I love Women In Prison movies. They're great, all that cat-fighting, sadism, intimate female "bonding" after lights-out, and oodles of talentless, beautiful birds who sadly never featured in Prisoner Cell Block H (although I did like the one who looked like Boy George). Pure exploitation just for the hell of it. Yeah, you just gotta love 'em.
However, Chain Gang Women ain't no WIP movie. Yeah, I know it's called Chain Gang Women but there ain't no chain gang women in this dung-heap. In fact there are only two females in the entire flick. Instead it concentrates on two chain gang men, Weed (Michael Stevens) and Harris (Robert Lott) who escape from prison during a mass jail break while still chained together. Weed is the bad guy who's doing time for murder amongst other things and Harris is the good guy inside for marijuana possession (known as "dope-pushing" to the killers and rapists banged up here; apparently the ultimate sin...) who doesn't want to escape anyway because he only has six months left to serve. Weed reckons it's a good idea to make a break because he's already tried three times before (and been captured every time; great CV, huh?). Crazy capers ensue when Harris' girlfriend Ann (Linda York) joins in the fun, helping to free them from their chains before being raped by Weed while Harris nips to the shops.
Harris tells his missus to escape while she has the chance and she does, never to be seen again for the duration of the flick. The two jailbirds find themselves at an old shack inhabited by an elderly farmer and his seventeen year old daughter. Well, I say father and daughter but it turns out that they are man and wife when we see them shagging each other. In true sleaze spirit they tie the farmer up and Weed rapes his wife in front of him while Harris is outside having a fag. Being 1971, the wife actually enjoys this rough treatment and is no doubt surprised that she never "asked for it" before. In fact she is so turned on by this that she asks the two crims to take her with them, which of course they do. We're next subjected to a zany low-speed chase that ends with the truculent threesome coming back to the ranch only to find the farmer gone. These dullards must have never seen a movie of this type before because, rather than being perturbed by this, think nothing of it and settle down for the evening, only to be exterminated in a sixty-seconds long bloodless bath. The farmer reclaims his estranged wife and the film thankfully ends there. Thank fuck for small mercies!
This could have been a damn good film. Unfortunately it's directed by Lee Frost, and his cinematic vomit has really missed the toilet bowl this time. In fact it's completely incomprehensible that this guy went on to make the totally excellent(ish) Black Gestapo a few years later. The movie looks like a prison movie, but it's not. It looks like it's gonna be a chase movie but yet again, it's not. The movie looks as if it's heading for "home-invasion" territory ala Fight For Your Life/ Straw Dogs/ House At The Edge Of The Park, but it doesn't stop there long, using this plot twist merely as a means of offing these two unsavoury imbeciles. Like the characters it portrays, Chain Gang Women is going nowhere.
There's so much to be explored here, but instead it is totally ignored. For a start we have good-guy and bad-guy chained together, which should lead to some kind of deep conflict between them but it doesn't. Harris just does exactly what Weed says nearly always without confrontation. The chase scenes are ultra-boring, featuring pioneering (cheap) quadruple split-screen effects which just look shite beyond belief, especially when they all show the same image. Frost never busies himself with such minor details as charaterisation. Oh no. He never treats us to insightful insights into Weed or Harris' pasts, Ann disappears without a trace and the farmer and his wife are listed on the credits as, well Farmer and Wife. And of course, violence is at a minimum with Farmer taking his vengeance by strangulation and off-screen shooting. Most disturbingly of all, Frost decides to titillate us with not one, but two rape scenes which have little to do with what little story there is. Ann doesn't put up much of a fight and it actually opens Wife's eyes to the exciting world outside. I mean, I'm no fan of political-correctness but even I can see that this is sheer callousness and, even worse, shows Frost's extreme cynicism towards his viewers, in that he genuinely seems to believe that this will raise our opinion towards his drive-in butt-crack (bags I get to use the eighteen wheeler!). The only thing here that comes within a million miles of being "not-bad" is the mental 2000 Maniacs style killbilly soundtrack that might almost raise a smile if you'd just overdosed on acid, magic mushrooms and mescalin.
So, a truly awful film that would have been a whole lot better if it had neither actors or plot. Perhaps the worst thing I've seen all week. About as interesting as watching Kojak's pubes grow. Just sentence me to a lifetime of solitary confinement next time.