dvd review: WOMEN'S PRISON MASSACRE – CAGED WOMEN – uncut

Once upon a time, when home video consisted of VHS tapes rented at grocery stores and played on machines that loaded from the top, one of the best bets for horny teenage boys like myself to see naked female bodies were Women In Prison movies. I can recall sitting through several entries in this genre that always held the promise of gratuitous shower scenes and the possible lesbian action, and when I was 14 years old, none of these movies seemed that bad. But watching the recently re-released uncut version of Bruno Mattei’s Women’s Prison Massacre and Caged Women, I realize that in my youth I was much more forgiving of cinematic ineptitude, as long as there were titties.

Filmed back to back in 1981, Women’s Prison Massacre and Caged Women (a.k.a. Violence in a Women’s Prison) were both directed by the late, great Bruno Mattei. By “late,” I mean that Mattei is no longer with us, and by “great” I mean that…well…I’m sure he was well-liked by people. But as a filmmaker, Mattei, who directed 56 films in 37 years, was a schlockmeister of epic proportions. A journeyman director who specialized in whatever trend was popular in Italian exploitation trash films, Mattei, working under any one of his 22 pseudonyms, cranked out something in pretty much every genre imaginable. Women’s Prison Massace and Caged Women represent his collaborations with actress Laura Gemser, the super sexy Indonesian boner-babe best known for her repeated performances in Italian exploitation films that often billed her as Emanuelle or Black Emanuelle.

This two-disc special edition is packaged as Women’s Prison Massacre, with Caged Women offered as a bonus film on the second disc, which also includes a full frame version WPM. Gemser stars in Women’s Prison Massacre as Emanuelle, a crusading journalist who has been sent to prison on false charges after she crosses paths with a corrupt politician (this is all explained during an obligatory scene of bad expository dialog). It should come as no surprise that the prison is an unpleasant place run by the standard sadistic warden (Lorraine DeSelle), with equally sadistic guards, and a crazed inmate named Albina (Ursula Flores), all of whom have it out for our heroine. Things take a complicated and gratuitously exploitative turn when four murderous male convicts escape and take refuge at the women’s prison. Led by Crazy Boy Henderson (Gabriele Tinti), the ruthless killers drag a wounded cop with them into the prison, where they proceed to rape and pillage. Of course, the plot is all secondary, since we all know that story is not that much a concern for anyone watching a movie with the words “women’s,” “prison” and “massacre” in the title. All that really matters is that there is a ton of nudity—which there is (accept for Gemser)—and that there is plenty of violence—which there is. One of the film’s more violent moments comes when inmate Laura (Maria Romano) avenges the death of her lesbian lover, by seducing Blade (Pierangelo Pozzato), who is in for a big surprise when he finds out the hard way that she has hidden a razor inside her womanliness. And there is a Russian roulette scene that is simply splatteriffic.

There should be no mistaking Women’s Prison Massacre for anything other than what it is, which is totally trash. Even the liner notes of the bonus booklet say that the film is “trash, plain and simple.” But recognizing that some people enjoy films devoid of any real social merit or artistic quality, I supposed some people might be entertained by this nonsense. I mean don’t get me wrong, as this film is a particularly steamy pile of steaming crap, but it has its moments. Pozzato is one of the worst actors of all time, and watching him is a true marvel to behold. And the same can be said for Flores, a bizarre looking woman so unattractive that she actually becomes sexy in a perverse sort of way. Her rubber-face expressions are priceless, and between her facial contortions and the unkempt pubic hair of the rest of the cast, the film has enough to keep a very special type of person entertained.

The bonus disc features Mattei’s Caged Women, which also stars Gemser as journalist Emanuelle, only this time she is in prison undercover looking to expose corruption. Emanuelle spends more time exposing her nubile body than she does prison corruption. This film was released before Women’s Prison Massacre, which plays as a sort of unofficial sequel, and pound-for pound, Caged Women is actually a better film. Of course, the film itself is terrible, but at least it features more of Gemser naked, which is the closest thing you can get to better acting, writing or directing in a film by Mattei.

Neither Women’s Prison Massacre nor Caged Women are films that are screaming to be watched by anyone other than those with a taste for bottom-of-the-barrel exploitation films, or certain perverts who just get off on this sort of garbage. As far as Women In Prison films go, there are far better titles to chose from, and as far as titles that should be released on DVD, classics like Chained Heat come to mind more quickly that either of these two. But at the same time, neither of these films are the sort that are meant to actually be thought about with any sort of critical analysis, and doing so constitutes an even bigger waste of time than watching both of these flicks—which makes me a bit of a fool.

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One Response to “dvd review: WOMEN'S PRISON MASSACRE – CAGED WOMEN – uncut”

  1. Shaw Scope Says:

    I’ve never seen WOMEN’S PRISON MASSACRE, I’m going to check it out. Laura Gemser was the most beautiful woman in the world in the 1970’s to early 80’s, but Bruno Mattei was no Joe D’Amato. Have you ever seen the D’Amato helmed EMANUELLE movies starring Gemser? EMANUELLE IN AMERICA and EMANUELLE AROUND THE WORLD are two of the best 70’s Italian exploitation movies, and that’s saying something. D’Amato was a master director and cinematographer who for whatever reason had absolutely no understanding of the difference between good and bad taste.

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