29 November 2006 | lost-in-limbo
Pam takes charge!
Jeff is sent to a woman prison, after being caught carrying heroine that belonged to her crime figure boyfriend Rudy. He asks her to keep her mouth shut and would try his best to get her out, but unknowingly to her he has other plans. When she arrives at the prison to do her time, she must face a tyrant of a head warden, Alabama who has a thing against American woman and a sadistic torture chamber of the dark ages called "the playpen" for certain troublemakers.
We all know the formula by now for cheap drive-in WIP features, I take it? Wrongly accused woman. Hard labourers work in the fields. Out-of-control cat-fights. Mass showering. Suffering at the hands of the head warden. Harsh terrain surrounding the prison to make it hard to escape. A gusty prison break. And finally those corrupted individuals get their up and comings. So basically the heat is on in the banana republic.
"Woman In Cages" is another quick, cheaply done Corman production, but this time Jack Hill didn't hold the helm. Instead Gerry De Leon was in the director's chair and he brought to the table a real mean-spirited and quite gloomy Philippine WIP affair. His conventional direction might lack style and cracking energy, but it's balanced out by its intrusive grittiness. The story by James H. Watkins and David R. Osterhout is rather straightforward with little lead way in its same-old-same-old actions and plodding moments, but plenty of sour and quite outlandish moments do occur. The moral card of injustice that leaks its way in comes off as quite silly and lazy. While, there's some slight wit evident, it just seems to get derailed. It mainly concentrates on the unpleasantness and sleazy nature that's drilled in constantly. In the long run these scenes might be effectively crude, but personality does lose out to this rough shtick that really does dry up proceedings. The characters don't feel as dominating; say in "The Big Doll House". Some of the actresses of that film do turn up here. Pam Grier plays the nihilistic lesbian head prison guard with such venom, but this hard-boiled devil woman glow does take away from her energetic persona. The crackling stunner Roberta Collins is in fine form as the on edge drug addict and the gorgeously biting Judith M. Brown also appears. Jennifer Gan was decent in the lead role of the glassily clueless Jeff. Music director Tito Arevalo provides a smoking; on-the-ball soundtrack and Felipe Sacdalan's cinematography methods are unsparingly grounded.
Not one of the best of the sub-genre, but well worth a look for the fans for some glorified badass whipping in this mostly dour WIP outing.