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Pain Or Pleasure?
Pain Or Pleasure?

2.0 out of 5 stars NOT HOT, Nov. 29 2014
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This review is from: Pain Or Pleasure? (DVD)
Purporting to be an introduction to the world of fetish and BDSM this DVD was long on talking and short on action. Perhaps its' one redeeming value might be that it does make the world of fetish seem approachable by portraying the world of dominance and submission as a sort of glorified tool for individuals to work thru their sexual hang-ups.

Via a series of interviews with people involved in the fetish scene topics such as rope bondage, domination, foot fetish and the like are skimmed over by both professional dominatrix and submissives. There is certainly nothing 'offensive' in this production, and no nudity either.

If the goal was to make the world of kink and fetish appear bland and (almost) normal - then this DVD succeeds! - which (sadly) is to say it rather sucks if the viewer is looking for some arousing content. Can't really recommend it as anything other than the most basic primer on the subject for those who haven't a clue. Save your money.

Killer Mermaid [Import]
Killer Mermaid [Import]
Price: CDN$ 15.80
21 used & new from CDN$ 9.11

3.0 out of 5 stars Pretty Fishy, Oct. 2 2014
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This review is from: Killer Mermaid [Import] (DVD)
"Killer Mermaid" starts off promisingly enuf!... A young couple are making out on the Adriatic sea shore - the girl takes off her top and goes into the clinch with her BF - BUT - suddenly HE is lured into and under the water by a mysterious haunting melody and the shocked girl is simultaneously dispatched by an, unseen, on-shore psycho killer. This duel threat scenario of land-based AND water-based killer(s) is an interesting concept and sets the stage for all the subsequent action - wherein the usual group of young people with a variety of socio/sexual entanglements get picked off one by one as the plot progresses. At the same time this is indicative of the, sort of, schizoid approach that this film demonstrates, as it moves forward, that I found tended to detract from its' potential success. Is it a slasher flik OR is it a killer mermaid flik?!?

While there WERE a few original concepts & creepy moments - much of the movie seemed derivative & pretty 'by the numbers'. For starters - it was hard not to make comparisons with Spielberg's JAWS as 'Killer Mermaid' utilized so many of its' sorta 'over-used' techniques in attempting to provide thrills & chills... such as: the numerous underwater scenes with pulsating music alluding to the unseen aquatic threat - the grizzled old 'Quint'-like mariner who spins a long-winded scary tale of doom, and the key characters who ultimately end up in a vulnerable little boat on the sea anticipating an attack from the deep! Personally, I found it a little disappointing that so much time was devoted to the land based murderer - I was expecting and hoping for more mermaid action!

On the 'plus' side: the cast was attractive (lotsa skimpy bikinis!) and the dialog, albeit banal, was delivered adequately - though there was a LOT of verbal exposition that sorta slowed things down on several occasions. The 'mermaid' was pretty effectively realized AND had an unusual feature... a remarkably nice butt! - not the 'classic' asexual fishy lower extremities one typically sees in mer-creatures - this one has an attractive pink 'booty' B4 the tail begins! She was pretty gorgeous... when she wanted to be. It was also nice to see x-ploitation alumnus Franco Nero resurrected to fulfill the role of 'Nikos' - the sage old salt who tries to warn the young folk away from danger. The locations were interesting and definitely added to the 'sinister' feel of the film.

On the 'negative' side of the equation, however, I would again note the formulaic nature of many of the plot devices and the manner in which the story is told - not many surprises here! There are some fairly massive incongruities in the action and the, previously mentioned, tendency to try to 'explain' things in long winded soliloquy that generally slackened the pace and tension of the proceedings. Also - for fans of such - there ultimately was very little 'skin' on display beyond the brief opening sequence - Heck! even the 'topless' mermaid hardly revealed her upper torso to much advantage... apparently relying more on her 'siren song' to lure the men into her deadly embrace.

Over-all I found this eastern-European stab at horror to be OK - but with a little more originality and imagination it coulda been so much more... a bit more screen time for the titular mermaid wouldn't have hurt either. Perhaps more of a 'renter' than 'a keeper'- in my opinion - BUT worth a look! Widescreen format - English language - some nice extras.

