Archive for Women in Prison

Women in Cages (1971) Review

Posted in Women in Cages with tags , , , , , on November 24, 2014 by Last Road Reviews

20131109-191021.jpg
WOMEN IN CAGES

*** ½ Out of 5

Tagline- White Skin on the Black Market

Release Date- October 20th, 1971

Running Time- 81-Minutes

Rating- R

Screenplay- James Watkins & David R. Osterhout

Director- Gerardo de Leon

Starring- Judith Brown, Roberta Collins, Jennifer Gan, Sofia Moran and Pam Grier as Alabama

Women in Cages released in 1971 is one of the early examples of Women in Prison movies a style of film that became quite popular in the 70s before starting to fade away in the 80s like many exploitation films. While this one may not feature the violence and sleaze this type of film is known for it still succeeds on both levels. It’s not always about showing the most, but how it’s done. The original Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a great example of a movie that is really graphic yet features very little gore, but yet many recall gore scenes from the movie since it was done in such a graphic way you think you are seeing more than you actually are. Women in Cages may not be the holy grail of the WIP movie, but in my opinion it’s one of the essentials of this style of film.

Women in Cages was produced by the legendary Roger Corman and if you’re a fan of his work you should know what to expect here. This film is from an era gone by and I really have a fondness for these films and the 70s rates as my favorite time for film of any genre, but the exploitation flick was just never the same after the 70s even if some good ones were produced in the 80s. Women in Cages only has a 4.3 rating on IMDb and while sure this isn’t exactly filmmaking at its very best it still has something to offer and what really makes this film for me is Pam Grier as the cruel Alabama. I’m a big fan of Pam Grier and this was a great performance and she looked stunning as well.

Carol Jeffries (Gan) is an American woman staying in the Philippines and is sent to prison after being set up by her boyfriend Rudy (Charles Davis) on a drug charge. Carol kind of naive is subjected to extreme conditions in the prison run by the cruel Alabama (Grier). While in prison Rudy gives Stoke (Collins) her fix and in return he wants her to kill Carol. Tired of the harsh conditions Carol hatches a plan with her cell mates to attempt to escape from prison, which many have tried before, but all have thus far failed.

The screenplay by James Watkins & David R. Osterhout is a lot of fun filled with entertaining characters and while most may not have a lot of depth they however for the most part add to the film. The plotting is fairly decent and I doubt people go into movies like Women in Cages for a deep and powerful script, but all things considered its a fairly well written exploitation film.

Director Gerardo de Leon delivers a fairly well paced film though despite running at only 81-minutes there are a couple of sluggish moments. As I mentioned this isn’t the most graphic WIP film in terms of violence or sexuality, but it has a good amount of both. The film also sort of has a mean spirit behind it as well. The final act is where a bulk of the action scenes take place and while fun, De Leon doesn’t stage them as strongly as other films. Odds are Women in Cages would have been better off with someone like Jack Hill, but when all is said and done Gerardo de Leon delivers a fun and somewhat mean spirited film.

Fans of 70s exploitation films and WIP films will no doubt recognize a good portion of the cast. While the writing for the characters like I said does lack depth, but the cast more than makes up for it. All the women are excellent in their roles however its Pam Grier as Alabama that elevates this film. I already mentioned Pam, but she deserves a ton of praise. This may not be Pam Grier’s best film, but a case can be made for this being her best performance. She’s a terrific and stunningly beautiful actress and she’s a joy to watch here.

Overall Women in Cages is a solid WIP film and while not the holy grail of this genre I do think its an essential. With a great cast and a mean spirited tone make Women in Cages a fun film with a very downbeat closing shot.

