“You have the instincts of an Arab, Ilsa.”
The domineering harem keeper (Dyanna Thorne) for an oil sheik (Jerry Deloney) tortures a spy (Haji) while falling for a studly American visitor (Max Thayer).
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Middle East
- Strong Females
Sexploitation fans who can’t get enough of Dyanne Thorne’s buxomy blonde bitch Ilsa (first seen in 1973’s Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS) will likely be thrilled to see her magically resurrected for this first of three follow-up titles in the series (Peary mercifully leaves the last two out of his GFTFF). For what it’s worth, I find …Harem Keeper marginally less offensive than its more infamous predecessor; apparently the script was intentionally toned down to try to appeal to a wider audience, leaving IHK a rather standard ’70s exploitation flick with plenty of t&a, exaggerated violence, and hiss-worthy villains strewn throughout its typically preposterous plot. This time around, I was better able to appreciate Thorne’s ludicrously campy performance as Ilsa — but since I’m really not the target audience for flicks like this, I’m unable to say much more in its favor; it’s only must-see for diehard fans of the genre, and all others can feel free to stay away.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Dyanne Thorne’s no-holds-barred campy portrayal as Ilsa
No. Listed as a Cult Movie and Trash in the back of Peary’s book.
One thought on “Ilsa, Harem Keeper of the Oil Sheiks (1976)”
Second (and last) viewing.
I know I saw this years ago in Tokyo, no doubt renting it from a video shop ’cause Peary listed it. Prior to this revisit, I had somehow managed to forget every frame.
It’s repulsive. And I’m not even easily shocked. But with its depictions of misogyny, torture, humiliation, disfigurement, mutilation…need I go on?
None of this is camp, by any means. It’s all played straight, knowingly so. So who is the audience? Who comes out of this saying, “Wow! What a cool movie!”? Huh?!
It’s almost relentlessly harsh. Practically the only scene that gives real relief – comic or otherwise – is one in which a young boy is sent to a straight man to ‘serve’ him for the evening. The boy pleads with the man to let him stay – out of fear that, otherwise, his head will be cut off. The scene ends on a genuine comedic note.
But, overall, this is sick stuff. Tone is everything with this kind of material. If Russ Meyer or John Waters had been behind the camera, things might have ended up differently. But this plays too real. Exploitation is one thing, but this is inexcusable.