Since I plan to be doing this for a whole year, it would get boring for both of us if I just watched the same type of films for 366 days. So, once a week, I’m going to watch and write up the first crazy-ass flick I spot on Lovefilm Instant*. This week, that flick is…
Bare Behind Bars
Good, wholesome, Sunday afternoon fun
Imagine, if you will, that John Waters and Sergio Leone had a love-child, and that love-child made a women-in-prison exploitation movie full of lesbian orgies, murder, torture, white slavery, a nurse hooked on sniffing ether, and some of the finest moustaches ever committed to celluloid. The result might be something like Bare Behind Bars.
Made in Brazil in 1980, this features all of the above to a ludicrous degree. Thirty two years ago this was probably a truly shocking film; today, it’s just kind of funny for the first hour at least. Written (probably in about an hour and a half) and directed by Oswaldo de Oliveira, this movie has got every cliché you can think of, and a few more besides.
The cast includes such sexploitation luminaries as Maria Stella Splendore and Marta Anderson as Sylvia the slave-trading warden and Barbara the bonkers nurse, respectively. Barbara in particular is a character for the ages. Here is a nurse in a prison who presumably had to undergo some kind of selection process to get the job, but who can’t take your blood pressure because she thinks the cuff goes around your neck. After finding a straight razor being stored in the traditional way, she punishes the inmate by giving her a naked massage then produces a remarkably anatomically-correct dildo carved from a pineapple, that she calls The Eighth Wonder of the World!
About an hour into this flick, three of the inmates (including Barbara’s new friend) escape. This is the point where you might want the kids to leave the room. What has only been mean-spirited and sleazy up to now suddenly takes a turn for the seriously fucked up. The delight with which these escapees murder an entire family and then defile the bodies just so they can raid the wife’s wardrobe is really unsettling. This is followed by an unexpected hard-core scene before the cops and/or unsuspecting boyfriends turn up and the survivors end up back inside.
Sexploitation films were never known for their subtlety, but this is almost gonzo in its randomness. The white slavery subplot in particular appears to be just an excuse for some quaint lesbian frolics by the beach. Oliveira is either a complete hack who had never even read a screenplay before, never mind written one, or he is some kind of savant who decided to play with the genre and see what he could get away with.
This is an odd film indeed. I don’t think I would ever want to watch it again, not on my own at least. It would make for one hell of a drinking game though. And what higher praise is there than that?
*Do you think if I mention them enough, they’ll give me a free subscription? I’ll keep you posted.