Young & Beautiful [Import]
Young & Beautiful [Import]
Offered by Fulfillment Express CA
Price: CDN$ 37.01
17 used & new from CDN$ 15.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sleep-walking Through Her "Sexual Awakening", Sept. 16 2014
This review is from: Young & Beautiful [Import] (DVD)
As this film "Young & Beautiful' began to tell its' story of the sexual (mis)adventures of a lovely young (17 year old) French maiden "Isabelle" it (initially) reminded me of another recent French film that explored the world of young women and prostitution: "Student Services"(see my review of same for more on that film). In both movies the, rather disaffected, heroine of the tale dabbles in the 'play 4 pay' lifestyle to earn a little spending cash and both are seemingly emotionally quite distant from the intimate acts they are performing and the people that they are performing them with. But, whereas the plot of "Student Services' never went much beyond the rather mono-dimensional self loathing evinced by its' lead female "Young & Beautiful" takes some interesting twists and turns and presents a much more complex set of characters and circumstances and is ultimately, I feel, a more engaging and successful film because of that fact.

Perhaps this is partially due to the purported 'age' of the lead character - who determines to lose her 'cherry' on her 17th BD (and does!) then sets out to market herself on the internet as an 'escort' - all this while she is still, technically 'under-age', living at home with her family. It is ultimately this interaction w/ the complexities of the various family members that gives the film its' soul and poignancy. The Director does a fine job of revealing the various story elements and personalities slowly and providing just enough information about them to make them real without becoming moralistic or overindulgent about any of the proceedings.

The gorgeous ingenue lead actress (Marine Vacth) effectively portrays the (typically teenage) rather self-centered young woman who is coming to grips with her own physical sexuality but doesn't have much of a handle on the emotional aspects of it yet. She makes a very convincing 17 year old and rewards the viewer with many scenes sans clothing as she plies her trade - all of the sex scenes are tastefully presented - nuthin' gratuitous or XXX! Ultimately this is a film dealing with the complex nature of human sexuality and family relationships - I found it to be refreshingly candid and non-judgmental in addressing these topics (doubtless a Euro/French touch!) and would recommend it as an intriguing viewing experience for just about anyone. French language with English subs.

L'Immortelle [Blu-ray] [Import]
L'Immortelle [Blu-ray] [Import]
Price: CDN$ 32.80
15 used & new from CDN$ 22.55

5.0 out of 5 stars Enigmatic Cinema Personified, Aug. 25 2014
"L'Immortelle" is one of several recent releases of films written and directed by French writer and film-maker Alain Robb-Grillet. In North America it appears that the Redemption DVD authoring group have secured the rights to distribute his works - while in England the British Film Institute (BFI) has the honor. Redemption has issued 5 films/disks 'individually' while the BFI has presented them in a nice 6 film retrospective box-set ( a format that is ultimately less expensive per film. The BFI set is , however, in the Euro Region 2 PAL format and requires a 'region-free' DVD player to view

The majority of Robb-Grillete's works have been generally un-available for 'home viewing' for decades. - this current collection presents some of his earliest works from the 1960-70's period when he was first trying his hand as a Director, after achieving his initial recognition for scripting the French art-house classic: "Last Year At Marienbad". "L'Immortelle" was, in fact, his first solo directorial outing and it continues to feature many of the surreal and enigmatic elements that were explored in '...Marienbad".

After viewing a body of Robb-Grillete's works, and reading some analysis of his films by cinema scholars, a pattern begins to emerge that helps the viewer to appreciate where he was coming from and what he was trying to achieve. Such background info is really helpful, because without it his films may initially seem very disjointed and abstract - even by art-house standards. Robb-Grillete enjoyed 'playing with' the peculiarities inherent in format of cinema and using , and abusing them, to his own ends to create a film experience that challenges the viewer's normal expectations for how a film should evolve. He pretty much ignores the concept of a linear plot progression in most of his scenarios and his plots and characters constantly fold back in upon themselves providing multiple viewpoints and time frames that ultimately provide a very surreal experience. One should not expect everything to wrap up tidily at the end of the show but one may expect the film to 'stick with them' for a while after viewing due to the enigmatic nature of the images and concepts presented - almost like a 'waking-dream'.

