When one reads the title of this flick, it normally sends a shiver down the spine it clearly identifies itself, as a feared German title, with varying degrees of emotions, and a vast amount of hatred. Reichsfuhrer-SS written and directed by David B. Stewart III with cinematographer and executive producer John Martineau, both who also in two pivotal roles in this historical horror-thrilling movie. Instead of making just another nazisploitation, movie concerning the dreaded center figure Hitler, he did some research and created a solid independent cinema well deserved film. If one doesn’t know, any reference to the title to this film, allow a bit of historical factual background, since World War II ended over 70-years ago, Heinrich Himmler was Adolf Hitler’s second in command, his most loyal friend, highly feared hence earning his title was Reichsfuhrer-SS. Himmler had direct involvement, with infamous camps, by simply signing his name the orders creating the horrific extermination of 6-million Jewish people and several millions others deemed unworthy to Germany and the Reich’s greatness. While the initial story comes from fabrication, it does have to anchors of reality, aside from Himmler really existing first, in 1941 August 15 or 17 Himmler “asked to see a shooting operation,” and Einsatzgruppe B Commander Nebe arranged such an execution of 100 people, 98 men & 2 women with Obergruppenfuhrer Karl Wolff in attendance. It is during the hideous event, retold by Wolff in court records and his diary that Himmler had never seen dead people up close, and resulted in brains hitting his jacket.(*1) After that incident Himmler slowly did away the shooting operations, and increase mass murder (via Holocaust) at Auschwitz. The second fact, on May 23, 1945 at the age of 44, while in British custody Himmler committed suicide in Luneburg, Germany and that is the starting point for the film.
As stated, it all starts with Himmler (David B. Stewart) finds himself chain in a room in hell, which becomes recognizable throughout film as an infamous concentration camp gas chamber. He’s chained to the ground and the demon Erebus (John Martineau) from Greek Mythology, the gatekeeper of Hell greets him repeat a sequence of numbers, 10,966, and 678 referencing those he killed in both the camps and the killing squads. The repeats constantly with a bit of gut munching hints of his future, which at Himmler denies and cries out for God, a bit of hypocrisy since we learn in the movie he questions the existence. Erebus uses a lower ranking female demon (Tammy Jean) that effectively humiliates and teases Himmler as he cowers on the floor. Erebus retorts with the best line of the movie “God himself will beg, us to have mercy.” The powerful exchange between them builds incredible tension, and suspense, as the scene transitions back into the moment of that fateful day of Himmler attending a mass shooting. He’s shortly later blackmailed by opportunist Oberfuhrer Shellenberg (Martin Slamon) rats him out to Hitler making his test his loyalty and must prove his mettle by murdering a young Polish girl, Danuta (Angelina Leigh,) in an emotionally charged performance, that many A-list actress couldn’t achieve with the believability she musters for the scenes. Soon into this second act of the film, the second greatest line, and likely missed by many between Standartenfuhrer Klein and Himmler, where Klein “prefers cold weather”, the reply, “You’re on the wrong front”, reference the intense and deadly Russian and Germany front lines, and extremely brutal cold. Meanwhile, a great classic nod to the tortures found in the nazisploitation flicks from the 70s with regard to both Greta (Tina Krause) and Helga (Kelly Weston) whipping a captured Soviet Lieutenant, while dressing in skimpy outfits and Sadomasochism for to complete this Horror film. In addition, Himmler and Danuta’s interactions stir torturous moments he at times takes an S&M approach with the treatment of a pet, and later as incompetent equal. The entire movie nails for the horrors of war, the tortures of society and using the violence as a compelling way to push the story forward. One needs to look for the trippy and bizarre moment actress Carmella Hayslett as Mrs. Himmler appears and adds to insanity.
An amazing job from the crew and set designers to create a very authentic appearance with limited funds in an independent movies that pay attention to detail when it comes to costumes, décor, pictures, flags, etc, shows a true dedication to craft of filmmaking. The best portion of the set construction exists in the room in hell, and just a glimpse one of the most dreaded words found on the wall appears to state Brausebad a German word for ‘shower’ (though the term has been excised from all usage since then) . This extended to the film’s creators taking a more thorough interest in their project with regard to extra research and fleshed out the characters that World War II enthusiasts may not have any familiarity to for this subject. Exceptionally cinematography captures all the horrors, exquisite gory moments and actors Stewart III, Leigh, Slamon, and Martineau all deliver award worthy performances. Only the briefest criticisms I have in my notes is that not all of the characters speak with a proper German and Russian accents, and perhaps nitpicking but, Slamon’s hair a tad too long, as the period time required a formal Undercut especially for the SS.
This movie kept my attention creating an interesting paradox, about the afterlife and the horrors ones commit to deserve their wretched place. Erebus even states that the Nazis will keep them very busy and herein Himmler shows his true self, the Monster of all humanity, in death, he is unrepentant and arrogantly defining himself more evil than Erebus himself. The film has a gripping nature, and uses every ounce to create a deeply psychological drama, with horror undertones, mix with historical facts. I thoroughly and highly recommend this Reichsfuhrer-SS (distributed by SGL Entertainment) to all horror fans and in fact all cinematic lovers.
1. Weale, Adrian (2012) Army of Evil: A History of the SS. New York, Toronto: NAL Caliber (Penguin Group). Note footnote number 10 via Wikipedia page for Karl Wolff https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karl_Wolff#CITEREFWeale2012