REVIEW: Women In Prison Triple Feature
Mr. Skin and Panik House Entertainment presents Women In Prison, a triple feature including Chained Heat (1983), Red Heat (1985), and Jungle Warriors (1984). Two of these ’80s sleazy, exploitation flicks star Linda Blair, Sybil Danning, and John Vernon in them. One of them stars Sylvia Kristel. The following aforementioned actors and actresses already add up to cinematic guilt and pleasurable viewing that one can not imagine for me. I knew that this was going to be one of the funnest triple features that I would have the pleasure of reviewing.
I started out watching Chained Heat, a classic (in my mind) on the sub-genre that is Women in Prison flicks, which is part of the exploitation umbrella that encompasses so many other awesome sub-genres such as Naziploitation, Nunsploitation, Blaxsploitation, etc… Directed by Paul Nicholas, Chained Heat is not only one of my favorite of the Women in Prison movies, but it feels as if it is a grade above the rest in terms of sleaze, violence, action, story, and performances by some well-known names and some not-so-well-known names.
I first saw Chained Heat when I was in either Junior High or a Freshman in High School-my memory is a little hazy as to how old I was exactly, but the circumstances as to how I acquired the craptastic Video Treasures Extended Play edition on VHS were pretty clear. I stole the bad boy from a Kohl’s Department Store in the Northwest Suburbs of Chicago. There. I did it. I just admitted to a crime I committed as a young, rebellious minor while living in the suburbs of Chicago. It sounds even more suburban because Kohl’s was located in a shopping mall that is not even the same structure and layout presently.
I stole the VHS copy and watched it solely on the prospect of getting a chance to see some very sexy women, such as Sybil Danning, Monique Gabriel, Sharon Hughes, Edy Williams, and Marcia Karr. Honestly, seeing Linda Blair whom I remember so fondly as a young, little girl that gets possessed by a demon and needs an exorcism in The Exorcist naked was not going to be a high-point for me in this movie. I wanted to see it because I was hoping there would be tons of nudity (including full-frontal bush), lesbian shower and prison scenes, violent rape and torture, incredibly over-the-top tough-girl dialogue and multiple prison yard fights with sadistic guards and a warden that was tough as nails and hated everyone and everything. I think that there just summed up about everything that Chained Heat had to offer.
Chained Heat starts out with our star, Linda Blair portraying Carol Henderson, a teenager sentenced to 18 months in a women’s prison for accidentally killing a man. Once she arrives, she meets Warden Bacman. Bacman, playing a horny douchebag to a tee by John Vernon, is a super perverted, hornball that expects the beautiful women in the prison to perform sexual acts in front of him and upon him while he records them via his multiple security cameras in his office. His office just so happens to have a hot tub in it, as well as looking like something that Wickes Furniture had the pleasure of decorating. Suffice to say, the warden’s office does not look like the office of a man whom is running a prison. There is even a bed in the corner for when those female inmates need some “late-night counseling or advice” on matters.
After Henderson (Blair) gets an idea of how things are run by the warden, sternly dismissing all his sexual advances, she gets to find out how the different prison gangs run shit, which happen to be divided up by race-Blacks, led by Duchess (Tamara Dobson) on one side and the white dykes on the other side, led by Erika (Sybil Danning). I think a prison movie is not a prison movie without prison gangs and racial tension within the thick concrete walls that some refer to as hell. So far, Chained Heat was living up to ALL the expectations I had for the film.
The movie moves along at a nice pace, allowing for breaks of lesbian rape and love-making, shower scenes of women with big bush cleaning themselves and each other, and sneaky backstabbing between different factions of the prison’s administration staff, the various guards, and the two opposing gangs and those caught in the middle. The film balances well the nudity, sexuality, violence, memorable (if not at times) ultra-cheesy dialogue , and simplistic and cohesive plot and storyline. I do not want to think during this film and have their be any confusion as to why I am watching this film. I am watching this film for pure, undulating entertainment. I don’t care for a social commentary. The film ultimately tells a story of good vs. bad vs. even badder. Chained Heat is not going to win any awards for any category other than being an extremely exploitative film.If warden Bacman is not a big enough asshole and scumbag, then his assistant Captain Taylor (Stella Stevens) is even worse, but with less power. Taylor (Stevens) runs the lesbian drug-dealing rapist gang run by Erika (Danning) and is loyal to the warden only until her time comes to take his power from him. Sadly, I sympathized for the warden because he is not even the meanest character in the film.