Alain Robb-Grillete, & his 'partner' Catherine (who makes regular appearances in his films) were both noted for their "outre' " sexual preferences that leaned in the BDSM direction, and many of his films featured elements that portrayed this personal penchant for S/M symbolism and lifestyle. Not surprisingly - this flirtation with 'forbidden' sexual practices often drew the ire of film censors and some of his film's were 'banned' in certain countries for many years - contributing to his obscurity and the (previous) difficulty in accessing his works. Ironically (and despite all the '50 Shades of Gray' allusions on the box cover) "L'Immortelle" actually contains virtually no images or references to these themes of sexual dominance & submission!... nor any 'nudity' within its' contents - whereas later films ( such as 'Trans Europe Express', "Successive Slidings of Pleasure", and "Gradiva' for example) provide a hefty dose of the aforementioned.

That info notwithstanding - "L'Immortelle" is one of the 'spaciest' most intriguing movies I have seen in a long while and qualifies as a genuine surreal experience. It is practically useless to try to describe its' 'plot' because it doesn't really have one, yet the film mesmerizes the viewer with a hypnotic quality that is quite unique. Beautifully filmed in B&W in exotic locales in Istanbul, Turkey the characters, and audience, are caught up in Robb-Grillete's dream-like spell. This is a great intro to this creative film-maker's work and a pretty psychedelic viewing experience. Highly recommended! French language w/ English subs.

Jailbait [Import]
Jailbait [Import]
2 used & new from CDN$ 49.20

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Bend Over And Spread 'Em, June 5 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Jailbait [Import] (DVD)
"JAILBAIT" provides a very acceptable, albeit rather 'by the numbers' modern foray into the venerable WIP genre of exploitation movies. Pretty much all the 'stock' action that one has come to expect and enjoy from the incarcerated females scenario are present: a 'wrongfully accused' heroine, the de-rigeur humiliating body cavity search, lotsa communal showers, a despicable warden, inter-racial tensions, lesbian love-ins, bad cafeteria food, AND full nudity abound.

The lead actress (Sara Malakul Lane) does a credible job as the sexually abused teenager (with outstanding cello playing skills!) who gets 'sent up the river' after accidentally killing her lecherous step dad while he is in mid molestation mode - though her purported 17 yr old persona is somewhat challenged when she removes her clothes (which she does A LOT!) to reveal a body that looks like it's got a few more years on it than advertised (but is VERY pleasing to behold, nonetheless!). She's got great freckles, and can even act - as her 'character' must come to grips with the brutal realities of prison life.

The plot moves forward with a satisfying predictability and decent performances all around - nothing really 'new' here - but then why mess with a successful formula?! A light weight and enjoyable viewing experience if you are a fan of women in the slammer flix.

Pompeii (Bilingual)
Pompeii (Bilingual)
DVD ~ Kit Harington
Price: CDN$ 12.99
10 used & new from CDN$ 7.35

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Spartacus V/S Vesuvius, May 18 2014
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This review is from: Pompeii (Bilingual) (DVD)
I'm a big fan of films that feature volcanic catastrophe (both real and imaginary) and the infamous tale of the Roman city of Pompeii that was buried by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79AD holds a special place in the lexicon of cinematic treatments for this genre. Previous re-enactments of the story have been made several times, perhaps most notably with multiple versions of "The Last Days of Pompeii" - wherein some involving storyline of human entanglements is interwoven with the ultimate eruptive spectacle whence the studio SPFX crew get to unleash a lot of impressive destruction on the 'characters' and film audience.

This most recent re-telling of the saga seemingly looks to take advantage of the current state of the art in volcanic CGI effects to provide an eruption of unprecedented realism and visual impact (which it does manage to do pretty effectively!) BUT I found the rest of the film to be pretty formulaic as the director attempts to develop some engaging sympathy for the fore-doomed characters whose lives it chronicles up to their pre-determined historical climax. This version presents a rather simple tale of revenge as a 'barbarian' youth from a Celtic 'horse tribe' has his family wiped out and is carried away to the slave pits (shades of Conan the Barbarian) by the evil Roman conquerors and ends up becoming a gladiator in Pompeii. Along the way his equine skills bring him to the attention of a beautiful aristocratic Pompeiian lady with whom he ultimately develops a love affair - AND a bro-mance, of sorts, with a rival massive 'Nubian' gladiator who is 'fighting for his freedom'. Add to the mix the thoroughly smarmy Roman Senator who is also lusting after the lovely maiden and the stage is set for some interpersonal fire-works. The 'fun' thing about Pompeii based films is that you just know that all the puny human interactions are gonna get interrupted, big time.

