Black Mama, White Mama

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“A P-movie: Prison, Philippines and Pam Grier.”

The biggest shock this has to offer is likely the opening credit, “based on an original story by Joseph Viola and…Jonathan Demme“. Yep, future-Oscar winner Demme, director of Silence of the Lambs, came up with this story, though if truth be told, it’s largely a ripoff of The Defiant Ones, which also had a black/white pair of prisoners escaping jail chained to each other. Here, it’s moved to the Philippines, where revolutionary Karen (Markov) and drug-lord moll Lee (Grier) are both wanted by their respective parties, albeit for entirely different reasons: Karen to help broker an arms deal, Lee because she stole forty grand. While being transported to the city, the two break free and head off across country, encountering nuns, drunk drivers, lecherous handymen and dogs – dressed in skimpy prison tunics, naturally…

Actually, if they’d stuck to this unwilling pair and their bickering, that gradually turns from animosity into mutual respect, the film would likely have been a damn sight better. You can see why Grier became a star, and Markov’s screen presence is almost equally obvious. However, the film instead diverts its energy into subplots involving the rebels or Ruben (Haig), a local slimeball who agrees to track the escapees. Both subplots seem more like excuses for bad T&A, largely involving ugly Phillippino actresses. Ditto the lengthy shower scene near the beginning – while our heroines are still in jail – though it shows the prison staff are equally as sexually frustrated as the inmates. Of course, it ends in a massive gunfight on a dock, between all interested parties. It’s cheap, campy and passes the time, albeit only just.

Dir: Eddie Romero
Star: Pam Grier, Margaret Markov, Sid Haig, Lynn Borden

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