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Reviews & Ratings for
The Big Doll House More at IMDbPro »

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16 out of 19 people found the following review useful:

Classic feelgood exploitation! One of Roberta Collins' finest movie moments!

Author: Scott Murray (Django-21) from Scotland
15 September 2003

What a great movie! An entertaining female "Great Escape"! Roberta Collins, Pam Grier and Sid Haig in particular are real hoots with some great moments and dialogue. Bodine (Pat Woodell) is a great character too (introduced as someone not to be messed with), especially letting loose with twin machine guns in the final gunfight. Lots of fun to be had in Jack Hill's Women In Prison exploitation classic. See Matilda The Hun and Foxy Brown themselves duke it out and mud wrestle. Ponder as to how someone so skinny (whereas the resident junkie is quite healthy) got to be head guard. The obligatory prison breakout relies on the help of one prisoner's pet cat to come through at the right time. The scenes with the junkie being completely out her tree are hilarious, although she also gets to show her creepier, more deranged side too in some scenes. The prison break attempt and the final gunfight with the authorities are fun and exciting stuff and for me Roberta Collins steals the show. Not content with the aforementioned mudwrestle with prison bully Pam Grier, she gets some male action at knifepoint and gets great revenge on the evil prison governess. Roberta has some great dialogue too in "Get it up or I'll cut it off!" and "Bye bye lardass!" The head guard has a slight Barbara Steele resemblance. The ending is a bit rushed, some character's fates are left up in the air and the dialogue that seals Judy Brown's fate was a dub forced on the film but it's still great fun and was a groundbreaking hit for AIP. Roberta, Pam and Judy had all just been in "Women In Prison" beforehand and Jack Hill later also directed Pam Grier in some of the blaxploitation flicks that made her an icon. Roberta Collins would of course go onto starring in the masterpiece "Death Race 2000" and the inferior (in my opinion) prison classic "Caged Heat". As you'd expect from this type of movie, there are chances to see attractive women getting naked or scantily clad and you get amusing foodfights and catfights. The female leads are obviously in on the joke though and have fun with it. There's some amusing moments and unlike the "Charlie's Angels" tv show, these resourceful, smart women really do get a chance to kick ass and get tough. Classic feelgood exploitation!

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7 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Fantastic women in prison exploitation!

Author: The_Void from Beverley Hills, England
21 July 2009

The Big Doll House was followed-up by The Big Bird Cage a year later. The two films do not follow on from each other; but are very similar in style and content. While this film is not quite as great as the later one; it's still an excellent women in prison flick. The film was shot in the Philippines and set in some backwater country; but we don't get the same great outdoor shots that we got in the later film, and most of this film takes place in the classic, dingy, prison setting. That, however, is not a problem; as a constant stream of sleaze and action will keep most viewers from worrying about where it's taking place. Naturally, the film takes place in a prison where most of the prisoners have little chance of release. A new girl enters the prison and is put in with a motley crew of female prisoners. It's not long before the conditions inside the jail force the girls into planning an escape; but not before various rivalries amongst themselves are sorted out.

This film is just great fun to watch, and that's what makes it so successful. The script is rather ridiculous; but there's plenty of laughs to be had with it too so it doesn't matter. The biggest names in the cast belong to Sid Haig and Pam Grier; although neither one of them is the star. As would be the case with the later film, Sid Haig provides the most memorable role; this time as a pervy bloke that goes round delivers various goodies to the female prisoners. Most of the rest of the cast are nice to look at, as is standard for films like this. The Big Doll House is a rather lighter affair than the women in prison films by the likes of Jess Franco et al; but it's all the better for it. There's plenty of action to keep the pulses racing, including various cat fights, arguments and gun fights. There's also a series of rather trippy torture scenes, which seem weirdly out of place in the film. The Big Doll House boils down to an explosive ending and overall I wouldn't hesitate to name this as one of the all time best women in prison films (although The Big Bird Cage is slightly better).

