CAGED HEAT Kicks off ‘A Tribute to Jonathan Demme’ June 9th at Webster University
CAGED HEAT screens Friday, June 9th at Webster University’s Moore Auditorium (470 East Lockwood). This is the first film in their ‘Tribute to Jonathan Demme’ The movie starts at 8:00pm.
Who doesn’t love a good Women’s prison film? – CHAINED HEAT, HELLHOLE, ILSA SHE WOLF OF THE SS, THE BIG BIRD CAGE, THE BIG DOLL HOUSE, REFORM SCHOOL GIRLS, and THE CONCRETE JUNGLE all sit proudly on my WIP (Women in Prison) DVD shelf. One of the very best of this beloved subgenre is CAGED HEAT (1974), a wonderful exploitation masterpiece and the directing debut of Oscar-winner Jonathan Demme, that has everything you could possibly hope for in a Women-In-Prison movie: nudity, shower catfights, lesbian coupling, race wars, murder, chain-swinging, switch-blade slashing, and shock therapy!
CHAINED HEAT stars Erica Gavin (of Russ Meyer’s VIXEN fame) as Jackie, an accomplice in a drug related crime, who enters the ‘D-Cup’ wing of a tough women’s prison run by a hateful, wheelchair-bound lesbian warden played by none other than my favorite actress of all time (after Pam Grier of course)…Barbara Steele! Jackie’s cell mate Lavelle (Cheryl Rainbeuax Smith – another tragic ‘70s Drive-In fave who deserves her own tribute) suffers from suicidal nightmares while another prisoner, Pandora (Ella Reid), is reprimanded for entertaining her fellow inmates with a mildly lewd vaudeville act and placed in solitary confinement. Her loyal friend Belle (Roberta Collins) begins sneaking through the ventilation ducts to bring her food from the kitchen until she’s caught when she surprises an elderly staff member who abruptly dies of a heart attack. Meanwhile, the prison bully Maggie (Juanita Brown) picks a fight with Jackie and gets them both in hot water. Though the warden is a bit stern, the real threat turns out to be the demented prison doctor (Warren Miller). He subjects Jackie and Maggie to illegal electric shock therapy and prescribes a more permanent `cure’ for Belle: corrective brain surgery, which he intends to perform with a Black and Decker power drill!!!
Jonathan Demme’s script provides believable characters and several imaginative dream sequences, and his direction is filled with impressive camera angles and novel wipes and dissolves. He even commissioned an appropriately down and dirty soundtrack from blues legend John Cale. Because of these frequent artistic flourishes, CAGED HEAT is one of the few WIP movies to win the respect of critics. Demme of course went on to even bigger (but not necessarily better) things, becoming one of the most successful directors of his generation, winning the Best Director Academy Award in 1991 for THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, but in my book CAGED HEAT is still his greatest achievement!
$6 for the general public
$5 for seniors, Webster alumni and students from other schools
$4 for Webster University staff and faculty
Free for Webster students with proper I.D.
Here’s the line-up for the other films that will be part of the ‘Tribute to Jonathan Demme’:
6/10 – Crazy Mama (1975)
6/16 – Melvin and Howard (1980)
6/17 – Stop Making Sense (1984)
6/23 – Something Wild (1986)
6/24 – Married to the Mob (1988)
6/30 – The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
7/1 – Philadelphia (1993)
Look for continued coverage of these films here at We Are Movie Geeks
Advance tickets are available from the cashier before each screening or contact the Film Series office (314-246-7525) for more options. The Film Series can only accept cash or check.
The Webster University Film Series site can be found HERE