There’s been a fascist takeover in some country, somewhere. The revolutionary government, led by the evil President Steiner (Jean-Charles Maratier) is sending the wives and daughters of political opponents to Stilberg prison, a repurposed 19th century pile of architecture in the rural countryside. To watch over the prisoners and punish them as she sees fit, Steiner sends the titular beauty Helga (Malisa Longo), a true zealot and sadist. For the remainder of the film, viewers get to see Helga and her guards whip prisoners, pull their hair, tie them up in a dungeon, subject them to unnecessary gynecological examinations, sell them for a roll in the hay for the price of two bottles of booze apiece, and force them to receive Helga’s sexual ministrations. And that’s it. There is some insurgency stuff in the final act, but no one is watching this flick for its story. If one is looking for some vintage sleaze from the 1970s, here it is. Just make sure the drapes are closed.
Written by H.L. Rostaine and directed by Patrice Rhomm, Helga, She-Wolf of Stilberg is a sexploitation flick from France, released in 1978. It’s also a Nazisploitation film, sort of. It has all the hallmarks of that weird subgenre, including uniforms and symbolic armbands, but it lacks actual Nazis. No matter, though, because this film is all about nudity and abusing female prisoners. Don’t fret too much, though. The bad guys all get slaughtered in the end and the women go free.
It was also a double moneymaker for its producers. Helga was released in a 97-minute cut with dialogue and wisps of story. But, there were pornographic scenes filmed featuring just about every other cast member except for Longo. That cut had all the extraneous stuff excised, the porn scenes cut in, some strange narration added, and was released with the title Marion la perverse. One won’t find that cut on any of the streaming platforms, but it is out in the tubes should one be curious.
It’s a struggle to find anything about this film beyond the sleaze. It’s cheap, and art seemed to be the last thing on anyone’s minds. Even the lowest, mangiest dog in the Watchability Index was a genuine creative effort. This flick just brought in some cash, I suppose, and did so in pretty lazy fashion. I’m not going to be prudish and suggest that erotica has no value. It does. I just wish Rhomm and company had put a little more effort into the b-movie than they did the porn flick. If they couldn’t be bothered with Helga, then just make the smut and let everyone go home early.
Slow, guaranteed to bring massive offense to many viewers, and not intriguing or erotic enough for anyone else, Helga is somewhat interesting as a museum piece of shitty cinema. Once upon a time, the demarcation between adult films and b-movies was more blurred, if not non-existent in some places. One of the stars of this film, Dominique Aveline, amassed 145 listed acting credits from 1977 to 1982, and not all of those were pornographic. In the States, Barbara Mills would drift back and forth between low-budget Hollywood and San Fernando on a regular basis. And then there was the mass market attempt to bring smut to high-falutin’ audiences in Caligula. Crossover does continue, but not to the extent it did before the pendulum swung back towards cultural conservatism in the ’80s. Too bad this flick isn’t all that watchable.
Helga, She-Wolf of Stilberg falls way down the Index, knocking The Last Exorcism part II out of the #363 spot.