30 November 2010 | BA_Harrison
Grier rules the roost; Haig ruffles some feathers; Ford flies the coop.
When it comes to Women In Prison movies, I usually want 'em to be as sleazy and as violent as possible, but director Jack Hill's WIP flicks look set to be an exception to this rule: The Big Bird Cage, his second foray in the genre (after The Big Doll House), is a gloriously camp exercise in trash cinema, occasionally tasteless but presented with such a goofy sense of humour that it proves to be far less offensive than many of its contemporaries and almost impossible not to enjoy.
Set in an unnamed 'banana republic' (but shot in the Philipines), the film opens with beautiful brunette social climber Terry (the belly-licious Anitra Ford), a close personal 'friend' (i.e., lover) of the president, being abducted by revolutionary Django (Sid Haig) during a daring robbery. To avoid capture by the law, Django resorts to leaping off a bridge, leaving poor Terry to be apprehended by the police, after which she is accused of being an accomplice in the crime; this presents the authorities with a convenient opportunity to rid themselves of Terry, a potential embarrassment for the government, by shipping her to a high security camp where unruly prisoners are forced to do dangerous work in a towering, wooden sugar mill—the 'Bird Cage' of the title.
Meanwhile, Django, his feisty woman Blossom (busty Blaxploitation queen Pam Grier) and their revolutionary pals continue to plan their political uprising. Concluding that their cause would benefit immensely from the recruitment of more gutsy females like Blossom, they put into motion a scheme that involves Blossom getting herself incarcerated in the same establishment as Terry, and Django going undercover as a camp guard (and I do mean 'camp'—all of the guards are homosexuals so as not to tempt the prisoners).
With his tongue firmly planted in cheek, director Hill delivers everything one might expect from such a set-up—umpteen cat-fights (some in mud), the lesbian inmate, a sadistic warden, the camp informant, the tragic deaths of several prisoners, and an eventual uprising—plus, of course, lots of lovely women wearing very short shorts (I like short shorts!) and ill-fitting garments that frequently expose their breasts. All these lovely ladies AND Sid Haig as a hot-blooded revolutionary who must pretend to be gay to save the day = an unmissable treat for WIP fans!