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HELGA, SHE WOLF OF STILBERG (1978)
Directed by Alain Garnier (Patrice Rhomm)
French language with English subtitles
Available on DVD

After voicing her opinion that opposition rebel Vogel is still active and recruiting common folk in an uprising against the fascist leadership, female commander Helga is assigned a warden role at the Stilberg castle for female political prisoners. When her men capture Vogel’s daughter Elisabeth, Helga is determined to make her her own personal sex slave. Unhappy with her situation, Elisabeth plans to escape the castle and bring justice to all at Stilberg.

The second of Maison Rouge’s releases is 70’s exploitation flick HELGA, SHE WOLF OF STILBERG. With a tagline of ‘Deadlier Than Ilsa’, I met HELGA, SHE WOLF OF STILBERG with high expectations and a cynical eye. I’m a huge fan of the Ilsa series, the first two directed by Don Edmonds and all three starring Dyanne Thorne as the soldier of fortune, and with the character of Ilsa such a determined, driven character who’s not afraid of getting her hands dirty to get the job done, I was expecting scenes of torture akin or worse than electric shock dildo therapy and rats nibbling faces off. Sat in a floral summer dress at a high table of officers with head of the unnamed fascist party, President Steiner, our villainess Helga (Malisa Longo) looks everything except badass. Okay, I thought to myself, maybe she’s more vicious than she first appears. Halfway into the film, it became apparent that Helga was nothing more than a bland desperate housewife, in charge of some female prisoners, looking to fulfill her lesbian desires when not getting herself off, having sex with soldier Hugo Lombardi or making the women lug tree trunks around. ‘Deadlier Than Ilsa’?! Ilsa would snap Helga in two just by looking at her. This poor effort was clearly made riding on the tailcoats of the successful Ilsa series, even pinching the “She-Wolf” part of the first Ilsa film’s title, just to try and lure in fans to watch this pointless exercise in filmmaking.

I’m aware that many films like to copy other movies and whilst this can sometimes become tiresome, there are odd gems out there who give it their best shot and make an entertaining piece of cinema for viewers to enjoy. Unfortunately, HELGA, SHE WOLF OF STILBERG fails on all fronts. Not only is its characters and antagonist one dimensional to the point of being a joke, the story seems to lack an actual plot or driving narrative. In the beginning, disgruntled that one of the leaders has convinced President Steiner to send her away to Stilberg, Helga has plans to do away with Steiner’s chief commander by way of a sex scandal and return to a prominent role within the party. Her position at Stilberg is, to her at least, meant to be a temporary one which she has no interest in but once the film settles into its new location of Stilberg, it seems content to just stay there. The plot then runs through the cycle of a selected girl being raped by Doc the farmer in exchange for a couple of bottles of his finest wine, Helga summoning women for her own satisfaction, dorm room discussions between the female prisoners and the odd whipping of an uncompliant prisoner. It’s dull as dishwater to watch and not even the arrival of Elisabeth Vogel (Patrizia Gori) could awaken me from the eternal slumber of boredom. As for Stilberg being a prison, the girls are kept in basic living conditions – they have a bed, they have showers, they are fed and a whipping is all the torture they receive from Helga directly. They even get to eat together, sleep in the same room and talk to each other! In most other exploitation movies of this genre, the women are treated much worse and make Stilberg look like a holiday camp!

HELGA, SHE WOLF OF STILBERG tries to appeal to fans of the exploitation genre but fails spectacularly. Its repetitive, paint-by-numbers approach just leaves it looking like a sorry homage to the real deal. Whilst I’m grateful for Maison Rouge in bringing Euro Sleaze titles like this to DVD, I’m afraid I can only recommend the film itself to die-hard fans of the genre who absolutely must complete their collection.

Rating: ★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆

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Bat

BatI love prosthetic effects, stop-motion animation and gore, but most of all I love a good story! I adore B-movies and exploitation films in many of their guises and also have a soft spot for creature features. I review a wide range of media including movies, TV series, books and videogames. I'm a massive fan of author Hunter S. Thompson and I enjoy various genre of videogames with Kingdom Hearts and Harvest Moon two of my all time favs. Currently playing: Silent Hill

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