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Sunday, September 27, 2015

THE JAIL: THE WOMEN'S HELL -- DVD Review by Porfle

No padding, no filler--just a solid wall-to-wall slab of pure, undiluted exploitation, dripping with sex, violence, and horror from start to finish.  That's THE JAIL: THE WOMEN'S HELL (2006), one of schlock superstar Bruno Mattei's final films and, from what I've seen, one of his most gleefully sadistic and extreme. 

This steamy mish-mash of elements from women-in-prison flicks mixed with a little poor man's PAPILLON by way of THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME begins with three hapless female prisoners being transferred by boat to a remote jungle prison in the Philippines. 

Carol (Amelie Pontailler) killed her pimp, Lisa (Love Gutierrez) trafficked in "dirty things with dirty people", and Jennifer (Mattei veteran Yvette Yzon of ISLAND OF THE LIVING DEAD and ZOMBIES: THE BEGINNING in her first starring role), brags of having done a little of everything.

When they get to the prison camp they find a hellhole of sadism and brutality in which the trollish warden (Odette Khan), who looks like a female cross between Paul Giamatti and the guy from TIMECRIMES, is either torturing the inmates or renting them out to the Governor of the island (Jim Gaines, also of ISLAND OF THE LIVING DEAD and ZOMBIES: THE BEGINNING) as sex slaves in his nightclub-slash-brothel. 

The prison scenes yield the expected sensationalism including copious amounts of nudity--with a shower scene or two that would launch the slobbering pervs from PORKY'S into orbit--and the inevitable lesbianism, along with constant physical and mental abuse from the warden and her sadistic guards.  Chief among the latter is the constantly screaming Juana, played with singleminded intensity by Vanessa Bolabas in a gloriously one-note performance. 

The Governor's palace of carnal sin offers even more perversion with his customers, as vile a bunch of freaks as ever portrayed on film, using and abusing the more attractive prisoners such as Jennifer during all sorts of rapey activities, one of which involves a full-grown python. 

It's during the biggest and most elaborate of these sex parties that Jennifer and the others, including her new friend Monica (Dyane Craystan, ZOMBIES: THE BEGINNING) plan their big escape.  (This, by the way, comes after Jennifer has bargained to have Monica removed from a partially-submerged bamboo cage full of rats a la THE DEER HUNTER which she shared with several half-eaten corpses.) 

Unfortunately, the girls leap right from the frying pan into the fire when their escape attempt becomes a human hunting party, with the Governor's friends tracking them down like animals and disposing of them in horrific ways.  This is where Bruno Mattei goes all out to shock, horrify, and generally test our tolerance for graphic screen violence against a bunch of hapless damsels in distress. 

Gorehounds who live for this kind of stuff should be in hog heaven at this point, while the more easily offended--well, let's face it, I really doubt if the more easily offended are going to still be watching after the first five minutes.  Some viewers will find this sequence easier to endure by looking forward to the girls finally turning the tables on their tormentors, including that bitch-troll of a warden and her goons back at the prison. 

Bruno Mattei (under his "Vincent Dawn" pseudonym) puts the whole thing across in relatively capable fashion, displaying some of his best directorial skills and camerawork that I've seen so far.  Production values are fairly good thanks in part to some well-chosen locations, with a musical score that sounds as though it could've been written by Brian May.

As for the cast, Yzon and Craystan are the standouts, while the actresses playing the warden and head guard Juana are a hoot.  Anyone else playing a bad guy in this movie does so in such cartoonish, googly-eyed terms that even D.W. Griffith would tell them to tone it down.

The DVD from Intervision is in 1.78:1 widescreen with Dolby 2.0 sound.  No subtitles.  Extras consist of an interview with Yvette Yzon and Alvin Anson on "Acting With Bruno", a talk with THE JAIL's producer Giovanni Paolucci and co-writer Antonio Tentori ("Prison Inferno"), and the film's trailer. 

Mattei died in 2007, a year after this film was made, but he left behind a filmography packed with some of the most outlandish, mindboggling, and just plain nasty exploitation thrillers ever made.  And if that sounds good to you, then THE JAIL: THE WOMEN'S HELL serves up a heapin' helping of it with all the trimmings. 

Buy it at
Street date: October 13, 2015


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