The Gestapo’s Last Orgy (1977)

Can you get anymore “grindhouse” in the alternative titles department as Caligula Reincarnated as Hitler?

Nope.

Was this re-released in the U.K. after it’s initial “Section 1” banning?

Nope.

Italian writer and director Cesare Canevari gave us a mere nine films across 20 years, beginning in 1969. It was his final three films that received the widest distribution outside of his homeland and Europe: a piece of erotic-drama, The Nude Princess (1976), the psuedo-giallo-cum porn Killing of the Flesh (1983), and this Nazisploitation entry.

A Jewish WWII survivor revisits the ruins of a hellish concentration camp, and the memories are still vivid. How did she escape the humiliation, the tortures, and the destruction of human flesh? How did she flee from the Gestapo’s last orgy? are the questions asked in this film’s promotional materials.

That survivor, Lise Cohen, was an inmate at a special prisoner-of-war camp for female Jews, a camp run as a bordello to entertain the German officers and troops going in to battle. Commandant Conrad von Starker (Adriano Micantoni, credited here as “Marc Loud,” also of the notable 1962 Italian space slop Planets Around Us and the 1963 Goth-horror Tomb of Torture), as do all Commandants, runs the camp with iron fist — through the assistance of Alma (one of Maristella Greco’s six films; the other notable renter is the similar, 1980 Italian-Spanish women-in-prison flick Hotel Paradise). Starker’s game is instilling fear in his charges — but Lise proves to be tougher than any before her, so Straker devises even crueler experiments to make Lise yield to his desires, while Alma’s jealousy serves to increase Lise’s pain. Lise instead turns the tables and plays along with Straker’s twisted, insane atrocities, which results in her earning privileges others prisoners do not, to the chagrin of Alma, once Straker’s favorite.

While Gestapo’s Last Orgy well earns its “X” rating, it’s also a very well-made film (of the squeamish-intellectually quality of Pier Paolo Pasolini’s Salo, or the 120 Days of Sodom) and the flashback framing device of the now reformed and society-integrated Straker and Lise reuniting at the camp (the same seaside fortress seen in the 1970 Giallo In the Folds of the Flesh) to unfold the past as they explore the ruins, gives it a quality (and reminds of Billy Wilder’s Sunset Boulevard) — and deeper meaning — that rises it above most films in the genre. Yeah, and Spain’s Eloy de la Iglesia claimed a “deeper meaning” into the terror rout by President Richard M. Nixon’s buddy, Spanish dictator Francisco Franco, in the frames of The Cannibal Man (1972; itself a “U.K. Video Nasty”) . . . so your opinions on Cesare Canevari’s social commentary and subtext via his Nazisploitation narrative delivery device, may vary.

Due to the content, the trailer is only available upon account sign in to Severin Films’ You Tube page. You can purchase copies at Severin Films. You can learn more about The Gestapo’s Last Orgy as part of the 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.

Fight for Your Life (1977)

The racist language used by William Sanderson — yes the guy from TV’s Newhart — as he attacks a black family is probably why this movie ended up as a section 1 video nasty. I first discovered this movie thanks to Cinema Sewer, which is where I learned of many a disreputable film.

Sanderson plays Kane, a hate-fuelled racist who somehow has found it in his heart to break out with an Asian man and a Mexican fellow, so there’s that. They break into the home of kindly Ted Turner (Robert Judd, who was Scratch in the non-Britney Crossroads) and proceed to use every racist term in the book when they aren’t beating down the black family.

Director Robert A. Edelson refused to do a commentary track when this was re-released by Blue Underground but he was kind enough (I guess) to an interview in Steven Thrower’s Nightmare USA in which he re-watched the film with his maid Dorothy. So…yeah. He only made one other movie, The Filthiest Show in Town.

Much like how the old Mom and Dad theatrical showings used to divide up audiences, the marketing of this film had black and white versions, including the title Staying Alive that was just for black audiences and unique trailers for each race. There’s also a trailer that’s just a still photo with no sound at all for thirty seconds, then the title and rating. Wild.

