Violence In A Woman’s Prison (1982): Yell! Magazine’s Classics Of Exploitation Series



Directed by Bruno Mattei Written by Ambrogio Molteni, Olivier Lefait
Starring Laura Gemser, Gabriele Tinti, Maria Romano

99 mins - Action | Thriller - Release date: 11 November 1982

Violence In A Woman’s Prison (aka, Violenza in un carcere femminile) has all the elements that made the prison film popular. Rape, lesbianism, fights between inmates and guards, violence among prisoners, torture, and nudity are all on display in Bruno Mattei’s film. He, along with other directors such as Jesus Franco, Roger Corman, Tom DeSimone, and Jonathan Demme made the women in prison (WIP) flick one of the classic sub-genres of exploitation cinema.

There are better examples of WIP (such as Caged Heat and The Big Doll House), but Mattei is notable not only for WIP films, but also for other categories of exploitation such as Nazisploitation (SS Girls, SS Extermination Love Camp), Sexploitation (Sexy Night Report, Nero and Poppea, Caligula and Messalina), and cannibal films (Land of Death), which makes him required watching in exploitation cinema.

Violenza in un carcere femminile poster

Bruno Mattei used his most popular pseudonym, Vincent Dawn, to direct this classic WIP exploitation flick. It stars Laura Gemser as Emanuelle, a journalist who goes undercover, with the collaboration of Amnesty International, to expose corruption and human rights violations in an Italian prison.

Pretending to be a girl named Laura Kendall, a prostitute, pimp killer, and drug pusher, it doesn’t take long for her to feel the wrath of the prison’s head guard. When introductions were made to the head warden (played by Lorraine De Selle), Emanuelle was slow to answer questions, which led to a few vigorous jabs with a billy club to the ribs. This was the first example of the many abuses she would receive while residing at the Santa Catarina Women’s Penitentiary.

After a quick scene to introduce us to Kitty (Maria Romano), Emanuelle is brought to the infirmary for a medical exam. It’s here that we see Gemser undress for the first time and show us that she is as beautiful in body as she is in face. Dr. Moran (Gabriele Tinti) gives her a clean bill of health. Moran is a prisoner in the male section of the prison and was given the doctor position by the head warden. He also becomes Emanuelle’s love interest.

violence in a womens prison

We then get to meet the various other inmates, including the butchy Hertha (Françoise Perrot) and her bitch Consuelo (Ursula Flores) and then we are party to a lesbian scene between the two for the head guard’s benefit. She is a voyeur and gains sexual gratification from watching. After a riot in the men’s prison, we return to Emanuelle and her first confrontation with prison authority.

Emanuelle is given a chamber pot full of human waste and told by the guards to empty it in the adjacent room. When she refuses, after being insulted, and throws the pot’s contents over the guard who antagonized her, a fight ensues. She is subdued and thrown in the hole.

The hole is infested with rats. With too many of the vermin to fend off, Emanuelle is bitten, chewed on, and generally molested in the head and legs by the diseased animals. While Emanuelle is trying to fight off the rats, Consuelo is taken from her cell and put into a room where two male inmates beat and rape her. We find both the head warden and the chief inspector (Jacques Stany) are voyeurs as well as they watch the rape through a window while having sex themselves.

violence in a womens prison

Later, Emanuelle is taken out of the hole because the head guard didn’t want her to be totally consumed by the rats. She is placed back in her cell and left to die from the infection. That is until her cellmate Pilar (Leila Ducci/Durante) fakes stomach pains to get Dr. Moran to the cell. When he arrives he is pointed in the direction of Emanuelle, whom he promptly takes to the infirmary.

Emanuelle recovers only to be put to hard labor in a gravel pit with the rest of the girls. After a fight breaks out between Consuelo and Hertha, in which Consuelo is killed, Kitty temporarily loses her mind witnessing such pointless violence causing the death of her friend. Elsewhere, the chief inspector receives a letter warning that an investigative journalist has infiltrated the jail to spy on the conditions and write an expose in the newspapers. The warden searches Emanuelle’s bed and finds her notes.

Emanuelle is beaten and tortured (her head is put in a metal bell and hit with billy clubs to cause an unbearable ringing noise). When she confesses to being a reporter working in collaboration with Amnesty International, the torture stops. She is put in a separate area away from the other prisoners and is drugged and poisoned.

Seeing the imperative to flee from the prison before Emanuelle is poisoned to death, Dr. Moran, with the help of Pilar and Kitty, makes arrangements for escape. The chief visits Emanuelle in her private room and rapes her. Moran sends a letter to the inspector of prisons to inform him of the atrocities perpetrated in one of his prisons. While in the cafeteria for meal time, Hertha threatens to expose the escape plot. This starts a riot and Kitty uses the commotion to leave the cafeteria and get Emanuelle to Dr. Moran. Hertha is killed and while all the guards are occupied breaking up the cafeteria riot, Emanuelle and Dr. Moran escape.

Emmanuelle and Dr. Moran get outside the walls and take refuge in a sheltered area full of hay. They make love. More guards are brought into the cafeteria and the riot is quelled. Pilar hits the head guard who shoots Pilar in return. This causes another prisoner to stab the head guard in the back. Both are brought to the infirmary where Pilar dies.

Guards with dogs are sent after Emanuelle and Dr. Moran and they are soon captured. When they are brought to the Head Warden’s office they find she, as well as the Chief Inspector have been arrested by the inspector of prisons. Dr. Moran’s letter was taken seriously.

The film ends with Emanuelle leaving in a car with the inspector, promising Dr. Moran she will wait for him until he is paroled.

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