God bless Laura Gemser’s intrepid investigative reporter Emanuelle, for it is her adventures in the Black Emanuelle spin-off films that provide the most entertainment out of the entire Emmanuelle/Emanuelle film series. Emanuelle in Prison (aka Emanuelle fuga dall’inferno, Emanuelle Escpaes From Hell) is the 1983 picture that see’s Gemser’s iconic portrayal transported to the realm of Women in Prison films.
After being sent to a Female prison and witnessing her fellow inmates being abused by the Guards, Emanuelle tries to blow the whistle on what really happened, only to be at the hands of the same wardens herself. She also has to deal with ‘Top Dog’ inmate Albina who is determined to put Emanuelle in her place. Eventually our protagonist begins to suspect that someone is trying to beat her down, someone possibly linked to the corrupt official she was trying to expose before being framed. Life in the prison is, however, interrupted when four male death row inmates break into the prison…
Cue violence, and plenty of it. No Women in Prison would be complete without a few bloody scenes and Emanuelle in Prison delivers throats being bitten out, torture, Russian roulette and razorblades being hidden inside inmate’s vaginas. Add to that a hefty dose of rape, sex being used by sex-starved prisoners as a prelude to murder, sadistic wardens, cat fights and lesbian sex, not to mention a large amount of cheesy dialogue to match, and you have your typical Women in Prison exploitation flick. Expect anything less?
Laura Gemser is, as always when playing Emanuelle, fantastic. It’s refreshing to see an Emanuelle film in which the Emanuelle character spends a lot of time off screen, not that this diminishes her impact or the character itself in any way. This was the last Emanuelle related film Gemser would do and it’s nice to see her play the role with a hardened and tougher exterior than in previous entries. Gabriele Tinti, another veteran of the Black Emanuelle film series and Gemser’s real life husband, is also memorable as the leader of the gang of male prisoners. Other notable’s are the other female inmates played by Maria Romano, Antonella Giacomini and Ursula Flores as Albina, who in one hilarious cat fight, gets her wig pulled off.
Italian director Bruno Mattei worked across many exploitation genres and his experience shows in Emanuelle in Prison. Known for working with and occasionally filling in for other Italian directors such as Lucio Fulci and Joe D’Amato (who directed many of the films in the Black Emanuelle film series), Mattei has directed one of the better Emanuelle films that were released in the 1970’s and 80s. Whilst certainly heavy on Women in Prison qualities, the film has a narrative and structure that makes the picture feel a little more than just another exploitation flick, and provides the character of Emanuelle with a perfect last outing.