Once Vesuvius starts to do its' thing the screen definitely 'lights up' with some impressive pyrotechnics - but - there have been so many similar spectacular CGI 'eruptions' in recent disaster flix (such as the Yellowstone sequence in '2012' or the volcano 'god' in 'Wrath of the Titans') that there isn't much 'new' to be experienced - despite the film's promo hype-line that: "you've never experienced anything like THIS before!" Personally, I have read a lot about the actual Pompeii (even had the pleasure of visiting it!) and from that perspective came my biggest pros and cons for the movie. On the positive side - this version of Pompeii does a fantastic job of digitally recreating the ancient city with great accuracy. Areal perspectives of the city show it exactly as it was laid out and the set designs at street level also are very authentic in depicting the look of the dwellings and life in those times. On the negative side of reality - there is a glaring error in the way the demise of Pompeii is presented. In the film Pompeii is shown being engulfed by a giant pyroclastic cloud of super-heated material sweeping rapidly over everything. Pompeii was, in actual fact, covered by a persistent 'rain' of pumice stone that rapidly (over the course of several days) 'buried' the city and its' remaining inhabitants in an ironically 'gentle' but deadly crushing embrace! The pyroclastic phenomenon actually occurred a bit to the north of Pompeii where it wiped out the seaside city of Herculenium. Amidst all the raining fire balls, tidal waves, and earthquakes it becomes a bit incredulous that the lead characters continue to battle one another for the hand of the maiden and the director pulls out every cliche to have the bad guys keep popping up in 'Terminator'-esque fashion to add more tension to a situation that is already about as tense as could possibly be imagined.

It's an interesting side-note of historical fact that the real rebel gladiator 'Spartacus' did 'take refuge' from the Roman army in the caves upon Mt Vesuvius (well prior to its eruption). In a peripheral vein... I read an xlnt novel entitled 'Pompeii' by British author Robert Harris - wherein the lead protagonist was an aquatic engineer sent to Pompeii to determine the cause of irregularities with the City's complex water system (a foretelling of the volcanic event). This presented an intriguing character and action that was equally as involving and more 'interesting' than the rather 'stock' vengeful gladiator / frustrated love affair re-hash that this film based it's plot upon. It also provided a nifty 'escape clause' for the hero & heroine. Too bad that the producers couldn't have had a little more imaginative vision.

Ultimately, I would recommend this version of 'Pompeii' mostly for its''production values' and CGI volcanic effects - worth adding to the collection, but maybe after the prices come down a little. The best (and most authentic) recounting of the Pompeii tale I've seen is the documentary piece produced by the Discovery Channel for TV entitled "Pompeii - The Last Day" (available via Amazon) - IT gets the facts straight, has amazing production values, and manages to develop way more empathy for its' characters in its short run-time... Fellow volcano-philes may wish check IT out.

Auditions
Auditions
DVD ~ Linnea Quigley
Price: CDN$ 9.99
17 used & new from CDN$ 5.37

4.0 out of 5 stars What People Won't Do For A Shot At Stardom!, Jan. 13 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Auditions (DVD)
Like others, undoubtedly, I was made aware of this strange little conglomeration of 'auditions' via the rap that Full Moon producer Charles Band has included on all of the recently released "Grindhouse Collection" DVDs. Band 'purports' that the 'tape' was compiled from the out-takes of a series of casting call 'auditions' held for an 'adult' feature he was contemplating, back in the day. With the exception of the 'discrepancy' surrounding the stated age of an ingenue Linnea Quigley (pulling a Tracy Lords underage stunt) and a couple of appearances by individuals who appear to be just TOO weird to be real... I pretty much took Band at his word that this IS/WAS an actual 'audition' experience... or at least SOME of it was.

