Blu-ray Review: The Gestapo’s Last Orgy



During the mid-70s, things took a drastic turn in Italian cinema. After decades where people would go out to the movies several times a week, audiences were staying home for two reasons. The first was the rise in domestic terrorists that were grabbing rich and powerful hostages on the streets. They didn’t care who else was between them and their targets. People weren’t too excited about enjoying a night on the town with the chance of being shot by a stray bullet. Luckily there was something at home to keep them there that was the second reason for cinema’s demise. After decades of being a bit of a mess, Italian TV stations had finally gotten their acts together. The channels started running more movies at night. After decades of domination, movies theaters found their ticket sales dropping in Rome, Milan and other major cities. Distributors and producers decided to create entertainment that went beyond the content that could be broadcast on TV like Spaghetti Westerns and Giallo films. This led to a wave of films about zombies, cannibals and kinky nuns that could attract and audience that didn’t get scared of the Red Brigade activities. One of the most notorious of the over the top genres was Nazisploitation.

This deep grindhouse genre really got rolling after the Night Porter arrived at art houses. The film was an erotic tinged tale of a woman discovering the overnight clerk at her hotel is the SS agent from her time at a camp. The film was hit and immediately got other producers wanting to make their own World War II films except replace the artistic elements with an extreme mix of violence and carnality. Renting World War II uniforms wasn’t an extreme cost since there had been so many war films made in the country. One of the more notorious of the genre was The Gestapo’s Last Orgy. The film is still banned in England, but you can get it in America from 88 Films which started in England.

The Gestapo’s Last Orgy opens with Conrad von Starke (The Nephews of Zorro‘s Adriano Micantoni) driving around the countryside and meeting Lise Cohen (Last Harem‘s Daniela Poggi). He thanks her testifying at his war crimes trial to keep him and the couple visit an abandoned industrial site where they first met. He was the camp commandant and she was the a prisoner dragged in to be terrorized. The action flashbacks to their time when the camp was active and filled with the screams of terror. This is a place where they do torturous experiments and make the bodies disappear in quick lime baths. Some of the inmates are eaten first to explore if cannibalism will help the war efforts. Lise gets Conrad’s attention because she does not seem revolted by the horrors around her or scared by the tortures that await. He wants to emotionally break her before he physically destroys her at the camp. But what does she want from him?

There’s a lot disturbing elements on screen as each new scene tries to out shock the previous atrocity. This film gets rough and nasty fast. The Nazis come off as the ultimate in evil in how they treat the female prisoners. They are sadistic without remorse. But the film doesn’t want to get too heavy handed by condemning the activities since it’s an exploitation audience buying tickets. Even when we get the big moral point of the film, the camera is too busy showing a couple in a hospital bed so it’s easy to ignore the voice over dialogue. The production elements make this look like they hired a talented staff. The lighting and production design make the film seem classier than its graphic nastiness need to be. The film doesn’t go overboard on the budget. In a scene where a prisoner is going to be lowered into a box full of vicious vermin, the rats that are played by gerbils. Things like this happen when you don’t hire a historical accuracy expert. But nobody watching this film is grading it on how realistic it sticks to the actual uniforms and running of a German death camp. They just want to see extreme imagery on the big screen.

Watching the movie makes me question what sort of theater in America would run a film that screams: Don’t bring a date? This would have hit American shores in 1977 or ’78 so it might have played a decrepit theater that would make you sign a waiver to get a ticket. You wouldn’t want to go near the bathroom for fear of experiencing something more disgusting than anything in the film. The Gestapo’s Last Orgy on Blu-ray brings the disturbing grindhouse to your house.

The video is 1.85:1 amorphic. The 2K transfer of the original camera negative brings out the graphic nature of the film. The audio is an English DTS-HD MA Mono. There’s also the Italian track in DTS-HD MA Mono. Being this was made in Italy, probably all the dialogue for both tracks were done in post production with other voice actors. The movie is subtitled.

Audio Commentary with Troy Howarth and Nathaniel Thomson. The experts of Italian films point out the the background of the cast and crew. They talk about how these fans did bring in an audience.

Audio Commentary with Samm Deighan. She gets into the film’s opening quote misspelling Friedrich Nietzsche’s name. She does discuss the historical background on the incidents at Concentration Camps that came out during war trials.

Alternate Italian Ending (5:10) is a lot more action after the American cut faded to black including an unexpected encounter. This is a much better ending and a shame they snipped it for the grindhouses.

Remembering Alberto Baldan Bembo (24:29) talks with Pierpaolo De Sanctis about the composer. He runs a record company that puts out soundtracks from what he considers the golden age of Italian cinema. While Bembo got his start creating romantic jazz-pop instrumental albums. That made him perfect for transitioning to filmwork.

One Thing On His Mind (17:57) interviews Luigi Cozzi. He talks about Cesare Canevari. Even though they were both from Milan, it was years before the two would meet.

English Trailer (3:49) lets you know this isn’t going to be a John Wayne World War II film.

Poster includes both Italian releases on either side.

Booklet is an essay by Barry Forshaw on the genre.

88 Films presents The Gestapo’s Last Orgy. Directed by Cesare Canevari. Screenplay by Cesare Canevari & Antonio Lucarella. Starring Adriano Micantoni, Marc Loud, Daniela Poggi and Maristella Greco. Running Time: 96 minutes. Rating: Unrated. Release Date: November 2, 2021.

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