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Barbed Wire Dolls (1976)

Frauengefängnis (original title)
Not Rated | | Crime, Drama, Horror | 1977 (USA)
Women's prison tale, with Lina Romay as Maria who is jailed after killing her father, played by director Jess Franco, who tries to rape her. Lesbian wardens, torture, nudity, sex, insanity and conspiracy round out the formula.


Jesús Franco (as Jess Franco)


Jesús Franco, Connie Grau (script) | 1 more credit »




Complete credited cast:
Lina Romay ... Maria
Paul Muller ... Carlos Costa (as Paul Müller)
Monica Swinn ... The Wardress (as Monika Swinn)
Roger Darton Roger Darton ... Milton
Ronald Weiss Ronald Weiss ... The Warden
Martine Stedil ... Bertha
Eric Falk ... Nestor / Guard
Peggy Markoff Peggy Markoff ... Pompadour (as Peggy Markhoff)
Beni Cardoso ... Rosaria
Raymond Hardy Raymond Hardy ... José (as Ray Hardy)
Nathalie Mann Nathalie Mann
Denis Torre Denis Torre
Learn more

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A prison in an isolated island is run by spineless and equally sadistic Dr. Carlos Costaa. In fact, he is a killer who murdered the actual doctor of that name, whose name he then assumed. Assisting him is a monocled lesbian woman known only as The Wardress who regulates the prison with an iron fist - for example, via chaining them naked to a wall just out of reach of food, or placing them naked on a wire-frame bed where they receive electric shocks. She reads Nazi volumes such as Albert Speer's history of the Third Reich as leisure reading. Due to these torturing several prisoners in the past have died. The current authorities in charge of the prison have concealed this by claiming these prisoners died of heart failure. Maria is sentenced to life in prison for the murder of her sexually abusive father. Upon her arrival at the prison, she meets this cold-blooded, sadistic wardress and Dr. Costa. Some time later Maria organizes a plan to rebel and escape.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Unfolds with a Brutal Fury..! See more »


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


Paul Muller, the Swiss actor who played Carlos Costa, was dubbed by Gerd Duwner. See more »


[Maria finds a dead mouse under the food on her plate]
Maria da Guerra: Ah! A mouse!
Guard: What's wrong?
Maria da Guerra: I found a mouse here on my plate. Look at it!
Guard: So what? It adds protein to your diet.
[Guard pushes Maria's face onto the plate]
See more »

Alternate Versions

The film was rejected for cinema (as "Caged Women") by the BBFC in 1976 and then passed with heavy cuts under the same title the following year. The 2004 Anchor Bay DVD release (as "Barbed Wire Dolls") was cut by 41 secs to remove shots of explicit sexual penetration. See more »


Featured in Babes Behind Bars (2013) See more »

User Reviews

An expertise into the sleaziest corners of Euro-Exploitation
16 June 2004 | by CoventrySee all my reviews

Well, you can't openly declare that you like (or even enjoy) watching this type of movies because then – let's face it – you automatically get a stamp on your head that says 'potential threat to society'. Barbed Wire Dolls is a non-stop series of sex and violence that explicitly focuses on female nudity and sexual torture. The more reasonable reason to be interested in this film is the man who made it. Jesus Franco, the undeniable Godfather of sleaze takes on the ultra-controversial subject of 'Babes behind Bars' here. Franco is a remarkable director to say the least, with over 180 films on his repertoire as a director. Although this 'Barbed Wire Dolls' doesn't come close to his best achievements, it sure is memorable. But not exactly for the right reasons… The plot is thin to non-existent, it lacks range and feeling and there's no tension to detect. Even the typical exploitation-music (a must for films like this) is absent. Compared to what you might think, it isn't even THAT gross or nauseating. The film doesn't feature sequences of extreme bloodshed or severe mutilation. Instead, Barbed Wire Dolls only serves a lot of naked female beauty and absurd characters. We have the lesbian guard with obvious Nazi-tics, insane prisoners and fraudulent authority-figures. Oh, and let's not forget the falsely accused heroine and the remorseful male guard. Actually, Barbed Wire Dolls looked ideal to supply with a neutral rating. Like 4 or 5 out of 10…but then it got entirely spoiled by the abrupt and idiotic ending. Really, it looks like Franco all of a sudden got tired of it and just said: 'That's a wrap'. Maybe he had to hurry to another set…your agenda is pretty much filled with 180 movies to direct.

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Release Date:

1977 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Barbed Wire Dolls See more »

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Company Credits

Production Co:

Elite Film See more »
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Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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