The Big Doll House was the first movie Pam Grier actually had a big role in. It’s also the first time she teams up with Jack Hill. Together they would both become the face of blaxploitation with Coffy and Foxy Brown. But before that would become their breakthrough they did a couple of “chicks in chains” movies together, the Big Doll House being the first, the Big Bird Cage the second. Grier starred into other prison-themed movies like Women in Cages and Black mama, white mama. Amazing actually she transcended above these movies and became a star. Practically the rest of the casts in these movies got nowhere. At least not in front of the camera.
This movie and Women in Cages where practically shot back to back. They’re shot in the same prison, the starring cast is mostly the same, they even have the same truck in both movies. The movies differ however. This movie is better scripted and better directed. But it stays a simple women-in-prison-movie so that means gratuitous nudity, torture and lesbian affections. It’s there, but not as much as one would expect. Even Pam, while she does display her goods, most of the time just shows her back. Such a cock-tease.
The story this time: same as always… Young American girl is convicted in a South American or Asian country and we follow her to prison. Here she shares a cell with other American women, all hot and sexy. She has to learn how things work in jail, endure torture, try out lesbian affection, mud-wrestle, try to escape and soap other womens backsides and breasts in the shower. Very important.
The movie’s pretty entertaining I must say. There were no real slow parts and the women were very easy on the eye. This time the girl which we follow isn’t a whiny ugly redhead but rather the beautiful Judith M. Brown as Collier. She’s once again in the same cell with voluptuous Pam Grier (Grear) and the beautiful Roberta Collins (Alcott). Bonus castmember is Sid Haig, another Jack Hill regular, who plays some sort of supplier who wants some prison-poontang. Oh well, everybody’s got to have his fetish. He’s pretty funny and a highlight between otherwise bland “actresses”. These women aren’t cast on their thespian skills of course…
Movies like this always consist of unintentional humor. Even though this movie looks af it it tries to play it straight you can feel the makers having fun behind the camera. I mean, electric nipple shockers, come on. Sure it’s something you can get at every sexshop nowadays but they don’t seem like your standard prison equipment. If you look closely during the openingscenes you see a young Dame Edna entering the prison. Wigwearing must be illegal in those countries. You can’t help but laugh when cliché-scenes like mudwrestling catfights and overlong showerscenes are on screen. Can a shower scene actually be too long? I guess when the skin starts to wrinkle it’s about time to move on… Now it might sound like there’s tons of nudity, but actually I was surprised how fairly tame it was. Sure, we get to see enough but a lot of scenes were shot in a way you don’t get to see much. There’s a torture scene where the girl tortured is nude but constantly has her hair cover her breasts. Like I mentioned earlier, Pam Grier, teases us a lot with her backside and all the Phillipino background extra’s keep their clothes on. Missed opportunity.
At least Brown and Collins show a fair amount of skin over the course of the film.
Big Doll House is not a good movie. It’s entertaining and it actually is an easy watch but it’s exploitation to it’s core and it’s better than Women in Cages.