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Barbed Wire Dolls

One of cult director Jesus Franco’s best-known efforts, this Swiss-West German co-production was his first collaboration with producer Erwin C. Dietrich, who would release numerous Franco efforts through his Elite Film studio. It seems like a standard women’s prison tale, with Lina Romay as Maria, jailed for life after killing her father when he tried to rape her. There’s a lesbian warden, more rape, torture, insanity, and so forth, with the obligatory conspiracy and a downbeat twist ending to round out the formula. What makes this film different from many others in the subgenre is its unremitting atmosphere of despair and sleaziness, a quality Franco and Dietrich also brought to the similar Greta, Haus Ohne Maenner two years later. Monica Swinn co-stars with Paul Muller, Ramon Ardid, and — in an expectedly tacky bit of casting — the director himself as Maria’s lecherous father.
Women’s prison tale, with Lina Romay as Maria who is jailed after killing her father, played by director Jess Franco, who tries to rape her. Lesbian wardens, torture, nudity, sex, insanity and conspiracy round out the formula.
A prison in an isolated island is run by spineless and equally sadistic Dr. Carlos Costaa. In fact, he is a killer who murdered the actual doctor of that name, whose name he then assumed. Assisting him is a monocled lesbian woman known only as The Wardress who regulates the prison with an iron fist – for example, via chaining them naked to a wall just out of reach of food, or placing them naked on a wire-frame bed where they receive electric shocks. She reads Nazi volumes such as Albert Speer’s history of the Third Reich as leisure reading. Due to these torturing several prisoners in the past have died. The current authorities in charge of the prison have concealed this by claiming these prisoners died of heart failure. Maria is sentenced to life in prison for the murder of her sexually abusive father. Upon her arrival at the prison, she meets this cold-blooded, sadistic wardress and Dr. Costa. Some time later Maria organizes a plan to rebel and escape.

Director: Jesús Franco (as Jess Franco)

Writers: Jesús FrancoConnie Grau

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