Marnie Collier (Judy Brown) is the new fish in a women's penitentiary in some
banana repuclic. her cellmates are hardened but good-natured Alcott (Roberta
Collins), ex prostitute turned dyke Grear (Pam Grier), junkie Harrad (Brooke
Mills), political prisoner & tough bitch Bodine (Pat Woodell), & Ferina
(Gina Stuart), who pretty much just stands around.
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Being the lover of some revolutionary, Bodine becomes the prime target of
warden Lucian's (Katheryn Loder) torture devices, & her interrogations are
always watched by a mysterious cloaked & hooded figure, but when Alcott
makes a complaint to the understanding head warden Miss Dietrich (Christiane
Schmidtmer), she refuses to believe her without prove, & the sympathetic
prison doctor Philips (Jack Davis), while believing her, just hasn't got it in
his power to make a change - instead, for some reason he decides to fix a date
with Miss Dietrich (?).
Collier meanwhile has become the slave of Grear, much to her dismay, but
when Bodine & Alcott make an escape plan, they decide they would need
Collier on board & so Alcott fights with Grear over her ... & after
some spontaneous mud-wrestling thrown in whe wins out.
Weirdly enough, in the next scene, Alcott & Bodine persuade Grear,
Harrad & Ferina to join them in the escape. The plan is of course as silly
as it is foolproof, & it involves a foodfight that has Alcott, Bodine,
Collier & Ferina thrown into the hothouse (which is the nasty version of a
sauna) & warden Lucian once again preparing for torture, & it has Grear
sending them a wire using Ferina's cat so the girls can strangle Lucian &
ghet her keys ... & they can even unmask the hooded & cloaked figure
who always inspects Lucian's torture sessions as sympathetic Miss Dietrich
herself, & take her & doctor Philips hostage ... from which point on it
goes a little haywire as Harrad, suffering from cold turkey, has killed Grear,
& when she runs after the others, she is shot down by the guards whose
attention is then drawn to the survivors, Bodine, Alcott, Collier & Ferina,
who take over the truck of good-natured food delivery boys Harry (Sid Haig)
& Fred (Jerry Frank) to make a getaway - & they succeed too, except for
Ferina, who, amidst gunfire, decides to run after her kitty which has just
escaped (some women ...).
Being in a safe distance from the pen (or so they think), the girls present
Harry & Fred with their gift for letting them take their truck: Miss
Dietrich all tied up & ready for a rape ... but of course Harry has
hardly begun as the guards of the prison supported by the military, close in
& in a big finale Bodine & Alcott are shot, Miss Dietrich is blown up,
only Collier, our innocent new fish, makes good her escape.
second film of Roger Corman's then new New World Pictures was filmed in
the Philippines after Corman was invited there by actor/friend John Ashley (who
had just shot the Blood
Island-movies there), & was impressed by the cheapness &
effectiveness of filmmaking there as well as the exotic scenerey the islands
provided quite naturally - Ashley & Blood
Island-co-conspirator Eddie Romero would become producers of Big
Doll House as a thank-you.
The film would be charmingly trashy &
pulpy on one hand, however at the same time it would stay firmly in the
confines of the genre (as opposed to e.g. Jess Franco's later Women in
Prison-movies) & somewhat miss the personal touch & general
over-the-top-feeling the best (or worst) movies of the genre would have. A
pre-stardom Pamela Grier (in her first bigger role after a small art in Beyond
the Valley of the Dolls) would come across completely wooden here (which
wouldn't keep Corman from using her again & again in his Women in
Prison-movies, & in the long run, he was proven right), however she
does a good job singing the titlesong. Sid Haig on the other hand turns in
another great, sleazy & funny performance.