How Far Can Bogosity Go?
The opening scene in this movie establishes exactly what kind of prison this is ... a FUN prison! Well, unless you're an inmate.
Copyright 2008 by Pat Powers
Caged Fury is a movie that definitely belongs in a league with Passion Network -- it features a group of people engaging in a stupidly dangerous and complex plot that could easily be rendered unnecessary by the application of a little money, something the principals in the scheme clearly have a great deal of.
In fact, the expenses associated with the scheme in Caged Fury are so great that you have to figure that the people financing the plot are losing money big time.
And yet, despite this and many other flaws, Caged Fury is a topnotch exploitation women in prison flick that really delivers in the area of nudity and violence, especially violence of the bad-guys-get-their-comeuppance variety.
Did somebody mention "exploitation"?
The movie begins with a thong-clad inmate making a desperate attempt to escape from Honeywell State Prison for Women being captured by a guard, then being forced to crawl on her hands and knees back to her cell. She looks to the other prisoners for support, but they are too frightened to even look back at her, huddling in their cells as the guard and his captive slowly pass. Then the guard leads her into a cell, and shrieking is heard.
We're don't see what caused the shrieking, but knowing women in prison flicks, you can be sure it was something awful.
In the next scene we're introduced to Kathie Collins, the lead in our story, who is talking over her plan to go to Hollywood and attempt to become a star with her sister Tracy.
"Where did you get the nerve to even try?" Tracy asks.
"From you!" Kathie replies.
Tracy (left) and Kathie. Which one would you kick out of bed first for eating crackers?
Here's where the movie made its first mistake. Elena Sahagun, the actress who plays Tracy, is drop dead gorgeous. Roxanna Michaels, the actress who plays Kathie, is verging on being Hollywood ugly, or "quite pretty" in real life, but not freaking gorgeous. Given that the level of acting called for in this film is not great (lots of screaming at times, heartfelt kisses with the good guy at times, otherwise nothing much) they really should have gone with Tracy as the lead. I'll concede that Michaels is a better actress than Sahagun (though to be fair, Sahagun is given so little to do that her skills aren't really tested) but this is not Shakespeare.
So Kathie heads off for LA on the usual desert highway. Meanwhile, Rhonda (played by April Dawn Dollarhide) is hitchhiking down the same desert highway and gets a ride with a friendly good ol' boy. He's so friendly and nice that he offers to let her suck his cock. She declines with thanks, but he absolutely INSISTS. This leads to a lot of screaming and thrashing by Rhonda and in short order she's ejected from the truck, with extra added screaming.
Kathie happens to be driving down the road in the opposite direction when Rhonda exits and Rhonda flags her down and gets a ride with her. Soon they are fast friends. They head out to a biker bar to celebrate their friendship. (Um, yeah, bad idea.)
This is not a stripper being watched by Victor (left) and Dirk (obscured). This biker bar is so wild that the waitresses dance naked just for the hell of it. I'm not kidding.
Then we meet Victor (played by Erik Estrada) and Dirk (played by Richard Barathy), who are hanging around a biker bar, but it's not what you think. They're looking for a biker gang member who's been extorting money from a friends of Victor's with a plan to tell him to lay off. Yes, Victor and Dirk are so tough that they terrorize biker gangs. When members of the gang who are in the bar take Donna out to the back of the bar for a little truck-bed gang rape, Victor and Erik head out to look for Donna. When they see what's going on, a fight breaks out. Dirk and Victor then proceed to beat up the biker gang with their bare hands.
This guy wasn't even a biker. Dirk just couldn't stand the guy's pants.
Ok, I kid, I kid.
No I don't. Those pants suck!
This sounds about as likely as a 120-pound woman beating up on a 200-pound goon, and really, it is. But Estrada and Barathy make it look halfway reasonable, especially Barathy, who's obviously into bodybuilding and martial arts. His mullet alone is enough to terrify any normal opponent into submission, but he also is built like a gorilla and has fists the size of holiday hams. Even the larger bikers look like scrawny kids by comparison. Plus they have that "attack with the face" problem that movie bad guys always have.
Dirk fights. The mullet alone is enough to stun an opponent. And he wears that grin whenever he fights, which is also quite scary. Hitting and kicking opponents almost seems like a formality.
