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Amazon Jail / Amazon Jail II (Vinegar Syndrome) Blu-ray Review

    Ian Jane

  • Amazon Jail / Amazon Jail II (Vinegar Syndrome) Blu-ray Review

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    Released by: Vinegar Syndrome
    Released on: August 29th, 2023.
    Director: Oswaldo De Oliveira/Conrado Sanchez
    Cast: Elisabeth Hartman, Sergio Hingst, Joao Paulo, Maurí­cio do Valle, Sandra Graffi, Lí­gia de Paula, Elys Cardoso, Shirley Benny
    Year: 1982/1987
    Purchase From Amazon

    Amazon Jail / Amazon Jail II – Movie Review:

    Vinegar Syndrome offers up a double dose of women in prison trash film insanity with their two disc special edition Blu-ray release of Oswaldo De Oliveira’ Amazon Jail and Conrado Sanchez’s sequel, aptly titled Amazon Jail II.

    Amazon Jail:

    A slave trade operation is selling off buxom lovelies illegally in the thick of the South American jungle. Not too impressed with the idea of spending the rest of her life as a captive servant, one of the girls makes a break for it and heads out with three other female inmates in search of freedom. After all, isn't it better to risk your life in the dangerous areas that surround the compound where they were held in cages than to live out your years as a slave? When the slave traders start sampling the merchandise, or at least one crazy mustachioed henchman in particular, it seems she has no other choice.

    Of course, the girls are caught by the slave traders and brought back to the compound but what they don't realize is that a few parents have noticed that their daughters have mysteriously gone missing in action and had the good sense to alert the local authorities to the issue. When the crooks get word that the cops are coming down and fast, they attempt to bring their 'merchandise' with them in a mad dash escape but as it all comes crashing down around them, the girls once more make a mad dash for it. What they don't realize is that this time something far more sinister could very well be waiting for them where they least expect it.

    Sleazy enough to be entertaining and slick enough to work, Amazon Jail isn't near the top of the women in prison crop but it is an enjoyable film none the less. The plot, which is admittedly pretty weak, exists for the sole purpose of moving the film from one set piece to another, each one a staple of the genre - rape, girl on girl fun in the bed and in the bath, torture and beatings; fun stuff like that. What's interesting about the movie, and this is the one aspect that differentiates it from others of its ilk, is how the female heroines of the film begin to break down and take things out on another and their captors as opposed to the standard women in prison motif where it's solely the bad guys who get it in the end.

    Director Oswaldo De Oliviera (who also directed the superior Bare Behind Bars two years prior) makes the most out of the lush green areas surrounding the shooting locations and by pacing the film as quickly as he does manages to create an exciting and completely deplorable film without any real value save for exciting the viewer with sex and violence. On that level it works well, it does deliver exactly what you expect it to, and very little more. It isn't an especially intelligent film - characters show up and then disappear never to be heard from again and the plot is really all over the place - but then when dealing with material of this nature it really doesn't need to be, particularly when it delivers the exploitation movie goods as efficiently as Amazon Jail does.

    Amazon Jail II:

    Known in its Brazilian homeland as Prisioneiras da Selva Amazônica, opens with a weirdly calming scene on a beach where a group of beautiful women dance on the beach. This serenity is smashed when a quartet of men show up and abduct four of them. These men are modern day slave traders and they intend to sell these women off as sex slaves to a Japanese man!

    One of the abductees, however, is the princess of the tribe and one she and the others have been corralled for transit to their new home, they use their feminine wiles to sweet talk the pilot and his crew into helping them escape. They agree and before long, the men who are helping these women flee are, like the women themselves, lost in the heart of the Amazon jungle all while the cowboy hat wearing man in charge and his dwarf assistant aren’t just going to sit back and take a loss like this without retaliating….

    A big drop in quality from the first movie, Amazon Jail II plays as a mashup of jungle adventure, action movie and comedy picture all at the same time, though not really doing any of those genres particularly well. The pacing isn’t great and the comedy is goofy, but not especially funny. We get some exotic animal footage spliced in here in an attempt to spice things up (those sensitive to animal violence might be put off by a scene involving a snake that gets roughed up) but it never really amounts to much.

