Cube [1997]

Second in a series of four box sets, Cult Camp Classics 2: Women In Peril includes three films in which victimized female protagonists provide the viewer hours of entertainment. Watching Caged, Trog, and The Big Cube consecutively provides lots of laughs, but also makes one wonder what exactly satisfies about this archetype while ladies struggle through run-ins with drug dealers, hardened prison matrons, and a hairy cave-dwelling monster, in these cases. Each indicative of the decades in which they were made, these films reiterate how cinematic narratives have long capitalized on the viewer's hope that woman will either escape or get revenge. Caged, considered the first women's prison film, follows Marie Allen (Eleanor Parker), who is imprisoned for acquiescing to her husband's desire to rob a store. Prison cell bar shadows cast across the screen, and repeated close-ups of Allen's horrified face, make Caged a fine example of film noir. With little to laugh at, viewer sympathy mounts as Allen acclimatizes to the rough prison life, and conversely, disappointment sets in when one sees her innocence slipping away. One comes to hate the evil prison matron, Evelyn Harper (Hope Emerson), who believes in iron-thumb treatment. Caged is a rare example in its genre in which sexual exploitation is not at the core of the film. Trog and The Big Cube are less tragic, more schlocky, and fascinating as a pair due their gorgeous stars, Lana Turner and Joan Crawford, cast late in their careers. Trog is a hairy, pre-human cave dweller รก la Planet of the Apes, wreaking havoc once unleashed by an anthropologist played by the ravishing Crawford. The Big Cube's greatest assets are the scenes depicting acid trips induced by Johnny (George Chakiris), a medical student who cooks LSD to dose sexy girls and enemies. Psychedelic lighting freak-outs overpower the drama regarding young hipster Lisa's (Karin Mossberg) step-mom, Adriana, (Lana Turner) who is driven mad by Johnny so he can marry Lisa for her hefty inheritance. Although none of these films will scare a female viewer, they offer three wonderful renditions of fear-based roles mastered by some of the sexiest women in Hollywood. --Trinie Dalton

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