Nazi-Porn Viewing Experience (Yawn)

We couldn’t resist taking a look at Nazi Porn flick “Women’s Camp 119,” if nothing else for the sheer fun of getting an especially raised eyebrow from our newsstand man. Well, the movie is bad. Not “good bad” or “scary bad” just plain bad, even the fact that “camp” is part of the title can’t save it.
Murky audio, skittish camera work, two-penny gore and liberal dose of almost quaint soft-porn characterize an effort which can best be described as for afficionados only.
“Women’s Camp 119” called “KZ-9 Lager di Sterminio” in Italian (dir. Bruno Mattei,1977), tells the story of a group of women interned in fictional Rosenhausen, where a nefarious doctor carries out perverse and ludicrous experiments– including the “rehabilitation” of two homosexuals by lip-licking, leering former prostitutes. The love story between the good doctor and his Jewish assistant is, predictably, doomed but final justice awaits an escaped prisoner who gets revenge on the evil doctor. In our staff screening, only half the group sat through the whole thing, and that with applied fast forwarding. Legend has it Mattei, prolific director of z-movies, was once asked what he considered his best film. Mattei is said to have responded, “None of them.”
We asked a second opinion from cult movie critic Robert Firsching. Firsching, whose encyclopedic “Amazing World of Cult Movies” site reviews 1,618 flicks, is especial fan of Italian horror movies of the 1970s. Here’s his take.

Second Opinion: Q&A with cult movie buff

zoomata> Where would you draw the line between genre and dangerous?

Firsching> I think the distinction has a great deal to do with the particular film’s tone. In the case of “KZ-9 Lager di Sterminio,” (ed. note: the Italian title) the film’s point of view is clearly one of condemnation. Although it was released as part of a flood of films exploiting Nazi atrocities, it clearly takes no pleasure in them. I think it is actually a far better education for young viewers than a film like “Schindler’s List,” which tiptoes around the horrors, or the various documentaries providing camp footage which is already so familiar as to have lost its impact. I would include another war atrocity film, the Chinese “Hei Tai Yang 731” (aka “Men Behind the Sun”) as an example of graphic violence being used to hammer home a historical point to jaded audiences.

zoomata> What role does the quality/age of these films have in your answer?

Firsching> I don’t think quality or age play as much of a role as “intent,” for lack of a better word. Consider a film like “Sleepers,” certainly a quality film, but one which teaches that it’s okay to lie in court, commit murder, and basically subvert the entire justice system because you were abused as a child. I found “Sleepers” far more offensive than even the most grotesque of the Italian Nazi films, because all of the ones I’ve seen at least have some moral compass.

zoomata> These films seem to be readily available on the Internet but most people wouldn’t know they even exist–is it a matter of how they’re distributed that makes a difference?

Firsching> “Well, “KZ-9″ is not a film for everyone. It’s brutal, graphic, and quite horrifying. But I don’t think it should be banned or would incite anyone to commit a crime, if that’s what you mean. If anything, a Jewish person seeing the film might be enraged enough to seek retaliation against a German, but I certainly can’t see why Jewish groups would object to the presentation.”

zoomata> Why did Italian directors make such a contribution to what you dubbed “Nazi-themed Sexploitation Films”?

Firsching> Italian exploitation has always been based on taking one successful film and making numerous copies and reworkings of it in a brief span of time, milking all the money out of the concept as long as it lasts. Italian directors had plenty of incentive after Liliana Cavani’s “Il Portiere di Notte” (1973) and Tinto Brass’s “Salon Kitty” (1975) both did well at the box-office. That led to 8 such films in 1976 and 3 more in 1977, as well as 3 French entries between 1976-78. After that, the well ran dry and the Italians turned their efforts to zombies, cannibals, Caligula and Mad Max.

Related links:
www.awcm.com