Nazisploitation! There’s one sub-genre you won’t see getting an Eli Roth-style reimagining of any time soon. Dare to utter the ‘H’ word in 2017 and watch out for low-flying political correctivists ready to frog-march you back in line, head bowed in shame. Which makes the prominence of Nazis in 1970s entertainment - shouting and goose-stepping their way through everything from beloved BBC sitcoms to extreme grindhouse cinema - all the stranger considering how much closer we were then to the actual event. Even more so when you reflect on just how much of this material was simply scheiße. Yes, even that episode of Dad’s Army with Phillip Madoc is starting to pong these days.
Which brings us to this decidedly limp addition to the genre. The plot sees a dedicated young officer looking to impress the Führer with a plan to smoke out high-ranking traitors from the SS. This involves filling a specially-commissioned luxury train with scantily-clad ladies of the night then putting all of the most suspicious Nazi officers on board with them. Once on the move, secretly observe the inevitable pairings and wait for the dodgy officers to drop their guard along with their lederhosen and shoot them dead. Repeat ad infinitum! And who’s to host this rolling bordello? Enter Elsa, She-Madam of the SS (Malisa Longo), the greatest and most revered femme fatale of the Third Reich, apparently. Alas, even as she’s giving the mission her personal attention, some plucky French resistance-types are hard at work derailing this slow-moving load of totaler quatsch.
We weren’t even vaguely offended by this film. The sex is so chaste it could have been staged for regional theatre; the direction is completely flat and so are the performances. A suggestion of Salon Kitty-style kinkiness at the start is completely ignored thereafter. Of course, it desperately wants to be Ilsa: She-Wolf of the SS (1975) but lacks that film’s ballsy violence and sadomasochistic verve. Most of all it lacks Ilsa herself; Malisa Longo has none of the commanding sexual electricity Dyane Thorne delivered in spades. The only positive is the humour. Director Patrice Rhomm (who specialised in this kind of thing) is clearly having laugh with the material; no sooner has the officer with the train ruse suggested it to his superiors and he’s marched off to be shot for having knowledge of it. This Monty Python touch carries through to the subsequent assassinations but that’s scant reward for 80 minutes of tepid costume play, unsexy fumbling and extended trainspotting.
ELSA: FRAULEIN SS (FRAULEIN DEVIL) (1977) / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: PATRICE RHOMM / SCREENPLAY: VICTOR HADRIA, MARIUS LESOEUR, PATRICE RHOMM / STARRING: MALISA LONGO, OLIVIER MATHOT, PATRIZA GORI / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW