Two UCLA coeds have engine trouble in a small Southern town. When they spurn the local sheriff's advances he arranges for them to be taken to the women's prison on trivial charges (the ... See full summary »
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Sarah McDavid, an idealistic young teacher, takes a job in a rough high school where she is eventually attacked and raped in her classroom after school hours and decides to buck the school ... See full summary »
Two UCLA coeds have engine trouble in a small Southern town. When they spurn the local sheriff's advances he arranges for them to be taken to the women's prison on trivial charges (the judge is a cousin), where they must endure atrocities at the hands of the administrators of the prison and the prison guards. Written by
Ed Sutton <firstname.lastname@example.org>
This made-for-TV movie was released outside the USA in a more explicit version, proving to be an especially huge hit in China. The film's success in China was so substantial that star Deborah Raffin became the unofficial ambassador from Hollywood to China; she arranged meetings between Hollywood luminaries and Chinese leaders and filmmakers to get Chinese films distributed in America and American films released in China. Moreover, Raffin was nominated for an Emmy for her performance in the picture. See more »
Usually I try and avoid watching TV-movies because I keep thinking they hold back on shocking content and grisly images, but lately I've encountered several titles that actually proved my way of thinking is entirely incorrect and even quite shallow. "Nightmare in Badham County" is one of them examples, because the themes featuring in this movie are definitely not what you would call "soft". Perhaps the depicted violence isn't as graphical and the sleaze isn't as explicit, but the suggestive material and insinuations here are far more shocking than the gratuitous footage in most other contemporary flicks. This undeservedly and sadly obscure made-for-TV 70's thriller successfully combines elements and ambiances from two of the most commonly used and popular horror sub genres of the mid 70's, namely the so-called "Women in Prison" films and "Hicksploitation" movies. The former is pretty self-explaining and handles about defenseless girls being locked away in corrupt and filthy jails where they are confronted with perverted guards and aggressive prisoner gangs. The latter is probably my personal favorite sub genre of horror and like no other one it truly reflects the essence of 70's horror film-making. "Hicksploitation" routinely revolves on civilized people getting stuck, for whatever reason, in isolated backwoods villages inhabited by primitive and exaggeratedly hostile people with horrible dental hygiene. Combinations of the two genres aren't manifold, but "Nightmare in Badham County" illustrates that it's perfectly possible and even almost logical to amalgamate the characteristics of both.
But this is also more than just a shocking exploitation hybrid. "Nightmare in Badham County" is a genuinely moving drama with identifiable lead characters, a disturbing portrait about the abuse of authority and generally speaking also a professionally directed and astoundingly shot but modest film. Whilst on a road trip through the South, interracial college girlfriends Cathy and Diane are forced to make a stop in a small community in Badham County due to car trouble. The liberated and free-spirited girls they are, they quickly offend and publicly humiliate the chauvinistic pig Sheriff Danen. So badly even that he finds a cheap excuse to place them under arrest and then, at night, sneak into Diane's cell to rape her. A trial follows, but seeing that in this Southern part of the nation everyone is related to everyone, the girls are sentenced to 30 days in Badham County's women prison called "The Farm" and that's where the nightmare truly begins. The girls become separated because of their skin color and are prohibited to contact the outside world. They are subjected to hard labor and the harsh and often perverted commands of the guards, while the slightest sign of disobedience results in an increase of their punishment. Several courageous attempts to escape or reach out to the outside world fail because everybody in Badham County appears to be corrupt and/or petrified of the local "legal" system. "Nightmare in Badham County" is, without exaggerating, at least a dozen times more involving and approximately 99% of the other 'Women-in-Prison" movies out there, principally because the two leading ladies are so innocent and defenseless whereas the townsfolk and prison guards are so infuriatingly nefarious! This is one of the rare movies where you literally want to dive into the screen and reach out to help the protagonists because everything that happens to them is so damn unfair and saddening. When you accomplish this level of entanglements among your viewers, I think you can safely say you did a great job as a director. Speaking of which, I actually expected no less from John Llewellyn Moxey as he already demonstrated his craftsmanship numerous of times, for example with "Horror Hotel", "The Night Stalker" and "Where have all the People gone?". Moxey marvelously creates a moodily grim and unsettling rural atmosphere, through fitting music and extended shots of lonely country tableaux, but he also owes a lot to his terrific ensemble cast. Deborah Raffin and Lynne Moody are exceptional as the ladies in distress, but the people portraying the local yokels are near perfect as well particularly the almost naturally sleazy looking Chuck Connors as the Sheriff. The ending will make you feel left behind as helpless and frustrated as Cathy and Diane themselves, but realism and hard truth are also two main trumps of this overall fantastic cult movie accomplishment. In case you're a truly devoted fan of good shock-cinema and you need a break from all the trashy but dumb 'Women-in-Prison' movies, I wholeheartedly recommend tracking this baby down!
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