Thursday, January 19, 2017

LOVE CAMP 7 (1969) (Blu-ray Review)

LOVE CAMP 7 (1969) 
2-Disc Limited Edition DVD/BD

Label: Blue Underground
Release Date: January 31st 2017 
Region Code: Region-FREE
Rating: Unrated
Duration: 96 Minutes
Audio: English DTS-HD MA Mono 1.0, English Dolby Digital Mono 1.0 with Optional English Subtitles 
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (1.66:1) 
Director: Lee Frost
Cast: Bob Cresse, Maria Lease, Kathy Williams, Bruce Kimball, John Alderman

Synopsis: The story of LOVE CAMP 7 is based on fact! During the darkest days of World War II, two young American WAC officers volunteer to infiltrate a depraved Nazi Love Camp on a desperate rescue mission. Once inside, they are subjected to unspeakable indignities and horrifying humiliations at the hands of their sadistic captors. Can they survive the sick degradations and perverted orgies long enough to complete their objective and escape with their lives - and bodies - intact? 

Love Camp 7 (1969) has the dubious distinction of being the movie that launched the notorious Nazi exploitation cycle of low-budget movies in the 1970s, it was cooked-up in part by the demented mind of exploitation pioneer/producer Dave Friedman (Blood Feast) and directed by Lee Frost (The Black Gestapo). While it might seem pretty tame in hindsight today this must have been a wild slice of nazi-cinema when it first appeared on drive-in screens, it was even certified as a video nasties in the UK where it is still banned today!

The story begins in 1969 in a London office as a pair of aging men are discussing a business transaction when the conversation turns towards their shared WWII experiences, one of the men details a wartime story that involved sending two undercover women soldiers, WAC Lt. Linda Harman (Maria Lease, The Scavengers) and WAC Lt. Grace Freeman (Kathy Williams, The Babysitter), into a notorious Nazi love camp, a place where the Jewish women were sent to serve as sex slaves to the front line Nazi soldiers and their superiors. So what we have here is a one-two punch of Nazi exploitation cinema mixed with the trappings of a scuzzy women-in-prison film. We have the expected rapes, some forced lesbianism, sadistic rope bondage, whippings, and some good old fashioned Nazi boot-licking, plus nude women as far as the eye can see.  

Their mission, to track down a female scientist named Dr. Martha Grossman who has vital information about the development of a jet propulsion engine that the Allies are keen to have, she was sent to the Nazi brothel when it was discovered she had been leaking critical information to the French Resistance. To that end the women find themselves captured and imprisoned at the infamous Love Camp 7 run by the tyrannical Commandant, played with a bit too much Nazi glee by rumored closet-Nazi Bob Cresse, House on Bare Mountain

The women are subjected to the humiliation and rape you would expect from a WIP film with a Nazi twist, making it just that much more hard to swallow, I found some of this stuff difficult to watch, but it is also sort of silly, despite the distasteful content. For example, the American actors portraying British, French and German officer have awful foreign accents, with actor Bruce Kimball (Drive-In Massacre) portraying a more pervy and rapey version of the clownish Schultz from TV's Hogan's Heroes, as Sgt. Klaus Müller. Not all the Nazi's are rapey jerks though, we have a more sensitive type by way of Sgt. Gotthardt (Wes Bishop, Race with the Devil), who is kind enough to make love to, not rape, one of our undercover women, but you know the only good Nazi is a dead Nazi and it doesn't pan out so well for him in the end. 

The movie culminates during an orgy put on for high-ranking sex-mad Nazis, as the French Resistance assaults the prison from outside our women inside stage a daring prison break that goes wrong, with piles of dead Nazis and one of our ladies biting the bullet. The snivelling Commandant (Creese) ends up being blinded by a broken bottle to the face, crying hysterically and blindly gunning away at the women, it made for a high-energy finale. 

Like I said, this is a pretty tame slice of softcore Nazi exploitation compared to what would follow in the 70s, but this is still a seedy roughie with some dark and perverse content. Sure, the plot is a bit on the ridiculous side, just the contention that women soldiers would volunteer themselves to be whores for the Third Reich in a "love camp" in the name of the war effort is dubious to say the least, but that's all part of the charm of exploitation, right? Love Camp 7 earns extra points for being the first slice of Nazi nastiness, and for doing so with a certain amount of restraint that is commendable, we already have Nazi exploitation and WIP tropes in place, without resorting to hardcore sex and more visceral onscreen violence, which would come in the following decade. 

Audio/Video: This slice of Nazi exploitation arrives on Blu-ray from Blue Underground looking way better than I had thought to be possible, having only viewed YouTube clips of this one previously the crystal clear 4K transfer, framed at 1.66:1, is a stunner. Grain is nicely managed, and the amply seen nude women's skin tones look healthy and natural. Blue Underground went back to the recently discovered original camera negative for this 4K restoration and it is mind boggling how nice this looks in HD with loads of fine detail and texture, the image is near flawless with nary a scratch to be found. Like the visuals, the audio sounds great, clean and crisp, no issues with distortion or hiss, while the lossless mono track is not very dynamic it does the trick. 

Extras are a bit thin by the usual standards of Blue Underground, but we do get a extended trailer, a poster and still gallery, and they've licensed the Nazithon: Decadence and Destruction (2013)trailer clip show from Full Moon Entertainment, hosted by the tattooed female SS Officer Frau Bombshell (Michelle McGee), which is a bit silly but hey, it's there to watch if you want. There's also a collectible booklet featuring "The History of Nazi-Exploitation" by author Paolo Zelati which does a good job of detailing the swastika-laden sub genre of nazisploitation. 

The 2-disc DVD/Blu-ray Combo comes in a clear Criterion-style Blu-ray keepcase with a sleeve of reversible artwork, the main feature and extras are the same on the DVD and Blu-ray, the discs also feature two art options mirroring the reversible sleeve of artwork.  
Special Features: 
- Nazithon: Decadence and Destruction (80 min) 
- Theatrical Trailer (8 min) HD     
- Poster and Still Gallery (118 images) HD 
- Reversible Sleeve of Artwork 
- Collectible Booklet featuring "The History of Nazi-Exploitation" by author Paolo Zelati

Love Camp 7 (1969) was the first Nazi Nasty, not the best by any means, but it deserves a certain amount of respect and notoriety for that fact alone, though I'd be lying if I didn't say it was a bit sloppy and funnily inept in a lot of ways, but if you dig exploitation with a nazi twist there's fun to be had, particularly with Bob Creese unleashing his inner Nazi as the seething Commandant, he's way over the top and loads of fun. Blue Underground's Blu-ray looks phenomenal, I wish it had some interviews, featurettes or a commentary to accompany the film but the new 4K restoration is awesome, so now you can enjoy this notorious Nazi nasty in all it's crisp HD infamy. 3.5/5  

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