Plot: Karen (Margaret Markov) and Lee (Pam Grier) are both new arrivals in a brutal women’s prison, but they don’t have much else in common. Lee is a tough, steet wise prostitute with ties to the drug trade, while Karen is involved with a group of determined revolutionaries. The prison is harsh and as both women are strong willed, they butt heads with each other and the prison authorities. The two are soon transferred to another prison and for the transport, they’re chained together. This is of course, not good news to either woman. The bus moving the prisoners is ambushed by the revolutionaries, hoping to free Karen. But the shoot out is intense and in the chaos, Lee and Karen run for cover and end up on their own. The two quickly realize they have much different plans on how to proceed, but chained together, they reach an impasse. Can these two rivals work together for their own common good, or will they be more concerned with each other than reaching freedom?
Entertainment Value: A fresh spin on the concept of The Defiant Ones, this movie is classic exploitation, directed by genre regular Eddie Romero. The movie has that women in prison vibe, but we don’t spend much time behind bars. But the time locked up isn’t wasted, as all the expected tropes are quickly explored. We have the lesbian guard, shower hijinks, and cat fights, all packed into those early prison scenes. Black Mama, White Mama has a good cast, with genre icon Pam Grier and women in prison veteran Margaret Markov, plus Sid Haig and Lynn Borden. Haig is beyond awesome as a wild bounty hunter, while the beloved Vic Diaz is a sadistic warden. The story is passable, allowing for the all the fun times to happen, but the performances are what drive Black Mama, White Mama. I think this movie hits all the needed notes, with lots of breasts, colorful characters, and action, not to mention a high overall entertainment value. I think this one is of interest to anyone who appreciates exploitation movies, women in prison, or just can’t get enough of the Filipino B movies.
An early scene has a shower room full of naked women, so lots of breasts and bare asses on showcase. After that scene, the nakedness is limited to topless girls, but there’s a lot of them throughout Black Mama, White Mama. The nudity isn’t graphic, but its still fun to have so many jugs out on parade. We even get a scene where Vic Diaz has electrodes hooked to a girl’s bare breasts, so this one has serious class. There’s not much blood, but we do get a lot of shoot outs and some fun cat fights. The Grier vs. Markov feud is a lot of fun to watch here and these kitties get out the claws. The gun fights yield some squib style blood, but not much. The action is solid though, with a lot of guns, grenades, and explosives on deck. The dialogue is good here, between Grier’s street slang and Sid Haig’s general madness. Not a lot of lines you’d remember enough to quote, but some solid writing as far as dialogue exchanges. The movie is quirky, but aside from Haig and the early prison scene, it remains fairly straight forward. Even so, it is never dull and never fails to entertain.
Overall Insanity: 3/10
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