Thursday, February 24, 2011

Women's Prison Massacre (1983)

Directed by Bruno Mattei
Starring Laura Gemser, Gabriele Tinti

I’d like to bite you nipples off! And I’ll do it!

The Women-In-Prison genre has a shopping list: sexy inmates, hair-pulling catfights, group showers, butch wardens, lesbians, daring escapes, brutal beat-downs, and wall-to-wall nudity. These are the classic WIP ingredients, and if a film can tick all the boxes, it’s a success.

However, Women’s Prison Massacre (aka Hell In a Women’s Prison) exuberantly overloads the sleaze-o-meter, delivering not only the bare-naked essentials, but a thrilling excess of indecency and slaughter. The film is directed by prolific sleaze-meister Bruno Mattei, the Italian Ed Wood. While only occasionally competent as a filmmaker, Mattei rallied whatever talent he possessed and made WPM a terrifically entertaining flick.

Laura Gemser plays Emmanuelle, the frisky photojournalist popularized in the long-running “Black Emmanuelle” sexploitation series. Emmanuelle’s is in the clink on a bogus charge, after uncovering the DA’s secret corruption. At her side are shapely sidekicks Laura (Maria Romano) and Irene (Antonella Giacomini). During the opening credits, the three perform some experimental theater, each brazenly introduces her character to the camera, before being upstaged by Albina (Ursula Flores), a vicious and awesomely-named albino.

After a riot erupts in the auditorium, the warden (a frumpy but still attractive Lorraine de Selle), harshly chews out our heroine: “I won’t ask you to give me an explanation for this filthy rubbish…It deals solely in cruelty. It’s packed with violence and sex. The whole thing seems designed to disturb, to provoke unrest, rebellion and escape.” Apparently she knows what kind of movie she’s acting in.

With her bugging-out eyes and cheese-grater voice, Albina is a formidable (albeit ridiculous) jail yard bully, and a stooly for the warden. When she spies the luscious Laura and Irene getting friendly in the washroom, she rats them out. The two are both half-drowned in the sink as punishment.

Emmanuelle is continually harassed by the sadistic bull-dyke guards, tussles with Albina in the washroom, the gets jumped by the knife-wielding she-freak in the prison yard. It doesn’t go well for Albina.

As if Emmanuelle didn’t have enough problems, a turd is about to splash into the proverbial punch bowl. By turd, I mean a quartet of multi-ethnic psychopaths. We have Irish rapist O’hara (Rober Mura), half-Indian Geronimo (Raul Cabrera), razor-carrying Aryan “Blade” Bauer (Pierangelo Pozzato), and their leader, Crazy Boy Henderson (the prolific Gabriele Tinti, Gemser’s husband and frequent co-star). These murderous scumbags are en route to the electric chair, but apparently Old Sparky’s getting reupholstered, so the gang is shipped to the women’s prison to await their doom. They are chaperoned by three cops, but a gangster ambush decreases that number by two. Still, straight-shooting lawman Harrison (Carlo de Mejo, House By the Cemetery) delivers them the prison.

Faster than you can say “what-could-possibly-go-wrong,” Blade slices a guard’s throat, and Crazy Boy wounds Harrison with a rifle. Now equipped with guns and hostages, they start bargaining with the police outside the prison; they want a car, five-million bucks, and a private jet out of the country. While the helpless cops scurry to meet these requests, the four bastards are now lords of the prison.

With hundreds of frisky caged babes at their disposal (most of them off-screen due to budgetary constraints), the fearsome foursome go on the prowl. 

O’hara molests the warden at gunpoint (“Good piece of ass, the warden, hot and horny.”). 

Overcome with vanilla fever, Geronimo sates himself with ever-calculating Albina.  

Blade swings his thing around the cellblock, until some penis-hungry vixens grope him to climax. 

Crazy Boy, ever the gentleman, rapes Emmanuelle against a wall, as the helpless Harrison watches.

(Fun fact, Gemser and Tinti were real-life spouses. Awww…)

After that carousel of carnality, our villains’ luck starts to change. I won’t spoil the gory details, but it involves a failed SWAT raid, a crappy escape vehicle, and one of the most gruesome Russian Roulette games ever filmed. Also, in a flinch-worthy precursor to Teeth, Blade finds his lost razor hidden in a very unexpected place.

After all this blood flinging, the film’s “climax” is a boner-shriveling disappointment. I won’t ruin it, but this is hardly the revenge set piece viewers will be itching for. A serious missed opportunity. Still, Women’s Prison Massacre is a terrific journey, even if the destination is crappy.

For a cheap-and-dirty exploitation flick, WPM has a lot going for it. Director Mattei recycled both the set and the cast from his earlier film Violence In A Women’s Prison. The cast is pure dynamite. Our four villains have great group chemistry, but hyperactive Pierangelo Pozzato steals every scene as Blade Bauer. With his idiot mugging, bizarre noises, and razor-slicing antics, the wacky white supremacist is the film’s clown, and is rewarded with an unforgettable  centerpiece death. Also, Ursula Flores is hilarious as the seething powder-sugar-white Albina.

The three female leads (Gemser, Romano, and Giacomini) are all stunning. Gemser is as lean and elegant as ever, slinky and feline, alternately radiating erotic warmth and cold disdain. Sadly, we never get a proper eyeful of her toned and limber physique. Not all is lost on the nudity front, however. Laura and Irene both get considerable skin-time. As much as I admire Gemser’s exotic beauty, Miss Romano takes the cake: fleshy thighs, cute round boobies, and a scraggly ‘80s bush you could get lost in. She looks like a curvier, sultrier Jessica Harper

Women’s Prison Massacre couldn’t be farther from the light-hearted sexiness of other “Black Emmanuelle” entries. Even at their grimmest, those films had a tone of joyous adventure, as wide-eyed Emmanuelle shagged her way across the globe. WPM is mean-spirited film, with a body count far exceeding the orgasm tally.

Still, if you’re seeking a carefree jiggle-fest, a film titled Women’s Prison Massacre probably won’t look promising. That title promises sex, humiliation, and murder, and boy-oh-boy does it deliver. There’s no reason a mature, well-adjusted individual should watch this film, but if you dig the WIP genre (Lord knows I do) this will be your holy grail. Dig in, sleazoid!

-Paulo Phibes

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