Women's Camp 119 [DVD]

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Overview

Synopsis

KZ 9 - Lager di Sterminio
The only one of the two dozen or so Nazi sex-horror films of the 1976-1977 wave which actually forgoes the usual smarmy titillation in favor of rubbing the viewer's nose in the atrocities of the Holocaust, Bruno Mattei's most horrifying and serious-minded film may actually rise above exploitation to the level of a strange sort of art. In a time when grainy Auschwitz footage has been screened so often as to have lost its power to a generation of numbed youth, this unflinching descent into madness and horror may be the only way to educate the callous teens who laughed through more subtle films such as Schindler's List. Mattei and his fellow screenwriters obviously did their homework, because each of the experiments here are part of the historical record. Their motives may be suspect, but the results are brutally authentic. One prisoner has her leg broken in three places to see if it will heal without medical attention. Naked women are beaten, whipped, and left to die in the gas chamber, choking on vomit and covered with their own excrement. There are also references to the progress of the war effort and its effects on Hitler's policies regarding the medical camps, as well as one of the few filmed depictions of the homosexuals who went to their deaths in the Holocaust. Finally, there is a genuinely moving moment near the end of the film. As heroine Maria (Lorraine De Selle) and her friend are about to be hanged for trying to escape, the assembled prisoners sink to their knees and sing "Israel" in defiant support. The angry commandant has one row of them shot down like dogs, but the others continue singing until they, too, are executed one by one. ~ Robert Firsching, Rovi

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