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Gorgeous young French tourist Martine gets arrested while on vacation in Italy. After being found guilty of a trumped-up drug possession charge, Martine finds herself incarcerated at a hellish women's penitentiary where the inmates are subjected to mental and physical torture by the staff and fellow felons alike. Things are compounded in severity when a riot breaks out in the prison. Written by
The Italians are famous for jumping on bandwagons, but it took them a little while (really until the 1980's) to jump on the WIP (women in prison) movie bandwagon in earnest. The 1970's Italian-made WIP films were few and far between and didn't really achieve either the action of of US-Filipino versions or the unmitigated sleaze of the Jess Franco ones (they were also overshadowed by the far more sleazy Italian "Nazi sexploitation" films of the era). The 1970's Italian WIP films usually weren't pure WIP films. "Women in Cellblock 7" is more of a Italian crime thriller. "Escape from a Woman's Prison" is more of hostage drama or a "terror" film. And this is partly a "nunsploitation" film since all the jailers here are nuns for some reason.
Martine Brochard is the "new fish". Of course as usual, she is innocent. (In the most ridiculous circumstances ever to befall one of these heroines, she is touring some caves with a girlfriend and they run into a group of dope-smoking hippies just as the police are raiding them). Marilu Tolo is her tough lesbian cellmate. She is pretty miscast here, and the "Guys and Dolls" accent the English-language dubbers give her REALLY doesn't help. Katia Christian and Erna Schurer play some of the other prisoners, here to do what they do best (shower scenes, masturbation scenes, lesbian scenes etc.). Cristina Galbo plays a young nun who gets her habit torn off during a riot in the most hilariously gratuitous scene in this generally gratuitous film.
I saw this on a dub of a Venezuelan videotape. Needless to say it looked awful, but far worse was the atrocious English dubbing (even though it's my second language I finally had to turn the sound down and just read the Spanish subtitles). On the plus side it really has an all-star (at least if you're familiar with 1970's European exploitation starlets)cast. I guess you could also count this as a nunsploitation film if you're a fan of that, uh, genre.
The director Brunello Rondi would go to direct "Velluto Nero" with Laura Gemser and Annie Belle, which really isn't any better than this, but has been released on DVD, so it at least LOOKS a lot better. I can't really recommend this in its current sorry state, but if gets a decent DVD release like "Velluto Nero" (or "Escape from a Woman's Prison" and "woman of Cellblock 7"), you might want to check it out.
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