Saturday, November 13, 2021

THE GESTAPO'S LAST ORGY (1977) (88 Films Blu-ray Review)

THE GESTAPO'S LAST ORGY (1977) 

Label: 88 Films 
Region Code: A
Duration: 96 Minutes
Rating: Unrated
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (1.85:1)
Audio: English and Italian DTS-HD MA 2.0 Dual-Mono with Optional English subtitles 
Director: Cesare Canevari
Cast: Marc Loud, Daniela Levy, Maristella Greco, Fulvio Ricciardi

The Gestapo's Last Orgy (1977) is a Video Nasty so repugnant it's still banned in the UK to this day - which is all the more reason to be thankful that UK distributor 88 Films have launched their new North American arm with this film being their opening salvo. It's a film sort of in the mold of The Night Porter, Salon Kitty and Salo only much less artful in its execution and way more depraved. 
The Gestapo's Last Orgy (1977) was directed by Cesare Canevari (Matalo!) and is alternately known under the titles Last Orgy of the Third Reich and Caligula Reincarnated as Hitler. It opens a few years after the end of WWII with former Third Reich Commandant Conrad von Starke (Adriano Micantoni, If You Want To Live... Shoot!) meeting up with Lise Cohen (Daniela Poggi), who was a former death camp prisoner at the death camp that Starke operated. They meet at the now derelict death camp where they met and through flashbacks to the camp we are told their story, of her imprisonment and torture and the depraved events at the death camp, and how she came to be the lover of the Nazi commander.

This is a film with certain amount of arthouse pretension - you can detect the makings of a film with a certain pretension of style though just barely, its certainly capably shot but I'm not generous enough to call it artful. It does however manage to rise above most of the nasty Nazisploitation films that were coming out of Italy during the heyday of this exploitation sub-genre, from about '76-'77, but it's not quite up there with more arthouse fare like Tinto Brass's Salon Kitty or The Night Porter. There's no shortage of repugnant sights to see here, it's a very sleazy film, with Canevari fetishizing the idea of the Nazi death camp as a brothel full of Jewish women being raped and degraded by Nazi solders, and then through that medium manages to cram in a ton of shocking images. While there is plenty of naked men and women and simulated rapes there actually no hardcore sex happening here. We of course have a prerequisite wicked SS warden by way of the Commandant's lover Alma (Maristella Greco, Savage Island) who is pretty clearly riffing on the Ilsa films character - a sadistic character with the expected lesbian tendencies who when she's not torturing and humiliating the death camp women is engaged in BDSM kink with the Commandant, punishing his premature ejaculation by shoving the thick end of a whip up his arse.

Separate from the onslaught of almost comical sexual depravity, which includes forced incest, scatology and an extended orgy/rape scenes, we have various scenes of torture and humiliation which are sometimes hard to stomach - these include a harrowing scene of women burning alive inside a furnace and a menstruating woman being eaten alive by hungry Dobermans. It's a lot of sick stuff, some of which you look past the immediate shock value are darkly comical, at least when you think about the screenwriters dreaming this evil-stuff up in a writer's room. A prime example of these violent excesses being women dipped in into a pool of corrosive quicklime or when Lise is is hung by her feet and lowered face first into a box of ravenous... gerbils!?!

One of the films more grotesque threads in the movie is that of cannibalism and the consumption of Hebrew flesh by high ranking Nazi officials during a dinner party where the main entrĂ©e is the stewed flesh of unborn babies. When the content of the meal is revealed a Jewish woman forced to labor as a server for the heinous banquet faints from the shock of it all. Not missing a beat the evil Nazi's pour the baby-stew over her body, strip her nude and place her on a large serving tray, douse her in cognac and flambee her to the delight of the Nazi's who look on with hungry eyes, followed by an orgy/cannibal feast. 

There's not a single ounce of social commentary happening here, just scene after scene of shock peppered with a few scenes exploring Lise's transition from tortured prisoner to the suicidal mistress of the cruel commandment. Their "relationship" is  never fully explored to my satisfaction, but there is a decent payoff at least that plays out in the finale. The is a film that plays it pretty straight with the camp-factor being pretty low, which might hinder any pleasure one could potentially derive from a Video Nasty of this sort, but if you're looking for some super-sleazy nazisploitation this trashy slice of Italian exploitation is sure to please and is better made than most with decent production value.



