Hellhole Women (1981)

This Spanish grindhouse film was originally released under the title Sadomania in European theaters but presumably someone felt that name wasn’t catchy enough for American audiences and came up with Hellhole Women as an alternate. I’m not sure the change was needed but I won’t deny that Hellhole Women earns a spot on my list of “Movies I’ll Watch Solely Because of the Title” (Snakes on a Plane and Hobo With a Shotgun are examples of some relatively more recent additions to that list). But does the movie live up to its title?

The story begins with newlyweds Olga (Uta Koepke) and Michael (Ángel Caballero) discovering a women’s prison camp on the way to their honeymoon and deciding to drive up and check it out because why the hell not. Their trespassing doesn’t go sadomania labor campunnoticed and the two are promptly captured and taken to the sinister lady warden (Ajita Wilson) who releases Michael and puts Olga to work breaking rocks in the hot sun with the other inmates. Prison work uniforms consist of jean shorts and being topless so thankfully the sadomania pretty girlmajority of Spanish female crimes are committed by twenty-year-old models. The guards at the prison are topless as well, but they wear khaki shorts and carry rifles to differentiate them from the detainees. During non-working hours, the inmates are free to also be bottomless and, from the looks of things, have been given access to all the necessary personal landscaping tools. Meanwhile, Olga is simply trying to survive until Michael can infiltrate the compound and mount a daring rescue immediately after he mounts the warden.

sadomania before fight

Spanish director Jesús “Jess” Franco made, depending on the source, somewhere between 160 and 200 movies during his long career and this is one of them. I’ve seen Franco described as the Spanish Ed Wood and his ability to churn out an endless supply of low-budget exploitation films makes the comparison an accurate one. No amount of funding was too low and he was even known to have filmed two movies simultaneously on the same set (thereby double-dipping from one already tiny budget) with many of the actors being unaware they were in a second movie until years afterward. That the actors were unable to tell they were filming scenes from different movies gives an indication as to just how convoluted many of the plots are, but that never really mattered much to Franco as long as there was lots of nudity and violence, and the women-in-prison sub-genre that Hellhole Women falls into, makes the perfect outlet for both. Sure, Franco made mostly trash movies, but he was undeniably an interesting character and stayed committed to making his movies the way he wanted rather than giving up creative control for a bigger payday. I can respect a guy like that.

sadomania Jess Franco

You should watch this movie if you really love to look at boobs and have no other way of seeing them. There is some humor, all of it unintentional, so there is a little Mystery-Science-Theater-type fun to be had but the story is so disjointed it’s easy to lose interest even with the constant nakedness. As an example, at one point a guard and an inmate (who seems to think she was born from her own vagina) get into a fight. The punishment for fighting with a guard is being forced to fight with that guard a little while later, which doesn’t seem like much of a deterrent since that was the desired outcome in the first place. The loser of the fight dies while the winner gets tied to a chair and sodomized by a dog so that the impotent governor is able to become aroused and inseminate his wife. You’d probably like a little more clarification here and so would I, but that’s as clear as the movie gets on the matter so your guess is as good as mine – Jess Franco, ladies and gentlemen.

sadomania chained

If you do decide to watch this movie, I have three recommendations:

1: Make large quantities of alcohol (or whatever) a part of your plan.
2: If you’ll be showing it to friends, give them fair warning as to what they are about to see if you want them to continue to be your friends.
3: Scrap the whole idea and watch something else.

Hey, I do the heavy lifting here so you don’t have to, but if you’re still curious, then by all means give Hellhole Women a look. I’ve seen it floating around on YouTube, so you really don’t have any reason not to check out at least a few minutes. It will be worth a few laughs and everyone should experience Jess Franco at least once in a lifetime. Who knows, you might even become a fan.

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Favorite Line:
“She awaits your masculinity with hunger.”

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