In fact, when Chained Heat came out in the theaters the film came under fire and criticism from many critics for its overt sexism and from lesbian rights activists for portraying negative and stereotypical portrayals of lesbians as being violent and predatory. I guess lesbians and how society perceives them have come a very long way. This film was made in the mid-’80s and it was stereotypical for lesbians to be rough-necked dykes that forced themselves upon the straight pretty girls or the lipstick lesbians. I wonder if any of those women from the lesbian rights activist groups had ever been to prison and witnessed what went on in there. I mean, the women in the prison are probably not going to play nice and if they are horny, lesbians or not, they may get violent or though and force themselves upon another woman. I believe every male prison movie I have seen portrays rape and murder in prison by homosexual inmates and inmates just fucking horny and getting sexual gratification by any means necessary.
I noticed that there does exist a slightly shorter version of Chained Heat that was offered at one time in a box-set with the very same three films in this box set from Panik House, but the running time listed on the box is the unrated edition (98 min.) and not the edited version that existed for cable (88 min.), The dvd box also boasts the fact that this is the first time Chained Heat has been presented uncut in North America. There is also an interview with actress Stella Stevens (Captain Taylor) and her experience while making the film.
Moving on to Red Heat, directed by Robert Collector and Ernst R. von Theumer (I see it not only took one bad director to make this shitburger but TWO!), we have Linda Blair again as Christine Carlson, an American tourist visiting West Germany to see her fiancee who happens to be in the military and stationed there. While there, she decides to go on a walk in the middle of the night on the grounds of her hotel and witnesses some espionage spy stuff going on and is kidnapped by evil East Germans and accused of espionage and thrown in an East German prison that makes the one in Chained Heat look like the Ritz. Our evil dyke bitch in this stinker is none other than Sylvia Kristel, best known for reprising the role of Emmanuelle in the widely-recognized Euro soft-core porn flicks of the same name. Kristel portrays Sofia, the mean bitch and leader of the ugliest bunch of East German broads locked up I have ever seen. I really think that the producers used real inmates for this film because you can’t pay to find women this ugly to act in a film.
The acting, if one can call it that, in this film was far less believable and there was not much that I liked about any of the characters. Sylvia Kristel does not have a great deal of dialogue in the film, as do any of the other bad inmates that run the place with an iron fist. The inmates have these weird, ugly tattoos all over their bodies-some just on their faces and they look like they were painted on and can wash off at any moment. I really did not like Blair’s character or Kristel’s. In fact, even when Blair’s boyfriend Mike (William Ostrander) eventually gets together a group of friends and contacts to break into the prison to rescue Blair and another political inmate whom is also wrongly accused, there is no reason for me to really give two shits about what happens to any of the characters due to a total lack of character development whatsoever.
The violence in the film could not be appreciated, what little there was. because the lighting was hardly noticeable and so many scenes were poorly lit, very dark, and grainy. At times, I felt as if I was the one in the prison and my sentence was to watch this damn movie as my punishment. The film did not offer any sort of so bad it’s good aspect to it. The film was just a solid stinker. I thought seeing Sylvia Kristel naked in the film would be a high-point but I have seen her naked so much in the Emmanuelle films which were far better in shot quality and lighting that why would I even waste my time wanting to see this film for her appearance in it.
I was glad that Red Heat did not get its own disc as Chained Heat did and that it had to share space on it with another movie. Sadly Linda Blair is the only redeeming quality in this film and that is not really saying too much. The amount of nudity is sparse, as is the fighting and violence. Only at the end do we see some significant killing, but it’s done by handguns or machine guns, leaving little to any blood or gore left around after the bodies fell. Red Heat is a bad exploitation film that is worth missing.
