Sheik [1921]

Despite the fact that Ilsa was killed at the conclusion of her notorious debut film, Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS, she returns (seemingly unaged) decades later as the strutting headmistress of a sadistic charm school for a power-mad sheik's harem of sex slaves. She masterminds a conspiracy to turn her trainees into veritable sex bombs--they explode upon orgasm--and auctions them off to her master's rivals. Meanwhile, a Henry Kissinger look-alike leads an investigation into the sheik's affairs with a couple of double agents, including one studly guy who tames Ilsa with his insatiable sexual prowess. Campier than the first film, it still offers its share of sick torture scenes and brutal violence (one man takes a hammer and chisel to a woman's bridgework to please her new master, who purrs, "I do not like the scrape of teeth"). Dyanne Thorne delivers an appropriately over-the-top performance, full of eye-rolling glares and German-inflected growling. Russ Meyer regular Haji and sex star Uschi Digard costar as harem slaves, and Tanya Boyd and Marilyn Join are delightfully memorable as Ilsa's well-oiled kung-fu-kicking Nubian sidekicks. Despite rumors to the contrary, Spalding Gray is not in this film and would surely appreciate it if people stopped saying he was. --Sean Axmaker

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