Jeff (Jennifer Gan) doesn't know that her boyfriend Rudy (Charlie Davao) is a major player in organised crime. When he is given a packet of heroin, he notices the police arriving to catch him, and places the drugs into Jeff's purse. The police arrest her, and after Rudy implores her not to say anything that might incriminate him, Jeff is taken to a women's prison to start her sentence. She shares her cell with three other women, and soon finds that it's not just the tyrannical matron Alabama (Pam Grier) she has to contend with...
A Roger Corman production, this was written by James H. Watkins and David R. Osterhout and filmed in the Philippines. In the same vein as Jack Hill's The Big Doll House, Women in Cages is a searing expose of prison life - well, it is if you're making an exploitation film. But unlike Hill's W.I.P. films, this effort has a "Will this do?" quality, as it hits all the right notes of the genre, but without much style. Nevertheless, its amatuerish nature does offer up a little in the way of campy entertainment.
Jeff (what kind of a name is Jeff for a woman, anyway?) isn't the brightest button around, and it's well into the film before she realises she has been set up. You would have thought that sitting right beside Rudy when he placed the heroin in her purse would have alerted her to the fact that something underhand was going on, but nope, she continues to put her faith in the cad helping her out of trouble.
Unfortunately for Jeff one of the ladies she shares her cell with is Stoke (Roberta Collins), a heroin addict who relies on Rudy's trade to feed her addiction during her stay. She is forced to make attempts on Jeff's life to get her out of the way in return for more drugs, but she's not particularly successful, it has to be said, and comes across as a cold turkey version of Wile E. Coyote in her schemes to poison, squash or otherwise destroy the hapless Jeff.
After being behind bars in The Big Doll House, Pam Grier gets to be matron in this one, and plays the sadistic guard to the hilt. Of course, she's a lesbian, so she will seduce certain prisoners in her boudoir, like Jeff's cellmate Theresa (Sofia Moran), or if they reject her advances she takes them to "The Playpen", a medieval torture chamber. Actually, she escorts women to her torture chamber whether she's sexually interested or not, as Sandy (Judy Brown) discovers. Women in Cages is silly, and its infrequent nods to social injustice sound hollow, but it lacks the necessary, gleeful outrageousness to appeal; this one is simply going through the motions. Music direction by Tito Arevalo.