Director Cody Jarrett delivers a loving, heart-felt homage to the 70's grindhouse women-in-prison flicks so prevalent back then with his latest offering, 'Sugar Boxx', starring Geneviere Anderson and Thela Brown. All WIP flicks are blessed or cursed with pretty much the exact same plot, depending on your perspective and tolerance for the genre, and this one's a conveyor belt of clichés, bless its exploitative little heart. I should know, I grew up with them, for better or worse. When I initially saw it had Tura Satana, Kitten Natividad and the godfather of blaxploitation films, Jack Hill, I thought it was a relic from the 70's that slipped under my radar. When I found out it was from 2010, I was somewhat letdown (way too many no-talent wannabes are riding that grindhouse tour bus into oblivion - again), but got my hands on a screener copy and had myself a rollicking goodtime. (Keep the potent potables handy to enrich your enjoyment, kids). It's not easy looking backwards while moving forwards at the same time, but Jarrett succeeds nicely here. 'Grindhouse' it's not, but it stands on its own merits regardless, especially when you consider the massively-imposed budgetary constraints.
The plot is directly 'borrowed' from an 'Emmanuelle' movie, those starring the luscious Laura Gemser - a female reporter asks her boss to pull strings to get her incarcerated in a notorious female prison - the Sugar State Women's Correctional Facility - to expose a corrupt law enforcement and judicial system that sets up young girls who are first-time offenders and sends them to a Florida Everglades penal colony few return from. Her boss refuses, so she decides to do it herself. She goes home at lunchtime to inform her lesbian partner of the news and has a little 'box lunch', before donning her hooker outfit and hits the road hard.
That night, she's pulled over by a seedy slimeball of a cop, and his partner plants a drug parcel in her trunk; before you know it, she's sexually assaulted and sent to Sugar State for seven years of 'hard' time by a time-hardened judge, the legendary Tura Satana (RIP-2011). Upon arrival at the prison, she's witness to a female inmate getting the taste of a bullwhip for a minor infraction. Naturally, the warden's a butchy lesbian 'Ilsa' type, but is willing to allow her to 'trade-up' and work a lite-prison detail during the week provided she's willing to flatback on the weekends at an in-house brothel for special 'guests', those of the political type with whom the warden's got some sweet financial fixings cooked up. Initially she says no, but after experiencing the grueling outside hard labor detail and the inhuman conditions that go hand in hand with this decision (along with Kitten Natividad, who time couldn't have been more unkind to, as the matronly supervisor, along with the male guards who use the women as Kleenix and pink puppets), she agrees to the warden's wicked ways, after another box lunch, that is. And that's when the real exploitation fun begins, friends, and never really lets up till the end credits roll.
The ace in the deck is Thela Brown, the ever-lovin' embodiment of all that was 70's bitchy blaxploitation bombshells, having all the best lines in the film and hands-down delivers the best performance here. She chews up everything in sight when she's on screen and helps make this flick the real deal in every way imaginable. She's got a filthy, foul mouth, perfect posturing of female blackness from that era, a take-no-prisoners attitude and more balls than any male in sight. She's fan-friggin-tastic. There's a cache of other lovelies of all denominations as additional eye-candy, which is much-needed when you see how the years have ravaged Tura (who starred in Russ Meyer's 'Faster, Pussycat, Kill, Kill!') and especially Kitten, who appeared in two Meyer films as well. Ouch.
There are no envelope-pushing, new standards set or boundaries broken here; director Cody Jarrett does a straight-up WIP vigilante / revenge parody that's stylistically true-to-form as it constantly unleashes hysterical dialogue and gratuitous nudity every few seconds, so it succeeds as exploitation skillfully and cleverly. Revenge is exacted by scantily-clad sluts with machetes and bullwhips and breasts, (oh my!) as we follow this yellow-brick road to ruin - it's an invigorating, magical moment in madhouse motion picture history.
There's also a cool making-of featurette, three different trailers worth a look-see and a 30 second Tura Satana tribute. If you're into these flicks (honestly, what red-blooded male isn't?), check into 'Sugar Boxx' - there's enough sweets here to cause cavities...