Saturday, December 15, 2012

WiP Flicks Few and Far Between

Scene from The Jail: A Women's Hell
Next to SM pink flicks, we really like WiP (women-in-prison) films around here. I thought they had completely gone out of style, but then I came across this one from 2006 called The Jail: A Women' s Hell.

It was directed by Bruno Mattei, an Italian filmmaker with a history of sex and violence schlock going back to 1970. Mattei passed away in 2007, aged 75. I'm not sure I've seen any of his other films but there are certainly a lot of them if you check that IMDb link.

I quite appreciate this movie because, as far as I'm concerned, you can never have too many women-in-prison films shot in a steamy Philippines jungle.

The poster
Of course, I'm nostalgic for the '70s and these types of exploitation flicks are a big reason why. So it was great to discover this relatively new entry in this nearly extinct genre.

The only thing that mangles this "film" is that it was obviously shot on video. No doubt the vast majority of Mattei's work was shot on celluloid but he, like many others these days, opted for the compromise of an electronic camera.

This almost always comes down to dollars and cents but, in so doing, the "soul" of the work is usually lost. I don't care how many megapixels digital cameras ultimately pack into their sensors, the film "look" is still missing.

The exception seems to be multi-million dollar productions, but even then the video takes on the look of modern film stocks. Or is it the other way around? Are Kodak and Fuji making new films that seek to emulate high def video since that's what all the kids want these days?

Scene from The Jail: A Women's Hell, 2006
Without a doubt, The Jail: A Women's Hell, is a low budget affair (and we wouldn't have it any other way).  But the images have a distinctly shitty video look. I think I read somewhere that Mattei used some overpriced Sony to shoot this flick. He should have just used a camcorder and saved even more money.

With some notable exceptions, electronic cameras suck the soul out of an image like a vampire stealing blood.

That said, given the choice between no sexy jungle torture movies and only ones shot on video, I will always opt for the latter. But it's an unpleasant tradeoff.

Yvette Yzon in The Jail: A Women's Hell, 2006
At least Mattei doesn't compromise on the actual content which, admittedly, is one of my biggest gripes when it comes to even some of the best WiP flicks from the '70s. For example, one of the greatest movies ever in this genre was the 1973 Hong Kong zinger, Bamboo House of Dolls. But its best scene was towards the beginning and it pretty much went downhill from there.

Whipping scene, Bamboo House of Dolls
This film, The Jail, pretty much has it all, and in large doses: torture, nudity, dancing girls, shower scenes, lesbianism, blood and gore. Mattei doesn't pull many punches here.

Whipping scene, The Jail: A Women's Hell
And dancing girls
The lovely Filipina actress, Yvette Yzon, is the star of this movie. She has also starred in other Mattei offerings. Here's a website in French showing the actress and director together.

The ever-popular shower scene
Caught in the act ... and punished!
Speaking of digital "cinema", I just love it when some wannabe makes a piece of video junk and, at the beginning, the words appear: A Film by Joe Douchebag. A film? Really? Give me a break. Celluloid never came within a million miles of your crap movie. These dishonest wankers. What it should say is: A Video by Joe Douchebag. Ah, but that wouldn't make the egotistical little shit feel good, would it?

At least with The Jail: A Women's Hell, the soul may be missing but its heart is in the right place.

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