Love Camp 7 (1969)

“It should be comforting for you to know that you’ll always have a friend, here, at Love Camp 7.”
— The Commandant, making the understatement of the decade

Sam the Bossman, who touched on this ’80s VHS ditty with his three part “Video Nasties” series nails it: there’s just some films that ask for it. And this Lee Frost and Bob Cresse Naziploitation affair — Frost directed and Cresse scripted with Wes Bishop — about two American female officers-agents (the large-breasted, natch, Maria Lease and Kathy Williams) going undercover in a Nazi prison camp — rightfully when straight to the front of the U.K.’s “Section 1” video nasties line.

So, how rough is this film?

Well, our Commandant (Bob Cresse) personally greets his prisoners in his office, while the women strip, are hoisted on to a table, and a female doctor slips on a glove for an “examination” — but don’t worry: it all stops just before it goes into full-on porn territory. To Frost and Creese’s credit: There is an actual story here, with plot and character development, the set design and costuming is solid, and, unlike its exploitation-offsprings, while it’s rough, Love Camp 7 isn’t rough for roughness sake. It truly is the best made — excluding Isla, She-Wolf of the SS — of the Nazisplotation films, even with its cinematographic weakness.

Yeah, I know Dr. Dalton, opinions vary down at the ol’ Cinema Road House, but the celluloid proceedings here are, still, more laughable than despairing, not all that horrifying, and utterly forgettable. Love Camp 7 was, however, a movie of its time — a time when the major studio mainstream films Valley of the Dolls (1967), Midnight Cowboy (1969), and Shampoo (1975) were slapped with X-ratings for their content about drug-pushing housewives, New York sex hustlers, and sexually-aggressive hairdressers.

So, yes, in the context against those films — which, watching these years later, are so not X-rated (to my eyes, anyway) — Love Camp 7 certainly deserves the 24th letter-branding, but when watched against the films from the ’70s “Golden Age of Porn” — films wholly deserving of their X-ratings — this Nazisplotation debut is tame in comparison. When you claim your movie is based in fact — and sadly, Jewish women were subjected to real life horrors in German interment camps and that is what makes the genre offense, on whole — you get, as Sam pointed out, what you asked for: a U.K. scarlet letter.

Spreading a woman in an eagle positions to play up your X-rating? Geeze-a-lou, Market Video.

As with all of the films released in its wake, the women — two WAC Lieutenants who dually work as spies, but also to attempt a rescue of a female inmate: a captured aero-engineer with information regarding a cutting edge jet engine — come to discover the female inmates (in perpetual full-frontal nudity) serve as sex slaves for German officers, subjugated to various experiments, bondage, torture, and rape.

Amid the cast, keep your eyes open for exploitation stalwart Bruce Kimball . . . wow, Bruce Kimball . . . he goes back to Run, Angel, Run! (1969), Al Adamson’s Brain of Blood (1971) and Dracula vs. Frankenstein (1971), and Moonshine County Express (1977). He eventually hit the mainstream with the box office hit Rollercoaster (1977), along with appearances on TV’s CHiPs and B.J and the Bear. (Uh, yeah, we’re pretty big Bruce Kimball fans around here.)

Not as “X” as we were lead to believe.

Love Camp 7 rightfully earned its cult classic status in the exploitation realms for inspiring two, very hot genres in the drive-in and grindhouse cinema ’70s: women-in-prison flicks and Nazisploitation films.

The former genre — which dates to the rock ‘n’ roll bad girl romps Reform School Girl (1957) and High School Hellcats (1958), flourished in the ’70s courtesy of Lee Frost’s own hit, Chain Gang Women (1971), and the Pam Grier-starring hits Women in Cages (1971) and The Big Bird Cage (1972), and then continued into the VHS ’80s with the Wendy O. Williams-starring Reform School Girls (1986) and the Grim Reaper song-fronted (“Lust for Freedom,” “Rock You to Hell“) Lust for Freedom (1987) — could be a B&S theme week in itself.

The latter genre began with this first, iconic film in the Nazisploitation cycle of films centered around WWII concentration camps populated by incarcerated women. The genre achieved its nadir — or zenith, depending one’s perspective — with Love Camp 7 actor David F. Friedman producing the superior Isla: She-Wolf of the SS (1974), which starred the divine Dyanne Thorne (Point of Terror) that led to a series of Thorne-starring sequels. That birthed the Mario Caiano-directed and Sirpa Lane-starring (The Beast in Space) not-a-sequel Nazi Love Camp 27 (1977) and the (recently reviewed; look for it) fellow U.K. nasty, Gestapo’s Last Orgy (1977). In fact, many films released in the backwash of Love Camp 7 each had titles or alternate titles deploying the verbiage of “Love” or “Camp.”

Director Lee Frost amassed 30-plus directing credits in his career; his most “commercial” achievement — again, depending one’s perspective regarding nadirs and zeniths — was his genre-pollination of the Blaxploitation and Nazisploitation genres with The Black Getaspo (1975) and more so with the Warren Oates hicksploitation romp Dixie Dynamite (1976). However, if you’re a loyal hound of the video fringe, you’ve picked up Frost’s (we’ll always watch William Smith) bikesplotation slopper Chrome and Hot Leather (1971), and the cheapjack Frankenstein-inspired rip The Thing with Two Heads (1972).

Writer Bob Cresse — best know for his ’60s “Mondo” films and exploitation pieces, such as Mondo Bizarro (1966), produced with Lee Frost and Freidman — faded from the “mainstream” business after Love Camp 7. As the “Golden Age of Porn” matured, they each moved into the lucrative adult film realms, but Frost returned to the mainstream, somewhat, with the Jack Starrett-directed and Peter Fonda-starring drive-in hit, Race with the Devil (1975).

Shot in muddy-to-grainy 35-mm — that looks like it’s 16-mm, which isn’t a good sign — and burdened by obvious stock shots, narrative-threading voice overs, dialog by actors not seen-on-screen (Who’s talking; Where are they?), wide shots with no coverage; no medium shots or close-ups or reverses, you’re left thinking your watching a Larry Buchanan (Mistress of the Apes, Down on Us) production. And those English-accented Germans — ugh — are straight out of a Hogan’s Heroes episode.

X? It’s really not that nasty; Eli Roth and his 2003–2009 “torture porn” minions and the New French Extremity scene made a lot worse.

Due to the trailer’s content, you can only view it upon an account sign-in at Grindhouse Theatre’s You Tube portal. You can free stream the full film of Love Camp 7 at the Full Moon Archive (Thank you, Mr. Band, the VHS ’80s wouldn’t have been the same without you!), but it is also readily available on various pay-streaming platforms. You can learn more about Love Camp 7 as part of the insightful genre documentary Fascism on a Thread: The Strange Story of Nazisploitation Cinema (2020).

Not a drive-in or VHS reissue, but a wholly new film from Jess Franco released 1977.

Les gardiennes du pénitencier: Another Jess Franco women-in-prison ditty from 1981.

About the Author: You can read the music and film reviews of R.D Francis on Medium and learn more about his work on Facebook.

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