Audio/Video: The Gestapo's Last Orgy (1977) arrives on Blu-ray from 88 Films with a brand new 2K restoration from the original camera negative framed in 1.85:1 widescreen. It's a great looking scan rom a source that was either in great shape and/or restored without blemish. Grain is organic looking and fine, with great detail in close-ups of skin and textures. Colors look solid throughout, especially the Nazi reds which pop nicely, and skin tones look warm and accurate. Audio comes by way of both English and Italian DTS-HD MA 2.0 dual mono with optional English subtitles. It's a crisp and clean track that sound great, the score from Alberto Baldan Bombo is pretty great, especially the lush opening credits theme song. 

88 Films go all-out for their first North American title, we get some great extras, beginning with a pair of brand new commentaries. Up first is an Audio Commentary by Italian Movie Specialists Troy Howarth and Nathaniel Thomson who are my go-to tag team commentary duo, offering an info and opinion packed track that gets into the sub-genres short run, the cast and crew, and how it compares to others films of this ilk. Then onto the Audio Commentary by Critic and Author Samm Deighan who talks about the short lived cycle of nazisploitation and how some of the events depicted in the film have real-life counterparts. It's a well researched and informative track that has a lot of depth to it. 

We also get some new interviews, hboth in Italian with optional English subtitles. The first is the 25 minute 
Remembering Alberto Baldan Bombo - Interview with Pierpaolo De Sanctis, a film historian and founder of Four Flies Records, which specialized in Italian soundtracks from the "Golden Era" from the 50's on through to the later half of the 80's. He talks about the "minor" Italian composer and his string of film work his collaborations with actress/singer Carmen Villani, and how some of the composer's master tapes have gone missing, such as with his score for The Gestapo's Last Orgy. He also touches on how Bembo ended up composing for smaller and smaller films through the years, for reasons know one seems to remember. He also tracks the rise and fall of the golden era of orchestral scores and the gradual implementation of synths and electronic scores as budgets fell for composers to create film scores.

In the 18-minute One Thing On His Mind - An Interview with Luigi Cozzi the director talks about his early career trying to get film made, meeting Cesare Canevari. He describes him as a pleasant man obsessed with sex and cinema who had a distinct authoritative presence on set but who he considers more of a "half-auteur" with an excessive and over-the-top style. Cozzi also gets into Italian censorship and how one films like The Night Porter opened the door for more of that ilk but without the artistic intentions, describing it as a Trojan Horse in which filmmakers could cram in all sort of previously unseen atrocities. 

The single-disc release arrives in a an oversized keepscase with a reversible sleeve of artwork featuring the original movie poster a new illustration by artist Richard Davies, with a slipcover featuring a separate artwork by Davies as well. Inside there's a double-sided fold-out poster a 18-page illustrated collector's booklet with an essay about censorship and the nazisploitation sub-genre by film journalist Barry Forshaw. This disc is buttoned-up with a 3-minute English Trailer for the film, and a 5-min Alternate Italian Ending

Special Features
- Brand New 2K Restoration From the Original Camera Negatives
- Restored English and Italian DTS-HD MA 2.0 Dual Mono Soundtracks
- Newly Translated English Subtitles
- Complete and Uncut
- Audio Commentary by Critic And Author Samm Deighan
- Audio Commentary by Italian Movie Specialists Troy Howarth and Nathaniel Thomson
- Remembering Alberto Baldan Bombo - An Interview with Pierpaolo De Sanctis, founder of Four Flies Records (25 min) 
- One Thing On His Mind - An Interview with Luigi Cozzi (18 min) HD 
- English Trailer (3 min) 
- Alternate Italian Ending (5 min) HD 
- Double-sided Fold-out Poster
- 18-Page Illustrated Collector's Booklet with essay by Barry Forshaw 

The Gestapo's Last Orgy (1977) is a filthy pastiche of nazisploitation tropes crammed with scene after scene of perverse and repugnant acts that's sure to please fans of grim and crude exploitation. This sort of stuff was par for the course with this short-lived sub-genre, but this entry has a few above average moments of shock that will stick with you for awhile, plus it's a better made film than most other nazisploitation flicks. This is a terrific initial North American offering from 88 Films who impress with a top-notch A/V presentation, handsome packaging and a great set of extras, and they have plenty more great titles on the horizon.  

Screenshots from the 88 Films Blu-ray: 

















































Extras:


















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