1972 - 75m.
Lurking behind one of the most uninspiring box covers of the women in prison (WIP) genre lurks this fascinating mess of a film. The first two things you will probably notice is that the movie is dubbed and that it is edited in a way that seems rather choppy. The result is a strange exploitation film that looks cheap and doesn't make a whole lot of sense. That's okay though as the various situations that are encountered by the group are far from boring. This is one of those films that keeps getting weirder and you never know where the next scene is going to end up. This review is of the 75-minute version that Embassy/New World put out on VHS. There is apparently an Italian version with 20 more minutes in existence that I have not been able to track down.
The film opens in a women's prison where we are introduced to the main characters and a sadistic guard. After a brief lesbian scene, a cavity search and some whipping, the girls are told that their new work detail will be at the local convent. The prisoners are pleased with this but when they start to get ogled by the guards who look like Iron Sheik clones, they decide to escape by making the nuns strip at gunpoint and stealing their clothes. With one of the nuns in tow, our habit-clad lasses are soon frolicking in a pool at a girl named Carmen's place where, unbeknownst to them, Carmen's boyfriend Bob is the head of a white slavery operation and had plans to sell the girls to a slimy looking blond dude named El Kadir. Bob reveals his dastardly scheme and just when the ladies are about to be loaded on a ship to be transported, the captain named Jeff (Tony Kendall from the Kommissar X film series) decides he doesn't deal in white slavery so he fights the guards and drives off with the girls in the back of his truck. What follows is an increasingly bizarre series of events as Jeff and his gang of fugitives head for freedom (wherever that may be).
One thing that makes this film so unique is the locations. Although this was an Italian-West German co-production, it looks as though the film may have been shot in or around northern Africa as the landscape reminded me of the Tatooine sequences in Star Wars or perhaps Egypt or Turkey. As the gang are traveling across this land, they get assaulted by bandits in a creek (which the nun inexplicably sleeps through), practice judo in a quarry, and complain about all the walking. There is also a surreal sequence when they come across a town that looks as though it is built right into the landscape similar to the ancient city of Petra in Jordan. The nun heads into the town alone, frightens the locals, kills a little person, and is stalked by a gang of black-cloaked men. This scene seemed more like it belonged in El Topo or Gymkata than in a WIP movie. Finally, things come full circle when the group somehow decide to spend the night in the castle where El Kadir, the creepy blond guy who purchased them in the first place, resides. Things take even yet another turn when Bob, the white slaver boyfriend, shows up and discovers a cache of treasure stored in the castle.
Sound confusing? Well, it is but this is a wannabe WIP movie so we are not too concerned with the plot. What we are concerned with is the fact that the women are somewhat likable, there is enough action to keep the plot moving at a quick pace, the sight of water seems to make the lead characters disrobe, and that there are some familiar faces from exploitation cinema sprinkled throughout the cast. The most obvious is Vonetta McGee who plays Carmen. Cult movie fans will recognize McGee from Blacula, Hammer, Shaft in Africa, and Repo Man. William Berger (Bob the white slavery leader) was a regular in Italian flicks of the time including the fantastic spaghetti western Keoma, Jess Franco's Love Letters of a Portuguese Nun, and many more. Monica Teuber (who played the nun), went on the produce WIP staples Chained Heat and Red Heat. (Josh Pasnak, 2/18/18)
Directed By: Richard Jackson (Ernst Ritter von Theumer).
Written By: Sergio Garrone.
Starring: Tony Kendall, Monica Teuber, William Berger, Gordon Mitchell.
aka: Crucified Girls of San Ramon.