Let me just explain how tough Dirk is. After beating up the attempted rapist bikers in the parking lot -- every last fucking one of them -- Dirk picks up one of the bikers by the scruff of the neck and hauls him back into the bar, dumping him on a pool table like so much garbage, and grinning at the other bikers in the bar. He wants to FINISH OFF THE GANG.
Of course, the other bikers attack Dirk and Erik, who's come along for the fun, and these bikers get THEIR butts kicked, too. Dirk and Erik have hardly a scratch. But the point is, Dirk and Erik COULD have ridden off after pounding the bikers in the parking lot, but they didn't want to leave any bikers with their butts unkicked.
Now that's tough.
Kathie shows her appreciativeness to Victor for kicking the biker's butts in the form of hugs and kisses, and Rhonda does the same for Dirk, so they're all happy couples.
Meanwhile, Rhonda has been posing for sexy photos for a sleazy photographer (is there any other kind, in B movies?). The photographer sends the photos to a modeling agency and they like her looks and call her in to sign up. She brings Kathie along. They fill out forms and so forth but at some point the two of them are pushed around by the studio's gorilla (I believe they folded their papers lengthwise instead of horizontally as instructed, so of course they needed slapping around). The gals fight back, the studio calls the cops, and the two of them find themselves in a holding cell in short order.
"Just because you're being shaken by a goon twice your size, it doesn't give you the right to slap him and call him a big meanie, young lady! Have you thought about HIS feelings?"
Their trial is a true demonstration of California justice at work -- the modeling agency guy tells how they attacked his huge, bulky defenseless self, and Kathie and Rhonda insist that they were just defending themselves. The judge sides with the modeling agency and sentences both to a term of 2 to 12 months in Honeywell State Prison for Women, even though they are first offenders and they have not done the modeling agency gorilla any perceptible damage. So it's off to Honeywell for them.
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OK, I am now going to spoiler the living hell out of this movie. Doing so is essential for purposes of revealing ludicrousness. If you don't like spoileration, now would be a good time to stop reading and go find a copy of this film. However, I have to say that knowing spoilers about this movie will in no way detract from your enjoyment of what it is. What makes this movie fun is not the plotline, because even when it's comprehensible, it's idiotic.
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Remember what I said earlier about this being a Passion Network kind of movie? Here's why: Honeywell State Prison is bogus. The court that sentenced Kathie and Rhonda is bogus. The cops that drove them to prison are bogus, and the modeling agency is a front for all the bogosity.
Superficially it looks like a clever scheme: the modeling agency uses the pics to see who's an attractive prospect, they use the biographical information on the resume to see who'd disappear without a trace easily, being new in town. When people inquire after them, they say they were sent to work on a movie in Mexico. (Because, you know, Mexico is practically another planet.) The courts and cops make the whole thing look legit. Once in prison the girls' spirits are relentlessly broken until they are compliant sex slaves and can be sold as such to interested buyers.
Fake cop car, with fake cops. These things cost money, y'know.
However, even a nanosecond of thought about this scheme reveals its fatal flaw: no matter HOW profitable white slavery is, it can't POSSIBLY be enough to support the overhead involved. You have your fake cops, your fake courtroom, including your fake judge, your fake bailiff, your fake court reporter, and a whole bunch of fake witnesses watching the proceedings and of course your huge fake prison staff which would have to include guards, food service workers, repair techs, etc. And even granting that the modeling agency may be doing some legit work to keep themselves looking real, you have to figure that at least some of the staff who know what's going on are getting paid off.
And that's another point. The people that work for these various bogus enterprises have to be making very good money, I mean, there's a lot of risk associated with a criminal enterprise. Nobody's making minimum wage, and although I am sure that all the free pussy is a huge perk for some of the prison guards, they still probably would make a hell of a lot more than other prison guards.
While it's clear a large number of women are confined in Honeywell, there's just no way to pimp all of them out for enough money to pay for the enterprise. The folks in charge have to be losing money on it, big time.
And of course, if ANY of the people in the fake court, the fake cop car, the fake prison or the semi-fake modelling agency get sufficiently careless, disgruntled or fearful, they could very easily spill the beans about the whole enterprise. Given how many people there are involved in the scheme, and how hard it is for even a few people to keep a mildly embarrassing secret, especially if they drink, this factor alone makes the scheme untenable.
Here's the another problem: when the inmates are released they'll blab about conditions in the prison (more about this shortly). So when the time comes to release a prisoner, the guards escort her out of her cell and take her to another cell well away from the other prisoners and let the psychopath guard kill her.
