The Ninjabot

Categorized | Movie Reviews, Reviews

Grindhouse Review – The Big Dollhouse

Posted on September 1, 2012 at 10:28 am by AGouff

The Big Doll House
Roberta Collins
Pam Grier
Judy Brown
Brooke Mills
Pat Woodell


Greetings, fellow travelers upon the alternative cinematic highway! This week we’ll be taking a look at a true classic of the “women in prison” exploitation film – The Big Doll House. The film centers around a group of women locked away for various reasons in a corrupt and brutal women’s prison in the Philippines. Eventually, our main character has had enough and plans an escape by taking the warden hostage.

In terms of acting, it’s surprisingly, not as horrible as one may expect. This should come as no real surprise though, given that several of the names on the cast list you’ll recognize as having gone on to star in numerous successful films later. Though I must admit, I am absolutely confused by the random, unidentifiable accents. Are they French? German? Who knows? This is also one of the masterpieces of director Jack Hill, who also directed a pseudo-sequel to this film, The Big Bird Cage. This having been released in 1971, however, Hall Daniels’ score is interesting to say the least. Just be fully prepared.

The cast of characters is fairly well rounded if typical of the jailhouse genre. Pam Grier’s character – creatively named Grear – plays the overly dominant type that takes Collier (Judy Brown) who is locked up for murdering her husband, under her wing when she is a newly arrived inmate. Bodine (Pat Woodell) is supposed to be the hardened girlfriend of a revolutionary who begins planning the escape, Alcott (Roberta Collins) and Harrad (Brooke Mills). There are also two interloping fruit and candy sellers, Harry (Sid Haig) and Fred (Jerry Franks). Their primary reason for existence is as a plot device, to give the girls outside help for the escape, but they offer a bit of comic relief when they show up.


In terms of the films merits as an exploitation film, there are going to be few surprises. The plot is occasionally interrupted for the sake of mud wrestling, food-fights and sadistic torture – this may be a film about prison, but it’s no Cool Hand Luke.

I give The Big Dollhouse a 7 flying paper plates out of 9. While many of the over-the-top moments are absolute awesomely bad gold, there are stretches that are just good enough to remind you it’s not nearly as good or bad as it could be.

The Big Dollhouse can be seen on Netflix if you’re so inclined, but for those who’ve not yet been initiated into this particular genre of grindhouse, be advised there is some nudity.

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