Violence in a Women’s Prison (1982)

Violence in a Women's Prison Italian PosterHe gave us the greatest post-apocalyptic-giant-ratmen-battles-biker movie ever made (Rats: Night Of Terror), the epic crossdresser-battles-zombie movie (Hell Of The Living Dead) and now Bruno Mattei sentences us to one of the all-time scuzziest women-in-prison movies ever!

Well, the women in prison movie he made right after this one with the same cast, crew, and most of the same story (Women’s Prison Massacre) is also one of the all-time scuzziest, but I’ll leave the debate as to which is actually scuzzier to the historians.

Say what you want about Violence In A Women’s Prison, but you can’t fault it for shortchanging you on the sleaze. Chalk full of lesbianism, brutality, and a men’s prison right across the street, Mattei makes sure that he gets every cent worth of filth out the $67,000 budget. And no, I’m not making a moral judgment when I refer to the filth in this movie. I’m just talking about the pail of feces that star Laura Gemser empties all over one of the women prison guards!

A cursory glance at the DVD insert from Shriek Show shows us what sort of time we’re in for, what with chapter titles such as “Parcel Check/Brawl,” “Contagious Sex,” “Death Slide,” and my personal favorite, “Poop Party/Rats.” Yes, that particular chapter details Ms. Gemser’s close encounter with said pail as well as her time in solitary confinement.

Never one to leave his cronies unemployed, Maetti uses a bunch of rats that he would later shoot to super stardom in his previously mentioned rat opus, to take bites out of Gemser’s stocking-clad legs while she’s in solitary.

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That brings up a few questions I had about this women’s prison. Now I’ve done my fair share of time in women’s prisons and one of the things I found a bit odd about this particular women’s prison was the wardrobe.

First of all, the inmates are all wearing these pigeon-poop grey dresses that look like big flour sacks. That part I could understand. The part of their wardrobe that left me puzzled was the fact that underneath these sacks, they all wore thigh high hose!

That seemed like a silly clothing choice from an economic standpoint. When you’ve got gals getting their hose torn in poop fights, rat attacks, and when getting thrown down mountains of sand at the local quarry where they’re all breaking rocks, you’re going to be going through an awful lot of hose!

At the very least, I would strongly suggest that the government look in to getting some of these gals some bras in lieu of hose. That at least might cut down on a lot of the impromptu flashing of the male inmates inexplicably housed across the courtyard.

Laura Gemser plays a reporter named Emanuelle who goes undercover to uncover the shocking truth about a women’s prison run by a bunch of really mean broads.

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Manny is freelancing for Amnesty International which I think justifies all the dirty stuff that Mattei chooses to dramatize, since it’s all in the name of exposing abysmal prison conditions in the hopes of effecting some positive change.

I was uplifted to know that I was watching a powerful political statement about how the way we treat those who deserve to be treated the worst (hookers, drug addicts, old lady pickpockets) actually is a reflection of our own humanity or lack thereof.

I was expecting the movie to end with an 800 number that I could call to get more information on women’s prison reform instead of the syrupy ballad that sounded as if the Bee Gees had fallen on hard times and called in some favors with Italian film score legend Goblin to get them a gig in Italian movies.

Manny arrives at the prison and immediately becomes part of the story she was trying to uncover when she is handed the by-now infamous pail of pooh-pooh and ordered to empty it. Now, I won’t sit here and tell you that I wasn’t rooting for her to empty it all over these nasty skanks giving the orders, but once she did it, I began to wonder if this was really the smartest thing to do.

I don’t think that her job was to go into the prisons and provoke abuse. But once the crap went flying the prison guards played right into her hands and embarked on a full-fledged dump-splattered cat fight!

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Manny does have a little help on the inside though. Her cell mate is an old hag who’s been there forever and she can show a new prisoner the ropes as well as the pet cockroach she keeps in a little wooden cage. And yes, that poor little devil gets stomped by one of the bad guys, thus bringing this women’s prison into PETA’s gun sights as well as Amnesty International’s.

Her other pal is a kindly doctor in the men’s prison doing time for euthanizing his terminally ill wife. He helps her escape and they decide to take a breather from escaping by engaging in some good old fashioned “escaped prisoner sex.” (Is there anything better?)

Of course they get caught but the doctor mailed a letter to the government about the prison conditions, so there still might be hope for our horny heroes.

Definitely sleazy in every way you can imagine, from the used-looking actors and actresses to the two-toned painted walls (pink and white) of the women’s prison itself.

The movie seemed to delight in being as classless as possible and though it played out exactly as you assumed it would (old hag with cockroach gets killed, the prison snitch gets killed, the head guard we all hated ends up stabbed in the back with a spoon), really, if you’re the kind of person that bought a movie called Violence In A Women’s Prison, would you have it any other way?

A thoroughly tasteless, oversexed, understoried, violent effort done in the lowest budget of ways from Bruno Mattei. For anyone else, a dismal failure, but for Mattei, another triumph of exploitation filmmaking, showing that he may not be the master of many (or any) genres, but isn’t shy about tackling and applying his own unique cinematic spackle to any of them.

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