Donna learns what "paroled" means at Honeywell State Prison for Women.
Now, if hundreds or more likely, thousands of women disappear and are never seen again and their only common contact is that they visited a certain modeling agency, even a cursory search will soon reveal this fact. As we shall see.
Meanwhile, Tracy has gotten alarmed at sister Kathie's disappearance and gone searching for her in LA. Victor and Dirk start searching for Kathie and Rhonda as well. She goes to the L.A. police but finds them to be borderline retarded, so she goes out looking on her own.
Tracy quickly finds the sleazy photographer who set Kathie and Rhonda up with the modeling agency. But he proves to be a problem, as we shall see shortly.
Victor and Dirk have better luck with their search. Well, it's not so much luck as the fact that it's really hard to say "No" to someone who can kick you through a wall if they really want an answer.
The first person to discover this is the sleazy photographer. When Dirk and Victor arrive at his place, he's busy raping Tracy (told you he was a problem) and doesn't want to be bothered. He opens the door and threatens Victor and Dirk with a gun. Dirk kicks the gun out of his hand and bangs him against the wall a few times to calm him down. When Tracy informs Dirk and Victor that sleazy photographer knows where Kathie is, Dirk wraps a paw around the photographer's throat and doesn't let go until he's told them the name of the agency, its address and driving directions in tenths of a mile increments. Then he gives the photographer a nightly-night forearm smash.
If asking nicely doesn't work, Dirk has an alternative method of making inquiries.
Tracy heads off to the modeling agency to continue tracking her sister, and Victor informs her that if they don't hear from her by eight they'll be back along.
Well, one look at Tracy and the folks at the modeling agency know they have a real winner for Honeywell, so in no time it's off to phony court for a phony trial and sentencing and a trip to phony prison for Tracy. Tracy finds her sister, but she's as trapped and helpless as Kathie.
However, Victor and Dirk follow up on their promise to check on the agency when they don't hear from Tracy by eight. The agency's receptionist tries to stonewall them but it's clear she's lying her ass off and so Victor and Dirk goon it up a bit and start smashing and throwing things to express their disbelief. The receptionist hits the panic button and the studio goon comes out to sort things out.
I have trouble maintaining my suspension of disbelief when characters look at a gorilla like Dirk and somehow think they can physically intimidate him, but just like the sleazy photographer, the studio goon tries it. And with equally good results, in that Dirk beats the crap out of him in short order.
The studio goon's attempt to intimidate Dirk does not go as planned resulting in Dirk kicking him through (an admittedly shoddily constructed) wall.
This leads the owner of the agency, an old guy in a suit, to whip out a revolver and shoot Victor in the shoulder. Dirk kicks the gun out of the old guy's hand, then kicks him into a potted plant.
There are a couple of other goons who want to play, so Dirk beats the crap out of them, too. By the time he's through, the place is a smoking ruin, and he and Victor know the gals were sent to Honeywell, and they know its location, phone number, etc. It's amazing how responsive even the most hardened criminals can be when they've seen you kick a few of their buddies through walls.
Meanwhile, back at Honeywell, the gals have to go through the check-in process. Kathie and about half a dozen other young lovelies are first made to strip naked as a group. Then they're herded into a room with plenty of window space and a long table in the middle.
The clothes come off. It will be awhile before they come back on.
Then a tough-looking prison matron singles a heifer out from the herd, grabs her by the scruff of the neck, and brutally forces her head down on the table, making her bend over and display her naughty parts to all and sundry -- her fellow prisoners and anyone who cares to look in through the window.
A naked inmate is brutally forced down by a burly gaurd, exposing herself to all.
She also exposes her naughty parts to the other tough-looking prison matron who is wearing latex gloves. Yes, it's cavity-search time, something the matron does with such vigor and gusto that it elicits screams and agonized writhing from the searchees. In fact, when Kathie has her turn, she squeals like a pig. Not metaphorically, she utters a loud, piercing squeal that really makes that point that she is being probed in an un-tender manner.
Donna squeals like a peeg. And take a look at that guard -- it's great to see someone who really enjoys her work.
