Women in Prison Triple Bill!

Women In Prison: Chained Heat (1983), Red Heat (1985) and Jungle Warriors (1984)

The notorious adult website Mr. Skin (which takes pride in “fast-forwarding to the good parts”) joins forces with Panik House Entertainment to present 3  “women-in-cages” films. Available for a limited time only starting July 12th, this release noticeably follows Shout Factory’s similar Women In Cages collection by mere weeks, making it an exciting time for genre enthusiast looking to update or expand their collection of what is possible one of the sleaziest sub-genres of exploitation cinema.
The first film in the set (and the only one to have noticeable extras) is Chained Heat (1983), an above average prison flick that places Linda Blair, no longer possessed and sporting an unashamed and gloriously wavy mullet, in the middle of an ongoing racial war, spearheaded by no other than Claudia Jennings and Tamara “Cleopatra Jones” Dobson. Serving 18 months for accidentally killing a man, the sweet and innocent Carol finds herself in a prison filled with corrupted and/or perverted wardens, drug-dealing lesbian women and overall depravity. Blending racial preoccupations proper to the blaxploitation genre with the action-packed intrigue of a prison drama, Chained Heat proves to be a surprisingly potent film. The inmates’ various and villainous alliances of the protagonists are aptly revealed in the film’s first half hour and what follows is a surprisingly layered story of survival, lightened by an expected amount of nudity and ridiculous action you’d expect from a mid-80’s exploitation film. As Linda Blair’s character uncovers the prison’s dynamics, occasionally running into white leader Ericka (the boobacious Sybil Danning), her rival Duchess (Tamara Dobson) and the cruel Captain Tayler (a wonderful Stella Stevens), one is sucked into the narrative, as the best films do, and Chained Heat exceeds its promises of pointless sleaziness to becomes a successful film on its own, in part also due to director Paul Nicholas’ simple yet very effective style. Filled to the brim with hard-ass sexy women in strong roles in a solid storyline, Chained Heat is extremely satisfying to the people looking for more than run-of-the-mill 80’s exploitation, while being everything one expects from the genre.

The extras are pretty standard and slightly disappointing, but what can anyone expect nowadays, really? Stella Stevens and Sybil Danning give two brief interviews, in which they both discuss the same series of questions regarding their roles, the shoot and their working relationship with Linda Blair and Paul Nicholas. Both raise interesting points, Stevens particularly (about the heightened sense of reality inherent to Chained Heat, one the film’s major attributes) but ultimately, both interviews are very superficial and forgettable.

Red Heat (1985) in turn offers a heavy-handed critique of Communist totalitarianism and policies regarding political prisoners. Despite its good imagery, inspired cinematography and neat production value that seems to be the strongest amongst the 3 films offered here, the film never reaches the perfect balance between exploitation and cinematic authenticity the preceding film offered and instead falls into the realm of low-budget drama, with added shower scenes to titillate male viewership. Linda Blair returns as the soon-to-be-married Christine Carlson, who, after being mistaken for a spy, captured and brutally and unlawfully interrogated, is sentenced to an indefinite amount of years of prison in a West German prison filled with – you guessed it – tough and cruel women with inevitable lesbian tendencies. Red Heat fails to build an interesting storyline and its underlining gender dynamics are more than disappointing: instead of getting herself out of trouble, Christine, while successfully causing some ruckus in prison and coming out as a strong protagonist while in prison, is ultimately completely helpless and rescued by her soldier fiancée, who stands for everything that good ol’ Uncle Sam and U.S of A stand for. Subtle much? There’s an interesting redeeming factor, though: a kick-ass soundtrack by no other than Tangerine Dream and the glorious Sylvia Kristel (Emanuelle) as the main villain of this Midnight Express knock-off.

Every package like this is bound to have a weaker link but Jungle Warriors (also known under its German title Euer Weg führt durch die Hölle, which translates to Your Way Through Hell), starring Sybil Danning and Nina Van Pallandt (American Gigolo) among others, is downright tedious. When a group of top models, scouting for exotic shooting locations, are gunned down into the jungle by a drug lord’s army and captured, the obvious happens: they get molested, raped, locked up, and try to escape. Everything about Jungle Warriors is painful, from the uninspired plot to the horrible acting, to the eye-splitting cinematography, which is probably the nastiest, sleaziest thing in the film, as it reminds of the aesthetic of terrible porn. The female characters are written to be completely shallow and as a result, when the moment comes to make sense of the “Warriors” of the title, and they can suddenly fire guns and decimate hardened criminals, it becomes quite unbelievable. Some moments are obviously funny because of their ineptitude and the finale is satisfyingly explosive, but otherwise, if you only have the time to watch two, skip this one. It’s the last and the worst.

This triple-feature is structured as a downward spiral, but it ought to please the hardened amateurs of sleaze, good and bad. Chained Heat is presented uncut for the first time in North America and neatly packaged with 2 otherwise hard-to-find films. Fans of Linda Blair and Sybil Danning will also have good bang for their buck. (AEC)

About the author:

Ariel Esteban Cayer

Ariel Esteban Cayer is a film student, programmer for the Fantasia International Film Festival, writer for Panorama-Cinema and an occasional contributor to Fangoria Magazine.

Comments

  1. Great review. I really need to see Chained Heat now.

    8 yearss ago

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