20131109-191052.jpg

20131109-191057.jpg

20131109-191101.jpg

20131109-191106.jpg

20131109-191110.jpg

20131109-191114.jpg

20131109-191118.jpg

20131109-191123.jpg

20131109-191129.jpg

20131109-191134.jpg

20131109-191140.jpg

20131109-191150.jpg

20131109-191156.jpg

20131109-191202.jpg

20131109-191208.jpg

20131109-191214.jpg

The Big Doll House (1971) Review

Posted in Big Doll House with tags , , , , on November 19, 2014 by Last Road Reviews

20140314-145016.jpg

THE BIG DOLL HOUSE

*** ½ Out of 5

Tagline- Soft Young Girls Behind Hard Prison Bars

Release Date- April 30th, 1971

Running Time- 94-Minutes

Rating- R

Screenplay- Don Spencer

Director- Jack Hill

Starring- Judy Brown, Roberta Collins, Pam Grier, Brooke Mills, Pat Woodell and Sid Haig as Harry

Released in 1971 The Big Doll House by many is considered the film that started the new wave of Women in Prison films that were highly successful in the 1970s before fading by the end of the decade, but like always filmmakers will try and squeeze every last dollar out of something and a few were made in the 80s, but most weren’t very successful and the WIP film became a thing of the past. The Big Doll House wasn’t the first WIP film nor was it the first to feature the things these films would be known for. In 1969 99 Women was released, which was directed by Jess Franco and in someways that’s the film that started many of the cliches, but despite coming first it was the Roger Corman produced WIP films that kick started the genre and the Big Doll House is pretty much the film that got this genre going.

The Corman produced WIP films feature some violence as well as nudity, but they aren’t very sleazy with perhaps Women in Cages being a slight exception. That may have been a little sleazier than the others, but nowhere near the level these films would later reach. Filmmakers such Jesùs Franco & Oswaldo de Oliveira would very much up the ante on the sleaze factor, but while the Corman WIP films may be a little tame when compared to such films as Franco’s Sadomania or Oliveira’s Bare Behind Bars, they still very much deliver what fans of the WIP films expect to see and even if they lack the graphic nudity on sex they are in my opinion the best the WIP genre has to offer. The Big Doll House was a solid if not flawed film and my personal favorite film of this genre would be the sequel of sorts the Big Bird Cage (released the following year in 1972), but the Big Doll House is still a highly entertaining film.

Unhappy with the harsh conditions where torture is frequent and wanting freedom several women hatch an escape plan from the prison they’re being held in.

The screenplay was written by Don Spencer and its light on plot as the escape plan doesn’t enter to about the midway mark. The beauty of the WIP film is plot isn’t really required, but in someways it does hinder the script as it has no real identity or point for that matter. However the Big Doll House is still fairly well written as it features fun and highly entertaining characters (the excellent cast helps that) and the script is just a lot of fun even if it does feel like random scenes were written. Despite the flaws I have no issues with Spencer’s script that keeps me from enjoying it as again despite the lack of plot its made up for in the fun factor.

Director Jack Hill crafts a fun film that at 94-minutes does feel a little overly long due to the lack of plot, but to Hill’s credit he manages to always keep the film fun despite the pacing issues. While the film features all the aspects the WIP film is known for it also is a little restrained in content, which is why the Corman productions are my favorite of this genre. As much as I enjoy the WIP film and love the exploitation film as a whole too many filmmakers tried to up the ante by adding graphic nature, which I have zero problems with, but at times it did feel a little forced. That’s not to say the Big Doll House was tame, but Hill never takes the film too far to where it even becomes absurd like Franco’s Sadomania (which however was a blast). The Big Doll House very much earns its R-rating and again the film isn’t tame, but Jack Hill is a good enough filmmaker that he doesn’t need to resort to shock value for the sake of it. Overall Jack Hill delivers an excellent and fun film and while I did have issues with the pacing at times as I mentioned I was never bored though. This was Hill’s first WIP film and in my opinion he would master it with the Big Bird Cage, but when all is said and done flaws and all, Jack Hill delivers an exploitation classic.

