Digital Dismemberment Reichsfuhrer-SS Blu Ray Review
Director: David B. Stewart III
Producer: Christian Grillo, Chuck Mahar, John Martineau, David B. Stewart III and Kelly Weston
Special FX: Heather McCook, Kathryn Pepe and Kelly Weston
Cast: David B. Stewart III, Angelina Leigh, Chuck Maher, Martin Slamon, John Martineau, Tina Krause, Tammy Jean, Joseph Barford, Kelly Weston and Richard Adams
Released By: SGL Entertainment
Release Date: November 24th, 2015
The Premise: The Reichsfuhrer-SS Heinrich Himmler was Adolf Hitler’s most loyal henchman and one of the most feared men of WWII. Surprisingly, he had only one problem… He had no stomach for murder! When the Reichsfuhrer-SS becomes physically ill during the execution of Russian POW’s on the Eastern front in 1941, ruthless, careerist SS General Hans Shellenberg rats Himmler out to the Fuhrer, Adolf Hitler. Hitler tests his loyal Heinrich forcing him to commit the murder of a Polish prisoner named Danuta with his own hands. Thus awakening the Monster within him that will horrify the world for generations to come! Himmler may please his Fuhrer in 1941, but what awaits him after he commits suicide in 1945 is nothing less than Hell itself. See what happens when Himmler meets Erebus, the gatekeeper of Hell! See the nightmarish suffering that awaits the infamous Nazi leader who murdered millions!
Naziploitation films are a sub genre of horror that always makes the viewer cautious to watch and hesitant to buy due to the stigmata of supporting the glamorization of real atrocities. Films such as SS Hellcamp (1977), Nazi Love Camp 27 (1977), The Gestapo’s Last Orgy (1977) and Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS (1975) are often considered the pinnacle of this sub genre, complete with all of the horrific torture, sexual sadism and death that has come to be a staple of these types of films. David B. Stewart’s Reichsfuher-SS can be added to this list due to how he has managed to not only find a way to somewhat “humanize” Heinrich Himmler and how he came about with the idea for the “Final Solution”, but also for how he handles the showing (or more accurately, NOT showing) of such sadism and savagery. Do not be mistaken into thinking that this film lightly glosses over the terrible crimes that were committed, but instead of grinding your face into sexual perversions and extreme gore, we get more of a psychological examination of Himmler’s decent into madness and hell (both literally and metaphorically). This is one of the biggest selling points of this film and in no way lessens the impact it leaves on you.
Made on a budget of only $25,000, the quality of the film is a stunning visual masterpiece that even some big budget Hollywood films fail to achieve. From the moment the film opens and we see Himmler after he has committed suicide via a cyanide pill, the camera picks up the gritty details of his personal Hell, complete with Erebus himself and a fellow demoness giving the tour. Vibrant color contrasts nicely with the digital effects and gives a surreal smokiness and grit to the surroundings, all while supplying the sense of dread and damnation that is about to happen. Even outside of the scenes in Hell, the locations used for recreating the Russian wilderness and Himmler’s own personal vacation home are stunning and help to make you believe you are looking back in time. One of the other things that stands out is the attention to detail given to not only the military uniforms, but the props (including flags, dinner plates, pictures and music). For such a minuscule budget, one would not believe the amount of things that you see in this film. Whether they are recreations, family heirlooms or objects that were donated to this project, the eye for detail should be celebrated and noted.
The performances of the actors can not be overlooked either. Director David B. Stewart III play the role of Himmler with a bit of nervous energy , balancing the contrast of his humanity against the monster he will soon become. Angelina Leigh’s portrayal of Danuta (the prisoner Himmler is sent to kill) is haunting to watch as she comes to grip with what her situation is and you really are hoping that she can convince Himmler not to do what he is sent to do. Tina Krause’s performance as Greta immediately flashed me back to the Ilsa films, bringing such a clinical and cold approach to the torture she delivers and seems to enjoy. John Martineau’s (Erebus) and Tammy Jean’s (Demoness) performances are wickedly horrific and makes you hope that if Hell exists, they are not standing there waiting for you. Chuck Maher’s performance as Standartenfuher Wolf may be the most chilling of all and really is the key piece that takes this film back to the above mentioned films of the genre. While not over the top, his character traits bring forth the perverseness and cruelty that many Nazi soldiers held. The scenes between him and Danuta really bring a lot of emotion to the film.
While people may argue the semantics of some small things in the film (like why only certain characters have German accents in the film and one small scene where an extension cord can be seen in the background), there is much to be applauded in this film. Subject matter be damned, you do not find many indie films that tackle such gruff subject matter in a way that does not make you want to scour your eyeballs with steel wool after watching. The obvious attention to detail and the ability to meld historical facts with a bit of creative freedom really gives this film a powerful narrative and a technical prowess that few ever achieve. Bonus points can be awarded for the really good Special FX as well. While not a film that drenches you in blood and gore, it does have its moments of splatter that can catch a weak stomach off guard. The demon make-up is quite spectacular and makes one hope that Erebus and his demoness get their own film series punishing the worst of humankind, and the ending credit zombie sequence is as spectacular as anything you see coming from that genre today. Well worth watching!
Uncut and Theatrical Versions Of The Film (Approx. a 1 minute difference in running time)
2 Deleted Scenes
Before and After Effects Reel: This is a really nice feature that shows you how well the color correction process can help the overall lighting and tone of the film.
Alternate Opening Credit Sequence
Audio Commentary with David B. Stewart, John Martineau and Chuck Maher
Aspect Ratio: 16:9 HD
SGL Entertainment and Jeffrey A. Swanson deserve a lot of credit for releasing this film. They both continue to be on the cutting edge of indie cinema and have no fear putting out content that is both extreme and entertaining, all while being controversial at the same time. Everything about this release is top notch, from not only the video and audio aspects, but also from a Special Features standpoint. The ONLY thing I could split hairs about would have been a featurette about where they got some of the props for the film from and possibly a few cast interviews. Other than that, this is once again another solid release from SGL entertainment and I look forward to reviewing more of their releases soon!
Movie Rating: 4 out of 5
Blu-Ray Rating: 8 out of 10