Color, 1977, 93m. / Directed by Bruno Mattei / Starring Gabriele Carrara, Macha Magall, Marina Daunia, Luciano Pigozzi, Salvatore Baccaro / Media Blasters (US R1 NTSC) / WS (1.78:1) (16:9)

Viewers who have seen what director Bruno Mattei can do to zombies, killer rats, or even hard porn won't be too surprised by the results when he tackles Nazisploitation in SS Girls (or as it's titled on this DVD print, Private House of the SS), but anyone else will be gobsmacked by this low budget imitation of Salon Kitty, copying its Tinto Brass source right down to the whores-as-spies plotline and queasy training montages complete with pretty girls making it with a variety of grotesques. Toss in some of Mattei's beloved stock footage, endless quotable camp dialogue, and generally appalling lapses in taste, and you've got an indefensible, ridiculous, wholly un-PC atrocity that never bores its audience for a second.

As the Third Reich reaches its decadent height and braces for a downfall, resourceful commander Hans Schellenberg (Carrara) enlists a high class madam (Magall) to train ten of her best girls. Their mission: to ferret out traitors among Nazi commanding officers by screwing the truth out of them. The premise wasn't too credible in the Tinto Brass version, and here it's taken to delirious heights as Carrara chomps the scenery, digests it, and spews it back out all over the camera in a frenzied performance unlike anything ever captured on celluloid. His character dominates most of the film, issuing execution orders, bullying the girls, and dallying in a romantic triangle that soon turns sour before meeting in inevitable downfall in the sort-of-action-packed finale.

Though most viewers will still want to shower after the closing credits, SS Girls gets a leg up on many of its competitors like the Ilsa series by downplaying the gruesome, gory mayhem, instead focusing more on the cheesecake-centric sex scenes and cornball melodramatics. As such it's a "guilty pleasure," but you won't hate yourself quite as much for kicking back and giggling along. If it weren't for all the swastika flags and "Fuhrer" references, one could probably pass off the proceedings as yet another Italian entry in the Caligula or women-in-prison cycles. Besides, you get to see a veteran sleaze cast, including the disturbingly hairy and diminutive Baccaro, a.k.a. "Sal Boris," doing a quick reprise of his ferocious routine seen to full effect in the stronger SS Hell Camp, and Italian horror vet Pigozzi (a.k.a. "Alan Collins") in an amusing turn as sadism specialist Professor Jürgen, a long way from his gothic roles in the likes of Baron Blood. Busy composer Gianni Marchetti turns in a serviceable but fairly anonymous score, which sounds like outtakes from his earlier The Seven Red Berets.

As usual Media Blasters' Exploitation Digital branch has treated one of its scuzziest titles with the utmost respect. The opening disclaimer about potential element damage is hardly necessary as, apart from some weird video noise during the opening credits, the transfer looks very colorful and clean, while the high-volume dubbing comes through loud and clear. As with the company's earlier Faceless, the final few seconds of dialogue are inexplicably rendered in another language without subtitles! The always entertaining and self-deprecating Mattei (who directed this as "Jordan B. Matthews," one of his many, many pseudonyms) turns up for a 9-minute video interview in which he talks about his brief sojourn into Nazi-sex cinema (following up this film with the slightly more respectable SS Extermination Love Camp; also included are the original Italian trailer, as well as trailers for other titles in the series (including a softer edit of the coming attraction for Porno Holocaust).

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