The Big Doll House features a terrific cast and fans of 70s exploitation films should recognize most of the cast. Judy Brown also appeared in Women in Cages and her last credit was in 1986 with an episode of Falcon Crest. Roberta Collins also appeared in Women in Cages and appeared in another Corman WIP film Caged Heat and was also in Death Race 2000. Of course Pam Grier and Sid Haig need no introduction. The Big Doll House was Pam Grier’s first starring role. The previous year in 1970 she had a role in Beyond Valley of the Dolls, which was written by Roger Ebert. Grier would work with Jack Hill several times on such films as Coffy and Foxy Brown and the Big Bird Cage all of those, which also starred Sid Haig and they would later both appear together in the Tarantino classic Jackie Brown. Sid Haig also starred in Spider Baby, which was Jack Hill’s directorial debut.

Roberta Collins sadly passed away on August 16th, 2008 at the age of 63 from an accidental overdose from alcohol and drugs. After the suicide of her son she fell into a deep depression.

Overall the Big Doll is a highly entertaining film with an excellent cast and while the lack of plot in someways does hinder the film it is made up for in the fun factor. The following year with the Big Bird Cage, which is a sequel of sorts (though no connection between the films) is for me the better of the two, but the Big Doll House still isn’t to be missed for fans of the WIP film.

The song in the opening Long Time Woman is sung by Pam Grier. Not only incredibly beautiful and a great actress, but a very good singer as well.

20140314-145039.jpg

20140314-145043.jpg

20140314-145047.jpg

20140314-145051.jpg

20140314-145055.jpg

20140314-145100.jpg

20140314-145105.jpg

20140314-145109.jpg

20140314-145113.jpg

20140314-145118.jpg

20140314-145123.jpg

20140314-145128.jpg

Big Bird Cage (1972) Review

Posted in Big Bird Cage with tags , , , , , on November 11, 2014 by Last Road Reviews

20131003-222011.jpg
THE BIG BIRD CAGE

**** Out of 5

Tagline- Women So Hot with Desire They Melt the Chains That Enslave Them!

Release Date- July, 1972

Running Time- 95-Minutes

Rating- R

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.

20131003-222038.jpg

20131003-222042.jpg

20131003-222047.jpg

20131003-222052.jpg

20131003-222057.jpg

20131003-222102.jpg

20131003-222107.jpg

20131003-222112.jpg

20131003-222116.jpg

20131003-222120.jpg

Amazon Jail (1982) Review

Posted in Amazon Jail with tags , , on August 27, 2014 by Last Road Reviews

20140130-173723.jpg
AMAZON JAIL

*** Out of 5

Release Date- 1982

Running Time- 93-Minutes

Rating- NR

Screenplay- A. Palacios & O. DE Oliveira

Director- Osvaldo de Oliveira

Starring- Elisabeth Hartman, Sergio Hingst, Mauricio do Valle, Sandra Graffi

Released in 1982 Amazon Jail is the 2nd film by Osvaldo de Oliveira that I’ve seen with the first being Bare Behind Bars. I actually never heard of Oliveira before until I picked up the Bad Girls Behind Bars Collection from Blue-Underground, which included this film and Bare Behind Bars as well as three films by Jess Franco. Both of Oliveira’s films were previously released in single editions by Blue-Underground several years before the set so I’m quite surprised I didn’t at the very least know of Oliveira. Between the two films I’ve seen by Oliveira I would give an edge to Bare Behind Bars as its silly fun, which I think was intentional, but does take a meaner approach in the final act and many of the sex scenes were actually hardcore. The one area Amazon Jail has over Bare Behind Bars are the women are better looking as none were all that attractive in the other film while some were ok they are far better looking here. Amazon Jail is a Brazilian film and while the film obviously isn’t European its very much Euro-sleaze.

Women are being lured and than kept captive and forced to have sex with men for money. A few of the girls manage to escape, but are than taken captive by another group of men and once again stage an escape.

The screenplay was written by Alfredo Palacios & Osvaldo de Oliveira under the names A. Palacios & O. DE Oliveira. Palacios besides co-writing was also a producer on the film. The script is your typical WIP film and I don’t think anyone really cares about the writing. Unlike Bare Behind Bars, Amazon Jungle is written a little more straight, but isn’t without plenty of silly dialogue.

