Thursday, May 3, 2018

VIOLENCE IN A WOMEN'S PRISON (Severin Films Blu-ray Review)

Directed By: Bruno Mattei
Written By: Ambrogio Malteni, Claudio Fragasso
Starring: Laura Gemser, Gabriele Tinti, Maria Romano
Color/99 Minutes/Not Rated
Region Free
Release Date: May 8, 2018

The Film
I love women-in-prison films and I love the Emanuelle films. Laura Gemser is a goddess and a legend of exploitation film. Add in that Bruno Mattei signature flair for trash and we have a winner.

Larua Gemser stars yet again as Emanuelle, a character she would portray well over a dozen times either officially or unofficially in her career, a reporter who has taken it upon herself to get the inside scoop on a prison notorious for abuse, torture and corruption but quickly becomes subjected to the sexual and physical abuses. After a nasty encounter with a horde of rats while in solitary confinement Emanuelle and the prison's doctor (Gabriele Tinti) begin to fall for each other with each confiding in the other. We learn that the doctor has been forced to work at the prison as a result of being convicted for murdering his wife when he euthanized her to end her suffering from cancer. The duo make a pact  to escape and expose the prison for all of its wrongdoings but the head warden (Lorraine De Salle) has no plans to let that happen.

Bruno Mattei has made some of the sleaziest and cheesiest exploitation and horror films to ever come out of Italy but there's nothing cheesy about VIOLENCE IN A WOMEN'S PRISON. The film does feature some properly placed and timed comedy but it's very lightly sprinkled in on an otherwise cold and extremely unwelcoming stint in prison hell. From the sexual degradation to rape and big, biting rats this prison offers nothing in the way of fun, not even for a gay man in the men's section of the facility. This character offers up something a bit unexpected and definitely a character to sympathize with but his character's full circle is an interesting one as he is usually victimized by meaner and badder men but when the men turn their attention to a woman putting on a show for them from her cell's window he takes offense and is upset that he's no longer the center of their attention. This turns into a cruel beating before the guards break it up. This character shows the darkest side of prison but how it can be personally rationalized as a yearning for attention and companionship in even the most despicable conditions.

The cast of the film is quite good on the whole. Gemser and Tinti turn in their typically solid performance and their real life relationship translates into easy and organic chemistry on screen. They're a duo the audience will genuinely care about and cheer for against the nasty warden, who is brilliantly portrayed by Lorraine De Salle as a true bitch who uses her power for her own gain including drugs and pleasures of the flesh. It's not an easy road to complete with torture and death around every corner and seeing the lovely Laura Gemser covered in nasty rat bites is heart breaking and makes me want to stomp out every dirty sewer rat I ever come across just in case their uncle or cousin was one of the little fuckers that caused such pain and sickness on her but getting to the end proves to be not only entertaining but altogether satisfying.

VIOLENCE IN A WOMEN'S PRISON is packed with corruption, rape, lesbianism, violence and plain old sleaze. Bruno Mattei was at the top of his game with this one and created one of my favorite  women-in-prison films.

The Audio & Video
Severin Films has restored VIOLENCE IN A WOMEN'S PRISON with a new 2K scan from the original interpositive with great results. The Blu-ray has great overall clarity and definition despite some light scratches and speckling. The colors are true to life and vivid when they should be and skin tones are natural and fleshy with no signs of waxiness or excessive DNR. Black levels are properly deep and free of compression or blocking issues. This movie has definitely never looked better on home video.

The film's audio is presented in an English HD mono track that has a bit of background noise but never gets distracting or annoying and otherwise sounds crisp and mixed perfectly so that the dialogue and music compliment each other.

PLEASE NOTE: The screenshots included in this review DO NOT represent the Blu-ray quality and are included only for reference.

The Extras
-"Brawl In Women's Block" - Interview with Co-writers Claudio Fragasso and Rosella Drudi - This half hour interview with the duo covers everything from their rather hilarious meeting at a cinema club to their marriage and time spent working on this film and others including plenty of work with Bruno Mattie. It's a lively, funny and really informative interview giving good background insight into not only this film but their careers and time in the Italian film industry as a whole.

The Bottom Line
You want the bottom line? VIOLENCE IN A WOMEN'S PRISON is one of the nastiest and most entertaining women-in-prison films around and this release is fucking awesome. That's the bottom line.


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