Escape from Hell (Review)

Escape from Hell

aka Femmine infernali

Antonio De Teffè as Doctor Farrell
Ajita Wilson as Zaira
Christina Lai as Vivienne
Cintia Lodetti as Katie
Luciano Pigozzi as Warden
Serafino Profumo as Martinez
Yael Forti as Marika
Anna Maria Panaro as Marie Antoinette
Directed by Edoardo Mulargia

Women in prison (WIP) movies have a special place in many people’s hearts. The shining stars of exploitation cinema, they can be incredibly entertaining pieces of filth, or so poorly made you wish flaming death to reign down upon its creators. Which one is this? Let’s just say I’m cooking napalm in my backyard and taking flying lessons. Escape From Hell is a complete pile of junk. Made when Italy was pumping out films faster than you could blink, the directors there were bridging into areas that pushed the boundaries of good taste (including cannibal films with real footage of animals being slaughtered.) There is no animal death here, but there is plenty of brutality, rape, and disgustingly greasy people both male and female (and she-male as it turns out!) If you’ve suspected from that list that Troma is involved, you are right, as they produced the most recent DVD release. You expect a deal of filth in WIP flicks, but there is a limit that when crossed turns it from a naughty pleasure into a disturbing look into the director’s psyche. The major flaw of this film is the fact it takes itself far too seriously, not letting us have fun with the violence, lesbianism, or other nonsense. The serious tone makes the film far more depressing than it should be, as the exploitation factors become troubling to sit through.

Another film called Savage Island was spliced together from both Escape From Hell and Hotel Paradiso with 10 minutes of new footage starring Linda Blair. The two original movies shared some of the same actresses, but they were playing very different roles, and thus when combined together it makes an incoherent mess. Which means it’s only slightly less coherent than Escape From Hell is by itself. Escape’s few attempts at a good plot pop out with the alcoholic doctor, who became so embittered by the horrors around him he crawled into a bottle and never came out. The rest of the film seems to be the standard WIP cliché list. We have lesbians, a sadistic warden, rapist guards, an evil female turncoat guard who used to be a prisoner, beatings, lesbians, women tied up and left to die, the one good employee who helps the escape, posses, lesbians, gun battles in the jungle, and lesbians.

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