As director Osvaldo de Oliveira crafts a film that’s quite fun and with the silly dialogue and poor dubbing it only adds to the fun factor. The pace of the film starts off strong, but does get a little sluggish, but seeing as the film is a hack job Osvaldo de Oliveira mostly manages to keep Amazon Jail fun and there’s no shortage of nudity, which also helps the pace.

Overall Amazon Jail is an entertaining film loaded with silly dialogue, poor dubbing and a whole lot of nudity. While this film is by no means an essential in the WIP film fans of the genre should find enough here to make it a worthy viewing.

20140130-173742.jpg

20140130-173747.jpg

Bare Behind Bars (1980) Review

Posted in Bare Behind Bars with tags , , on August 26, 2014 by Last Road Reviews

20140114-163020.jpg
BARE BEHIND BARS

*** Out of 5

Tagline- Behind Bars No One Can Hear You Scream

Release Date- 1980

Running Time- 95-Minutes

Rating- NR

Writer/Director- Osvaldo de Oliveira

Starring- Maria Stella Splendore, Marta Anderson, Danielle Ferrite, Neide Ribeiro

Released in 1980 Bare Behind Bars is a sleazy exploitation film very much in the style of Euro-sleaze only this film isn’t from Europe, but South America, Brazil to be exact. The film was written and directed by Oswaldo de Oliveira (the credits spell his name with a V rather than W). I never heard of de Oliveira until I saw this film and I’m quite intrigued by him. If you’re looking for a plot well this isn’t the film for you. This WIP (Women in Prison) is sexploitation. Bare Behind Bars is 95-minutes and I’d say 95% of that running time is filled with girl on girl action with a couple of guy on girl scenes. One thing you should know is some of the sex scenes are simulated, but there is also some hardcore action as well. If its sex you want you get it in spades. One scene of girl on girl features one getting a dildo used on her and you can see its really being used. Another scene has a delivery man getting head from a prison guard and he also goes down on her and I’ll assume the sex was real as well. There is another scene of a girl going down on a guy and the last sex scene also is hardcore as we can clearly see that much. If anything Oswaldo de Oliveira sort of reminds me of a Brazilian version of Joe D’Amato.

The biggest problem with Bare Behind Bars is the cast isn’t exactly the best looking lot. While the girls aren’t ugly they aren’t nearly as active as most women in WIP films. However they are decent looking enough and regardless seeing as they’re nude throughout most people won’t be looking at their faces. I don’t think anyone goes into films like this looking for a plot, which is a good thing in the case of Bare Behind Bars since there is no plot at all. It’s just sex, nudity, sex, nudity and sex. If you like girl on girl action as much as I do well Bare Behind Bars is the film for you. But there really is zero plot and I’ve seen porn films that had a better plot than this film. There was a time when porn films were just that; they had plots and sex and Bare Behind Bars is the same only with less plot.

The script by Osvaldo de Oliveira seems like it was just patched together as a way to get girls naked and have sex. I’m not really even gonna mention much about the writing since again there’s no plot and if anything the final day 20-minutes have hint of a plot.

Director Osvaldo de Oliveira crafts a fun and silly film packed with nudity and sex throughout. My guess is the film at no time is really meant to be taken serious until the final act when Bare Behind Bars takes a darker and meaner approach. For the good portion of the film Oliviero just focuses on sleaze and while the sex scenes work they aren’t as graphic as you’d seen in porn even if they are hardcore. The last act of Bare Behind Girls is quite insane and is totally different than what came before. The three girls that escape attack a family, kill the wife, kill the husband than he’s castrated and its fed to the dog to stop it from barking than they sexually assault a young boy! Later one girl while going down on a guy castrates him and shoves his you know what in his mouth.

