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DVD Review: Big Doll House

Big Doll House was originally released in 1971 with the tag line "Their bodies were caged, but not their desires. They would do anything for a man - or to him." Now it's being released on DVD as part of the Roger Corman Early Films Collection, which is made up of other such films as Caged Heat, Brain Dead, Cheyenne Warrior, I Never Promised You A Rose Garden, Jackson County Jail, My Brother's War, Suburbia, Fire On The Amazon, Big Bad Mama, Death Race 2000, and Rock 'n' Roll High School. Bottom line here, as you may have already guessed, if any of these titles were made today, they would have been straight to video releases.

Big Doll House is about a group of female inmates who have it especially rough thanks to a wickedly cruel warden and... hold on a sec, didn't I already do this review? This just seems so familiar... oh wait, that was Caged Heat. Sorry, my mistake. Okay, so back to the review. This here is another women-in-prison flick, though it actually came before Caged Heat, and I liked this one a little better. It just seemed to have more energy and more touches of humor along with all the nudity and violence.

Big Doll House Okay, so in this one, the new female inmate is Collier. We don't get to witness what she did to get incarcerated, as the first shots of her being hauled off to the Filipino prison in some bamboo cage on the back of a truck. After a full cavity search and a quick exam by the doc, she is locked away with four other inmates, Grear the man-hating prostitute, Bodine the political prisoner, Harrad the junkie pyromaniac who killed her own baby, and Alcott the... uh... I don't think they said what she did. Anyways, this group of five makes up the single cell that will their home for a long, long time... or so the authorities think.

Big Doll House It quickly becomes clear that all is not right at this prison. When an inmate does something wrong, she is not sent to solitary confinement for punishment, ohhhhhhh no, she is hung in a cage out in the sun all day, then later taken to a room... a room whose only other occupants are the masochistic prison guard and a mysterious figure who wears a white suit and black hood. This mystery person sits in a chair while the female guard tortures the inmate. What kind of torture? How about drowning with drops of water on a wet cloth across the face while strapped to a table. Or what about whippings while strung up nude by the wrists to the ceiling. And that's just the beginning!

Big Doll House After hearing the screams, the doc becomes suspicious. He brings up his concerns with the warden, who only seems to half-heartedly care. Well, the inmates soon come to the conclusion that they if they're going to stop this, they'll have to take matters into their own hands, and you all know what that means.... PRISON BREAK! Oh, but not before the shower scene. Gotta get that shower scene in there. Yeah, wash that body, oh yeah, wash her back, that's nice... okay showers over, now time to come up with a plan. No wait, first one of them has to rape the new guy who brings the fresh fruit. Okay, now lets get to the plan... oh, hold on, we gotta dothe catfight in the mud thing... alright, now, it's gonna take a lot of skill, cunning, and... oh the heck with it, let's just go! Go now!

Big Doll House I won't tell ya how it ends, just that it didn't end quite like I expected... and I liked that. The last third of the movie was very exciting, and nothing really happened according to formula. I also thought the characters in this film were more interesting than those in Caged Heat, especially the two fresh-fruit delivery guys, one of which you may recognize as Captain Spaulding from the Rob Zombie flicks House of 1000 Corpses and Devil's Rejects. The extras on the disc aren't many, just a very short interview with Roger Corman, cast biographies, and the original trailer for the movie. This one's definitely worth a rental.

Big Doll House was released by Buena Vista Home Entertainment on DVD starting December 26, 2005.

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