Director – James Bickert (Dumpster Baby, Dear God No!)
Starring – Ellie Church (Headless, Harvest Lake), Kelsey Carlisle (Space Babes from Outer Space, The Legend of Wasco), and Jett Bryant (Dear God No!, Frankenstein Created Bikers)
Release Date – 2018
Rating – 3/5
Indie filmmakers either embrace their beloved genre or hate being labeled a horror director. Some are horror fans and give the genre everything they have while others think too highly of themselves and hate being defined by one genre. Then, you have filmmakers with an eye for other genres but have too much love for horror. That brings me to cult filmmaker James Bickert. Bickert is one of the few filmmakers slinging exploitation. His classic Dear God No! is one of my favorite modern exploitation flicks. Though it has horror elements scattered throughout the film is still a modern embodiment of exploitation. The follow up, Frankenstein Created Bikers, kept the exploitation vibe a live but was more aimed at horror.
Several months back Bickert announced a new film, Amazon Hot Box. This women in prison exploitation flicked starred Ellie Church and once again featured Bickert’s regular Jett Bryant. I couldn’t wait to check this one out. A few weeks later Bickert surprised me with the film in the mail. Thank you James for allowing Horror Society and myself the opportunity to check this out.
**Spoiler Alert**The film follows a group of female prisoners who are imprisoned on the small island of Rattica. The warden, Von Krupp (Church), is known for her torture and has invited her former mentor over to witness her newest method of torture…the torture machine. What everyone is unaware of is the U.S. has now set a bounty on their newly voluntold president Jett (Bryant) and will stop at nothing to assassinate him and everyone else is a causality of the mission.**Spoiler Alert**
What I respect the most about James Bickert and his body of work is how he doesn’t make movies to fit in. He doesn’t make movies to go with the crowd. He makes the movies that he likes to watch. Dear God No! is an indie cinema masterpiece that blends some humor with several exploitation sub-genres of the 70s with horror. His follow up films also beat to a different drum and gave fans something different to enjoy. Amazon Hot Box took the fun of the women in prison films of the 70s and early 80s and made it something much more. Similar to the Black Emanuelle film Violence in a Women’s Prison.
The acting in this one is fun. The star of the film, regardless what the story may dictate, is Ellie Church. Her accent is funny but you have to be familiar with the films it is paying tribute to which usually consisted of American actresses faking European accents. She is funny and steals every scene she is in. I also enjoyed Jett Bryant’s laid back performance. In every film I’ve seen in him he is naturally comfortable in every role. The supporting cast is just as fun. The characters are entertaining and the cast does a fantastic job bringing them to life.
The story for this is the standard women in prison scenario following “innocent” women who find themselves in a prison in another country. They then take some of the things that made these so much fun and almost parodied them. The sex appeal is turned humorous and the torture is very whimsical in a way. They then toss in some random horror aspects such as the undead which is a signature of Bickert who is constantly adding horror to his exploitation.
Finally, the film does have some kills scenes. These are mostly forgettable for the most part but there is a few that you wont forget. The effects for these kills work as well but they, like most of the kills, are easily forgettable. Overall, Amazon Hot Box is one indie production you need in your collection. There is a few things that could have been improved but the overall movie was well worth my time. Check it out.