The camera takes the action in from in front of the table, with the victim's face in the foreground, so although we don't see any penetration we get to see great reaction shots of the searchees grimacing and crying. This is absolutely the best cavity search scene in any women in prison flick, setting the standard for all others. It captures all the humiliation, vulnerability, domination and submission along with the nudity and the lesbianism. Given that this is not a hardcore film, it could not have done better in any way that I can think of. Somebody obviously thought this scene through very carefully, which is quite unusual in women in prison flicks, most of which have that almost dreamlike stupidity that's characteristic of creative work done by people who are exploring stuff they don't really want to think about.
The cavity search scene is without a doubt the artistic high point of the film though it is not the best part of the movie. More on that later.
Once assigned a cell, Kathie and her fellow new inmates find they are in a prison that has plenty of exciting programs for prisoners. Prison officials help Kathie adjust to her new lifestyle by having a friendly orientation session where they explain exactly the Honeywell approach to prisoner relations. (I may be paraphrasing just a little here.)
Warden Thorn at Honeywell State Prison for Women in full uniform (right) and naked. Inmates get to see her in both states ... whether they want to or not.
"We intend to break you," explains the evil lesbian dominatrix Warden Sybil Thorn (ably played by Mindi Miller). You can tell she's a lesbian dominatrix immediately because she wears a leather suit that belongs in the front ranks of a gay pride parade. You can tell she's evil because she's got an evil smirk that would raise hackles on a newborn babe.
Now that's a top-of-the-line evil leer! Mindi Miller does a great job with a small role here.
"The purpose of Honeywell is to turn you into a compliant sex slave," says the head guard (played by Paul L. Smith, best remembered as Bluto from the live-action "Popeye" movie) who appears to be too fat to rape the inmates but does seem to enjoy brutalizing them.
"We will rape you and beat you and terrorize you until you are willing to do anything we tell you to do," says Falco, the vaguely Eurotrash-looking businessman who appears to be backing Honeywell, with Thorn running it. "Once you are totally reduced to a creature that will do anything she is told, we will sell you to wealthy men."
"What kind of prison is this?" cries Kathie.
"We just told you, it is a fake prison," Thorn responds. "It's actually more of a slaver training facility."
"But what about the court, all those people?" cries Kathie.
"Fakity-fake-fake-fake," explains the head guard. "This is L.A., we've got access to tons of talented artists who can create fabulously fake courtrooms without breaking a sweat."
Kathie, finally realizing how horrible things are now that it has been painstakingly explained to her, screams in terror as they haul her off.
Kathie passes her free time planning escapes, and even though she's not very bright, she's smarter than the other inmates. She comes up with a plan to set fire to the prison to attract outside authorities that the others like. (Now, I have a problem with the plan. I think it's a very bad idea to set fire to a place you are locked into, what's more, you're locked into by people who don't give a shit about you. But I guess that's just me.)
Turns out that she need not have been so concerned. The Honeywell program SOUNDS like an efficient slave-breaking system, but it's carried out so haphazardly and inefficiently that I wasn't at all impressed by it. Granted, my standards are quite high, made so by many truly inventive and original Internet bondage writers, photographers and videographers. (More about this later.)
Typical rape scene from "Caged Fury" -- random, brutal, and so darkly lit you can't tell who's doing what to whom.
The guards do rape the inmates, but it's an almost random occurence. Beatings are also haphazard and random. Basically, the prison scenes indicate that the inmates are allowed to hang around the cellblock with other inmates most of the time, until some passing guard decides somebody needs beating and/or raping, or more likely, that he feels like beating or raping somebody.
There's certainly nothing like a disciplined approach to enslaving the inmates, even though it's very clearly stated that that is the goal of the prison.
Furthermore, the guards are very easily distracted from their beatings and rapes. In fact, they never get around to really raping Kathie despite the fact that you see a guard force Kathie down on a cot in a dark cell a couple of times (the standard rape procedure in Honeywell). Each time it happens, something happens and the guard rushes off, leaving Kathie all screamy and unraped.
The same occurs when Kathie's sister Tracy shows up at Honeywell -- there is an attempt to rape her, but the guard is distracted, although granted, it's by Kathie and she has a gun. In fact, on several occasions Kathy escapes, obtains a gun and gets recaptured. It actually gets quite confusing -- Kathie keeps showing up at odd places with a gun in her hands, the gets recaptured, then shows up at another odd place with a gun in her hand. It's as if the guards lose interest in her after they capture off and let her wander off to the gun storage area pretty much at will.
Kathie distracts a guard from raping her sister with a gun.
