I Saw A Film!

I thought it about time I reacquaint myself with a popular cinematic construct designed primarily to fill dingy old-fashioned cinemas with masturbation, the women-in-prison film. After all, who could resist the sexy charms of a bunch of women forced to shower, tussle, and shower some more! Our heroines don’t end up in just any prison, they end up in one run by a prudish, wheelchair-bound, and severe Barbara Steele! Steele’s menacing school m’arm is particularly exacerbated by the ludicrous hairstyle, clunky-ass glasses she wears and the masochistic Mengele-esque doctor who is housed on the premises attempting to right behavioral wrongs through home-made brain surgery and rape. What a show!

In terms of a warning film aimed at keeping young women from hooking up with drug-dealing hippies, it’s possibly an old example of “scared straight” (which unfortunately was a program shown to be totally ineffective). In between showers, the ladies have plenty of access to weapons carried smartly by the guards! And I’m not just talking about billy-clubs or brass knuckles, I’m talking pistols and shutguns. Firearms mixed with well-showered women is always a tactical problem.

Watching this film, I suddenly realized that an old cinema trick for having an actor shot on screen is to have them kind of walk along with red sauce already applied on their shirt or behind or whatever, and have them suddenly jump and fall. A good edit coupled with a shooting sound effect and who needs those exploding red packets of “blood”.

So the ladies keep ending up armed and escapes sort of happen around the clock. Hell they even return to the prison to rescue one of their compatriots from the clutches of the happy-go-lucky doctor, hell bent on scalping a poor lass and getting into her sweet meats. Revenge requires a hateful character and sadly no one talks about a recidivism rate for this prison’s effectiveness. Oddly, however, there’s plenty of off-kilter and wholly inappropriate humor mixed into the violence. I suppose having an excited and cheering audience ready to guffaw at the fat guard getting shot in the ass during a gun battle was an expectation the movie-makers had, but in 2020 having just been traumatized by an hour of preparing for Nazi-level experimental surgery, a down-home butt-joke just doesn’t seem like enough of a relief valve.

OK I’m being a little harsh about this one, and it’s a bonafide classic of the genre. I suppose there are some folks out there who swoon reverently over this sort of thing, hey, if it’s your thing! Experiences, I’m sure, vary, and you should see for yourself! It’s Free on Prime and at least worth it for the weird choices made for Miss Steele. Also I should point out that this director went on to Silence of the Lambs, and Philidelphia among others (even a Neil Young documentary)! So, it’s not like a fly-by-night schlock director who never emerged from the sticky, dimly lit seats.

3 thoughts on “Caged Heat (1974)

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