Bare Behind Bars DVD Review
Written and Directed by Oswaldo de Oliveira
1980, Region 2 (PAL), 87 minutes, Rated 18 (UK)
DVD released on 31st January 2011
Maria Stella Splendore as Sylvia - the prison warden
Marta Anderson as Barbara - the insane nurse
Danielle Ferrite as Cynthia - Prisoner #341
Neide Ribeiro as Sandra - the assistant warden
We are lead to believe, from the cover blurb, that this group of scantily clad women are living in fear for their lives under their guard’s reign of terror, but actually they are loving every minute of their captivity. And that’s not just me being sexist, they really are. In true porn style this Brazilian (ahem) sexploitation flick presents a what-you-see-is-what-you-get attitude. And you see it all. Sylvia, the prison warden, has taken over the asylum and is using the young impressionable inmates to satisfy her own despicable needs: girls are being sold to rich middle-aged lesbians and the staff is getting it on left right and centre.
We enter the story with the almost feral prisoners scrabbling around the exercise yard having a knife fight. Oh, and they’re very naked. You see, in an attempt to prevent the women from hiding drugs and weapons about their person they are not allowed to wear underwear. Or many clothes at all. Yeah, a likely story... A riot ensues, causing some of their prison uniforms to fall to the ground in the scuffle. As punishment for their violent outburst and the killing one of their fellow prisoners they are not allowed to have a shower. This small detail unwittingly leads to what seems to be the director’s favourite scene; later the ladies are being treated to a group shower. They jump round, laugh and act jovial, looking as though they’re having so much fun! That’s what most of my showers are like so I don’t see what they were so excited about.
In an effort to get to the bottom of the stabbing, Sylvia has the prison searched for weapons and it is at this point that in walks the lovable yet demented Nurse Barbara. She’s a bit like a cross between Carry On’s Barbara Windsor and Baby Jane Hudson, with her plastered on surprised face and dramatic sing-song hand gestures. She falls for one of the girls and ends up letting her get away with murder.
The storyline, much like the girl’s flexible bodies, bends this way and that way, and it’s hard to keep up. Although I suspect that if there really are any subtle nuances in the plot they are lost in the ham-fisted approach of its upkeep. As I said though, it’s a sexually charged but harmless, in-your-face kind of movie. Isn’t it every straight man and gay girl’s fantasy to watch sex starved and excitable women being tortured in prison by their ruthless wardens? Perhaps that is not so well executed in this case. Hell, who am I kidding? Of course it is!
Video and Audio:
Pretty good English overdub on the whole, which doesn’t get distracting, but a little over the top at times. Unsurprisingly the picture is grainy and very low budget, but then it is as old as I am.
Trailer: If it wasn’t for the plentiful breasts and bushes previewed here, the bluesy brass and big hair could have fooled you in to thinking it was a 1970’s American cop show.
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