Shock-O-Rama Cinema // 1983 // 90 Minutes // Unrated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // November 8th, 2005
The killing never stops.
So let me tell you about this one time in a women's prison, where this massacre took place...
Young nubile Emanuelle (Laura Gemser), an enterprising reporter, lands herself in a women's prison when a corrupt lawmaker trumps up charges to prevent her from probing into his affairs.
While incarcerated, Emanuelle must deal with the oppressive prison guards, the bitchy warden, and the violent Albina (Ursula Flores), the baddest girl on the cell block. Her only friends are her amorous cellmates.
But the worst is yet to come. While Emanuelle languishes in prison, trying to survive from day-to-day and desperately searching for a way to clear her name, four violent male criminals, led by "Crazy Boy" Henderson (Gabriele Tinti), are being transported to a high-security prison.
An accident en route forces the accompanying guards to bring the quartet to nearest holding facility they can find: the women's prison. Once there, Crazy Boy and his cronies quickly overcome the guards and seize control of the prison.
As the authorities scramble outside the prison walls to secure the situation, all hell breaks loose inside, and Emanuelle and her cohorts are faced with a whole new set of problems: and these have testicles.
Pure, unapologetic trash. That's what this film is. And it makes no excuses for its position high atop the Sleaze Barometer. Whatever you're expecting to get with a film titled Women's Prison Massacre is what you're likely to get. All the requisite elements of the genre are here: buckets of nudity, gratuitous violence, soft-core lesbian shower scenes, misogyny, rape, and a female warden in black underwear.
There is only the loosest of stories holding all this together: the subplot of Emanuelle tracking down a way to free herself from her wronged imprisonment is simply overwhelmed by the debauchery surrounding it; it's as if at one point this film wanted to pursue a coherent narrative, but the surrounding filth would have no part of it.
Basically, the plot is nothing more than a clothesline from which to string an onslaught of sleaze.
However, I have to confess, this film wasn't as trashy as I was expecting. Make no mistake, it's filthy, but Chained Heat 2 (which I reviewed recently) had much more nudity and violence. Of course, that's a comparison made within the realm of women-in-prison exploitation, and these flicks play by a whole other set of rules.
Director Bruno Mattei, who boasts quite a resume of exploitation trash, follows the playbook, which, admittedly, he helped write. He's not after a story of justice or a commentary on the criminal mind or even a simple investigation into how people change when incarcerated. No, this guy aims to entertain through envelope-pushing sleaze, and if this is your bag, I submit that you will likely be satiated.
The title does over-hype the amount of violence in the film. Not so much a massacre as "four scumbags getting beat up," the smackdown in the prison is relatively tame. Easily the most disturbing violence is a rape that happens later in the film -- but I find rape in any movie, exploitation or not, immensely disturbing anyway.
So if you're lounging around on a Saturday night and you think "Gee, you know what I haven't seen in a long time? A women-in-prison movie, and an Italian one at that!" Retro Shock-O-Rama might have what you're looking for.
The studio has released this uncut version of the film on 1.78:1 transfer, resuscitated from the original 35mm print. It still looks aged and is littered with flaws, but the video could have been a lot worse. The original mono track pushes the sound adequately.
Sadly, only trailers comprise the extras, though some in-depth liner notes offer interesting background information.
For what it is, the court hands down a not guilty plea. But it's for fans of the genre only.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Shock-O-Rama Cinema
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (English)
Running Time: 90 Minutes
Release Year: 1983
MPAA Rating: Unrated
* Liner Notes