Women’s Prison Massacre | Varied Celluloid

Women’s Prison Massacre

Posted by Josh Samford On January - 6 - 2010
The Plot: Laura Gemser plays Emanuelle, a convict at a strict all female penitentiary, she’s a tough no nonsense kind of gal who runs things amongst the other prisoners. Recently though the powers that be have been trying to give Emanuelle a hard time in order to put their own choice in charge as the leader of the inmates. Emanuelle just keeps beating their puppet to the punch every time she decides to strike though. While this power struggle is in play, we have four male convicts who are placed inside the prison while waiting for their sentences to be handed down. These are the lowest of the low and some of the most violent criminals the world has ever seen, lead by the psychotic Crazy Boy. When these convicts are just about to be locked up, they make a power move and end up on the better side of a hostage situation. They hold the warden capture and intend to get out of this prison as well as the possibility of a death sentence. Will they escape and what will they do with the women?


The Review: Brad Jones, better known as The Cinema Snob, has mentioned this one more than a few times in his reviews and videos. Although I like to watch a good Bruno Mattei flick for a laugh most of the time, he’s not a director that I generally have a lot of respect for. Knowing that Brad enjoyed this flick so much, and seeing it thrown around as a recommendation on our very forums, I decided to expand my Women In Prison lexicon. Womens Prison Massacre, from its title alone, fills you with all sorts of ideas that can’t prepare you for what it actually delivers. With its title that invokes horror movie concepts, the only thing you can be sure of with this one is that it’s going to be violent. Well, if you know the genre, you know there’s going to be lots of nudity and maybe some girl on girl action too. After that though, you can’t be sure of anything that’s for sure. Womens Prison Massacre is this strange little entity in the exploitation universe. It’s an extremely seedy, dirty and disturbing movie that isn’t without its faint hints of artistic integrity. In a Bruno Mattei flick of all places! Hard to even imagine, I know.

You just can’t really prepare yourself for how utterly STRANGE Womens Prison Massacre really is. Totally against genre expectations, Women’s Prison Massacre takes place in this strange universe completely unlike anything you’ll ever see. It’s almost like a sci-fi movie to be completely honest with you. Starting with a theatrical play put on by Gemser and company at the start, the characters in it are all wearing face paint not unlike those in your average Italian post-apocalypse flick. It just doesn’t seem to take place inside our version of reality. The bars, instead of being straight vertical lines, have designs drawn into them. Then there’s the lighting around the prison where we get a lot of blue and green areas that just don’t seem logical – but it does work in establishing a mood and atmosphere. A lot of this stuff just seems here to do just that. It’s very… dare I say it, artistic? It’s a mixture of things but most of all it is topped off with the awesome soundtrack. There is this amazing synth rock that drives the music throughout. It really seems better fitting for an Italian zombie movie, but taken out of that context it gives this movie an otherworldly vibe. You really get the feeling that the music is made up of tracks that were cut from Mattei’s own Hell of the Living Dead. Knowing the director, I wouldn’t put it past him but I have to say it does play out well.

The pairing of Bruno Mattei and Claudio Fragrasso was like… well, I don’t think we’ve ever had anything else quite like it. They teamed together on several projects and Women’s Prison Massacre is certainly one of their most popular. It’s still fairly obscure but in recent years its name recognition has really come up. So has pretty much every obscure Italian exploitation flick you can think of, but Womens… really surprises in the fact that it ever lost popularity with the content that this bad boy carries with it. The violence just has to be described as “extreme”, a word I don’t like throwing around too often but find suitable here. Sure, there’s not a great amount of gore or hacked up limbs but the bloody ultra violence is pretty grizzly. There’s some genuinely nasty stuff here Including a really brutal castration and one NASTY gunshot to the head that blows brains, skull chunks and all kinds of disgusting debris onto the face of another character who is sitting nearby. This character even has his mouth open when it happens. When popping the DVD in, this was the last thing I was expecting. It is surprisingly violent for this sort of flick but I guess I should have known better with Bruno Mattei in charge of the production.

With the pairing of Mattei and Fragrasso, you get all the little intricacies that make them the filmmakers that they are. Such as the incredibly choice dialogue. It’s like every single line stated is completely and utterly over the top and I love it. My personal favorite line from the movie comes from the rough and tumble cowboy sheriff who looks to put an end to Crazy Boy (played brilliantly by Carlo De Mejo) “Listen here crazy boy, you’ll have no peace until you smell the stink of your own flesh roasting in the electric chair”. That’s some classic stuff right there, but like I said: everything about this movie is over the top. Most of all the performances. The three main leads, Laura Gemser, Lorraine De Selle (best known for her starring role in Cannibal Ferox as well as House On the Edge of the Park) and Carlo De Mejo (City of the Living Dead) – all three keep their performances fairly low key or at least very interesting, as is the case of De Mejo. He actually takes his performance a bit over the top, but not quite to the degree of the rest of the cast. They’re all spending time on the moon. Way over the top but hilarious and entertaining for it.

This is probably the first Bruno Mattei film I’ve seen that I felt was truly enjoyable despite all of it’s poor qualities. Womens Prison Massacre is a fast moving, ninety minute assault on the senses. It’s violent, it’s silly, it’s strange and most of all it’s ever so much fun. If you’re a fan of Italian horror and exploitation, this is certainly a must see. Despite it’s cheap budget it manages to slap you in the face with it’s entertainment power. Definitely check this one out as soon as possible. I give it a four out of five. Why must Bruno Mattei keep surprising me with “good” movies when I know he shouldn’t be capable of that?



You might also be interested in:

  • Wow, that’s an enthusiastic review of a film I like a lot. It is indeed one of Mattei’s more entertaining films, much underrated!

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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.

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