Saturday, January 21, 2017

99 Women

Director - Jess Franco (Bloody Moon, Hellhole Women)
Starring - Maria Schell (Superman, King Thrushbeard), Herbert Lom (The Dead Zone, River of Death), and Mercedes McCambridge (The Exorcist, Killer By Night)
Release Date - 1969
Genre - Exploitation
Tagline - "Behind bars - without men"
Format - Bluray (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):
     The whole "women in prison" sub-genre of exploitation has always been one that I had little to no interest in.  How can a film following women in prison be entertaining?  I've always wondered that.  My father, on the other hand, enjoyed them and would often watch them late at night on skinimax.  They just seemed overly boring to me so I never really looked into them.  Once I started writing for Horror Society I started to notice that a lot of horror fans were also fans of these films and a result of that was that a lot of the companies that catered to horror fans would randomly release one of these films.  A little while back my friends over at Blue Underground released the film 99 Women which is the 1969 Jess Franco directed "women in prison" film.  This was a new one to me and my love for Blue Underground and Jess Franco drove me to see it.  Thanks BU for sending a review copy my way!
     The film follows Marie who is being taken to an all female prison on an island for a crime she did not commit.  The prison is ran by a womanizing lesbian warden who is known for torturing women to the point they die.  She gets her hopes up with a new minister is appointed over the prison but when they fail to reopen her case she escapes from the prison only to find the horrors of the island jungle waiting for her.

     I can remember growing up and seeing my dad watch westerns like a religious nut watches Benny Hinn.  He loved westerns but if a women in prison flick was on he would break his neck to check it out.  I could see how some would find them sexy and alluring but they were boring as fuck to me.  I don't know how many times he would start one and I would quickly fall asleep.  I was afraid that 99 Women would have the same affect on me.  Luckily, it did not.  The acting in this one is not the best.  The cast shows on screen experience and charm but they lack believable characters.  Most of the women in the film act as if they are all portraying the same character.  It gives the viewer very little to separate them other than appearance.  Who is the bad guy, good guy, the bitch, and so on?  The story for this one is simple.  It follows a woman wrongfully convicted of a crime and forced to an all female prison where the women are stripped of their identities and used to flesh out the fantasies of several of the staff.  This could have been sexy, in a way, but the characters, wardrobe, and setting of the film quickly distances itself from any idea of sexy.  The story is a bit of a slow burner with several scenes added in just for filler to get the running time up.  If these scenes were cut the film would have moved at a much better pace and flowed a lot better.  Finally, no blood or gore in this one for you.  If you want beautiful women in rags while being mildly tortured then you may enjoy this one.  If you want blood and gore then I would suggest you check out one of the many other films in the Blue Underground catalog.  

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