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Case Number 09595

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Bare Behind Bars

Blue Underground // 1980 // 94 Minutes // Unrated
Reviewed by Judge Steve Evans (Retired) // June 30th, 2006

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All Rise...

Judge Steve Evans wonders what cruel things director Oswaldo de Oliveira's mother did to him when he was a boy in order to cause him to despise women enough to make this movie.

The Charge

Behind bars no one can hear you scream!

Opening Statement

Beyond the tagline that rips off the previous year's Alien, this sleazy, seldom seen women-in-prison flick from 1980 also features nudity galore, violence, mutilations, hard-core porn, and other clichés. A discernible plot would have been nice, but maybe I'm missing the point of this vile little flick from Brazil.

Facts of the Case

Brutal beatings, full-cavity searches, and torture are the way of life in a South American women's penitentiary. The hapless inmates can avoid the torture chamber only by bartering their bodies for the warden's white slavery trade or submitting to the depraved desires of the prison's lesbian nurse.

Three prisoners escape to wreak their vengeance on men living "on the outside." Why? Because the screenwriter evidently ran out of debauched ideas involving the penitentiary.

The Evidence

Although not rated, Bare Behind Bars would easily be saddled with an X due to a couple of badly-edited hard-core scenes and one shot of two lesbians playing intimately with a dildo. This is nothing to get excited about. The editing is so sloppy and unfocused that the sex footage seems to be an afterthought. It certainly isn't titillating or remotely erotic. Consider the climax (sorry, can't help it): Several panning shots of a Brazilian cityscape are awkwardly intercut with a man and woman going at it con gusto in some sweaty little love shack. Then, just as the guy seems ready to holler "pop goes the weasel!" in Portuguese, there's another cutaway to a group of poor people sitting on a sidewalk, or another of those odd camera pans across dilapidated buildings. There's no message or symbolism here. It's just lousy editing. Microcephalics with scissors and tape could do no worse in assembling such a random collection of images. As for the minimal porn footage, it is unimaginative and surprisingly dull.

Director Oswaldo de Oliveira would tone down the material for his next feature, the similar Amazon Jail, which contains just as much nastiness, but no hard core footage. Ironically, Amazon Jail is more effective by being less graphic; our imaginations supply what isn't shown.

But whatever way it's served, an hour and a half of watching women being beaten, tortured, and raped is utterly depressing. I cannot imagine what sort of individual would enjoy this movie in any broadly defined meaning of the word "enjoy." If the flick is designed to test a person's endurance for cinematic cruelty and inhumanity—like such cult films as the notorious Cannibal Holocaust—then I passed the audition. But I won't brag about it.

Bad dubbing makes the already ludicrous dialogue merely laughable. The audio is clean but bland in the original mono. Concerning image, Blue Underground delivers an anamorphic transfer framed correctly at 1.66:1, although the print is pocked with speckles and scratches. Curiously, these blemishes seem appropriate for the tawdry nature of the film.

If a theatrical trailer counts as supplemental material, then the disc comes with extras.

The Rebuttal Witnesses

Many of the women in this film are quite beautiful and spend most of their time unclothed. Some of the women in this film are not even in the same zip code as beautiful, yet they, too, are unclothed. So caveat lector, O would-be connoisseur of exploitation trash.

Naked or otherwise, I felt sorry for all of the actors. No paycheck could possibly be worth an appearance in this ugly little picture.

Closing Statement

Why are these films always set in some nameless banana republic? Don't they have women's prisons in England? Spain? Lower Michigan? The point being, these pictures are not only misogynistic. By suggesting that such depravity only exists in certain areas of the world, the films are racist, as well.

If anyone suggests that Bare Behind Bars is mere fantasy material to stoke the male libido, that tells me more about you than I wanted to know.

The Verdict

Where to begin? Sloppy editing, lousy acting, inept cinematography, comical dubbing, bad music, repellent situations—when they're not depicting brutalized women, the filmmakers are guilty of incompetence, as well.

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Scales of Justice

Video: 80
Audio: 70
Extras: 10
Acting: 10
Story: 15
Judgment: 35

Perp Profile

Studio: Blue Underground
Video Formats:
• 1.66:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English)
• None
Running Time: 94 Minutes
Release Year: 1980
MPAA Rating: Unrated
• Bad
• Cult
• Exploitation
• Foreign

Distinguishing Marks

• Trailer


• IMDb

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