Ilsa, Harem Keeper of the Oil Sheiks (1976)

<strong class="MovieTitle">Ilsa, Harem Keeper of the Oil Sheiks</strong> (1976)

(In French, On TV, October 2018) Ew. But also: What was I expecting? Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS is notorious as a particularly vile piece of sex/gore exploitation filmmaking, and its first sequel (of three) Ilsa, Harem Keeper of the Oil Sheiks is very much in the same vein. Yes, there is a lot of nudity—star Dyanne Thorne has a compelling presence in or out of clothes. Alas, this sole redeeming feature is more than sunk by the nastiness of the rest of the film, during which gory deaths manifests itself through torture, genital mutilation, outright slavery, forced surgery and the likes. Perhaps worse yet is the film’s gleefully sadistic atmosphere: don’t go looking for sympathetic characters or anything feeling like a happy ending, because this is not that kind of film and the best we can hope is the greater evil being defeated by the slightly lesser evil. Even as a jaded horror viewer, I felt queasy during much of Ilsa, Harem Keeper of the Oil Sheiks—I have trouble imagining anyone actually wanting to be associated with this film. And yet, and yet, I’m almost certain that sometime in the future, I will succumb and try watching the other films in the series. Just to see if they’re any better. The curse of curiosity…

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