Sunday, November 29, 2009

Franco Watch - BARBED WIRE DOLLS (1975)

Watched the second in my personal Jess Franco film fest tonight and didn’t come away too displeased. BARBED WIRE DOLLS is another of his Women in Prison stories that almost makes you impressed with his ability to conjure something out of nothing. Obviously shot on abandoned ruins someplace where the local government doesn’t care to keep up appearances the film has a minimal cast running through the same old standard plot. Various gorgeous ladies spend 80% of their time un- or under-dressed, being tortured in various ways and plotting an escape from the prison. There is the sadistic female warden, the sympathetic male doctor, the poor kind hearted guard and the high level government official in on the deal. If there had been an undercover journalist it would have hit every cliché of the genre. Since it’s a Franco film from the 70s Lina Romey plays one of the prisoners as a cute and nude woman imprisoned for a crime she didn’t commit. Did I mention that cliché?

Whatever enjoyment you can take from this type of movie depends on your ability to go with the flow. There are no real surprises with a WIP film after you’ve seen a couple of them so the only joy comes in either shocking excesses, strange variations on the themes I’ve mentioned or bizarre casting choices. Here the variation on a theme is that Lina’s character is innocent of her crime but doesn’t know it! And she never learns this fact either. Also, the ending is particularly downbeat with good folks dead and the evil people alive and well. I think the best of Franco’s WIP movies I’ve seen would have to be 99 WOMEN (1969) which hit most of the genre tropes but also had a better than average script. BARBED WIRE DOLLS’ story could be laid out on a bar napkin and I seriously doubt there was ever a complete script for the actors to reference. I got some pleasure from my viewing because of the beauty of the ladies on display and the amusement of checking the cliché boxes as it meandered along but I wouldn’t recommend the film to most folks. If you must see a Jess Franco WIP movie go with 99 WOMEN but if you are a jaded exploitation film nut check out both.

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