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Askew Review 15

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(Shock-O-Rama) 90 Minutes.  Spoof of the Women In Prison or WIP genre.  Not rated. Gratuitous nudity, violence, ninja, and Lloyd Kaufman. When Janine’s sister is kidnapped for diabolical experiments within the confines of a women’s prison in The Philippines, she will stop at nothing to free her from the madhouse they call a jail.  With the help of inmate Jackpot (Rhonda Shear) and her co-horts, Janine devises a plan to free everyone from the horror of prison life.
     Before we get started with the review let me say what a big fan I am of director Barak Epstein’s previous flick Cornman.  In the world of micro budget cinema this film stands out as an example of what can be accomplished with true talent.  Now, on with the review!
     Prison a Go-Go! Is the perfect example of a spot on spoof.  The women in prison genre is one of those set in stone kind of things.  Every so often you get a really good one like Jonathan Demme’s Caged Heat or Jess Franco’s 99 Women.  With Prison a Go-Go! It is obvious that Barak has done his homework, as if that weren’t enough he managed to snare Mary Woronov and Rhonda Shear for the film.  Woronov does her best, maniacal warden bit while Rhonda comes across as the great star we always knew she was by staying Up All Night with her on the USA cable network before they replaced her with that schlub Gilbert Gottfried.  She even makes an Up All Night joke in the film.  Now, I know what you’re saying.  How in the Hell did they get these two people for their film?  Easy!  Barak went to their respective web sites and emailed them with the job offer.  Makes you wish you had thought of it first, doesn’t it? The entire movie is very tongue in cheek.  There’s even a clock that counts down to the next shower scene.  Even the shower scenes are funny.  A couple of them have the sound like the shower is running, but there’s no water!  And our prerequisite mad doctor who is attempting to cross Janine’s sister with a porcupine to find a cure for the common cold (Huh!?!) comes across as a demented Mandy Patinkin.  And, since he never removes his goggles it could be Mandy.  I kinda doubt it, but you never know. And Barak never forgets his friends.  In this case, Mike Wiebe (who did a magnificent job as the evil Dr. Hoe in Cornman) plays prison warden Wilbur and he’s just as funny in this role.  As for the DVD, it is packed with extras including a commentary and a couple of documentaries.  But the real reason to own this disc, besides the fact that the film is fall down funny, is the special Q&A that took place during the all night movie marathon Shock-A-Go-Go!  We get fresh interviews with Mary Woronov, Roger Corman and Dave Friedman.  These are worth the price of the disc. It’s good to see that Barak Epstein has found a place for his particular brand of bizarre humor.  Shock-O-Rama, a division of ei Cinema, is improving on their product by bringing in a new wave of directors that can inject life into the world of exploitation cinema. – Douglas A. Waltz



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