Many of the video nasties seem quaint today, as you ask yourself, “Why did they ban this?” This is the kind of virulent piece of hate that wouldn’t even get near a screen these days. Sure, it ends up with the catharsis of seeing the criminals pay for all of the verbal and physical terror that they unleash, but man…getting there is none of the fun.

The Beast In Heat (1977)

I have no idea who this section 1 video nasty was made for. It presents a world in which all of Europe feels stretched across ten city blocks, where German soldiers have Southern redneck accents and Dr. Ellen Kratsch (Macha Magall, Private House of the SSThe Daughter of Emanuelle) believes that her creation — the titular beast (Salvatore Baccaro, who used the amazing stage name of Boris Lugosi in Frankenstein’s Castle of Freaks; his IMDB acting roles are often things like “Neanderthal Man” and “Neanderthal Prisoner” and “Lupo cattivo” which means “Bad Wolf”) — can help her move upward in the German army hierarchy by assaulting female prisoners one at a time and being dosed on large quantities of Germanic Spanish Fly.

I’m not saying it’s a good plan. It’s a plan. It’s just…I have no idea how it’s scaled for success.

Also known as SS Hell Camp, SS Experiment Part 2 and Horrifying Experiments of SS Last Days, this is a movie that knows that it doesn’t have much to offer the world in terms of art, so it piles on the mayhem, like people’s fingernails being ripped clean off and a monster that seems to subsist on a diet of pubic hair.

Director Luigi Batzella started his career directing The Devil’s Wedding Night alongside one of our site’s patron saints, Joe D’Amato. He also made Nude for SatanKaput Lager – Gli ultimi giorni delle SS (Achtung! The Desert Tigers) and Strategia per una missione di morte. He directed this movie under the name Ivan Kathansky, which suggests the menace of Russia telling us of the doings of the last war, I guess.

Using war scenes cut from Batzella’s 1970 film Quando suona la campana (When the Bell Tolls), the lone American on hand is Brad Harris as the priest who everyone wants to either make love to or kill, but he’s too busy trying to ask God what to do. I mean, your enemies do stuff like throw babies in the air and machine-gun them as well as place rats on a woman’s stomach and then have a metal chamber heated so the rats eat through their victim. But by all means, ask God what the right thing is to do.

Unlike most of the video nasties that concentrate on sadistic sex, this one didn’t upset me because it’s just so patently ridiculous, so clumsily made and, well, so driven to entertain you by any means possible and necessary.

You can get this from Severin and it comes complete with the great documentary Fascism On A Thread – The Strange Story of Nazisploitation Cinema and an interview about this genre with Stephen Thrower, who is always beyond insightful.

Tutti defunti… tranne i morti (1977)

After The House with the Laughing Windows, Pupi Avati decided to make fun of the giallo while also sending out gothic horror and Agatha Christie while bringing back most of the cast from that past giallo masterwork.

The results are…mixed to say the least.

An author named Dante is trying to sell a book all about the noble families of Emilia-Romagna to the descendants of the very rich and elite he’s written about. Yet when he arrives at their castle, he learns that one of their number has already died. Seeing as how his book has a dreadful prediction that there will be nine deaths and only one of the family will survive. That survivor will gain the key to a treasure, which seems to be the reason why the killing has started.

The writers — Avati along with his brother Antonio and Gianni Cavina — and the actors were trying to outdo one another with outrageousness, but a lot of the slapstick falls flat. Maybe it was a much more fun movie to make than it is to watch.

Alternatively known as Nine Deaths a Week and All Deceased Except the Dead, this movie feels like if it had been a bit more serious, it would have been a lot better. Too bad Avati was mad about being compared to Polanski, so he decided to make his own The Fearless Vampire Killers.

Nove ospiti per un delitto (1977)

I get it — 1977 is late for the category and Ferdinando Baldi is better known for making weird westerns — like Get Mean and Blindman with Tony Anthony, not to mention two 3D movies with the very same actor, Comin’ At Ya! and Treasure of the Four Crowns — than giallo. But hey. when you’re trying to watch every one of them made, you watch them all.

