Prison A-Go-Go! (2003)

DVD Cover (Shock-O-Rama Cinema)
Genres: Comedy, Parody / Spoof, Prison Film, Women In Prison
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Barak Epstein Barak Epstein
Rhonda Shear Rhonda Shear
Mary Woronov Mary Woronov
Laurie Walton Laurie Walton
Travis Willingham Travis Willingham
Lauren Graham Lauren Graham

3.8 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Review by Chad
Added: May 19, 2005
To kick the movie off, we find out that the mad scientist Dr. Hurtrider (Travis Willingham) has sent some of his minions to the house of sisters Callista (Lauren Graham) and Janie (Laurie Walton) in order to kidnap Callista for use in his various experiments. After the men abduct Callista, Janie comes downstairs and finds that her sister is gone... then, she sees a business card with Dr. Hurtrider's name on it along with his address ("Philippines Prison"). It's now up to Janie to infiltrate the prison and rescue her sister, so in order to get things started, she kills a bum with a crowbar in order to be sent to prison. Ingenious plan, it was, and it certainly worked out.

Upon arriving at the prison, Janie finds out that this is far from your ordinary women's prison. Dr. Hurtrider is using the women as human guinea pigs in his experiments to find the cure for the common cold, and part of his experiment with Callista is to merge her DNA with that of a porcupine. The man also has some much more evil experiments that he's using on these ladies, the cruelest of which is making them watch Robin Williams' films in order to cure their various ailments. There's also a cage full of women infected with the rat-monkey virus who are now full-blown zombies that require fresh flesh daily. Needless to say, the man has some bizarre methods. Upon being led to her cell, Janie meets up with her new cell mates; there's the leader known as Jackpot (Rhonda Shear), the crazy girl Cross Eye (Louisa Lawless), the ice-addicted Boom Boom (Mae Moreno) and the ass-smuggler Breezy (Tina Parker). An odd assortment to say the least, but Janie will have to depend on them (and a few surprise characters) in order to rescue her sister.

When I received a screener copy of this from the fine folks at ei Independent Cinema, I wasn't quite sure what to expect; the scenario includes the backdrop of your typical eighties prison exploitation film, zombies, crime, and even some ninja action. It doesn't sound like a combination that would work, but damned if I wasn't proven wrong by this eighty minute comedy masterpiece. The comedy is extremely goofy, chock-full of the most absurd situations and bizarre events... however, it plays out in such a hilarious fashion that one will be hard-pressed to stifle the laughs. As an example of the goofy humor that is found here, I'll lay out just one of the many great scenes. The ladies are having lunch in the prison cafeteria, when warden Wilbur Thorn (Mike Wiebe) announces that they have some special guests in the form of shock-rockers Maime Bundy. Lead singer Maime (also played by Mike Wiebe) gives a feel-good speech about how the women can achieve what they want in life by having a positive attitude, and then the band breaks into their first song - "I Like The Drugs". During the performance, a group of ninjas breaks in to the cafeteria in search of sushi and action, and they find none of the former (but plenty of the latter). A guard is decapitated by by a lunch-tray, an Aussie guard (Troma founder Lloyd Kaufman) gets molested by Rhonda Shear, and the cafeteria is generally a madhouse for the next five minutes. It's insane, absurd, and completely off the wall... but damned if it isn't hilarious. Adding a nice touch to the events is the Shower Clock... a small timer that sits on the bottom-right side of the screen, counting down the minutes until the next shower scene occurs. Basically, if you're a fan of comedies in the vein of Airplane, Hot Shots, or Naked Gun, you'll love this one.

Since this was a low-budget comedy film, I wasn't expecting much in the way of good acting or top-notch directing. Once again, I was proven wrong. While a few of the actresses are mediocre in their roles, the main characters (the ones that count) do an excellent job. Rhonda Shear steals the show here, in what was one of the biggest surprises of the film. I've seen her plenty of times when she was the host of USA's "Up! All Night", and I've seen a few movies in which she had a bit-part appearance; while she always seemed good enough, I'd have never thought that she could handle a starring role. She shatters that idea with her role here, pulling out some of the best parts of the movie and putting some of the other ladies to shame. The second star of the movie is Travis Willingham (Dr. Hurtrider). The man plays the mad scientist role to perfection, and manages to both parody the typical scientist roles before him and bring something new to the character at the same time. The final highlight in the acting department is Mike Wiebe (the warden). He plays a laid-back, pot-head slacker of a warden, and does a marvelous job with it. Each of these three characters are involved in nearly every scene, so there's always something great going on, regardless of which character is involved.

Do you like watching blood-soaked zombie rampages? How about gratuitous shower scenes filled to the brim with T&A? Kung Fu ninja action? Throw all of the above into a comedy that is actually funny and excellently done, and you have the film known as Prison A-Go-Go. Be sure to pick this one up when it hits the streets in July, it's well worth it. 8/10.
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