• Jail, The: The Women’s Hell



    Released by: Intervision Picture Corp.
    Released on: October 13th, 2015.
    Director: Bruno Mattei
    Cast: Yvette Yzon, Dyane Craystan, Jim Gaines
    Year: 2006
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    The Movie:

    When this movie, one of Bruno Mattei’s last before his passing, begins we meet a small group of female prisoners being transported up a river by boat. The vessel docks and they’re taken off of the ship while a pair of guards leers at them from a nearby prison facility. One says to the other in poorly dubbed English something to the effect of ‘Hey, it looks like there are a few new prisoners for… The House Of Lost Souls!”

    And yes indeed, these new ladies, in addition to the hordes of already incarcerated ladies, are in for a bit of trouble. The prison is run by a director (Odette Khan) with a huge taste for cruelty as demonstrated when they find that the woman they’ve left in a sweatbox has died. What does she order happen? Twenty-lashes! Yes, the guards are ordered to string up the corpse and whip it. At any rate, the first half of the movie is made up of the typical women in prison set pieces – naked women get hosed down with firehoses, lesbian inmates get it on in the showers, guards rape some of the ladies and the powers that be generally just treat everyone like crap. At one point a naked woman is bound to a bed and a giant snake gets to wiggle all over her body and in another scene a woman is tossed into a cage filled about three quarters of the way to the top with water… and rats.

    Really though, it’s in the last half of the movie that this one goes nots. One of the new inmates, Jennifer (Yvette Yzon), gets to the point where she’s had enough. She’s tired of the abuse being handed down from the guards and she’s tired of those in charge using the inmates as their own personal playthings. As such, she and a few others decide to escape into the nearby jungle. This is all well and good until the guards team up with a bunch of natives to hunt the women down and make them pay. Some of the women will make it, but those who do not will suffer horribly at the hands of their cruel captors.

    Where the first half of the movie doesn’t stray an inch from the tried and true clichés associated with women in prison movies, once the action heads into the jungle this one shifts gears and becomes more of an ultra-gory, uber-sleazy chase film – kind of like The Most Dangerous Game but with more impalements and boob slicing. Seriously, the last half hour of the movie is just fuggen’ bonkers. The fact that everyone here is dubbed and dubbed poorly by a cast of international voice actors makes it even more bizarre but Yvette Yzon (who worked with Mattei on Island Of The Living Dead and Zombies: The Beginning as well) is as cute as a button. She makes for a pretty good female lead here, taking things as over the top as she needs to. The Filipino locations help give the jungle scenes some authenticity and hey, we even get a few weird flashbacks to a nudie bar where a gaggle of ladies gyrate at random intervals will someone off screen blows bubbles at them.

    Despite the low budget and despite the horrible acting… it works. Bruno doesn’t aim very high here but he hits his target dead center. Given that he was, at this later point in his career, simply regurgitating concepts and genres from past Italian horror cycles it’s impossible to compare this stuff to anything else being made around the same time simply because nobody else in Italy was doing it in the mid-2000’s. As such, it’s retro cinema but not done in the same way that more parodic takes on genre are. No, this is Mattei going back to his glory and days for one last run down the hill and while the quality varies wildly, if you’re a trash fiend it’s impossible to ignore the allure.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    The Jail: The Women’s Hell is presented in a 1.78.1 anamorphic widescreen transfer that looks about as good as the shot on video image will allow. Detail is a little soft and sometimes the brightness looks a little too high but there aren't any seriously glaring issues with the transfer. This is a cheaply made shot on video movie and it shows but that's not a problem with the encoding. Compression artifacts are never an issue and there aren't any obvious edge enhancement problems.

    The English Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo track on this DVD is fine. It's perfectly audible and free of any hiss or distortion. The levels are well balanced and the canned synthesized score sounds about as good as one could expect

    The primary extras are a pair of featurettes, the first of which is the six minute long Acting For Bruno which is an interesting interview with Yvette Yzon and Alvin Anson. They talk about how they got involved with working for him, Yzon noting that it took her a while to get used to his gruff style and the language barriers a Mattei shoot often involved. The second featurette clocks in at over twenty minutes. Entitled Prison Inferno it’s made up of interviews with producer Giovanni Paolucci and screenwriter Antonio Tentori. Tentori talks about meeting Mattei and then eventually working with him on this film, noting that they were trying to give WIP movie fans pretty much exactly what they wanted in the first half of the movie and then that they did intentionally take things in a different direction later. Paolucci talks about how and why he bankrolled some of Mattei’s final projects, this movie included. Both interviews are pretty interesting and definitely worth checking out.

    Outside of that we get a static menu, chapter selection and a trailer.

    The Final Word:

    The Jail: The Women’s Hell is just as trashy-gooey-gory-sleazy as it sounds and despite its many flaws, it’s never dull. Mattei keeps things going at a nice, quick pace and opts for some impressively old fashioned gore effects and some slick location shooting – choices like that are what make this one work as well as it does. The DVD release presents the whole thing completely uncut, in decent shape and with a few solid interviews as the main bonus features.