Ilsa: She Wolf of the SS (1975)


Based on the actual Nazi Ilse Koch, “Ilsa, She-Wolf of the SS,” takes the actual person Ilse Koch who tortured prisoners and collected skin from the prisoners who had tattoos, and turns it into a rather shameless exploitation film. Let’s be honest, this is mostly just pornography with a plot, and yet I was lost in its story. The actual Ilse Koch was a lowlife dog, a monster fit to be hanged and pelted with rocks. She was an inhuman jellyfish who took great pleasure in tormenting the poor prisoners, while this film is really just porn. And, I’m not begrudging it for that. This is a capsule of its time. Period.

Judging it beyond any other views is pointless, futile and ridiculous. The first in the series views Ilsa as a woman virtually left to her own devices without dissension or backlash. She tortures prisoners, sleeps with the Jews, and then murders them as unsuitable to become their constant lovers. “She Wolf” is the film that belongs to Ilsa and Ilsa alone. She’s utterly vivacious and exotic, and yet so goddamn despicable to watch. She revels in her own sadism, and vicious crimes, and it empowers her in some odd manner. As much as the producer would love to insist, though, “She Wolf” is as socially relevant as any other disposable sexploitation film from the seventies. It bears no significance to the legacy of the holocaust, nor does it really inspire thought on the matter.

The concentration camp is merely just a backdrop to allow Ilsa to sleep with prisoners, and mutilate them in grueling torture sequences. “She Wolf” tracks the inevitable downfall of this madwoman, as new prisoners arrive at the camp for Ilsa’s games. The men are spit on and become subjects for her sexual games, while the women are molested and tortured beyond recognition. This is somehow her own theory on testing the woman’s endurance of pain compared to men, as well as the wills of the Jews to withstand the torment. On other fronts, the women in the camp decide they must stage an uprising, while an American prisoner has become Ilsa’s new lover, and is intent on being an addictive one to bide time for forces who will corrupt the camp and bring Ilsa down.

Beyond that, there are rather grueling torture sequences on par with “The Passion of the Christ.” Prisoners are strapped next to one another and whipped to the point of death, and are hung like meat in a butcher shop. Dyanne Thorne is utterly memorable as Ilsa, having a lot of fun as the demon woman we love to hate. She’s vile, but she’s also the ultimate disciplinarian sexual fantasy. There’s really nothing to this film beyond the simple premise. Ilsa sleeps with prisoners, Ilsa tortures prisoners. But it’s a pretty intriguing bit of exploitation. Did I love this? No. Did I enjoy it? Yes, probably too much. Dyanne Thorne takes the character of Ilsa and makes her so despicable yet so utterly desirable. More porn than actual adventure flick, this is worth the watch, regardless. If only, to see the electrified vibrator.