Hell Behind the Bars (1984) Poster

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Unoriginal offering in a genre best forgotten
Leofwine_draca26 July 2016
Warning: Spoilers
The most notable thing about HELL BEHIND BARS, a typically sleazy Italian offering in the women-in-prison genre, is the presence of director Sergio Garrone. Although he never hit the big time, Garrone was responsible for the atmospheric spaghetti western DJANGO THE BASTARD in 1969, before moving into writing and directing exploitation flicks during the late '70s and early '80s. Garrone seemed to have a particular affinity for captive women and this is his penultimate work as both writer and director.

The direction of this film is far better than it has any right to be. Many of the scenes are well framed and stylish looking, reminiscent of a '70s Italian crime flick. There's some effective music and a sub-plot running over the film's duration that takes place entirely outside of the prison, charting the misadventures of some gangsters. I love how Garrone shows us that this is a coastal prison by dubbing in the sounds of seagulls and waves without ever actually showing the sea once.

The women-in-prison stuff is quite sleazy and we know this from the off with a particularly unpleasant scene of torture against one particular woman. From then on in, the story follows the familiar pattern, although it does have a stronger plot than some as inmates strive toward an ultimate goal. There are cat fights, shower scenes, lesbianism, a horny male guard, and a sadistic warden, all played out much as you'd expect. There isn't enough plot to sustain the running time, however, so there are some repetitive softcore couplings that seem to go on for an age which are just there to pad out the running time. They had me reaching for the fast-forward button.

The main role is given to Ajita Wilson, a transsexual actress who made a successful career out of being a woman in a series of erotic and pornographic films made in Italy. I can't say that Wilson is attractive, but she does have a commanding presence and is the best actor in the film. Still, some of the supports aren't too bad; Rita Silva's warden is thoroughly despicable and Linda Jones, who apparently had a bit part in STAR WARS, is my favourite character, a tough inmate who lives by violence. Speaking of which, the violent content ranges from the absurd and slightly amusing (one character drowned in the sewer) to the surprisingly vicious – a bloody throat stabbing which comes out of nowhere and is one of the grisliest I've witnessed. Still, although there is some talent involved in this, it's still a lacklustre, predictable, and unoriginal offering in a genre best forgotten.
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Poorly made WIP flick with some vicious plot twists
gridoon20193 January 2009
Warning: Spoilers
"Hell Behind Bars" is a poorly made Women-In-Prison film in most respects (writing, directing, production values, casting, etc.), but what gives it some distinction is the viciousness of its plot twists (just don't look for much logic). Usually in WIP flicks there is one or more innocent, unjustly imprisoned characters that the audience is meant to root for - not here. Just about every important character in "Hell Behind Bars" is an amoral, cold-hearted potential killer. I don't want to spoil too much, so let's just say that Ajita Wilson ends up in prison but is in possession of some smuggled diamonds that a criminal organization wants back. Meanwhile, a team of prisoners led by the woman with the most fearsome reputation inside the prison are planning an escape. Most of the film consists of long sex scenes that are not very erotic. Only fanatics of low-budget Italian crime films will get something out of this. (*)
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Ajita gets banged up.
BA_Harrison13 August 2017
'Any hole's a goal' must be the motto of young prison guard Robert, who spends much of his time in this sleazy WIP flick romping with the sadistic bisexual warden (Rita Silva) and inmate Conchita, who has suspiciously large hands. Mind you, it's slim pickings for randy male guards in this particular women's jail, where the majority of the prisoners are rougher than a rusty bastard file, director Gianni Siragusa's budget clearly not stretching to the hiring of quality bimbos.

Conchita (actually played by transsexual sexploitation star Ajita Wilson) is thrown into prison shortly after stashing a fortune in stolen jewels in a bank's safety deposit box. Naturally, she is desperate to escape and enjoy her newfound wealth, but with an angry crime boss keen to get his gems back, and a warden who rules her jail with an iron fist, things aren't going to be easy.

Written by Sergio Garrone, who also penned Siragusa's other equally lamentable WIP film Hell Penitentiary, this crap-fest consists of a succession of distinctly unerotic soft-core couplings, punctuated by the cat-fights, shower scenes, and mild torture expected of the genre. It's incredibly repetitive and extremely boring to sit through, with the slim plot about the missing jewels and the daring escape doing very little to alleviate the tedium. Whatever you do, don't consider a double bill of Hell Behind Bars and Hell Penitentiary: nobody deserves that!
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