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Schoolgirl Report 8: What Parents…

Posted by JoshSamford On April - 18 - 2012

Schoolgirl Report #8: What Parents Must Never Know (1974)
Director: Ernst Hofbauer
Writers: G√ľnther Heller
Starring: Wolf Ackva, Puppa Armbruster, Sandra Atia, and Astrid Boner

The Plot: In this, the eighth entry into the Schoolgirl Report series, we find what seems to be a staple of the series: sex starved young girls. Fashioned as series of vignettes, our main story deals with one class from an all-girl German highschool. These girls are apparently on a school-related trip to see the countryside and stay at a villa over the weekend. During the course of their trip, these girls inevitably tell all of their sordid sexual adventures to one another. One girl has become pregnant out of wedlock, another girl uses her sexual wiles in order to impress her father’s boss, two other girls concoct a plan to get their prudish teacher laid, and two more girls tell of an adventure involving them frolicking around with two studs while some old horny fisherman tries to ruin the day. While all of this goes on, we are also introduced to one of the male teachers from this academy. All of the girls seem to have a crush on this gentleman, but he seems to take it in stride. When one of the girls tries to take things a bit too far with him, however, repercussions will be felt.

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Young Nurses, The

Posted by JoshSamford On April - 10 - 2012

The Young Nurses (1973)
Director: Clint Kimbrough
Writers: Howard R. Cohen
Starring: Jeane Manson, Ashley Porter and Angela Elayne Gibbs

The Plot: For its plot, The Young Nurses follows the same pattern that we have seen in all of the previously reviewed titles from Shout Factory’s Roger Corman nurses collection. We have three main female protagonists, and each one seems to get into her own wild adventures. In this story, we are introduced to three beautiful nurses, Michelle, Joann, and Kitty. The movie begins with Kitty (Jeane Manson) and Michelle sailing on the open waters, but apparently Kitty’s topless sunbathing can be seen as a health hazard, because fellow sailing aficionado Matt nearly drowns after hitting his head on a sail while staring at Kitty’s breasts. As Matt recuperates in the hospital, Kitty soon finds herself approaching a relationship with the young man, but the two run into some trouble when Matt’s father tries to intervene. Next up is Michelle (Angela Elayne Gibbs), who is an African American nurse trying to progress in her field while retaining her roots. When she stumbles upon a influx in narcotics that seem to be pouring out of the hospital system, she finds out that the conspiracy may go further than expected. Joann (Ashley Porter) is our final part of the equation, and she too is facing a political nightmare. As a young idealistic nurse, she finds that her dreams are being crushed by the system. She is continually accused of trying to pretend that she is a doctor, but this is only due to the bureaucracy of the hospital which has led to staff numbers being drastically cut. So, in order to save lives, Joann has been forced to make several quick decisions. Will she continue to work for a hospital that treats her abusively, or will she join her friend who runs an unlicensed medical clinic that is attempting to help and inform other women?

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Private Duty Nurses

Posted by JoshSamford On April - 6 - 2012

Private Duty Nurses (1971)
Director: George Armitage
Writers: George Armitage
Starring: Katherine Cannon, Joyce Williams and Pegi Boucher

The Plot: Private Duty Nurses doesn’t really look to change around the formula when it comes to its plot. Similar to the other films found in the Roger Corman nurses collection from Shout Factory (such as Night Call Nurses and Candy Stripe Nurses), this is a story about three nurses who each have their own stories to tell. In this story we are introduced to Spring (Katherine Cannon), who is persuaded by a doctor to become involved with the Vietnam veteran Domino (Dennis Redfield). A young patient who is fresh back in regular society, but finds it hard to cope with his regular life after the war. He has now turned to motocross riding, and has been taking some extreme risks. Next up is Lola (Joyce Williams), an African American nurse who runs into many prejudices due to her ethnicity and her sex. As she attempts to help her boyfriend get hired into a all-white hospital, she runs into racism and sexism at every turn. Finally we have Lynn, who becomes embroiled in a conspiracy that may very well bring down some of the political elites found in their city.

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The Big Doll House

Posted by JoshSamford On July - 16 - 2011

The Big Doll House (1971)
Director: Jack Hill
Writers: Don Spencer
Starring: Judy Brown, Roberta Collins, Pam Grier and Sid Haig

The Plot: Collier (Judy Brown), an American, is arrested and thrown in jail while in the Phillipines. Once on the inside she is introduced to her cellmates who are all part of the regular criminal element. There’s Grier (Pam Grier), the domineering lesbian, who wants to bed the new fish. There’s Grier’s jealous former flame who is enraged with jealousy over Grier’s newfound interest. There’s Bodine (Pat Woodell), the rough and tumble tough girl who is powerful but fair. Finally there’s the loudmouth Alcott (Roberta Collins), who either settles disputes or starts them. These captive women will have to overcome their extreme surroundings and bond together if they ever hope to escape The Big Doll House!

