Love Camp 7 Blu-ray Review (originally published 2017)
During the darkest days of World War II, two young American WAC officers volunteer to infiltrate a depraved Nazi Love Camp on a desperate rescue mission. Once inside, they are subjected to unspeakable indignities and horrifying humiliations at the hands of their sadistic captors. Can they survive these sick degradations and perverted orgies long enough to complete their objective and escape with their lives – and bodies – intact? (From Blue Underground’s official synopsis)
Few things in this world are as patently offensive as the Third Reich’s and the concentration camps Hitler’s goons had concocted in order to systematically murder millions of people. As such, it’s not surprising that there’s a substantial grindhouse subgenre devoted to these particular historical atrocities. Nazisploitation sprung from reputable movies, like Liliana Cavani’s The Night Porter (1974), but, before that, there were the disreputable roots of Joseph P. Mawra’s S&M-centered Olga trilogy – Olga’s Girls (1964), White Slaves of Chinatown (1964), and Olga’s House of Shame (1964) – as well as the more generalized women in prison movies. As is often the case, the most distasteful entries tended to be helmed by Italian filmmakers, such as Luigi Batzella’s SS Hell Camp (Italian: La bestia in calore; aka: The Beast in Heat, 1977), in which toothy and hairy character actor Salvatore Baccaro played a pubic-hair-eating mutant under the control of SS scientists, as well as Pier Paolo Pasolini’s Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom (Italian: Salò o le 120 giornate di Sodom, 1970) and Cesare Canevari’s The Gestapo’s Last Orgy (Italian: L'ultima orgia del III Reich, 1977), which were famously controversial arthouse fare (this Italian genre collection is sometimes referred to as the sadiconazista, or the “Nazi sadisti” cycle). Meanwhile, Don Edmonds’ Canadian-made Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS (1975) and its various sequels/rip-offs helped define Nazisploitation and women in prison movies for grindhouse audiences outside of Europe.
Before the genre had an official moniker, Ilsa producer David F. Friedman (a one-time US Army Signal Corps member who was tasked with shooting footage of Nazi war crimes) and director Lee Frost first connected Nazi concentration camps with women in prison movies. That film, Love Camp 7 (1969) – not to be confused with Sergio Garrone’s SS Experiment Love Camp (Italian: Lager SSadis Kastrat Kommandantur, 1976), Mario Caiano’s Nazi Love Camp 27 (Italian: La svastica nel ventre, 1977), or Jess Franco’s Love Camp (1977) – became the prototypical Naziploitation film for much of the world. Like the Olga series, Love Camp 7 is a kinky, post-nudie cutie (a term for early, post-Hays softcore) sexploitation movie first and a disturbing spectacle second, which means it rarely touches the grotesque extremes of the films that followed (the late ‘60s release also ensures that the film still adhered to certain censorship standards). The context is patently offensive, but the Nazi threat is secondary to frivolous titillation – itself a vestige of the ‘50s Varietease and bondage burlesque shows. Most of these scenes are actually quite quaint in their lack of atrocity. Women are sprayed with a (decidedly low-pressure) garden hose, tied up in compromising positions, and playfully whipped. It’s not all fun and games, though. The ‘seat of honor’ sequence, in which a woman is hung by her arms above a plywood wedge in front of the other prisoners, implies a disturbing idea without really portraying it and there are a number of icky, elongated, dry-hump sessions that stand in for the more graphic rape scenes seen in the Ilsa sequels.
Frost (aka: R.L. Frost, Elov Peterssons, Leoni Valentino, Carl Borch, Robert Lee, and many more) spent most of his career specializing in softcore sex movies of various genre designations. Besides setting the Nazisploitation precedent, he made the hixploitation sex slave movie The Defilers (1965), two faux-travelogue mockumentaries (Mondo Bizarro and Mondo Freudo, both 1966), a crueler women in prison movie called Chain Gang Women (1971), and even lent his practiced Third Reich-isms to the blaxploitation for his magnum opus, The Black Gestapo (1975). Love Camp 7 is not one of his better technical achievements. His compositions are lifeless and flat, his camera clumsily dips and jerks off-center, as if slipping off of the tripod, and his strictly utilitarian framing and editing techniques sort of make the whole movie feel like a mid-’60s sitcom. Some of this is a budgetary issue, as the same three or four sets appear to have been redressed and reused for literally every single interior shot, but plenty of it is good, old-fashioned laziness, coupled with the fact that the filmmakers had to stretch about 45 minutes of movie across 96 minutes. In the end, these Herschell Gordon Lewis-like aesthetics, alongside the charmingly stilted performances and relative lack of grotesque content, eases the bitter pill of Love Camp 7’s Nazisploitation themes, making it a worthy addition to any ‘party movie’ catalogue and a gateway drug to more excessive and sometimes elegant delights.
