Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Revenge of 3-D: PRISON GIRLS (1972)

To date the only W.I.P. (Women in Prison) shot in 3-D and somehow I doubt anyone will be tackling this subject matter in this new 3-D era. The title is a bit of a misnomer as these are girls from prison but 90% of the film is prison free. The gist of the plot is six female prisoners are given a weekend furlough by Dr. Vivian Reinhardt so they can experience the real world before their release. Detective Jack (no last name given) has other plans as he intends to have each girl followed. Seems bank robber Johnny Bricker has struck again and, a year previously, he tried to hijack a bus with these very six girls in it. So bright Jack figures one is his girlfriend and will lead the cops to the fugitive.

The film opens how Orson Welles originally planned to open CITIZEN KANE: a prison shower scene that results in a gaggle of chicks getting into a cat fight. After being admonished, the girls set out on their separate ways and the audience gets a series of five vignettes telling how each girl uses her weekend of freedom to better her life outside the joint.


Segment 1: Kay visits boyfriend Mike the Pimp (FLESH GORDON’s Jason Williams) to tell him she is going straight. Things get off bad as he already has another chick there (a no-name who remarkably gets a “and Lisa Ashbury as Phyllis” line in the opening credits). Following a bit of girl bickering, robe-adorned and style challenged Mike proceeds to beat Kay, threatens to burn her with a cigarette, and forces her to perform oral sex on him. Naturally, she then declares she loves and misses him.

Segment 2: a frigid girl (whose name I’m pretty sure is never said) uses the doctor’s pleasure pad to finally overcome her puritanical upbringing that made her “a thief and drug addict” and please her sideburns stylin' husband Frank. Sex on multi-colored 70s pillows that would make a swami uncomfortable cures all, Psychology 101.


Segment 3: Joyce visits her former brother-in-law Ken at his auto body shop to apologize for killing his brother. “Eh, he didn’t do right by you,” Ken admits before offering a joint. Then a biker gang that only 70s cinema could provide shows up and force Ken to rape Joyce. “Women are all cows. You want to look at them, you look!” oddly philosophizes gang leader Hawk.


Segment 4: Toni visits her former sugar daddy Freddy, whose new hobby is body painting nude models (including busty legend Candy Samples). Toni tries to not let on that she has been in the slammer but that plan is blown to hell when her lesbo lover/cellmate Gerdi, also on furlough, shows up. Stalk much? Naturally, the compulsory cat fight winds down and Freddy gets his freak on with both groovy chicks. Segment 5: Cindy (Uschi Digard) - a “verking girl who vunce did 38 twix in vun night” - finally locates her man… bank robber Johnny Bricker! The two make out and make plans for his new cash before the cops bust the party up and accidentally shoot Cindy in the back. If she had been shot in the front, she might have lived! The film ends with the prisoners who (barely) survived their weekend condemning Dr. Reinhardt for setting Cindy up (she actually didn’t).

Are you still there? PRISON GIRLS definitely is one of a kind. No doubt influenced by the softcore 3-D box office success THE STEWARDESSES (1969), this one takes the skin flick subgenre and runs with it. There is so much flesh on display that it almost seems like a hardcore flick with the X-rated shots cut out. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that the filmmakers and actors have a history in the porn industry. Unfortunately, with a few exceptions, it is 70s ugly flesh that will kill the thrill. Naturally, the amateurish acting is an asset here as well.

The film’s biggest asset (or should I say assets?) is no doubt the voluptuous Swedish import Uschi Digard. You might recognize her as the provider of breasts pushed against the shower door in the KENTUCKY FRIED MOVIE (1977). She is the kind of lady who could make Russ Meyer stop on the street and go, “Gawwwwwwd damn!” (she worked with him on several films). No doubt her segment was probably the most popular as she puts the other girls to shame when it comes to the bust department and helps turn the film into 3-DDD (sexist, insensitive big breast 3-D joke © Thomas Simmons). Digard has a real, deep tan beauty that puts the rest of the cast to shame. One can only imagine her curvy figure in 3-D on a huge screen, resulting in a crowd of 3-D glasses wearing folks passionately raising their hands up in the air like they are at a Christian rock concert.

Outside of the rampant nudity and bountiful bosoms, the audience is treated to a bunch of run-of-the-mill 3-D gags where people offer things toward the camera. All kinds of things from cigarettes to blow torches to hoes (the gardening kind, ya pervs) are poked at the camera lens to create some sort of “it’s coming right at us” effect. The opening shower scene offers the same shot over and over of a shower head spraying water towards the camera. Not on the camera a la PSYCHO (1960) but towards it. I’m sure all of it looked more impressive on a 40-ft screen.


Without the benefit of seeing this in 3-D, PRISON GIRLS is pretty grim stuff. The opening credits unfold over stock footage of older black-and-white W.I.P. flicks with some of the most haggard ladies on display. And even though there is a ton of unclad skin on screen, the film itself is actually depressing as nearly every girl suffers some horrible indignity to remind us that it is “a cold, cruel world” out there. The last 3 minutes tries to put a moral slant on it all, but it is too little, too late. Here is the final anti-establishment bit where a prisoner turns the tables on the psychologist (who looks like Harry Shearer in a wig). Take that, old lady!

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