Still, for Kathie to stay in Honeywell for days as the story clearly indicates she does, and not get raped or beaten in a facility designed to break the will of inmates, well, it's just not very credible. She gets pushed around a lot, leered at and threatened, but somehow nothing ever comes of it.
Contrast this with Time Served, where Catherine Oxenberg's character gets raped twice, once by two large lesbians and once by a large male guard. Although the rape scenes are far from explicit, the intent of the attackers was very clear and the fact that they had their way with her was also very clear.
And in Caged Hearts two female inmates are forced into situations where they have sex with men, but they have so little choice in the matter that they are pretty much being raped, and you see that in R-rated Skinamax fashion (though the women are clearly unhappy throughout).
Hell, even in the straight-up Lifetime women in prison movie Against Their Will there are several depictions of clothed rape.
However, I'm not really complaining about the lack of rape in Caged Fury, my complaint is that Caged Fury never really follows through on what it has set up, as Time Served and Caged Hearts do.
The villains make it very clear that they are going to break the inmates' wills and make them into sex slaves. In fact, there is a scene where one of the inmates tells Kathie, "They are training us to be sexually submissive." And the warden is a leather-loving lesbian who clearly enjoys the whole dominance/submission thing.
So what's been set up is a sex-slave training facility. The girls are to be taught discipline, obedience and submission under the leadership of a leather dyke. But the only thing we ever see along these lines is the occasional attempt at rape (which all fail) and the secret murder of inmates. (Which, given that it's done secretly and explained away as parole, has no power to intimidate the other inmates.)
There IS a scene when Rhonda (remember Rhonda?) is brought to Warden Thorn for a little lesbian lovin'. The guards bring Rhonda to the warden's "office" where she's enjoying a bubble bath. When Warden Thorn orders Rhonda to disrobe and join her in the bath, Rhonda says, "I'd rather DIE than have sex with you!"
Warden Thorn: "Why don't you come join me in the hot tub?" Rhonda: "Lesbian freak! I'd rather die!"
Warden Thorn: "Die? I can arrange that." Rhonda: "Let's not neglect those hard-to-reach places!"
"I can arrange that," Warden Thorn says with her trademark evil smirk. Next thing you know Rhonda's naked and in the tub with Warden Thorn getting all soapy and dykey, and you know, I just can't blame her. That is one HELL of an evil smirk Thorn has. And it's the only really obvious rape scene in the whole movie, which is chock full of attempted rapes, but only this one appears to have succeeded.
There is also a scene later in the movies where some of the fully trained inmates are being vended for various buyers in a combination slave auction/bachelor party. I say "bachelor party" because most of the action consists of a very attractive blonde prisoner stripping down to her thong and dancing and otherwise behaving like a stripper at a bachelor party. In fact, during the scene, the dancer manages to rub her thong-clad butt in the lap of seemingly every guy at the auction, including one who's standing up.
The dancer rubs her butt against every guy in the room (and of course Warden Thorn) like a bumblebee moving from flower to flower to collect pollen. (Now, there's an apt metaphor!)
And this blonde has a TREMENDOUSLY sexy butt and she knows how to hang it out there in TREMENDOUSLY sexy ways, and the filmmaker does a great job of capturing it.
Still, neither of these scenes shows any training: one is just submitting to sex under threat of death, the other is the RESULT of training which is not shown. Since the whole point of the Honeywell State Prison for Women is to transform wannabe movie stars into sex slaves, you'd think there'd be at least a LITTLE attention paid to how it's done, but there isn't, not really.
I think this is because in the scriptwriter's mind, the only function Kathie and Tracy had once they were in Honeywell was to function as damsels in distress. All the writer really wanted to do with Honeywell was establish that it was a horrible dangerous place and that Tracy and Kathie needed rescuing from it. I'll describe my idea of how it should be done a little later.
I have to admit that the rescue of Kathie, Tracy and the other inmates is well done. In fact, the best part of Caged Fury is where Dirk single-handedly beats up Honeywell State Prison for Women. Well, he doesn't beat up the building itself, he just knocks a few holes in it. But he DOES beat up the entire staff, or at least, most of the guards.