For me outside of the girl on girl action the best part of the film was Marta Anderson as Barbara the Insane Nurse. Fans of cult cinema should recognize Anderson from the 1985 exploitation film Massacre in Dinosaur Valley, which sometimes goes under the title Cannibal Ferox 2. Anderson is hysterical and all her scenes are quite fun.

Overall Bare Behind Bars is a silly and campy sex romp with hardcore action. This isn’t the holy grail of the WIP film, but its a nice addition to a style of film from days gone by. While the girls aren’t exactly Pam Grier they are decent enough looking and again doubtful anyone really focuses on their faces! While its campy throughout the final act takes a different approach and the sexual assault of a pre-teen boy is quite shocking.

20140114-163044.jpg

20140114-163048.jpg

20140114-163052.jpg

20140114-163057.jpg

20140114-163102.jpg

20140114-163107.jpg

20140114-163112.jpg

20140114-163116.jpg

20140114-163122.jpg

99 Women (1969) Review

Posted in 99 Women with tags , , on January 31, 2014 by Last Road Reviews

20140130-172829.jpg
99 WOMEN

*** Out of 5

Tagline- 99 Women Behind Bars Without Men!

Release Date- April 23rd, 1969

Running Time- 90-Minutes

Rating- NR

Screenplay- Peter Welbeck

Director- Jesùs Franco

Starring- Maria Schell, Mercedes McCambridge, Luciana Paluzzi, Maria Rohn, Rosalba Neri, Eliza Montes and Herbert Lom

With this movie being directed by Jess Franco and being a women in prison film you’re probably expecting it to be loaded with nudity, sex and violence right? Well you’d be wrong actually. Released in 1969, 99 Women was the first WIP film directed by Jess Franco and its nothing like you would expect from a Jess Franco film. While the film does have some nudity, sex and violence it isn’t very exploitive and is nothing you wouldn’t see in a standard R-rated movie. 99 Women was perhaps the first of the new era of WIP films however I would say it was the Roger Corman productions such as Women in Cages, the Big Bird Cage and the Big Doll House that influenced these films for years to come even if 99 Women had a couple of years jump on them. That isn’t meant to discredit Jess Franco since 99 Women has all the elements we would see in the WIP film, but I still go with the Corman productions as the ones that really kick started the genre.

99 Women isn’t exactly a forgotten film as it is overlooked and its a film that even among Franco fans isn’t often talked about. I think a lot of people probably went into this expecting something totally different as I stated it isn’t filled with what we normally would see in a Jess Franco film and I suppose the film is rather tame. While I gave 99 Women 3-stars it is a light 3-star rating and even though I felt the film was alright I really don’t have much a desire to see it again anytime soon. 99 Women was a nice attempt and while the film is low budget and its very much obvious it is however decently made and not as shoddy as some of Franco’s later films. Even some of his better films that followed were a little rougher looking than this film. But while decently made it also sort of lacks and I suppose could even be a bit boring in spots so I understand why its overlooked and while I can’t say it deserves more attention than it gets, but it is a bit better than its reputation, which again I think stems from people expecting an all out exploitation film. If you read the plot description on the IMDb you’d be expecting an all out exploitation film, but as I mentioned everything seen here is the standard R-rated film.

With the people running the prison being quite cruel 3 women stage a breakout and after they escape they end up being chased by male inmates that also just happened to escape.

On the IMDb Milo G. Cuccia, Carlo Fadda, Jesùs Franco & Javier Peres Grober are listed as the writers with a few more listed for other langue versions. However the film credits list Peter Welbeck who is listed on the IMDb as the writer of the English version and posters I’ve seen also credit Welback. Also according to IMDb Welbeck is Harry Alan Towers. Since the credits list Peter Welback I’ll credit him as the writer. The screenplay is fairly decent in spots, but characters lack depth and for the most part aren’t that interesting, which wouldn’t be a problem with more action, but Welbeck seems to wanna focus more on characters, but 99 Women isn’t strong enough to rely on being a more character driven movie.

