Wednesday, October 12, 2011

SS Girls (1977)

This is how I see it: Gabriele Carrara woke up one ordinary boring morning. The phone rang and an intensive voice asked him if he was interested in doing a movie. "Yeah, fuck yeah!" screamed Gabriele to the unknown caller and asked for time and place for casting. No need for casting, the voice replied. We've seen you at the local theatre, and you fits perfect in this movie. Could this be a dream, could this really be happening? Our newly discovered movie star was happier than ever. He would show the world what a magnificent actor he was, finally!

A couple of weeks later and Gabriele was on location, a nice villa outside Rome. The script wasn't half bad, but he sensed that the director - a newbie named Bruno Mattei, an excellent editor but beginner as a director - didn't know what he was doing. Time for our hero's first big scene and Gabriele did, what he thought, a perfect take. But Mattei wanted "more", "bigger", "energy". So he did the scene again, this time with some extra "schwung". But that wasn't enough. "You have to act like this is your last day alive!", Bruno almost screamed at his actor. "Remember, your character is doomed and I want to see that in your performance!".

So Gabriele Carrara gave all he got, and the rest is history.

Basically a rip-off on Tinto Brass masterpiece Salon Kitty, but in a way it's maybe more entertaining, more shocking and more spectacular - but with a budget not even close to the catering budget on Tinto's movie. I don't know if this movie came first, or if Women's Camp 119 was Mattei's first big break into exploitation cinema, but SS Girls is almost a perfect nazisploitation movie, made by someone who knew exactly what he was doing.

I mean, we real fans always knew that Mattei was a master. He was a talented director and a good storyteller, but with (often) trashy scripts and bargain bin actor ensembles (nothing bad with that, just a detail). Mattei fully understood the magic of exploitation, of making a quick buck. He understood that if he took the best from other movies, tossed in more sleaze and violence, and he would have a success. But he also realized that for an exploitation movie to sell, to be appreciated by the audience, it need to be told professionally and with a story people could follow - even if the story was stolen from a big budget Hollywood movie with aliens.

SS Girls is, in-between the sleaze and nudity, an almost dreamlike experience with a lot of fascinating and beautiful scenes. Most of the don't hang together, but each scene is like a provocative piece of sleazy art with more ambition than I think the ordinary eurocult-Joe on the screen could imagine. It runs for ninety minutes and it feels like, at the most, forty minutes of well-paced melodrama. So it's a good movie, really. If you don't agree with me, give it another shot and watch it from my viewpoint.

But the main reason for watching SS Girls is the presence of Gabriele Carrara, an actor who chews the scenery, spits it out and eats it again with some extra Italian cheese on the top. I think we all can agree that this is over-acting, pure classic over-acting done the correct way. Gabriele steals every scene he's in (and he's in most of them) and plays the character totally straight - but with some excessive acting as a bonus. He loves what he's doing and it shines through to us in the audience, and that's why Mattei have him on camera almost the whole movie - because the camera loves him and he loves the camera.

SS Girls is probably the best sleaze movie I've seen. It's also, so far, the only nazisplotation I liked to 100 percent. It's out now from Njuta Films and this is something you need to own and enjoy for the rest of your lives.

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