Barbed Wire Dolls (1976)

Spread the weird

RATING– ✮✮✮✮½

DIRECTOR– Jesús Franco

PLOT– A girl named Maria is convicted of an unnamed crime and is sent to a women’s prison on an island somewhere off the coast of somewhere else. She immediately finds out that the cruel lesbian mistress-warden of the prison has fixed her trial and made sure Maria was sentenced to this prison.

Maria is assigned to a jail cell also housing a redhead with psychosis, a brunette that likes to smoke but doesn’t like underwear, and a blonde hell-bent on doing whatever she can to escape… including a few S&M sessions with the warden.

After torturing a few nude prisoners, the warden’s evil henchman Nestor discovers an inmate has sent a letter to a mainland official complaining of the conditions. Unfortunately, the mainland official is in on the depravity, and when the official shows up to the prison, he joins in the torture of the prisoners with glee.

All of this madness takes a toll on Maria. She dreams of happier times when her father attempted to rape her in slow-motion. Unfortunately, these dreams disturb the other girls in the prison, so… you guessed it… the warden has her tortured nude.

Then some other prisoners are tortured nude.

And then some more are tortured nude.

Finally, Maria has had enough and escapes…

… and is captured again. The warden is not happy.


  1. Nazi lesbian government officials
  2. Prisons with a “no panties” rule
  3. Slow-motion incest
  4. Unique ways to smoke a cigarette
  5. Wardens who don’t believe in pants

REVIEW– You probably need to understand something: Barbed Wire Dolls is an offensive, blatantly cruel, condescending women-in-prison film… and I loved it.

It seems to exist for no other reason than to put women in compromising situations. But it’s done in such a ridiculous manner, that it’s virtually impossible to take any of it seriously.

In fact, most of the scenes will probably elicit a giggle from the viewer at the weird vision of women’s prisons that flows from the mind of director Jesús Franco.

An example: When star Lina Romay arrives at the prison, she meets with The Warden (wearing a monocle and hot-shorts) and the prison’s doctor. After they lay down the rules, they ask her to sign a paper saying they can torture her with electric shocks.

Who in the hell would consent to be tortured???

And who in the hell… if they intend on torturing somebody… would put it in a contract for all to see???

Every single scene is just a wonderfully insane mirage that flits in and out of what we know to be reality.

It’s like Jesús Franco filmed Barbed Wire Dolls in Salvador Dali’s head.

If that doesn’t get you to watch this exploitive hallucination, you should know that this film contains the absolute best scene I’ve ever witnessed…

Lina Romay has fallen asleep in her bunk. She tosses and turns and mumbles. The ripple-dissolve rolls across the screen (ala Gilligan’s Island) as we are taken into Lina’s dream. She’s a teen girl just waking from a nap on her bed. She completely nude as she yawns on her pillow. Her father (a cameo by director Jesús Franco) makes his way to her side and begins to caress his daughter’s very nude leg. She asks what he’s doing as he jumps on top of her. She attempts to escape and starts to run.

The next 3 minutes of attempted incestual rape is played out in slow-motion… only the film isn’t slowed down, Jesús Franco and Lina Romay awkwardly move about the room in slowed movement… attempting to mimic slow-motion.

I have no idea what in the hell were they thinking.

It’s embarrassingly bad.

Yet, it’s so wonderfully, painfully silly that I honestly find it hard to believe it wasn’t done on purpose… like Franco slipped a surrealist art-film scene into his 70s exploitation flick.

You’re having such a good time watching this illusion play across the film that you forget about the act that’s taking place. A father raping his teenage daughter is an appalling thought… never mind actually witnessing it. Yet, this scene is so fantastic, you will have a hard time not laughing out loud.

The whole movie is like this.

Barbed Wire Dolls certainly isn’t for everyone… most movies we review aren’t. But if you like B-movies, it’s a phantasmagoric horror that’ll leave you with a strange, guilty smile across your face.

Greta did not appreciate her “DIY time” with The Third Reich being interrupted.