Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Women Behind Bars Departate Della Sezione Speciale SS/Le Evanse - Le Storie di Sesso e di Violenze|
Actors: John Steiner, Lina Polito, Stefania D'Amario, Erna Schürer, Sara Sperati
Directors: Giovanni Brusadori, Rino Di Silvestro
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama
The WOMEN BEHIND BARS collection presents a double feature of Italian sexploitation films: in ESCAPE FROM WOMEN'S PRISON (1978) four female convicts stage a breakout and torture a busload of hostages; and in DEPORTED WOMEN... more »
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A double-dose of 1970's Italian sexploitation films
Lawrance M. Bernabo | The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota | 09/09/2007
(2 out of 5 stars)
"Usually when I get a double-feature exploitation film DVD it is from the wacky folks at Something Weird. That is not the case with this double-dose of 1970's Italian sexploitation films, which was my first sign that whatever might constitute the best of women in prison movies would not be found on this "Women Behind Bars" DVD. On the A side is "Deported Women of the SS Special Section" ("Le Deportate della sezione speciale SS") which offers not just women in prison, but women in a Nazi concentration camp. Not that what you see here looks anything like an actual Nazi concentration camp, but I suppose it is the thought that counts. This 1976 film is written and directed by Rino Di Silvestro ("Werewolf Woman"), who mixes and matches characters and plots to keep our attention beyond the nudity. We start with a train car full of women, who are brought to the concentration camp and inspected by the medical staff. This means they get to be naked, which is obviously a main goal of this film, but what I found interesting is that while a few women were shaved (and I do mean shaved), they were not any of the main characters. Talk about wanting to have your cake and eat it too, but this film periodically wants to be historically accurate. However, the women prisoners are watched over by women guards, and you know what that means in a prison movie. Then again, a room full of female prisoners promises the exact same thing.
Still, there are some interesting things happening in this film on. The male camp commandant, Herr Erner (John Steiner), not only gets a massage from his male orderly, but he wants one of the women prisoners, Tanya (Lina Polito), to love him because he knew her before she was captured. Tanya comes up with an interesting way of getting him that reminds me of a memorable scene in Ingmar Bergman's "Cries & Whispers." Since that film came out four years before this one, I would not be surprised if Silvestro saw it too (yes, I realize we might be the only two people on the earth to have seen both films). As a sexploitation film this one is rather depressing, with appropriately somber music, and a tacit acknowledgment that there is some history behind some of what we are seeing (e.g., the Nazis did force some female prisoners to be prostitutes for German troops). At one point we learn that the Germans are losing the war, but the idea of impending defeat does nothing to stop the atrocities, which I suppose can be seen as making them even worse, a minor accomplishment when you are talking about Nazis. Still, there are several interesting vignettes as Silvestro comes up with plausible vignettes for the sex in this one, although provoking thought would not seem to be an obvious goal for a sexploitation film (3 stars).
The B side offering is "Escape From Women's Prison" ("Le Storie di Sesso di Violenze") and it is from start to finish a boring movie that makes the movie on the A side look like classic cinema. Directed by Giovanni Brusadori, this 1978 has four females escaping from prison, so they are never behind bars, and going on the run. But when their getaway driver gets shot, the escapees take a bus filled of mostly women heading for a tennis tournament hostage. The attempt at an interesting twist is when one of the hostages inspires the prisoners to head for a castle owned by a judge. There the escapees argue about politics and fight with each other, find other uses for the women on the bus besides being hostages, and then negotiate with the police when they show up until we get to what passes as the climax of this film. The part where the judge insists that his personal needs be taken care of caught my interest for a moment, but things do not go well for him and any guy who is minutes away from getting his brains shot out should not be interesting in raping an unconscious women. This judge makes the Nazis look good, and that, of course, is not a good thing. The movie stars Lilli Carati as Monica Hadler, who rants about Communism now and then to suggest that their is actually something political behind the boring sexploitation (2 stars).
If this was a Something Weird DVD, then there would be all sorts of trailers, shorts, and assorted bonus features that would try to make up for the shortcomings of the features, but there is not and for that reason I round down on these two films having split the difference. I do not know if the films suffer from lousy transfers to DVD or if the original prints are this washed out, but then nobody watched sexploitation for the cinematography. If you have never seen a sexploitation film, this is not the DVD to introduce yourself to the genre. If you are into the genre then you should check out "Deported Women of the SS Special Section" and fight the urge to flip the disc and see what is on the other side."