Helga, She Wolf of Stilberg, 1978.
Directed by Patrice Rhomm.
Starring Patrizia Gori, Malisa Longo, Richard Allan, Dominique Aveline, and Jacques Marbeuf.
A sadistic female prison warden’s latest inmate is the daughter of her government’s political enemy.
The second release from new imprint label Maison Rouge, Helga, She Wolf of Stilberg is a French title that veers a bit close to Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS, possibly the best and certainly one of the most infamous Naziploitation movies to have crawled its way out of the prison slop tray. But while for all intents and purposes Helga, She Wolf of Stilberg is a straight lift of the Ilsa movies it does hold back on some of the grimier traits of those films, which makes it at once both a little easier to watch and also frustratingly bland in places when it could have been a whole lot more.
Whilst it does exorcise some of the bloodier overtones that many a women in prison movie delights in, Helga, She Wolf of Stilberg does start off with a bit of an angry edge as propaganda officer Helga (Malisa Longo – A Cat in the Brain) is ordered by the fascist leader of her country to oversee the inmates at the notorious Stilberg (or Spilberg if you look closely at the title card) women’s prison. Helga takes delight in the fact that she can have her pick of the women to sleep with whenever she wants, as well as getting off on spying on the local farmer who buys a bit of private time with the women in exchange for bottles of expensive wine, and generally things run smoothly until a new prisoner is revealed to be the daughter of the revolutionary opposing Helga’s boss. Naturally, Helga seizes the opportunity to have her way with the feisty young woman and things soon hot up as the new inmate hatches a plan to escape and get word back to her father about what has been happening at the prison. Cue lots of whipping, stripping and hilariously bad dialogue…
The thing with Helga, She Wolf of Stilberg is that it all feels so tame when compared to other movies from the same genre, such as the aforementioned Ilsa series and any number of SS Experiment Camp titles. The sex scenes are played with very little violence or sense of threat – not helped by some laughably bad dubbing – to the point where they could have come from a slightly edgier Confessions movie, especially as the score that pipes up every time somebody’s clothes fall off sounds like the theme from a ‘70s sitcom. There are a few slaps here and there plus some half-arsed whipping of the prisoners that doesn’t look like it would leave a bruise, let alone draw any blood (which it doesn’t), that all gets delivered with very little visible anger or passion, resulting in a very stagey atmosphere that doesn’t sell the idea of a harsh women’s prison.
The prison itself looks pretty neat and tidy compared to ones we have seen in other movies and the women don’t really have to do much in the way of work by the looks of it, and when they aren’t frolicking around in the hay with the dirty old farmer they are casually lounging about in their cells with no clothes on, knitting and chatting away like it was a coffee morning. Helga herself is a fairly one-dimensional character but not played with nearly enough ferocity by Malisa Longo, although she was no doubt only doing what the director told her to do. And while she is a very attractive woman and clearly wants to be given a bit more free rein to show off her villainous acting chops, she is no Dyanne Thorne when it comes to the brutality required for such a role (although a Helga vs. Ilsa movie would be very much appreciated) but again, this is more the fault of the writing than the acting.
Overall, there is an element of fun to be had with Helga, She Wolf of Stilberg if you are willing to accept that this is a movie from a different time that was made to play to audiences – mostly male – sat in fleapit grindhouse cinemas looking to be titillated. The fact that the filmmakers changed the regime from Nazism to an unspecified and made-up army dulls the shock value that the Ilsa movies were known for and the bizarre music choices that play during the rape scenes are more The Benny Hill Show than they are The Last House on the Left, so despite what is happening on-screen Helga isn’t really as nasty or mean-spirited as many of the other Naziploitation or women in prison movies that populated the 1970s. With that in mind it is a bit difficult trying to give this movie a star rating as it isn’t really a film you could term as ‘good’, especially if you are not in tune with the filthier end of exploitation and all the joys it has to offer, but there is a grubby(ish) charm to it that endears it to those who can consider themselves to be genre connoisseurs, despite it being far from the best that the genre has to offer.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★★ / Movie: ★★