Jungle Warriors is an exploitation film that truly defines the term, full of gratuitous nudity, vulgarity, rape, violence, sadism, ridiculous dialogue that had me rolling in laughter at times and mouth agape at others in wonderment. Kudos to Ernst R. von Theumer and Billy Fine for creating a masterpiece of complete cheese. The film has more laugh-out loud scenes, unintentionally of course, that were backed up by performances that made the film cause me to cry in laughter rather than cry in torture. If a film is going to be bad, I would rather it be so bad that its fun to watch rather than an exercise in agonizing pain and torture.
So lets get down to the complex and very detailed plot that took three individuals: Robert Collector , Marc Furstenberg, and Ernst R. von Theumer. I believe if anymore hands were in the pot mixing the outcome would have been either more disastrous, or far more hilarious. I vote for the latter. Our story starts with a bevy of very gorgeous American models flying into South America to look for the perfect photo shoot with their agent, a photographer, and a pilot who is also acting as their guide to South America. It also just so happens that a well-known Italian mob boss whom the U. S. is trying to build a case up against is heading out to South America and arrived on the same flight into South America as our lovely young ladies. The girls head off on a small airplane chartered by their agent and head off to find some shooting locations.
The agent spots a gorgeous waterfall deep in the jungles and wants the plane to land for a photo shoot. The pilot warns the models’ agent telling him that this area is heavily infested by drug lords and that they run the country and the airplane should not be below a certain point or else it may risk the drug lords becoming aware of them. Regardless, the plane dives down to land and immediately it is under fire. The plane lands safely in the water and the girls and modeling crew make it to land to get away from the burning plane who viewers are told is going to blow up. It blows up and out girls are left in the dangerous jungles dressed in designer clothing, still clutching their over-sized purses. Shortly, the guerrilla drug lord’s army arrives looking for the plane they shot down and end up capturing the models, tying them up so that the drug lord Caesar Santiago (played by Paul L. Smith) and his wife, Angel (played by Sybil Danning) whom Santiago refers to as his sister throughout the movie can have some fun with them. In this particular scene, after Angel (Danning) decides she no longer wants to torture and play with her new toys, leaves them at the mercy of the horny, perverted, sweaty soldiers who tear their clothes off and engage in a massive rape scene. A majority of the film’s nudity occurs during this particular scene, various women’s clothing torn off revealing breasts and buttocks, as well as close-ups of the models’ faces as they cry out in pain and agony. It probably was the film’s most serious and compelling scene.
Later on, locked up in a prison cell, one of the old ladies working at the drug fortress decides to help the girls get the keys from the guard and help them escape. What happens next is an all-out war with the girls fighting the South American drug lord (portrayed by Paul L. Smith) and the Italian mob (headed by Vito Mastranga and portrayed by John Vernon), whom has arrived to work out the drug deal of the past twenty years. The film continues to turn into a Z-Grade action flick with plenty of guns blazing, poorly executed hand-to-hand combat sequences, and ridiculous lines of tough-guy dialogue administered by the big, bad guys. The girls are led into combat by Joanna Quinn (Nina Van Pallandt), suddenly handling machine guns and handguns with some pretty remarkable marksmanship and there is plenty of violence with an ever-rising body count as there seems to be an endless supply of thugs and soldiers to go and kill and get killed. I was loving every minute of it. I completely have a hard time NOT enjoying awful action-adventure flicks that have more dialogue than necessary in them, which in the case of Jungle Warriors, was any at all.
Of the three movies that comprise of the Women In Prison Triple Feature, I was most impressed by Chained Heat (again) and Jungle Warriors. Red Heat I could have done without. I was happy to read that all three films are the most complete and uncut versions out on dvd to this date. For the enjoyment these flicks brought me, the bad ones and the good ones, I think they are a good addition to anyone’s collection of exploitation and sexploitation action films, as well as great films for fans of Sybil Danning, Leslie Blair, and John Vernon. I myself, can never get enough of John Vernon and Sybil Danning’s performances in B-Grade and sometimes Z-Grade films. I guess these films held a special place in my heart, bringing back not only memories of having watched Chained Heat as a young lad, but going back to the ’80s when it seemed like films had more nudity, violence, and half-assed story lines that were still shot on film and had some well-known names from genre films.