Erotic adventure in Siberia.
Poor Ilsa (you haven’t heard that very often, have you?). I feel like, deep down, all she’s ever tried to do was prove that women can be as strong as, if not stronger than, men. It’s a valiant enough goal, but I think the problem lays in her methods. Running a Nazi prison camp, a slavery ring, and an abusive women’s prison, while simultaneously trying to essentially take over the world, are often activities that are frowned upon. And so, when Ilsa the Tigress of Siberia tries again, this time as “Comrade Colonel” of a 1950’s Siberian gulag (after once again being miraculously resurrected), you almost just want to give her a hug and ask her to maybe look into a new hobby.
Ilsa the Tigress of Siberia is technically the third Ilsa movie, and also the first in the series not directed by Don Edmonds. This one is led by director Jean LeFleur and written by Marven McGara, two folks who had little experience coming into the movie and have had little work since. Of course, there is also Jess Franco’s Ilsa, the Wicked Warden, made the same year, but that didn’t become an Ilsa move until later, originally going by the title Greta, the Mad Butcher until the producers later decided to capitalize on Dyanne Thorne’s cult success with the Ilsa movies. So, what has Ilsa done now that she has somehow avoided what looked like certain death for a second time? She switches sides, of course.
It is Siberia, 1953, and Ilsa has taken control of Gulag 14, a camp for political prisoners in which the Stalinist army attempts to break down their prisoners both physically and mentally. In the whispers around the country, it is said that anyone sent to Gulag 14 never returns. And so, much like in Ilsa: She Wolf of the SS, we watch as various prisoners are tortured and killed. One guy is speared through the head, then has his skull crushed with a sledgehammer, another is fed to a live tiger, still another is dragged and drowned through an icy lake after complaining of fever, and two more are forced to arm wrestle over live chainsaws after fighting over a piece of bread. Oh yeah, and there’s a ton of sex, too, as Ilsa is still apparently insatiable, and has guards fight over her before taking two at a time to bed with her. Sexploitation at its exploitation-iest. And in place of the Wolfe character from She Wolf of the SS is Andrei Chikuran (or maybe spelled Yakurin, according to some synopses), the one prisoner that Ilsa wants but, alas, cannot have.
Ilsa the Tigress of Siberia could have just been a recreation of the original Ilsa movie, but instead shifts gears about one third of the way in. When word comes that Stalin is dead, Ilsa and her army lock the prisoners in their barracks and then burn the place down, leaving no survivors to tell the tale, taking out half of their army in the process. Well, no one except Andrei Chikuran, who they forgot they had fed to the tiger and never checked to see that he smashed the poor cat’s head in.
Now fast forward almost twenty-five years, and cross the ocean over to Montreal, where the Russian hockey team has just played the Canadians and are about to fly home, and focus on three men in their hotel room who are just too horny to leave without visiting a brothel. Who are the three men? Two hockey players and one member of their security force, a man by the name of Andrei Chikuran. Yep, you see where this is going. Guys go to the brothel, more naked women and sex, and the owner of the brothel recognizes Chikuran from her past. Who’s the owner, you probably aren’t asking? Ilsa! She has him kidnapped, then tries to get with him again while in the process showing him the background of her entire operation she has going. More mind control, but now with better technology.
I am a fan of this chapter in the Ilsa story, just as I am a fan of all of the chapters, but I will definitely say that Ilsa the Tigress of Siberia is the weakest of the four. It just feels like a rehash of the previous films, with a bunch of sex and a handful of new ways for characters to die on screen. Once we get to Montreal, we get a bunch of nudity to go along with an old man sunk to the bottom of a lake in a metal canister, a guy driven over by an industrial sized snow blower, and even some snowmobile jousting with spears and swords.
Look, I’m not saying this is a bad movie, at least not any worse than any of the other Ilsa films. It just ranks at the bottom of the list. There’s still plenty of blood, plenty of sex, and plenty of silly dialogue, meaning it still can please most fans no matter what their tastes. It just doesn’t have the same shock that comes along with the other films. Should you still hunt down a copy? Yes, by all means. Should you be surprised when it doesn’t live up to your expectations? Not if you’ve been paying attention to my advice.