Gestapo's Last Orgy (1977)

Author: Brett Gallman
Submitted by: Brett Gallman   Date : 2014-06-05 02:45

Written by: Cesare Canevari and Antonio Lucarella
Directed by: Cesare Canevari
Starring: Adriano Micantoni, Daniela Poggi, and Maristella Greco

Reviewed by: Brett Gallman

ďWhen the superman wishes to amuse himself, he must do so even at the cost of the life of others."

Itís an absurd notion, but some Naziploitation films (or at least those Iíve encountered) veer so far into camp that you actually find yourself laughing at caricatures of pure evil. Theyíre often not so much Nazis as theyíre just cartoonish exploitation villains that happen to wear SS garb. The films aim to shock through pure force of will but come off as puerile jokes, sort of like low-rent takes on Salo. Despite the title, Gestapoís Last Orgy doesnít quite fall into that category. Donít get me wrongóitís still pretty ludicrous at times (yes, thereís an orgy), but at least it approaches being an actual movie, complete with a fascinating central plot that isnít just an excuse for empty depravity.

Last Orgy opens in solemn fashion: sometime after the war, former SS captain Conrad von Starke (Adriano Micantoni) manages to escape a prison sentence in spite of the vivid, heartbreaking testimony of his reign of terror. After the trial, he meets up with Lise (Daniela Poggi), his apparent lover; the two return to his stomping grounds, a now-desolate death camp, where the two take a most disturbing trip down memory lane. It turns out that Lise was a captive Jew who endured unspeakable horrors at the hands of her tormentors, including von Starke. Given their apparent closeness, it seems as if she developed Stockholm Syndrome over the course of her captivity, and it still persists years later.

Most of the film is a protracted flashback chronicling Liseís descent into this hell, which feels more grim and disturbing than other Naziploitation efforts. Even though it features many genre signposts, like gratuitous sex, violence, and your token wicked warden (Maristella Greco), Gestapoís Last Orgy isnít constantly dialed up to ridiculous, broad levels. There are times when it certainly seems that way; for example, Grecoís introduction has her randomly fondling the inmates, which feels like one of those weird Naziploitation quirks that you just go with. Then, she finally picks one of the girls out of the lineup and reveals sheís been looking for a girl whoís menstruating because her savage Dobermans a drawn to the smell of blood. After ripping the young girl from the bunk, Greco heartlessly feeds her to the dogs, which munch on her guts as SS officers look on, amused by the carnage. Itís a stark, disturbing moment that signals the filmís unrelenting grimness.

Which is not to say the film doesnít have its lurid, purely exploitative moments. The titular orgy, for example, is a completely gratuitous aside and is preceded by one of those laughably crass Naziploitation moments. Before partaking in the orgy, a group of nude SS soldiers are lined up and forced to view degrading pornographic images of their Jewish prisoners, particularly the ones who have been conditioned to partake in coprophagia, incest, rape, and bondage. Worked up to a frenzy by the photos, these soldiers can barely contain themselves and are unleashed upon a group of unwitting women for an unhinged sequence right out of Caligula. The women are humiliated, penetrated, and tortured as, again, the commanding officers look on in pleasure.

Itís noteworthy that von Starke constantly gets off by watching, as it defines the dynamic that emerges between himself and Lise. Like so many Nazis, von Starke is actually a small, ineffectual man (in fact, Greco dominates him in one of the more memorable scenes) granted power by authority. When Lise dares not to cower at one of his more unsettling displays of power (letís just say dinner gets fucked when the Nazis decide to give cannibalism a spin), heís both fascinated and angered by her, and he commits himself to completely breaking her through various means of torture. In his frustration and rage, heís oblivious when he eventually becomes the prey for this already-shattered woman, who doesnít have much to lose. Levy is a compelling presence at the filmís center: sheís so blank that you can project any manner of emotions onto herórage, despair, subservience, defiance. Out of the debauchery emerges a fairly absorbing portrait of a woman forced to collect whatever pieces remain of herself in order to survive, and you have to wonder just how many captives found themselves in this very situation during the Holocaust.

In that respect, Gestapoís Last Orgy manages to function as a film that genuinely recalls the horrors of Hitlerís reign. Sure, itís a lurid, sleazy, clumsily produced film that leers as much as it examines, but at least it attempts to sketch some kind of character arc. Thatís preferable to 90 minutes of pure, exhausting debauchery for the sake of it, so that places Last Orgy near the top of the Naziploitation heap (a distinction thatís both dubious and awesome all at once, I suppose). As part of its recent Naziploitation revival, Intervision has reissued the film on DVD with an appropriately roughshod, grungy transfer (parts of it even appear to be obviously interlaced); again, itís hard to imagine such a film looking any other way. An interview with film historian Marcus Stiglegger joins the filmís trailer as the sparse extras, but the film is completely uncut and boasts the infamous dinner scene thatís kept the film banned in the UK to this day. Such a prohibition also doubles as a hearty recommendation, of course. Buy it!

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