VIDEO ARCHIVES WEEK: Women In Cages (1972)

VIDEO ARCHIVES NOTES: This movie was discussed on the July 6, 2022 episode of the Video Archives podcast and can be found on their site here.

How important is this movie to Quentin Tarantino? Well, it’s the movie his character is watching in Planet Terror and he referred to it as “harsh, harsh, harsh.” He also took the name of Pam Grier’s character Alabama for his first published script, True Romance.

Director Gerry de Leon is a force of exploitation nature, making movies like The Blood Drinkers, Curse of the Vampires and the two efforts he co-directed with Eddie Romero, Brides of Blood and The Mad Doctor of Blood Island. They’re not fancy efforts but they’re sure entertaining.

Carol “Jeff” Jeffries (Jennifer Gan) is in love with Rudy (Charlie Davao), but little does she know that her lover is running an empire of sex, drugs and gambling on the seas. Once he realizes the cops are closing in, he uses her to stash his drugs and she takes the heat.

In the horrifying prison where most of this movie takes place, Jeff finds herself at odds with, well, everyone.

There’s Pam Grier moving beyond prisoner victim to guard abuser as Alabama, spouting off incendiary dialogue like this as she tortures Jeff inside a room she calls The Playpen:

Jeff: “What kind of hell did you crawl out of?”

Alabama: “It was called Harlem, baby. I learned to survive, never have pity. This game is called survival. Let’s see how well you can play it. I was strung-out behind smack at ten and worked in the streets when I was twelve. You’ve got a long way to go.”

Even the other prisoners can’t get along with her, like Alabama’s claimed woman Theresa (Sofia Moran), Sandy (Judy Brown, already a veteran of The Big Doll House) and heroin-loving Stoke (Roberta Collins, who also spent time in The Big Doll House and Caged Heat) who thinks she can get more heroin from Jeff’s man Rudy.

After taking abuse the entire movie, Jeff decides to head out into the jungles, which is filled with even more horrible people than inside the prison. Things get, well, horrifying for all concerned with an assault/drowning sequence that had to be really uncomfortable for viewers. Or maybe they whooped it up at the grindhouses during that sequence. Who can say?

As for me, I loved Collins in this. She wants her next fix so badly that she’ll poison a sandwich, unleash a snake on someone and then throw acid in someone’s face. Most girls will just ruin your life. She’ll kill everyone you know. Marriage material.

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