One very dark day, my curiosity got the best of me and I watched Ilsa: She Wolf of the SS. I have to admit, I was entertained. It is a solid movie with a nauseating premise and an ending that pays off. Of course, I tried to sit through the other Ilsa movies and that didn't work out so good. I got about 10 minutes into Jess Franco's version and gave up. All I remember about what I saw is that it seemed very cheap, sleazy, and sweaty like a sicko's daydream. I'm sure that it was just a bad first impression.
Ilsa the Wicked Warden
AKA Greta - Haus ohne Männer
Directed by Jess Franco
Starring Dyanne Thorne, Tania Busselier, Lina Romay, Eric Falk, Dagmar Bürger, and Jess Franco
[I am going to spoil the plot to save you from having to watch this.]
The movie starts in the jungle and we hear the sounds of a whip cracking and a woman screaming and moaning. A sexy female voice says "Wicked Warden" lasciviously and it's on. Before the two minute mark, we have women showering, complaining, and cooing nakedly at each at the Las Palomas women's prison (oops, I mean "clinic"). In her own private bath, Greta the "wicked" warden (played by Dyanne Thorne) is having a soak, washing herself luxuriously. I kind of want this movie to be over already.
A girl screams and starts flopping around while the guards try to control the situation. Oh snap, this was just a distraction so another inmate, Rosa (played by Angela Ritschard), can make a run for it. She barely escapes with her life. Dr. Arcos (Jess Franco) manages to save her but he is forced to return Rosa to Greta and the "clinic". Later, he finds out that Rosa died shortly thereafter and the body cremated.
Horrified by the incident, Dr. Arcos pleads to the worldwide community to shut down Las Palomas but with no evidence, they tell him to get stuffed. Arcos is approached by Abbie (played by Tania Busselier), Rosa's sister and a total badass, who volunteers to go undercover in Las Palomas to find out what's really going on there. Abbie gets in and is given a number: 41. She is told that if she ever tells anyone her real name, they will burn the number into her breast.
Abbie meets the other lost souls including Juana (Lina Romay), the lead inmate who is in good with Greta. Abbie finds out very quickly that this "clinic" is a sick and evil place where no one escapes. Let's hope that all the prescribed sexual humiliation, genital mutilation, and shock treatments won't keep Abbie from carrying out her plan. Wait, what was her plan again?
Of course, Greta gets word that Abbie has been asking too many questions about what goes on in the "clinic". In a bizarre twist, we discover that Abbie's sister Rosa is alive, hidden in some dark place in Las Palomas. She has been tortured nearly to to the brink of death. Rosa gives up Abbie almost immediately and, on top of that, she names Dr. Arcos as a leader of a terrorist group. Arcos is immediately murdered by the corrupt police. Now the shit had really hit the fan.
How does Greta keep getting away with all of this shit? The "clinic" practically pays for itself. The lead guard (played by Eric Falk) sells films of the torture and sex to a local rich weirdo. Mo' money! Mo' money Mo' money! Of course, it helps that Greta is in bed (literally) with the Governor (played by Howard Maurer). This sleazebag motherfucker is banging Greta and using her "clinic" to eliminate his female political prisoners. I just got to the gang-rape scene. Ugh, just kill me. After Abbie is turned into a gibbering madwoman, the inmates revolt and tear Greta to shreds (literally). The end.
Good news, everyone! I guess I'm not jaded yet. The sleaze is so fucking thick on this film that I need a shower now. Seriously, every couple of minutes, I just felt totally demoralized by what I was watching. Not surprisingly, there is an insane amount of female flesh on display and so many trashy situations that it is impossible to take this crap seriously. That being said, Isla the Wicked Warden is a pretty darn good film for old Jess. The cinematography, editing, and the score are all very good. Ruedi Küttel, who shot Blue Rita, delivers some of the best experimental camerawork I've seen in a Jess Franco flick in a while.
I can't recommend this movie to anyone who is even remotely sensitive in nature. The torture scenes, while not overly explicit, are pretty powerful even by suggestion alone. I'm not gonna lie though, seeing Lina Romay give Dyanne Thorne a nudie massage is well, pretty awesome. Of course it degrades immediately into the naughty kind of acupuncture. And that's part of what makes this film so insane. Every "pleasure" is tempered with something horrible.
My favorite character is Number 9 (played by Dagmar Burger from Blue Rita), the lady who used to be a man. She was into dudes when she was a man and now that she is a woman, she is all lesbian, baby! She tries to help Abbie out and I don't know, she's just likeable. I needed something to grasp onto to keep my happy thoughts during all of this garbage. Good thing this Ilsa movie had a very satisfying ending or else I would have probably flipped out, changed my sex, and checked myself into Las Palomas.
This move also contains boot licking.
"Ah, piss off, you blonde bitch! And you can take your brother, jack him off, and stick him up your singing ass!"