Immediately after Victor goes hauling off in an ambulance with his shoulder injury, Dirk hops on his chopper and heads over to Honeywell. He climbs a fence, kicks in a door (a prison door, sure, but a FAKE prison door) and gets into the prison. He encounters a guard who tries to beat him up, another bad guy who apparently has not noticed that he is facing a gorilla. Dirk points out his error by knocking him unconscious in short order. Dirk encounters many other guards who make the exact same mistake, and he corrects them by beating them, slugging them, kicking them, banging them against walls and each other, and generally committing mayhem on them.
"Hello, Mr. Gorilla sir." Ron Jeremy plays the only guard who's got the sense to be afraid of Dirk. Not that it does him any good.
It's a wonderful thing to see, after watching the guards rape, beat and terrorize the prisoners. Most women in prison flicks make the mistake of shorting the audience on the bad guys' comeuppance, giving them just a few seconds of being beaten to a pulp at the end or simply shot in an instant after showing them doing one awful thing after another to their victims for the majority of the film.
It is so sweet to watch the guards who have been brutalizing and raping the inmates get the crap beaten out of them.
Not so Caged Fury. Dirk's rampage through the jail is lengthy and there's plenty of images of guard after guard after guard getting the crap beaten out of him. Now, you may be thinking, why don't the guards use their guns on him? A couple of them try it. Dirk just grabs one guard by the gun and squeezes off a few rounds into the other guards' chest while the guard he is using as a firing mechanism winces because his fingers are getting all mashed, so then Dirk mashes the rest of him.
Dirk mashes a guard's gun hand to shoot another armed guard. Then he mashes the rest of the guard.
At one point two guards actually manage to overpower Dirk during a fight inside a cell. One tasers him from behind and another takes advantage of Dirk's paralysis to clobber him on the head and knock him out. They lock the cell door and leave, a mistake on their part. Dirk wakes up shortly and simply kicks a hole through the concrete block wall and exits, ready to finish beating up the staff.
As he moves down the hallways of the prison, Dirk uses keys obtained from the battered remains of guards to unlock the cell doors and free the inmates, so that soon he is at the head of a crowd of screaming women who are marching down the hallway, freeing other inmates and finishing off the occasional guard when Dirk tosses them to him.
"It's rampage time!"
In addition, Kathie's plan to set the prison on fire, heroically stupid though it is, seems to be working, as we see a panicky guard telling another guard, "We've got breakouts on levels 4, 5 and 6, and we've got a goddamn fire!"
When she learns of the massive escape attempt, Thorn does the only thing an evil lesbian dominatrix warden can do in a situation like this, she orders the guards to murder all the prisoners.
Now, I have to tell you, if I were an evil prison guard who received an order like this, I'd think twice about carrying it out, no matter how evil I was.
Sure, killing all the potential witnesses sounds like a good idea if you're evil, and fun besides. But the inmates don't constitute all the potential witnesses. There are also your fellow staff members. Now, the authorities will probably want some serious time in a real prison for you given that you've at the very least been an accomplice to rape, beatings and murder. But if the authorities get the idea that you personally participated in mass murder, they're only going to want you dead. Instead of making deals with YOU to rat out your superiors, they'll be making deals with others in order to get YOU convicted.
Plus, it has likely occurred to the people running the show, such as the evil lesbian dominatrix Warden Thorn, that the guards represent even more of a danger to her as witnesses than the prisoners do. Which means there's probably someone with orders to shoot you as soon as you finish shooting the prisoners.
So the obvious thing to do when you get an order like that is, instead of carrying it out, take a powder, head for the hills, get the hell out. But of course the guards don't think things through like this, otherwise they wouldn't be working in a large, easily located fake prison in the first place.
Ah, mass murder. How entertaining.
Instead, the guards start gunning down the helpless inmates in their cells en masse. We get to see a lot of this, in fact, it's portrayed with the same loving detail as Dirk's rampage through the prison staff. The filmmakers seem to have the idea that audiences will enjoy seeing helpless women gunned down in their cells as much as they enjoy seeing Dirk give certifiably evil prison guards who have a "fighting chance" against him their well-deserved ass-kicking.
I did not find this to be true. I enjoyed the hell out of Dirk creaming the guards, but I found the scenes of the innocent women being slaughtered to be a dismal display of viciousness.
In fact, reflecting on this aspect of the film has led me to reassess the intelligence of the filmmakers, and in a distinctly downward direction. I thought Dirk's rampage through the jail staff was a brilliant piece of dramatic filmmaking, showing a superior understanding of the pleasure an audience takes in seeing the bad guys get their comeuppance, thoroughly and at length.
