“This is going to be just like home — only different!”
An American (Jennifer Gan) whose boyfriend (Charlie Davao) is involved in criminal drug trafficking is sent to prison on his behalf, where she meets a sadistic warden (Pam Grier) and bunks with other tortured inmates — including Sandy (Judy Brown), heroin-addicted Stoke (Roberta Collins), and Grier’s lover Theresa (Sofia Moran).
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Strong Females
Filipino director Gerardo de Leon helmed this WiP (Women in Prison) exploitation flick, released around the same time as Jack Hill’s The Big Doll House (1971) and The Big Bird Cage (1972). As Stuart Galbraith writes in his review for DVD Talk, “The plots for these women-in-prison films” are “pretty interchangeable” — including:
… “the obligatory group shower scene; sadistic and usually lesbian jailers who set their sights on the newest wide-eyed and wrongly-convicted prisoners; lascivious male guards scheming for free sex; outlandish scenes of torture, with contraptions rivaling those of the Marquis de Sade; catfights among the women, often incorporating food fights and/or much writhing in the mud; [and] riots in which the jailers spray the women with a fire hose.”
Grier gets “promoted” in this flick from prisoner to warden, and shows off her ability to be tough and ruthless under any circumstances:
Meanwhile, Collins (rather than Brooke Mills) plays the heroin-addicted inmate this time around, and is ultimately much livelier than primary protagonist Gan (who simply comes across as foolishly naive):
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Roberta Collins as Stoke
- Some reasonably effective cinematography
No; you can skip this one. Listed as a Cult Movie in the back of Peary’s book.
One thought on “Women in Cages (1971)”
First viewing (10/11/20). Not must-see.
Entries in the women-behind-bars genre (now a thing of the past, except on cable) are iffy propositions. They can be one extreme – i.e., the more-respectable ‘Caged’ – or the other – i.e., the exploitation vulgarity of Jess Franco.
‘WIC’ plays in the middle – but it’s not of much interest. It caters to a ’70s drive-in mentality so it tries to push those necessary buttons without going overboard. Both the script and the direction reveal a slight potential which all-too-often becomes sloppy. (I do like how a few of the girls are somehow able to get hold of rich shampoo and lip gloss! What’d they have to say ‘yes’ to to get *those*?! 😉 )
Things get worse as they go on and, as the climax approaches, the film starts to fall apart on a number of counts: things become rushed and choppy and logic is forfeited on a number of occasions. It’s sort of a miracle that the fates of the major characters are resolved.