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Red Heat


Christine Carlson (Linda Blair), an American college student, travels to West Germany to visit her fiancé Mike (William Ostrander), who is serving in the US Army there. She tries to convince him to marry her promptly, but he chooses to delay marriage in order to re-enlist. Distraught by Mike's decision, Christine takes a late-night walk where she witnesses a kidnapping by the East German Stasi and gets kidnapped herself as well. She is transported to the East Zone, where she is brutally interrogated by the Stasi, forced to admit to false charges of espionage, and thrown into a women's prison with the common criminals, including the gang leader Sofia (Sylvia Kristel), who is the prisoners' "top bitch" and has de facto control of the entire prison population. Sofia takes pleasure in brutally tormenting and harassing Christine, until the latter loses her patience and fights Sofia in a no-holds-barred brawl. Meanwhile, Mike is determined to free his beloved, and tries to get the US Army and the West German BND to help him. At first they refuse, but ultimately they reluctantly go along with his plans and help him free Christine.


One of Linda's most underrated films

Linda Blair has stated that she was sold this film as a "female Midnight Express." Yes, it has elements of that. But it's more like an adult remake of Born Innocent. Linda's character even has the same name, Chris. Born Innocent represents Linda's best work as a juvenile. Her performance is better in Born Innocent than in The Exorcist. Red Heat may well be her best performance as an adult. Yet this is one of the most difficult Blair films to find. I don't think it ever got a proper theatrical release in the United States, although it may have played the grind house circuit. I first saw in on VHS year ago, and watched it recently again on YouTube. It's a wildly entertaining film that's face-paced and got it all - nudity, rape, cat fights, shower scenes, suicide, etc. You've seen it all before, but the setting in an East German prison before the wall came down (actually filmed in Hungary) adds a great deal to the mood and tone of the film. For Linda Blair fans, this film is essential. For fans of women in prison flicks, it's not to be missed.

Worthwhile chicks-in-chains opus

Warning: Spoilers

Perky American tourist Christine Carlson (a winningly vibrant and charming performance by Linda Blair) gets arrested on false charges of espionage while vacationing in East Germany. Christine winds up incarcerated at a brutal women's penitentiary, where she runs afoul of vicious top con Sofia (ably played to the nasty hilt by Sylvia Kristel). Meanwhile, Christine's dedicated soldier fiancé Mike (a solid and likable portrayal by William Ostrander) does whatever he can to spring her from the joint. Director Robert Collector, who also co-wrote the tight and engrossing script with Gary Drucker, covers all the satisfyingly seamy babes-behind-bars bases: a handy helping of tasty female nudity, a group shower scene (yep, Linda does indeed show us her yummy stuff in said scene), lesbianism, rape, degradation, fierce catfights, and an exciting last reel breakout. This film further benefits from sound acting by a capable cast: Sue Kiel as fiery and dedicated political activist Hedda, Elisabeth Volkmann as stern warden Einbeck, Herb Andress as sadistic head guard Werner, Barbara Spitz as friendly and helpful English inmate Meg, and Kati Marothy as the meek and browbeaten Barbara. Moreover, the oppressive fascist regime setting is inspired and the potently brooding mood of pervasive gloom, despair, and utter hopelessness inside the prison works extremely well. Wolfgang Dickman's slick cinematography gives the picture an impressively stark and stylish look. The first-rate urgently propulsive score by Tangerine Dream does the stirring pulsating trick. Recommended viewing for fans of 80's exploitation sleaze.

not bad

Linda Blair gets mistaken for someone else and she and another woman are thrown into a brutal german prison where she has no rights now. Sylvia Kristel plays the leader of the in for life inmates and she torments others until Blair cannot stand it and fights her. Blair doesn't know that her fiancee and his friends are planning to break her out but they better do it quick before angry Kristel gets to her first. Pretty good with a good score by Tangerine Dream.

Linda Blair and Sylvia Kristel in the same movie equals a good time for me.