Regardless - watching the parade of male and female Hollywood 'hopefuls' strip down and perform (often embarrassingly) intimate acts for 'the camera' is definitely amusing and amazing - what people won't do for a shot at fame (or a few bucks)! The highlight(s) of the whole affair are the lovely young actress wannabes who disrobe (completely!) at the urging of the unseen 'directors' orders and demonstrate their willingness to do just about 'anything' to get a part.

As others have stated - the visual quality of this (full-screen) DVD is not great - looking pretty much like it was unceremoniously duped off an old VHS tape. I've (unfortunately) noted this tendency to poor transfer quality on many of the Full Moon "Grindhouse" product - some are good and some suck. Overall - I found "Auditions" to be a fun watch - regardless of its' 'authenticity'... and would recommend it for some light-weight entertainment.

Gainsbourg (Version française) [Import]
Gainsbourg (Version française) [Import]
Price: CDN$ 22.54
16 used & new from CDN$ 13.20

5.0 out of 5 stars Xlnt Intro to Franco Phenom, Jan. 13 2014
I came to view this film via the somewhat oblique route of tracking down movies featuring the lovely Euro uber Model/Actress: Laetitia Casta. As a North American resident my only previous awareness of Serge Gainsbourg was through his (back in the day) romantic/musical connections to Brigitte Bardot (of whom I, among millions of others, am a big fan!) - I knew he was a French singer/composer and pretty goofy looking and that was about 'it'. Since this film featured the gorgeous Ms Casta playing BB I just had to check it out! In retrospect - I'm glad I did - because not only did it provide one of the most satisfying filmic turns for Laetitia that I've seen to date, but it also provided a fascinating introduction to a European mega pop star of prodigious talent and personality.

It might be noted that this DVD offering is a 2 disk set - the second disk contains a 20 min featurette on the 'Director' of the film - French artist Joann Sfar. Sfar is apparently a huge fan of Gainsbourg and he previously produced a 'graphic novel' that chronicled Serge's life, and upon which he based this, his (premiere!) film making effort. The images of Sfar sketching in his own artistic notebooks mirror Gainsbourg's own early forays into art (which he ultimately abandoned in favor of music) and demonstrate the degree to which his art was influenced by Gainsbourg.

Altho this is an inaugural Directorial outing for Sfar it certainly doesn't show - the film is not only thoroughly professional in every aspect but unusually inventive in how it presents its' story. The lead actor (Eric Elmosnino ) who portrays the adult Gainsbourg is excellent in the role and all of the actresses who play his lofty love interests are equally attractive and entrancing - as noted: Laetitia makes a very convincing BB! The movie covers a lot of ground - conveying pretty much all the notable stages of Gainsbourg's life: from precocious adolescent, through his pop ascendancy, into ultimate superstar burnout. One can imagine that Euro-viewers of this biopic would be humming along with the string of musical 'hits' that are portrayed within the film, as the plot & years progress. While N. American audiences might not have this same 'connection' to the material - the film still provides an engrossing and interesting experience and introduction to a major musical talent. I really enjoyed it! Technically - the film is presented in widescreen format - French language w/ English subs - numerous 'extras'.

Student Services (Version française) [Import]
Student Services (Version française) [Import]
Offered by importcds__
Price: CDN$ 15.64
17 used & new from CDN$ 15.64

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Manages To Make Sex Un-Sexy, Dec 24 2013
I generally enjoyed this film - based on the 'true/shocking' revelations of a (French) female university student who turned to the world's oldest profession to help finance her way thru school. It is, perhaps, the 'expose' angle of the movie that directs the general tenor of the piece towards a negative vibe - as the viewer is introduced to the story's lead character, Laura, and follows her down a path of personal denigration as she barters her youthful body for some spending cash & millennial trinkets.

The 'shock value' of the source book from which the screenplay was derived is based on the (purported) 'epidemic' levels of prostitution engaged in by female college students to make ends meet - so it is not surprising that the director has seemingly gone out of their way to make sure that the sexual 'pay for play' activities of the film's star are not made to look 'enjoyable'. In this, at least, they have managed to succeed!

