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Case Number 22094: Small Claims Court

Buy Women in Cages Collection (Blu-ray) at Amazon

Women in Cages Collection (Blu-ray)

The Big Doll House
1971 // 94 Minutes // Rated R
Women In Cages
1971 // 81 Minutes // Rated R
The Big Bird Cage
1972 // 95 Minutes // Rated R
Released by Shout! Factory
Reviewed by Judge Ike Oden (Retired) // August 22nd, 2011

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All Rise...

Judge Ike Oden's body is caged—but not his desires!

Editor's Note

Our reviews of The Big Doll House (published April 21st, 2006) and Women In Cages Collection (published June 21st, 2011) are also available.

The Charge

Ninety-nine years is such a long, long, long time.

The Case

Shout! Factory delivers sinful sirens so hot only the chains of hell could keep them enslaved in—The Women In Cages Collection!

SEE! Hot bodied prisoners the likes of Pam Grier (Coffy), Roberta Collins (Death Race 2000), and Judy Brown (Threesome) take up arms against a sadomasochistic warden (Christiane Schmidtmer, The Giant Spider Invasion). WITNESS! The gang of sultry sex kittens using their wiles to turn macho fruit seller Harry (Sid Haig, The Devil's Rejects) into a willing accomplice and primitive sex object. BRACE YOURSELF! For a jaw dropping breakout off…The Big Doll House!

NEXT! Pam Grier is back, only now the tables have turned! Warden Alabama (Grier) runs her Philippine prison with an iron fist, turning criminals into her own personal sex slaves. WATCH! As innocent Carol (Jennifer Gan, Naked Angels) is sent off for a crime she didn't commit, thus becoming another one of Alabama's Women In Cages!

THEN! Perky prostitute Terry (Anitra Ford, The Longest Yard) learns to sing the sweet song of pain in—The Big Bird Cage! Her only hope is a revolutionary sister (Pam Grier) who breaks in…to lead the BREAK-OUT! Sid Haig is her mercenary boyfriend, whose muscle and might melts hearts and tears The Man a new one!

TRANSFERRED—IN REVOLUTIONARY "HI" DEFINITION! You won't believe your eyes! From Roger Corman and New World Cinema! (Children under 18 not admitted without parent or adult).

Um, okay, you probably get it by now. Three exploitation treasures together in one nifty little Blu-ray set for one modest price.

The films themselves stack up pretty close together in quality, though the Jack Hill (Foxy Brown) joints—Big Doll House and Big Bird Cage)—manage to transcend B-movie sleaze into genuine auteur territory. Neither film is perfect, and both contain enough misogynistic elements, borderline racism, and ultra violence to make them permanently excluded from any AFI listing.

That said, each film is so quirky, campy, and well-shot that these elements aren't just forgivable, they're downright laudable. The films don't take themselves too seriously, but refuse to let the tension and drama of the situation go to spoil with pure comedy, a tone that encapsulates everything that is fun and thrilling about exploitation pictures.

The films are very well written and solidly acted, crafting genuine characters out of stock parts (The Bitch, The Junkie, The New Fish, etc). Too often, women-in-prison films are unable to balance their ensemble cast, but Bird Cage and Doll House do it with ease. It's little surprise that Rob Zombie and Quentin Tarantino would pluck Grier and Haig from obscurity in the late Ô90s, as the charismatic work in Doll House and Bird Cage stands head and shoulders above their fellow cast members.

While certainly a blue collar director, Jack Hill's ability to direct the camera and the cast in these films proves he's not just another workman director in Corman's cadre of celluloid go-getters. While virtually the same premise, Doll House and Bird Cage are wildly different in terms of visuals, storyline, and tone. The films refuse to rip each other off, taking similar premises into wildly different directions.

Women In Cages on the other hand, does feel like straight up plagiarism. I give it points for putting Pam Grier in the role of an antagonistic warden, but director Garry De Leon (Mad Doctor of Blood Island) doesn't have the same flair for the material as Jack Hill. He doesn't do a bad job by any means, but simply remakes Big Doll House into a much more straight faced affair, amping up the lesbian overtones without innovating story arc, set piece, or characters. The ingredients to a good women-in-prison film are all there, but the result is predictable and a bit boring.

As for the Blu-ray itself, Shout! delivers a set that is up to its usual, very high standard. The 1080p transfers are handsome, high on grain but very, very sharp. Pervy viewers will appreciate the new details and lush skin tones in some of the more nude set pieces (um, most of these films are nude set pieces, actually). Their girlfriends and wives will not. The DTS-Master audio tracks are every bit the transfers' equal—clear as crystal, albeit lacking in detailed effects.

Extras come through in a big way. The center piece of the set is a 49-minute documentary on Hill's films, From Manila With Love. The featurette chronicles everything from Corman's break with American International Pictures through the productions of both films under his New World studio label. An emphasis on wildly entertaining behind-the-scenes anecdotes keeps the documentary from becoming another dry nostalgia trip, offering input from Hill, Corman, Haig, Judy Brown, Roberta Collins, and producer Jane Schaffer, among others. The only cast member missing is Pam Grier, whose lack of involvement is sorely missed. Otherwise, Manila is a great extra that deserves the attention of exploitation film fans.

Also included are Jack Hill commentaries for Big Bird Cage and Big Doll House, which, while a sometimes dry, dish a lot of dirt on each film's history, complimenting the documentary very well.

Trailers and TV spots for each film are also included.

The Verdict

They can't be caged! NOT! GUILTY!

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Scales of Justice, The Big Doll House

Judgment: 83

Perp Profile, The Big Doll House

Studio: Shout! Factory
Video Formats:
• 1.78:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
Audio Formats:
• DTS HD 2.0 Master Audio (English)
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Subtitles:
• None
Running Time: 94 Minutes
Release Year: 1971
MPAA Rating: Rated R

Distinguishing Marks, The Big Doll House

• Commentary
• Featurette
• Trailers

Scales of Justice, Women In Cages

Judgment: 75

Perp Profile, Women In Cages

Studio: Shout! Factory
Video Formats:
• 1.78:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
Audio Formats:
• DTS HD 2.0 Master Audio (English)
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Subtitles:
• None
Running Time: 81 Minutes
Release Year: 1971
MPAA Rating: Rated R

Distinguishing Marks, Women In Cages

• Trailers

Scales of Justice, The Big Bird Cage

Judgment: 87

Perp Profile, The Big Bird Cage

Studio: Shout! Factory
Video Formats:
• 1.78:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
Audio Formats:
• DTS HD 2.0 Master Audio (English)
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Subtitles:
• None
Running Time: 95 Minutes
Release Year: 1972
MPAA Rating: Rated R

Distinguishing Marks, The Big Bird Cage

• Commentary
• Featurettes
• Trailers








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