Decent entry into the Women In Prison genre finds Linda Blair, two years after "Chained Heat", back in the slammer in this politically loaded yarn. She plays Christine Carlson, an innocent college student visiting her fiancée, Mike (William Ostrander), an Army lieutenant stationed in Germany. After a fight with Mike, Christine finds herself in one of those "wrong place at the wrong time" scenarios by witnessing the abduction of Hedda (Sue Kiel), a spy who was trying to defect. The evil authorities force Christine to confess to espionage activities, and both she and Hedda are thrown in an East German prison. This particular place is ruled by alluring Sylvia "Emmanuelle" Kristel as Sofia, a top con who relishes her position in the pecking order - and relishes enforcing it. "Red Heat" is all just somber enough, trashy enough, and entertaining enough to make it an acceptable diversion. The requirements of the genre are satisfactorily met, with the standard display of delectable female nudity, lesbian couplings, harsh violence, and mean, sadistic villains that fans come to expect. Linda is appealing as always, and compelling to watch as we see her prison stay start changing her - not exactly for the better, of course. One can hardly blame her whenever she does snap. The sub plot of Mike doing everything he possibly can do - his career be damned - helps keep the movie moving along nicely, and the story leads right up to a respectably rousing climactic prison break. Beefy actor Ostrander, whom you may recognize as having played bully Buddy Repperton in the film version of "Christine", is good, as is Kiel, although Kristel remains the most fun to watch as she clearly enjoys playing the part of the bad girl. With the action enhanced by typically fine and atmospheric music by Tangerine Dream, and capable direction by Robert Collector, this movie is definitely good of its kind, with a palpably serious mood and a lack of camp. Overall, solidly done and worth a look. Seven out of 10.

Average women-in-prison exploiter

An average women-in-prison exploiter, but for a change it is set in East Germany during the period of the cold war. Remarkable are a couple of casting choices: Elisabeth Volkmann, best known from numerous silly sex comedies and the TV sketch series "Klimbim" plays the tough warden, and the usually so vulnerable Sylvia Kristel plays the inmates' top bitch (in a red wig), the kind of role normally played by the likes of Pam Grier or Sybil Danning. Volkmann has enough acting range to pull it off, but Kristel is completely and utterly miscast.

Otherwise, this follows the genre rules extremely faithfully. We have all the compulsary ingredients: shower scenes, mistreatments by the staff, cat fights, revolts, escapes, etc. Virtually a remake of Chained Heat.

It shouldn't have been possible to screw this up... but they did.

Warning: Spoilers

One would think that putting Linda Blair (from "Chained Heat") and Sylvia Kristol (from "Emmanuelle") together in a women-in-prison flick would equal a great movie, or at least an entertaining heap of rubbish. Alas, no such luck. Blair plays the wrongfully-accused innocent well enough, and Kristol puts in a convincing performance as the prison's top bully, but both performances lack the necessary nuances - the good girl has to have an inner reserve of strength to help her survive the harsh prison, while the bully must occasionally show a seductive side. Absent those elements, what you get is an hour or so in which Kristol snarls and glowers and Blair whines. Even the obligatory cat-fight is botched, thanks to extremely poor lighting and ridiculously incompetent editing - apparently, someone believed that the spectacle of Blair and Kristol beating the crap out of each other was the LAST thing that anyone wanted to see.

Of course, "Red Heat" has a bigger problem than the under-exploitation of its two main attractions: it's dreary as hell. There's the obligatory shower scenes and the lesbianism, but far more attention is paid to the less exciting indignities of life in an East German prison. True, it's more realistic, but does anyone really go to a women-in-prison movie to see realism?

"I killed my stepfather when he ate my pet snake"!

Linda Blair is behind bars again! This time in ultra-communistic, ultra-fascist East Germany (if you thought the Cold War had died down in the mid-80s, films like this and "Rambo II" make you re-think your position). She gives an earnest performance in this (plus she has one terrific topless scene), and Sylvia Kristel makes a convincing "top bi*ch". The film has moments of artistry (Blair's voice-over reading of her letter, which stops when the warden throws it away), and the feeling of grim hopelessness inside the prison is well-portrayed. But there are some pretty boring parts too, mostly in the first and last 20 minutes. The long-awaited fight between Blair and Kristel is also a disappointment, because it takes place in near-complete darkness and the director keeps interrupting it with less interesting action footage. Footnote: avoid the Region 2 DVD version, it is cut in several places. ** out of 4.

Gritty prison flick behind the Iron Curtain fails to sizzle

A few years before the Arnold S. / Jim Belushi team up action movie Red Heat, Linda Blair made yet another prison flick under that same title. As these exercises go it wasn't bad. The look of the picture is very Eastern Bloc - lots of dimly lit concrete corridors and depressing gray uniforms - and pretty realistic. The tone is one of grim Cold War authoritarianism. East Germany is made to look like just about the least welcoming place on earth, which it pretty much was. Plus, the script is a bit more literate, more realistic, less exploitative and more politically aware than what we usually get in one of these women-in- prison flicks. The resulting movie is a little better but a lot less fun to watch than the typical women-behind-bars (WBB) flick.

And honestly, just who exactly wants a more realistic, less exploitative WBB? Most of these movies are chock full of exploitative silliness and don't take themselves very seriously, which makes for a fun / campy viewing experience. Chained Heat, for instance, is objectively a pretty terrible movie but is a lot of fun to watch, mostly because it IS so exploitative and silly. Red Heat by comparison, is more convincingly realistic than Chained Heat, but also relentlessly grim and more than a little tedious as its unpleasant tourist-in-hell story line slowly works it way along.