The Review
Considered “the one that started them all”, The Big Doll House helped propel a number of genre film celebrities into true cult film stardom. The very first name that should top the list is of course the director, Jack Hill. As a filmmaker who had worked with Corman before at this point, and had directed a number of independent projects without Corman (including the cult oddity Spider Baby), Jack Hill was given a certain amount of leeway in taking this rather sordid material because the production took place so far away from any home office in the US. By heading off into the Philippines, Corman was able to maximize the potential of his very limited budgets and create titles that seemed larger than they really were. Hill and his crew of no-names at the time would go on to create a new genre of ‘women-in-prison’ film and completely redefine many stereotypes of cinema at this point. A cruel, barbaric, sleazy and bizarre title, The Big Doll House was a remarkable success for Roger Corman and instantly raised the stock of director Jack Hill as well as genre greats Pam Grier, Sid Haig and Judy Brown.

The Big Dollhouse would influence a great number of titles, both in the “Women in Prison” vein of films as well as those in the general world of exploitation. If for no other reason than the fact that this is the movie that introduced American audiences to one of the greatest silver screen starlets the world has ever seen, the irreplaceable Pam Grier. Grier lends her acting talents to the project, as well as her vocals as she can be heard singing the title music Hard Time Woman which actually proved to be a moderately popular title when it first debuted alongside the movie. This was the young actresses first gig, and in many ways the power of her character would continue to live on in her future roles although rarely would she ever play the partial villain that she does here.

These movies were as well known as they were due mainly to their inherit sleaze-factor and cheap thrills that they so often provided. Although other movies would come along and take the genre into even trashier areas, The Big Dollhouse is certainly no walk in the park. Right from the opening sequence the sleaziness is set pretty high within The Big Dollhouse. We watch as the beautiful Judy Brown is introduced to the camera by first being stripped nude, then placed on a table and given a full cavity search. The sequence is rather grotesque and deplorable, but Judy Brown retains her charm throughout the rather degrading sequence. When we watch the head guard wipe her gloved hand onto her jacket, in easily one of the most disgusting gestures in cinematic history, we truly begin to understand where this movie aims to take us.

No Filipino shot “women in prison” title would be complete without a laundry list of disturbing torture sequences in order to populate the movie. There are slight hints at the bizarre as we discover the torture room this time around. Throughout the movie we are treated to a series of vignettes from inside of this room showcasing the various tortures that are administered on the prisoners, and the movie generally takes a dive into the surreal through these sequences. The lighting becomes slightly supernatural, the angles of the camera become twisted and there’s the presence of a strange man wearing a mask over his face that makes him look a lot like Cobra Commander from the GI Joe cartoon. The various forms of torture range from your most basic of cruel actions to the much more elaborate. You can of course expect plenty of whips and Chinese water torture as merely the tip of the iceburg.

The cast is of course made up of fantastic bit players, so you can expect some truly strong performances to go with all of this b-movie related madness. Sid Haig shows up yet again in the fashion of comedic relief. This time out he’s sporting his impressive mustache straight from the start and is dramatically over the top, also in his regular fashion. Carrying a sleazy sort of charisma, he is a joy to watch, even if he is playing a scumbag. Judy Brown is perhaps the least believable “bad girl” on the planet, but she takes on the sheepish mentality needed for this character and plays it well. Pam Grier is also fairly over the top as the bullying lesbian of the prison. Yet, thoughout her character does manage to retain her soft side despite being the most cruel of the main cast. Roberta Collins is fantastic as the tough girl, which counteracts her mousy and drug abused turn in Women in Cages. From the main cast, aside from Pam Grier who usually steals the scene, she may be my favorite of the female leads.

The Conclusion
The Big Dollhouse is indeed a complete classic of this genre. However, in terms of purely an entertainment perspective, I would probably list it as my least favorite film on the Women in Cages 3-Movie set from Shout Factory. I had seen it years before and while I liked it then, it didn’t stick with me. Not like Women in Cages or The Big Bird Cage will. Still, it’s one of the best known exploitation films from the 1970’s and it certainly lives up to its reputation. It just barely earns the 4 out of 5, but on many other days I might label this one a 3. Still, I think it’s highly worth seeing.

