Big Doll House

January 28, 2012 4 Min Read

Review by: Fusion3600

Plot: What’s it about?

A prison is designed to hold criminals, keep the bad elements out of society at least for a while, until the sentence has been fulfilled. To some, giving up freedom to be held in prison is punishment enough, but not to those who run this prison. The women who are captive in this prison suffer more than their sentences, thanks to corrupt prison officials, sadistic guards, and cruel fellow prisoners. The women are tortured and assaulted, some even raped, with no real hope for assistance. While some prisoners do try to stage revolts, a snitch (Pam Grier) always leaks the information to the wicked warden. But a new plan has been hatched and now a guard is even involved, so can the women escape this hellish prison?

Ah yes, women in prison. If you’re a fan of horror, exploitation, or even late night pay channel movies, then you should know “women in prison” movies are a genre staple. After all, the idea of hot women caged up and pent up, with violent outbursts and lesbian encounters sounds like profits. While the concept doesn’t do much bank these days, at least not in theaters, women in prison flicks were once a mainstay at drive-ins. Big Doll House is one of the finest examples of women in prison, though it is a tad on the brutal side. American women in prison films were tame compared to the imports, but Big Doll House is an exception. While not as extreme as some of its kind, there is a lot of torture and even rape, often graphic. So this isn’t fluff, although the shower scenes do offer a welcome escape from the violence. Big Doll House also features Pam Grier in one of her first prominent roles and yes, she bares it all. This is hard to recommend to all audiences, but for fans of women in prison cinema, Big Doll House is one that has to be seen.

Video: How does it look?

Big Doll House is presented in full frame, which seems to be open matte, as no signs of cropped visuals could be seen. Even so, the composition is not as intended and too much headroom is present. This is a let down, as I hoped Buena Vista might strike new widescreen transfers for this line, but sadly, this transfer is just the same one from the previous disc, recycled for this release. That means a print with frequent grain and debris, not to mention less than accurate black levels. I hope as Buena Vista revisits some of these drive-in classics, they do more than slap old, inferior transfers on these discs. This movie deserves at least a proper widescreen release, so fans are sure to be disappointed here.

Audio: How does it sound?

This your standard, run of the mill 1970s mono soundtrack, but at least it is solid. A little hiss and a touch of harshness here and there, but nothing too bad. I’ve heard a lot worse in films of this kind and given the low rent roots, I am pleased it sounds this decent. The music is thin and has a tinny sound, but that is expected, while sound effects as much life as mono from this period allows. I heard no problems with dialogue either, so all the vocals come through clean.

Supplements: What are the extras?

This disc includes a brief interview with Roger Corman, as well as the film’s theatrical trailer.

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