Even though I have always been curious to see how bad Cesare Canevari's notorious L'Ultima orgia del III Reich a.k.a Gestapo's Last Orgy (1977) truly is I never made this film a viewing priority. Amongst my friends however those who knew my affection for Italian cinema insisted that without knowing the picture one could never truly understand how poor Italian filmmakers can be!
I believe it was the early 90s when I finally gave up and sat through a dubbed version of the film which came to me from a dealer in the Czech Republic. What I remember: the cover art for the VHS was...different.
There are two narrative-schemes the genre to which L'Ultima orgia del III Reich is attached to favors: the first one has to do with beautiful women spying on Nazi officials hoping to obtain valuable information (Tinto Brass' Salon Kitty) while the second uses revenge as an inspiration (American director Don Edmonds and his Ilsa films somewhat fit the criterion here). Because of the mandatory presence of Nazi officials and the rather degrading manner in which the female protagonists were treated the genre was quickly labeled as Nazi-exploitation.
Italian directors championed the movement and during the early 80s a number of films saw the light of day. Some were serious enough to produce films which had a meaningful message (Liliana Cavani's Il portiere di notte) while others remained faithful to the humiliating spirit of the genre (Luigi Betzella's La Bestia in Calore). In neighboring France a few opportunistic directors simply pulled off all barriers crossing into XXX-land (Jose Benazeraf's Bordel SS).
L'Ultima orgia del III Reich belongs to the second type of scheme described above. Lise (Daniela Poggi), an ex-prisoner who once had an affair with a high-ranking Nazi official (Adriano Micantoni), is tortured by nightmares. Day after day she must endure the memory of her relationship with the German. Lise decides to seduce him one last time and have her revenge. The rest of the story I leave to your imagination.
So, how bad is L'Ultima orgia del III Reich? The simple answer is: it depends how much your stomach is willing to tolerate. Human degradation is explored to the fullest in this Italian production and viewers whose moral standards aren't flexible enough will likely have a difficult time comprehending what takes place on the screen.
Those already versed in the Nazi-exploitation genre however will probably find some sort of entertainment here - a woman being fed to hungry rats, graphic masturbation, etc.
When all is said and done however and the shocking element L'Ultima orgia del III Reich comes with used up I don't know if one could seriously look at this picture expecting...anything! Yet, I understand that certain people with certain understandings about entertainment will find Canevari's work appealing.
I don't think I am one of them.
As far as I am concerned at least having endured L'Ultima orgia del III Reich now allows me to claim that I have seen the worst of the worst. And argue with my dear friends.
How Does the DVD Look?
Even though the back cover for this R1 DVD released by Media Blasters states that the film's presentation is anamorphic it is not. L'Ultima orgia del III Reich arrives in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and from what I understand this is the complete cut Canevari's film. Different elements have been used for this DVD, including some rare footage from a hard-to-locate VHS print, and logically the overall quality of the presentation varies. With the exception of the opening and closing credits (which appear to have been sourced from the analog-version mentioned above) the rest of the film has a tolerable look: contrast is somewhat decent, colors are rather well reproduced, and damage does not appear to be an issue here. Still, I can not help but think that such presentation will only satisfy those who have already gone through a number of different VHS versions of this film.
How Does the DVD Sound?
The audio treatment is also rather unusual. The R1 distrib has provided the original Italian DD Mono track as well as an English DD Mono dub. The Italian soundtrack sounds very well: it is clear, balanced, and devoid of any disturbing imperfections. Unfortunately it is not subbed in English. The English dub on the other hand leaves plenty to be desired: I detected a substantial amount of hissing, unevenness, and some annoying distortion (it tends to appear in the right channel). I am going to assume that all of these issues have plenty to do with the fact that the film is composed from different prints.
Aside from a gallery of trailers for other Media Blasters films there is nothing else to be found here.
This is a niche film, one that should appeal to those who have already seen enough from the Nazi-exploitation genre. If you are not familiar with it and are easily offended by extreme cinema then by all means walk away. I advise you to look for entertainment elsewhere regardless of how adventurous you might be. Naturally, if you happen to be an admirer of what Canevari's film deals with then you should upgrade your VHS. This isn't a perfect presentation but let's be fare here a better one won't surface any time soon.