(A.k.a. A PRISAO)
Life is tough in this all-female Brazilian jail.
The pre-credits sequence demonstrates just how hard the average day can be: a spot of sport in the recreational yard ends in a murder of one of the inmates. As a result, the wardens - also women, and just as rough-looking - spray the surviving prisoners with a hose before dragging them back to their confines for some serious torture, in the hope of finding out who the guilty party is.
Sadistic warden Sylvia (Maria Stella Splendore) doesn't really give a fuck. She just wants to bring these bad girls into line by beating and fucking them as hard as she can. Why should she care who gets hurt along the way? Or if the prisoners don't get to bathe for 10 days? Although, I must say, her methods of extracting the truth out of more unruly inmates prove to be rather eye-opening ...
On the flip side of the coin, nurse Barbara (Marta Anderson) shows a sensitive side that suggests she's the only hope these girls have. Pity then that she's addicted to her own drugs. She gets so wrapped up in munching on the inmates' rugs at times that she forgets she could be saving them from the endless beatings doled out by Sylvia's cronies.
Then, of course, there's Sylvia's sideline in hiring her more alluring prisoners out for days of passion with wealthy lesbian businesswomen. That's right, not only is she a sadist - she's a pimp too. And this is all in the first 15 minutes!
Anyhow, the film unfolds in episodic fashion and is liberally peppered with scenes of naked communal showers, mass beatings of either naked or semi-naked women with truncheons, and soft-core lesbian scenes that display all the cheapness and unintentional comedy of golden-era pornography.
The women, for what it's worth, are mostly very attractive. Figures are good and skin is smooth. I mention such because, with ugly camerawork, clumsy editing and redundant production values, this is what people hoping to appreciate BARE BEHIND BARS should be looking at.
It's one of those films where its title really does say everything about the film. It's not just a WIP flick, it's possibly the sleaziest and most guiltily enjoyable of them all. Naff attempts at comedy aside (Barbara trying to take Sylvia's blood pressure around her neck), this is a convincingly escalating orgy of groans, moans, soft lesbian sex and gratuitous violence that any fan of 70s schlock should love (although it's billed as a 1980 release).
There is a plot, happily. It involves an escape attempt and the use of unreliable nurse Barbara in doing so. But it's all very vague and you won't much care anyway: just enjoy the chaos and wait around for Sylvia to get her just desserts ...
The last time I watched this film was when I bought Blue Underground's DVD upon its release in 2008. I'd forgotten just how fucking demented it is.
Of course, the unfortunate thing about this release is that it's cut. Arrow were faced with the prospect of an R18 rating for the full uncut version - meaning the film would only have been able to have been sold in licensed 'sex' shops ... who would mis-market it as a porno and charge punters an extortionate fee.
To obtain an 18 rating, Arrow have followed the BBFC's advice and shorn the film of 95 seconds of hardcore material (a blowjob; explicit fucking; female wanking with a dildo - all quite brief to be fair). Although it's damaging in so far as it means it's cut and therefore lacks appeal to seasoned fans, I still can't find it in myself to dismiss this release so readily.
I mean, come on, credit is due to Arrow for even attempting to push the uncut version past the censors. Redemption failed when their abridged version got banned outright from a UK video release in 1994.
It has to be said, also, that even though we're missing the hardcore content, what remains is at times near-hardcore anyway (a bit of fingering, plenty of exposed labia etc) and the overall squalid feel of the film is hardly tempered by the (unnoticeable to the unfamiliar eye, I'd imagine) cuts.
It's still full of copious nudity, bad dubbing, politically incorrect scenarios (racism; rape) and sadistic violence. And, for some it'll be the only way to see or own the film legitimately. The cuts won't unduly impair their enjoyment of what is essentially one fuck of a sleazy flick.
The film is presented in a satisfyingly colourful, well-contrasted anamorphic presentation that does a good job of making it all look fresh and clean without compromising the film's natural grain.
English dubbed audio is provided in original mono and is good throughout.
Arrow's disc opens with a very nice animated main menu page that mixes the new cover art colourfully with a montage of saucy clips from the film, while Estudios Galante's sleazy score plays on rotation.
From there, a static scene-selection menu allows access to the main feature via 12 chapters.
The only disc extra is a surprisingly good-looking 2-and-a-half-minute theatrical trailer, 16x9 enhanced and in English.
Although unavailable for review, this release also reportedly contains double-sided cover artwork, a booklet with liner notes from 'Cinema Sewer' author Robin Bougie and a double-sided fold-out poster of the cover artwork.
I never imagined we'd see Oswaldo de Oliveira's splendidly sordid WIP sickie getting an official release in the UK. While it's a shame that it need cuts to acquire an 18 rating, the version proffered still gets across the endless barrage of violence, sadism and sexual transgressions with alarming impact.
It's a great film, devoid of artistic merit and swimming in its own cesspool of wrongness. You'll need a bath after watching it (yes, even in this slightly abridged form) and it's recommended viewing for anyone with a penchant for sleaze.
Review by Stuart Willis
|Released by Arrow Video|
|Region 2 PAL|
|Extras : see main review|