HOME |  JOIN |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Agent 505: Death Trap in Beirut
Lured
Jem and the Holograms
Burning of Red Lotus Monastery, The
Bag Boy Lover Boy
Sleepless Night
Willy McBean and His Magic Machine
Robbery
Tag
Never Back Down
Doraemon: Nobita's Little Star Wars
Kriminal
It Comes at Night
Strangled
Mojin - The Lost Legend
Poison Ivy
Celine and Julie Go Boating
Union Station
My Brother Talks to Horses
Storks
Big Sick, The
Phantom Creeps, The
Houseboat
White Dress for Mariale, A
Wall, The
Deadline at Dawn
Batman vs Two-Face
56, rue Pigalle
Mermaid, The
Fear No Evil
   
 
Newest Articles
The Whicker Kicker: Whicker's World Vols 5&6 on DVD
The Empress, the Mermaid and the Princess Bride: Three 80s Fantasy Movies
Witching Hour: Hammer House of Horror on Blu-ray
Two Sides of Sellers: The Party vs The Optimists
Norse Code: The Vikings vs The Long Ships
Over the Moon - Space: 1999 The Complete Series on Blu-ray Part 2
Alpha Males and Females - Space: 1999 The Complete Series on Blu-ray Part 1
Animated Anxieties: From the Era of the Creepiest Cartoons
Manor On Movies--Clegg (1970)
Plans for Nigel: The Crunch... and Other Stories on DVD
   
 
  Big Doll House, The Hello CellmatesBuy this film here.
Year: 1971
Director: Jack Hill
Stars: Judy Brown, Roberta Collins, Pam Grier, Brooke Mills, Pat Woodell, Sid Haig, Christiane Schmidtmer, Kathryn Loder, Jerry Frank, Gina Stuart, Jack Davis, Letty Mirasol, Shirley de las Alas
Genre: Thriller, Trash
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Marnie Collier (Judy Brown) is admitted to a South American women's prison to see out her sentence for murder. She has earned a ninety-nine year stay inside, and is subjected to a humiliating search practically the minute she enters through the gates. Soon she is in her cell, which she is sharing with a number of other women; one of them, Alcott (Roberta Collins) introduces herself and her cellmates, who include lesbian Grear (Pam Grier) and the woman nobody messes with, Bodine (Pat Woodell). Collier seems to get a friendly enough welcome, but that night most of the women gang up on her, making accusations of being a spy until Bodine calls them off. Soon Collier is thinking of what the others are thinking: escape...

The Big Doll House has a small place in exploitation cinema history as it was the one whose success sparked off the women in prison cycle of the nineteen-seventies. There had been women in prison movies before, of course, and films such as Caged, which starred Eleanor Parker in the fifties, had a cult following, but with this effort the floodgates were opened and a rash of these were released to drive-ins throughout the decade and beyond. Written by Don Spencer (not the Australian bloke with the guitar from Play School... nah, don't think so), it also heralded the first teaming of director Jack Hill with star Grier.

The staples of the genre are already in place here: tough dialogue that constantly verges on camp, and at times tips right over into camp, a prison that doesn't feature anyone under the age of thirty-five or so, torture courtesy of the sadistic warden (here Kathryn Loder as Lucian, a sort of angry Barbara Steele looky-likey), and, of course, a shower scene. Only with this, there's a certain coyness about nudity, so you're only treated to glimpses of the cast unclothed, and at other times they will be filmed through, say, a steamed up window.

Another Jack Hill stalwart appearing is the all too familiar face of Sid Haig, here not only not entirely bald, but also playing local vendor Harry, who has a double act with Fred (Jerry Frank). They will be important parts of the escape attempt, they just don't know it, being overawed by the proximity of all those women. Meanwhile, Lucian takes Bodine to her torture chamber to glean information about Bodine's revolutionary boyfriend, where they are watched over by a mysterious, masked figure - could this be the General everyone's talking about?

Ah, that would be telling. As everyone in Collier's cell is now in on the proposed break out, you'd expect them to go ahead with their schemes right away, but it actually takes ages for the plan to be implemented, and along the way there's a spot of mud wrestling and a food fight to keep things happening. At times, you don't know exactly how silly this is supposed to be, and the whole film has a tone of naivety in spite of its run of sex and violence (with drug addiction thrown in for good measure). I guess it's OK to laugh, especially at the ending which renders the whole "get out of prison" plot entirely useless with an obviously dubbed later final line - what a waste of time! The other reaction would be to take it seriously, which just doesn't seem appropriate somehow. Music by Hall Daniels, including a title song performed by Grier herself.

[The Big Doll House has recently be re-released in the Roger Corman Early Films Collection. This features a 1.33 transfer along with Leonard Maltin interviewing Roger Corman, trailers and biographies.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

This review has been viewed 6248 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 

Jack Hill  (1933 - )

American writer and director, an expert at exploitation movies. He worked for Roger Corman (Hill was one of the directors of The Terror) before making his own films, beginning with Spider Baby. Come the seventies, he tried "women in prison" (The Big Doll House, The Big Bird Cage), blaxploitation (Coffy, Foxy Brown) and others (The Swinging Cheerleaders, Switchblade Sisters), but unfortunately his credits petered out in the eighties. He also "discovered" cult favourites Pam Grier and Sid Haig.

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Who's the best?
Robin Askwith
Mark Wahlberg
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Andrew Pragasam
Graeme Clark
Keith Rockmael
Paul Shrimpton
Enoch Sneed
Ian Phillips
Jensen Breck
Paul Smith
   

 

Last Updated: