Prison A Go-Go! (2003)
By: Devon B. on May 13, 2006  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
ei Independent Cinema (USA) Region 1, NTSC. 1.85:1 (16:9 enhanced). English DD 5.1, English DD 2.0. 84 Minutes
The Movie
Director: Barak Epstein
Starring: Rhonda Shear, Mary Woronov, Laurie Walton, Travis Willingham
Screenplay: Barak Epstein, Mike Wiebe
Music: Alan Pollard, Tim Reed
Country: USA
Prison A-Go-Go! is the heart warming tale of a woman who (very slowly) realises her sister has been abducted and taken to a prison in the Philippines. To rescue her sister, our heroine gets arrested, in the USA, and sent to the prison. The surrounds of this Filipino prison look very…American. Our intrepid lead is bunked with Rhonda Shear, who has aged very well. Rhonda Shear used to host the USA network's Up All Night show (prior to Gilbert Gottfried's reign). While Up All Night always showed cut versions of the films, it was where I was introduced to films like The Toxic Avenger and Sorority Babes In The Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama, so I confess I have a fondness for Ms Shear.

Anyway, after our lead is sent up the river, or whatever the colloquialism is for being sent to a Filipino jail, send ups of the usual Women In Prison antics begin occurring. Meanwhile, a new warden has been posted to the prison by Mrs. Raoul Eater herself, Mary Woronov, who has also aged very well. Despite being second billed, Woronov's part is very small. The new warden has trouble understanding the methods of the prison doctor's experiments, which don't always produce the expected results. Lloyd Kaufman, president of Troma and creator of the The Toxic Avenger, occasionally runs around as an overzealous prison guard.

Prison A-Go-Go! is obviously a satire on the WIP genre, and the film actually contains moments of inspiration, like the very funny score work, a quick nod to Braindead, and the Monty Python-esque deconstruction of the film itself. However, there are also the typically groan inducing Flying High type gags, one even a lame line involving an airplane. The acting is very hammy, but it mostly suits the script. Hell, it could even be argued that the bad acting is a tribute to Prison A-Go-Go!'s inspirations.

One device of particular note is the 'shower clock' which counts down the time 'till the next shower scene. While this is a funny idea, the shower scenes themselves are pretty lame. To satirise this part of WIP films either way over the top nudity or no nudity at all would be required. Actually, I'm not sure it would be possible to make nudity more over the top than in some of the WIP films. So, perhaps the best way to satirise this element would've been the no nudity at all option. Prison A-Go-Go! unfortunately straddles the fence here, and the scenes, which are constantly having attention drawn to them by the clock, really let the film down. The filmmakers seem to have been able to find about three extras willing to do nudity, and that's all the flesh on display. Repeatedly. Sadly, the one clever moment in the shower scenes pulls its own punch then resolves with the typically boring, overly repetitive, normal Prison A-Go-Go! shower scene.

Prison A-Go-Go! is definitely one DVD that should've taken a cue from Luther The Geek and Nikos The Impaler and had extended shower scenes. Then the viewer might even get to see someone who has a significant part in the film nude!
Prison A-Go-Go! was shot on 35 mm, and looks really good in a 1.85:1, 16x9 enhanced presentation. There are a few specks, but these EI movies are looking slicker and slicker, with better transfers and film stock.
Audio is available in either 2.0 or 5.1 mixes. The 2.0 mix is a tad louder, but the 5.1 is slightly clearer. Both tracks are mostly crisp and clear. The score can get overly loud, but I think that's due to the source materials. There are also echoes in scenes set in emptier rooms, but I think that's also a source related flaw.
Extra Features
EI have given this film good treatment in the extras department. A lively, mostly entertaining commentary track is provided, featuring director and co-writer Barak Epstein and selected crew, some of whom doubled as cast members. There's also a 5-½ minute interview with Epstein, where he crams in lots of info, including some about the lacklustre shower scenes. Roughly seven minutes of behind the scenes footage is included. This feature is preceded with notation that there was originally 19 hours of behind the scenes footage, but that legally they couldn't show it. I'm not sure if that's good or bad. Four minutes of 'deleted scenes' are actually more like outtakes, but at least there's more footage of Mary Woronov. The included auditions runs roughly one minute, and there's also a few minutes of back patting garbage from the Shock-A-Go-Go Film Festival. Q & A sessions from that film festival are also here. There's an 18-minute one with Roger Corman, perhaps because they used his cover photo swap-a-roo tactic? I can't see any other connection he has with Prison A-Go-Go! Whatever the reason, I like Corman, and don't mind getting to see his Q & A. The next, and only relevant, Q & A features Mary Woronov and Epstein and runs approximately 12 minutes. Luckily, Wornov answers most of the questions, and she even gets to tell her standard story about Paul Bartel's antics while promoting Eating Raoul. It may be old news, but it is a good story. The final Q & A features David Friedman, and his runs 24 minutes. The disc also includes the usual set of Misty Mundae…er, sorry, Shock-O-Rama trailers.
The Verdict
Prison A-Go-Go! is better than it should be. It covers everything from ninjas to Marilyn Manson, but the film lacks cohesion, which means the movie just gets old quickly. Fans of the WIP genre might get more out of this than I did, but I was really disappointed that Woronov was on screen so little, given she was the main reason I wanted to see the movie. The DVD is good quality, though, which earns this release an extra little Australia.
Movie Score
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