Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Bare Behind Bars (1980)

Written by: Oswaldo de Oliveira
Directed by: Oswaldo de Oliveira
Starring: Maria Stella Splendore, Marta Anderson, Danielle Ferrite

When one thinks of women in prison movies, one usually thinks of the Philippines. One thinks of Roger Corman and his pioneering band of smut peddlers and exploitationeers saying, “Now, what does this jungle need? Oh yeah, group showers and torture and catfights!” One does not usually think of Brazil. In fact, when it comes to movies, one rarely thinks of Brazil at all. However, just like once no one thought of Brazil when it came to metal and the Sepultura came and kicked everyone's ass and drew attention to the fact that there was in fact a very lively metal scene in South America, Oswaldo de Oliveira threw down the exploitation gauntlet and said, “You motherfuckers ain't seen nothin' yet!”

These things tend to be a little thin on the plot under the best of circumstances, but this time it's practically non-existent, even by the already loose standards of the genre. The movie is split into two sections, the first of which being the standard life behind bars stuff, but the second half is what really sets it apart from the pack. On the occasions when this kind of movie features an escape that doesn't go horribly awry, that's usually the big climax. The girls get out, ride (limp, bleed, whatever) off into the sunset, and that's it. Here, the escape comes at the end of the second act, and the last third of the movie is spent chronicling the girls' exploits on the outside, which are considerably more stomach-churning than the stuff that happens in the jail, if you can believe that.

We begin in the yard, where the inmates are playing soccer. The guards must be able to see something we in the audience can't, because they exchange a significant look and hurry off. One of the girls pulls a shiv out of her pants and stabs another to death, and shortly after the body stops twitching the guards return with a fire hose and soak everyone down. Sylvia, the warden, commands a search of all the inmates' rooms and persons, as apparently security has been a bit lax of late. She winds up with quite a collection of makeshift cutlery in her office, and she decides to set about torturing random inmates (most of whom had nothing to do with the killing). One of the girls, prisoner #261, is found by Nurse Barbara to have a razor hidden in her ass during the body search, but Barbara takes a liking to her and decides to let the infraction go if 261 will appear in the infirmary for sexual favors from time to time. Nurse Barbara is an ether-huffing lunatic obsessed with raspberry pudding, and she steals every scene she's in. Most of her encounters with 261 are pretty batty, but by far the most jaw-dropping is when they're scissoring on the exam table and Babs whips out “the 9th wonder of the world”, a massive dildo carved out of a pineapple which they proceed to devour with moans of ecstasy.

While all that is going on, a new inmate named Inez is brought in for murdering her step-father because he was an abusive asshole. Of course, when we see some of her behavior later, he may have been a perfectly nice guy and she just did it for kicks. Hard to say, but I wouldn't take her word for anything. She reads Sylvia like a barcode and immediately sets about making the desperate, aging warden infatuated with her insatiable sexuality.

While all this is going on, we have all kinds of showers and sapphic fuckery, and a little bit of hetero fuckery, and a subplot about Sylvia selling inmates as sex slaves to rich clients. This doesn't really serve any purpose other than exposing a couple more pairs of breasts, but it does give a glimpse of something interesting. Usually the prisons in these movies are portrayed as being located deep in the jungle, in some inhospitable backwater far from civilization. But when the rich older woman takes her new gal toy to the beach, you can see they're not far across the water from a major city. The prison must be no more than an hour or so away from a major city. When the girls escape later, it seems to take them no time at all to make it to a populated area and lose themselves in the bustle of Carnival. Brazil must have some horrifically lax policies regarding prisoners that a warden can be selling inmates as fuck toys and manage to kill enough of them to have a secret tunnel from the infirmary to a makeshift cemetery out back!

Speaking of Carnival and secret tunnels, this has been Inez's plan all along. She, 261, and Cynthia, and another, unnamed inmate who wusses out before the big break, have been planning a way to get the hell out of there. Inez has used her influence with Warden Sylvia to convince her to gather everyone for mass to celebrate Carnival, while 261 has been using her influence with Batshit Babs to gather weapons. Once everyone's in the chapel, it's through the secret cemetery tunnel and out to freedom. The first place they come to is the home of a family of three. Once they convince dad to open the door, they blow him and mom away, but that's just the beginning. The dog won't stop barking at the intruders, but presumably firing shots inside is one thing, firing them out the window in view of the neighbors another, so they chop dad's dick off and feed it to the dog to shut it up! At this point, junior has come to see what all the fuss is about, and the scene wraps up with the (mostly implied, praise Odin) rape and murder of a 10 year old boy. Fucking ick.

From there they go their separate ways, to their own violent ends.

This is one nasty movie. The jail sets are some of the grossest, scummiest-looking sets I've ever seen in a movie. Every frame is dripping with squalor and yeast infection. Even the sex that isn't in repulsive rape scenes is ugly and sweaty and fevered and brutal-looking. Unless the girls are jumping up and down and squealing like insane children, because hardened murdering psychopaths need to have fun too, I guess. And those are the nice parts. There's a lot of penis violence in this movie too. On top of the kibbles and dick, another man gets his schlong hacked off and shoved into his mouth after the girls' breakout too.

If, like me, you're a mentally diseased bastard who likes these things, Bare Behind Bars is a must-see. It takes the conventions of the genre and turns them up to greasy, sticky, vomitous 11. If you're not a fan of the rougher elements of exploitation, flee from this movie like it's a rabid baboon with a machete.

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