• Olga’s Girls (Synapse Films) DVD Review

    Released by: Synapse Films
    Released on: April 26th, 2005.
    Director: Joseph P. Mawra
    Cast: Audrey Campbell, Ricky Bell, Dolly Simmons, Ava Denning, Cynthia Grey, Darlene Bennett
    Year: 1964
    Purchase From Amazon

    Olga’s Girls – Movie Review:

    Audrey Campbell once again dons the black pants, white shirt, and shiny leather boots in the role that she’ll always be best remembered for in Olga’s Girls, the second Olga feature following hot on the heels of White Slaves Of China Town, and made shortly before the third film in the series, Olga’s House Of Shame, both of which were also directed by Joseph P. Mawra.

    This time out we find the cold, calculating Olga running a house of sin for an unnamed inner city syndicate. Anything goes in Olga’s base of operations, be it wanton drug use or blatant prostitution. She’s in on every cut of the action she can be, and you’d best not mess with her if you know what’s good for you. Seeing as Olga has a penchant for sadistic torture, the syndicate figures she’s be a great interrogation officer for them and so they recruit her to go in among the prostitutes that they employ to get the information that they want by whatever means necessary. It seems one of this little whores has been whining to the police, who have turned up the heat on Olga’s bosses which doesn’t make them too happy at all.

    Olga goes through the girls quickly and effortlessly, using whatever instruments of torture catching her fancy at the time to apply pressure on the girls to speak up. She electrocutes them, uses blow torches on them, and in a scene that is very close to Mark Of The Devil’s most famous set piece, slices off a poor lass’ tongue. Once she’s had her way with them, she takes a bit of break and heads on over to her girlfriend’s place for a good time, but little does Olga know that some of the hussies she was laying the smack down on are quite a bit tougher than she first though, and a few of them have got their minds on revenge and their eyes set on Olga…

    Shot in glorious black and white, Olga’s Girls is a masterpiece of sleazy, atmosphere, and noirish shadows. Free of any dialogue save for the narrator and of Olga’s voice overs (provided by Campbell herself, thankfully, as she possesses a very unique and recognizable speaking voice) the movie moves along at a brisk pace and the basic storyline provides ample opportunity for nudity and sadism – the film’s true reason for being.

    Campbell is as good here as she was in any of the other Olga films that she starred in, working her way through the girls without ever once even coming close to breaking the façade. She’s queen bitch, and she knows it. She’s simultaneously fascinatingly sexy and quite intimidating and she gets into her role enough that she really does do a fantastic job filling those boots. Audrey Campbell IS Olga. Lucy Eldridge was good in the role in Olga’s Dance Hall Girls but she couldn’t really take the place of Campbell in the part no matter how much she put into her turn with the riding crop.

    The influence of the Olga films still resonates today. From the concentration camp exploits of Dianne Thorne in Ilsa: She Wolf Of The S.S. to the hardcore rough sex films that would play on 42nd St. a decade later, the people who say these films and later ended up working in the film industry obviously remembered them, and it’s for good reason. They stand out not because of their sadism and nudity (though those are qualities you can easily associate with the film) but because of their slick set design, stark photography, slick and campy narration, and great use of orchestral music (I dare you to watch this one and tell me that Night On Bald Mountain isn’t used perfectly in this movie!).

    The films never go so far as to be truly disturbing – the nudity, the copious in quantity, doesn’t even come close to hardcore and you’re not going to see much below the belt action in this one either – and the violence, though rather extreme, leaves just enough to the imagination as to not really delve too far into the depths of bad taste. However, these are exploitation movies first and foremost – they were made fast and cheap and to cash in on as much sex and violence as they could get away with – but the Olga films and specifically Olga’s Girls have an almost ‘art house’ feel to them. There’s a cold and distinct precision to them that demonstrates that great care was put into the lighting the camerawork that, when combined with the outrageous set pieces, turns the entire experience into something wholly unique.

    Olga’s Girls – DVD Review:

    Synapse has done an nice job transferring this film from the original negative to DVD. Contrast levels are dead on, the blacks stay black and don't break up or pixelate at all, and there are no problems at all with mpeg compression and only some really mild edge enhancement noticeable on the image. Print damage and grain, while present, are only slightly noticeable in a few scenes and for the most part the image is exceptionally clean and clear.

    The English language Dolby Digital Mono sound mix is pretty solid. While this isn't a super duper ultra surround mix, it doesn't need to be. The original Mono works just fine considering the bulk of the audio is simply narration and music. The movie doesn't require channel separation or anything like that. Everything comes through nice and clear without any problems.

    The most significant of the supplements on this disc is a commentary track with Olga herself, Audrey Campbell, moderated by Andre Salas. While this may sound like the greatest extra feature in the history of great extra features, it doesn't quite live up to the expectations would naturally have for this type of thing. While Campbell is open, honest, forthright and jovial the entire time and comes across as a truly nice lady she doesn't really remember a whole lot about the time that these films were made and as such, there isn't as much information in here as you might hope for. Regardless, it is still nice to hear here discuss what she does remember about the Olga films, and it's refreshing to see that she doesn't care about trying to distance herself from it. As it stands, this is a good commentary when I'd hoped that it would be a great commentary.

    Synapse has also included the film's original theatrical trailer, which is kind of fun, as well as a liner note insert from Andre Salas that provide some decent background information on the Olga character and on Audrey Campbell.

    Olga’s Girls – The Final Word Review:

    Olga's Girls holds up really well. It's a slickly made low budget roughie with a great leading role performance from Audrey Campbell and a fine cast of lovely young ladies to leer over. Synapse has done a very nice job bringing this movie to DVD and exploitation buffs will certainly need to snatch this one up pronto.