• Escape From Women’s Prison (Severin Films) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Severin Films
    Released on: April 30th, 2019.
    Director: Giovanni Brusadori
    Cast: Lilli Carati, Marina Duania, Artemia Terenziani, Ines Pellegrini, Filippo De Gara, Franco Ferrer, Dirce Funari, Zora Kerowa
    Year: 1978
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    Escape From Women’s Prison – Movie Review:

    A group of terrorists led by an anarchist named Monica Habler (Lilli Carati) and comprised of Diana (Marina Daunia), Betty (Artemia Terenziani) and Erica (Ada Pometti) make a daring escape from a women’s prison. Before they can get into the getaway car, a rusted-out Citroen driven by Monica’s brother Pierre, some undercover cops show up. A shootout happens, the cops are killed and Pierre is injured but they make their escape… until their car winds up in a ditch.

    Luckily for them, a busload of women’s tennis players happens to pass by and soon enough, the girls are taken hostage and the bus has been commandeered. One of the players, Terry (Ines Pellegrini), knows of a house nearby owned by a friend of hers whose father is a judge. They decide to hold up there for a while, but soon learn that the judge (Filippo De Gara) is home, which causes its own set of problems. Monica forces the judge to take her into town to get antibiotics to help Pierre, and soon after their return they force one of the tennis players, Claudine (Dirce Funari), to treat him. This leads to Diana, a lesbian, forcing herself on her while perpetually horny Erica rapes Marco (Franco Ferrer), the bus driver. As one of the hostages, Terry (Ines Pellegrini) tries to convince Monica that she’s on her side, the militant, heavyset Betty creates her own series of problems as hostage Anna (Zora Kerowa) hopes to come up with a plan to get them all out alive.

    A fairly sleazy slice of rapid-fire exploitation, Escape From Women’s Prison doesn’t actually take place in a prison at all, so those hoping for WIP-styles shenanigans may be disappointed. Or maybe not. The judge’s house basically serves as the de facto house of detention here, with the hostages made into prisoners and the escaped convicts turned into the stereotypically abusive guards. If you shift the roles around a bit and don’t mind the change in location, the movie winds up delivering the same kind of cheap thrills that you’d get from a typical ‘chicks in chains’ movie of the era – horniness abounds, there’s forced lesbianism and there’s some moderate violence. The film also works as a sort of home invasion picture like Last House On The Beach or Last House On The Left, sharing traits with those two better known films.

    Either way, if you’re into trashy Italian exploitation films, you’ll probably get a kick out of this one. It’s also neat to see some familiar faces pop up here. The lovely Lilli Carati of Fernando De Lio’s To Be Twenty is quite good in her part as the ringleader behind all of this, and it’s cool to see New York Ripper’s Zora Kerowa pop in a supporting role. Ada Pometti, who also appeared in Fango Bollente (aka The Savage Three), is solid in her part. Ines Pellgrino, who had a small part in Salo and a larger part in Eyeball, is good in one of the film’s more interesting roles, giving a bit more dramatic weight to her part. Filippo De Gara, who had small parts in The Tough Ones and Investigation Of Above Suspicion, is also quite good as the judge.

    Escape From Women’s Prison – Blu-ray Review:

    Escape From Women’s Prison is presented in AVC encoded 1080p high definition framed at 1.85.1 widescreen with a new transfer taken from a dupe negative of the U.S. cut of the film. This transfer appears to be at the mercy of available elements, showing fairly frequent scratches, obvious splices where edits were made, color fading and some unfortunate black crush. It’s watchable enough and the Blu-ray does provide a better experience than DVD would have but keep your expectations in check here. If you’re into the whole ‘grindhouse experience’ offered by elements that aren’t in the best of shape, you’ll appreciate this. If not, well, until a better option comes along this is it.

    The English language DTS-HD Mono track is, those aforementioned splices and edits notwithstanding, in better shape than the transfer. There’s a little bit of his here and there but for the most part this is clean and properly balanced and the score, parts of which are quite catchy, sounds pretty decent here. Optional English subtitles are provided.

    The main extra on the disc is the inclusion of the Italian cut, which runs ten-minutes longer than the U.S. cut. This was clearly taken from a completely different source and is in much better shape, although it is very soft. Colors look much better, bolder and brighter here and there isn’t’ much in the way of print damage to complain about. It’s also framed at 1.85.1 and presented in AVC encoded 1080p high definition, though the audio, which comes with optional English subtitles, is in lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono format.

    As to the differences between the two cuts? There’s actually quite a bit of dialogue between the different characters that’s been cut out of the U.S. version, particularly scenes where Anna and Monica discuss their political leanings, which helps to make events that occur later in the film more relevant. There’s also a scene where Betty hides from the rest of the crew and eats, which ties into some of the dialogue she delivers later in the film and which gives her character development more oomph. The scene where Erica rapes Marco is also extended and the ending, while the same in terms of content, features the credits rolling over a static shot rather than over a black background. This version definitely has a bit more substance to it than the U.S. cut, though the U.S. cut is leaner and, with some of the character development having been chopped out, a little sleazier in that regard.

    The disc also includes a thirty-three-minute interview with director Giovanni Brusadori who talks about taking inspiration for the film from a real-life story about a female terrorist he read about in the newspaper. He then talks about working with producer/writer Bruno Fontana and writer George Eastman, casting the film and his thoughts on some of the performances featured in the film, shooting locations and dealing with the locals and how at the time it felt, given the current political state in Italy, that they were making a more socially significant film than they wound up actually delivering.

    Rounding out the extras on the disc is a trailer for the feature, menus and chapter selection.

    Escape From Women’s Prison – The Final Word:

    Escape From Women’s Prison is an fast-paced, entertaining piece of European trash cinema well worth seeking out for fans of such things! It’s not as over the top as other, similar films but it delivers the goods and features some decent performances as well. Severin has done a decent job with the release, even if the elements are less than ideal, by providing two cuts of the film and a very interesting interview with its director.

    Click on the images below for full sized Escape From Women’s Prison Blu-ray screen caps!