From The Grindhouse Cinema Database
Plenty of exploitation films explore fetishes of various sorts, but if you want to watch a movie featuring voyeurism, lesbianism, sexual slavery, bondage, sadism, and even rape, then you should go to prison. Preferably a women's prison.
Chained Heat, a 1983 women in prison film, is notable for its cast. It stars Linda Blair (The Exorcist, Savage Streets), veteran character actor John Vernon (Dirty Harry) in one of his sleaziest roles--he has a jacuzzi in his office! Nice. We've also got Stella Stevens (Slaughter) and Tamara Dobson (Cleopatra Jones) in her final theatrical film role. Rounding out the main cast is b-movie regular Sybil Danning (Hercules).
That is quite the cast.
Carol Henderson (Linda Blair) is one of the new women on the block, having just been sentenced to 18 months for accidentally killing a man. She tries to keep her head down as well as she can, but that's easier said than done. It doesn't take long to learn the prison is divided along racial lines and tensions are high.
She also learns the staff are sadistic and corrupt. They regularly abuse inmates, more than a few inmates end up dead, and there is a vibrant drug trade happening inside the prison walls.
When her only friend is beaten to death, she takes it upon herself to organize the women against their corrupt oppressors.
It's all pretty typical women in prison fare--sex and violence that eventually leads to revenge. We've seen it before, but if you'd like to see it again, Chained Heat does deliver on those "fetishistic" aspects I mentioned before.
It has plenty of attractive women who spend a good amount of time out of their prison-issued jumpsuits. At one point they even enjoy a group shower which goes on for longer than you might expect--and one nice thing about a shower scene in an 80s movie is that it flattens down all of that hair.
There's also more than a bit of sadistic violence here--including a little bit of blood gore--a pleasant surprise. And after a bit of a slow start, the plot is rather engaging. Lots of villains with competing interests are at play here and it all comes together in a violent end.
But the film's not perfect, even aside from the completely out-of-control-80s hair. This film is a bit meaner than plenty of other women in prison films. If you look at one of Jack Hill's women in prison films--like The Big Doll House, for example, you'll find it quite a bit more light-hearted.
There is some humor here as well, but not much. However, like many women in prison films, there is a revenge element that plays out, so we get to watch most of the "mean" people get their comeuppance.
And so, if you want yet another women in prison movie that ticks all of the typical boxes while having a recognizable cast, this is your movie. It delivers what it promises.
It just doesn't deliver quite as well as I would like.