Welcome to your new home! Note the lovely lack of landscaping, and the poisonous atmosphere! No effort has been spared to make sure your stay here will be uncomfortable...
Caged Heat 3000 is one of those movies that looks at the future and comes to the curious conclusion that nothing will really change except set design.
Cassandra Leigh, billed here as Lisa Boyle, is convicted of a crime she did not commit and winds up in a maximum-security prison on a planet millions of light years from Earth, where the atmosphere is poisonous, the guards are all male and the female prisoners all wear skintight short-shorts and t-shirts and are all beautiful. That's pretty much the same set-up for male sexploitation women in prison films set in the present day.
The movie opens with a guard sound asleep in front of a bank of video cameras while one of the female prisoners is being brutally raped and beaten by a male guard, then brutally murdered by a gang of other female prisoners. Leigh, who's hanging around the guard's monitoring station, sees the action and is horrified. She heads off in the direction of the murder because she had promised the girls's mother that she'd protect her and letting her get raped and murdered doesn't seem right under the circumstances.
You can obtain this video from amazon.com through this link at a fairly fair price.
The guard's awakened by the arrival of a visiting slimy politician and his press entourage come to see how nice the politician's new prison is. They are alarmed at what they see on the video camera, which is Leigh fighting it out with the murderers. It turns out that whatever Leigh was innocent of, it wasn't knowledge of martial arts. She goes through the bad girls like a buzz saw, with some awesome kicks, punches and leg sweeps - very fit, flexible actress. Unfortunately, the bad girls' fighting technique consists almost entirely of raising their arms on either side of their head and running at Leigh until she kicks the shit out of them.
After disposing of the chief bad girls' henchbabes, Leigh goes after the cheese herself, who pulls a knife on her. After dodging a few swipes of the knife, Leigh manages to get behind the bad girl and, wrapping her hands over the bad girls' knife hand, forces her to stab herself with the knife repeatedly while the horrified politician and the gleeful press look on.
"Will this really make my breasts larger, doctor?" A little bit of electrobikini torture...
Next scene, Leigh is shackled in a standing spreadeagle in front of some kind of metal grate while wearing what appears to be a steel chastity belt on her waist and a pair of heat lamps on her tits. It's an electro-torture bikini, and Leigh writhes convincingly as arcs of electricity jump from the wires leading to her breast heaters down to her chastity belt, and back up to her breasts and all around.
Think those cuffs are heavy enough? Leigh endures sarcasm from the slimy politician...
Scene after that, Leigh is sitting in a chair wearing heavy metal cuffs and leg shackles while the politician and the sadistic warden chew her out. She's being sent to the mines, the horrible place where the worst of the worst prisoners go, at least, the ones who get caught. She looks pouty about it, but since Leigh's character is in prison for a crime she didn't commit, Leigh does most of her scenes in a sulky pout that quickly flashes into rage, just like Elizabeth Berkley in "Showgirls."
Leigh's toughness, martial arts prowess and unwillingness to crack under torture gives the game away concerning where the plot for Caged Heat 3000 originated. It's a male fantasy with the genders changed. It's a guy's fantasy of going into prison, totally kicking all the bad guys' asses, enduring the worst that the warden and his minions can dish out without a whimper, and ultimately bringing the whole system down with sheer kick-ass bravery. The fact that Leigh is female is almost an afterthought.
All the action cited above is a prologue to what goes on with our pouty heroine once she reaches the mines. There are two bad-girl gangs in the mines, each of them nervous about Leigh as she has somehow acquired the rep of being someone who can and will wipe out entire bad-girl gangs for doing stuff she disapproves of. Both want to kill Leigh, who just wants to be left alone. But unknown to her, Leigh is just a pawn in the brutal warden's game. He makes her the cellmate of a goody two-shoes jailhouse lawyer who has been annoying the warden with her legal filings and so forth on behalf of the various prisoners. It is the warden's hope that proximity to Leigh the one-woman girl gang will get goody two-shoes whacked by the other prisoners, or as he puts it, "The lamb who sleeps each night with the lion will one day fail to wake up."
Despite the futuristic setting, this movie's plot was written strictly by the numbers. In the mines, Leigh immediately makes friends with a wimpy type who somehow got down there, and with her new celly, goody two-shoes. The prison guards are without exception either idiots, sadists, rapists or asleep most of the time, and the prisoners are as brutal as they are brutalized. Stupidity reigns everywhere, and if you're expecting the plot to make sense, your expectations are totally unreasonable and won't be met.
