|The Big Doll House (1971)|
|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 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.
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.