In typical women-in-prison fashion, Lina Romay plays Maria, a young woman who is sent to a remote prison for killing her father. In there, she will suffer the torments of rape, abuse and electro-shock by the hands of the sinister Warden (Monica Swinn) and the kindly but desperate Dr. Costa (Paul Muller, in a role that will appear in different Franco films played by different actors), who falls in love with Maria and sees her as a hope to escape from the warden’s grasp.
One of Jess Franco’s most notorious films, it has a reputation of being one of the roughest in the women in prison cycle, a reputation is clearly deserves. It’s very similar in plot to his previous WIP film, 99 Women (the film that started the genre in exploitation fare), and Lina Romay is her usual innocent, beautiful self. You could tell Franco really loved her, and still does, as she comes off as a virginal beauty in search of rescue, making you wish you could rescue her. And like all her movies, she’s very hot and gets naked often, with her voluptuous figure taking your breath away every time. Hell every actress in this film gets naked one time or another, and the film crosses that line between softcore and hardcore pornography often, such as when the warden fingers, then eats the ass out of one of the young prisoners. At first I thought this was a double, but she’s clearly in the shot. They sure don’t make movies like this anymore.
Franco’s style is very different in this one than in his previous stuff. The usual dream-like atmosphere Franco employs is gone, and this film is a lot more realistic, giving it a grittiness that elevates this from the usual fare. There is one scene however, that isn’t realistic, and it’s a flashback where Romay kills his father (played by Franco himself) while he’s trying to rape her. The sequence is in full speed, but the actors are doing everything in slow-motion. It is a little silly at first, but after a while you sort of feel like you’re watching something that is not meant to be realistic, but surreal. Of course, maybe I’m just looking too much into it and they just wanted to do it this way to save costs from the editing lab. After all, his notorious use of the zoom lens is still there. But still, you should give this film a break. It’s one of the best, sexiest and most interesting of the WIP cycle of the seventies, and one of the best exploitation films in general. Long live the Jess!