I always feel like I'm leaping onto a cinematic grenade when I watch a Bruno Mattei film. I know it's going to be painful and gory but ultimately I will have done my fellow man (or at least my reading audience) a great good by saving them from having to live through the horrors that I will have endured. There's no doubt that Mattei was a sleaze-lord of epic proportions. During the three decades of his filmmaking career, the man explored all the major facets of exploitation cinema, directing such cringe-classics as "The Other Hell" (nunsploitation), "KZ9 Extermination Camp" (which has the dubious honor of being THE most depressing nazisploitationer I've ever seen) and "Zombi 3." Would it be feasible that a man who directed a film titled "Terminator II" (in 1990, before Arnie returned to the role) and even dredged the bottom of the Caligular barrel with "Caligula and Messalina" would leave the time-honored tradition of women in prison films untouched?
Mattei's "Women's Prison Massacre," an entry into the Black Emanuelle series and a follow-up to his own "Violence in a Women's Prison," is a wild piece of exploitation cinema, as oily as any WiP film but far less boring than most. Perhaps this is damning with faint praise, but this is the best Mattei film I've seen (although, admittedly, I have not seen "Cruel Jaws [aka 'Jaws 5']" and I might be surprised--but I doubt it).
"Women's Prison Massacre" opens with Emanuelle (played by exotic beauty Laura Gemser) staging a conceptual theater piece with two fellow prisoners exposing the psychological pain of females behind bars. Prison bully Albina interrupts the performance--apparently there is a limited audience for feminist stage plays in prison--and a catfight ensues. It comes to light that Emanuelle has been wrongfully imprisoned because she threatened to publish an article exposing a District Attorney of his involvement in drug dealing. Emanuelle is reprimanded by the prison warden for her upstart ways and comes to learn that Albina is in cahoots with the prison management, serving as an informant-slash-enforcer. Water torture is very popular at this particular prison, along with the expected girl-on-girl wrestling.
The movie continues on the typical trajectory until about twenty minutes in, when a group of four male convicts is brought to the prison as a stop-over on their way to death row. It only takes a couple of dumb choices on the part of the prison warden and the sheriff for the inmates to take hostages and attempt their escape. Note to all wardens: DON'T unlock the handcuffs of the four crazed death-row killers. Just don't. Better safe than sorry, you know? But yes--back to the escape attempt. Rather than make a run for it, the convicts decide to take advantage of the fact that they are locked in a women's prison and set to raping (as you do). The convicts are absolute caricatures--they spend the majority of their screen time mugging and cackling and generally carrying on. Pierangelo Pozzato's character "Blade" is particularly ridiculous--his performance elevates (plunges?) the film into surreal black comedy. These guys are more like vaudeville stooges than seasoned criminals! A litany of violent acts ensues--we're treated to razor slashings, Russian Roulette, and good old-fashioned bitch-slappings as the story ramps up to its finale.
This is a very, very nasty movie, even for the WiP genre--most of its just-over-80-minute run time is taken up with violent, misanthropic action. There's not a lot of talking, and what dialog exists mainly consists of cursing, snarling and ridiculous proclamations. By no means a good film, and in no way an artistic, well-crafted film, "Women's Prison Massacre" is still undoubtedly a fine example of the twisted filth the right kind of demented mind can produce.