06 December 2010

Girls In Prison

United States – 1994
Director – John McNaughton
Dimension Home Video, 1995, VHS
Run Time – 1 hour, 22 minutes

The term “guilty pleasure” is confusing and somewhat self defeating. Film historian and social critic Robin Wood points out (in a brutal critique of that jawless cancerous mongoloid Roger Ebert) that if one feels guilty at pleasure, you’re bound to renounce either one or the other. The term’s use suggests that the “guilty” viewer really sees themselves as slumming, and has to reify their refined tastes by pointing out their “guilty” feelings at watching what they "really consider" to be such base garbage.

Here at Lost Video Archive though, we don’t make excuses for taste, and Women In Prison films are a case in point. I hate to let things get too serious in this damp corridor without a little levity, and what with all the social commentary around here lately it seems high time to lighten things up a bit. So here it is, about as close as it comes to “guilty pleasure” in my book; Girls In Prison. Let’s not kid ourselves, has there ever been a WIP film that has a serious plot? I mean, one to which the nudity and catfights are incidental rather than fundamental? (One exception is 1943’s head-swimmingly boring and nudity-free House of 1000 Women which is about Englishwomen imprisoned in Germany during the Second World War {I have not seen Ida Lupino in 1955’s Women’s Prison but I'll bet that it is similar}) It’s already suspect to walk into a video rental place and pick up a WIP film (and this is where I think guilt is confused with embarrassment in the above statement), but to pick one that has such a well known name on the cover is to walk willingly into the disparaging gaze of society.

Anne Heche became a well known actress when she starred in several films with Johnny Depp and Demi Moore around 1996. But particularly after her well publicized psychological issues and relationship debacle in 2000, this early film became something of a dirty little (not so) secret. The sort of early career choice we all assume that actresses regret once they're established. Ironically of course, Girls In Prison is one of the more clever WIP films out there, and despite its low production value and shoddy, self-aware comedy, has an interesting premise set in the midst of the McCarthyism/Red-Scare of the early 1950’s. If hard pressed, one could probably come up with at least a partially redeeming excuse for watching any other WIP flick, but considering the names involved here, it is impossible to credibly justify watching Girls In Prison to anyone, except to see Anne Heche’s (and maybe Ione Skye's) boobs, no matter how "innocent" you might actually be.

1 comment:

DJ Davy B said...

Yeah I OWN this one. Guilty pleasure for sure. That and seeing Ione Skye's boobs. I bought it while going thru an Anne Heche faze many years ago and pop it into the VCR every few years. Purely for the script mind you....