• Women’s Prison Massacre

    Released by: Shout! Factory
    Released on: December 8th, 2015.
    Director: Bruno Mattie
    Cast: Laura Gemser, Maria Romano, Gabriele Tinti
    Year: 1982
    Purchase From Amazon

    The Movie:

    Say what you will about the merits of Bruno Mattei's cinema. Unabashed rip-offs of popular Hollywood hits like Dawn Of The Dead, Robocop and Predator abound throughout his filmography, as do rip offs of popular Italian genre films like Cannibal Holocaust. He's not really known for his originality, at least in terms of story development or plot situations. His direction is sometimes sloppy and even worse, sometimes dull. He doesn't have a knack for pulling truly great performances out of his actors and he rarely manages to create any serious tension in his horror films. He's a hack. His movies are generally a lot of fun, but really, he’s a hack.

    Having said that, one thing that a lot of Mattei's work does have is an infectious and delirious charm usually brought about by copious amounts of sex and gore and plenty of unintentional humor from really bad dialogue and poor man's special effects. While this rarely leads to 'good' movie making in the traditional sense, it does lead to some good entertainment, even if more often than not it's in the so-bad-it's-good kind of way.

    In the late seventies and early eighties women in prison films were big business in Italy and playing in grindhouses across the world. They were made fast and cheap and concentrated less on actual storylines than on gratuitous set pieces that served as showcases for explicit sex and violence (often times both at once). In 1983 he basically shot two films for the price of one and he churned out a pair of memorable women in prison films with Violence In A Women's Prison and this film, Women's Prison Massacre (with a writing credit due to Claudia Fragasso, the film is also known as Blade Violent and abroad as Emanuelle In Prison). These films used many of the same performers and some of the same sets and crew members as well.

    Story-wise what's it all about? Emanuelle (Laura Gemser as usual) is off to the big house when her investigative reporting uncovers the goods on a local sinister politician. Once she's thrown behind bars she quickly finds herself in a bit of a catch twenty-two when she makes fast enemies with the warden and with a prominent fellow prisoner who wields some influence inside. The warden more or less lets the prisoners go at it, and could care less if the women under her watch get hurt or die – after all, they're criminals! Things really get out of hand and soon the spiral from bad to worse when a gang of male convicts from a nearby men's penitentiary are sent off to be executed. Along the way they manage to overtake the guards and steal the prison transport vehicle. Rather than make a break for it they instead decide to head on over to the women's prison where they hold the foxy female felons at gunpoint and do nasty things to them.

    Gemser does her typically decent job in the lead. Say what you will about the roles she chose but the woman had some serious screen presence going on in the majority of the films that she starred in – this one being no exception. Her uniquely chiseled face and amazingly toned body make her interesting to look at and while the story doesn't push her acting skills too much, she does the best she can with the material. Those looking for a cheap thrill or two on her behalf will be disheartened to know that she shows considerably less skin here than you’d expect, the nudity does come in copious doses from many of her female co-stars, however.

    The movie, like most of the other films in the genre, basically structures itself around the violent set pieces, but it’s pretty entertaining stuff. Note that this is the unrated version identical in content to the unrated DVD release that came out a few years ago from Shock-O-Rama (and likely taken from the same elements).


    Women’s Prison Massacre is presented on Blu-ray framed at 1.85.1 widescreen in AVC encoded 1080p high definition. Framing looks good but the picture is soft and detail is lacking. It looks like there’s some noise reduction going on here, because there’s not much in the way of print damage here at all, but neither is there much in the way of actual grain visible here. Contrast looks a little hot but colors come through reasonably well but nobody has any pores.

    The English language DTS-HD Mono track on the disc is fine. Dialogue is perfectly easy to follow, the score sounds pretty good and there aren’t any problems with hiss or distortion. It might have been cool to get the Italian track included here but the dubbed English version is not without its own ridiculous charm.

    There are no extras on this disc, just a static menu and chapter selection.

    The Final Word:

    Women’s Prison Massacre isn’t high art but it is pretty entertaining WIP/trash and Mattei’s wacky touch is all over this one. The disc is barebones and the transfer far from perfect but until a more substantial release comes along…

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!

    Comments 2 Comments
    1. Lalala76's Avatar
      Lalala76 -
      For some reason never even equated this release with being one of the Mattei' Laura Gemser Emanuelle films. Pretty much perfect timing posting this review Ian. May have to pick this up now.
    1. Lastroadreviews's Avatar
      Lastroadreviews -
      There is no original Italian track. This like many Italian films at the time were filmed with no sound than later dubbed. I'm not sure about this film in particular, but many were filmed in English.