A young woman teams up with an adventurer to find her missing sister in the jungles of New Guinea and they stumble upon a religious cult led by a deranged preacher whom has located his commune in an area inhabited by cannibals.
Ilsa is an evil Nazi warden at a death camp that conducts "medical experiments". Ilsa's goal is to prove that women can withstand more pain and suffering than men and therefore should be allowed to fight on the front lines.
In 1953, nestled deep in the unforgiving Siberian Tundra, the Stalinist Gulag 14 is a purgatory under the command of the brutally seductive tormentor, Ilsa. More than two decades later, the camp's sole survivor thirsts for retribution.
An 18 year old Catherine Miles graduates from her boarding school and takes a trip with her parents to the Amazon. While on a boat ride, her parents are brutally murdered by a local cannibal tribe and she is taken prisoner. In order to survive, she adopts the customs of the tribe with the help of a warrior who has fallen in love with her, all the while planning vengeance for her parents' death. He later helps her to escape, and now free, she goes to find who exactly was behind the death of her parents. Written by
White Slave starts off looking like it's going to be a really lame pastiche of Cannibal Holocaust, what with an opening montage of the Amazon set to ho-hum music imitating Riz Ortolani's famous score for that other film. And actually it stays lame for a fair while - but then it gets good! Amazon headhunters ambush the boat of some well-to-do white landowners and their daughter, who's back fresh from studying in London. They remove the heads of the parents and drag the daughter back to their village, where gradually (and after much gnashing of teeth by all concerned) she's absorbed into their tribal lifestyle - which never seems to involve any more headhunting for the rest of the film, but don't dwell on that.
The film makes sure to include a little bit from all of the major food groups of this horror subgenre: gore, hazardous jungle treks, badly graded stock footage of wildlife, animals stupidly killing each other for real, tribal warfare, cruel and probably entirely fictitious tribal customs and punishments meted out left, right and centre, and plenty of nudity. Interestingly, there's no cannibalism at all. While the first third of the film really seems to be going through the motions with these things, there's a whole bunch of plot from then onwards and dare I say a good degree of human warmth. Once Catherine is fully ensconced in the tribe, she deals with character rivalries, tribal customs and conflicting loyalties and emotions. There's some honour and romance at stake, plus a minor mystery to be dealt with and revenge to be had. White Slave mobilises from being an extremely by-the-numbers exploitation film to one with an involving story and human qualities you can get into. You still have to put up with one of the silliest court trials in the world (it's used as a framing device), but overall, I found this film to be a pleasant surprise.
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