July 15, 2006


I thought I would lead away from the jack booted delirium of the previous posts and now move back into more ‘random’ territory. Didn’t want to make too great a leap however so presented here is a review of the sequel to She Wolf of the S.S

Harem is a much lighter affair than its’ predecessor, the ‘kitsch-ness’ flows in abundance and the amount of enthusiasm that went into making this production shows and the film is all the more better for it.

Don Edmonds once again uses his skilful mis-en-scene to bring us ‘adult-comic-strip’, here Guido Crepax fuses with DC Comics as we have something pulp but classy.

This was made due to the phenomenal success of She Wolf and was almost immediately a follow on. Friedman this time was nowhere to be seen so it was down to the skills of Don Edmonds and Dyanne Thorne to bring the whole thing to memorable life.

Unlike She-Wolf, Harem is decidedly less grim and despite the grim effects (Joe Blasco at the helm yet again) is most certainly a more ‘palatable’ affair.

This could also be due to the fact that the producers wanted to secure an ‘R’ rating, so although grim seems a little diluted in comparison, unlike its’ harsher predecessor.


The Middle East, Ilsa Time (chronologically we could say mid 1950’s but 1970’s style of course) and we witness a helicoptor dropping three coffin like crates in the middle of the desert.

They contain three of the worlds most beautiful and prestigious women, some to be sold in the white slave market or some for the perverted pleasure of Sheik Hakim Sharif. To ensure their purity and non interference they have locked chastity belts and once awoken from their drug induced delirium are placed in three golden cages to be prepared for their ‘grooming’.

We see the consequence of a guard fraternising with a female ‘inmate’ he is left to the beautiful bodyguards Velvet and Satin, where they absolutely pulverise him. For a low budget this fight sequence is fucking grade stuff, very impressed with the power behind it. To claim the victory the mans goolies are pulled off to an exotic shrill call of success.

En route to the palace are Dr.Kaiser and Commander Adam Scott; Kaiser hopes he can make oil negotiations with the Sheik, Adam Scott has much of the same on his agenda at a surface level but is also an undercover agent, checking up on his spy already in the palace and posing as a harem girl.

Back at the palace we witness the varied techniques in ‘fattening’ the women up. There is one truly repugnant scene where a huge beast of a woman sits naked gorging on cream and fatty things. She needed ‘Trisha’ or an early morning TV show playing, add to this fifty two triangular earrings in one sceptic ear and you have perfect chav representation. If she was sporting Burberry she’d be your average council estate fat hag; Blair’s people I think they’re called. Gross – but sets the scene…..

Anyway one of the girls who refuses to eat is fed in a fois-groie style because the heavier the women the higher the price the Sheikhs will pay.

Women with blemish and fault are surgically enhanced in some pretty disgusting ways but nothing as up-chuck we haven’t seen already in plastic surgery documentary.

Its’ quite weird looking at the 1970’s version of ‘blemish’ correction and to see methods of plastic/silicone surgery there classed as torture but undergone by so many people in this day and age- due to the drive of an aesthetically obsessed society.

It is soon discovered who the ‘plant’ at the palace is – the well endowed Haji Cat (a big tittied Russ Meyer favourite). Poor Haji endures some of the most vicious tortures to reveal who else is involved.

From flesh-eating ants and titty vice nasties to the distasteful magnificence of exploding diaphragms poor Haji has to get through the lot but still endures it to the final uterus-blowing end.

Kaiser and Scott finally arrive, Ilsa falls for Scott in a big way whilst Kaiser provides random and comic relief for the audiences.

In one black humoured moment he appears concerned he will be offered the goats’ eye and how prestigious this is to eat it; he is offered this and triumphantly gathers enough strength to get on with it - which he does so admirably.

Pleased and grinning with himself we then flash to the dungeon – Haji has no right eye for some reason……

Kaiser cocks up the negotiations but Scott decides to stay on as he has achieved two things he has seduced Ilsa completely and utterly, he is almost, as he thinks, near to his other secret agent.

