Tuesday, December 13, 2016
She Devils of the S.S. (1973)
Today I'll be looking at the 1973 Swiss movie She Devils of the S.S. As a reviewer on IMDb said, "Probably one of the weirdest Naziploitation films I've ever seen, which is not to be taken as a recommendation.". I take that as a recommendation! Let's dig in!...
In nazi Germany, the Second World War rages on, and some patriotic young women want to serve their country and fuhrer by going out onto the frontlines and banging as many guys as they can. Meanwhile, due to Gestapo paranoia, sisters Marga and Eva Kuhn are forced into joining the sex squad, because of a 'crime' their father committed...
She Devils of the S.S., also known as Frauleins in Uniform, and more aptly Frauleins Without Uniform, is one of the tamer movies to come out of the Nazisploitation genre. Gestapo's Last Orgy or Women's Camp 119 this is not! It's more in line with stuff like Elsa Fraulein S.S. (aka Fraulein Kitty. Real subtle, guys!).
This film seems to have the tone of a lighthearted military comedy, as if it somehow doesn't realise the gravity of its setting. There are small hints where it seems to grasp that (like how Doctor Kuhn's entire life and family is uprooted because of overzealous young girls who just couldn't accept that he declared them unfit for duty because they were genuinely unfit, and the paranoid Gestapo is all too happy to instantly believe and act on their accusations), but for the most part, it's just a relatively boring and listless sexploitation flick, but one you couldn't possibly enjoy, because of all the dang swastikas and photos of certain mustachioed dictators in the background of most shots.
She Devils of the S.S. is pretty plotless for the most part. There's just one random scene after the other, with only a bare few ongoing elements. What plot there is doesn't make much sense. So this crack squad of young ladies are assembled for the specific purpose of banging soldiers on the front line, yet their superiors are angry when the women have the 'moral indecency' to have sex, and want to punish them for it. Huh?
There's also an infuriatingly abrupt and pointless ending that accomplishes nothing, and the fact that we see two dozen naked women does not save it! A big problem is that it feels like there's a whole swath of scenes missing between the party, and the climax.
One section of the movie that I actually appreciated was Eva's subplot, which at first only seemed to serve as a damper on the 'lighthearted' proceedings, and was really depressing, because of how she's wounded in action, raped by her C.O., and when all the other girls come in and see her in bed, clearly distressed, they just cruelly assume she was having sex while everyone else was risking their lives, and don't believe that she's really hurt. Soon after, Eva deserts her group, and I assumed that she was probably going to end up dead! But when she's found and captured by soldiers, she tells them what happened...and they actually believe her, placing the rapist superior in a detention camp immediately! Phew, given that this is set in nazi Germany, I thought for sure this segment was going to end horribly for poor Eva! I'm glad that the rape victim's storyline had a positive-ish ending. By the by, Eva is never seen again after that point, so I guess the incredibly scattershot movie just lost interest in her.
Onto more negative elements, a section of the movie that I didn't much care for was when Marga suddenly acquires a boyfriend offscreen, who she met and fell hopelessly in love with in-between the action. The first time we see him, they've clearly been seeing each-other a while, and only the second time is when he gets executed! It's like we're missing a whole plot here! How long was this damn movie before it was released? Three hours or something?! There are so many dropped characters, subplots, and ideas in this movie that it's just a mess!
Most definitely the worst thing about She Devils of the S.S. is how non-judgmental it is towards friggin' nazis! While there are a couple of 'nazis are bad' moments here and there, the film doesn't exactly go out of its way to condemn them, and for the most part, it just acts as if they're a random army who just happen to say stuff like 'Sieg heil'.
Like I mentioned above, a lot of the nudity here is difficult to enjoy, but the stuff that isn't hampered by that issue are ok, but the film is dragged down by its hilariously poor sex-scenes. It's painfully obvious when the actors are either obviously clothed, or are in a totally wrong position.
The effects and costumes in this movie are actually really good! I wish they were used in a better movie, like, say, a hypothetical Inglorious Bastards 2! Meanwhile, the scenery is often lush and pretty. Now onto the bad. Characters are often caught in explosions, yet either remain uninjured, or are meant to be wounded/killed in context of the movie, but the actors do such a poor job, that it marks the film as wholly incompetent.
The score is merely ok. The movie also opens with what I think might be an actual nazi song! I sure hope it wasn't! The rest of the soundtrack is decent in it of itself, but sounds too peppy, like this is Stripes, or Hogans Heroes, which drags down the film a lot!
Finally, the acting. It's just awful! Granted, I watched the American dub, and the original language cut could be a marked improvement for all I know.
To finish, She Devils of the S.S. is the Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer of nazisploitation, and not worth watching unless you're particularly desperate to see some boobs, and even then, I'm sure you could find something better in this the digital age...