Cinema Junk Bin #1: Naziploitation

Since the creation of celluloid and the production of films, there have been some truly remarkable moments in cinema. From the first moving images of a train that terrified audiences to the first “talkie” The Jazz Singer (even if it was a tad racist with its use of blackface) to the technical advancements brought forth by the Star Wars series, cinema has always wowed audiences and given us moments to cherish.

Unfortunately, there have been several missteps and fads that are best to be forgotten. These can range from the utterly repugnant to films so atrocious that they’ve gained a cult following over the years. These are films that no one sane should see. These are films that belong in the cinema junk bin (you know, to carry on the theme of this blog’s name).

NAZIPLOITATION

(There is a good reason as to why you’ve probably never heard of this genre)

POLITE NOTE:  If you couldn’t guess from the provocative poster above, this post contains videos of posters/trailers for films that are both pretty distasteful and sexual. As an adult, you will clearly choose to watch them to kind of witness the genuinely horrors produced by this genre, but at least now I’ve made it clear what you’re getting yourself into.

It seems that in the seventies the mantra for wannabe film-makers was “If people are remotely intrigued by something, we’ll make films about it until the audiences are physically sick”. You see this in the fact that following the success of Melvin Van Peebles “Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song “, Hollywood began to make more films aimed specifically towards a black demographic. This ranged from the good (Shaft, Superfly, Foxy Brown) to the bad (Dolemite) to the utterly ridiculous (Disco Godfather, The Black Gestapo). Following the untimely death of Bruce Lee, Hong Kong film-makers began to cash in on his fame by releasing a slew of films with Bruce Lee lookalikes that were so awful that you would be hard pressed to find copies of them.

Whilst the genres of Blaxploitation and Bruceploitation were relatively low brow and of poor taste, they weren’t grossly offensive for the most part. Step forward the bizarre, mostly pornographic genre known as Nazi Exploitation (or simply, Naziploitation).

If the name of the genre doesn’t leave a bad taste in your mouth, allow me to provide you with an explanation as to what the narrative structure of nearly every Naziploitation film is.  The films usually centre around a concentration camp during the second world war where SS soldiers with shoddy German accents (often under the guidance of a cruel and busty Aryan woman) subject Jewish inmates and POWs to bizarre experiments, sexual abuse and general torture. After maybe 80 minutes of this, there’s some kind of riot that usually breaks out and the Nazis are killed.

I came across this genre on my “Grindhouse Trailers” DVD with the film Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS. It’s a laughable trailer with an over-the-top narrator and images so outrageous that they’re almost comedic. I say almost comedic as there’s one inherent problem here; these are soft porn films about the most horrifying atrocity of the 20th century. The more I  think that people finding some kind of enjoyment or sexual thrill from these films, the more depressed it makes me feel.

Much like the “Women in prison camp” films that predominantly cropped up in the 60s/70s, the misogyny in the films is pretty apparent. The films feature young women being sexually abused against their will by German soldiers to titillate audiences. You even get romance narrative threads between inmates and soldiers which serve as maybe the most uncomfortable (and inappropriate) forbidden love stories you can imagine.  This is fairly evident in the below trailer for the eloquently titled “SS Experiment Love Camp” trailer.

There are certain moments in time where the film industry hangs it head in shame; Naziploitation is one of those many times. The genre has no redeeming features and lacks any compassion (in my opinion) for the horrors that occurred. Instead, what you get is over-sexualised Nazi soldiers doing what they want to prisoners of war for the sexual thrills of its makers and audience. Unfortunately, there are way more skeletons in cinema’s closet to uncover…

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