This article contains images of an explicit sexual nature. Sensitive readers should move along.
Many people have heard of exploitation films. But not everybody knows that the genre can be further subdivided. One of the more interesting sub-genres is the so-called "naziploitation" film. It's exactly what it sounds like - an exploitation film with Nazis.
Salon Kitty is not the first naziploitation film, but it is one of the most influential. This cult Italian film was made in 1976. When it came to America, it was edited down to make it a more typical X-rated sexploitation film and renamed Madam Kitty. It has recently been released in its full uncensored version so everybody can appreciate the experience that is Salon Kitty.
There are a few elements of this movie that both typify and transcend the naziploitation film. Let's look at them.
Salon Kitty Was REAL!
Salon Kitty was a high-class brothel in Berlin run by a woman named Kitty. In 1939, the SS took over the brothel and replaced all the prostitutes with new prostitutes that were also trained to be spies. Salon Kitty seduced important political figures in order to get them to talk about sensitive information or personal confessions. These conversations were recorded and used for blackmail. Salon Kitty served as the basis for spy brothels in many movies about WWII.
The movie Salon Kitty takes this real incident and runs with it. It was ready made for a nazisploitation treatment. Of course, the movie doesn't worry too much about real historical accuracy. It just provides the structure.
The Movie Is Super Sleazy
For those discerning movie fans who are familiar with the exploitation genre, I only have to mention that this movie was written and directed by Tinto Brass. That will explain everything.
For those not familiar with him, Tinto Brass was a well respected avante-garde film director in the 1960's-1970's, but after making Salon Kitty, he moved towards more, um, "erotic dramas". Naziploitation films are usually full of softcore porn, silly sadistic violence, and tons of naked people, both male and female. Tinto Brass is a master of this art form. While he puts less emphasis on violence than some other movies in the genre, this movie has plenty of sex. About half of the movie contains naked people, usually for no reason.
Side note: Before I watched this movie, I had never seen a woman's pubic hair be trimmed, shaved, powdered, and costumed. But now I have.
There Are Bizarre Scenes That Can Only Occur In This Genre
The movie begins with members of the SS on a quest to find a bunch of committed Nazi women willing to make themselves whores for the Third Reich. There's a big orgy scene in which Nazi men "test" the women to make sure they have potential to be prostitutes. The ones that pass that test are then given a second test, in which they are asked to have sex with a number of different people, including an old man, a man with a birth defect, and an amputee.
One of the Nazi leaders, Wallenberg, wears kinky uniforms that I'm pretty sure didn't exist in real life.
The Movie Contains Elements That Raise It Above Your Typical Exploitation Film
The movie looks great. There are very classy and impressive sets to hold the debauchery of the movie.
The movie also tries to make some actual statements about politics, ethics, and love. These are some of the things that were cut for the U.S. release, so many Americans didn't realize the movie was trying to be more than your typical sleaze-fest. For example, the character of Margherita is kind of a metaphor for the evolving attitudes towards Nazism through the course of the war. Kitty represents the efforts to remain neutral in a situation where every choice forces you to take a side.
Of course, Tinto Brass isn't a good enough writer to really take advantage of these issues, but you can find them if you look hard enough.
Salon Kitty isn't really very relevant today. It's melodramatic and overacted. It's a curious historical artifact that, in my opinion, represents a cultural effort to digest some of the elements of the war.
And yet, if you can handle lots of gratuitous nudity and sex, this is an entertainingly weird movie that serves as a good introduction to the genre for those that are interested.
Check out the NSFW trailer of the uncensored release: