Archive for the Prison Movies Category

Me and Lil’ Stevie walk THE GREEN MILE

Posted in 1990s Horror, 2012, Magic, Me and Lil' Stevie, Peter Dudar Reviews, Prison Movies, Stephen King Movies with tags , , , , , on October 16, 2012 by knifefighter

Me and Lil’ Stevie
Celebrate a Milestone with
THE GREEN MILE (1999)
By Peter N. Dudar

EXTERIOR. NIGHT

(Establishing shot of a prison in Louisiana. Camera slowly pans over a sign reading COLD MOUNTAIN PENITENTIARY. POV switches to Interior Shot of a prison corridor with a lime-green floor. Camera moves down past the rows of cells, reaches a desk at the end of the corridor, then turns right and proceeds into a new room. This room is filled with people sitting in folding chairs, glancing ahead at an execution that is about to take place. The camera pans to the front of the room where a figure is sitting in an electric chair, with a pair of prison guards standing by his side. The figure sits up straight in the chair, and we see that it is a man holding a ventriloquist dummy in the shape of Master of Horror, Stephen King.)

Peter: Welcome, Constant Viewer, to our 1 Year Anniversary Episode of Me and Lil’ Stevie.

Lil’ Stevie: Um, no…it’s our First Birthday Episode! We’re finally one-year-old.

(Peter pulls a birthday candle out of his pocket and crams it up Lil’ Stevie’s nostril)

Peter: You’re one year old, mentally. Our little column has already reviewed some of the REAL Stephen King’s most beloved (and catastrophically dismal) films based on his written works. And we’ve had a lot of laughs along the way. So when we started discussing which film we would showcase for this Anniversary special…

Lil’ Stevie: (Pulls candle out of his nose) Birthday!!!

Peter: …we wanted to pick a film that was both widely popular and showcased the excellence of King’s writing abilities.

Lil’ Stevie: MY writing abilities!

Peter: You’re being awful obstinate today.

Lil’ Stevie: Says you!

Peter: (Sighing). Anyway, we had our choices narrowed down for our final pick, but then we had a death in the family.

Lil’ Stevie: Michael Clarke Duncan, who played John Coffey (like the drink, only not spelled the same) in the movie THE GREEN MILE, passed away on September 3rd, 2012.

Peter: So, we’re dedicating this One Year Anniversary column to Michael.

Lil’ Stevie: Happy Birthday, John Coffey, wherever you are!

Peter: Let’s get started. Director Frank Darabont’s (THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION, 1994, and THE MIST, 2007) film takes place in Louisiana, back in 1932. The film begins at a senior citizens home (in the present), where prison guard Paul Edgecomb (Tom Hanks from television’s BOSOM BUDDIES) is living out his final years on the planet. He…

Lil’ Stevie: No, no, no…you’re already getting it wrong. The “old” Paul Edgecomb is played by Dabbs Greer (INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS, 1956)!

Peter: Whatever! Anyway, Paul wanders through his day, doing secretive things that most old folks wouldn’t trouble themselves with, unless they were suffering from dementia. He squirrels away slices of old toast, and then goes on long walks without telling anyone where he’s going.

Lil’ Stevie: It’s like watching a real-life “bad seniors’ home” from a hidden camera on 60 Minutes.

Peter: (chuckling) Paul has made friends with another resident…a woman named Elaine Connelly, and, after a minor breakdown during television time, decides to entrust her with the secret that he’s been keeping all these years.

Lil’ Stevie: Jumpcut back to 1932, where Paul Edgecomb is the head screw for Cold Mountain’s E Block (where the “death row” prisoners are held). Paul is preparing for the arrival of his newest inmate, “a monstrous-big colored fella,” who…

Peter: Are you crazy? You can’t say “colored fella” in this day and age!  That sounds totally racist.

Lil’ Stevie: I’m just trying to go along with the dialect from the movie. They said things like that back then.

(People in the crowd are visibly upset, and begin shouting out “racists!” at Peter and Lil’ Stevie.)

Peter: Now look what you’ve done! We’re sorry, folks. This is really awkward now. You’re so unprofessional, Lil’ Stevie! In the movie, Paul Edgecomb refers to Coffey as a Negro, and that will do for Coffey’s introduction. Paul is in the throes of a very bad urinary infection. That, coupled with the antics of dim-witted bully prison guard Percy Wetmore (Doug Hutchison, THE BURROWERS, 2008), means Paul is saddled with a heavy load. Coffey arrives on “The Mile” (the nickname for the prison corridor), and Paul becomes the final custodian for a man who was convicted of murdering twin sisters Cora and Cathe Detterick. Only, Coffey appears to be less of a monster and more of a timid, feeble-minded child who asks to sleep with the lights on because he’s afraid of the dark.

Lil’ Stevie: And this really is the magic of King’s writing. This whole movie is character-driven, and in this one scene, our notions of the characters and what they represent are fully entrenched. Paul Edgecomb is a truly decent, likeable character who performs his duties even when he’s nowhere up to the task. Percy Wetmore is a mean, terrible bully and coward (he takes an awful moment to use his baton and break the fingers of prisoner Eduard Delacroix (Michael Jeter, Mr. Noodle on SESAME STREET) as he leaves the scene. The other guards, Brutus “Brutal” Howell (David Morse, DISTURBIA, 2007), Harry Terwilliger (Jeffrey DeMunn, THE MIST, 2007), and Dean Stanton (Barry Pepper, TRUE GRIT, 2010) round out the E Block crew, each filling their own respective niche as both guards and friends.

Peter: That sounds like a reasonable statement. Coming from you.

Lil’ Stevie: Well, for a motion picture to take place in one locale for almost 80% of the movie, you require a strong ensemble cast, and Darabont got his money’s worth. Especially with Hanks and Morse, who make up the brains and brawn on “The Mile.”

Peter: Events unfold on “The Mile” that keep the movie progressing; Delacroix (or Del, as they refer to him) adopts a mouse that makes his home on “The Mile.” The mouse, “Mr. Jingles,” shows up one day and draws the attention of both the guards and Del. Eventually, the jerk that he is, Percy has a character-display moment when he tries to cruelly stomp on the mouse before it gets away. Del somehow manages to befriend the mouse, and actually teaches it to do tricks.

Voice of John Coffey: He a circus mouse!

(Lil’ Stevie looks around, a bit frightened, for the source of the voice)

Lil’ Stevie: Mr. Duncan? I thought you were dead.

Peter: Pay no attention to that. That’s just an echo. Anyway, in the interim we’re offered one execution; Arlen Bitterbuck (Graham Green, DANCES WITH WOLVES, 1990), who rides in “Old Sparky” for killing a man, and a new inmate named William “Wild Bill” Wharton (Sam Rockwell, IRON MAN II, 2010) arrives. “Wild Bill” is a rowdy, devil-may-care outlaw who feigns being doped up when the law picks him up from the hospital, and immediately goes on a violent spree upon arriving at Cold Mountain Penitentiary. Of course, Paul Edgecomb is still in the midst of his urinary infection, and by the time the melee is over some of the other guards are injured and Paul takes a shot to the lower abdomen that leaves him sprawled in agony on the floor.

Lil’ Stevie: And we’re finally introduced to the healing power of John Coffey.

Voice of John Coffey: Like the drink. Only not spelled the same…

(Lil’ Stevie shifts around uncomfortably on Peter’s arm).

Lil’ Stevie: All right, that’s getting creepy…

Peter: Coffey coaxes Paul over to his cell, and then unleashes his healing power by grabbing Paul’s cojones and sucking these weird little disease bugs out of his mouth. The lights go all crazy and begin to spark as the transference takes place, and when it ends, Coffey spits the bugs out into the air and they fly off and disappear into the dark.

Lil’ Stevie: Did you notice that John Coffey has the same initials as Jesus Christ? I did that on purpose.

Peter: Really? Christ isn’t really Jesus’s last name. It means “messiah.” Most folks just called him “Jesus.”

Lil’ Stevie: You’re pulling my leg.

Peter: No, I’m not. Stupid-head! Further scenes in the movie introduce prison warden Hal Moores (James Cromwell, Farmer Hoggett from BABE, 1995). Hal is Paul’s boss, with an implied friendship that goes back more than a few years. It turns out that Hal’s wife Melinda (Patricia Clarkson, SHUTTER ISLAND, 2010) has inoperable brain cancer. She’s dying, and Hal Moores is a bit of a wreck. Paul feels terrible for both Hal and Melinda. In the meanwhile, he’s slowly putting two and two  together in a mental picture that perhaps John Coffey hadn’t really murdered the twin girls at all.

Lil’ Stevie: And life on “The Mile” is filled with its own situations. Foremost is that “Wild Bill” is really living up to his name, causing trouble for the guards at every turn. Eventually, “Wild Bill” gives Percy Wetmore a good scare, causing the bully guard to wet his pants in front of his coworkers (and in front of Del, who laughs in deepest satisfaction that the wheels of karma finally caught up with him). Percy’s antics also create hostility on “The Mile,” but he makes a promise to Paul that he’ll move on to a new career as soon as Paul puts him out as lead during an execution. And of course, the execution will be that of Eduard Delacroix.

Peter: You can see the different story arcs starting to come together, and how the conflicts created from them begin to build tension. On the night before Del’s execution, Percy finally gets the chance to stomp out Mr. Jingles with his boot. Even after having read the book, the scene hits home so quickly and unexpected that I jumped a mile as Percy’s foot comes down and squishes it flat. It looks THAT real.

Lil’ Stevie: Sissy!

Voice of John Coffey: It’s not too late, boss…I can still take it back!

(Lil’ Stevie begins quaking in terror).

Lil’ Stevie: You can’t be delivering lines! You’re dead, remember???

Peter: Calm yourself, Lil’ Stevie. Paul does scoop up the mouse and hand it to Coffey, who does, in fact, “take it back” and save the little mouse with his powers. When Paul and Brutal drag Percy back in to look at Del and the very-alive Mr. Jingles, they give him a final ultimatum that he WILL be leaving directly after Del’s execution.

Lil’ Stevie: Of course, Percy has his own twisted plan of exacting revenge on Del, and manages to sabotage the execution. Eduard Delacroix dies a very long, painful, terrible death.

Voice of John Coffey: Poor ol’ Del!

Lil’ Stevie: Whoever’s doing that, please STOP! We’re trying to do a review here…

Peter: This is the final straw for Paul. He’s convinced that God would not put a miracle like John Coffey on the earth to murder two little girls. So he rounds up the other E Block guards for lunch, and lays down a plan to break John out of prison to go help cure Melinda Moores of her brain tumor.

Lil’ Stevie: It ain’t gonna be easy. Percy is still around, and then there’s that lunatic “Wild Bill” still on “The Mile.”

Peter: We’ll stop it right here…we’ve offered enough spoilers already. Is there anything else special about this movie that we need to point out?

Lil’ Stevie: Well, for starters, this book was released as a serial publication in 1996, and by the end of that summer, all six installments were listed in the New York Times’ Top-10 Bestsellers list. That was a great year for me, because…

Peter: I said, “The Movie!”

Lil’ Stevie: Um…It was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Motion Picture…but it lost to AMERICAN BEAUTY. Can you freakin’ believe that?

Peter: Yeah. And Michael Clarke Duncan was also nominated for an award for Best Supporting Actor…but he lost to Michael Caine for CIDER HOUSE RULES.

Lil’ Stevie: Wasn’t that little kid from THE SIXTH SENSE also nominated in that category?

(Haley Joel Osment is sitting in a folding chair in the front row. His hand immediately shoots up).

Haley Joel: I see dead people…

(Haley Joel points over to the booth where the executioner is waiting to pull the lever and light up “Old Sparky.” It turns out to be the ghost of Michael Clarke Duncan).

Michael: I wish I could take it back, but it’s too late.

(Michael throws the switch, and Peter and Lil’ Stevie start convulsing with electricity).

Lil’ Stevie: Noooo. I don’t wanna die! Mommy, mommy, mommy…

Peter: I’m shocked at the way you’re currently conducting yourself. Goodbye, folks. Thanks for a great year. We’ll see you next month!

© Copyright 2012 by Peter N. Dudar

Peter and Lil’ Stevie dedicate this column, their one-year anniversary, to THE GREEN MILE’s Michael Clarke Duncan, who played John Coffey.

Please note that, as usual, Me and Lil’ Stevie does not reflect the views of cinemaknifefight.com. So don’t blame us, folks.

LOCKOUT (2012)

Posted in 2012, Action Movies, Daniel Keohane Reviews, Prison Movies, Science Fiction with tags , , , , , , , on April 18, 2012 by knifefighter

LOCKOUT (2012)
Movie Review by Dan Keohane

How to define LOCKOUT? A fun, mindless action romp, or a really bad science fiction movie? It depends on what expectations you bring with you to the theater.

If you saw spaceships and space stations in the trailer and think it’s the newest cutting-edge science fiction movie…. save your money and come back on June 8th. LOCKOUT is not that. In fact, aside from the plot device of a prison break / hostage rescue drama in space, it’s far from science fiction. The science in this film is more the playing-with-action-figures type. Same with the overall plot. Silly, unrealistic and implausible on so many levels.

Still, LOCKOUT was a pretty fun movie. My sister Ellie and brothers Mike & Paul and I went into the theater (a matinee, cheaper that way) with the correct assumption that this film will not alter the state of anyone watching it towards an improved human condition. We assumed the movie would be, well, silly, unrealistic and implausible. And we were so rewarded for our faith. LOCKOUT is a hoot. Especially if you go during matinee time so you haven’t paid too much for the experience.

The best part of the movie? Guy Pearce (MEMENTO – 2000 and  THE HURT LOCKER– 2008), as brash hero Snow, wrongfully accused of killing a CIA agent (or Secret Service, was never quite clear on this) in an operation gone awry.  Pearce’s performance made this movie. His screen presence and delivery were on-target and entertaining from the opening scene, as his character Snow is beaten up during interrogation. He brought much  to this role and was obviously having a blast all the way through.

Who is this Snow character? A 21st century version of Kurt Russell’s Snake Plissken, basically. LOCKOUT is a futuristic blend of ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK (1981) and DIE HARD (1988). Actually, I suspect it might have originally been intended as a remake of ESCAPE… but more on that in a moment. The premise? In 2079, Earth’s worst prisoners are sent to an orbiting space prison where they serve out their time in frozen stasis, sealed in a monstrously huge complex of MATRIX-like cryogenic units. The US President’s daughter Emilie, played by Maggie Grace (LOST – 2004 – 2010, MALICE IN WONDERLAND – 2009), is visiting the facility to investigate claims that: 1) prisoners are being used for experimentation to study the long-term effects of space travel, and 2) that the cryogenic process causes brain damage.

Before Emilie’s visit goes horribly awry, let’s go back to our hero, Snow, who has been arrested and convicted of treason during an extended flashback scene. During the double-crossed operation, everyone dies and Snow looks like a bad guy. He beats up a bunch of thugs (or maybe they’re agents, hard to tell) and escapes, talking to his mysterious partner Mace on the phone while driving a one-wheeled cycle through the city. The directors (James Mather & Stephen St. Leger, known previously only for short films) decided to use what I consider a cop-out visual technique of staccato editing to make the action seem frenetic but in fact all it does is make any fight scene unwatchable (though it saves on having to actually choreograph a legitimate fight scene). He escapes through the city by taking a shortcut through a TRON (the 1982 version) video game. At least it looked that way. I’m not a big CGI guy for how often it seems to be used these days, but if you’re going to have it, spend the cash and do it right. It didn’t look good here. The filmmakers did better later in the movie by applying old-fashioned miniature techniques for the ships and space station scenes. These looked pretty decent (visually better than the opening scenes at least).

Snow is caught, arrested and pulled out of his flashback. He is then prepped for his own incarceration in the floating prison. However, before they can ship him up, we return to First Daughter Emilie’s visit as it goes horribly awry:

While she interviews a twitchy, psychotic prisoner named Hydell (newcomer Joseph Gilgun, known mostly for the 2011 British TV show, MISFITS), Emilie’s hot-headed secret service agent (Jacky Ido: INGLORIOUS BASTERDS, 2009 and AIDE-TOI, LE CEIL T’AIDERA, 2008) gets too rough with the prisoner.

Hydell then:

1) Manages to pickpocket the agent’s gun while cuffed to the table

2) Shoots the security guards

3) Accidentally hits.. something… which explodes and knocks the agent and Emilie unconscious

4) Escapes after shooting his chains off (I’ve always assumed this last part works without the bullet ricocheting into the shooter’s face only in the movies)

Hydell walks into the primary control room, gets the technician at gunpoint to open every sleeping pod (the technicians in this prison aren’t trained that they will die either way, so may as well not do what the escapees tell them).

Back on Earth, in order to keep the president’s daughter alive and the press out of the picture for the time being, the authorities decide to release Snow so he can rescue the president’s daughter and get her off the ship. This way they can then blow the station to smithereens with a clear conscience .

There you go. That’s the setup, and the rest is lots of shooting and shouting and sweating and running around (and around) the station trying to escape. It was actually pretty fun, and you as the viewer come out unaltered, aside from whatever physical damage the crap you ate during the hour and a half caused.

Like I said, if you’ve seen ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK or DIE HARD, you’ve gotten the gist of LOCKOUT. DIE HARD, because of the witty banter, grease-streaked sweat and ventilation spelunking.

Watching this movie, and even now, I wondered if the filmmakers originally intended to remake the popular 80s flick ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK—where the US President’s plane crashes in a New York City of the future which has been sealed off and used as a floating prison (sounding familiar?). Wrongfully accused hero Snake (even Snake’s and Snow’s names are basically the same) gets a chance at redemption if he goes into the prison city and saves the President. Same movie, really. Perhaps they decided the futuristic, crime-ridden New York angle has lost its edgy coolness in the wake of 9/11, or maybe they didn’t have the money to buy the rights for ESCAPE and still have enough left over for decent special effects. Probably a combination of the two.

Regardless, like Russell’s performance in ESCAPE, Guy Pearce made this movie infinitely watchable—aside from his looks and obvious charisma on the screen, his dialogue and delivery was brilliant (kudos to the writer/directors as well for this, of course). I have to admit, Grace’s run as Emilie was decent as a spoiled rich girl who can show her own chops when she needs to. She was good. The writing of her rather unrealistic role wasn’t the best, but better than some. 300‘s (2006) Vincent Regan as the uber-bad guy Hydell—no, not the twitchy one from earlier in this review, this is another Hydell. Looking like a pissed off version of Alec Baldwin, Regan came off fine as a tough-as-nails killer, concerned older brother (hence two Hydells), and quasi-brain-damaged moron. Not the brightest bulb in orbit, but brighter than most of the aimlessly shambling escapees. Aimlessly shambling is pretty much all they can do since they’re in space. Gilgun as the younger Hydell completely outshines Regan, though, as an impish trouble-maker who simply has to push a button and see what it does and simply has to shoot as many people as possible. His scenes were darkly comic and enjoyable.

Just because there’s so many of them, let’s talk about some of the silly things I made note of during the movie (aside what I’ve already noted above).

This space station seems to be designed with a critical fail safe: if you can’t get the ship’s computer system to do what you want it to – shoot the control panel. Voila, instant gratification! Oh, and if the hero is in dire jeopardy, the folks on the police station which is floating below the prison can save him using their own systems remotely – just try not to wonder why this movie is actually happening if the police can remote-control the prison from off-site. The writers obviously didn’t. . ..What else?….Oh, right! The workers at the police station all dress like New York City cops who hate federal interference and talk in a New York accent. I’m liking this movie more and more as I write this review.

The prison has this cool, Death Star defense system with gun turrets mounted everywhere, all completely automated and activated with a single button and able to decimate any invading fleet of ships. Because fleets of warships could invade a maximum security prison any time, right? All of the defenses are set up to keep people out of the prison. Based on how easy it was to break out of their cell pods, it was not designed to actually keep prisoners inside.

OK, now I don’t want to sound like a nitpicky sci-fi geek, but some of these goofy things were fun to notice and make note of. There were others, but I should leave some of them for you to wonder about (like why our heroes weren’t completely char-broiled near the end of the movie, or how they actually came upon Snow’s secret partner Mace mid-way through the film.. silly, but in a goofy fun way).

In the end, LOCKOUT is not going to be brought back in 10 years in limited 3D release as a celebration of its anniversary. But if you want a fun, action-packed movie with clever dialogue and every action trope jammed into the script, LOCKOUT is for you. If you enjoyed ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK and have been hoping for a remake, LOCKOUT is also for you.

For this crowd, I’d give it 3 Punches To The Face out of 5.

If you want me to rate it as a purely science fiction movie, it’s probably 1.5 Punches To The Face.

If you are eagerly awaiting the third season broadcast of DOWNTOWN ABBY, go rent ALBERT NOBBS (2011). LOCKOUT is not for you.

(Dan Keohane’s new horror novel, DESTROYER OF WORLDS, has just been released. You can find it here.)

© Copyright 2012 by Daniel G. Keohane

Suburban Grindhouse Memories: CHAINED HEAT (1983)

Posted in 2012, 80s Movies, Exploitation Films, Grindhouse, Prison Movies, Sexy Stars, Suburban Grindhouse Memories, Women in Prison with tags , , , , , on March 8, 2012 by knifefighter

SUBURBAN GRINDHOUSE MEMORIES
Blair Behind Bars!
By Nick Cato

Welcome to the 46th edition of my Suburban Grindhouse Memories, where I’m finally getting around to look at a requested subgenre: Women In Prison films, or WIPs, as connoisseurs of the subgenre so affectionately refer to them. WIPs were a hot ticket in the 70s and early 80s, and as far as I’m concerned, none were as fun, sleazy, and downright mean-spirited as CHAINED HEAT (1983), especially when you consider it played not only in grindhouse theaters, but in respectable multiplexes and duplexes all across the U.S. of A.

What sets CHAINED HEAT apart from others of its ilk is the amazing cast.  When I heard Linda (THE EXORCIST) Blair was starring in this WIP film, my 15 year-old rump made no hesitation getting to the (now defunct) Island Twin Theatre, Staten Island’s best bet for unusual and midnight film offerings, where the opening night line wrapped around the place like a new STAR WARS film had been released.  On top of Blair, cult film legend Sybil Danning was in her prime here and delivers one of her most memorable performances as a tough inmate, plus CLEOPATRA JONES (1973) herself, Tamara Dobson, plays Danning’s African American rival and is tougher than a bucket of galvanized nails.  Topping off the list of cult film icons is John (ANIMAL HOUSE-1978) Vernon as a corrupt warden and his first in command, TV star Stella Stevens (!), plus we get sleaze ball king Henry Silva (you saw him in 1,000 films, including 1980’s ALLIGATOR and 1973’s BATTLE OF THE GODFATHERS) who runs an escort service comprised of inmates along with Stevens’ character.

And those are just at the tip of the iceberg.

Like most WIP films (from 1972’s THE BIG BIRD CAGE to BARBED WIRE DOLLS (1975) to 1982’s THE CONCRETE JUNGLE), CHAINED HEAT follows a typical plot of one woman being busted for some kind of unusual crime (this time Blair is arrested for accidentally killing a man).  Her sentence is 18 months in one seriously hellish prison, overrun with gangs, rapist security guards, and more corruption than your standard presidential campaign.  There’s also a racial sub-plot here, as inmates take sides with either the white or black gangs, and there’s more pot and crack smoking going on than in three Cheech and Chong films combined.

Before the inevitable prison riot, Blair is chosen to leave the jail at night to be an escort, and of course she, being morally better than the other inmates (not to mention the highest paid actor in the film), doesn’t get down and dirty like the other girls do, and in fact manages to help one of the weaker ones fight a rough costumer.

There’s also a sequence that caused us EXORCIST fans to question if Blair was ever truly exorcised: a lengthy nude shower scene where Sybil Danning forces herself on the former teenage devil-doll; I can’t remember ever hearing a theater full of teenaged horn-dogs whistling and screaming “GO FOR IT!” with so much enthusiasm (then again, this WAS less than a year after the blockbuster sequel ROCKY III was released, so pretty much everyone was still yelling “GO FOR IT!” at something or someone).  Unrealistic lesbianism has always been a major part of WIP films, and CHAINED HEAT has its share of it (no doubt helping lead to its successful theatrical run: although rated R, this was about as close to an adult film a teenager could get their hands on at the time, both in theaters and a few months later on VHS).

My favorite sequence is when the warden (John Vernon) reveals to a sexy inmate (in his private office) that he makes his own porn films as they’re making out in his Jacuzzi.  He flicks a button and she realizes they’re being filmed by a bulky video camera mounted above the hot tub.  For some reason she gets into it, despite the balding, unattractive old goat.  This guy gets an A+ for one of the slickest, sleaziest wardens in WIP history.

After the drugs, rape, lesbian sex, straight sex, razor blade murders, knife fights, catfights, and stern speeches by the warden and his right hand man (or in this case, right hand woman), the inmates finally decide it’s time to turn the tables.  They quickly take over the joint, breaking heads and messing the place up, both white and black gangs now working side-by-side against THE MAN.  The best sequence features a male prison guard (who had raped most of the inmates) being SLOWLY stabbed in the throat; it was a simple but effective effect that caused audible groans from the crowd.

While WIP films are quite similar and can get tiring, CHAINED HEAT is simply THE one title to see if you feel the need to experience the subgenre.  It’s not pretty (even the sex scenes are kind-of disgusting), has many technical mistakes (the worst being a sound mic in nearly every-other shot), and it’s about as violent as an R-rated film gets.  In some ways, this is the perfect grindhouse film which I’m STILL amazed had such a mainstream release.

I’ve yet to watch THE EXORCIST (or any other Linda Blair film) the same way again.  Be warned.

© Copyright 2012 by Nick Cato

Ericka (Sybil Danning) lays down the rules to Carol (Linda Blair) in the women in prison classic CHAINED HEAT (1983)