**** Out of 5
Tagline- Women So Hot with Desire They Melt the Chains That Enslave Them!
Release Date- July, 1972
Running Time- 95-Minutes
Writer/Director- Jack Hill
Starring- Pam Grier, Sid Haig, Candice Roman, Vic Diaz, Andy Centenera
When it comes to the exploitation film Roger Corman is one of the biggest names though more often than not he’s not always mentioned outside of the hardcore exploitation film fans. Roger Corman has been involved with 100s and 100s of films and though he may not always have an onscreen credit, but for me he’s one of my biggest influences and not only was he a pioneer in exploitation films, but he also helped launched the career of several notable actors and filmmakers. When it comes to the Women in Prison genre, Corman may not have started it, but he did however probably make the biggest impact on future filmmakers of WIP films. When you look at the career of Roger Corman when you are involved with as many films as he was you’re bound to have a lot of poor films, but Corman also produced (as well as written and directed) many upon many cult classics and the Big Bird Cage is one of my favorite Corman films and probably my favorite Jack Hill film.
WIP films are often known for violence and sleaze, but the Corman WIP films are a bit tamer than what would follow. The Big Bird Cage features some violence and nudity, but its not as graphic as other films within the genre, but that doesn’t make the film any less effective. This film is sometimes billed as a sequel of sorts to the Big Doll House, which was released the previous year. While the Big Bird Cage has some of the same cast and crew as well as being shot in the Philippines, but outside of that there really isn’t much of a connection and I personally don’t see it as a sequel at all. While the Big Bird Cage may not be the best WIP film ever made it easily though rates as one of my favorites. This is one of those films you can just sit back and have a good time with. The Big Bird Cage has been labeled a satire of WIP films and I suppose there might be a couple of satirical moments I wouldn’t label it one. Not every exploitation film that plays up to camp value is a satire. This film is quite campy and funny and it really makes for such an entertaining viewing.
Blossom (Grier) and Django (Haig) are revolutionary fighters and to start the revolution they hatch a plan for Grier to be sent to prison with Django breaking her out.
The screenplay by Jack Hill might be light on plot, but more than made up for in the fun factor. Hill’s script is often funny and while the characters might lack depth they are however a lot of fun. Hill’s script is quite clever and a bit different than most WIP films. As I mentioned this film is sometimes labeled a satire and while there might be a few satirical aspects, the script is simply meant to be fun and campy and Jack Hill very much delivers.
As director Jack Hill delivers an excellent and well paced film. From the very start until the closing shot, The Big Bird Cage runs at a smooth and fun pace. There are also so,e really great action scenes in the final act and made more impressive when taking into account the low budget. I’ve seen a few films by Jack Hill and this would probably be my favorite. It’s just a really fun film with strong pacing, characters and action scenes. The Big Bird Cage is just a real fun time and at 95-minutes it actually feels way shorter. If you’re into WIP films, this one comes highly recommend. Jack Hill crafts not only one of my favorite WIP films, but one of my favorite exploitation films.
There are some truly funny scenes here and Vic Diaz as a gay prison guard is a riot and is many of the more memorable scenes. And he even gets raped by one of the sexually frustrated female inmates. There isn’t anything in the least offensive since everything is so campy and another highlight is Sid Haig posing as a gay prison guard, which will have you rolling in laughter. Sid Haig did plenty of exploitation films and worked with Jack Hill a few times and this in my opinion was their best outing. Pam Grier as Blossom is a joy to watch and seriously was there a woman finer than Pam Grier back in the 70s? Like Sid Haig, Pam Grier also worked with Jack Hill many times and again this would be my favorite film they did together.
Overall the Big Bird Cage is one of my favorite WIP films. We have Roger Corman, Jack Hill, Sid Haig, Pam Grier, beautiful women and really what more can one ask for? This was just a really fun film with plenty of great comedic moments and excellent action scenes.
Shout Factory released this on DVD and blu-ray as the Women in Cages Triple Feature along with Women in Cages and the Big Doll House. I have the blu-ray and I must say The Big Bird Cage looks incredible in HD. Due to the age and budget of the film one cannot expect perfection. Grain levels are never overpowering and there is some minor print damage. Clarity is excellent and the Big Bird Cage looks great. There are a few shots here and there where quality drops, but for the most part the film looks wonderful and retains its gritty exploitation look. The audio was also quite strong as well and this was a top notch release from Shout Factory.