HELGA, SHE WOLF OF STILBERG (1978) – Review **

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                  Disclaimer: this is not the infamous Canadian Nazisploitation Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS, but the title is not the only thing strangely similar to its predecessor. Directed by Patrice Rhomm (under the nom de f*ck Alain Garnier), this European production never got as much attention as its cousin from the other side of the Atlantic, but at least it has the dubious honor of being a Nazisploitation film without a single Nazi.

The film starts with a cabinet meeting at some kind of South American nazi-inspired dictatorship situation, where super bitchy Helga (Malisa Longo) is told she knows nothing of politics, and is sent to be the warden of an all-female prison at Stilberg Castle. There, political prisoners in various degrees of nudity are forced to hard labour, prostituted to the local farmer in exchange of some alcohol bottles, and occasionally invited to share the bed with tight leather pants Helga. When Elizabeth (Patrizia Gori), the daughter of famous rebel Vogel, is captured, she suddenly sees herself having to decide between the bed of the sadomasochist woman or an incredible level of physical degradation by working with the rest of the plebe.

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Though exploitation is not known for its cinematic subtleties, Helga, She Wolf of Stilberg is a special kind of terrible. I’ve seen better acting in recent pornography, and visually there is nothing particularly exciting or worth mentioning. Locked camera, four or five rooms, and that’s about it. The eroticism is mostly absent, even in the consensual sex scenes, and there doesn’t seem to be enough skin to justify the sleaze classification. Violence, however, is plenty – loads of abusive guards and a whip crazy Helga, but most of the time they look more like teenagers fumbling for second base than threatening sex perverts, leaving the scenes sitting on the fence between shocking and ridiculous. Plot wise, it’s predictably thin (what happened to Helga’s own personal revenge plot that’s introduced in the beginning of the film?), but it never dares to go into so bad it’s good territory. And yet you keep on watching, hoping for some kind of satisfying conclusion (spoiler: you may not get it).

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Not the best example of Euro Sleaze, still, Helga, She Wolf of Stilberg may hold some interest for the cult lover with completist tendencies, either as a badly disguised knock off of Ilsa, as a place where we can admire the naked torso of Longo and Gori, or even, as a reminder that even in exploitation there are quality standards.

 

Helga, She Wolf of Stilberg is being released in DVD on 13th March 2017 by Maison Rouge, a new Euro Cult Label by Screenbound focused on sexploitation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sara is originally from Coimbra, Portugal, where she studied Film Studies before moving to London to enrol in film school. Having made her first short film about her neighbour's chickens when she was 9 (a dystopian sci-fi, still her favourite genre), she is now a London-based film director and editor, and also a writer for the Portuguese Take Magazine. She is a huge fan of Lars Von Trier, Krysztof Kiéslowski, and David Lean.