As director Jess Franco gets the film off to a fairly solid start, but than the film gets a bit sluggish in terms of pacing and it isn’t really until the final act it begins to pick up, but even the final act lacks excitement. I’ve mentioned this before, but even in the Franco films I liked I often found pacing to be an issue except the Awful Dr. Orlof and despite 99 Women running at only 90-minutes it does feel a little overly long, but based on the writing even a shorter running time wouldn’t really solve the pacing issues. Jess Franco if anything makes more of a drama and while a nice try and to some degree a little successful things are brought down by a subpar script. Any sex scenes aren’t very erotic and while the film does contain rape the way it was shot doesn’t really allow it to make any emotional impact on the viewer. In typical Franco fashion we have out of focus shots, which is quite a bizarre creative choice and for those who may have read past Franco reviews I’ve written I wasn’t totally sure if that was intentional, but now I’m certain it was. Also certain scenes are shot so close up we can’t make anything out, which was another odd creative choice. While decently made 99 Women has its moments and Franco delivers a decent film, but it just didn’t fully work.

After the film was shot hardcore footage was inserted, which I haven’t seen. But from what I can gather these hardcore scenes were shot by Bruno Mattei, but I have no idea if that’s true. I haven’t looked into it since I have little desire to see the hardcore footage since it wasn’t done by Franco nor does it feature any of the cast members.

Overall 99 Women was a decent effort by Franco, but it just doesn’t fully work. I suppose its worth viewing at least once, but the main reason to see it is for the start of a new trend in the WIP film even though I still credit Roger Corman with being the producer who kick started these kind of films.

20140130-172852.jpg

20140130-172859.jpg

20140130-172907.jpg

Women Behind Bars (1975) Review

Posted in Women Behind Bars with tags , , on January 29, 2014 by Last Road Reviews

20140122-220949.jpg
WOMEN BEHIND BARS

** ½ Out of 5

Release Date- 1975

Running Time- 80-Minutes

Rating- NR

Screenplay- R. Marceignac

Director- Jesùs Franco (as Rick Deconnink)

Starring- Lina Romay, Roger Darton, Martine Steed, Nathalie Chape, Denis Torre

Released in 1975 Women Behind Bars is a women in prison film by Jess Franco and its the typical subpar film that he made throughout his career. Jess Franco is quite a frustrating filmmaker as he’s made some good films such as A Virgin Among the Living Dead and Nightmares Come at Night and made quite a good film with the Awful Dr. Orlof, but a good bulk of his work was quite atrocious and Women Behind Bars isn’t really an exception. I was hoping for some trashy fun like Sadomania, but this film isn’t nearly as sleazy despite being on the infamous video nasty list. Women Behind Bars is a little more plot driven than one might be used to in a Jess Franco film, but that really isn’t a good thing since the film isn’t so much bad as it is quite boring.

In 1969 Jess Franco directed 99 Women, which is the film many cite as the one that changed the direction of the women in prison movie however I’d say it was the Roger Corman productions of the early 70s that really shaped the WIP film and served as the main influence for these films while at the peak of their popularity, which isn’t meant to discredit Jess Franco, but while 99 Women came first I think most filmmakers and fans of the WIP genre would cite the Corman films as the most influential.

The screenplay was written by R. Marceignac though the IMDb credits Marius Lesoeur under the name Marius Lefrere. Marceignac’s script is very much driven by plot, but it just isn’t strong enough to carry the film. After 3 men pull off a heist, two of the men are shot by 1 of the thieves. He than is later shot by his girlfriend Shirley Fields (Romay) who than turns herself in and claims she shot him because he was cheating on her, but others suspect it was for the jewels and once in prison she’s subjected to torture to make her talk and give up the location of the jewels. The script is quite bland with boring characters and a straight forward plot with very little else added in and while decently plotted the script is quite boring.

