Judge Steve Evans says this Oswaldo de Oliveira movie is sure to entertain everyone who loves the Brazilian rain forest and also hates women.
An all-out orgy deep in a deadly green inferno.
By turns goofy, incompetent, and unpleasant, this is exploitation filmmaking (and borderline porn) of the lowest order.
Facts of the Case
Beautiful women are imprisoned in bamboo cages and held for eventual sale on the white slavery market by a deranged couple living in the Amazon jungle. The wife enjoys petty torments and the occasional bisexual dalliance with her prisoners. Her fat, mustachioed husband (Sergio Hingst, Awakening of the Beast) likes to sample the merchandise. He fancies abuse, humiliation, whippings, and rape, including assaults on his wife.
After the sale of one group of prisoners to wealthy businessmen, the remaining women manage to escape their captors only to face greater danger in the Amazon jungle. A posse sets out after the women, whose daring race to freedom pauses for skinny dipping in an idyllic mountain pond. They also argue amongst themselves while topless. The desperate women make their way entirely by accident (read: plot contrivance) into the compound of a perverted priest, whose obsession with gold is exceeded only by his repressed fascination with nude women covered in ceremonial paint.
Miles away, a boyfriend and his hired mercenaries hurry to rescue the women before the Amazon jungle devours them alive.
Directed by Oswaldo de Oliveira (Bare Behind Bars), this is a nasty little souvenir from Brazil originally released as Curral de Mulheres. Every female in the picture gets nekkid at least once and most of them stay that way for the entire movie. This is not as good as it might sound. Virtually every female cast member is also subjected to some sort of degradation, including awful dialogue. Violence is limited to Molotov cocktail explosions, a couple of gun battles, and one or two unconvincing gore effects. What's missing is a sense of humor and the revolutionary politics, however silly those politics may have seemed, that lifted producer Roger Corman's women-in-prison flicks a notch above the typical exploitation sleaze of the early 1970s. As specious as it may seem, some women-in-prison films could be seen as a metaphor promoting female empowerment—at least that's what some directors would say to their detractors. The political and campy components are essential in order for this dubious argument to work. It may come across as hypocrisy, but hey, that's the b-movie bidness.
Amazon Jail was a late entry in this disreputable genre, having been released in 1982. Whatever appeal these films may hold for the cult-movie fanatic, there's simply no denying that anyone obsessed with this genre clearly feels threatened by women.
Let me be clear. It's one thing to watch Pam Grier frolicking topless in The Big Birdcage while practically winking at the camera. It's another matter entirely to watch one-shot actresses, possibly wiped out on narcotics, being felt up by drooling fat men with thick black hair matted on their chests and backs (it's also a buzzkill, but never mind). Welcome to Amazon Jail.
The dubbing is comically bad, while the acting is uniformly wretched. For the jaded, seen-it-all crowd, this renders some of the uglier plot elements unintentionally amusing. Many of the actors appear to be under the influence of an extremely disorienting drug. Or maybe they're just embarrassed because they needed the dinero.
While not as vile as the director's previous Bare Behind Bars, which added hard-core pornography to a musky mix of sexual sadism and brutality, Amazon Jail is still potent stuff for the casual interloper in the realm of exploitation cinema. The uninitiated may be more than a tad offended.
A scratchy trailer is the lone extra feature. I'm confident it never played at any theater in this country, except maybe the long-gone grindhouses that rimmed Times Square 30 years ago.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
Cinematography is sharp, given the low-rent quality of everything else in this tawdry little film. Blue Underground presents the picture in an anamorphic transfer, properly framed at 1.85:1.
Many of the women in the film are quite beautiful; others considerably less so. I felt pity for all of them, knowing that no one in this picture ever went on to anything better.
Here's the sort of drivel that angry teenage boys hide from their parents in the back of the bedroom closet, next to the magazines with the sticky pages. This does not constitute a recommendation.
Misanthropic, unclean, incompetent filmmaking.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Blue Underground
• Theatrical Trailer
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