Written by: George Pacheco on October 14th, 2015
Theatrical Release Date: Italy, February 2nd, 2010
Director: Bruno Mattei
Writer: Antonio Tentori, Bruno Mattei
Cast: Yvette Yzon, Dyane Craystan, Amelie Pontellier
DVD released: October 13th, 2015
Approximate running time: 98 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Stereo English
DVD Release: Intervision / Severin Films
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $19.98
The latter day creative output of noted Italian trash maestro Bruno Mattei has become known for its fast(er) and cheap(er) shot-on-video sentiment, while still managing to be infused with the writer and director’s penchant for fast moving, breezy stories with plenty of exploitable elements to keep cult cinema fans pleased as punch.
The fine folks over at Intervision and Severin Films have released a number of these enjoyable twilight period Mattei joints on DVD over the past couple of years, with The Jail: The Women’s Hell serving as the company’s latest disc. Unfortunately, this one’s a bit less fun than some of their prior discs-which included Mattei’s Mondo Cannibal and Zombies: The Beginning-thanks to an overall joylessness which hampers the production.
The film’s screenplay-written by Mattei and frequent collaborator Antonio Tentori-basically takes all of the established tenets of the “women in prison” film and photocopies it, from the brutal and power hungry female warden to the group shower scenes and fetishized sequences of girl-on-girl violence. The Jail also borrows from such earlier Italian sleaze fests as Hotel Paradise, Escape From a Women’s Prison and even Mattei’s own Women’s Prison Massacre and Violence in a Women’s Prison, albeit on an even lower budget, with locals masquerading as actors.
Yes, it’s true that lead Yvette Yzon is no Laura Gemser, but she’s actually the best actress here by leaps and bounds, as Mattei’s film goes through the sleazy motions with super quick cuts and edits, trying to check as many WIP criteria boxes as possible before inexplicably switching gears halfway through the film’s running time, turning The Jail: The Women’s Hell into yet another rip off of The Most Dangerous Game, where humans are used as prey for the hunting elite.
Sadly, this curve ball speaks more towards the film’s lack of steam and conviction, with Mattei and Tentori apparently satisfied with sandwiching two lackluster snoozers into one film which certainly delivers the sweaty sleaze at points, but really doesn’t leave a big enough impression when compared to the body of work Mattei left behind as one of Italy’s most infamous filmmakers.
Intervision’s DVD of The Jail: The Women’s Hell is presented in 1.78:1 widescreen which preserves the film’s original video aspect ratio. The sharp color contrast is indicative of Mattei’s creative output during this time for producer Giovanni Paolucci, with a super saturated picture quality which does take some getting used to, but is just fine once acclimated to as a viewer. The film also contains a fairly awkward English dub (also typical for Mattei’s films for this period), but no worse really than anything else of the era.
Extras are fairly strong here, including interviews with Yzon and fellow Mattei actor Alvin Anson, as well as a second featurette with producer Paolucci and screenwriter Tentori, and the film’s original trailer, making this a well rounded presentation from Intervision for a third or fourth tier Mattei film.