Women in Cages

Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

So I’m minding my own business watching the new movie ‘Bitch Slap’ which claims to be a retrospective homage to some of those grand 1970’s exploitation flicks but instead was an introspective study of slow motion, split screens and beautiful women who don’t get naked. After watching that movie I thought I needed to track down some authentic 1970’s exploitation cinema to insure myself I hadn’t forgotten how this genre was supposed to play out which led to this movie ‘Women in Cages’. A Women in Prison flick made in 1971 and featuring a 22 year old Pam Grier. Now this is what I’m talking about.

Carol Jeffries, played by the late Jennifer Gan, whose prison moniker will be shortened to just ‘Jeff’ is a free loving girl loving life in Manila when her asshole boyfriend Rudy asks her to hold a large brick of heroin for him so he can avoid getting caught. For whatever reason Jeff thought that was a good idea. When Rudy told her to go ahead and go to trial and suck up a ten year sentence she thought that was a good idea too. When Rudy told her to be strong and that he was working overtime to get her conviction thrown out she actually believed this thus making Jeff arguably the stupidest woman in the history of cinema.

Off to jail Jeff goes where she first makes contact with possibly the meanest woman in the history of cinema, the matron of this facility known as Alabama (Grier). Why a Black woman from New York City is the head matron of a Philippine prison is a mystery to me but we’re not into asking such silly questions.

Anyway it’s off to meet Jeff’s cellmates which consists of Stroke the blonde Junkie (the late Roberta Collins), the salty mouthy Sandy (Judith M. Brown) who was also blessed with a glorious set of puffies and the quick tempered Latin mynx with the wicked eyeliner Theresa (Sofia Moran).

So here’s the deal. Theresa is Alabama’s love toy with Alabama often returning the love by whipping Theresa within an inch of her life. It’s not Alabama’s fault that she’s so mean though, considering she was turning tricks and injecting dope and repeatedly raped by the age of twelve, with all of this carnage emanating from the hands of the White Man! The gatdamn White Man. Stroke the Junkie has been dispatched by Rudy the asshole boyfriend to kill Jeff before she spills the beans and without a doubt these attempted murder plots by Stroke were the highlight of the movie. Worst Assassin Ever. Sandy just likes to talk junk and get in peoples faces which will invariably get her sent to Alabama’s ‘Playpen’. This is a place where Alabama takes her less than obedient charges and do stuff them like burn their coochies or electrocute their coochies. Trust me, when you get sent to the playpen your coochie is in for a difficult evening. Jeff on the other hand just wants to be free, and though she still thinks her boyfriend is coming to save her, she has decided to take matters into her own hands.

Now you have four barefoot bitches on the run… make that five bitches because somehow Alabama the sadistic matron has gotten herself caught up in this nonsense… while being pursued by a real angry rape party. Good luck with that ladies.

While ‘Women in Cages’ is about as far from a good movie as a good movie can get, it is a 100% authentic 1970’s styled women in prison exploitation movie. For one of these types movies to be legitimate it has to consist of a few things. There has to be a lot of tittie exposure and this one comes through most expertly. You gotta have some lesbian action, you gotta have at least one shower sequence, you gotta have a touch of torture, a little rape... but not much... and you gotta have bitch battles. Director Gerardo De Leon, whoever the hell he is, had his exploitation checklist by his side while making this movie and dutifully fulfilled all of the exploitation requirements.

The plot, as it were, is pretty rudimentary and while watching the movie it seems the whole story was definitely secondary behind squeezing in the necessary exploitative elements. One of the things that I found amusing about this movie and most movies of this genre is how deadly serious these actresses used to take these parts. I mean I know they know what kind of movie this is but that doesn’t stop my girls from showing their stuff. When Pam Grier rails on how a White Man raped her so a ‘White Bitch should take her out’ I believed that. And Roberta Collins almost closed the door on the ‘wide-eyed junkie with the shakes’. Simply Outstanding! Another thing about Roberta Collins, in addition to looking like a cracked out version of Miss America, when she and Theresa had there knife battle Ms. Collins was quite impressive athletically as she was effortlessly jumping on and off tables, just like a crazed junkie should behave. I guess.

Sure the movie was filled with a ton of hysterical nonsensical nonsense and yes this prison was staffed by the worst prison guards in the history of movies, but it is a woman in prison movie and you get what you ask for. I’m told that the WIP movies ‘The Big Doll House’ and ‘The Big Bird Cage’ are even better than this movie so you can guess how I’ll be spending my weekend. Exploitation done right baby.

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