a B+.
There's some minor problems with the video but nothing major. Definitely a good job by Anchor Bay, but they have done better work. Still, this is no doubt the best the film has ever looked and if you add in the great commentary track that is present you're getting a superb deal with this DVD. The film itself definitely isn't going to suit everyone's tastes, but if you're into exploitation films you're definitely going to like this one. If you're never seen an exploitation film give Ilsa: She Wolf of the SS a rental, just don't watch it with friends and family unless they're prepared to see some gruesome scenes.
Movie - B
Image Quality - B
Sound - A-
Supplements - B+
- Running Time - 1 hour 36 minutes
- 1 Disc
- Chapter stops
- English Dolby Digital Mono
- Commentary with Star Dyanne Thorne, Director Don Edmonds and Producer David F. Friedman. Moderated by Humorist Martin Lewis.
- Theatrical Trailer
- Talent Bios