ELSA FRAULEIN SS (1977)
aka CAPTIVE WOMEN 4
Directed by Patrice Rhomm
French language with English subtitles
With the defeat of the Third Reich looming ever closer, a panicked Hitler promotes former prostitute Elsa Ackermann to take charge of a group of female recruits, ordered to satisfy German soldiers, in an operation to weed out traitors, doubters and deserters.
ELSA FRAULEIN SS, also known as Fraulein Kitty, is another of the Nazisploitation flicks that arrived on the scene during the mid to late 70’s, no doubt taking a leaf out of the book of cult favourite Ilsa She-Wolf of the SS starring Dyanne Thorne. In this Euro effort, Malisa Longo, who starred as Helga, She-Wolf of Stilberg (another Ilsa ripoff), once again stars as a high-ranking Nazi officer but this time she’s in charge of a romp-train filled with German army girls ready to give their bodies in a bid to coax out their male counterparts’ true thoughts on the Fuhrer and the war. Listening in to each of the cabins, Elsa and her crew monitor the confessions of the soldiers and make an example of any that doubt the Fuhrer, the future of Germany or, God forbid, have plans to sabotage Hitler. Travelling to and from various locations, the train picks up a variety of soldiers from low ranked ones to high ranking officers, none of whom know the real reason behind the pleasure train. Franz, Elsa’s on/off flame isn’t too pleased with Elsa’s new role and succumbs to the charms of young Liselotte. Though Elsa has her own wicked way with the soldiers, Franz’s relationship threatens her, especially as he appears to acknowledge the downfall of the Reich, leaving Elsa with some decisions to make.
Maison Rouge, alongside Black House Films, have released a slew of Euro sleaze titles over the last month, many of which, like this, are dubbed in French with English subtitles. This isn’t the only common factor linking them as ELSA FRAULEIN SS features many of the actors and actresses that starred in the other titles. Patrizia Gori (Liselotte) stars opposite Malisa Longo as she did in Helga, She-Wolf of Stilberg whilst Oliver Mathot stars as SS officer Franz, not too far a departure from a commanding role he took in The Man With The Severed Head (aka Crimson) and he also starred in Helga. Even the actor playing Patrizia Gori’s father, resistance leader Vogel, in Helga, stars as a similar character here as Michel, however in this film he doesn’t have a speaking role. It seems production company Eurocine had a selection of actors they valued highly and re-used over and over which, for the most part, works rather well. Gori and Mathot are both strong actors in their own right. However, I still stand by my thoughts that Malisa Longo is the wrong woman for the job. Her airhead appearance complete with blue eyeshadow may suit the prostitute-turned-officer role here but as a woman in charge, she lacks the authority required to command a scene. She makes good eye candy for the male viewers but that’s about it. The scenes that require her to be cruel and ruthless come off as laughable. The lack of actual physical torture committed by her character and those serving her further make the film laughable when it should be threatening. Scenes where a woman is lashed with a whip are about as violent as it gets for Elsa. I was more shocked at one of the blonde girls being slapped around the face for giving some stowaways some water than anything done to a traitor aboard her train, bar being shot, of course.
For the most part, ELSA FRAULEIN SS is slow and plodding like many of the other movies from Eurocine though this film is definitely a step up from the terrible Helga She-Wolf of Stilberg. Particular characters drive the narrative and make it watchable, especially when the story struggles to keep the momentum going. The plot picks up towards the end of the film but by this point it’s a little too late in the day. The conclusion all rolls out a little predictably though the ending seems to be quite sudden as though they didn’t know how to round it off properly which left my viewing experience a little jarred.
Production-wise, this film feels like a step-up with excellent attention to detail of the SS uniforms. Oliver Mathot is suitably striking in full SS attire including the leather trenchcoat when travelling around town. When making a film set during World War II, I think uniforms are an important factor to get right otherwise the film can often lose its authenticity. Though the film struggles in many other departments, it does get this bit right.
As with the other Euro exploitation movies, expect plenty of nookie with Longo happy to get her breasts out and flash her hairy lady parts whilst a few other actresses follow suit. The sex scenes are not explicit and very softcore with Helga, She-Wolf of Stilberg offering more intensity than this outing showcases. So if you planned on watching this for the sex scenes, you’ll probably be disappointed.
Though I was sceptical of the film before I watched it, ELSA FRAULEIN SS wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. It actually has an interesting storyline that you can get involved in, despite its drawbacks, and has a certain charm to it in its own awkward fashion. It’ll never come close to the likes of Ilsa but then again it’s not that sort of movie so comparing the two would just be an insult to Don Edmond’s successful series.
Sharing many qualities of its fellow Eurocine films, ELSA FRAULEIN SS stills struggles to deliver a strong story and the shocks required but is a step up from the other French exploitation movies in their roster.