Women in Cell Block 9 (1977)
aka Frauen für Zellenblock 9
Ooooooh yeah. A women’s prison. A tropical setting. Jess Franco, director. That means hot, sweaty, naked Eurobabes in peril.
The movie opens with a covered truck barreling down a narrow dirt road. The crates of bananas and vegetables in the back conceal a handful of young women. At a turn in the road, the warden of a women’s prison awaits. She is a middle-aged bitch with short hair and bad teeth. She is accompanied by a small army and Dr. Costa (Franco regular Howard Vernon), an unemployed interrogator who is eager to get back into the torture game.
Soldiers stop the truck, investigate, and pull the women out. The warden seizes three for suspicion of involvement with a rebel group. They’re cuffed inside the warden’s vehicle and taken away. The Warden tells the soldiers, “Do what you want with the others!” which means chasing them down, ripping their clothes and raping them in the jungle. Hey, that’s how anyone would’ve interpreted her orders, right?
So it’s off to the big house and into Cell Block 9 for our trio of lucky ladies. We see the guards take them in, then we hear screaming inside, and finally we see the result: the three are stripped and shackled to the ceiling by their necks (but not bound hand or foot) and have to spend the day and night in a standing position. They include buxom platinum-blonde Karine (Gambier), sweet little Barbara (Esther Studer) and “strong, silent type” Aida (Gouveia).
Meanwhile, college student Maria (cute Susan Hemingway) is already being held captive, chained by her neck with a cup of water juuust out of her reach. For entertainment, the warden has her brought to where she and Vernon are dining, and offers her something to drink in exchange for some muff-munching. After Maria finishes the job, Vernon gives her some heavily-salted champagne. Ack!
Barbara is first to be taken from the cell to be tortured. She’s chained to a wall by the neck and seated on a wooden saw horse that’s been “enhanced” with pointed metal sheets. She tries to support her weight by hanging onto the chain, but Costa responds by pushing down on her thighs to increase the pressure. Really great reactions from Esther Studer here, and her petite infrastructure reinforces her vulnerability.
Next, Aida is taken to a lab for a bit of electro-shock persuasion. She is cuffed to a slightly inclined table. The warden
grills her while Costa turns up the juice – a little too much, unfortunately, because Aida soon starts quivering and foaming at the mouth. This scene is over too quickly IMO and may not satisfy electro fans.
Karine is then taken and handcuffed to the same table. Costa produces what looks like a rhino horn, fitted with a strap so it can be slid back and forth between Karine’s legs. She’s stubborn however, so for his next trick Costa pulls an underfed rodent out of a cage and sends it through a hollow metal tube on a path straight for Karine’s pussy. I like the way Costa dramatically explains to Karine just what he’s going to do to her, and throws in the fact that the famished rodent favors “dark, moist places.” Needless to say, the gnawing is not shown in explicit detail, but Karine’s reactions sell it.
They are all returned to Cell Block 9 and Maria joins them. Just when all seems hopeless for the quartet, they distract the guard by engaging in a lez grope-fest and inviting him to join in. (See, this is why you have to keep their hands tied behind their backs at all times).
They lose Aida in the escape attempt, so it’s now down to a trio again. Then it’s a race through the jungle naked in a desperate bid for freedom, with the warden, Costa and soldiers in pursuit. They even have to swim for their lives as they take evasive action against stock footage of crocodiles. I won’t give away the ending, except to say that the girls stay naked to the finale.
Movie pluses: The tortures are interesting and innovative. The villains are absolutely rotten to the core. The attractive babes get naked at the 13-minute mark and stay that way for their remaining screen time. They do a good job of making you feel the peril. And they are constantly moist or wet.
Movie minuses: Seems like nitpicking, but there is nothing here for fans of rope bondage or whipping. The rape and electro scenes are brief. And the movie never clears up the mystery of how Karine Gambier’s character manages to keep her pinned-back hairdo and pink lipstick intact through the whole ordeal. I would’ve preferred a more disheveled look.
Despite these drawbacks, this is one of Franco’s better offerings, and once again he delivers a lot of what GIMPers like to see: unclothed women in agony. My grade: B+.
As usual, there is more than one version around, none of them easy to find. Of course, the original VHS is the most faithful version, but pricey. There are also DVDs by VIP and JEF. JEF made some edits to the torture scenes. They removed graphic pussy shots of Gambier and Studer. While this is unfortunate, it is not inexplicable. What’s truly baffling is that JEF starts Aida’s electro scene right at the moment when she starts foaming, making that segment even shorter and less satisfying. (But then, JEF loses a lot of credibility by including pictures of women who are not in the movie on the DVD cover, and misspelling the title as WOMAN in Cell Block 9). Still, if you can’t find the better version, this one retains enough to make for good entertainment. But even this version is tough to locate.
Exploited Cinema used to have the VIP version as part of an 8-disc Box Set, but are currently out of stock. Too bad, because I think every GIMPer should have the opportunity to see this classic.