I had not thought of their being World War II exploitation films, but then again this double-feature from the friendly folks at Something Weird Video would more rightly be considered B-movies since you really do not get blood and gore, while the sex stuff consists of girls for speak Italian or dance around in a bath towel. The 1964 film "Shell Shock" is set in Italy during WWII, where Johnny Wade (Carl Crow) goes from war hero to shell shock victim. His friend, Gil Evans (Frank Leo) knows there is something wrong with Johnny, but Rance (Beach Dickerson) is convinced Johnny is faking. Rance wants to be promoted back to sergeant, but the commanding officer has busted Rance so many times that he sees no reason to do it again. So Rance decides to take out his frustrations on Johnny, by releasing him in the direction of the German lines and then following, ostensibly to catch him in the act being a coward. But before he finds the Germans, Johnny finds an Italian farm girl (Pamela Grey). Her Italian is more believable than his battle fatigue, and while there is a lot going on as the situation becomes more complicated, little of it is worth the watching unless you have a fondness for unintentional humor. The film was also released as "82nd Marines Attack," which makes no sense as an alternative title (2.5 stars)
"Battle of Blood Island" has the disadvantage of a title that does not reflect what the film is really about. The setting is a pacific island in the aftermath of a battle that apparently consisted of a platoon of American Gils against a platoon of Japanese soldiers. The only American survivors are Moe (Richard Devon) and the badly wounded Ken (Ron Kennedy), who hide out in a cave and try to survive on the occupied island. The chronology is off a bit because the "battle" was apparently in January, and suddenly the Japanese troops commit hara-kiri because the war is over (which makes it August of 1945). Now Moe and Ken have to survive on the island alone, a situation made difficult because Moe has to take care of Ken, which escalates the tension between the two. Those looking for a battle movie will find the idea that "Battle of Blood Island" belongs in that category to be a joke. But this film becomes a fairly interesting little film about these two soldiers in this particular sticky situation. For what qualifies as a "Corman quickie," it is not bad (3.5 stars).
The chief attraction on this DVD ends up being "Information Please!" a WWII training film. Basically, the War Department "adapted" a British training film (i.e., they put their title at the start), which presents a faux Luftwaffenfilm on how to interrogate British P.O.W. for intelligence. The advantage of this conceit is that it show the German intelligence officers successfully using a variety of tricks and tactics to get information from the P.O.W.s. The problem of what a conquering army does with 70 million Japanese people is the subject of "Our Job in Japan." These are "people trained to play follow the leader," and who engaged in a war "so obscene it turned the stomach of the entire civilized world." It all has to do with putting the right things in their brains, and given that the United States currently has an occupying force in Iraq, this is another fascinating short (it makes you wonder what sort of training films they are showing our troops today). Then Bing Crosy croons "We've Got Another Bond to Buy," with lyrics included so you can sing along. Of course we also have eight "Battle-Scarred WWII Trailers," to remind us there are even more bad war movies out there: "Armored Attack!", "Blood of Bataan," "The Cavern," "The Devil's General," "Ordered to Love," "The Quick and the Dead," "The Steel Bayonet," and "Verboten!" (5 stars for the extras).