The Film: The Big Bird Cage (1972)
The Principles: Jack Hill (Director). Jack Hill (Writer) Sid Haig, Pam Grier, Anitra Ford, and the one and onlyVic Diaz
The Premise: It’s a women in prison film set in the Philippines. Pam Grier gets intentionally captured and thrown in so she can rally the girls! Sid Haig helps out and is named DJANGO!
Is It Good: No, it’s not. It’s FRIGGIN’ INCREDIBLE. I hadn’t seen this in so long until I picked up the Blu-ray set. Seeing it again has endeared me to it and made me realize why I loved it so much the first time. It’s pretty much a parody of the WIP films made at that point, and it has plenty of comedy in it. Much of the humor is supplied by Filipino character actor Vic Diaz who along with another gent named Subas Herrero play the head guards, Rocco and Moreno. They also happen to be gay. There is plenty of humor in them constantly rebuffing the advances of the girls in the prison. One hilarious bit involves Moreno poking another guard in the ass with his baton to which the guard recoils and then smiles, and one of the girls shakes her boobs at him and calls him stud. He gives out a disgusted “Ugh!” and pushes her away.
That’s just the tip of how not serious this film takes itself. The titular creation is a gigantic tower that is used to grind sugar cane. It really doesn’t play a large role in the film, but it’s called The Big Bird Cage for a reason, and it would be silly not to have one in the film.
Anitra Ford plays the second lead, a sex crazed woman who is sleeping with all the head politicians. In the beginning she ends up being kidnapped by these two:
They are a pair of revolutionaries named Django and Blossom. After it’s discovered she’s not worth any money, she’s left to be arrested and thrown in the work camp/prison. Lead by a sadistic warden (is there any other in this type of film?) Later in the film, the other Filipino revolutionaries discuss the fact that it would be good to have more women added to their ranks. They cook up the plan to put Blossom in the work camp, and Django to go break her out.
Django does this by putting the moves on Rocco and being hired on, because as Rocco says “He’s one of us already.” And thus is immune to the wiles of the women. Then we get a funny little “love triangle” between Django, Rocco, and Moreno, where they act like a pair of jealous girls fighting over Django.
This all leads to a climactic battle between the women of the prison wielding machetes and machine guns, against The Warden, Moreno, the rest of the guards, and Rocco. The latter of which ends up at the mercy of a bunch of man starved and horny women.
If that’s not enough for you, there’s plenty of hijinks on display, including an extremely tall and lanky blonde girl who has a death wish against a small black girl that goes as far as her greasing her naked body up in chicken fat and running through the jungle naked and attacking the black girl. There’s also all of Sid Haig’s stuff where he’s “undercover” which adds to the hilarity. He was already in Diamonds Are Forever as one of the Slumber Inc. guys: “I gotta bruddah!”, but if they hadn’t cast either Bruce Glover or Putter Smith (who were both excellently cast in this great film), he would have been perfect for either role.
Is It Worth A Look: Most definitely. If you’re a fan of Jack Hill, Pam Grier, Sid Haig, Filipino action films, Vic Diaz, or Roger Corman films, give it a look. It is on Instant! Grab some popcorn and sit down and watch some girls go on the war path!
If I haven’t already sold you on this film, then watch this NSFW trailer for it. You’ll be adding it to your Netflix Instant list even before you’re done with it.
Random Anecdotes: Some of the same shooting locations in The Big Bird Cage were used in Apocalypse Now, and Jack Hill himself has said he was sad to see all the beautiful palm trees destroyed in Apocalypse Now.
The prison camp dogs were actual military dogs, and were very dangerous.
The Big Bird Cage itself was designed by Jack Hill’s Father.
Cinematc Soulmates: The Big Doll House, Reform School Girls, Women In Cages, Chained Heat, pretty much any women in prison film. However most of these are not as humorous as The Big Bird Cage.