Friday, January 8, 2010


 Frauengefängnis  a.k.a. Caged Women, Woman Caged , Women's Penitentiary IV , Jailhouse Wardress
For his third women in prison film, Jess Franco teamed up with Swiss exploitation guru Erwin C. Dietrich (WHITE SKIN ON THE BLACK MARKET, NAKED STEWARDESSES) for a balls out sadistic marathon of epic proportions. The wafer thin plot has Maria da Guerra (lifelong Franco inmate Lina Romay) accused of killing her incest crazed father (Jess Franco) and tossed into a weed strewn specialized prison castle run by every deviant within a 1000 mile radius.
Paul Müller and Monica SwinnOur all star team of molesters features the campy hot pants wearing lesbian Wardress (Monica Swinn) who likes starving, whipping and finger-banging prisoners. She receives as well as she gives by having inmates slap the embedded monocle off her face during all night scissoring sessions. The Wardress is blackmailing Dr. Costa (Paul Müller), who killed the real prison doctor and assumed his identity in order for the prison to obtain falsified death reports. The anxietyridden faux doc likes to drug inmates for his own midnight poke-a-thons. Next up is head prison guard and interrogator, Nestor (Eric Falk) ,who performs sleep depravation, dog collar antics, shock treatments and penetrates inmates with a stick. Last, but not least, is the island's voyeur governor (Ronald Weiss), who is so horrified at the thought of being touched, he has Nestor rape prisoners for him. The majority of the institution is staffed with pissed off women who delight in serving rats to prisoners.
Beni CardosoMaria's and her cell companions are a well adjusted bunch - summed up by one guard as the killer, the crazy and the slut. Pretty accurate. Sexually repressed Bertha Contrini (Martine Stedil) killed her brother in some kind of incestual rage, ghoulish redhead Rosaria Cortina (Beni Cardoso) is a raving loon who believes she is royalty, and nymphomaniac Pompadour (Peggy Markoff) likes to expose her vagina to the world and masturbate with lit cigarettes.Peggy MarkoffWith all these model citizens living in one harmonious community, what could possibly go wrong? It's as depressing, lurid and preposterous as it sounds. If you want some grade A Euro filth this is your holy grail. No opportunity is wasted where torture is concerned. There is a minor incident involving a recovered letter complaining about the harsh treatment, but it's merely a device to pile on more humiliation.
Martine StedilEventually we learn the Wardress was the lover of Maria's father and, resentful of the lust he had for his daughter, killed him. She framed Maria and had her sent to prison so she could murder the confused brunette girl as well. In one hilariously bad flashback sequence, Maria dreams of that fateful day which is recalled in slow motion - not by speeding up the frames per second on the camera, but by having the actors move sluggishly. Franco and Romay openJess Franco and Lina Romaytheir mouths as wide as they can and do a Quaalude induced interpretive dance until he unconvincingly falls down behind a sofa. Some half baked attempts are made to add substance to the sleaze through the Wardress's dialogue on power and corruption before an impending communist revolution and the blatant use of religious and Nazi icons.
Lina RomayA feeble minded and epic fail as the Sadean elements are to numerous and drawn out, overshadowing anything resembling good intentions. The old world locations add some production value, but the film is so technically inept that Erwin C. Dietrich almost didn't release it. Numerous shots are out of focus, Franco's annoying fascination with the zoom is on full display and the editing botches any effectiveness of the shock twist ending. Despite thePeggy Markoffnumerous short comings, BARBED WIRE DOLLS was a huge box office success that must have delighted many future serial killers. There was no need for French distributors to slice in pornographic scenes like they did to Franco's 99 WOMEN andDEVIL'S ISLAND LOVERS because this one is explicit. While no straight up insertion is shown, there are a plethora of split beavers on display. Best viewed as a jaw dropping MST3K experience with plenty of beer and quick witted friends; this is one bumbling piece of misogynist trash that earns itsnasty reputation and cult status. BARBED WIRE DOLLS was released as an anamorphic uncut restored edition in Europe by VIP and Anchor Bay as a region 0 disc. It is currently out of print but can be tracked down online. DVD features include English, German & French languages, an Interview about the film (with Erwin Dietrich, Jess Franco & Lina Romay), a featurette about the restoration of the film, an international theatrical trailer, cast & crew biographies, production stills and trailers for other Franco films. Before the camera cooled down, Jess Franco screwed over producer Erwin C. Dietrich by using half the cast (and probably the equipment) for his next women in prison film WOMEN BEHIND BARS.
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