Somewhere in the Italian Alps during the Second World War: A small group of partisans offers fierce resistance to the Nazi threat by various acts of sabotage. When the partisans blow up a train connection, General Von Kruessen decides that it's getting too much for him and he orders Capt. Hardinghauser to take out the resistance fighters for good. Since he thinks Hardinghauser is too weak, he asks the doctor Dr. Ellen Kratsch to assist him. Through human experiments, the doctor has created a grunting monster, which has to be constantly fed women to satisfy its urges. Ellen's tactics are to have men and good-looking women taken from the mountain villages, to torture them, so that they reveal the hiding place of the partisans. Between the fronts stands the priest Don Lorenzo, who supports the partisans but wants to avoid unnecessary bloodshed. As the Nazis are getting closer and closer to the partisans, they decide to counter-attack. At their headquarters, they discover the remains of atrocities committed by Ellen. The war shows its ugly face once again.
There are several other, partly lesser-known representatives of this genre, but we want to concentrate on SS Hell Camp aka. The Beast in Heat aka. Horrifying Experiments of S.S. Last Days. The film was shot by Luigi Batzella, who has already worked in many genres. Beside Italo westerns like God is my Colt 45, the gothic horror-exploiter Nude for Satan, he also directed several war movies like Achtung! The Desert Tigers. The budget of SS Hell Camp must have been tight, because Batzella took over some of the fight scenes from the aforementioned Achtung! The Desert Tigers. A model building was used for the air raid and the Nazi headquarter looks more like a ruin. Many of the scenes take place outdoors or in a mountain village, which suggests that they tried to work as best as they could with what they had. In terms of content, the film focuses mainly on the conflict between the Nazis and the partisans, with partly unpleasant torture sequences, dominated by Nazi-sheriff Ellen. The following picture best describes the sometimes bizarre scenery.
The homoerotic aspect, which is created by the whipping of a male partisan hanging upside down, including a succinctly presented flaccid limb, is somewhat softened by the voyeuristic inclination of the interested watching Ellen, while in the background a woman is raped in a cage by the Beast in Heat. In the same scene, the viewer witnesses a rat eating through a woman's stomach and another woman having her fingernails pulled out. The brutality shown is terrifying, but the absurd presence of the sex monster in the cage diminishes its effect. The scientific benefit of such an experiment in transforming a man into a beast seems obscure.
There are many things to be criticized in terms of craftsmanship. In front of the headquarters, for whatever reason, a red swastika was erected. In the scene when Ellen arrives there for the first time, we can clearly see the shadow of the cameraman and his assistant on the swastika. The sloppiness could also be seen as a symbol of how National Socialism is used by filmmakers as a crude vehicle for sex and violence. But probably this would be thought too far. As already mentioned before, a model airplane is actually supposed to be responsible for the air raids.
When Ellen isn't torturing her prisoners, the plot usually stagnates. The scenes with the partisans are not very exciting. After all, there is Brad Harris as the Reverend Don Lorenzo to admire. SS Hell Camp tries to mix up National Socialism with sadism by showing various sexualized atrocities, but fails because of a too boring plot, a too small budget and slips too much into the trash corner when the Beast in Heat appears. In contrast to the completely exaggerated Private House of the SS Girls, this movie actually had the ambition to make a serious impression, as the overdramatized ending or Don Lorenzo's speeches make clear, but that fails too often. However, this half-baked mixture of serious, trashy and brutal scenes has its charm. Whoever is interested in exploitation or naziploitation, is advised to take a look.
The first DVD edition of the film was released by Exploitation Digital, a short-lived sub-label of Media Blasters. The DVD has a Spanish opening credits and with "Fin" a French/Spanish ending fade-in. At the time, the release was qualitatively quite appealing, but unfortunately not quite complete. There were probably no deliberate cuts, rather the source material was in a bad condition, so that there are short and long film tears. Because of the film tears, some dialogue gets lost sometimes. A DVD of the film was also released in Denmark and Sweden. It is likely that the master of the US DVD was used for them, i.e. these versions are also slightly shortened.
Some pages state that some parts of a rape scene have been replaced by a black screen on the Exploitation Digital DVD. This refers to the scene in which a Nazi commander enters a mountain hut and rapes a woman there to force a partisan hidden there to reveal himself. The supposed black screen, however, turns out to be a longer countercut to the partisan, who is listening to the woman's screams in his hiding place. The picture on the US DVD is very dark in this scene, which leads to this censorship thesis. But if you look closely, you can clearly see the partisan. The picture quality of the US BD is much better, so there is no doubt.
When the two partisans blow up a bridge at the beginning of the film, a blue filter was placed over the image in the US DVD to indicate that the scene is set at night. This filter is missing on the US BD.
When the General hears about the act of sabotage in the next scene, it is already dark. However, this does not necessarily mean that the attack also took place at night. It makes no real difference for the action if the scene is set during day or night.
The US Blu-ray by Severin is even more international than the US DVD. The movie starts with a Spanish rating card, followed by the English opening credits. In the end, the French/Spanish "Fin" appears as usual. Qualitatively, the version is very accomplished. While some scenes are a bit dark on the US DVD, everything is crystal clear here. The bonus material includes the documentary Fascism On A Thread - The Strange Story of Nazisploitation Cinema, which deals extensively with this subgenre and contains interviews with Dyanne Thorne, Malissa Longo, Bruno Mattei and many more. For this reason alone it is worth buying. The Blu-ray is codefree.
US DVD: 87:10 minutes.
The US DVD by Exploitation Digital was compared to the US Blu-ray by Severin.
The DVD has the Spanish opening credits.
The BD begins with a rating notice, followed by the English introduction.
DVD: 43 sec.
BD: 49 sec.
Part of the dialogue between Hardinghauser and Von Kruessen is missing when the latter tells him on the phone that the bridge was blown up by partisans.
Von Kruessen: "You are an idiot."
Hardinghauser: "But, general."
Von Kruessen: "Start the investigation."
Hardinghauser: "But, that's impossible."
BD: 5 sec.
Film tear: The radio operator adds "Come in".
BD: 2 sec.
Due to a film tear, a sentence from the priest Don Lorenzo is missing: "Is that all we can do?"
BD: 2 sec.
One sentence of the partisan Drago is missing.
Drago: "Those who are shooting against us."
BD: 2 sec.
After the man suggests that they could send Christina, the scene goes on a little further.
Lupo thinks about it a bit and agrees to the suggestion.
Lupo: "Perhaps you're right. We have no other alternative."
BD: 11 sec.
The girl can be seen longer after she was shot by the German soldier, then the partisan can be seen earlier on the tower.
BD: 4 sec.
The dialogue between the two partisans goes on a little longer.
Witzery: "Or perhaps a heap of money to hide under the floor?"
Mara: "You said it."
BD: 4 sec.
The two partisans run longer to the front.
BD: 2 sec.
Christina walks along the path longer.
BD: 2 sec.
The soldier washes his face longer at the spring.
BD: 9 sec.
The BD has more dialogue before the partisans start running.
Drago: "Well, where are the other guys?"
Man: "They should already be at their posts."
Drago: "What are we waiting for? Let's join them."
Man: "Come on boys."
The camera pans up.
BD: 15 sec.