Review Date: July 22, 2000
Released by: Anchor Bay Entertainment
Release date: 7/11/2000
Region 0, NTSC
Widescreen 1.66:1 | 16x9: Yes
Ilsa is back! Which is a bit strange considering where she was left at the end of the first film. Here we take a look at the second installment in a series of Ilsa films, Ilsa: Harem Keeper of the Oil Sheiks, (Harem being defined as: A group of women sexual partners for one man) presented complete and uncut on DVD courtesy of Anchor Bay Entertainment.
Ilsa (Dyanne Thorne), as cruel and ruthless as ever, is now head of a white female slavery ring in a Middle Eastern palace. She trains the girls to service and obey their new master, the sheik El Sharif (Spalding Gray), leader of this Middle East country that is rich from the oil in its ground. With the help of her two black assistants, Satin (Tanya Boyd) and Velvet (Marilyn Joi), Ilsa is quite good at her job of training and disciplining El Sharif's harem, which primarily consists of teaching them how to use their tongue properly, which is the sheik's favorite. She also manages to keep the male workers away from the sheik's harem, with death as a penalty for anyone caught with a woman from the harem.
Two American diplomats, Kaiser (Wolfgang Roehm and Adam (Michael R. Thayer), are on their way to visit El Sharif. They're traveling there in hopes of getting some oil out of El Sharif, which the United States is in need of. They know El Sharif will not listen to reason when it comes to giving up some of his oil, so they devise a plan to blackmail the sheik. A girl who lost her family after El Sharif murdered them wishes to avenge her family, so the two diplomats plant her as a spy, acting as one of El Sharif's dancers. She has a tiny jewel that goes in her belly button, in which there is a microphone inside that records to a tape recorder hidden in her room. This is how they hope to get some information to use for blackmailing.
The two diplomats arrive, not knowing that somehow Ilsa and El Sharif have discovered their true intent. The plan is to kill Adam after Kaiser departs, but that changes when the heartless Ilsa starts to fall in love with Adam. When she's ordered to kill him by El Sharif himself she cannot go through with it. She warns Adam's of the sheik's plans and together they devise a plan to overthrow El Sharif and bring his younger nephew, the rightful heir to the throne, back into power. When the battle begins Adam sees Ilsa's true ways when she kills an innocent woman. He devises his own plan in which he hopes to bring an end to Ilsa's evil ways.
Ilsa: Harem Keeper of the Oil Sheiks wasn't nearly as enjoyable as the first Ilsa film, Ilsa: She Wolf of the SS. It's much campier, which some may enjoy for this type of film, but not myself. And what I liked most about the first film is its shock impact, which this film just didn't have. They also cut the violence and nudity down, probably in hopes of being able to release it in more areas around the world. There's still some torture scenes and a good amount of nudity, just not nearly as much, or as good as in She Wolf of the SS. And while there are no vibrators with electric coils on them in this film, they did manage to put in an exploding vibrator of sorts. I must admit, the fact that She Wolf of the SS was based on true events did make it a bit more disturbing for me (yes, there are some real events with women being kept in Middle East countries against their will, but I don't believe it's to the same extent that this films portrays it as). That aside, Harem Keeper of the Oil Sheiks just isn't up to par with the first film. Besides the reasons I've already given, it's just not as serious, which is due to the lack of violence and the campier nature of the film. And it's quite obvious that, like most sequels, it was trying to cash in on the success of the first film.
Anchor Bay presents Ilsa: Harem Keeper of the Oil Sheiks in an anamorphic 1.66:1 widescreen transfer. The image quality on this one is superb, with only a few minor problems. There is some apparent grain noticeable throughout the transfer, such as the opening scene with a person riding horseback in the desert. Nothing too heavy though and the vast majority of the film is grain free. Only a few pixels showed up during the presentation. Overall the transfer is extremely sharp and detailed, with only a few scenes having a soft appearance. No pixelation problems were seen, nor were any print blemishes observed. Colors are solid, with strong reds in scenes with blood, (or red paint) and even the lipstick on actors lips, really standing out. Flesh tones were dead on in this film. A slightly superior transfer to Ilsa: She Wolf of the SS, scoring an A- over She Wolf of the SS's B rating for Image Quality.
Ilsa: Harem Keeper of the Oil Sheiks is presented in Dolby Digital mono sound. As with She Wolf of the SS, sound was fine with no distortion and clear dialogue throughout the film. Excellent mono track here.
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 co-star Howard Maurer. It's moderated by humorist Martin Lewis. Another great commentary track with lots of information about the movie itself (props, story, etc), cast and crew, and more. They even talked about doing another Ilsa film (though they were joking...I think). Some of the same things were discussed that were on the She Wolf of the SS commentary, but it doesn't happen much and it definitely doesn't hurt the commentary in any way (I suppose not everyone is going to buy all 3 films). "Humorist" Martin Lewis did a good 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 some corny jokes, even more so than in She Wolf of the SS, but I still found it bearable and I think the commentary benefits from having a moderator.
Also included is a theatrical trailer and talent bios. As I mentioned this isn't heavy on extras but the commentary track is good, upping the value of this DVD and scoring the supplements a B+.
Great audio and video on this DVD. Only extra is the commentary track (bios and trailer are standard), but it's a great listen which most people should enjoy listening to. The movie itself is a bit weak, and is definitely not as good as the first Ilsa film, Ilsa: She Wolf of the SS. At the same time, this is the type of movie you could watch with a girlfriend or family member, whereas there's no way you could do that with the first one. It's still strong on nudity (mostly breasts), but there aren't nearly as many horrific scenes as She Wolf of the SS had. If you want to checkout the Ilsa films I'd definitely recommend starting off with She Wolf of the SS, just be sure to read my review for it and head my warnings. Otherwise, starting off with Ilsa: Harem Keeper of the Oil Sheiks may turn you off to the entire series altogether.
Movie - C
Image Quality - A-
Sound - A-
Supplements - B+
- Running Time - 1 hour 33 minutes
- 1 Disc
- Chapter stops
- English Dolby Digital Mono
- French Dolby Digital Mono
- Commentary with Star Dyanne Thorne, Director Don Edmonds and Co-Star Howard Maurer. Moderated by Humorist Martin Lewis.
- Theatrical Trailer
- Talent Bios