04 January, 2008

Eurocine's ELSA FRAULEIN SS

Vintage Wizard Video cover art is better than the film. Lurid, colorful and banned in the UK!

Entertaining Nazi troops aboard a train outfitted with hookers and hidden microphones!


I'm not a fan of ILSA-SHE WOLF OF THE SS, which I saw (in an altered state of consciousness) at a Midnight Movie Ilsa triple bill in the late 1970s, but that at least had the Dominatrix-From-Hell aesthetics of Dyanne Thorne (cf Jess Franco's 1977 GRETA, HAUS OHNE MANNER, where her character's name was changed to Ilsa in the English language version). But Eurocine's 1977 ELSA FRAULEIN SS is a poor exploitation of that le bad cinema franchise of a generation ago. Ms Thorne had humor and a steelyard eroticism which Malisa Longo, as the title character here, cannot match.

I first saw this as one of the 1980's CAPTIVE WOMEN video series, as CAPTIVE WOMEN IV (another of the CAPTIVE WOMEN numbers is actually Jess Franco's 1980 Women-in-Peril German-Spanish coproduction LINDA). The ridiculous plot concerns the adventures of the Nazi operative Elsa as she commands a train equiped with special cars containing women forced into prostitution (Eurocine's HELLTRAIN was another 1977 Nazi-exploitationer which had basically the same plot with Monica Swinn in the Elsa/Ilsa role, this Alan Payet directed item is a bit more watchable, which isn't saying much). Elsa's stated mission (the officer who develops the idea is immediately executed) is to provide R&R for weary troops but the actual agenda involves exposing anti-Nazi plots. Who knows, maybe there was a Nazi deal to uncover traitors by having prostitutes weasel anti Hitler sentiments out of them while in bed, but I doubt it.

Ms. Longo is a rather impressive bitch goddess in such films in Al Bradley's WAR OF THE COSMOS (1978) and Fulci's CAT IN THE BRAIN (1990), but she doesn't get any direction or heat going here. Credited to "Mark Stern" (Patrice Rondard) the war action is as ineptly staged as the hi jinks in Elsa's boxcar.

Olivier Mathot (the homicide detective in EXORCISM and numerous roles in 1970's/80s Eurocie/Jess Franco titles) plays the obligatory "good Nazi" who, with the local partisans, puts an end to Elsa's railroading tactics. This boring, talky Euro nudie-roughie is not as nude or as rough as most other Nazi sexploitation from France and Italy of that era. You'll prove to be a better person than myself if you're able to sit through it without numerous sanity breaks.

The best thing about it is Pamela Stanford (30 October 1950, Fontainebleau, France
Birth Name: Monique Delaunay), LORNA, THE EXORCIST herself, and one of our favorite Eurotrash goddesses of the 1970's. She appears as Gundrun, and performs a rather hot cabaret number with Jess Franco actor-composer-collaborator Daniel White backing her up on the piano. She also appears in HELLTRAIN. M. White does not look happy to be involved in this affair.

Jess Franco directed a nonsexploitation World War II movie for Eurocine in 1990, WAR SONG, with Christopher Lee, which my friend Francesco Cesari finds rather interesting. I'm waiting to see this rather dialogue heavy melodrama in English, which I'll be reviewing here in the future. On cursory viewing I can report that it's certainly more interesting than ELSA FRAULEIN SS. Aka FRAULEIN DEVIL. Lina Wertmuller's great SEVEN BEAUTIES acts as a definitive critique of this entire unfortunate sub-genre.

This may all be a bit unfair to Ms. Longo, who has a fun website and appears to still be in good humor.: http://www.malisalongo.it/




Thanks to David Z, who is up for a battlefield promotion.






(C) Robert Monell, 2007

16 comments:

Kaya Özkaracalar said...

This and TRAIN SPECIAL POUR HITLER (Helltrain) were shot simoultanously on the same sets with same cast but with two directors. The Lesours talk about how they did it in their VW interview. I didn't watch ELSA, but I kind of like the other one just for its cynycal tone a la A Woman for All Seasons: the movie starts with MS dancing in front of a Nazi flag and ends with her singing in front of a US flag.

Robert Monell said...

Thanks for that information, I can tell they were shot on the same sets but I didn't know they were shot at the same time. I think they use the same stock footage at times also. Is HELLTRAIN on DVD?

Kaya Özkaracalar said...

The stock footage is said to be from LE JARDIN DU DIABLE and turns up in several Eurocine movies with 2WW scenes.
Xploited lists HELLTRAIN on dvd from a label I am not familiar with, called "Substance".

Douglas Alan Waltz said...

Is WARSONG in English? And, if so, where can I get it?

David Zuzelo said...

Thanks for the great write up of a not so great film. While certainly not a great flick, this is the kind of stuff I really enjoy watching when in a Eurocine mood.
As an aside, I love the new design for the blog and I'm looking forward to another year of groovy posts.

Ah, and thanks for the promotion from the trenches-I think I'll have some fun stuff to share with you this year as well, I'm on a Eurospy visionquest in 2008-and guess who seems to be everywhere in regards to that genre? You!

Robert Monell said...

Kaya: There's also WW 2 era documentary footage of Hitler and Nazi rallies in ELSA, I haven't seen HELLTRAIN in years so I can't remember if it's the same. The other film you mention has footage in OASIS OF THE ZOMBIES and the Spanish version, if you're referring to Alfredo Rizzo's I GIARDINI DEL DIAVOLO ( a 1971 Italian war epic) and is also used for stock war footage in WAR SONG, which has other war footage from other Eurocine product also. It all gets very confusing.

Robert Monell said...

Doug: I have a DVD R of WAR SONG thanks to Francesco Cesari. It's in French with no English options, The film has long dialogue scenes with many characters in a complicated plot unfolding over years. So, I can't follow it at all. Francesco mentioned the possibility of an English dub. I don't think it has appeared on R1 or US home video yet. I'd like to see it in English. Contact Francesco Cesari. He knows.

Robert Monell said...

David Z: I was going to award you the ZOMBIE LAKE citation for heroism under fire. Thanks for you comments and it should be noted that the awesome Kimberly Lindbergs is mainly responsible for the redesign. I'm adding a Eurocine Archives here soon. Hope you can contribute. Now I'd like to read your review of HELLTRAIN on your site.

Frédérick said...

Alain Payet died a few days ago...

Robert Monell said...

Thanks for that info, Frederick. Did he die in December? He was sometimes listed as James Gartner wasn't he?

scott said...

Hmm, I wonder when someone will unearth the pamela stanford fansite! :)

Douglas A. Waltz said...

Thanks for the info, Robert. I don't know enough French to get through any lengthy dialogue scenes. Currently, I am studying Spanish so I can get through more Franco flicks that have not been subtitled or dubbed. Wish me luck. After I think I've got a handle on the language I'm tackling Labios Rojo first.

Robert Monell said...

I'm developing a Pamela Stanford archive here, Scott. We'll be covering many of her films in the future.

Robert Monell said...

Doug, there's also a Sp version of WAR SONG. Good luck in learing Spanish. The Spanish versions of his films are the most personal and coded, imo. See the Spanish version of CECILIA, for instance.

scott said...

Great to hear this about the Pamela Stanford archive!! I will look forward to it!

Robert Monell said...

I would like to cover as many of her films as possible, even the awful Eurocine CANNIBAL TERROR.