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Sep 04

Human Experiments

humanexperimentsGenre: Horror / Drama
Year: 1979
Country: USA

aka: Beyond the Gate, Women in Prison

Director: Gregory Goodell
Starring: Linda Haynes, Geoffrey Lewis, Ellen Travolta, Lurene Tuttle, Mercedes Shirley

 

The victims: young female inmates

 

Rachel Foster is an aspiring country singer who supports herself by touring in stinky bars around the country. She arrives at a southern redneck town where she gets hustled out of half of her salary by the bar owner and on the way to the next small town her car breaks down. She tries to get help from a nearby house but when she enters the house she sees the carnage of a dead family.

She finds a young boy with a shotgun in one of the rooms and it ends with a shootout where she injures him. To make things even worse, the cop who arrives at the scene is the brother of the bar owner that hustled her and she is not set up for the murder of the entire family and sent to a female prison.

Human Experiments isn’t a typical women in prison movie that is about torture and exploitation of women. Although that’s not to say that this doesn’t have nudity or violence, but it’s more about the character of Rachel than anything else. Linda Haynes plays Rachel and even though this had to be a tough role to do, she does comes off as a strong woman who gets broken down minute for minute by the atrocities she is put through.

The most memorable scene is where Rachel is trying to masturbate in her prison cell when she quickly gets interrupted by the lights being turned on for body count. A perfect example that you can not experience any joy whatsoever at this prison. She did deserve to be sent to prison because of her terrible singing though.

The prison is run by Dr. Kline, played by Geoffrey Lewis, a sadistic doctor who does experiments on his female inmates to make them into childlike slaves. Lewis is great, I always enjoy seeing him on the screen and I’ve never seen him as mean and sinister as he is in this one. It’s too bad that he didn’t give anymore screen time than he did.

The movie starts very well with a grim southern redneck atmosphere that only the 70’s could bring. The whole massacre scene was great and probably one of the best setups for a women in prison movie I’ve seen before. The mid-part with her entering the prison and adjusting there isn’t very good and gets a little slow. It does pick up again near the end, which saves the movie.

Human Experiments is a women in prison movie that doesn’t play to the common strings of sleaziness ad excessive nudity that usually makes these type of movies work. The inmates are not typical hot and horny ladies. There’s old women here, the butch ones are very butch and it adds realism to the movie.

This is a project created by Gregory Goodell and it’s the first one ever did. He later went on to do a couple of TV movies as a writer, director or producer in the 90’s, including Wes Craven’s Don’t Look Down. He did a great job with this one and it’s too bad that he didn’t get to do even more of these movies back in the day.

Human Experiments is an alright movie that should never have been included to the Video Nasties list (what the hell where they thinking?). It’s an interesting entry to the women in prison genre and well worth seeing.

 

 ★★½☆☆ 

 

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