Instead, I now think the filmmakers just figured the audience would like seeing people beaten up and shot up, the more the merrier, and Dirk's rampage, rather than being a well-thought-out comeuppance scene, was an accidental byproduct of the filmmakers interest in injecting mayhem into their story, with any justification they could come up with.
If the filmmakers had any sense at all of what makes good melodrama, they would have known to either minimize the scenes of the inmates being slaughtered or do away with that plotline entirely.
Now, as promised earlier, let's think a little about how the prison scenes COULD have been handled. Given that after the prisoners have made their initial phone call home, assuring their relatives that they are OK, all pretense of the place being a regular prison is dropped, why not turn it into a real Internet-style slave training facility?
The women are kept naked at all times. They eat from bowls on the floor with their hands cuffed behind their backs. They are forced to learn to dance and to serve men sexually and submissively. For example, things like oral sex. They spend long hours on their knees with their faces in the male guards' laps, learning to give them oral pleasure. Their hands are cuffed behind their backs during the training. They also learn to give the warden and the female guards pleasure with their tongues, also with their hands cuffed behind their backs. And of course, they are taught to give maximum pleasure with their pussies and anuses.
A little nudity, bondage and humiliation is just the thing to break the spirit. Image courtesy of our advertiser Sex and Submission. The model in this case is Mika Tan.
Errors are punished by whipping. Reluctance is punished by whipping. When a whipping is called for, the inmates are cuffed to the bars of a cell and whipped in front of all the other inmates who are training, for its salutary effect. The whip does not cut the skin but it is extremely painful, so painful that the inmates frequently pass out during the whippings. They ALWAYS do a lot of screaming through their gag.
The guards recognize that new inmates are going to have difficulties with being naked in public and having sex with strangers, so they take all brand-new prisoners, strip them naked, gag them, cuff their hands behind their backs, put a collar on them and a waist belt with rings, then leash them and take them on a tour of the training facilities, where they see the other inmates being trained, and are informed that they will soon serve just as servilely as the other inmates.
By shooting an image of an inmate being taken from the rear face on, you can convey what's going on without losing your R rating. Image courtesy of our advertiser Sex and Submission.
An inmate is chosen at random and given a merciless whipping until she passes out for the edification of the new trainees, then the trainee is chained to a cell bar and is given the same treatment.
They throw cold water on her to relieve her, then hood her and put her in stocks where she is vaginally, anally and orally raped for about an hour. The hood is to keep her from knowing who is having sex with her. Then the hood is removed and it's more vaginal, oral and anal rape only now she must look the other women in the room in the eye, under pain of another whipping. The comfort of anonymity is stripped from her thusly. She knows she is publicly raped, and there's nothing anyone can do about it.
A powerful image of dominance and submission that involves only toplessness. If Kathie were to see Tracy kneeling like this before a guard, unwilling to look her in the eye, it would do a lot to establish how dire things are. Image courtesy of our advertiser Sex and Submission.
After that, she's returned to her cell, where she's locked to the wall by a long chain attached to her collar, and her wrist and ankle cuffs are attached to short chains at each corner of her cot, keeping her in a spreadeagle, available in case a guard wants to use her during the night, which of course several do.
And that's just the first day.
Now I know that what I have just written is an Internet bondage fantasy and that showing it full-bore would add at least 15 minutes to the movie and maybe more.
My first response is, "So what?" It's not a terribly long movie in the first place and this stuff would add a LOT of drama to the film and also crank up the sexy to an amazing degree, even if you filmed everything to preserve an R rating.
A more cogent objection would be that putting all that stuff in the movie would create the same "pig in a python" problem that I described in my review of Warrior Queen, where they did pretty much what I described, except that their scenes were badly filmed, tepid images of people doing a very poor job of having sex in a bordello.
I do think that putting in the scenes I have described would require a major change in the plot structure of the story, and that they'd have to be handled very differently from the way the idiots who made Warrior Queen handled their scenes.
First of all, the principal damsel in this story shouldn't be the one who goes through the whole initiation process. It should be her sister, Tracy. She is the one who goes to Hollywood and gets caught first. There's not nearly as much character development for her, and we leave Rhonda out of the story entirely because she's just a distraction (just as I've pretty much left her out of this review). Tracy goes straight to LA, hooks up with the sleazy photographer who coyotes her over to the fake modeling agency, then it's on to the fake court and she's in Honeywell and being initiated in no time.
