SS Experiment Camp (1976)

This is a film about Nazis. It’s also about a testicular transplant. It’s also known as SS Experiment Love Camp. It’s a film about prisoners of war used in experiments to perfect the Aryan race, while Colonel von Kleiben receives an oral testicle castration by a Russian girl. Its advertising campaign featured a naked woman handing upside down on a crucifix — which gave this film its infamy.

Courtesy of the cover, SS Experiment Camp easily found a slot on the U.K.’s “Section 1” list — but the British Board of Film Classification passed it with no cuts. The BBFC claimed that “. . . despite the questionable taste of basing an exploitation film in a concentration camp, the sexual activity itself was consensual and the level of potentially eroticized violence is sufficiently limited.”

Okay then, BBFC. But why didn’t you mention the film behind the VHS sleeve was boring.

Honestly, even being a Sergio Garrone fan — and aficionado of all things VHS taboo — the hoopla over this Nazisplotation film, while certainly worthy of its suffix, Garrone’s dip (one of two!) into the Nazi pool isn’t — as most “Video Nasties” — as shocking or offense as its reputation.

In addition to the boredom of it all, the production values, frankly, stink; as result, the entertainment value of the crowded jewel of the genre, Isla, She Wolf of the SS (1975), and the deeper, psychological study of — and superior scripting of — The Gestapo’s Last Orgy (1977) is utterly void from SS Experiment Camp.

It’s hard to believe Sergio Garrone made this, the writer-director who gave us spaghetti western buffs Django the Bastard (1969), Kill Django . . . First Kill (1971), and Bastard, Go and Kill (1971). Then, of course, there’s his superior work with Klaus Kinski in the pseudo-Frankenstein romp, The Hand That Feeds the Dead (1974), that we love amid the B&S About Movies’ cubicle farm.

The sleeve is more shocking that the film inside.

The “experiment camp” of this tale is just that: a medical facility experimenting in perfecting the Aryan race with German soldiers copulating with female prisoners. When one of the soldiers makes the mistake of falling in love with his prisoner-mate — he becomes Colonel von Kleiben’s testicle donor.

And that’s pretty much it, for this film is all about the genre hopping: It’s just a whole lot of lesbian wardens, sadistic guards, and softcore sex punctuated by (and not as graphic as you’d think) torture scenes (a water tank that both boils and freezes prisoners into submission), and lots of “superiority of the” Third Reich babbling. Oh, and lots of full frontal female nudity. Lots. But hey, when you’re an overweight and acne-covered kid berated for wearing a Misfits tee-shirt — and even the girl wearing a Clash tee-shirt turns you down — you get your naked girls where you can. That’s how it was in the video ’80s.

Oh, and the caveat here is that Garrone — to maximize his Lira (before the Euro) — shot this back-to-back with the even more abysmal SS Women’s Camp, aka SS Camp 5: Women’s Hell (1977) — which is not to be confused with the even more awful Women’s Camp 119 (1977) by Bruno Mattei. Both of Garrone’s Nazi romps are rife with sloppy camera work, worse acting, and dubbing that makes a Godfrey Ho flick seem in-sync. Don’t get us started on Mattei’s flick!

You can purchase a copy of SS Experiment Camp as part of the “SS Hell Pack Triple Feature” disc set, which also features SS Girls, aka Private House of the SS by Bruno Mattei (1977), and Garrone’s SS Camp Women’s Hell (another of that film’s alt-titles) from Exploitation Digital on Amazon.

You can learn more about the production and reception of SS Experiment Camp as part of the superior genre documentary Fascism on a Thread: The Strange Story of Nazisploitation Cinema (2020).

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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