Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Women's Prison's Massacre (1983)

The late Bruno Mattei never did make a good movie. From 1970 to 2007, films like "Rats: Night of Terror", "The Other Hell" and his foray into the Italian zombie craze "Hell of the Living Dead" defied not only good taste, but good movie making in general. To be fair, I don't think he had any serious artistic pretensions in mind (See the interview he did for the "Hell of the Living Dead" DVD), and he always knew that in the end, he was making trash. If you ask me though, a few of the movies he did were pretty entertaining trash too, such as his Women in Prison classic "Women's Prison Massacre", which was a sequel to his prior WIP film "Violence in a Women's Prison", and the last entry in the notorious "Black Emanuel" series.

Emanuele (Laura Gemser) is in jail on false charges after trying expose a corrupt politician. Said prison is a hotbed for torture, lesbian sex, cat fights, knife fights and other things exploitation fans love , all overseen by Colleen the Warden (Lorraine De Selle.) Well, things turn from bad to worse when a group of male psychopaths meant to be stationed in said prison escape, and the next thing you know, rape, torture, and bloody murder and blood flow freely.

Opening with an oddly artsy introduction to three of the prisoners, "Women's Prison Massacre" is a film with plot holes, questionable logic, unintentionally funny dialogue and more. So yes, it's not a particularly good movie. As an exploitation film though, it's a blast for lovers of scuzzy, sleazy exploitation, and may be Mattei's best film overall. He might have not been the most talented director, but he clearly understands what fans of these kinds of movies want, and it's all shot with plenty of energy, as there's never a dull moment in this movie, all making it slightly less offensive than it clearly wants to be, yet still ultimately rewarding to fans of such trash. It also boasts a catchy (and all around very Italian sounding) electronic score by Luigi Ceccarelli (a Mattei film regular) and a script (co-written by Claudio Fragrasso*, another Mattei Regular) that, while not good, delivers the kind of cheese and ugliness one expects from a Mattei film.

I've always believed that an exploitation movie usually succeeds not because of one memorable set piece, but because of several, and boy, this movie has them. Among the highlights on display:
  • A rapist having his penis split open by a razor hidden in his victims vagina
  • A pretty nasty cat fight
  • A Russian roulette scene that ends with brain matter and blood splatting into the mouth of one of the escaped killers
  • A rather discomforting "hold your head underwater" scene
  • The warden stripping down to her black panties and stockings
I think you get the idea. This kind of thing isn't everyone's cup of tea, but for fans of the crasser, nastier side of exploitation, this is a must see.

Rating: 8/10

*Fragrasso himself is a longtime veteran of Italian genre and exploitation films. His other credits include writing "Hell of the Living Dead", the ill advised sequel to "Zombi 2", and many others. His directorial credits include "Monster Dog" (starring Alice Cooper) and "After Death" (aka "Zombi 4"), though he's mostly known for being the man responsible for giving the world "Troll 2."

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