Plot: What’s it about?
The women’s prison in Connorville is a notorious one, run with an iron hand by Superintendent McQueen (Barbara Steele). McQueen is tough as nails and has no patience for those who break the rules, or even those who speak out against her practices. The newest arrival at Connorsville is Jacqueline (Erica Gavin), a beautiful young woman sent to the prison because of a drug bust. She makes a few friends in the prison, but her friends are also active in their stance against McQueen’s policies. A simple skit put on by Jacqueline and her friends lands them all in hot water. McQueen volunteers the women to be part of the prison doctor’s experiments, which involve some very unusual practices, including electroshock treatments. The girls refuse to take the punishment without a fight, but even together, can they escape Connorsville’s walls?
This is a women in prison movie that covers all the usual genre bases, but also adds in some surreal touches and strange situations. Jonathan Demme served as director and while he seems to know his core audience will be drive-in crowds, he tries to offer more than the usual exploitation flick. Not in terms of depth or social critiques per se, but just some oddball moments. The medical experiments are unusual, though many foreign women in prison flicks utilized that concept. Even with the more off the wall sequences, Caged Heat hits all the right women in prison notes, so fans of the genre will be satisfied. The women get naked, lesbian interaction is present, and of course, there is a good deal of violence present. This is not a brutal installment, more campish, save for the more unusual scenes I mentioned before. So while Caged Heat all the elements you’d expect, this is not a by the numbers movie, it takes a few nice turns. Buena Vista offers the same disc as the previous releases however, so there is little reason to pick this one up.
Video: How does it look?
Caged Heat is presented in full frame, which alters the intended 1.85:1 widescreen composition. The extra room on screen is not that bad, especially compared to other open matte transfers, but there is no excuse as to why a proper widescreen version isn’t present here. This is the same transfer as the previous release, so the visuals don’t look bad, but don’t expect too much. The print has more than a few rough stretches, with grain, debris, and marks, but a lot of the movie looks clean enough. I found colors to be decent, though contrast is weaker than I would like, so not an impressive presentation.
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.