Director Barat Epstein and his co-writer Mike Wiebe certainly know their stuff when it comes to "Women In Prison" movies, especially such 70's drive-in potboilers like The Big Bird Cage and Caged Heat, and it's on this that they based their manic spoof, Prison-A-Go-Go! It's just too bad it couldn't have been more funny.
They've gathered together a few B-level actors and familiar faces (Rhona "Up All Night" Shear, Mary Woronov, and even Troma head honcho Lloyd Kaufman), packed-in tons of over-the-top jokes, and managed to somewhat capture the spirit of the movies they're making fun of; but even though the script throws in "everything but the kitchen sink" and the mix of shower scenes (with the "shower clock" countdown), zombies, porcupine women, and even ninjas(!) it can't hide the fact that the jokes here are strictly hit-or-miss with more actual "misses" than "hits".
The basic premise of this romp has Laurie Walton getting herself thrown into a prison in the Phillipines when her sister is kidnapped by the nutty Dr. Hurtrider. Soon enough the inmates are showering, out to save her sister (who's being experimented on), and even escape from the jail - which really wouldn't bother the new slacker warden (played with a goofy "who cares" charm by Weibe).
It certainly looks like they had fun making this and the movie is filled with campy performances and moments, but Prison-A-Go-Go! only manages to make your desire to rather watch the original movies than this even stronger. Still, it's a mildly amusing way to kill 84 minutes.
Ilram Choi (who also did the decent fight choreography) makes the best impression as the character simply named "Ninja" and you just have to love the title sequences cut 'n' paste presentation.
Visit Shock-O-Rama for more info. (Chris Hartley, 5/31/05)
Directed By: Barat Epstein.
Written By: Barat Epstein, Mike Wiebe.
Starring: Rhonda Shear, Mary Woronov, Laurie Walton, Travis Willingham.
Picture Ratio: 1.85:1 Widescreen.
Picture Quality: In an age where most independent movies are shot on Digital, Prison-A-Go-Go! was filmed in 35mm and the picture here for the most part is solid with no evident grain and only a few fuzzy moments.
Extras: We get Shock-O-Rama's usual trailer vault (8 in all), an interview with director Epstein, a brief "behind-the-scenes" featurette, some bloopers, audition footage, footage from the festival "Shock-A-Go-Go" (that includes "Question & Answer" periods with Roger Corman, Mary Woronov, and David Friedman), and a quite listenable commentary with director Epstein and some of the crew members. Overall a pretty loaded disc of extras that gives the viewer a good impression of how to make an independently financed spoof.