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  Violence in a Women's Prison Anything For That StoryBuy this film here.
Year: 1982
Director: Bruno Mattei
Stars: Laura Gemser, Gabriele Tinti, Maria Romano, Ursula Flores, Antonella Giacomini, Franco Caracciolo, Françoise Perrot, Lorraine De Selle, Jacques Stany, Leila Durante, Franca Stoppi, Raul Cabrera
Genre: Sex, Thriller, Trash
Rating:  4 (from 1 vote)
Review: Laura Kendall (Laura Gemser) is heading for prison. She is sent away in the van with some other new inmates, and soon they are at the gates of the jail, where she is quickly inducted into life there. Part of her introduction is a medical examination, which is conducted by the kind-hearted doctor Moran (Gabriele Tinti), who she is surprised to notice when he takes off his white coat that he is wearing a prison uniform underneath. But that is just one of many surprises in store during her spell there, supposedly for prostitution, drug dealing and attempted murder - though she has a secret of her own...

Bruno Mattei was your man bringing this bog standard women in prison sleazathon to the screen, often cited as one of the worst of the Italian exploitation movie directors, hence the small cult that has built up around the dubious pleasures of his work. Actually, as the presence of Gemser indicated, this was in fact a Black Emanuelle flick, though that aspect of the story was kept quiet until after the halfway stage with the big reveal less than shocking if you'd seen one of that series before, and therefore were familiar with the type of thing that went on in them. So look away now if you don't want the spoiler...

That's right, Laura is actually Emanuelle, an undercover reporter seeking to write an exposé on the prison, which as is so often the way with such things, is corrupt to the core. A true novel idea in this genre would be to make the authorities the heroes and the prisoners the villains, but we have to have the element of injustice to keep us interested, and the notion that Emanuelle would go to jail for committing an actual crime would never have crossed the minds of the filmmakers - they had their formula, and they knew what their audience wanted to see. Especially by this stage, as this example could have easily have come straight out of 1972, never mind 1982.

Mind you, not all the inmates are misunderstood paragons of bruised virtue, as there are the odd characters who prove to be inside for very good reasons. Most of them are the male prisoners, who oddly are in the other half of the building, though kept away from the ladies, that is apart from when the evil guards and wardens set them on the females they wish to keep in line, for their own twisted pleasure, of course. That twisted pleasure extends to making the more vulnerable women have sex with each other while the head guard watches, making no secret of her excitement until she cannot take any more and starts beating them with her baton.

There's a lot of baton beating in this film (smirk), offering a sadistic side to proceedings that never has much impact on the viewer as it's all too obviously calculated for audience reaction. For a while it looks to have a very intolerant attitude to sex, as every instance of it here results in someone suffering, that is up to the point where Emanuelle and the nice doctor (Gemser and Tinti were married in real life) get together for some healthy coupling near the end, as if to throw back the wicked characters' perversions in their faces. In the meantime, Mattei gave us our heroine enduring various tests of her mettle, including a rat attack in solitary confinement, and a session of poison in her coffee once she's been rumbled and is in the infirmary. For all its degradation, you might be more inclined to shrug than really feel involved, as this was so by the numbers that the sense of seeing one, seeing them all was prominent. Music by Luigi Ceccarelli.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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