However, the film does deliver on the central promise of women in prison films, which is women whose vulnerability as prisoners arouses the weird combination of protectiveness and predation instincts in the male (and maybe even female) psyche, and it's clearly more aware of the dominance and submission themes that underlie women in prison films than most. But with a couple of exceptions, it delivers the same rote sceness as just about every chicks-behind-bars flick since "Caged Women" did.
Leigh demonstrates just how good a prison shower scene can be.
For example, there are several nice shower scenes, with the women all naked and helpless before the eyes of the guards and the audience. There are several not-so-nice rape and molestation scenes, as in the one where Cassandra Leigh has been consigned to "the coffins" for three hours of psychic torture which is far worse than any physical torture could be. (This the only form of technological imaginativeness in the film -- I refuse to count the electro-torture bikini as an imaginative device -- and it fails miserably, as the women who are supposed to be enduring horrible torment and agony appear to be sleeping peacefully, which ruins the whole effect.)
While Leigh's in "the coffin" she's partially stripped (worth it -- nice tits!) and then raped by the half-mad rapist doctor who oversees the coffins. Talk about adding insult to injury! But then, we're dealing with a whole population of people whose first instinct is to add insult and anything else they can think of to injury.
There's also a short, drastically underlit, but effective scene where Leigh, her hands apparently cuffed behind her back, held by one guard, is tormented and smooged upon by another as they prepare to send her to the mines.
Forced to dance naked before men, she proved to be ... pretty good at it!
Two subsequent set pieces are out-and-out maledom/femsub fantasies. In the first, a naked woman (ok, she wears a set of red fuck-me heels) dances on a platform surrounded by guards who poke at her with fluroescent tubes that emit electric rays that make her jump a little, but don't appear to bother her otherwise. Two prisoners are chained in the background by the wrists, both of them clothed -- on deck for dancing, perhaps?
Forced to kneel and confess that she'll "fuck anyone" for food -- and to get out of this movie!
Not only does the prisoner dance naked before all they fully clothed and tube-weilding guards, but a burly, tattooed guard with a whip comes out and forces her to kneel on her hands and knees and submit to him, declaring her willingness to "fuck anyone" for food.
"What do you mean, she isn't allowed to compete Westminster Dog Show? She's MY BITCH dammit!"
The most erotic scene in the movie involves a pair of prisoners entertaining the warden and his chief minion. One of them is a naked woman who holds a leash. On the end of the leash is a second naked woman, who wears a hood with a built-in collar and a zipper over the mouth and built-in blindfolds as well. The dominatrix drags her submissive to a large chair, where she seats her and dominates her and fondles her and displays her to the warden and the guard, while the helpless, unseeing woman writhes. Then she removes the blindfold and dominates her sub a little more, before commanding the sub to unzip her mouth, which the subs does, then kneels before the warden as her mistress presses her head toward his lap. We don't see what happens next, so it's an unfathomable mystery.
Hey! Her lips aren't sealed any more! Call the Go-Gos!
The movie's denouement is a full-scale prison riot that coincides with the return of the slimy politician, who has brought the press with him to show them how nicely he's cleaned things up. Like I said, very by-the-numbers writing. But it's still a great little women-in-prison flick, perhaps the best of the genre.
It's a fantasy-land prison, all-righty, which is what we want. The real thing is too unsettling. We had two million people in prison in the U.S. circa 2000, around 100,000 of them female. A light, entertaining B-movie doesn't want to get too close to THAT action, but the funny thing is, our prisons are so screwed up that in their search for sordidness, B-movie women-in-prison flicks come closer to the heart of our women's prison system than anything you'll see on the nightly news.
Check out this link to find out just how bad things are down in the real world, and see if anything in Caged Heat 3000 strikes you as all that fantastic.
Despite its rank as a topnotch women in prison flick, Caged Heat 3000 doesn't deliver nearly as much of that old women in prison magic as it might. It's because it's a male prison fantasy with the genders switched. When women indulge in prison fantasies, they're much more prone to focus on the personal humiliation and degradation of prison life than men. Men tend to focus on the violence, the sex and the extreme torture scenes, leaving out the personal elements that really make women in prison stories emotionally involving, and which also makes dominance and submission themes more powerful. The very best written dominance and submission novels -- Story of O, The Collector, 9 1/2 Weeks, the Gor novels -- go to great lengths to explore the mind of the submissives as they are dominated and/or bound. Caged Heat 3000 completely misses that.
Don't get me wrong, Caged Heat 3000 is a fine women in prison flick, maybe the best ever done for my money. But women in prison flicks are a very weak genre, with very little understanding of what the audience watches the films for. It wouldn't be very hard to deliver a chicks-in-chains film that floors audiences with its power -- a film that people just can't forget once they'd seen it. The clues to how to do it are all over the place. And Robert Rodriguez may be just the guy to do it.
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