Jess Franco under the name Rick Deconnink (IMDb credits it to him under the name A.M. Frank) makes one of his more plot driven films, but that isn’t such a good thing at all. Women Behind Bars was a little better made than most of Jess Franco’s films as more often than not his films were a bit shoddy and even his better films were rough around the edges. Of all the films I’ve seen by Franco from a pure filmmaking side of things I’d say Bloody Moon was his best, but he was pretty much a director for hire and best way to describe it is when an indie filmmaker makes a studio film with no control. Women Behind Bars isn’t exactly good filmmaking, but it is a bit better put together than a lot of Franco’s work, but where it might be better made in some regard it lacks the fun factor. The pace of the film is quite sluggish and even at only 80-minutes the film feels overly long. It isn’t until roughly the midway mark any action really happens and even than the pace never picks up. There is some girl on girl action and while you see every part of their bodies if you catch my meaning, but in typical Franco fashion its poorly shot, which makes it difficult to see much outside of a couple of shots and add in the dark lighting what should be a great scene isn’t very erotic and quite boring. Any scenes of torture, which are only a couple is too shoddy to take serious. Jess Franco delivers a very subpar and sluggishly paced film that lacks the fun and sleaze often found in these films. Really the only good news is the film is only 80-minutes, but even with that brief running time it can be a chore to sit through.

Overall I didn’t exactly hate Women Behind Bars, but I often found myself checking to see how much time left as its more boring than just bad. From a technical side Women Behind Bars isn’t exactly well made, but its not as shoddy as some of Franco’s other films. The only reason to really see this is if you’re a fan of Franco and Lina Romay or you like the WIP film, but in that case you can find better films by Franco and Romay and can find far better WIP films as this lacks the fun in others of its type. I’m not a huge Jess Franco fan, but I am more into his films than I used to be, but I think most will feel as I did in regards to Women Behind Bars.

Jess Franco appears in the film as Bill who is after the jewels. IMDb credits him using the alias Clifford Brown, but I didn’t notice the name in the credits so Jess was either uncredited or he used a different name as all the info on IMDb is pretty much incorrect.

Sadomania (1982) Review

Posted in Sadomania with tags , , , , on January 28, 2014 by Last Road Reviews

20140114-173551.jpg
SADOMANIA

*** Out of 5

Release Date- March 27th, 1981

Running Time- 103-Minutes

Rating- NR

Screenplay- Jesùs Franco & Gunter Ebert

Director- Jesùs Franco

Starring- Ajita Wilson, Andrea Guzzon, Ursula Fellner, Robert Foster, Uta Koepke, Gina Jansen

Released in 1981 Sadomania, which also goes under the title Hellhole Women is a WIP (Women in Prison) film from exploitation filmmaker Jesùs Franco and while I can’t say I’m a huge fan of Franco as I’ve stated in other reviews he is a filmmaker that really intrigues me even if I find the good bulk of his work a bit below average. When it comes to the WIP film, while not the first it was the Roger Corman produced films that set the formula for these films to follow and while the Corman productions had a little sleaze the ones that followed upped the ante in terms of sexual content and violence. The Corman produced WIP films weren’t tame, but other filmmakers such as Franco added a lot more sleaze and graphic nudity. However Jess Franco can also be seen as the filmmaker that shaped the WIP film with his 1969 release 99 Women, but I’d stand by my comment of the Corman produced WIP films that had the bigger impact. The 70s is when the WIP film was most profitable and perhaps the very early 80s, but as home video started to grow the days of the Grindhouse cinemas and drive-ins were fading, but as a whole the exploitation film was starting to die out despite the best efforts of a few filmmakers and the WIP film weren’t produced at a very high rate and the more into the 80s we got and by a certain time they were pretty much a thing of the past.

