THE BEAST IN HEAT (1977) Blu-ray
Director: Luigi Patella (as Ivan Kathansky)
Severin Films

One of the most notorious and silliest Nazisploitation films comes to Blu-ray via Severin Films with THE BEAST IN HEAT.

In the last days of the S.S. occupation of Italy, Dr. Ellen Kratsch (Macha Magall, SS GIRLS) is still working away at her contribution to the perfection of the "master race" with a drug intended to extend "virility beyond human abilities" testing it on a horny dwarf (Salvatore Baccaro, FRANKENSTEIN'S CASTLE OF FREAKS) who has a habit of raping his female partners to death. Naturally, when the partisans blow up a bridge strategic to the Nazi retreat and incompetent Captain Hardinghauser (Edilio Kim, A WHITE DRESS FOR MARIALE) starts desperately rounding up women and children trying to flush out the location of their partisan men, Kratsch thinks that her dwarf will be useful in extracting information from the female captives while her own sadism comes into play in interrogating the men. When the partisans learn of the roundup, their only hope may be the combined efforts of Father Lorenzo (Brad Harris, THE GIRL IN ROOM 2A), munitions expert Drago (Gino Turini, KING OF KONG ISLAND) who tries to blow up bridges without killing, partisan leaders Moreno (Alfredo Rizzo, THE PLAYGIRLS AND THE VAMPIRE) and Lupo (Xiro Papas, FRANKENSTEIN 80), and the intelligence gathered by prostitute sisters Doretta and Irena (Brigitte Skay, A BAY OF BLOOD).

Designed to provoke and achieving it with its Video Nasty status, THE BEAST IN HEAT outside of its rape scenes which concentrate heavily on wide angle close-ups of Baccaro (billed as "Sal Boris") mugging for the camera, is often too absurd to truly upset despite copious nudity and blood (often combined) with torture scenes involving whipping, castration, fingernail pulling, and hungry rats which are actually cute guinea pigs dyed black. The more salacious proceedings are incoherently intercut with the partisan storyline which is actually redubbed footage from director Luigi Batzella's earlier war film WHEN THE BELL TOLLS (the Harris and Skay scenes which also featured Turini, Rizzo, and Kim) as well as more battle footage from Rizzo's film HEROES WITHOUT GLORY (which also became stock footage in the WWII flashbacks of Jess Franco's OASIS OF THE ZOMBIES). The electronic score of Giuliano Sorgini (THE LIVING DEAD AT MANCHESTER MORGUE) is pretty much the film's sole "achievement." The film may garner repeat viewings for its qualities for some viewers but it may be a one-and-done viewing for others. The film feels less like part of its Italian Nazisploitation ilk than a more graphic version of Eurocine's French take on the genre.

Released to VHS in the United States in cut form by Mogul Communications as S.S. EXPERIMENT CAMP 2 (as a sequel to Sergio Garrone's film S.S. EXPERIMENT LOVE CAMP) and by Video City Productions as S.S. HELL CAMP, THE BEAST IN HEAT (the title under which it was released in the U.K. as a more complete pre-cert) was more complete but not uncut when Media Blasters put it out on DVD as part of their Exploitation Digital line running a minute shorter than the Severin Blu-ray while also blacking out twenty seconds of a rape scene. Severin's 1080p24 MPEG-4 AVC 1.85:1 widescreen Blu-ray claims to be scanned from the original camera negative and that is possibly true with regards to the original footage while the footage from the other films seems to have come from dupe elements with splice lines when transitioning to the older films and when cutting within that footage. Colors are variable with the recycled footage looking faded while the original footage just looks garishly-lit with appropriately nauseating colors. Although the presentation starts with a Spanish "S" classification card for the film, the opening title are in English with the title card reading HORRIFYING EXPERIMENTS OF THE S.S. LAST DAYS and ends with a FIN card. The English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mono track is the only option available, and the lackadaisical dubbing does the film no favors in terms of its dramatic aspirations. Optional English SDH subtitles are included.

Extras start off with the feature-length documentary "Fascism On A Thread: The Strange Story of Nazisploitation Cinema" (91:29) in which genre film historians John Martin, Mike Hostench, Allan Bryce, Anthony Page, Ross Hunter, and Kim Newman trace the genre's origins to ROME: OPEN CITY, KAPO, THE DAMNED, and THE NIGHT PORTER – as well as the influence of the American LOVE CAMP 7 and the Canadian ILSA, SHE WOLF OF THE S.S. – distinguish arthouse and grindhouse Nazisploitation films, and further subdivisions of films focused on experimentation and other set in brothels, also noting the genre's tendency to skirt the Holocaust as well as the Italian and French examples' interrogation of their countries' collaboration and culpability even when including partisan heroes. Dyanne Thorne and her husband Howard Maurer discuss the ILSA films, Malissa Longo is on had to talk about SALON KITTY as well as the Eurocine Nazisploitation entries (with additional input from the company's Daniel Lasoeur whose late father had been a partisan), and Liliana Cavani disputes the notion that THE NIGHT PORTER depicts a sadomasochistic relationship, while filmmakers Sergio Garrone, Mario Caiano, and Rino Di Silvestro discuss their entries in the genre with comments ranging from pretentious intellectualizing to commercial-mindedness. By the time discussion of THE BEAST IN HEAT comes around, everyone has a good time discussing how bad it is. Also included is "Nazi Nasty" (30:18), an interview with film historian Stephen Thrower who provides background on the Patella and Rizzo films recycled to pad THE BEAST IN HEAT, describes the film as both "startlingly disgusting" as well as "absurd and hilarious" and hopes that the late Patella did not take the film as seriously as some of his genre colleagues. The disc also includes a French theatrical trailer (3:28) with the onscreen title HOLOCAUSTE NAZI but with English audio. (Eric Cotenas)