LOVE CAMP 7 (1969) Blu-ray/DVD
Director: Lee Frost
Blue Underground

Legendary exploitation film producer David F. Friedman spent the decade of the 1960s churning out adult-oriented schlock not only of the gory kind (H.G. Lewis’ “Blood” trilogy), but also sex-ifying storybook tales and every type of historical nudie scenario imaginable. It’s no surprise then that before the close of the decade, he’d be touching upon one of the most notorious and taboo subjects of recent history: the horrors of the Third Reich. LOVE CAMP 7 is an important exploitation epic for a number of reasons, and it served as template not only for the barrage of “women in prison” films that followed in the decade, but also for a significant list of future Nazi-themed trash cinema from other parts of the world. Boasting more than its fair share of exploitation royalty behind and in front of the camera, LOVE CAMP 7 finally makes its American digital-age debut courtesy of Blue Underground’s Blu-ray/DVD combo set.

In a London office during the present day of the late 1960s, an American and a Brit engage in a conversation about their days in WWII, leading to a flashback of jaw-dropping proportions. During the big war, allied commanders from the United States, Great Britain and France combine forces in a plan to rescue scientist Martha Grossman—who holds some secret information—from a German prison camp. Since the prison is filled with women whose soul purpose is to satisfy Nazi officers, the allies send in two highly-skilled American WAC lieutenants—Linda Harman (Maria Lease, DRACULA VS. FRANKENSTEIN) and Grace Freeman (Kathy Williams, THE RAMRODDER)—as prisoners with new identities and the realization that they have to be prepared for the worst, including offering their shapely bodies to the horny Nazis on command (“whores for the Third Reich”). The prison is run by a stoutish Commandant (BUMMER’s Bob Cresse, here billed as “R.W. Cresse”) who deems the women as worthless, having them power-hosed and “examined” by a butchy female nurse before they make residence in their cramped cell. They’re also made subject to belt whippings, various torture involving ropes, bucket-holding, a gable-shaped hardwood saddle and of course the humiliating and unwanted attentions of the groping Gestapo. When Linda retaliates against a high commander who is all over her like a cheap suit, she’s tied up naked and finally encounters Martha Grossman while the allies outside the camp plan an attack: the expected revenge and ensuing escape can now move forward.

LOVE CAMP 7 is undeniably sleazy and chock full of female nudity, as would be expected from a film produced by Friedman at the time, and although it positively spearheaded the “Naziploitation” fad of the 1970s (which came in both “arty” and “trashy” varieties) it took a few years later and Friedman’s far more graphic and unsettling ILSA: SHE WOLF OF THE SS (1974) to take the genre to extremes and provoke an onslaught of imitators from Italy and France, all produced within a short three-year period. The film was made at a time when grindhouses were looking for titillating fetish-indulging movies on various subjects, so LOVE CAMP 7 certainly fits the bill and was impressive in its efforts to cinematically recreate Nazi Germany, even if the intentions were strictly commercial. In this politically correct climate, the antics of LOVE CAMP 7 will likely be viewed as derogatory towards women by viewers who can’t put exploitation films in their proper perspective. The on-screen sexuality is soft in that no genitalia is on display—the ladies are frequently naked with mostly their breasts and buttocks in view, while the men are seen having simulated sex with their pants on. With the sexual tormenting themes running throughout the film (mostly displayed in groping and suck-facing while the poor lasses look absolutely miserable during the ordeal), the physical torture towards women that would be graphically on parade to extreme measures in ILSA and many of the imitators that followed is not in full force here, which is sort of a relief (the Nazis are shown getting shot, cut or stabbed during the wild climax, and that’s certainly a rewarding view within the context). In the UK, the film is on the infamous “Video Nasty” list and more recently, it was denied a video certificate by the British Board of Film Classification in 2002.

