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With: Pam Grier, Vonetta McGee, Margaret Markov, Rickey Richardson, Andrea Cagan, Laurie Rose, Judy Brown, Roberta Collins, Jennifer Gan, Marie Windsor, Carole Mathews, Beverly Garland, Mike Connors, Tom Pittman, Virginia Aldridge, Howard Veit
Written by: Joe Viola, Jonathan Demme, David Osterhout, James H. Watkins, David Stern, Sergio Garrone, Joel Rapp
Directed by: Roger Corman, Joe Viola, Gerardo de Leon, Ernst R. von Theumer, Joel Rapp
MPAA Rating: R
Running Time: 375
Date: 03/18/2013

Roger Corman Collection 3: Escape from Prison (2010)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Rage in the Cage

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

The "women-in-prison" genre is a strange one. It comes with a list of common elements, starting with the innocent girl who is arrested and jailed, probably for putting too much trust in her no-good boyfriend. Inside, she meets a colorful cast of scantily-clad but tough women. There's a sadistic, lesbian warden, a shower scene, torture and an escape. Men like to watch these movies for the nudity and action, but the movies are far from degrading to women; these women are all powerful, central characters. They take charge of their situation and overcome the odds. These movies are even open to different races and cultures.

Infinity and Hollywood Select Video have released a three-disc, five-movie DVD box set of vintage, hard-to-find women-in-prison titles. Sadly, though some of them are historically interesting, none of them are particularly good. First and foremost is Women in Cages (1971), which is a prototype for the entire genre, starring Pam Grier as the evil warden. Grier would go on to star in two better "women-in-prison" movies, The Big Doll House and The Big Bird Cage. Next up is Roger Corman's Swamp Women (1955), which follows roughly the same formula, but without the nudity and violence, making it a dull slog indeed. Thirdly is The Hot Box (1972), which is notable for its screenplay and producer credits by future Oscar-winner Jonathan Demme. The Hot Box takes place in South America, and it has a political angle, as a band of revolutionaries kidnaps four nurses to serve their cause.

The other two titles, High School Big Shot (1959) and The Big Bust Out (1973), are less interesting. Quality ranges from OK to terrible, and the words "Hollywood Select Video" are etched on the screen throughout each movie.

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