Apr 30, 2006


Bare Behind Bars (1980) aka - “A Prisao”

Dir: Oswaldo De Oliveira

Maria Stella Splendore
Marta Anderson (“Massacre in Dinosaur Valley”)
Danielle Ferrite
Neide Ribeiro

Warden Sylvia (Maria Stella Splendore) may rarely, like her staff, have her blouse buttoned up, but she does know how to run a nasty little female prison.
She also has a nice little sideline where the most comely women are sold off to rich lesbians!
The glamorous Miss Dinora is the latest client, and the unfortunate Betty the sex slave of choice.

The Warden’s second in command is the ambitious Sandra, who is getting more and more concerned with the abuse dished out to the prisoners as well as the Warden’s increased sadism.

When Inez Andrea (who murdered her lecherous Step-Father) arrives at the prison she arrogantly flaunts herself at the guards, gets the other women increasingly rebellious and cleverly becomes the love toy of Warden Sylvia, all the while hatching an escape plan…

To many Exploitation fans in the UK, “Bare Behind Bars” is best known for being the film that the ‘Redemption’ video label owner, Nigel Wingrove, took the BBFC to Court over when they refused the film a certificate, thus stopping him distributing it in Britain.
Sadly Wingrove lost the case and “Bare Behind Bars” still remains unreleased in the UK.
Luckily though the magical world of the Internet means that the film can still be found (uncut) from sources not subject to BBFC whims.
But does this Brazilian entry into the Women in Prison genre really live up to it’s reputation?

The film certainly gets off to a fun and trashy start with a mass hosing down of the unruly inmates after one is stabbed in the back. Women are dragged down the corridors by their hair and many beatings follow before the camera zooms in on the hole in the stabbed girl’s back juts as a rather unexpected piece of sleazy jazz leads us into the stark black on red titles. It’s a classic WIP exploitation opening.

The film does have a very schizophrenic nature though as it can’t seem to decide if it’s going for a serious attitude to it’s sleazy goings on or a high camp one. As such it tends to fall between the two stools.
The main source of camp hilarity comes in the nubile, but completely dipsy, form of Nurse Barbara who (when not getting tripped-out on the surgery‘s ether supplies!) likes to seduce her patients and sniff her latex gloves after crotch examinations.
She also has no idea about medicine which is shown in a less than hysterical comedy moment when she tries to take a patient’s blood pressure by wrapping the inflatable band around their neck!
In fact throughout the entire film Nurse Barbara is a less than stellar advertisement for the intelligence of blondes!

In a film packed with amusing sights it‘s hard to pick favourites but two of the best are a close up of two arses rubbing against each other, which then pulls back to reveal that the owner of one of the sets of cheeks is Nurse Barbara, who’s biting into a water melon slice as if it were something rather more phallic (with her little nurses hat still on of course, after all she IS a professional) and the other is a wonderful sequence of a guard in the corridor getting rubbed-up nicely by a prisoner (the hand’s coming through the door’s food slot ), and then the camera pulls away to reveal the other women winching a strap-on dildo across the corridor, on some string, to the cells opposite!
Scenes like these are so delightfully cheesy and overblown that all they raise in the male viewer is smiles. Erotic they are not, fun they most definitely are.

The other source of wackiness is the dialogue.
Passionate exchanges like this one between Nurse Barbara and her latest flame are the level of sophistication you can expect;
Patient: “Ahhh…You’re driving me crazy”!
Nurse: “You have a wonderful body, I love how it responds when I touch it”.
There’s also a great moment with The Warden who, after a night of passion with Inez Andrea, is sporting a sexual hangover (!) “That girl almost killed me! She has the endurance of a cat. It went on all night, I’m exhausted”!

