Women's Prison Massacre (1985)

Genres - Crime  |   Sub-Genres - Prison Film  |   Run Time - 89 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by Paul Gaita

European exploitation superstar Laura Gemser plays investigative reporter Emmanuelle (more or less the same character she inherited from Sylvia Kristel in 1975), who is sent to a brutal women's prison by a corrupt district attorney when her drug-trafficking investigation threatens to incriminate him. There she is subjected to all the standard prison movie clich├ęs: abuse by thuggish guards and death threats from psychotic fellow inmates. Matters become considerably worse with the arrival of four sadistic male prisoners, led by "Crazy Boy" Henderson (the late Gabriele Tinti, Gemser's real-life spouse), who are being held at the women's facility while awaiting sentence. The quartet break free and begin a campaign of rape and torture as they wait for the authorities to meet their demands for escape. Directed by notorious Italian exploitation hack Bruno Mattei under one of his numerous noms du cinema, Gilbert Rousel, Women's Prison Massacre is an exceptionally vile entry in the women-in-prison cycle. The film wallows in ugliness; the characters are alternately hateful or stupid (or both), the sex is degrading and unerotic, and the violence is painful and copious. Henry Froger's photography is muddy and dull, and the music by Luigi Ceccarelli is monotonous and irritating, even by low-budget European exploitation standards. Even the attractive Gemser looks sallow and unhealthy. For even the most jaded fans of the genre, Women's Prison Massacre is as entertaining and arousing as autopsy footage. As unpleasant as it is, though, the film doesn't begin to approach the depths reached by Mattei's previous effort Caged Women (1982), which features the same cast, crew, and basic plot. The sole bit of unintentional humor comes from the proliferation of expensive hosiery worn by the female cast, which was courtesy of the film's main producer, a French undergarments company. EI Independent Cinema's full-frame VHS presentation includes trailers for two other Euro-exploitation titles in their library, Jess Franco's Tender Flesh and Joe Sarno's Butterflies.