Video Nasties: Love Camp 7
In this series I’m taking a look back at the films that, in the early 1980′s, were caught up in the Video Nasties moral panic in the UK. When video first arrived in the UK it was not covered by our censorship laws, and that, combined with the reluctance of the studios to embrace the technology, meant that many of the early releases were lurid, uncensored, horror films.
The tabloid press mounted a campaign against the films, and with a new right wing government in power and the growing influence of pro-censorship campaigner Mary Whitehouse, the Director of Public Prosecutions was instructed to draw up a list of films liable to prosecution under the Obscene Publications Act. I’ll be looking at every one of the 74 films that made this list, giving you a snapshot of the controversy around each film before watching and reviewing it.
Love Camp 7, despite being one of the DPP 39 titles that were on every incarnation of the list, isn’t the best known nasty. Even among the several Nazisploitation nasties, this probably comes a distant third to SS Experiment Camp and the hardest to find nasty The Beast in Heat (gosh, I can’t wait to get to those). Perhaps part of the reason it’s not a well known title is because, first of all, the title itself is quite innocuous (it could easily be an entry in a softcore series) and secondly it has not had a re-release since its ban. In 2002 a distributor submitted the uncut version to BBFC, who rejected it out of hand, saying
“The film contains numerous scenes of women prisoners being abused, tortured and humiliated by their Nazi captors. Indeed the whole purpose of the work is to invite male viewers to relish the spectacle of naked women being humiliated for their titillation. Love Camp 7 contains both eroticised depictions of sexual violence and repeated association of sex with restraint, pain, and humiliation. These sequences were in clear contravention of the Board’s strict policy on depictions of sexual violence, which prohibits scenes that eroticise or endorse sexual assault. The possibility of cuts was considered. However, because the sexual violence runs throughout the work cutting was not considered to be a viable option.”
This is the only video nasty to have been submitted and entirely rejected by BBFC since James Ferman’s tenure ended in 1999.
I’m in the slightly uncomfortable position here of largely agreeing with BBFC. The substance of what they say about Love Camp 7 is true; it seems to exist purely to dwell in the degradation and sexual humiliation of women. After the fifteen minute mark almost every scene revolves around the sexualised depiction of young women being exploited for the amusement of Nazis. I need a shower after writing that sentence, so imagine how watching the movie feels.
Love Camp 7 is – according to people who worked with him – not so much a film as it is a personal wish fulfilment for writer/producer/star Bob Cresse (who produced a good few – if not a few good – exploitation films in the 60′s, including nudie cutie The House on Bare Mountain). According to Dave Friedman, a producer who had a minor role in Love Camp 7 and worked with Cresse on several other films, Cresse; “Really wants to be a Nazi more than anything else in the world, that’s his whole thing. He really believed he was a Nazi”. This is perhaps why Cresse’s performance as the camp’s commandant seems so gleeful (even when he’s not thrashing women, or watching as they are subjected to a humiliating medical examination or… you get the picture). Cresse may be in his 30′s here, but with the props, the authentic uniform, the hilarious accent ‘Velcome to Luff Kemp Seven‘, and the ‘ooh, aren’t I naughty?’ grin on his face the performance takes on an air of a little boy playing dress up.
One of the big problems with Love Camp 7 is that it’s not even so stupidly OTT (as Gestapo’s Last Orgy often was) that you can dismiss it. Frequently you’re just watching extended, evidently unsimulated, scenes of women being thrashed with a riding crop by the film’s over zealous producer. These are scenes that we’re clearly meant to find as arousing as Cresse apparently does, not despite but because of the setting. Excuse me, I have to go and vomit.
Right. I’m back. Anyway. The story, such as it is, sees two young women from the US army sent behind enemy lines to rescue a spy from one of the German ‘Love Camps’. While there they serve as ‘whores for the pleasure of the soldiers of the third reich‘. Essentially this means that, for about an hour, we watch a largely plotless parade of scenes in which young women are stripped then whipped / made to sit naked on a huge wooden wedge / raped by fat Nazis (who apparently like to leave their trousers on). Things don’t improve when Cresse the writer tries to find a plot. One guard at the camp is remorseful about what he has to do, so when he is left alone with one of the girls he says that he doesn’t want to do this, is just following orders, and then rapes her anyway (after she’s said it’s okay, since he doesn’t want to). This is where I lose patience, making exploitation movies set in a Nazi camp is, at best, a moral grey area, but having a woman say, essentially, that since a guy doesn’t want to rape her he shouldn’t either disobey his orders or, y’know, feel bad about obeying them, isn’t a grey area. It’s just despicable. There’s a sickness at the heart of this film, and it wears at you. If you have a soul then you’ll feel dirty for watching this repellent collection of degrading images and implications about women.
That said, I don’t think Love Camp 7 needs to be banned. Why? Because banning it is more dangerous than allowing it out. A ban gives this repugnant, poorly made, s and m fantasy a cachet and an audience it most assuredly does not deserve. I’ve only been soiled by it because it was, and is, banned, and I felt like a bad person for watching it. Don’t make the same mistake.
1 out of 10. Fuck this movie.
Next Week: Axe [a.k.a. Lisa Lisa]
Video Nasties Series ( 17 Articles ) : Sam Inglis explores some of horror’s most infamous titles, by watching and reviewing all of the 79 films banned in the UK’s ‘video nasties’ panic of 1984. Cannibalism, Zombies, Nazis and other wholesome entertainments for your enjoyment.