Known in Italy as A Scream in the Night, in Spain as Death Comes From the Past and Nine Guests for a Crime in other markets, this movie follows the Agatha Christie model of nine people — wow the title actually is logical — showing up on an island that has a killer stalking about.

Well, get this. There are thirteen murders in a movie with nine guests, so how about that?

A wealthy family has departed for a two-week break at their private island estate, which primarily involves plenty of balling, as The Pink Angels trailer would say. Ubaldo (Arthur Kennedy, who won a Best Supporting Actor Tony for Death of a Salesman and was nominated for five Oscars before making movies like The HumanoidThe SentinelCyclone and being one of the worst cops ever in The Living Dead at Manchester Morgue) has taken his new wife Giulia (Caroline Laurente, who played three different roles in Emmanuelle 2, 3 and 7) along with his sister Elizabeth (Dania Ghia, Seven Deaths in the Cat’s Eye), his sons Michele (Massimo Foschi, Holocaust 2000) and his wife Carla (Sofia Dionisio, Live Like a Cop, Die Like a Man), Walter (Venantino Venantini, Beast in Space) and his bride Patrizia (Loretta Persichetti) and Lorenzo (John Richardson, Black Sunday) and Greta (Rita Silva, Gunan, King of the Barbarians).

Michele has been doing two-person pushups with his stepmother. Walter has been threading the needle with Greta. But then Baldi goes from ripping off Bava’s Five Dolls for an August Moon — which yes, is also a Christie pastiche — into full A Bay of Blood and even the supernatural theory that Elizabeth’s dead lover Carlo is back from the dead (and the Tarot reading sequence, which gets stolen even better in Antropophagus).

This movie has reminded me that I want nothing to do with rich people or island vacations. Nothing ever works out and I’d rather stay alive and undramatic for the short period I do have left in this dimension.

La Mansion de las 7 Momias (1977)

Everyone knows Santo. Most people may know Blue Demon. But this one has Superzan in it.

Superzan* was created by Rogelio Agrasánchez to be a movie luchador, but don’t judge him. Aftet all, Huracán Ramírez, Neutrón and Sombra Vengador all got their start in the movies before they became real wrestlers.

Tinieblas was originally cast to play the character in Superzán El Invencible, yet delays led to wrestling becoming more important for him. He introduced the producers to Alfonso Mora, who took over he role for half of the first movie and then totally became Superzan. He was trained by Dick Medrano and El Gladiador, often teaming with Tinieblas and wrestling in Guatemala. After a short comeback to introduce El Hijo de Superzan, a wrestler who was not truly his son. Instead, it was Rafael Garcia Sanchez, whose father was the exotico Bello Greco and later Karis La Momia in AAA. He eventually got the gimmick that made him an international star as Super Calo (he also wrestled as El Greco Jr., El Diabólico Chucky, Love Warrior and Jordy Stone, as he is the brother of Chris and Alan Stone).

Anyway, Superzan and Blue Demon teamed up in this movie to battle Satan himself, who was quite ably assisted by a literal cadre of mummies. More than seven, let me tell you that much.

We start at the funeral of Sofia’s father, during which she is dismayed to hear her father begin narrating the story of his life. If you think it’s kinda crazy that obviously Laurie Strode can hear the music in Halloween 2, just imagine how absolutely extraña it is to hear a dead man give exposition and one of the characters be able to hear it!

The curse that cost his life has now been passed on to his daughter. And to make matters worse — or more interesting — she’s also inherited his mansion, which sits on top of a treasure chest full of cursed gold. Yes, anyone who claims that gold must give his or her soul to Satan, who totally wants people to come and get it.

So, one of Satan’s men makes a challenge to Sofia that she must conquer three challenges in order to obtain her father’s inheritance. And oh yeah, go into the Mansion of the 7 Mummies. If only her wrestling boyfriend Rodrigo just hadn’t been wacked about the head by a hunchback with a shovel! Luckily, his friends Superzan and Blue Demon show up to help.