Co-producer and screenwriter of the film (apparently he was the main force behind it), Bob Cresse plays the sadistic Gestapo commander with exuberant relish, though he seems to be channeling Arte Johnson’s helmeted caricature on “Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In” ("Verrrry interesting") when he’s describes his abode as “Love Camp Number 7” several times over or forcing a poor woman lick his black leather boots (seasoned exploitation film fans will view him as tongue-in-cheek, especially after seeing his ridiculous grandma drag stint in Lee Frost’s early 1960s nudie THE HOUSE ON BARE MOUNTAIN). Frost was an exploitation-only director whose work could be slick or stagnant, depending on the budget, script and production values, and his work here is somewhere in the middle (the rented uniforms look great, with the sets being passably threadbare, not to mention those all-too-obvious air conditioning units!). Frost’s frequent moviemaking partner Wes Bishop (who served as associate producer and also contributed to the screenplay) appears as the one sympathetic Nazi in the camp (a character we'd see in so many of this film's imitators), and Friedman himself appears as another important Nazi who walks into a barrack filled with naked women with a giant cigar hanging out of his mouth. Usually playing slobbish villains, actor Bruce Kimball (THE THING WITH TWO HEADS) is no stranger to exploitation fans, and here’s he’s typically cast as an unscrupulous and always horny sergeant (and he’s billed as “Bruce Kemp”). And there are other familiar faces: John Alderman (THE FABULOUS BASTARD FROM CHICAGO) as an ally with a terrible French accent and 1960s sexploitation starlet Sheri Jackson (aka Colleen Murphy, LADY GODIVA RIDES) is one of the tender captives.

LOVE CAMP 7 never made it onto DVD, and although some years ago Something Weird Video planned to release it through distributor Image Entertainment, they reportedly rejected it due to its subject matter (Something Weird did sell the film themselves as DVD-R). Blue Underground has now released on Blu-ray the uncensored version in a brand-new 4K restoration from the original camera negative, and the image quality is quite impressive. Presented in a 1.66:1 aspect ratio in 1080p HD, the transfer is clean with rich colors and deep black levels. Detail is consistently solid throughout, and grain levels are tight and organic, while skin tones also impress. The English audio is presented in a clean DTS-HD mono track, with distinct dialogue and all that blaring stock music playing through clearly. Subtitle options are many: English SDH, Spanish, Portuguese, French, German, Italian, Danish, Finnish, Dutch, Swedish, Russian, Korean, Chinese and Japanese. A standard DVD carrying the same HD transfer (as well as all the extras) is also included.

Extras include NAZITHON: DECADENCE AND DESTRUCTION (1:19:55), a 2013 Charles Band-directed compilation of Nazi movie trailers and several clips with onscreen host Michelle McGee as “Frau Bombshell”. Clips from LOVE CAMP 7 are shown (which will help illustrate how good the Blu-ray actually looks), as well as trailers for such romps as SS CAMP 5 WOMEN’S HELL, SS HELL CAMP, SS EXPERIMENT LOVE CAMP, PRIVATE HOUSE OF THE SS (SS GIRLS), SALON KITTY, THE DAMNED, ILSA: SHE WOLF OF THE SS (and its sequels), as well as “Neo Nazi” films such as Lee Frost’s THE BLACK GESTAPO, THE TORMENTORS (with Bruce Kimball), MAD FOXES, Al Adamson’s HELL’S BLOODY DEVILS and “Supernatural Zombies” such as SHOCK WAVES, SHE DEMONS, ZOMBIE LAKE (there’s also some endless—albeit nudity-filled—footage from the movie, as Band’s company Wizard Video once distributed it on U.S. home video), OASIS OF THE ZOMBIES (as BLOODSUCKING NAZI ZOMBIES) and Joel M. Reed’s NIGHT OF THE ZOMBIES. The extra long theatrical trailer (7:32) narrated by Cresse is presented in HD and there’s a lengthy photo gallery with poster art, publicity materials, stills and video covers. A collectible booklet featuring "The History of Nazi-Exploitation" liner notes by Paolo Zelati—and images from various Nazi movies—is included. (George R. Reis)