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8 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

Reasonably well made and certainly never boring Women In Prison film

Author: TheMarquisDeSuave from Worcester, MA
22 August 2007

"The Big Doll House" is the film thats, along with its follow-up (not exactly sequel) "The Big Bird Cage", mainly kicked off the whole Women In Prison exploitation subgenre. The surprising thing is that its not nearly as exploitive as other entries in the genre. Sure, there's the obligatory shower sequences and sadistic guards and wardens, but the female prisoners are shown in a genuinely positive light with lots of determination and smarts. I'm not saying its some kind of feminist masterpiece, but its more politically correct than most entries. Jack Hill was always one of the most intelligent drive-in filmmakers. His direction is skilled and keeps everything moving at a quick and exciting pace.

The acting all around is quite accomplished for a b-movie as well. As the heroines, Roberta Collins and Judy Brown create compelling and sympathetic tough girls who are easy to root for. Pam Grier is in this, but shes merely given a supporting role. Her real breakthrough to super-stardom came with the blaxploitation classic "Coffy" two years later (also directed by Hill). Sid Haig and Christiane Schmidtmer both offer good sleazy support. As the sympathetic and reform minded doctor, Jack Davis offers the dullest portrayal in the film, but hes really not an important role. "The Big Doll House" is one of the most important exploitation films of the decade if far from the best. Its still enjoyable to watch nowadays. (6/10)

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8 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

Enjoyable chicks'n'chains movie.

Author: Infofreak from Perth, Australia
18 November 2002

'The Big Doll House' may not be the first women in prison movie of the 1970s but it was one of the most influential, kicking off the short lived but legendary Made-in-the-Philippines-but-set-in-some-nameless-Banana-republic cycle. The tape I watched was part of "The Pam Grier Collection" but to say Grier is the STAR of this movie is an exaggeration. Judy Brown is the star and Roberta Collins is equally important as Grier. But Brown didn't do all that much after this, and Collins is only remembered by exploitation buffs (for 'Caged Heat', 'Death Race 200' and 'Eaten Alive'), while Grier became a blaxploitation icon. That's cool, but let's not fool ourselves here. As enjoyable as it is watching Pam in this one she really doesn't do all that much. Jack Hill regular Sid Haig ('Spider Baby') has some memorable and amusing schtick with her. He plays a horny guy who brings the female prisoners food and other treats for cash. Grier and Haig obviously made a great team, and Hill would exploit this in his even more enjoyable 'The Big Bird Cage', which isn't a sequel to this movie as many seem to think. 'Bird Cage' is the better movie, but 'Doll House' is still a pretty good movie that any fan of 1970s b-grade movies will get a kick out of.

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5 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

The Big Doll House is the best of exploitation

Author: ravingbulll from United States
2 June 2012

I look at the negative reviews of this movie and I have to ask myself: what did these people think they were going to see? "Titanic"?" "Gone With The Wind?" "Driving Miss Daisy?" I judge movies by how much I enjoy them, and - honestly, I can't think of a movie that has more entertainment crammed into it than this movie. It has everything you could possibly think of...and more. At first you enjoy the cheesy aspect of the movie and laugh, but then you start caring about the characters...and you HAVE to see how it ends. Oh and while I'm talking about this picture I want to say something about Roberta Collins: even though most people you talk to won't even recognize her name, she was a talented and underrated actress...a natural comedienne. This film, along with the Jonathan Demme helmed "Caged Heat," show what she was capable of. I highly recommend both of these films if you enjoy movies under the heading of "Exploitation." ROGER CORMAN RULES!!!

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5 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

The Big Doll House

Author: Scarecrow-88 from United States
8 September 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Women in prison. So many films featuring women behind bars desiring to break out. Luscious women in the shower, naked and yearning for the sexual contact of a man. The sadistic warden who makes life a living hell for the girls, and it's at times a woman who runs the show. The cat fight in the mud or the food fight that breaks out usually resulting in the whole group being punished. The torture sequences featuring prisoners being whipped by a bull dike guard who really seems to be enjoying herself. The planned break out often assisted by outside help. Those who punished and harmed the girls while they were in prison get their comeuppance.

