Bad Girls Behind Bars

    Frameline Film Festival

Film title:    Women in Cages          Film title:    Girls in Prison
Genre:      Action / Drama               Genre:      Action / Drama
Director:     Gerardo de Leon             Director:    John McNaughton
Starring:    Pam Grier                      Starring:    Ione Sky, Anne Heche

[Background]
No one was interested in seeing girl-on-girl cell-block action with me… except for Mindy. To prepare ourselves for this special screening of Bad Girls Behind Bars, we sat outside drinking wine and smoking cigarettes at Chaya along the Embarcadero with some friends from work. I knew after a few drinks we’d be able to recruit at least one more. Julie was already liquored up on expensive Chardonnay, so she was an easy target. The three of us headed to the Victoria movie theater on 16th and Mission for a screening of remixed scenes from four different films:

  • Ladies They Talk About (1933)
  • Girls in Prison (1956)
  • Women in Cages (1971)
  • Girls in Prison (1994)

[Movie Review]
The small revival house was crowded. It was packed with gals and dolls… and me. The film festival announcer got up on stage and said—Welcome, Ladies. Then with a pregnant pause, she scanned the room, made eye contact with me, and politely continued—and Gent. I was raised with manners, so I responded out loud—Thank you. And immediately the mulleted woman sitting to my right elbowed me in the ribs and whispered over—I thought she was talking about ME. And then the theater went dark.

When I woke up, the crowd was booing and hissing violently at the woman on screen with the short blond hair. It was Anne Heche in Girls in Prison. Later, this same crowd was up on their feet screaming and cheering as the camera zoomed in on a gang of prison bitches beating the crap out of a helpless woman. Again, it was Anne Heche.

Cut to a scene from Women in Cages which looked like it was filmed in dark caves under a fiery volcano. Shackled together are background actors, all of them dark exotic Asian women, some young, many old. At the end of the chain gang are three skinny freckled white chicks and a Latina with one boob hanging out of her drab prison mini-dress. Bringing up the rear you see the afro’d silhouette of the prison matron they call Alabama. With her uniform clinging tight to her fierce body, Alabama cracks a whip with one hand and fingers a cigarette with the other. When her face is finally revealed, the silence is broken with a loud drawn-out—Ahhhh SHIT! from the back row of the movie theater, followed up with a—You go, FOXY!  After I told Mindy to shut up, I realized it was sexy and sassy Pam Grier serving bad-ass like I’ve never seen. This film was released in 1971, and back then I bet it was controversial. It featured full-frontal girl-on-girls soft-core sex that climaxed with screaming women strapped into torture devices that lowered them over violent flames. Wow.

Women in Cages


Watch the trailer

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One Response to “Bad Girls Behind Bars”

  1. mean mindy Says:

    Darius, you nailed it! It takes a jaded queer and a married hetero on a triple date with one *hot mess* of a fag hag to appreciate the surreally intellectual and erotic pleasure of watching a layered montage of ingenuously naive lesbian subtextual references in women in prison movies. Even the offensive, anti-feminist bits were ironically deflected by the ridiculous dialogue and overblown acting style that seemed to invite a mocking, satirical interpretation. i love how even the pre-war b&w movies featured the requisite lesbo stereotypes – a FTM butch dyke, an innocent heroine who becomes ferociously sexy once she leaves the world of men, an evil slutty femme fatale, and vehement rejection/hatred of men… as well as all the best of men’s prison films, too – gang rape, S & M games with the guards, rumbles with improvised weapons, love affairs, etc.

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