The Sharif does not approve of this love-affair at all and in order to finish it orders Scott to be imprisoned with a tarantula ‘head cage’ for company and Ilsa to be taught a lesson – being sexually assaulted by a pox infected leper. Both scenes are graphically displayed for the audiences’ pleasure (and kitsch amusement).

After she is humiliated Ilsa is so pissed off she decides enough is enough. Rescuing Scott and enlisting help from her bodyguards Satin and Velvet they begin an all out attack on the Sharif and his men.

The female ‘prisoners’ are also let loose with a few pistols and after plenty of, surprisingly bloody good, action sequences overthrow the Sheik and his palace of corruption. He surrenders to Ilsa and she makes one last request that she wants him to perform.

She calls for the Sheik to be tied and gagged, his former sex slave Katsina is called for, she mounts him and gives the Sheik the ride of his life – with TNT diaphragm as an explosive bonus.

Ilsa and Scott also discover another prisoner a small 8 year old child, Prince Sellaim he is the natural heir to the Sheiks fortunes and entitled now to the palace and all its riches.

The bloodshed is not over however, and before wrongs are righted and justice prevails there is the matter of Ilsa herself - will she get her just desserts and how ……..?

ROUND OFF…………………………………………..

With all the best of the hokum of a cliff-hanger serial, lashings of brutality and comic strip chic ‘Ilsa –Harem Keeper’ is a success in its’ own merit and deserves as much praise as its sister.

The movies sets are amazing for the $14 budget and has‘sheen’ unlike the way She-Wolf played out. She-Wolf seemed to have that grubby, ‘roughie’ hang-over from the late 60’s – early 70’s – but by this stage Ilsa was now coming into her own style and her own right as the first screen villainess.

The movie was this time produced and directed by Don Edmonds who took a call from the Canadian Distributors after the nuclear success of the first box office Ilsa film requesting an immediate sequel. Edmonds fortunately accepted and Dyanne Thorne was only too happy to reprise her role.

With Palm Springs doubling as the mystical east, filming in temperatures well over 100 degrees and a Nunnery used as the palace things were now beginning to move along quite nicely.

Ilsa made her second outing to much critical acclaim and further notoriety, becoming something of a minor cult in certain UCLA fraternities.

There are some truly grade A exploitational iconic instances on display here, just like its predecessor. One delightful moment is Ilsa’s grand entrance wearing a skin tight fetish garment with two hounds either side or the other instance is when a thief has his hand cut off and the severed appendage brought to Ilsa on a Silver Salver.

She unclasps the clenched fingers to reveal the ‘still clutched Ruby’ – wonderfully macabre stuff indeed and you’ll be pleased to know are dollopped liberally throughout.

The most notorious string of events has to be concerning the exploding diaphragms and poor Haji being used as cannon fodder for its first demo, with the aid of a mechanical dildo machine. It really is pure comic book style and so wonderfully camp you’ll be in stitches at the result and in disbelief at such fiendish ingenuity.

As wonderfully daring and explicit as the first but a lot less sadistic, Harem keeper is not family viewing but is the best Ilsa film to start with before moving onto her other more, unsavoury, outings.

The Film; Ilsa-Harem Keeper to the Oil Sheiks

(A.k.a ; Elza - strazniczka haremu - Polish title

Harem Keeper of the Oil Sheiks - US advertising title

Ilsa - Haremswächterin des Ölscheichs - West German title

Ilsa la belva del deserto - Italian title

Ilsa, Keeper of the Oil Sheik's Harem)

The Year; 1975

The Country; Canada

The Director; Don Edmonds

The Producer; Don Edmonds

The Cameraman; Dean Cundey

Special Effects; Joe Blasco

The Players;

Dyanne Thorne; (Ilsa, Harem Keeper to the Oils Sheiks)

Michael Thayer; (Adam Scott)

Victor Alexander (Spalding Gray); (El Sharif)

Haji Cat; (Foxy Spy)

Tanya Boyd; (Satin)

Marilyn Joi; (Velvet)

Wolfgang Roehm (Richard Kennedy); (Dr.Kaiser)

*Available in a beautifully restored Region 1 DVD*


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