• The Beast In Heat (Severin Films) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Severin Films
    Released on: June 25th, 2019.
    Director: Luigi Batzella
    Cast: Macha Magall, Gino Turini, Edilio Kim, Salvatore Baccaro
    Year: 1977
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    The Beast In Heat – Movie Review:

    The amazing success of 1974's Ilsa – She Wolf Of The S.S. starring Dianne Thorn spurred a whole whack of cheaply made Italian knock offs, each one trying to outdo the other in terms of on screen depravity and shock value. Luigi Batzalla's 1977 entry, Beast In Heat (also known as S.S. Hell Camp and as Horrifying Experiments Of The S.S. Last Days, which is what the title card on this presentation reads), comes pretty close to being one of the nastiest in a series of exceptionally nasty films.

    Dr. Ellen Kratsch (Macha Magall) is a lovely looking but deadly and sadistic officer of the S.S. who is in charge of a grizzly Nazi concentration camp. She spends much of her time parading around in tight leather outfits and doing nasty things to the various prisoners there, such as teasing them with her body or cutting off their fun bits. She's an odd duck, and one with a penchant for torturing people.

    Kratsch's experiments have led to the successful creation of a sort of mutated beast man (Salvatore Baccaro of The Arena and Mondo Candido) who the good doctor uses as a guinea pig in her plan to breed a new race. While the monkey man comes out on top in this situation, sadly the poor lovely ladies who are tossed into his cage do not. While all of this is going on there's a rather unremarkable subplot comprised of stock footage and segments swiped from another earlier Italian war film where some of the prisoners decide to make an attempt to get out of the camp before it's too late. It pads the film out to the standard hour and a half running time and kinda-sorta gives a reason for the film to exist in the first place.

    Luigi Batzalla got his start as an actor but later moved on to work behind the camera and in addition to this one also helmed such Eurocult favorites as Nude For Satan and The Devil's Wedding Night as well as another nasty Nazi movie the very same year in the form of Achtung! The Desert Tigers. This film, however, remains one of his better-known efforts thanks in no small part to it being labeled as a 'Video Nasty' by the BBFC in the 1980s and subsequently banned in England (and also Australia) because of that.

    The grisly high points of the film include Baccaro (credited as Sal Boris, though he also sometimes appeared under the alias or Boris Lugosi!) ripping off a woman's pubic mound and grunting his way through some poorly shot softcore sex scenes, and Magall ripping off finger nails and vamping it up for the camera.

    Though it is very poorly made and as tasteless as tasteless can be, the haphazard editing, shameless use of stock footage and recycled footage, bad special effects and wonderfully goofy performances make this one worth of the 'so bad it's good' stamp of approval. Don't go into this bad boy expecting Schindler's List - it's not that kind of film. It's simply an excuse to show atrocity after atrocity and plenty of naked female flesh.

    The Beast In Heat – Blu-ray Review:

    Severin Films brings Beast In Heat to Blu-ray on a 50GB Blu-ray disc in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer taken from a new scan of the 35mm negative. Given that the film is a bit of a hodge-podge in terms of how it was put together, this is a more than respectable transfer. Yes, the stock footage inserts still look just like stock footage inserts but the newly shot material looks quite good. The inserts are a little faded, in terms of color, but the newly shot stuff is reasonably bright and colorful. Black levels are good, skin tones look fine. Compression isn’t ever a problem and the transfer is free of noise reduction or edge enhancement. Minor print damage pops up here and there but overall, it’s hard to imagine things looking much better than they do.

    The English language DTS-HD Mono track, which comes with optional English subtitles, is fine. It’s a bit thin sounding but you won’t have any trouble understanding the dialogue. The levels are properly balanced and there aren’t any problems with any hiss or distortion.

    The biggest extra on the disc is the inclusion of Fascism On A Thread: The Strange Story Of Nazisploitation Cinema, which is a ninety-one-minute feature length documentary that examines the history of the genre comprised of newly shot interviews with actresses Dyanne Thorne and Malissa Longo, directors Sergio Garrone, Mariano Caiano, Rino Di Silvestro, Liliana Cavani, Bruno Mattei and critics/historians John Martin, Mike Hostench, Allan Bryce, Anthony Page, Ross Hunter and Kim Newman. The documentary looks back on films that inspired the movement, like The Damned and The Night Porter (Liliana Cavani offers some interesting insight into her work on this picture), before then seeing the early success of pictures like Ilsa – The Wicked Warden (at which point we get some interesting interview footage with Thorne) and Freidman’s Love Camp 7 inspire Italian films like Salon Kitty (which Longo talks about quite a bit). The documentary also covers the super low budget Eurocine entries, while the filmmakers interviewed share their thoughts on the productions that they were involved with and, yes, The Beast In Heat is, of course, covered in here as well. It’s pretty interesting stuff with plenty of pertinent clips and archival photographs used throughout to add a bit of visual flair to the proceedings.

    Severin has also included the half-hour Nazi Nasty featurettes, which is an interview with author and genre film expert Stephen Thrower in which he talks about the origins of the genre, some of the socio-political ramifications of certain films, the influence of The Night Porter on the films that followed in its wake, the Ilsa phenomena and then, of course, his thoughts on The Beast In Heat and the people who made. As is typical of Thrower’s segments, it’s insightful and interesting and occasionally rather humorous.

    Outside of that we get a trailer for the feature, menus and chapter selection.

    The Beast In Heat – The Final Word:

    Beast In Heat gets a shockingly solid high definition upgrade from Severin Films, with a fine presentation and a nice array of extra features. If you're a fan of Italian trash and exploitation cinema you'll want to check this one out. Obviously not family fare, it's hard and nasty stuff, but for those who appreciate the kind of depravity that only Italy could produce in the sadistic seventies, this one comes recommended.

    Click on the images below for full sized The Beast In Heat Blu-ray screen caps!

    Comments 1 Comment
    1. Nabonga's Avatar
      Nabonga -
      This landed in my mailbox today. Was planning on watching it tonight but I'm pretty zonked after a long day so I don't think my mind can handle nazi trash on top of that. I didn't know this was going to have a feature lenght documentary on these things so... Yay! By the way, the Ilsa films MUST be released by someone. It's quite baffling they aren't yet. I don't really count the Franco one which I of course already have on my shelf.