Director: Oswaldo De Oliveira
Blue Underground

Wallowing unrepentantly in raw depictions of sadism, degradation, and violence, feeding exploitation fans hungry for sleaze a filthy feast of torture, corrupt politics, and undiluted violence, the ‘Women-In-Prison’ genre appeals to the basest instincts of humankind, finding titillation in the terror of women stripped of both their clothes and identities. From the low-key hysterics of such Roger Corman efforts as CHAINED HEAT to the unrepentantly grim and grimy hardcore filth of Jess Franco, the Women-in-Prison film is one of the more perverse pleasures of filmmaking, and one of the more honest, appealing directly to the animalistic urges of audiences.

While these films certainly aren’t great art, and the plots are often ludicrous, admittedly more concerned with scenes of carnal cruelty than thematic logic or narrative structure, they have their place in exploitation and psychological horror cinema as both curiosities and consciously mean-spirited vivisections of spirit. And yet these films, as seeped as they are in filth, afford viewers more than the initially transparent sexual enticement, brutality, and sadism that makes them at once both dangerous and reflective of our species hunger for the savage; they also reflect (purposely or unconsciously) corrupt political systems, the breakdown of society, and the rugged individualism of outsiders whose hearts and skin are broken at the edge of a whip (or various body appendages). Revealing some not-so-pleasant truths about ourselves, the very same instincts that make fans of these sordid spectacles turn red with shame just as strongly excites them; as fans we’re thrown into the decidedly uncomfortable position of accomplices as soon as the prison bars close, nubile women are strip-searched, and the basic instincts of our inhuman-human condition are appeased by the brutalization of others.

Perhaps this is nowhere more obvious than in one of the raunchiest, rudest, most revolting yet fascinating entries of this Bastard-child of genre – AMAZON JAIL. Starring the delectable Elizabeth Hartmann, sleaze-man extraordinaire Sergio Hingst, and Joao Paulo Ramalho, this sick, slick piece of carnality is as capable of sticking its crude fingers in your heart as it is in making you want to both retch and assist in a strip-search! A grim, exciting, undeniably emotionally hurtful addition to the sub-genre, this veritable catalogue of carnage, cruelty, and crassness is practically a “Best Of“ compilation of the form’s grittiest subject matter, including white slavery, forced sex, horny holy henchmen, and more T&A than you can drool at.

Deep in the jungle, a group of luscious young women are imprisoned by amorous white slavers, forced to submit to the demands of their guards as they struggle with their own awoken instincts and the advances of one another. Tormented by white slavers who break their bodies and their souls, the enticing girls break free from their bounds, only for their situation to go from bad to worse. Soon they find themselves in the hands of a priest whose interest is in more than heavenly bodies, and they must depend on their own intellect, instinct, and sexual magnetism to survive their plight, becoming, in fact, as depraved as their captors.

Featuring forced fornication and feminine fury, AMAZON JAIL is just as daring as its perverse predecessor BARE BEHIND BARS, offering improved direction, slightly superior production values, and a more concise screenplay with which to weave its scandalous aura. The atmosphere in this wonderfully photographed Amazon setting is a character unto itself. The wild, beautiful yet deadly surroundings compliment the frenzied sexual encounters and violence of the film while simultaneously mirroring the wild savagery that the central female characters endure.

An orgy of extremely graphic sex, violence, and a consciously harsh debasement of women, this is rough, unapologetic exploitation. Expect no rationales or apologies, for Oliveira offers none, nor should he have to. A much better service to viewers than the hypocritically sanitized features that are cranked out by corporations more concerned with popcorn sales than authentic emotional experience, AMAZON JAIL follows in the best exploitative and pornographic tradition, digging down to the roots of our animalistic natures, unafraid to vivisect both the physical and emotional politics of the corrupt human soul. Whereas a standard Hollywood offering is content to package violence as either patriotism or cartoonish, depicting its motivations and results in unbelievable, un-traumatic fashion, such trouble-making Bastard children of cinema as this go too far too deep into the wellsprings of our species and depict violence and sex as the very raw, primal, and dangerous phenomena that they can indeed be. Which, then, is more honest? Those critics who cry loudest about the potentially (unproven) adverse effects such films may have on the average mind may be protesting their very own confusion, instigated by the reluctant admittance that they are perversely drawn to such material.

Reveling in the same outrages that its surface plot pretends to condemn, director De Oliveira manages to inject a small amount of social commentary beneath surface scenes of debauchery, raw sexuality, and violence, although the raw beauty and admittedly crass effects of his powerhouse imagery tends to dwarf if not eclipse all together any socially redeemable context. A showman of the old school, Oliveira gives audiences the sleaze, sex, and violence that they want – and then some. Consciously or not, however, he also charges his no-nonsense narratives of nipple-nibbling and deadly dildos with disturbing social commentary and cultural condemnations. Just as much parody as porn, peon to perversion as putrid puke-fest, AMAZON JAIL is a cinematic kick in the teeth even while raising your pulse and penis!

Combining a surprisingly expert filmed location of exoticness and wild, untamed nature with those self-same aspects of the human heart, this vivisection of instinct and the human ability to ignore all sense of compassion for self-gratification and profit has NO redeeming values, nor does it need any. To insist that a movie – any movie – in some way must apologize or find a socially approvable reasons for arousing any particular emotion(s) or thought(s) is absurd. Director De Oliveira seeks to do no more than shock, titillate, and torment, and in these efforts he undeniably achieves. Therefore there is no need to apologize or seek out so-called “redeeming values.” He tells a story and tells it well, and anyone going into one of these films expecting to find subtle portraits of mercy and triumphs of the human spirit may well rent BABE the pig instead.

While admittedly low on logic, story complexity, and character, lacking the quality of narratives focused more on the development of social issues and characterization than on spectacle, the very nature of these films – and exploitation/pornographic features in general – is to strip bare the essential substance of our needs, lusts, fears, and anxieties; to show these emotions and instincts boldly, without masks. This minor masterwork of exploitation does just that, stripping away the masks of civility, daring us to take a long hard look at the beast. To enjoy the sexual terror and debauchery we see, and, perhaps, to ask us . . . why? You may not like the answers, but you will certainly love to hate AMAZON JAIL for giving you precisely the filth you secretly slaver for.

As usual for a Blue Underground release, the image quality of this rare slice of sleaze and sex is impeccable. Presenting the re-mastered, uncut version of the movie in a startlingly clear widescreen anamorphic 1.66:1 ratio, the visuals are clean without any noticeable grain or print damage. Colors are vibrant with natural, pleasing tones, and image depth is sound. An audio track dubbed in English is also commendable; clear, clean, and concise. While the only extra to be found is an enjoyably wacky theatrical trailer, the loving presentation of this dirty bruise of celluloid more than makes up for in quality what the disc lacks in supplements.

An unrepentant attack against the oh-so polite political correctness taking the fun out of fucking and the fright out of fear, this movie gets a life sentence for its gratuitous sadism and willingness to go too far! (William P. Simmons)