Tuesday, 22 May 2012

05/05/2012: Ilsa: Harem Keeper of the Oil Shieks

In my review of The Night Porter I praised it for turning a story straight from an exploitation movie into a much more powerful and important piece of filmmaking. However, exploitation films are many a persons guilty pleasure, and there is no character more memorable than Ilsa.

While Ilsa, the She-Wolf of the SS, may have in fact died at the end of that movie, its success clearly called for a sequel, and it got more than just one. The first sequel unfortunately dropped the first movies iconic kickoff of the Naziploitation genre, and in Harem Keeper of the Oil Sheiks, we keep the sexploitation and women in prison elements from the first, along with Ilsa, of course, not looking a day older than her time as warden of a concentration camp, and also much more alive than would have been possible.

While Harem Keeper of the Oil Sheiks maintains most of the feeling of the original it is a little tamer in some aspects. Yes, I know, it's an exploitation movie, but tame is all relative in this case. For one, the blood and gore is much less than the original, and Dyanne Thorne (Ilsa) spends significantly less time nude on screen. However as any good sexploitation women in prison film should, there is nudity in excess from the rest of the cast, as well as the expected scenes of torture and brutality.

Symmetry is always a good thing.
Due to its slightly tamer nature, Harem Keeper of the Oil Sheiks managed to obtain an R-rating from the MPAA, although the BBFC still refused to issue a UK cinema certificate, as it has She-Wolf of the SS.  Also like the original, Harem Keeper of the Oil Sheiks has a story similar to more mainstream films, it just simply turns up some dials. HKotOS is very much an Arabian adventure story along the lines of something like Indianna Jones in feeling.You've got an Arabian Sheik who's country sits on a major supply of oil and is in negotiations with the U.S. about the oil.

It is the side of this story that HKotOS explores that sets it apart from the standard adventure flick of course. We learn just enough about the American side of things to get by and instead focus on the sheiks other interests. Mainly the harem of sex slaves he kidnaps from around the world. With Ilsa incharge, his newest acquisitions, an American millionaire's daughter, a movie star, and an attractive equestrian, are going to learn that he likes the tongue, or fall victim to any number of terrible fates.

It is a little more on the overkill side of contraceptives but it gets results.
I think that due to the rather tamer nature of Harem Keeper of the Oil Sheiks in comparison to She-Wolf of the SS, HKotOS seems to have a bit more of a cheesier feeling to it, although I've heard Tigress of Siberia is where the series gets truly campy. Either way, its cheesy nature leads it to be quite ridiculous and therefore humorous in a few aspects. The most outrageous idea I think is definitely the booby-trapped sex-slave, who will explode on climax. Sure it apparently works, but are you really just going to pass of an exploding slave as an accident and not suspect the man who sold her to you?

Harem Keeper of the Oil Sheiks also has some of the most outrageous props as well. The chastity belts alone are hilarious and obviously no were near functional, but we'll let that slide.

 Overall, Harem Keeper of the Oil Sheiks is a solid entry int he series, which keeps things fresh with its sexploitation twist on the Arabian adventure genre. While Ilsa's whip is a little more feathery than Indianna Jones' there is not doubt which one is more likely to use it on you. As usual it is Dyanne Thorne and her portrayal of Ilsa that make this movie what it is. Hopefully Tigress of Siberia is just as good, although I've heard The Wicked Warden doesn't fit with the rest as well.

Ilsa: Harem Keeper of the Oil Sheiks IMDb

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