Before this Blu-ray debut, Love Camp 7 was hard to find on home video. Video Nasty completists had the option to unload hundreds of dollars for a copy of Market Video’s clamshell PAL VHS or somewhat less for Abbey Video’s similarly rare NTSC tape. As far as I can tell, there was never a US DVD version – only OOP, non-anamorphic (1.33:1) discs from DVD Classics in the UK and Something Weird in Australia (there seems to have been a SW VHS in the US, but I’m not sure if it was ‘official’). Blue Underground’s 1080p, 1.66:1 Blu-ray Combo Pack (including DVD) is the first stateside release of its kind and remastered in 4K from rediscovered negative sources, to boot. The results are impressive, considering the film’s age and its scarcity. The print is relatively clean, aside from inherent grain, which is pretty well-maintained, and the occasional white dot. There are hints of DNR waxing and scanner machine noise, but also plenty of texture and naturally roughened gradients. Details are consistently as tight as the material will allow, especially in terms of elemental separation. The palette is mostly made up of neutral skin tones, gray walls, and brown uniforms – all artifacts of the low-budget and period setting – and these remain consistent throughout the entire film. The one exception is, of course, the vivid reds of omnipresent Nazi flags and blood, which are punchy without being artificially bright. Compression artifacts, such as low-level blocking, are present, but not prevalent.
The original mono audio is presented in uncompressed DTS-HD Master Audio sound. The mix is problematic, but all of the issues seem to be inherent in the material. Besides the obvious cramping and flattening from the sound being confined by a single channel, the production seems to have had trouble with their recording equipment as well, leading to inconsistent dialogue levels and awkward DNR insertions. Blue Underground has done its best to create a clear and even track, and the lack of compression certainly helps by mitigating compression. There is no credited composer, but loads of soundtrack music, so I assume Frost employed pre-composed library tunes. This score is mixed low compared to the dialogue and has a pleasant warmth, despite its condensed sound quality.
Nazithon: Decadence and Destruction (1:19:55, SD, 2013) – This feature-length Nazisploitation “documentary” is directed by Full Moon head honcho, Charles Band, and hosted by Michelle "Bombshell" McGee. Unfortunately, it's not a historical exploration of the genre, rather, it’s a trailer clip show that includes footage from Love Camp 7, Sergio Garrone’s SS Camp 5: Women’s Hell (1977), Rino Di Silvestro’s Deported Women of the SS Special Section (1976), Bruno Mattei’s Private House of the SS Girls (1977), Tinto Brass’ Salon Kitty (1976), Luchino Visconti’s The Damned (1969), Erwin C. Dietrich’s She Devils of the SS (1973), David L. Hewitt’s The Tormentors (1971), Paul Grau’s Mad Foxes (1981), Al Adamson’s Hell's Bloody Devils (1970), Ken Wiederhorn’s Shock Waves (1977), Richard E. Cunha’s She Demons (1958), Jean Rollin’s Zombie Lake (1981), Jess Franco’s Oasis of the Zombies (1982), Joel M. Reed’s Night of the Zombies (1981), Joel M. Reed’s Death Ship (1980), and the aforementioned Black Gestapo, SS Hell Camp, SS Experiment Love Camp, Ilsa: She Wolf of the SS and its sequels/rip-offs – Edmonds’ Ilsa, Harem Keeper of the Oil Sheiks (1976), Jess Franco’s Wanda, the Wicked Warden (1977), Patrice Rhomm’s Fraulein Devil (1977), and Jean LaFleur’s Ilsa the Tigress of Siberia (1977). For some reason, the frame rate is quite jittery.
Poster and still gallery
The images on this page are taken from the BD and sized for the page. Larger versions can be seen by clicking the images.