Caged Heat (1974) – Blu-ray Review

Caged Heat (1974) – Blu-ray Review

Caged Heat1974.

Directed by Jonathan Demme.
With Juanita Brown, Erica Gavin, Roberta Collins, Cheryl Smith, Barbara Steele, Warren Smith.

SYNOPSIS:

Inmates at a women’s prison rebel when the prison doctor begins experimenting with electric shock therapy to control their behavior.

It’s often interesting to go back to a big-name director’s career and see where they started, especially when that director was part of the rich talent cast of film legend B Roger Corman in the 1970s, because we often know what kind of movie that will involve.

And while Jonathan Demme may be best known these days as the director behind Hollywood greats like The Silence of the Lambs and Philadelphia, it was with the much-maligned film about women in prison that Demme, following in the footsteps of Jack Hill, who was also under Corman’s tutelage, received his first director’s credit. So looking back to 1974 Caged Heat is it now obvious that this was the filmmaker who gave us Anthony Hopkins in his most iconic role a quarter of a century later?

Not really, but don’t be discouraged because Caged Heat – with all its genre trappings – it’s a slightly more nuanced experience than the more despicable Jack Hill movies like the big doll house and The big bird cage from a couple of years ago. While Hill’s films were more direct action, with female prisoners whose clothes seemed to fall off for no real reason other than excitement, Demme – who had previously written the hot box and Black Mom, White Momso he had experience within the genre – he has a lighter approach, knowing that audiences who go to the cinema to see his movie are going to expect certain things, but also don’t just want to watch the same thing over and over again (because movie fandom can be like that sometimes).

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Demme achieves this by adding some healthy doses of humor between the exploitative violence, which may not sound like much, but it gives the actors some space when delivering their dialogue, which is less progressive in certain areas but ultimately, this is a 70’s women in prison movie so what do you expect?

Despite Demme’s injection of humor, Caged Heat tick all the boxes for what you’d like to see, including totally gratuitous nudity, profanity, despicable guards and gory violence, not to mention a silly plot about women being treated like cattle by a sadistic director (in this case, a sexually repressed, housekeeper in wheelchair named McQueen, played by the wonderful Barbara Steele), but the director also plays with an odd dream sequence during the first 15 minutes that feels a little out of place considering where we’re headed.

However, if nothing else, it does show a bit of ambition on Demme’s part, even though Roger Corman is likely to put his foot down on these matters (which he alludes to in the special features interview). But aside from Jonathan Demme’s forays into artistic dream sequences and a few light comedies (often punctuated with lighthearted pieces of music that wouldn’t sound out of place in a Continue… movie), Caged Heat can proudly rank among connoisseurs’ collection of women in prison as one of the most sophisticated films of the genre.

The presence of Barbara Steele adds enormous weight to the production, even if the generic plot of women being mean to each other and then bonding during an escape doesn’t, and the main plot about the prison doctor – which can also be played by Leslie Phillips, given that he’s obviously trying to look dashing with his neatly trimmed mustache and his dialogue is mostly insinuating, or just plain wrong (“Listen, I don’t like this ritual any more than you. ‘Let’s do some calisthenics now…”, he says to some new inmates he’s just asked to undress) – doing electric shock therapy to make the inmates more docile is handled with all the care and attention that such an act deserves, thankfully.

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Featuring an archival audio commentary with writer/director Jonathan Demme (who sadly passed away in 2017), cinematographer Tak Fujimoto and actress Erica Gavin, and a brief interview with Roger Corman on how Jonathan Demme directed the film, Caged Heat looks probably as good as ever, thanks to a 2K raster that doesn’t do much to lift the gloomy prison setting, but once the prisoners have escaped the outside scenes it looks nice and bright, with a lot less grain and more detail than you would not have seen in earlier versions.

But if Caged Heat is a movie you want to catch is a matter entirely for your own conscience, while the family seeing it is not. Given the amount of full frontal female nudity — which occurs roughly every two minutes — it would be wise to pick your moments to watch it if others around you aren’t as open to its charms, but seeing as how it looks a little more organized and a bit more organized. little – just a little, mind you – more polished than other films of this type, you can always use “It’s from the director of The Silence of the Lambs so I thought I’d check it out” as an excuse if you get caught. It might work…

Intermittent Myth Classification – Movie ★ ★ / Movie ★ ★ ★ ★

Chris Ward

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=embed/playlist

Source : www.flickeringmyth.com

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