NATHALIE: ESCAPE FROM HELL *** France 1978 Dir: Alain Payet. 103 mins
In this French entry in the post-ILSA cycle of Nazisploitation flicks, Nathalie (the beautiful Italian actress Patrizia Gori) is a caring redhead Russian doctor devoted to her patients, including lovely old gent Zoltan. When the Nazis’ plan for the Ukraine meets a bigger resistance than expected, Zoltan is killed, and Nathalie and fellow villagers are deported to Germany. She winds up at Fort Stilberg, an elite brothel near the Polish border where, thanks to the interventions of nice Nazi Lieutenant Jack Taylor, she escapes being a hostess, becoming embroiled in an undercover plot to retrieve a British agent while the world plots Hitler’s downfall.
Light on the loopy sadism of the most outrageous (and enjoyable) ILSA movies, this bloodless entry in the sub-genre has relatively mild mayhem involving water torture, discreet rat-based suffering, veteran exploitation star Taylor having fags put out on his chest and Nathalie climactically chained naked to a post. The ponderous story allows time for lots of fleshy couplings, with Nathalie enjoying orgasms with the dashing Taylor, a good guy despite the uniform and a propensity for smoking in bed. Colourful supporting characters enliven the dull stretches, including the British officer with a comedy moustache and a love of Irish coffee. Gori’s charismatic, appealing performance is a bright spot, though NATHALIE only really comes to life when Jacqueline Laurent is onscreen. Resembling Barbara Steele’s mental older sister, Laurent provides much needed camp fun as Helga, the obligatory lesbian officer who pushes men off rooves while dressed in PVC negligee and thigh high boots. Cackling like a maniac and stashing a gaggle of naked girls in the cellar – including the greatest prostitute in Munich! – she doles out the floggings with such unrestrained glee that the central romance and tragic ending are pretty bland by comparison. Maybe they should have made HELGA: WELCOME TO HELL instead.
Review by Steven West
NATHALIE: ESCAPE FROM HELL is available via the links below: