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Ilsa The Mad Butcher

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    Ian Jane
    Administrator

  • Ilsa The Mad Butcher



    Released by: Ascot Elite
    Released on: October 22th, 2013.
    Director: Jess Franco
    Cast: Dyanne Thorne, Lina Romay, Peggy Markoff, Eric Falk, Tania Busselier, Jess Franco
    Year: 1977
    Purchase From Diabolik DVD

    The Movie:

    Directed by Jess Franco and alternately known as Ilsa The Wicked Warden, Wanda The Wicked Warden and Greta The Mad Butcher, Jess Franco's 1977 cash-in on the success of Ilsa: She Wolf Of The SS is a worthy, if unofficial, addition to Dyanne Thorne's Ilsa mythos.

    The movie more or less takes place at a mental hospital, which is actually more of a prison, run by Ilsa (or Wanda or Greta depending on which version you watch), a tyrannical oversexed bitch of a woman who isn't above using the patients for her own wants and needs. When the movie begins we see a young woman escape into the nearby forest only to be chased down by some guards and shot in the back but before she dies she makes it to the doorway of Doctor Arcos (played by Franco himself). So upset is Arcos by what he learns from this that he summons a few of his colleagues and they decide something must be down about this. As such, they bring in a beautiful young woman named Abbie (Tania Busselier) who agrees to go undercover to uncover the truth about what is going on at the hospital.

    And so she does. She's brought into the hospital and right away finds out that all sorts of illicit activities are going on away from prying eyes. Abbie soon meets Juana (Lina Romay), a nymphomaniac lesbian who has a special relationship with the woman in charge and soon enough she meets Ilsa herself. Also on the prowl is a guard (Eric Falk) who films the girls in action unbeknownst to them and sells the films to a bar owner who in turns releases them onto the pornographic black market! As Abbie gets pulled deeper into this twisted world of sex, violence and sadism she starts to lose it, while the other inmates eventually decide that after being subjected to one atrocity after the next, maybe it's time to take a stand against their tormentor.

    Filled to the brim with naked ladies, lesbianism, torture, violence, sadism and sleaze, if this isn't an 'official' Ilsa movie it definitely fits right in with the other three movies that were made featuring the character. Franco's stamp is all over this, as there are plenty of soft focus shots and a penchant for leering at Lina Romay's naked body (a trademark of the films that he made with his muse) but the tone of unrepentant sadism and exploitation for exploitation's sake is absolutely there. The European locations give the movie a nice glossy look and make it appear to be a more expensive production than it probably was.

    The cast are all game here. Lina Romay is in fine form, willing and able to lay down for a 'pin torture' scene and giving her all in the lesbian scenes. She's got her crazy eyes going on here, and uses her body language and screen presence well. Pretty, almost innocent looking, Tania Busselier is also quite good here. She's got more to do than Lina, the movie asks more of her dramatically and she rises to the occasion. She has a naí¯veté about her that works well and suits the character. Eric Falk steals most of the scenes he's in and he's quite good as the guard with an ulterior motive. He hams it up in a few scenes and uses that dopey grin of his to communicate a strange knowingness in the film's bloody finale. Of course, the movie belongs to Dyanne Thorne. Stern faced and matronly, she has that determined look of absolute authority about her even when swinging her breasts of stone too and fro in the sex scenes. She's got a real feeling of 'bitch' about her that makes her perfect for the role. At this point in time, she'd made the role her own and knew exactly what she was doing and Franco is wise enough to keep the focus on her enough to make it work.

    This may not have the originality that the original two Don Edmonds movies did, it's kind of retread really, but Franco does what he does well here and his bizarre style combined with great cast and slick production values make this a standout.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    Ilsa The Mad Butcher has been released on DVD a few times over the years, but this AVC encoded 1080p high definition presentation, framed at 1.78.1 widescreen, offers a nice upgrade over past editions. While this doesn't exactly look like it was made yesterday (nor should it), we get definite improvements in both detail and texture. Franco's movies often times go out of focus or use an intentionally soft focus, and while we do see some of that here, this picture shows more technical polish in that regard. As such, the image seems more stable, more detailed than some of the other films of his that have hit the format so far. There are no issues with compression artifacts and color reproduction looks good. Skin tones seem lifelike and natural and black levels are pretty solid. There's a bit of crush in some of the darker scenes but these are few and far between - all in all, this is a solid transfer.

    Audio options are provided in German and English language DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio tracks and in French Dolby Digital 2.0. The clarity of the English track is pretty solid. There isn't a load of surround activity but the score and effects do occasionally spread out a bit. Levels are nicely balanced, dialogue is clear and there aren't really any problems here, it sounds fine. Optional subtitles are provided in English and in Japanese.

    The main extra on the disc is an eleven minute interview with Erwin C. Dietrich and Jess Franco in which they talk about the reasons that they made this film, casting and working with Dyanne Thorne, and some of the more infamous set pieces that the movie contains.

    Aside from that we also get trailers for Sex Sisters, Blue Rita, Women In Cellblock 9, Call Of The Blonde Goddess and Jack The Ripper. A still gallery, menus and chapter stops are also included and if you're into reversible cover art, this disc gives you the option to display the art with or without the 18 rating on the front cover.

    The Final Word:

    Gleefully trashy and more than a little twisted, Ilsa The Mad Butcher is a lot of sleazy fun. It's not Franco doing 'high art' and it doesn't have the same intensity as his more personal projects, but it is a ridiculously entertaining trash fest, chock full of nudity and tasteless set pieces. Add to that the fact that it's got a great cast, a solid soundtrack and impressive production values and this is one you'll watch more than once. The new Blu-ray from Ascot Elite puts the other issues of the movie to shame with a very strong transfer and good quality audio, while carrying over the extras from their previous DVD release.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!









































    • Jimmy Simard
      #2
      Jimmy Simard
      Senior Member
      Jimmy Simard commented
      Editing a comment
      Certainly not... that so called comic moderator ruined the commentary for each of these films.

    • Lalala76
      #3
      Lalala76
      Senior Member
      Lalala76 commented
      Editing a comment
      I'm not bothered about the commentary. I've never owned the dvd anyway. Really happy with the Blu-ray. BTW, done a quick overview of "Downtown" Blu-ray in the Jess Franco Blu-ray thread, if anyone interested.

    • Paul L
      #4
      Paul L
      Scholar of Sleaze
      Paul L commented
      Editing a comment
      Those Martin Lewis-moderated commentaries were a big misstep by AB, in my view. This looks like a good release. I still need to pick up any of the Ascot Franco Blus.
    Posting comments is disabled.

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