Trapped in Communist Prison facilities and not a Schwarzenegger in sight!

Not to be confused with the Arnold Schwarzenegger vehicle with the same name, although released just a few years earlier and clearly featuring a couple of common themes, this "Red Heat" is actually a 'Women in Prison' exploitation movie starring Linda Blair (the amount of trashy B-movies she starred in during the eighties is nearly endless) and Sylvia Kristel; the one and only original starlet to depict the legendary soft-core film character Emmanuelle. The main reason why "Red Heat" isn't very popular or even commonly known among exploitation fanatics is probably because the script aspires to be overly ambitious and politically engaging. There's too much driveling about the Cold War and political conspiracies, instead of just focusing a little more on the obligatory "WiP" ingredients such as cat-fights, lesbian perversity and dark affairs ran from inside the prison walls. Don't get me wrong, "Red Heat" does feature all these elements, only in too small portions. That's why I think the comparisons between this one and "Chained Heat" (also starring Linda Blair) are completely unjust. I just watched "Chained Heat" as well and this movie is at least ten times more boring and less sleazy.

Blair stars as an America student who comes to pay her soldier boyfriend a visit in his stationary base in West-Germany, only to hear that he wishes to delay their marriage in favor of signing up for some extra years of service. Angry, confused and out for a nightly walk, Christine witness a political kidnapping and gets apprehended herself. Forced into confessing spying crimes she didn't obviously didn't commit, Christine is taken to an old-fashioned and secluded prison institution where contact with the civilized Western world is simply a distant dream. Sylvia Kristel – wearing a hideous red wig - stars as the bitchy inmate who's actually more in control of the prison than the head warden. Meanwhile, Christine's fiancée slowly attempts to set up a rescue mission with the help of his army buddies and some political volunteers. In all fairness, the film contains a handful of powerful sequences (like, for example, Christine's exhausting interrogation) as well as neatly atmospheric set pieces and steady direction by Robert Collector. Heck, come to think of it, "Red Heat" isn't even such a bad film. It's just too slow, talkative and wannabe informative and that simply isn't what the target audiences anticipate to see. Have no fear, though, as said there's plenty of other 80's trash featuring Linda Blair out there.

how not to make a WIP flick

I simply watched this because Linda Blair has a major role in this WIP flick. But was I disappointed at the end. I thought that we would have a typical women in prison (WIP)flick and seeing the name Sylvia Kristel (of Emmanuelle fame) I thought it would look like the old Italian WIP flicks, sadly it doesn't.

It was boring from the beginning and even the story was boring. It was all so predictable. There was no reed stuff to see or any punishments being given to the prisoners. It was in fact low on everything. The only thing that they added was some nudity from Linda Blair and Sylvia Kristel. But Sylvia wasn't convincing at all as the leader of the pact.

Another example how a career can be a flop. Just look at both leading roles, Linda a classic in The Exorcist (1973) but a let-down afterwards. Even Sylvia never made a classic after Emmanuelle (1974).

"Chained Heat" revisited

Women-in-prison flick involving an innocent American tourist in West Germany who is mistaken for a spy, grilled until exhaustion sets in, and sent to jail without a word to her soldier-fiancé. After publicly nixing her hit "Chained Heat" on just about every talk show of the 1980s, it's amazing that star Linda Blair would even think of doing another jailhouse underachiever. This one, filmed in chilly blues and grays, is just as seedy and depressing. The roster comes complete with a decadently lascivious guard (gaunt, kinky Sylvia Kristel), a terrified blonde, a friendly butch, and lots of malicious broads. Blair manages (somehow) to keep her dignity and has a few strong scenes, including being interrogated and collapsing under pressure or standing up to the review board with a firm "F*** you!" The direction is fairly tight, and the movie is engrossing almost in spite of itself. *1/2 from ****

Worst Movie Ever?

Not quite, but close! Linda Blair has proved again and again that she shares a rare quality with Mark Hamill, the ability to attach herself to one cinematic landmark and follow it with an entire career of complete trash. I saw RED HEAT on TV when I was about 11. Perhaps I was too young to understand this film's more basic appeal at that time, what I did get from it was that women in prison do crazy things to each other. Was there a plot beyond that? I'm not sure. There's something about an escape attempt but it isn't very clear. RED HEAT can really be best described as crap. It doesn't even succeed at that fun/pathetic B-movie level. The picture is alternately boring and confusing. The ending is about as clear as a muddy ditch and a lot less satisfying. I'd comment on Blair's performance if she'd actually given one. RED HEAT is a forgettable, exploitive little thing that should have been made by someone who understood the genre. I give it no stars.