Written by: Carroll Jenkins on March 22nd, 2015
Theatrical Release Date: Philippines, 1976
Director: Cirio Santiago
Writer: Cirio Santiago, Cyril St. James
Cast: Jeannie Bell, Rosanne Katon, Trina Parks, Jayne Kennedy, Tony Carreon
DVD Release Date: March 1oth, 2015
Approximate Running Time: 93 Minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono English
DVD Release: Vinegar Syndrome
Region Encoding: Region 0 NTSC
Retail Price: $17.98
Synopsis: The two black women who run a pirate crew try find one’s sister who has been abducted to a slave coffee plantation island. There they team up with two more sistas in an effort to both escape and seek revenge.
If your voyage into Philippines-based Women In Prison (WIP) films has previously charted the rich waters of Jack Hill’s New World films The Big Doll House and The Big Bird Cage, then the next destination should be Women In Cages. All three films benefit from the able navigation of producer Cirio Santiago, but beware lest you be hijacked into a screening of The Muthers. Produced, written, and directed by Santiago this is a quickly thrown together free-for-all where the only lasting impression is that of utter confusion. The script is a mish-mash that makes no sense, the action scenes literally feature everyone just running around in circles firing in all directions, and the end result is cinematic chaos.
There is a saving grace for this very mediocre effort, and that is the foursome of black women who make this clunker not only watchable but somewhat interesting. Jeannie Bell (Playboy Playmate of the Month October 1969) had previously starred in Santiago’s TNT Jackson. Rosanne Katon (Jack Hill’s The Swinging Cheerleaders) would later be Playmate of the Month September 1978. Jayne Kennedy (Group Marriage) was a minor celebrity as beauty queen, sportscaster, and eventually a Playboy cover girl (July 1981). Last but not least is Trina Parks who holds her own against her more experienced sistas. Each of these characters get moments of empowered bravado which makes the whole thing almost bearable.
Vinegar Syndrome provides a miraculous restoration of this very obscure release from a 35mm negative. Both the feature and the trailer are presented widescreen. Subtitles are always sorely missed, but especially in this case where some actors’ lines were dubbed into English. One must applaud the sublime efforts of Vinegar Syndrome but may sometimes wish that more deserving titles might be located, licensed, and released in this manner.
Fans of any of the four actresses or of black actresses in general should appreciate aspects of this rare offering.