DVD Review: “Women in Prison” Triple Feature

Damon Swindall

by: Damon Swindall
July 11th, 2011

A triple bill of great Women-in-Prison classics!

There are two main reasons that people watch Women-in-Prison (WIP) films. One is for the crazy violence, usually caused by the uprising of an oppressed group of prisoners and the wrongfully accused just trying to set things right. The other, and more prominent reason, is because of the nudity. Yes, WIP flicks are known for bare babes behind bars and that is not something they try to hide. In fact there is a film from 1980 simply called BARE BEHIND BARS. If anyone out there was going to give you the skinny on which of this subgenre was worth your 90 minutes I’d be willing to bet my money on Mr. Skin. As you all know this is the man behind the website you can go to for skinformation on who was in naked in what movie and to what extent. Now he has teamed up with Panik House to release a triple bill of his favorite down and dirty WIP flicks, and, for the most part, he knows his stuff.

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The pride and joy of this release is the fully uncut and beautifully restored CHAINED HEAT. This stars a wide-eyed Linda Blair, who is sent to prison for the accidental death of a man in a automotive accident. While there she learns the hard ropes of the system amidst an inmate race war, a perverted warden (played wonderfully by John Vernon) who has a sex lounge for an office, complete with a hot tub, and a bunch of crooked “handsy” guards. The girls are used and abused by those in command and even pimped out by the second-in-command’s boyfriend (Henry Silva). Something has to be done - and soon.

Second film in the set sees Blair back in action in RED HEAT as a young girl visiting her fiance while his army unit is stationed in Germany. Soon she is abducted and held  against her will in an East German prison while no one knows why she vanished. This prison is extremely hard and there is very little (meaning none) communication to the outside. The leader of the worst gang in the joint (Sylvia Kristel, EMMANUELLE) makes her life a living hell as her and her lackeys constantly torture and rape the others. On the outside, her fiance tries desperately to locate her and bring her back to safety.

Last, is the Blair-less JUNGLE WARRIORS that is a worst nightmare for some beautiful, photogenic women. While out looking for exotic locations for a sexy photo shoot in South America, a group of models’ plane is shot down by an evil drug lord (Paul Smith, PIECES). The girls are captured and held in his huge mansion while being tortured endlessly by his men and sadistic lesbian sister (Sybil Danning). They try their escape around the same time another drug lord (John Vernon) makes his way to the compound for a trade agreement with an anti-drug enforcement hot on the tail.

While every minute of these three films is not exactly amazing, this is a set that fans of exploitation/WIP films have been waiting for. Having CHAINED HEAT, a film that many consider to be the best WIP film on the market, in its uncut form with a nice clear restoration is worth the price alone. Then throw in the fact that there are two other films in this DVD case and it would almost be stupid not to purchase. These films get a lot of flack for being the gratuitous pictures they are but they are entertaining and definitely deliver on the goods that the people who would watch them in the first place really want to see. Isn’t that all that matters? Let the others watch their Terrence Malick, I’ll stick with Blair, Kristel, and Danning in the prison showers.

One of the more confusing aspects of this triple bill is the inclusion of JUNGLE WARRIORS. It’s not a bad film necessarily, but it is puzzling as to why Mr. Skin chose a jungle imprisonment film to fit alongside two more standard jail scenarios. Maybe for a little change of pace or because it reunites Vernon and Danning from CHAINED HEAT? Another film in an actual jail would have been preferable. This entry in the wilderness does have many high points but there is one, somewhat ridiculous, aspect which must be addressed - the theme song. Wow! Italian pop singer Arcangeli Marina provides the voice for a tune I can only imagine is called “Heat”, due to her many repetitions of the word. Her voice is quite scratchy and seems to breach the peak line A LOT as she screeches “I need your heeeeeeeat.” I thought it was bad enough but my sleeping dog left the room during the opening credits and returned a few minutes after the song ended. I laughed but it was even more humorous when it reprises for the end of the film he left again! Not sure what Ms. Arcangeli is doing now, but I can guarantee it is not making music for dogs.

The other two films, the more enjoyable two, have much in common. There are the standard scenes of rape, abuse, and soapy group showers which are synonymous with such movies, but they also manage to have some fantastic performances along the way. Contrary to what people might believe, there actually is something beyond the bare chests of a bunch of women. Each of these films also contain great action and pretty brutal behavior from both the inmates and the jailers.

As far as the extras go there are trailers for all three films (yeah!) and Mr. Skin does a brief intro to each film explaining the best breast moments with clips. CHAINED HEAT also has a couple of video interviews with actresses Stella Stevens and Sybil Danning. It would be nice to have some other interviews or commentaries, especially on the top billed film, but just having them all unedited and restored in widescreen will surely suffice.

Fans of the exploitation, WIP flicks, Linda Blair, or even John Vernon should pick this set up for sure. Supposedly this will only be available for a limited time and it’s well worth the price. Haven’t heard if Mr. Skin and Panik House will be re-teaming for another release anytime soon, but if it’s anywhere near the quality seen here I’ll place my pre-order now!

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