The lead actress, Deborah Francois, IS lovely - in just the right way to provide a vulnerable heroine for the sordid tale... and she sure doesn't appear to like what she's doing in the sexual realm - so much so - that after a while I found the plot to become rather disingenuous and dis-engaging. Despite many scenes where Ms Francois fully reveals her attractive form and participates in sexual congress with a variety of sorta 'flawed' male individuals - there is nothing arousing about any of it. Could the girl be any more 'bored' & repulsed?! It really makes one wonder why her one 'repeat customer' 'Joe' keeps coming back for more... or why she sticks it out for as long as she does.

Without treading into the politically/morally dicey territory surrounding the whole issue of prostitution - I felt that this film presents a sort of mono-dimensional and moralistic take on the situation. Some reviewers compare 'Student Services' to the likes of "Pretty Woman" and extol its' virtues for presenting a more 'realistic' portrayal of the disagreeable aspects of prostitution - personally I might draw a more relevant comparison to the TV series "Diary of A Call Girl" based on the 'true' adventures of London escort Belle de Jour. 'Belle' also exhibits a 'conflicted' character in trying to reconcile the two sides of her life in the face of society's general disdain for sex workers - but she, at least, takes 'some' pleasure in her craft, and on occasion even finds her sexual skills to be of 'service' in helping individuals overcome personal problems. Admittedly, the 'clients' that Laura encounters in "Student Services" are portrayed as a particularly loutish lot - but 'where's the love'?! Ultimately I began to sympathize w/ her self loathing and sorta lost interest in the 'story' - such as it was. There are obviously 'bigger issues' of youth poverty and socioeconomic inequality at play - but none of them get answered in this film. On a strictly prurient level - worth a look for the fetching form of Ms Francois in the buff - but nothing to get too excited about.

Riot in a Women's Prison
Riot in a Women's Prison
DVD ~ Marilu Tolo
Price: CDN$ 9.99
17 used & new from CDN$ 5.52

3.0 out of 5 stars Lackluster Italian WIP Attempt, Dec 16 2013
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This review is from: Riot in a Women's Prison (DVD)
Another 'Grindhouse' offering from the Full Moon folks - "Riot In A Woman's Prison" (unfortunately) demonstrates that not all WIP flix are created equally. This 70's vintage Italian effort takes a stab at the WIP genre but comes up lacking in precisely the elements that make these films 'fun' for those that enjoy such twisted drama. The visual quality of this (English dubbed) DVD is quite good - a nice clear widescreen transfer - which is sorta ironically 'wasted' on the content & imagery presented.

The plot features the well worn basic premise of a young woman wrongly accused of a crime she didn't commit who gets thrown into the slammer with a bunch of hardened criminals. In this instance it is French tourist 'Martine' who gets inadvertently scooped up in a police raid on a group of Italian hippies and dumped into a women's correctional facility that appears to be run by a bunch of Catholic nuns. Martine is tossed into a cell with, what appears to be, the prison's 4 most attractive inmates - the rest of the incarcerated women all look like 50 year old 'bag ladies'. Whereas THIS may well be closer to the 'reality' of what one might find in a female prison population, it certainly isn't what most guys plunk down their hard earned bucks to see in a WIP flik!... and this is sorta at the heart of 'what's wrong' with this particular film. At several points in the movie it becomes evident that the director is attempting to 'lift' the genre to some greater artistic or politically relevant level which (of course) is a BIG mistake!

The core ensemble of cellmate/actresses are pretty attractive - one bears a striking resemblance to Liz Taylor in her heyday! - but their 'chemistry' is pretty lack-luster. Scant nudity is present in the usual scenes: the 'orifice check' - communal shower - etc. but that's about it. Once the director does finally get to some, long awaited, lesbian action he 'artfully' dilutes it by superimposing the images of the naked lovers over scenes of ocean surf crashing on rocks. Boy - did this guy ever get it 'wrong'! When the heroine of the piece is finally exonerated and walks free there's a definite 'who cares' feeling to the whole thing.

In the 'bigger picture' - this is another example of the 'hit or miss' syndrome that I've noted in the recent "Grindhouse Collection" releases from the Full Moon outfit. Some are great ( like 'Caged Women') and some really suck (like this one & 'Savage Island'). Note to Italian WIP directors: 'leave the arty stuff to the likes of Fellini & Pasonlini' - Note to potential purchasers of 'Riot In A Woman's Prison": 'more of a renter than a keeper."

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