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Sunday, April 28, 2019

ESCAPE FROM WOMEN'S PRISON -- Blu-ray Review by Porfle

It looks like ESCAPE FROM WOMEN'S PRISON (Severin Films, 1978) is going to be one of those women's prison movies (natch) that ends with a big escape. Not so, Blu-ray breath.  This Italian sexploitation thriller is about what happens after some desperate women escape from women's prison, take over a bus full of female tennis players going to a big tournament, and hole up in the secluded, hotel-like villa of a judge until the heat's off. 

The leader of the bad girls, Monica (Lilli Carati, THE ALCOVE), is a political terrorist who's always at odds with Diana (Marina D'Aunia), a real tough cookie who thinks she should be in charge. 

The rest of the gang consists of big Betty (Artemia Terenziani) and flaky Erica (Ada Pometti), as well as Monica's brother who was shot helping them escape. 

The good girls include Anna (Zora Kerova), who will be forced to take charge of her peers and eventually confront the escapees, and Terry (Ines Pellegrini, WAR OF THE ROBOTS, EYEBALL), the spineless one who'll do anything to cooperate with their captors. 

Marco (Franco Ferrer) the bus driver, a handsome hunk, gets the romantic treatment from man-hungry Erica and even their wimpy tennis coach is in for some carnal attention from Betty. 

As for the judge (Filippo De Gara, LION OF THE DESERT), he's none too popular with the prison women and is the target for much of their scorn and abuse, until finally he's driven over the edge.

It's your basic "The Desperate Hours"-type situation with the hostages scheming to either escape or overpower their captors before they outlive their usefulness and the fugitives grating on each other and vying for power.  Monica and Diana in particular keep things on a hair trigger as the powderkeg gets ever closer to exploding. 

Meanwhile, the film lives up to its sexploitation status with a number of couplings that include at least three kinds of rape (female on male, male on female, and female on female), with Erica in particular making sure she gets the most out of her tied-up beau Marco.  Good girl Claudine (Dirce Funari) is targeted by Diana in yet another softcore sex sequence.

I love the ways in which these hardbitten dames push their weight around and cuss up a storm at each other with language that could make flowers wilt.  Even in the slower passages their hostile, unpredictable natures keep things hopping.

Actor and screenwriter Giovanni Brusadori chalks up his sole directorial effort here and does so in capable form.  The film benefits from some exceedingly good found locations, from that spacious villa to a nearby Italian town that's very picturesque. The script is co-written by actor George Eastman of such Joe D'Amato films as ABSURD, EMMANUELLE AND FRANCOISE, and ANTROPOPHAGUS.

The Blu-ray from Severin Films is 1080p full HD resolution with English-dubbed mono soundtrack and English captions. The element used for the scan is "a dupe negative and the best known element of the U.S. release version."  The bonus menu includes the original Italian cut "Le Evase" with Italian soundtrack and English captions, as well as "Freedom, Sex & Violence: Interview with Director Giovanni Brusadori" and the trailer.

Picture quality is, I assume, as good as possible though hardly perfect--but, as my regular readers know, I like a print that looks like it's been around the block a few times, especially when it's a lurid exploitation flick like this. 

Things heat up to a savory boil when the cops finally surround the place and the tense stand-off devolves into an exchange of gunfire as the bad girls work out their differences with both the law and each other in deadly terms.  I like the way all the various subplots resolve themselves here in violent, satisfying ways, right up to the final rat-a-tat freeze-frame before the credits roll. 

Buy it at Severin Films

Special Features:
    Le Evase: Italian cut
    Freedom, Sex & Violence: Interview with Director Giovanni Brusadori

Street date: April 30, 2019


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