The first challenge to Sofia is choosing one of seven doors. Only one has the jeweled scepter that will allow her into the mansion. The other six? Death. I mean, those are bad odds, yet our heroine and her friend Isabella go for it. Just when Sofia finds the right door, seven mummies appear out of nowhere and descend on her and her friend. And that’s when our masked men show up and save the day, bringing the joy to our hearts that can only come from luchadors beating the sand out of mummies before Sofia finally grabs the scepter.

I neglected to reveal that there is also a bad guy who is an old woman in a wheelchair and that there is a horrible comic relief character named Manolín whose death you will beg for.

So where did these mummies come from? Well, it turns out the Sofia’s ancestor — back in the days of the conquistadors — had made a pact with the devil to gain wealth at the cost of his people. He tried to stop the pact with an exorcism, but his seven most trusted servants all turned on him and they are the mummies we’re up against today. Oh yeah — in case you wonder why Sofia wants the treasure so badly, which seems against character, she hopes that by giving it back to the descendents of who the money was originally taken from, she can break the curse. Hey, get that. Reparations actually make sense. Hmm — what a concept.

Without any further exposition, our heroine must cross a swamp to grab the head of her long dead ancestor, while also battling her now possessed boyfriend. Yes, a flying zombie mummy head that wants to kill her!

As for the last challenge, well, it’s basically a battle royal against Satan and all the mummies. The odds are, as always, never on the side of good.

Director Rafael Lanuza also made Superzan y el niño del espacio and  El triunfo de los campeones justicieros. He’s working from a script by Rogelio Agrasánchez, who was behind plenty of lucha movies, but you should seek out his totally weird Macabre Legends of the Colony.

You can watch this on YouTube on the White Slaves of Chinatown channel, which always has something interesting.

If you wonder, haven’t I seen a movie where luchadors fight mummies, you may have been watching Los Momias de Guanaujuato, El Robo de los momias de GuanajuatoEl Castillo de los momias de GuanajuatoLas momias de San Ángel or even The Wrestling Women vs. the Aztec Mummy. Or perhaps Mil Mascaras vs. the Aztec Mummy.

*If you need lucha info, always go to Luchawiki.

Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo (1977)

Take a look at that poster for this and ask yourself: Is Dean Jones giving Don Knotts a physical or mental stroke?

Dean is back from the first movie as Jim Douglas and Knotts is his mechanic Wheely Applegate and together with the car who can kinda be a person, Herbie the Love Bug, they’re racing in the Trans-France Race from Paris to Monte Carlo, a distance of 594 miles.

Somehow, this movie was such a big deal that Mayor of Los Angeles Tom Bradley proclaimed July 11, 1977 as “Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo Day” and a parade on Hollywood Boulevard led to Mann’s Chinese Theater where the car’s tire prints were made in the cement.

The opponents in this race include Bruno Von Stickle (Eric Braeden, Victor himself), Claude Gilbert (Mike Kulcsar) and feminist Diane Darcy (Julie Sommars). Herbie pretty much has a car boner for her car Giselle, which leads to all manner of hijinks that include Herbie trying to lose the race to win that car over.

Can cars be people? You have to accept that if Herbie is going to work for you. How do these cars get human feelings? Have they become self-aware? Are they the possessed souls of dead race drivers trying to win one more race so they can get to the other world? Am I reading too much into a Disney formula comedy from 1977?

Not only do the humans and the cars get together, but there’s also a jewel theft subplot. I am certain that when I saw this at the drive-in as a five-year-old, I could care less about the humans holding hands and the cars holding doors and just wanted Herbie to drive through a lake and upside down through a tunnel. Things were simpler for movie-watching Sam back then.

Candleshoe (1977)

Based on the Michael Innes novel Christmas at Candleshoe, this live action Disney movie is all about con artist Harry Bundage, who is looking for lost pirate treasure inside Candleshoe, the country estate of Lady St. Edmund (Helen Hayes in her last role). He gets street-smart American orphan Casey Brown (Jodie Foster) to pretend that she’s the rich lady’s granddaughter, who has been missing since she was four years old. The estate is actually barely holding on, except that its lone servant Priory (David Niven) and four foster kids have been hustling to pay the bills. Of course, our heroine will figure out that she really belongs at Candleshoe and stay in England, but the treasure hunt is still pretty fun.

