Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Olga's House of Shame (1964)

Olga's House of Shame (1964)In the early 60s American sexploitation cinema was dominated by nudie-cuties, rather playful movies combining comedy with nudity. But these innocuous cheap thrills soon gave way to much nastier fare with the rise of the roughie. These films focused more on violence than on sex. Even kinkier thrills soon followed and reached a peak with the Olga films. Olga's House of Shame was the third of the series. The formula of the Olga series had been fixed with the first Olga movie, White Slaves of Chinatown, and Olga's House of Shame adheres rigidly to this formula.

This time Olga (Audrey Campbell) is running her criminal empire from an abandoned mine. Narcotics and prostitution are her staples but she’s now branching out into diamond-smuggling. Olga’s girls are kept in line by strict discipline but some are always tempted by greed. Olga doesn’t like to be cheated and any girl who step out of line can expect severe punishment.

Elaine is one girl who has succumbed to temptation, trying to keep a shipment of diamonds for herself. She is caught by Olga’s brother and pretty soon finds herself in Olga’s dungeon. Elaine stands up pretty well under torture but eventually she cuts a deal with Olga and is rewarded by being made Olga’s second-in-command. Elaine enjoys her new position. It gives her a chance to be the one handing out the punishments and Elaine has proved herself to be an apt pupil.

Olga's House of Shame (1964)

The plot is more or less non-existent. It’s really just a series of vignettes as various girls in Olga’s employment step out of line and pay the price for their disobedience.

There’s only a small amount of nudity in the Olga movies but there’s plenty of kinkiness. Compared to the graphic violence and S&M that would feature in 1970s sexploitation genres such as the women-in-prison movies the Olga movies are actually fairly tame. Much of the violence is implied rather than shown graphically and the end results are more high camp than anything else.

Olga's House of Shame (1964)

Audrey Campbell has a great time as Olga. She chews every piece of scenery in sight. Her performances are without a doubt the highlight of the Olga movies. Audrey knows how to wield a whip but Olga comes across as an outrageous comic-book dominatrix. It’s that high camp feel that saves these movies from being merely sleazy. They are certainly very sleazy, but in an amusing way. No-one could possibly take these movies seriously.

Olga has other interests besides torture. Lesbianism would become a staple of sexploitation movies and when Olga isn’t disciplining her girls she’s trying to seduce them. They don’t put up much resistance. This particular Olga movie features a bizarre lesbian foursome scene that is as camp as anything you’ll find in exploitation cinema. The dance performed by one of Olga’s girls to get the others into the mood for lesbian rompings is another bizarre highlight. There’s nothing like belly dancing to get women turned on, apparently.

Olga's House of Shame (1964)

These movies were made on minimal budgets and mostly without synchronised sound. Production values are pretty much non-existent. That’s part of the charm of American sexploitation movies. The acting is bad, the script is laughable and the entire movie is delightfully cheesy.

Like most roughies Olga's House of Shame was shot in grungy black-and-white giving it a wonderfully seedy feel.

Olga's House of Shame (1964)

Something Weird have found an excellent print, as always. It’s unlikely that the movie ever looked or sounded any better than this. This one is included in a three-movie Olga set.

The Olga movies are classics of their type, more silly than offensive and weirdly fascinating.

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