Caged Heat (1974)

Arguably the finest women in prison (WIP) film ever made, CAGED HEAT proves that even a trash exploitation film can aspire to decent artistic values. Jackie (Erica Gavin), an accomplice in a drug related crime, is sent to a southern penitentiary run by an oppressive, wheelchair-bound warden (Barbara Steele). Jackie’s cell mate Lavelle (Cheryl Rainbeuax Smith) suffers from suicidal nightmares while another prisoner, Pandora (Ella Reid), is reprimanded for entertaining her fellow inmates with a mildly lewd vaudeville act and placed in solitary confinement. Her loyal friend Belle (Roberta Collins) begins sneaking through the ventilation ducts to bring her food from the kitchen until she’s caught when she surprises an elderly staff member who abruptly dies of a heart attack. Meanwhile, the prison bully Maggie (Juanita Brown) picks a fight with Jackie and gets them both in hot water. Though the warden is a bit stern, the real threat turns out to be the demented prison doctor (Warren Miller). He subjects Jackie and Maggie to illegal electric shock therapy and prescribes a more permanent `cure’ for Belle: corrective brain surgery, which he intends to perform with a Black and Decker power drill (!). Jackie and Maggie finally work out their differences and manage to escape in a highjacked prison truck. But Jackie can’t bring herself to abandon Lavelle, Pandora, and especially the doomed Belle. With Maggie’s help, she plans a daring prison break to rescue her friends.