** ½ Out of 5
Tagline- The Killing Never Stops
Release Date- August 31st, 1983
Running Time- 89-Minutes
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.