As I mentioned Jess Franco really intrigues me even if I find the bulk of his work that I’ve seen subpar and even the films I liked by him I would rate a little above average. However I think somewhere in Franco there was a decent filmmaker, but perhaps there was more money and work for that matter in his low budget exploitation films. My favorite Franco film was The Awful Dr. Orlof, which while a bit rough around the edges was an excellent horror film that showed potential. I enjoyed Orlof far more than I ever expected to and wish he would have done more work like that. A Virgin Among the Living Dead while in many ways the typical Franco film of the 70s also had legit atmosphere and even Bloody Moon, which Franco was more or less a director for hire actually had some decent suspense at times even if the film as a whole was average. It’s films like Sadomania that Jess Franco is best remembered for and again I suppose films like this might have been more profitable and also got him far more work, but I do find it a bit frustrating how he can make such a solid film like Awful Dr. Orlof and while again the typical Franco film with A Virgin Among the Living Dead, but it had such great atmosphere to make up for some of the flaws. Like I said I wish he would have done more work like Orlof or even A Virgin Among the Living Dead (atmosphere wise).

Sadomania is just off the wall insane, Jess Franco just goes all out and after viewing this film I can now say I’ve seen it all. Sadomania was banned in the UK and highly censored in the States until Blue-Underground released it uncut on DVD and later reissued it with 4 other films called Bad Girls Behind Bars Collection. Sadomania is one of the most twisted films I’ve seen, but hey it’s a Jess Franco film so nothing is offensive or disturbing cause its such a hack job. The prisoners are topless throughout the film, the prison guards are also topless, but where the film gets bizarre is a girl is tied up and a dog is sent in and I don’t think I need to tell you what happened next and even Jess Franco appears in the film playing a flamboyant gay character named Lucas. One of the stars was Ajita Wilson who was a transsexual and Wilson appears later in the film with a fake mustache and has a sex scene with Jess Franco. Sadomania has it all and really the only thing missing is the lovely Lina Romay who was married to Jess Franco.

The screenplay by Jesùs Franco & Gunter Ebert has no real plot and is poorly written, but its also a lot of fun as its filled with silly, but hysterical dialogue and some insane out of this world scenes. I don’t think anyone cares about the writing in a film like this because I sure don’t, but the script is often really funny and I have to assume Franco & Ebert had those exact intentions.

Director Jesùs Franco crafts one fun film and at 103-minutes, Sadomania is a little overly long, but pacing is fairly strong due to how absurd the film is. There is nudity throughout to go with some violence and wild over the top scenes that always keep Sadomania a lot of fun. There are a couple of girl on girl scenes, which is awesome, but they aren’t very erotic due to how they were shot and the same goes for any of the sex scenes. At times due to how it was shot you really can’t see much and other times the camera was a little out of focus, which is common in Jess Franco films and I’m not sure if that was intentional or not or maybe at times it was, but seeing as out of focus shots are common in Jess Franco films I have to assume it was a weird creative choice. However the girl on girl scenes are still hot even if not fully erotic. Basically, Franco throws in twisted scene after twisted scene, but it really isn’t disturbing due to how absurd and campy things are. Even in the films I liked by him they were a little rough around the edges, and even Franco has admitted he wasn’t exactly the best filmmaker, but he found a style that worked and while some might knock his films as hack jobs there is a reason why Jess Franco had 199 directing credits prior to his death in April of 2013 and why his films are still sought out.

The women are all smoking hot and topless throughout and they all kinda lookalike, which makes it difficult to tell them a part, but who cares they’re all naked. Ajita Wilson is wonderful as Madga the cruel warden. Sadly Ajita died in 1987 in an automobile accident. And in case you’re wondering Ajita was a post-op transsexual, which is sort of made clear by her full frontal nudity in Sadomania.

Overall Sadomania is quite a twisted film, but as I stated its such a campy hack job nothing here is offensive. Jess Franco continues to intrigue me and as long as they’re released I’ll continue to seek out his work. Fans of exploitation cinema should love this as it has everything you could want in a low budget trashy exploitation film. While not as good as the Corman WIP films I’d still rate Sadomania as one of my favorites. It’s silly, campy and trashy and I’m sure it turned out exactly as Jesùs Franco intended it to be.

20140114-173613.jpg

20140114-173623.jpg

20140114-173628.jpg

20140114-173633.jpg