Many of the girls are tough talking, strong willed, incredibly sexy, and( favorite part)push the guys, that do appear, around. I've seen quite a few of these types of movies, but can not really consider myself an expert because there are still many staples of the genre I haven't viewed as of yet. This has to be the sexiest female cast I've seen in one of these movies..Pam Grier, Judy Brown, Roberta Collins, Brooke Milles( girl of the film), and Pat Woodell all preparing for a great escape just so they can be free of the sweaty, trashy confines of their Banana Republic prison cell. Christiane Schmidtmer is Miss Dietrich, the tyrannical ruler over the prison and Kathryn Loder is her ruthless head guard with an affinity for acquiring jungle snakes as a torture(..or murdering)method to extract information regarding possible illegal activities or plotting(..she likes to let her hair down when it's time to whip or pummel a girl). Sid Haig, a prominent Jack Hill regular, has a field day as a food(..among other items of interest)supplier, assisted by Jerry Franks(..who is actually accosted by Collins, who forces him to sex with a knife she confiscated from the kitchen area!).

I will admit that I love beautiful women. Especially, beautiful women wearing merely a raggedy dress that barely covers their panties, revealing their wonderful curves and sexy legs. This movie was more violent than I was expecting, but it isn't anything worse than what we normally see in today's cinema containing the damaging treatment towards women. In my opinion you couldn't assemble a more sexy group of gals to spend 90 minutes with. These were the days when inhibitions run amok and women weren't as prudish in endowing upon us their alluring naked bodies. I feel like the 70's featured some of the most stunning women, often barely starring in anything other than a few movies within the exploitation genre, before moving on to other things. I don't know where Corman and Hill were able to secure so many of these delcious sex pots, but they kept them a comin'. Unfortunately two of my favorite scenes feature a character in a heroine induced bliss, addict Harried prancing around in her cell, as if performing some type of yoga exercise, and the other where she's showering, making this little giggling sound with her face just lit up.

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7 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

Very good for its genre

Author: gridoon
20 August 2006

What separates - and, in my book, makes better - "The Big Doll House" from most Women-In-Prison films is that the focus here is NOT on the exploitation of the women (though there is some of that, of course), but on their STRENGTH and determination. Roberta Collins and Pat Woodell, in particular, have well-defined characters that know how to take care of themselves. The fights (including some mud-wrestling) are rough and wild. The casting is excellent: you know something is right when Pam Grier isn't even the most beautiful woman on the screen! Collins, in particular, has a kind of beauty that you rarely see nowadays. Contrary to what other people have said, I found the scenes involving Sid Haig and his partner to be the most undesirable: they do provide some form of comic relief but they go on too long and occasionally kill the pace of the movie. (**1/2)

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Hugely enjoyable 70's chicks-in-chains drive-in gem

Author: Woodyanders ( from The Last New Jersey Drive-In on the Left
15 July 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The female inmates at a women's prison suffer severe mistreatment at the brutal hands of wicked warden Miss Dietrich (a nicely icy turn by Christiane Schmidtmer) and sadistic head guard Lucian (a gloriously florid and theatrical portrayal by Kathryn Loder). Director Jack Hill, working from a compact script by Don Spencer, relates the fun story at a constant brisk pace, stages the action set pieces with real aplomb, and keeps the tone cheerfully seedy and tongue-in-cheek throughout. Moreover, Hill injects plenty of wickedly funny brash humor which keeps this picture surprisingly breezy and entertaining throughout. The cast have a grand time with the sordid material: Pam Grier as the sassy Grear, Judy Brown as the feisty Collier, Roberta Collins as the hard-boiled Alcott, ravishing redhead Brooke Mills as pathetic strung-out smack addict Harrad (Mills' crazed and sensuous little stoner dance rates as a definite highlight), Pat Woodell as the formidable Bodine, Gina Stuart as slinky minx Ferina, and Jerry Franks as the amiable Fred. The always great Sid Haig almost steals the whole show with his wonderfully robust and engaging performance as happy-go-lucky merchant Harry. Of course, this film covers all the satisfyingly sleazy grindhouse bases: a generous amount of tasty distaff nudity, a group shower scene, a fierce catfight (in the mud, no less!), rape, torture, a messy cafeteria food fight, and an exciting last reel breakout. As an added plus, the divine Ms. Grier heartily belts out the groovy theme song "Long Time Woman." Both Fred Conde's reasonably polished cinematography and the funky syncopated score by Hall Daniels are up to speed. Essential viewing for exploitation cinema aficionados.

