Color, 1982, 98 mins. 38 secs.
Directed by Bruno Mattei
Starring Laura Gemser, Gabriele Tinti, Maria Romano, Ursula Flores, Antonella Giacomini, Françoise Perrot, Lorraine De Selle, Franca Stoppi
Severin Films (Blu-ray & DVD) (US R0 HD/NTSC),Media Blasters (DVD) (US R0 NTSC), X-Rated Kult (DVD) (Germany R2 PAL) / WS (1.78:1) (16:9)

By Violence in an Women's Prisonthe time 1982 rolled around, the Violence in an Women's Prisonpopular Black Emanuelle cycle of Italian films starring Laura Gemser seemed to have run its course. However, that didn't stop Italian grunge auteur Bruno Mattei and his frequent writer and co-director Claudio Fragasso (Troll 2) from giving the idea a new spin, namely cranking out a pair of films placing our photographer heroine in a women's prison. The first one was the wonderfully lurid Violence on a Women's Prison, an intentionally excessive wallow in violence and perversity geared to cash in on the recent women-in-prison revival going on with titles like The Concrete Jungle. Mattei had already dipped his toes into this material with the little-seen Gemser cut and paste job Emanuelle e le porno notti nel mondo n. 2 (one of a handful of sexy mondo films he made in the late '70s), but having just found his real cinematic voice with the outrageous Hell of the Living Dead and The Other Hell, Mattei and his cohorts were really ready to pull out all the stops.

Convicted prostitute Laura Kendall (Gemser), whose real identity and profession you can probably guess in the first two minutes even if it's saved as a third act surprise here, winds up getting bussed to a brutal prison overseen by the sweaty voyeuristic guard Rescaut (Beyond the Darkness' marvelous Stoppi), and her stern commandant warden (Cannibal Ferox's De Selle) who likes to spend her nights in Violence in an Women's Prisonfancy black Violence in an Women's Prisonlingerie. Laura is quickly mired in a hotbed of lesbian gropings and boundary-ignoring prison staff, quickly snapping one day when she flings a bucket of excrement at two jailers. That leads to the world's nastiest twist on mud wrestling and gets her thrown in solitary confinement where she's swarmed with rats (complete with Red Hots stuck over their eyes), after which she does strike up a rapport with Doctor Moran (Tinti, of course, looking very ragged here), a physician doing time at the men's jail next door. It isn't long before Laura and her fellow inmates start to get fed up with all the brutality, and her true mission starts to come to light.

Unlike the previous Black Emanuelle films (with which these aren't usually considered part of the "official" series), this one makes little attempt to be erotic in any way whatsoever. There's bare skin and some softcore coupling, sure, but it's all so grungy and strange that it's hard to imagine anyone looking for sexy thrills getting much out of it. In fact, the most significant Gemser nude scene ends with her barfing into a toilet in graphic detail, which should give you some idea of what to expect. Any regular viewer of Italian exploitation films should be able to spot the difference between Joe D'Amato (the director most closely associated with the series) and Mattei, which is glaringly obvious here as the previous globe-trotting and exoticism is exchanged for multiple cat fights, lots of stage blood, and the most dingy, dour sets imaginable. In other words, it's the perfect Mattei film. Violence in an Women's Prison

Violence in an Women's PrisonShot back to back by Mattei with the equally sordid Women's Prison Massacre (featuring pretty much the same cast), this sleazy gem was released as Caged Women in U.S. theaters by Motion Picture Marketing and debuted on DVD under its original European title from Media Blasters in 2002. In 2018, Severin Films reissued the title in a significantly improved presentation with much better colors and detail. The original grainy, cheap veneer of the film has been left intact, a wise choice compared to the attempts to smooth over Women's Prison Massacre on the American Blu-ray release. The English DTS-HD MA mono track sounds good for what it is, especially when it comes to that low-rent but effective score by Luigi Ceccarelli (who would go on to glory with Rats: Night of Terror). As usual this comes with multiple buying options including a Blu-ray, a DVD, and a Laura Gemser Deluxe Bundle with Emanuelle and the Last Cannibals, which you can all accessorize with a Laura Gemser pin.

On the extras side, "Brawl In Women’s Block" (29m3s) features Fragasso and usual co-writer Rossella Drudi, plus their adorable, camera-hogging orange cat, talking about how they first met (under false French pretenses) and worked their way up the Italian exploitation ladder with Fragasso doing a lot of directing for Mattei on multiple films. They also reveal the origin of the infamous blade concealing scene (you'll know it when you see it), opining that "women have these kind of thoughts!" Next up is the brief Mattei interview (2m47s) featured on the old Media Blasters disc, basically explaining how he wanted this to be a Gemser vehicle from the start; a radio spot is also included.

Reviewed on April 29, 2018.