Women’s Prison Massacre (1983) Review

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WOMEN’S PRISON MASSACRE

** ½ Out of 5

Tagline- The Killing Never Stops

Release Date- August 31st, 1983

Running Time- 89-Minutes

Rating- NR

Screenplay- Claudio Fragasso & Olivier Lefait

Director- Bruno Mattei (As Gilbert Roussel)

Starring- Laura Gemser, Gabriele Tinti, Ursula Flores, Lorraine De Selle, Franca Stoppi and Carlo De Mejo

The Women in Prison genre was fairly successful in the 70s, but in 1969 Jess Franco’s 99 Women is sort of the film where the formula for the WIP film started, but as I stated in other reviews for these kind of films the Roger Corman productions of the early 70s with films such as Women in Cages, The Big Bird Cage and the Big Doll House were the ones that kick started these films and most filmmakers followed their style even if 99 Women had a slight jump ahead. Throughout the 70s there were plenty of WIP films made, but by the 80s they were starting to fade. Released in 1983 Women’s Prison Massacre is a late entry in the WIP film and I’m not sure if anyone really cared about these films by this time and after seeing Women’s Prison Massacre I’m sure people cared even less. Women’s Prison Massacre has a nice cult following and its quite easy to see why, but by this time the WIP film was more or less a tired act and while cult filmmaker Bruno Mattei takes the basic elements and throws in a few other ideas to the mix it just for me wasn’t working.

Bruno Mattei has gained a large cult following and I can easily get his appeal as I’m a fan of such filmmakers as Juan Piquer Simon (Pieces, Slugs) and Ed Wood (Plan 9 from Outer Space), but I never really got into Mattei in general except Hell of the Living Dead though I have issues with that film and its mostly the opening and closing act I enjoyed, but I did find Rats to be more or less a fun time. And of course there was his partner in crime Claudio Fragasso who wrote a lot of films for Mattei before becoming a director and like Mattei I never really got into Fragasso with the exception of Troll 2, which was one of the ultimate so bad its good films, but point is its kinda fitting two of the worst would form a partnership. Also working with Mattei and Fragasso was Rosella Drudi who is married to Claudio Fragasso and the three formed a match made in bad movie cinema, but Rosella wasn’t involved in this.

Emanuelle (Gemser) a reporter gets too close in exposing a corrupt official is sent to prison where its run by a cruel warden (De Selle). However things take a turn for the worse when male inmates trying to escape take over the prison.

The screenplay was written by Claudio Fragasso & Olivier Lefait and the film is poorly plotted with mostly dull characters. Basically the characters are copies of those from past WIP films and by this time it was a tired act. Outside of the male inmates taking over the prison its your basic WIP film, which again by 1983 was pretty much dead. Like I said I get the appeal of Fragasso as both a writer and director, but most of his films I find rather dire with again the exception of Troll 2 and to a lesser degree Zombie 3.

Director Bruno Mattei under the name Gilbert Roussel delivers a very sluggishly paced film. After a slow start, Mattei crafts some fun scenes and Women’s Prison Massacre works on the so bad its good level, but around the midway mark the pace again gets sluggish and I found it a chore to get through at times. While the final act picks up a bit, but by this point I no longer really cared and I’ve seen this all before only done far more entertaining. Fans of Bruno Mattei will no doubt find plenty to enjoy here, but I’ve never really been a huge fan and this was the typical poor paced film by Mattei with some fun moments.

The cast is actually quite strong here with plenty of notable stars from Italian horror such as Lorraine De Selle (House by the Edge of the Park, Cannibal Ferox), Carlo De Mejo (City of the Living Dead), Franca Stoppi (Beyond the Darkness) and of course Laura Gemser of the Black Emanuelle series. After her acting career was over Gemser would continue to work in film as a crew member and was a Costume Designer on Troll 2.

Overall Women’s Prison Massacre in my opinion was quite poor though with that said there were a couple of fun moments, but not enough to make too much out of this. If you’re a fan of Bruno Mattei I’m sure you’ll find plenty here to enjoy, but as stated I’m not really into Mattei and after a decent start I lost interest and was sort of bored throughout. However with that said I would watch this again.

There is one thing of note here a male inmate attempts to rape a female inmate unaware she’s put a razor blade in her well you know. That was the only real highlight.

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4 Responses to “Women’s Prison Massacre (1983) Review”

  1. Ha! The very last scene you mention sounds great.

    • If you like Bruno Mattei this might be for you. I’m not a huge fan. I do kinda like Rats and Hell of the Living Dead. I could of gave this 3/5. Almost did. Just the middle sort of lost me. And the night I watched this I received some terrible news about one of my friends. So I think that impacted me as well

      • Sorry to hear that. I’ve seen a few Mattei films and they’re terribly dull, but sorta campy. This sounds ok for the razor blade coochie alone.

      • Odds are you’ll feel the same about this as other Mattei films. I find his work fun until a certain point than I’m in a agreement with you they can get dull. Even the two films I liked by him such as Hell of the Living Dead and Rats can get a bit boring (though retain their campy charm to some degree).

        Right around when I watched this I was sort of in a Women in Prison film kick and this was one of the if not the last one I watched so by that point seen more or less the best the genre offered.

        I’ll give Mattei & Fragasso props for trying to do something different. If I can get this at a cheap enough price I’d pick it up to give it another shot since I wanted to like it. Has a terrific cast though.

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