Gerardo de Leon directs a chick flick of a different sort. When sadistic women’s prison warden Alabama (Pam Grier) isn’t harassing her female inmates in her torture chamber, she’s maniacally seducing them, forcing them to bend to her every sexual whim. Soon after ditzy ex-stripper Jeff (Jennifer Gan) is sent to Alabama’s prison for a crime she didn’t commit, she finds she’s no exception and must face the tyrannical warden.
Few figures in cinema inspire such uniquely contradictory reactions as Filipino director Gerry de Leon. Revered in his home country as a national treasure and esteemed by the international critical establishment, De Leon is just as readily dismissed by unwitting cinephiles – and undoubtedly many of the same critics who champion him – as an anonymous hack.
This schism doesn’t represent a vehement divergence of opinion on his ability as a filmmaker, but stems from a confounding material conundrum: there’s a distinct, maddening paucity of available works from De Leon’s most fertile period, while a series of low-budget, independently produced, mostly American-funded and distributed films he began directing in the late 1950s are abundantly available.
At the time that De Leon took these latter projects on, the Hollywood-style Philippines studio system that had nurtured his early career – action specialists Premiere Productions in particular – was experiencing a meltdown analogous… read more
Superior Philippines-shot women in prison sleazefest goes through all the usual motions, but working for it is a fast-paced, over the top plot and Pam Grier's inimitable presence as the requisite sadistic matron. Hard to argue its values as good cinema, but great entertainment for cult movie fans.