The Women In Prison picture, or "WiP", has been a staple of the exploitation film trade as long as there has been an exploitation film trade. In the 70's the genre morphed into a canny combination of cheap sex, sleazy sadism and (literally) explosive violence, insuring it as a fast profit item on the still-vibrant drive-in scene. Small wonder, then, that Indonesian filmmakers would eventually try their hand at it, and produce something that seems of a piece with other Indonesian films - in short, it looks like what a nine-year-old would think a WiP movie should entail.
Young hotties Dina and Sheila organize an all-hottie motorcycle gang (whose uniforms seem to run to what largely appears to be short nightgowns and hot pants) to attack the mountain stronghold of drug lord Mr. Tiger. Mr. Tiger, you see, killed their parents so he could take over their ancestral home for his mountain stronghold. Dina and Sheila, however, are not military geniuses and the entire gang winds up getting captured by Tiger's paramilitary force (nattily clad in bright red uniforms). Tiger is looking to conquer "the worldwide aphrodesiac market" and has kidnapped a young, handsome chemistry major to cook up his new drug. The women are put upon in various bizarre ways (Sheila, for instance, is tossed in a burlap bag with savage weasels), until everybody gets their properly pyrotechnic comeuppance at the end.
Absurdity is the order of the day here; not a single character is exempt from the Stupid Bat (save one elderly folk-healer character); The walls of Tiger's abode are covered with pink shag carpet and one wonders why Sheila's parents had a dungeon in their home. At odds with the silliness of the content is the absolute slickness with which the movie is produced - the camerawork, effects and editing are so far advanced from earlier Indonesian genre films, it is quite impressive. The movie itself, however, is dumber than the proverbial bag of hammers.
Also, as a notice to WiP fans: there is no shower scene. No nudity whatsoever, in fact. You have been warned.
Mondo Macabro has once again gone to Rapi films' vault to strike a new 'scope print that is absolutely breathtaking. The menu, like Macabro's interface for The Deathless Devil, is laid out in a comicbook grid, successfully harkening to the movie's garish colors and uncluttered character motivations.
A two-disc set might seem a bit much for a movie like Virgins From Hell, until one considers the embarassment of extra features Mondo Macabro has affixed to the feature. Disc One features that breathtaking print, an informative text piece by Pete Tombs on the history of Women In Prison flicks, a theatrical trailer (which takes advantage of the dubbed nature of the picture by inserting completely different dialogue to advance the trailer's mini-storyline) and the usual preview of other bizarre fare from Mondo Macabro.
Disc Two is the treasure trove, however: under the heading of "Destination; Jakarta", it presents a full 70 minutes of trailers for Indonesian movies, from martial arts to fanatasy to quite a few World War II pictures. This is rounded out by an episode of the Mondo Macabro TV series, this time focusing on Indonesian cinema. This is a very welcome extra, as it appeared before on the DVD for Mystics in Bali, which has yet to be given a Region 1 release.
Dr. Freex, 5/19/2007