    While it’s never a bad thing to see the lovely Vanessa Alves show up in a movie, and she’s cast alongside some attractive and interesting looking women, this one is a bit of a slog to get through and it doesn’t have nearly the same amount of rampant sleaze as the first movie does to distract us from the fact that it isn’t very entertaining.

    Amazon Jail / Amazon Jail II – Blu-ray Review:

    Each film arrives on its own 50GB disc in AVC encoded 1080p high definition and framed at 1.66.1 widescreen. Amazon Jail is newly scanned and restored in 4K from its 35mm original camera negative Amazon Jail II from a 35mm answer print. The first film looks fantastic, showing strong detail and gorgeous color reproduction with only some very minor white specks showing up now and again as far as damage goes.

    The first film is provided with both a video-sourced Portuguese language track and a film-sourced English track, both in 24-bit DTS-HD 2.0 Mono, with optional English subtitles. Not surprisingly, the English track sounds much cleaner and clearer than the Portuguese one, which is muddy and sometimes very muffled sounding. The audio for the second film features a film-sourced Portuguese track and a video-sourced English track, again with optional English subtitles provided. The quality is essentially reversed here from the first disc, with the Portuguese option now sounding cleaner than the English one.

    Extras, which are all on the first disc, start off with a commentary track with film historian Fábio Vellozo for Amazon Jail. This goes over details on the different cast and crew members that worked on the movie (even some of the dubbers), some of the historical context around the movie's making and history, some of the political ideas that work their way into the movie, details on the state of the Brazilian film industry when the movie was made, the pornochanchada movement, where the movie connects with other Brazilian exploitation movies and lots more - it is very thorough and detailed.

    A brand new interview with Amazon Jail lead actress Elizabeth Hartmann runs thirteen minutes and sees her speak about how she got into acting in the first place without really even intending to, what brought her into the profession, some of her early gigs, what she learned from her interactions with the cast and crew on the movie, thoughts on the Brazilian cinema scene, what Oswaldo De Oliveira was like to work with and other memories from the shoot.

    A conversation with Amazon Jail II director Conrado Sanchez runs forty minutes and covers how and when his interest in cinema first started, how he got his start in the industry and when he decided to start making movies of his own, some of the people that he worked with in his early days, how her learned a lot simply by doing it, performers that he worked with over the years, thoughts on different movies he's been involved with and how they did at the box office and what's happened to the Brazilian film industry over the years.

    A conversation with supporting actress Vanessa Alves runs twenty-four minutes and lets her talk about how she started acting young at the age of five doing commercials, her music career, getting into film work and what it was like doing her first feature, some of the directors and performers she's collaborated with over the years, her thoughts on filming sex scenes and on dubbing and then going on to do live theater.

    Latin American Exploitation Cinema is a nineteen minute interview with film historian Dr. Victoria Ruétalo that goes over exploitation cinema in Latin America. She goes over what ses Latin American exploitation movies apart from American and European ones, the distribution system that some of these movies had, cultural aspects that are unique to these movies, some of the stand out films and filmmakers that worked in the exploitation field, the different genres that exploitation filmmakers have dabbled in and, of course, Coffin Joe.

    The last featurette on the disc is The Sadean Woman In Prison, an hour long video essay by film historian Annie Rose Malamet. This piece details the different elements often associated with women in prison films, the themes that the movies often deal with such as oppression and female empowerment and dominance issues, the use of sex in WIP pictures, the way wardens are usually portryed as opposed to the inmates and lots more.

    Vinegar Syndrome packages this release with some reversible cover sleeve art and, if you order one of the first 6,000 copies from their website, a limited edition spot varnish slipcover designed by Alessa Kreger.

    Amazon Jail / Amazon Jail II - The Final Word:

    Vinegar Syndrome’s Blu-ray double feature release of Amazon Jail / Amazon Jail II presents a really entertaining slice of Brazilian exploitation in a very nice presentation and with some great extra features too. As to the sequel? It looks and sounds good, but it falls far short of the first movie’s entertainment value. Still, for those who enjoy it, this is a great way to see it and overall, this is a solid package for fans of exploitation and trash movies.

    Click on the images below, or right click and open in a new window, for full sized Amazon Jail / Amazon Jail II Blu-ray screen caps!

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