Tracy is serving two roles here -- like the women who get killed early on in serial killer movies, she serves as a demonstration of how dire things are. She is also the damsel in distress who brings Kathie into the picture. She's not the principal one because she has already been whipped, gang raped and so forth. For many people, if a woman is raped the worst that can happen to her has happened, and this destroys much of the dramatic tension in the story.
I personally think that rape, while a horrible thing, is seriously outranked as a dire fate by getting killed or seriously maimed, but there are a large portion of the audience who rank rape right up there with the other two, so having your principal damsel raped right out of the gate is just a bad idea.
Kathie comes onto the scene as she searches for her sister. She hooks up with Dirk because he is searching his missing sister. Kathie follows the trail of her missing sister to the sleazy photographer, and so does Dirk. Dirk arrives a few minutes after Kathie does, just in time to save Kathie from being raped by the photographer. Kathie tells Dirk the photographer knows where her sister is. Dirk realizes that the photographer knows where his sister is, too, so he chokes the answers out of him.
After this, the story plays just like the original for awhile, with Kathie heading off to the modeling agency while Dirk goes off to the cops.
(And of course, as Kathie and Dirk continue their search for Tracy, we have plenty of cutaways to scenes of Tracy being "trained" as a sex slave, and we see her becoming more and more servile as the plot continues ... say, a shot of her kneeling naked on the floor and enthusiastically licking and kissing a guard's feet. And other stuff of that nature.
Notice there is no Erik Estrada character in my version. He's a definite third wheel in this story, obviously written in to add a little star power to the proceedings, but he really has nothing to do.
Now here's where Tracy's initiation pays off in another way. Just as Dirk is making his break into the prison, we see Kathie, who has been captured when she goes to the modeling agency to look for Tracy, at the start of the cavity search/strip scene/bondage scene for Honeywell. We don't show the whole scene, just the start of it, then we cut back to Dirk beating up a guard. Then back to Kathie taking the next step of the indoctrination.
Since the viewers have seen Tracy go through the whole indoctrination sequence, we know what's waiting for Kathie at the end of it: whipped unconscious then tied down to a bench for a whole lot of raping. So now Dirk's rampage through the penitentiary has a suspense element to it -- will his rampage get him to Kathie before she gets raped? Since the viewer knows EXACTLY what the stakes are, and since there are a definite series of events that occur as build-up before the raping occurs, it's a much more powerful sequence than the one that actually occurs in the film.
(The lack of a fixed sequence of events that occur as build-up to a serial killer murdering his victims is a commonplace mistake -- there's a general sense of urgency about rescuing his next victim, but since you have no idea when it's going to happen, there's no focus and things aren't nearly as exciting as they would otherwise be.)
Also notice there is no inmate slaughter in my version. The training/indoctrination sequences are enough to establish what rotten scumbags they are. The massacre isn't needed. Truth to tell, it isn't needed in the original, either.
While I think I'd like Caged Fury better if it were redone along the lines I've suggested, I think it's a pretty durned good women in prison flick as is. But it does have one other major flaw. You may have noticed there are no vidcaps of any women in bondage in this review. That's because there are no scenes of women in bondage anywhere in the movie. If there had been I'd have vidcapped them.
Yes, Caged Fury is a card-carrying member of the No Bondage Zone, sad to say. It's a great women in prison flick in many respects, but missed the opportunities for bondage imagery completely, and there were PLENTY of them, considering this was a sex slavery flick as well as a women in prison flick. While naked women in the presence of clothed people are a powerful image of vulnerability and humiliation, naked women in chains are about a zillion times as powerful. Given the gusto with which Caged Fury provides the cheese, the filmmakers really should have thought about that and put in a few bondage scenes. But they didn't. The same idiocy that made them think a prolonged mass murder scene would be welcomed by audiences must have been in effect here, too. For shame.
Still, Caged Fury is the most fun women in prison flick I've reviewed to date. The sheer glee with with the bad guys are beaten senseless makes it really stand out from other women in prison flicks, where the bad guys either kill themselves or get arrested, hardly enough to make up for all the shit they've been up to as a general rule. And the great cavity search scene and the intense white slavery theme all make for great drama. Too bad they didn't follow up on that slave training facility theme they'd developed ... if they had, they would have had the best, most intense women in prison flick in existence, instead of just one of the best.
The end? You betcha!
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