And when the actual dialogue isn’t camping it up the dubbing of it is.
This dubbing reaches new lows when one guy (in a Brazilian slum!) comes out with a Hillbilly accent so strong he should really be sitting in a rocking chair on his porch watching his 10 identically ugly kids fight over the grits while his Wife/Sister Mary Lou gives birth to child number 11.
Even the sex scenes do not escape this dubbing hell and most are accompanied by moans and groans so over the top they sound like something from a straight forward porn flick.
Given the movie’s title we expect a lot of bare flesh (as well as a lot of bars) and sure enough Director Oswaldo De Oliveira provides wall to wall nudity. And sleaze. And more nudity. And then a bit more sleaze to round off the rest of the nudity nicely.
And with all this nudity it’s thankful that the women are all very appealing and all have wonderfully natural bodies. None of that Californian porn video production line, silicon ‘Barbie Doll’, rubbish here thank you very much! Here we have breasts and arses of various shapes and sizes and mucho pubic hair on display. And the world is a better place for it!

We have the essential shower scenes of course and various naked medical sequences but the main nudity comes via the multitude of sex scenes.
We have one-on-one sessions, three way crotch groping and dildo fun (including what must be cinema’s only dildo carved out of a pineapple) and the already weak plot completely vanishes to accommodate all this writhing flesh.
A lot of these scenes also come and go in rapid succession, often completely randomly, before disappearing again and the camera spends a lot of the time zooming into hairy pubic regions and wiggling backsides.
This island of Lesbos is not all wall to wall fur though, as there is also a randy delivery guy who gets in on the action by seducing the guards with his oh so sexy way of stocking up the storeroom.

“Bare Behind Bars” goes even further with it’s content though… Hardcore sex.
Although not strictly inserts, as well as featuring the actual actresses from the main bulk of the film, these hardcore scenes are basically separated from the body of the movie, thus making them suitably easy to remove for different international markets.
Most of these scenes (nearly all shot in the same storeroom) are also backed with a totally inappropriate bit of laid back lounge jazz just to make the entire enterprise even more off the wall.
These hardcore sequences include dildo penetration, muff nibbling and penis suckling (though what a frightfully flaccid member it seems to be) and add a welcome bit of full-on sleaze to the often more comical softcore scenes.

The movie spends most of it’s running time in the prison but now and again Oswaldo De Oliveira breaks away to show Miss Dinora and the often reluctant Betty frolicking on a beach (a weird way to shoe-horn back in the otherwise forgotten sub-plot about the selling of the women) and this at least moves the movie away from dank, visually cloying, walls of the prison, and later on he opens up the film even more and it’s actually better for it as it adds a bit of life and colour to the proceedings.
Here we also get some more hardcore, this time featuring erections and penetration, although one erection does not last long, slips out, and nearly gets put back in the wrong hole. Ouch!
And what Freud would have said about this sequence suddenly going to a shot of a woman washing a lettuce clean I dread to think!

Unlike most WIP films the violence here is actually rather tame, with the genre’s essential punishments consisting of weak beatings with floppy sticks and being tied to a water drenched table with wire mesh, all the while being beaten with one of those floppy sticks of course!
But there is a genuinely unpleasant sequence later on (although bloodless, until the grizzly aftermath) that suddenly destroys our opinion of some of the women, and it’s a rare moment when the screenplay actually does something narratively interesting, other than provide copious sex and nudity.
In fact the entire last quarter shows more actual plotting than the rest of the film combined before it reaches the abrupt finale.

The acting is hard to judge given the dubbing, but the blonde and sexy Maria Stella Splendore does a good enough job as the horny Warden and looks damn fine naked. But it has to be said she’s no Dyane Thorne when it comes to portraying her character’s sadism. Ilsa would eat Warden Sylvia (in more ways than one) for breakfast.
The actress playing second in command Sandra is also a striking looking woman and her angry, extreme close-up, staring contests with Splendore’s Warden are hysterically overblown.

All in all then “Bare Behind Bars” certainly delivers the sex and sleaze it’s title promises and sprinkles it liberally with high camp dialogue and bad taste comedic situations (some intentionally amusing, some not) and even adds a bit of seriousness later on. But it’s still a rather drab creation thanks to the ugly setting (which I suppose is the point) and Oliveira’s less than enthusiastic direction, he provides the exploitative sights but not much passion in their presentation.
But for the sheer amount of sex and sleaze it delivers it’s impossible not to recommend “Bare Behind Bars” to any fan of Exploitation movies.

Special thanks to guest reviewer 42nd Street Freak, appears courtesy of BEARDY FREAK

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