Exploitation Retrospect | The Journal of Junk Culture and Fringe Media
99 Women (1969)
Review by Dan Taylor

As the opening song plays over the credits, a boatload of babbage makes it's way to the Island of Prisons: on one side we've got the chick hole, run by warden Mercedes McCambridge (the voice of the possessed Linda Blair in THE EXORCIST). The other side features a male prison presided over by none other than Herbert Lom himself. Boy, I bet he was glad when the PINK PANTHER films turned into a series... it saved him from having to star in 100 WOMEN! At the women's prison they are treated as nothing but animals, addressed only by their numbers (hence the title). And it's good to see that Mercedes and Herbert are doing their best to provide a progressive penal system. As they have their weekly dinner meeting (to discuss new prison reforms I suppose) she mentions, "There's a little blonde... she might interest you." Shit, I can't believe that Herb would be that picky.

CATFIGHT #1 occurs when the chicks are down by the ocean doing some menial task like moving sand from one part of the beach to the other... sure seems like a hell of a way to spend 5 to 10! Well, the fight only lasts about twenty-seconds as the black-haired chick and the "little blonde" get into a pretty good, if brief, wrestling match. We see lotsa leg, but sadly no breast action.

CATFIGHT #2 isn't so much a catfight as it is a female-on-female lesbo rape with Herb watching in the background, steaming up his eyeglasses somethin' fierce. Normally this would be pretty great, starting off a serious LF (Lesbo Frenzy). However, Franco – inept director that he is – gets so damn close that you have absolutely ZERO clue what part of the female anatomy you're looking at! ("It's an earlobe!" "No you fool... it must be her ass..." "No, it can't be... it's really hairy!") Only JF and his super-obsessive zoom could possibly turn me off to a lesbian scene... well, I'd be turned off if the two chicks were Tyne Daly and Linda Lavin, but that's a whole different nightmare!

Pretty soon the prisoners are being forced to do The Dances of Excitement ("I'm not excited... do I get my money back?"), and Mercedes looks more and more like she's going to have a nervous breakdown right on camera. Then again, if she did we might have been more lenient.

CATFIGHT #3 is brief, and broken up by the Divine Miss M, who bellows, "You are all pigs!" Yikes, talk about the pot calling the kettle black! But, like a fellow viewer said, "Give Franco credit. The girls really do get thrown around."

As is usual with just about any Women in Prison flick, the chicks get to escape, but not before they are attacked by members of the men's prison on the other side of the island. They don't give a shit about escaping – they just want some 'tang!

99 WOMEN has all the elements to be a classic, but it seems that Franco holds back and doesn't deliver the goods often enough.

Could've been better, but it's still an entertaining little sleazer with a couple decent catfights.


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