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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Finally, an exploitation film that delivers on its premise!

Author: theskulI42 from Denver, CO
30 July 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

After having to sit through film after film.with a fantastically ridiculous premise that mostly features 90 minutes of people wandering around doing nothing, it's nice to go back to a legend of the genre and know that I can still trust.

The Big Doll House was my third Women in Prison film, after the infamous Ilsa: She-Wolf of the SS and the Defiant Ones-inspired Black Mama, White Mama, but where both of those films seemingly ran out of inspiration fairly quickly (Ilsa grows wearying quickly, and Black Mama stagnates as most of the film is uninspired wandering.

While I grew restless with both of those films, Jack Hill and The Big Doll House seemingly has it all covered, and surprisingly, the film draws its strength from restraint and respect towards its characters. Where Black Mama had plentiful amounts of gratuitous nudity, the standards were quite low and, for the most part, it wasn't PLEASANT nudity, while in Doll House, there is nudity, but more usually, they're dressed in these sort of adorably tiny dresses, like over-sized wifebeaters, and it makes them look far more attractive and pleasing to the eye than if they had been naked the entire time.

The other unique thing for this film of the three is that the prisoner women seem to be constantly in power. They're never weak-willed, they may get tortured a bit, but they're always feisty, always defiant, and although you definitely get a sense of sexualized satisfaction (it's a Women in Prison movie for f-ck's sake, there's shower scenes, groping scenes, even a scene scantily-clad mud wrestling), you never get any of the uncomfortable, misogynist sleaze you most definitely get from Ilsa. That's a film that delights in the torture so much that it neglects story for much of its runtime.

The acting is actually fairly solid save for our hero, Pam Grier (amusingly playing a character named "Grear"). But Judy Brown, Robert Collins, Brooke Mills, Pat Woodell, Kathryn Loder, Gine Stuart and Christiana Schmidter as the warden Miss Dietrich all acquit themselves admirably. On the dude side, the ever-reliable Sid Haig rocks it out without being obnoxious, and Jerry Franks is solild support. They are also given one of the better scripts I've heard here, with a lot of memorable and quotable lines ("Get it up or I'll cut it off!" being the most infamous, although my favorite was "One of these days, I'm gonna come in here, and ZAP!" "Zap?" "You know, Zap. R-A-P-E: "zap".") As for the awesomeness, it's really a laundry list that never runs out. A crazy heroin addict who lights people on fire, a lesbian prison guard who threatens people with cobras, the aforementioned mud wrestling, threats of castration, people getting stabbed (including Pam Grier, who unexpectedly doesn't even survive the film!), the shower scenes, and just the basic gratuitous nudity just seems to be at a higher standard than subsequent films. Oh, and then, when all seems over, they add AUTOMATIC WEAPONRY (and rape-as-comeuppance). I do look forward to seeing more of them to be able to compare, and although being an "expert in Women in Prison films" is not going to be something to put on the 'ol resume, if any of them are as well-composed as The Big Doll House, it'll sure be a lot of fun.

{Grade: 8.25/10 (B+/B) / #12 (of 26) of 1971}

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

The Definitive Women in Prison Movie

Author: gavin6942 from United States
30 August 2013

Beautiful women prisoners are abused in a Philippine prison, until five of them plot an escape by taking the evil female warden hostage with the reluctant help of two male fruit vendors.

I have to say this film is an exploitation movie, and therefore has some aspects that many people might find objectionable -- gratuitous nudity, sexual assault and some scenes of torture. This is not just a fun film to watch with your kids.

That being said, director Jack Hill makes the most of the exploitation genre and does it in a stylish, colorful way that sets this movie apart from the scores of others in the same category. And he utilizes Sid Haig well, in a way that no other director ever has. Thanks for introducing Pam Grier to the world, too.

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