Big Bird Cage, The

Posted by JoshSamford On July - 5 - 2011

The Big Bird Cage (1972)
Director: Jack Hill
Writers: Jack Hill
Starring: Pam Grier, Sid Haig, Anitra Ford, Carol Speed and Candice Roman

The Plot: Terry (Anitra Ford) is a high class call girl who goes between many South American political figures. While out one night partying with one of these said officials, she is kidnapped by a group of revolutionaries who hold up Terry and the bureaucrats. This group is lead by two foreigners played by Blossom (Pam Grier) and Django (Sid Haig), a strange duo to say the least. When Django manages to ditch Terry on the side of the road, the police assume she was in on the heist and immediately sentence her to do hard time. She is lead to a small South American jail quite unlike anything in our own penal system. A small colony of huts with bamboo cages, this high class call girl is going to have to fight off any number of horrid obstacles in order to eventually find her way out of here. While she fights her battles within prison, we follow the revolutionary group on the outside as their leader Django puts Blossom to work in a plot to assassinate an official that ultimately leads to her capture. Now both Blossom and Terry are going to do their best to break out of the Big Bird Cage.

The Review
Continuing on in my exploration of this Roger Corman Filipino trilogy of women-in-prison movies, we find The Big Bird Cage which isn’t the shadiest of the three movies presented on the Women in Cages collection (from Shout! Factory), but it certainly isn’t devoid of the sleaze you would expect of the genre. Straight from the introduction, where we see Roger Corman’s “New World Pictures” pop up in giant bold yellow letters, this movie simply screams out for classic exploitation madness. This is what one expects from early seventies drive-in cinema and as we then watch a bevy of scantily clad, and beautiful, women come strolling down the mountainside… could things possibly get any better? With that question you might also ask “could we possibly find a less realistic depiction of a women’s prison?” To which the answer is: probably not, but that is most certainly the joy in a movie such as this one. Jack Hill doesn’t ask much from you only a slight suspension of disbelief and a brain that doesn’t mind having a bit of fun rather than being cynical.

From the three films (Women in Cages, The Big Bird Cage and The Big Doll House), this one enters even further into the realm of the surreal than any of the other pictures actually do. While each one of the films on this Women in Cages collection has at least one foot in the realm of the bizarre, The Big Bird Cage jumped right in without any contemplation. Between this ridiculously large prison set that the film takes place upon, which looks more like something out of the Amazon instead of on the outskirts of a city (as the rest of the film makes it appear), and the strange colorful lighting that is used throughout, we get the idea that we are watching something that takes place in a strange heightened version of reality. With a set of guards who are flamboyantly homosexual and a litany of over the top performances, The Big Bird Cage manages to defy all expectations of a regular Jack Hill production.

In keeping with the rest of the over the top behavior, the torture and violence of the genre makes a triumphant returns. While the torture is taken down a bit in comparison to the much sleazier Women in Cages, there’s still a great amount of violence to behold in this picture. The amount of violence inflicted by the guards on-screen doesn’t reach the heights of the previously mentioned film, but this is likely due to the punishers being men this time around, which might seem less tolerable than watching women do these things to one another for some members of the audience. The violence inflicted by the male guards is still quite difficult to stomach at points. There are many instances where these guards beat, slap or otherwise bully the girls in a very uncomfortable way. Even though they may be played for laughs as stereotypical homosexual males, the brutality of their violence is still strongly felt. It doesn’t help that these aren’t exactly small men, either. The few moments of true torture that the film does carry with it are exceptionally brutal. The notorious scene where Anitra Ford is strung up by her hair is infamous not only because of the strange nature of the torture, but also because Anitra Ford literally WAS strung up by her hair!

As is so often the case, Pam Grier shows up and completely steals the show once her character is unleashed inside of the prison. When this Blossom character hits the prison, the entire film seems to switch gears. Up until this point, all of the comedy had taken place in several vignettes between Pam Grier and Sid Haig’s characters. However, like an explosion of energy, much of the disturbing and dark atmosphere that dominates the early half of the film is blown away by Grier’s eager performance. With incredible dialogue, Pam Grier’s character takes over the prison community with lines like “Nigger! Who do you think you are!? You ain’t bigger than a minute!” and after being referred to as a foul word for African American’s Grier retorts with “That’s MS. NIGGER to you!!”. Never has it been so obvious to see an actress walk into a picture and utterly dominate the screen. She even involves all of the principle cast in a massive mudfight to prove her superiority. Patently offensive and sexist, the sequence is also quite hilarious and over the top. The funny thing is at this point in the movie, its not even the first mud bath that Grier has taken! The young actress brings something fresh to the movie as she delivers the comedy that she and Sid Haig had throughout the first third, but she delivers it by herself with an assortment of one-liners and impeccably cool charisma.

The Conclusion
Featuring a bevy of quotable lines, The Big Bird Cage is another exploitation classic that deserves the reputation and cinematic heritage that it has developed. A treat for the audience and one of the better women-in-prison movies you will find. It too earns a 4 out of 5.





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Varied Celluloid is a film website intent on delivering views on movies from all genres. Started in 2003, the website has been steadfast in its goal and features a database of over 500 lengthy reviews. If you would like to contact us about writing for the website or sending screeners, please visit the about page located here.