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Thursday, April 19, 2018

VIOLENCE IN A WOMEN'S PRISON -- Blu-ray Review by Porfle

Not one of Bruno Mattei's more extreme works, nor even his most vicious "women in prison" film (THE JAIL: THE WOMEN'S HELL beats it handily on that count), VIOLENCE IN A WOMEN'S PRISON, aka "Caged Women" (1982) still manages to entertain thanks to the usual exploitation elements and some relatively outstanding moments.

The former, not surprisingly, includes plenty of sadomasochistic mayhem between butch female prison guards and their hapless prisoners, gleefully joined by a  monstrous warden and her sadistic club-wielding lieutenant.

Much nudity and softcore lesbian sex ensues, though I found most of it thoroughly unerotic.  Still, no women-in-prison exploitation flick is complete without indulging in such hijinks, and Mattei (directing here once again under the pseudonym "Vincent Dawn") delivers same with his usual rough-hewn panache.

This is also true for the obligatory gross-out stuff, especially when the new inmate (beautiful Laura Gemser in her signature role as "Emanuelle") is confined to solitary and attacked by slimy, ravenous rats. 

Mattei (MONDO CANNIBAL, ISLAND OF THE LIVING DEAD) likes to have three or four horrible things happening at once so that he can intercut amongst them for awhile, so we see Laura fighting off toothsome rats while guards molest other unfortunate prisoners and the wardens of the male and female sides of the prison engage in sick, voyeuristic sex games themselves.

We also visit the men's side of the prison where a gay inmate is constantly being gang-raped after his fellow prisoners get worked up watching one of the women exposing herself at a window.  These scenes usually end with a horde of guards descending upon the men in the exercise yard and beating them all senseless with clubs.

All of which takes place within an ideal found location--some kind of sprawling old European castle or something--that adds immeasurably to the film's atmosphere and production values.  An enthusiastic cast also adds to our enjoyment.

Getting there a decade before ALIEN 3, this movie also has Gemser waking up in the prison hospital being lovingly attended to by a handsome, sympathetic doctor who turns out to be a fellow inmate convicted of an unfortunate crime (in this case, the euthanasia of his cancer-ridden wife).

When it turns out that Laura may actually be working undercover to expose the horrific abuses at the prison, and is in danger of discovery, Dr. Moran (Gabriele Tinti) comes up with an escape plan that will generate ample suspense later in the film. 

While that's going on, however, the best moment in VIOLENCE IN A WOMEN'S PRISON occurs when an aging prisoner named Pilar (Leila Ducci), who's so lonesome she keeps a cockroach in a tiny makeshift cage as a pet, takes on the evil head guard after a bloody riot in the day room. 

For two minutes or so, the film raises to a level of greatness that had me in awe.  I had to rewind and watch it again, it was so riveting and exquisitely done.  In fact, it seemed as though Dario Argento and Alfred Hitchcock had dropped by that day for a visit and decided to co-direct a scene just as a lark.

Besides that, though, VIOLENCE IN A WOMEN'S PRISON is your standard Bruno Mattei effort, unpolished and very, very uncouth yet good fun for those who are up for this brand of cheerfully grotesque entertainment.

Buy it at Severin Films

Special Features:
Brawl In Women’s Block: Interview With Co-Director/Co-Writer Claudio Fragasso and Co-Writer Rossella Drudi
Archive Interview With Director Bruno Mattei
Radio Spot
Reversible Box Art

Reversible box art:


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