Movies

DVD Review: Chain Gang Girls

chain-gang-girls-switchblade-picturesWomen in prison movies are pretty much all the same.  The protagonist is sent to prison (after being framed or otherwise wrongly accused).  She doesn’t get along with her cellmates at first, but they eventually band together to fight the sadistic warden.  And in the end, they escape; or at least some of them do (there’s always a few deaths).

The really (really) low budget Japanese exploitation film Chain Gang Girls sticks to the formula fairly closely.  The biggest deviation is that it’s a lot less exploitative than the norm; I mean, there isn’t a group shower scene!  Even the sadistic warden isn’t that bad.  His ultimate torture consists of locking a women in a windowless room with the lights turned off (this results in a five minute night vision scene of a prisoner wandering around in the dark).

But don’t let the lack of sleaze trick you into thinking that thisScreen Shot 2014-01-06 at 6.26.27 AM is a serious movie.  The plot and characters are shallow and cliched, the production values are low (to say the least), and the acting is best not talked about.  And to be sure, there are some sleazy scenes, just not many of them.  Maybe the producers couldn’t think of more ways to get the women to take their clothes off, or maybe they were just too shy to ask the actors?  I don’t know.

Chain Gang Girls is an exploitation movie that doesn’t exploit its premise.  It has all the ingredients of an acceptable women in prison movie, but doesn’t know what to do with them.

Screen Shot 2014-01-06 at 6.26.40 AMThe video quality is bad.  Switchblade presents the film in non-anamorphic widescreen, which right away limits the effective resolution of the video; but to make matters worse, the source material wasn’t very good to begin with (it was clearly shot on a consumer-grade video camera).  There are no extras, not even a menu.

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