Women in Cages (1971) – By Duane L. Martin

Women in Cages is Roger Corman’s follow up to The Big Doll House, and is the second film in Shout Factory’s new Women in Cages Collection 2-disc triple feature. How do I know it’s the follow up? Well, set aside the fact that I already know it is, but it was shot the same year, in the same prison in the Philippines and has several of the same people in the cast. Now mind you, I didn’t say it’s a sequel, because it’s not. It’s just a similar film with a lot of familiar faces, only this time, Pam Grier isn’t a prisoner, she’s the sadistic head matron. Another difference with this one is that it was directed by Gerry De Leon instead of Jack Hill.

In this film, an innocent American girl unknowingly has drugs planted on her by someone she thought was her boyfriend when the police show up unexpectedly. She’s busted with the drugs and sent to prison while he walks away scott free. But that’s not the end of it. He’s basically a drug dealing mobster and doesn’t want any loose ends, so he contacts a girl he knows in the prison who just happens to be one of her cellmates and offers to get her out if she’ll arrange for the death of the girl he set up. After several failed attempts, the whole group finally figures out a way to escape, but with the head matron and a whole hunting party full of professional trackers with guns and dogs after them, do they have any chance at all to escape?

While very similar to The Big Doll House and a good film in its own right, I felt myself missing Sid Haig in this one. I do have to say that Pam Grier made a great head matron, and you could see that she was already becoming more comfortable as an actress. In fact, she seemed to really get off on alternately having lesbian sex with and torturing the female prisoners. Jennifer Gann played Carol Jeffries, the girl who was set up by her drug dealing boyfriend did a great job of coming off as a combination of shocked, scared, desperate and helpless, which is exactly how her character should have been. Judith Brown appeared as a prisoner in both films, and was actually probably the best actress in the lot. In this one, she played Sandy, the heroin addicted girl the drug dealing scumbag wanted to kill Carol. She’s blonde, she’s hot…but man, when you see her act, the first impression you get is, this isn’t someone you want to mess with. She’s tough and bitchy and seems like someone who’d shiv you over a bar of soap, yet in both films, she’s one of the primary figures in the escape.

Of the three films in this release, this was my least favorite, but that’s not to say I didn’t like it. All three films were good, it’s just that the other two were better than this one, both in story and characters. Still, I enjoyed this one quite a bit, and it fits in perfectly to this release. Anyone who likes these kinds of movies will totally dig it as well. Of that, I have no doubt.

For special features, this one simply comes with the film’s trailer and a TV spot.

This release is available on DVD and Blu-ray. If you’d like to find out more about this release, or to pick up a copy for yourself, you can visit its pages on the Shout Factory website by clicking the links below.

Blu-Ray / DVD