Director Norman Tokar made plenty of Disney movies like The Happiest MillionaireThe Ugly DachsundThe Apple Dumpling Gang The Cat from Space and No DepositNo Return, which also has Niven in the film).

Foster passed up Pretty Baby to make this movie, only getting a few days off after finishing Freaky Friday.

Audrey Rose (1977)

Based on the 1975 novel of the same name by Frank De Felitta — who also wrote the sceenplay, as well as The Entity and Dark Night of the Scarecrow — this is the story of Bill and Janice Templeton, who are being hounded by a mysterious stranger who just wants to meet their daughter Ivy. That man is Elliot Hoover (Anthony Hopkins), a lost soul whose wife and daughter — Audrey Rose — died eleven years ago on the night that Ivy was born. He believes that she is his daughter.

Man, the 70s, huh? This movie takes that decades love of reincarnation and the occult — before we backtracked into the Satanic Panic of the 80s — and concocts a world where Higgins — John Hillerman plays a prosecutor — must deal with holy men claiming past lives are possible and hypnosis bringing Ivy back to her last incarnation. And then it ends with a quote from the Bhagavad-Gita? Ah man. What a decade.

Poor Robert Wise. He had to follow this one up with Star Trek: The Motion Picture. He made much better movies before that, like The Curse of the Cat PeopleWest Side StoryThe HauntingThe Sound of Music and The Andromeda Strain. However, as goofy as this gets, I kind of admire this movie. It’s cornball psychic hokum, but the best kind of carny BS — because it believes its own BS.

By the way, Brooke Shields tried out for this movie and even had the claim that she posed for the art of the paperback cover, which wasn’t BS.

As for De Felitta, he tried some BS to sell his book sequel For Love of Audrey Rose to the rubes, claiming that he’d heard his five-year-old son suddenly be able to play ragtime music on the piano.

Junesploitation 2021: The Cynic, the Rat and the Fist (1977)

June 29: Junesploitation’s topic of the day — as suggested by F This Movie— is gangsters.

In Italy, they call this movie Il cinico, l’infame, il violento, which means The Cynic, the Infamous, the Violent. This poliziotteschi is a sequel to another Umberto Lenzi film, 1976’s The Tough Ones, with Maurizio Merli playing the role of Inspector Leonardo Tanzi in both movies.

Luigi “The Chinaman” Maietto (Tomas Milan, The Big Gundown, Django Kill… If You Live, Shoot!) escapes from prison and sends two of his men to kill the man who put him away — Tanzi. He’s left for dead and even the newspapers print that he’s dead, but he’s just biding his time, waiting to get revenge.

Tanzi just wanted to stay retired — it looks like he’s become a giallo author — but now he’s a vigilante who comes up against Maietto and American syndicate boss Frank Di Maggio (John Saxon).

This movie boasts three writers whose work pretty much hits every side of the Italian exploitation experience. There’s Lenzi himself, who made everything from Eurospy films (Super Seven Calling CairoThe Spy Who Loved Flowers008: Operation Exterminate), Westerns (A Pistol for a Hundred Coffins), giallo (OrgasmoA Quiet Place to KIllOasis of FearSo Sweet…So PerverseSeven Bloodstained Orchids, SpasmoEyeball), cannibal movies (Man from Deep RiverCannibal Ferox), peplum (IronmasterSamson and the Slave Queen), horror (Nightmare BeachGhosthouseDemons 3Hitcher in the Dark) and so much more. Then you have Ernesto Gastaldi, who wrote so many films that I love, including The Whip and the BodyThe PossessedThe Sweet Body of DeborahDay of AngerAll the Colors of the DarkTorsoMy Name is Nobody and tons of other great films. And then there’s Dardano Sacchetti, who wrote just about any Italian genre film worth watching.

Man, somehow Junesploitation has led me to many Italian crime films. For this I am very excited!