Color, 1976, 97m.
Directed by Rino De Silvestro
Starring John Steiner, Lina Polito, Erna Schurer, Sara Sperati, Solvi Stubing, Guido Leontini
Intervision (DVD) (US R0 NTSC) / WS (1.78:1) (16:9), BCI/Eclipse, Full Moon (US R0 NTSC)

Color, 1977, 95m.
Directed by Cesare Canevari
Starring Marc Loud (Adriano Micantoni), Daniela Levy (Daniela Poggi), Maristella Greco, Fulvio Ricciardi
Intervision (DVD) (US R0 NTSC), Media Blasters (US R1 NTSC) / WS (1.78:1) (16:9)

Deported Women of the SS Special Section

For a couple of years in the 1970s, Italy was overrun by the only subgenre that could rival the cannibal craze for sheer Deported Women of the SS Special Sectiontastelessness: Nazisploitation. While Germany still forbade the iconography of its notorious, still-recent past at the time, Italy had no qualms about running wild with the combination of fascism and erotica established in films like The Night Porter and The Damned with

The plot of Deported Women of the SS Special Section sounds formulaic enough as we get a new shipment of women stopping off at a transition camp, where they will be divided up and sent to their ultimate fates. After some gratuitous body shaving, some of the ladies are forced to work in the camp's Joy Division as sex servants for the guards and officers. The head of the camp, Herr Erner (Salon Kitty's Steiner), is a fiery, highly unstable personality with an unhealthy fixation on Tania (Polito), who had already spurned his advances before the war. Now he's determined to win her back - and make her pay for her rejection - while the other inmates go through their own trails and start looking for a means of escape. One unlucky prisoner and guard couple come up with their own exit strategy when they're forced to copulate in the main courtyard, and Erner comes up with his own oddball methods of seduction like having two female wardens go down on him at dinner in front of the object of his affection. Obviously, there's no way this will have a happy ending for everyone.

If you can get past the obvious distaste factor of the entire premise, this one definitely delivers the exploitation goods (most notably in the outrageously sick revenge gag at the end) and benefits from an unbelievably wild, scenery-chewing performance from Steiner, rivaling Malcolm McDowell's turn in The Passage as one of the most indelible Nazi officers of 1970s cinema. Director Rino De Silvestro has no qualms about wallowing in the gutter, which isn't surprising considering his track record also includes Hanna D., Women in Cell Block 7, and Werewolf Woman, and the whole thing is given a slightly classy veneer courtesy of music by the great Stelvio Cipriani, heavily dosed with tracks from his other films (most notably A Bay of Blood). Deported Women of the SS Special SectionGestapo's Last Orgy

Barely released in American theaters, Deported Women debuted on VHS in the '80s from Video City; that pale, cruddy transfer was later recycled for dismal DVDs from BCI/Eclipse (paired up with Escape from Women's Prison and bearing the logo of its crummier PD-based prior incarnation, Brentwood) and Full Moon as part of its Grindhouse Collection. Fortunately you can ditch those and go for the 2014 special edition from Intervision; the opening credits aren't promising as they're obviously sourced from a really tattered VHS source, but after that it's pretty smooth sailing as the picture quality is much clearer, brighter, and more colorful before. Most importantly, you can finally tell what the heck is going on during the darker scenes, of which there are quite a few. It isn't a stellar transfer by any means, but compared to its predecessors, this is a massive upgrade in every respect. The transfer also appears to be uncut, including that out of left field scene in which Steiner releases his tensions on his unsuspecting henchman.

On a similar note, Gestapo's Last Orgy was released one year later in 1977 and also concerns the trials of women in concentration camp bordellos. The tone is far more somber at the beginning with a Nietzsche quote and protracted voiceovers covering atrocities committed by SS officers, but from there it's business as usual as our heroine, pretty blonde Lise Cohen (Poggi), has to deal with salacious commandants, creepy wig-making lesbian guards, and a seemingly endless parade of depravity. The tactics here are more extreme than usual as the anti-Semitic attitudes of the villains are cranked up to 11, including fixations on uses for human skin and, in the film's unforgettably sick line, unborn babies. Lise is also suffering guilt for what she believes is culpability for the deaths of her parents, with the sicko commandant (Micantoni) using her as a pet project to instill fear by making her cherish life (when he isn't getting dominated by his female second in command). There are a few twists in store, though, including an indelible scene involving cute flesh-eating gerbils, a romance with a young doctor, and more than a couple of scenes blatantly swiped from Salon Kitty. Gestapo's Last Orgy

Gestapo's Last Orgy has fared better on home video than the prior film; it popped up on VHS under the astonishing title Caligula Reincarnated as Hitler (one of a series of unrelated exploitation films retitled to cash in Gestapo's Last Orgyon a certain Penthouse production), followed by an improved release from Media Blasters' Exploitation Digital line alongside a slew of other Nazisploitation titles. The transfer here is solid as well, still featuring some telltale line doubling indicating it was probably bumped up from a 4:3 letterboxed source but otherwise perfectly accpetable. The mono audio is also fine (with a better English dub job than usual), while the excellent score by the underrated Alberto Baldan Bembo still makes it annoying that this has never had an official soundtrack release.

Both releases include the same featurette, "A Brief History of Sadiconazista," in which film historian Marcus Stiglegger (who's penned two books on the subject) takes a 36-minute tour through the disreputable subgenre's history from early propaganda sexualization through literary and filmic milestones like House of Dolls, Ilsa - She-Wolf of the SS, and many more. He also dispels the cinematic myth of concentration camp brothels for officers, perhaps the most interesting moment of the piece. Gestapo's Last Orgy adds on its (insane) theatrical trailer, while Deported Women has a couple of additional featurettes. The late De Silvestro gets his due with the 29-minute "Camp Rino," a Freak-o-Rama production in which he covers virtually his entire career from start to finish and offers his own thoughts on this film, including the necessity of shooting at an Italian castle and research to ensure all of the insignias and clothing colors were accurate. Finally, "What Does John Steiner Think?" features the Eurocult staple in his Beverly Hills real estate office offering 9 minutes of amusing memories about this film and his time in the Italian cinematic trenches; incidentally, this is comprised of outtakes from the same interview yours truly conducted several years ago for the special edition of Caligula, so watch both interviews back to back for maximum effect.

Reviewed on May 24, 2014.