The former begins with an uncharacteristic, but appropriate meta touch, as a projectionist loads a reel of film to unspool an image onto a theater screen it's for a sanitary napkin commercial within the narrative, but it may as well be Jackson County Jail itself. The Time Machine starlet Yvette Mimieux portrays Dinah, a headstrong, take-no-BS ad exec who decides to ditch town after she comes home to catch her significant other (WKRPs Howard Hesseman) with a babe in a bikini.
And thus begins an even worse 24 hours, as shes robbed of her car (by Robert Carradine), leaving her stranded in the title county; then assaulted by a bar owner; then thrown behind bars by a good-ol-boy sheriff for no good reason; and finally, raped by a deputy. Thats the harrowing point where shes had enough, and escapes with the help of her next-cell neighbor (Tommy Lee Jones, in his first starring role).
Directed by Michael Miller (National Lampoons Class Reunion), Jackson is tough stuff, but powerful; Dinah is pushed so far over the limits that you want to see it turn into a revenge film in the second half, rather than a chase one. Still, that second half allows Jones to take the spotlight and strut his stuff (and look for a great visual joke involving him with just two-and-a-half minutes left to go). Mimieux delivers a strong, feminist, whered that come from? performance; if this were produced not by Corman, but a Hollywood studio, she wouldve been an Oscar contender for Best Actress. Shes that good.
At one point during their time as fugitives, Jones tells her that prison would not be a friendly thing for a woman like her: You have no idea. They're going to eat you alive.
For details, consult Caged Heat, written and directed by Jonathan Demme (eventual Oscar winner for The Silence of the Lambs), in his first time as helmer. It belongs in the infamous women in prison subgenre, but Demmes mark on the material elevates it beyond mere exploitation. Immediately, you can spot the winking sense of subversive humor he would bring to mid-budget mainstream works as "Melvin and Howard," Married to the Mob and "Something Wild."
Russ Meyer vet Erica Gavin is Jacqueline, tossed in the clinker after a drug bust/shootout. Her new environs are less than welcoming, where girls backhand one another amid cries of "You stinkin' klepto!" and shout threats like "I'm gonna spill a can of kick ass all over her butt!"
The place is run by wheelchair-bound warden Barbara Steele (Black Sunday) with sexual-repression issues and two iron fists. Solitary confinement is one tool at her disposal for punishment, but worse is corrective physical therapy read: shock treatments.
Camp value aside, whats most notable about the film is its creative use of sound as a secondary, if unseen character. The thing is, after all, scored by The Velvet Undergrounds John Cale.
As with other Corman discs from Shout! Factory, its recommended you set aside time to watch both pictures back-to-back, via "the grindhouse experience" option. That way, you get drive-in ads and trailers sandwiched in between, offering glimpses of The Big Doll House, Big Bad Mama, The Great Texas Dynamite Chase and Piranha. Rod Lott