Atrapadas / Condemned to Hell (1984, Argentina)
I don’t know whether it was the grainy print, or the DVD cover which has Leonor Benedetto looking like a bloke in drag, or maybe the general sleaziness, but Atrapadas (which translates as ‘Trapped’) has a definite ’70s feel about it. I kept waiting for Pam Grier to make an appearance.
Bendetto plays Silvia, a first-timer who arrives in prison after being nabbed fleeing a bank robbery in which her lover was killed in a gunfight with pursuing Police. She immediately stands out. For starters, she’s blonde and she brings with her some notoriety after her offence was featured on the TV news. She soon gets told the prison rules: Do whatever Susana says.
Susana (Camila Perissé) is another prisoner. She runs the joint, and is in league with a couple of corrupt warders and an underworld figure on the outside who seems to be able to fix anything (drugs, court verdicts, parole). Susana’s voracious sexual appetite provides some very ’70s titillation and complements her sideline - recruiting women from prison to perform live sex acts for her crime boss.
Silvia won’t play. She doesn’t like being told what to do and doesn’t want the stuff her family has brought in for her to be shared amongst Susana and her cronies. She gets into fights. She gets bashed and urinated on. The weaker prisoners are bullied relentlessly, and the warders who are in cahoots with Susana offer them no protection. One harmless woman whose medication was taken by Susana dies of an asthma attack after being made to run as punishment by the warders, and the women riot in protest. Pretty traditional women’s prison movie fare, really, except that the drug barons kidnap and murder Silvia’s sister in retaliation for Silvia’s opposition to them. Silvia, not unreasonably, is a tad aggrieved.
What to do? A sympathetic warder lets her out of the prison at night, on the proviso that she’s back in the jail by the next change of shift. She makes good use of her time at large, wreaking very messy revenge on Susana (who has just been released) and the crime boss who backed her.
It’s a poor film. There are some discordant attempts to tell the stories of a couple of women who have wound up in prison after being racially abused or used and abused by men. But at its heart is a predictable story of good versus bad, where good eventually triumphs. In a fashion. Not recommended.
Posted on January 26th, 2010 at 9:16 pm. Updated on February 2nd, 2010 at 7:54 pm.
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