Color, 1983, 90m. / Directed by Bruno Mattei / Starring Laura Gemser, Gabriele Tinti, Ursula Flores, Maria Romano, Lorraine De Selle / ei Independent Cinema / WS (1.85:1) (16:9), Vipco (UK R2 PAL)

After a series of globe-hopping adventures from America to the Orient, Laura Gemser's "Black Emanuelle" character veered into truly strange territory during her segue into the 1980s as she found herself in an Italian cannibal narrative, then plunked in the middle of two sleazy women-in-prison epics directed by Bruno Mattei. The first, Violence in a Women's Prison, upped the ante for sadistic sexploitation in this disreputable genre, while its sequel, Women's Prison Massacre (known in Europe under the far more evocative title, Blade Violent), ramps up the action and bloodshed level along with levels of visual style unheard-of in a Mattei film.

Once again playing a plucky but decidedly humorless journalist, Emanuelle winds up in a framed drug bust and sent to prison where the haughty warden (De Selle) turns a blind eye to the oppressive bullying of tactfully-named, pigment-challenged Albina (a scene-stealing Flores). Oh yeah, and they occasionally put on make-up for performance art that looks like an unholy fusion of Cafe Flesh and Caged Heat. Things get even more out of control when a bunch of convicts led by "Crazy Boy" (Tinti, Gemser's husband and frequent co-star) break into the prison during a fouled-up getaway and start taking hostages. A few gynecological sex scenes ensue when the characters aren't shooting, biting, and maiming each other on the way to a gory climax.

Obviously geared to the drive-in crowds of the early 1980s, this late-era Emanuelle film is completely different in feel compared to the sexier '70s titles, which were usually directed by Joe D'Amato and accompanied by swanky Nico Fidenco lounge music. Here we get a much tougher, grittier approach, more fast-paced and outrageous with funky, bass-heavy synth music occupying the background. Gemser is watchable as always (though for some reason she leaves all the naked bumping and grinding to supporting cast this time out), but Tinti and Flores really steal the entire show as dueling psychos with their own sociopathic agendas. Loads of fun and irredeemably nasty, this one's a keeper.

First issued under the Retro Shock-a-Rama banner in an edited R-rated version, this title has thankfully been given a new digital overhaul in a 16x9 widescreen edition with all of the much-needed gore and skin fully restored; be sure to get the release with "Unrated" and "16x9" stamped in huge type on the cover. Image quality is much better, with strikingly bold colors and only a smattering of print damage here and there (which seems oddly appropriate in this case). The European "happy" coda is still missing here (see DVD Drive-In's review for more details), which has has little bearing on the main feature but might be of interest for completists. The disc also includes trailers for Slime City and the great Criminally Insane / Satan's Black Wedding package.

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