Women in Prison Marathon Vol.2

The Concrete Jungle(1982)

Directed by: Tom DeSimone

Cast: Jill St. JohnTracey E. BregmanBarbara Luna

Superior “Women-in- Prison” offering Tom DeSimone who would later sign a very entertaining self parody of the same genre in the form of “Reform school girls”.

When her slimy boyfriend Danny (Peter Brown) uses his unsuspecting girlfriend Elizabeth (Tracy Bregman) to carry a stash of cocaine in her skis, she is nabbed by airport security. After a speedy trial, she is sent to the Correctional Institution for Women in California. There she learns quickly that she must toughen up if she hopes to leave there in one piece. She also eventually finds that the warden (Jill St John) is not only cruel and unsympathetic, but in cahoots with an inmate Cat (Barbara Luna) the prison’s Queen Bee, who is her partner in a prison drug and prostitution racket. When Elizabeth witnesses a murder committed by Cat and her henchwomen, she spurns her attentions and becomes her enemy. Meanwhile, Deputy Director Shelly Meyers (Nita Talbot), aware of the drug and prostitution business run by the warden and Cat, also suspects that Elizabeth has knowledge that could help her convict the villains, and she begins to press her for information but things soon escalate to a bloody conclusion.

The very well known recurring theme of the wrongfully accused innocent cat that ends up in “the concrete jungle” surrounded by brutal cons and has to toughen up in order to make it repeats itself once again here, but if we want to set the record straight we need to admit that this film was one of the first exploring such a storyline and later got plagiarized by better (the naked cage) or worse (reform school girls) offerings of the WIP genre.

To his credit DeSimone builds tension without breaking new ground. His picture is a superior exploitation affair , at least in terms of cinematography and performances and it never drags . Other than that the limitations of the genre are obvious and the viewer mostly has to deal with a repeated impression of Deja-Vu . Even the electrocution sequence was later lifted in its entirety by the aforementioned “the naked cage” .

Let’s face it, we are dealing with one of the most exploitative subgenres in the entire Exploitation genre, hence the viewer might deal with cringeworthy moments aplenty , however from a technical and cinematic view this picture offers the complete package. Recommended

The second film of the bunch actually tricked me into believing that it’s also a “Women-in-Prison” affair but oh well…it’s not.It’s like the reels of “Gator Bait” and “99 Women” got mixed up and then projected in random order . Anyway let’s visit the swingin’ Seventies and the “thunder county” in particular.

 Thunder County (1974) aka “Convict Women’

 Directed by: Chris Robinson

Cast: Mickey RooneyTed CassidyCarol Locatell

Four women escape from a prison and wind up stranded in a swamp with a lecherous redneck after them. Meanwhile, an federal agent tracks a ring of heroin smugglers through the same swamp.

Cool grindhouse/drive-in friendly affair that tries to pack as many exploitation subgenres as possible under the same shell. Prison action, check. Crime /action, c heck. Backwoods hicksploitation ,check .Alright . it sounds really great .Well it’s not , but it’s a watchable affair mostly suffering from a lazy start . “Convict Women” fortunately picks up ,in terms of pace , during the second reel and the two thirds of the film are good fun featuring some paradoxically tame looking ‘gators , a really lecherous looking redneck and a cool looking , in a Seventies tacky way, Mafia guy.

The performances are alright and the overall plot pretty interesting if not breathtaking .The cinematography is grainy and cheap looking and looks like a typical grindhouse affair, a product of its time .Hence nostalgic as we are , we are obliged to shed a tear or two…

Nice little flick,especially the action part. Unfortunately the women-in-prison part is a dreary and wretched piece of celluloid that almost destroys the beginning of the movie .Fortunately things got remedied pretty fast.

Suitable for a look or two ,but no more…


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