Characters that are fellow inmates may include a sarcastic prostitute, a manipulative snitch, or an aggressive lesbian. The female criminals are usually hypersexualized and fetishize homosexual relationships. An innocent girl or group being sent to a penitentiary or reform school run by a male or lesbian warden who may also run an inmate prostitution ring, like in Chained Heat A "welcoming" ritual which may include group strip searches, giving up any personal possessions, or showering all while being watched by sexually deprived female inmates  Lesbian sex scenes between prisoners and the guards, or the female prisoners being raped or forced into prostitution by male guards Female prisoners being sentenced to hard labor such as scrubbing floors or digging dirt holes while nude Fights between the prisoners sometimes in the shower or in mud Beatings by guards Suicide or death of a minor character  Female prisoners being sprayed by a firehose for punishment  The narrative peaks with some kind of rebellion, which may include a fight, attempted break out, or natural disaster such as a prison fire or earthquake.
Occasionally a new inmate is an undercover reporter investigating corruption as in Bare Behind Bars or a government agent sent to rescue a political prisoner Caged Heat 2, Love Camp 7. Most commonly, the prisoner is reunited with a man a lover, father, or priest who guides her to goodness so she can reestablish her life with familial and heterosexual relationships.
Women-in-prison films developed in the s as melodramas in which young heroines were shown the way to a righteous life by way of the prison. Under the influence of pulp magazines and paperbacks , they became popular B movies in the s. It was not until the s, beginning with the release of Caged , starring Eleanor Parker and Agnes Moorehead , So Young, So Bad also , and Women's Prison with Ida Lupino and Cleo Moore , that an entire film was set inside a women's correctional facility.
That year Love Camp 7 was also among the first pure exploitation films that influenced the women in prison and Nazi exploitation genres. Bad Girls took a turn from the usual prison drama seen before to show a different perspective of women's lives and sexuality in prison. Didi Herman states,"Unlike other mainstream television products that may have lesbian or gay characters within a prevailing context of heteronormativity, [Bad Girls] represents lesbian sexuality as normal, desirable, and possible.
Among them are Love Camp 7 rejected in and Women in Cellblock 9 rejected in , on the grounds that they contain substantial scenes of sexual violence and in the case of the latter an actress who at 16 was under age at the time of production rendering it child pornography under U.
Both films are about innocent women who are thrown into foreign prisons and forced to face sadistic guards and brutal rape. Mainstream, non-exploitation prison films dealing with this theme include Bangkok Hilton starring Nicole Kidman and Brokedown Palace with Claire Danes , both which are set in Thailand and are focused on women who are imprisoned for smuggling drugs.
Also Prison Heat film , set in Turkey, is about four innocent American women who are mistakenly thrown in prison for cocaine possession. Jonathan Demme 's Caged Heat is one of the better known WiP films and has a cult following due to its tongue-in-cheek approach and casting of horror icon Barbara Steele as the warden.
Demme also co-wrote The Hot Box in , which is about female prisoners who break free and start a rebellion against their captors. Both of these films mimic classic WiP films by including typical WiP film characters, predictable scenes, and similar plots overall. Italian films[ edit ] Italian exploitation directors have produced scores of WiP films with far more graphic sex and violence than those produced in the U.
The Nazi exploitation subgenre centers on the same theme of captive women suffering abuses in war-time prison camps. Many of these films were developed in the late s and the early s as the industry continued to grow.
Comfort Women is based on real events. Chinese prostitutes are abducted by Japanese soldiers and used for brutal scientific experiments at the notorious Unit medical camp. The topic of sex "is usually considered taboo in traditional Chinese society", which makes the film industry scandalous and frowned upon by many.
In Japan, prison films are often made into a series based on popular characters from manga comics such as Prisoner Maria and the Sasori Scorpion series which includes Female Convict Scorpion , directed by Yutaka Kohira, starring Meiko Kaji. Many Japanese films include themes of vengeance and retribution with a heroine who take revenge against the drug or prostitution syndicates responsible for her incarceration. In the film Female Convict Scorpion , the audience "can see a story of Japanese women in captivity, with lots of very life-like scenes" because Japanese directors desire to produce "natural looking stories" to enhance the reality of the situation.
Many Japanese films contain these "natural looking stories" because they were based off life events, such as the internment camps. Jungle prison films[ edit ] The "Jungle Prison" subgenre has films set in fictional Banana republic nations run by corrupt dictators in either South America or Southeast Asia.
The majority of these were filmed in the Philippines where production costs are low. Here, a group of nubile prisoners are herded together in a stockade prison camp and used as slave labor, doing tasks such as cutting sugar cane or digging in a quarry.
These films usually involve a revolution subplot with political prisoners freed by other inmates in a climactic raid where the villains are killed. Stripped of Freedom featured Jewel Shepard as an undercover agent. Jesus Franco 's Sadomania features scenes such as gladiator fights to the death and prisoners hunted like animals in an alligator-infested swamp.
Nunsploitation[ edit ] The Nunsploitation nun exploitation subgenre emerged at the same time as the WiP film and is composed of the same basic elements.
The stories are set in isolated convents that resemble prisons where sexually-repressed nuns are driven to rampant lesbianism and perversity. The Mother Superior is usually a cruel and corrupt warden-like martinet. The nuns are treated like convicts, with rule-breakers subjected to whippings or Inquisition-style tortures. The added element of religious guilt entails scenes of masochism and self-flagellation. Mixed-genre prison films[ edit ] The WiP film has also expanded into other areas and film genres such as horror and science fiction.
A psycho-killer lurks in a house for wayward girls run by a harsh disciplinarian Lilli Palmer. This groundbreaking film has influenced many others, particularly the Dario Argento thriller Suspiria. Human Experiments , and Hellhole are two examples of a spate of horror films where prisoners are experimented on by mad scientists. Werewolf in a Women's Prison draws from the monster-movie genre.
Includes futuristic touches such as electric bra torment and cattle prod-like sticks. Star Slammer, aka Prison Ship is one of several low-budget space sagas set in the future. Hell Mountain and Chained Rage: Slave to Love are both set in a barbaric post-nuclear world where slaves are forced to toil in the mines.
Inmates are simply stranded there and must fend for themselves. The Japanese film Banished Behind Bars has a similar theme. Janet Perlman 's satirical graphic novel Penguins Behind Bars is a parody of the women in prison genre. It was later adapted by Perlman as an animated short which aired in the U. Many of these star Rena Riffel from Showgirls. Bars and Stripes is a video producer that maintains a website entirely devoted to its line of prison-based BDSM fetish films.
A stable of recurring "inmates" are listed with mug shots and information. Most of the films are part of a continuing story. Other companies that exclusively produce prison fetish films include: Chain Gang Girls, CagedTushy. Cheryl Dunye is an independent film producer who produced the prison drama Stranger Inside about a young African American women who purposely misbehaves in juvenile detention to get transferred to the women's prison in an effort to reunite with her imprisoned mother.