Bare Behind Bars (1980) from Tuna

Bare Behind Bars (1980), or A Prisão, is a Brasilian film from Oswaldo De Oliveira who wrote, directed and photographed it. It is regarded as the mother of all Women in Prison movies, and not without some justification. It has all of the proper elements for the genre, naked women having sex, showering, escaping, and being tortured in a milieu of evil lesbian wardens, a good-hearted guard, a rat infested solitary cell, and nasty inmates.

It does have a plot of sorts as well.

The warden runs a nasty little prison. Women are tied to a table covered with chicken wire, or beaten with sticks while being drenched with water. All except the really cute, clean ones that is. Those are the personal bed toys of the warden until she sees something better, at which time her previous consorts are sold as sex slaves to wealthy lesbians. The so-called nurse is also a carpet muncher, and has a thing for one of the inmates. She evidently has no training or medical skill, but does know how to carve a pineapple into a dildo. One guard doesn't approve of the warden, and has ambitions of her own.


It is into this environment that a new prisoner arrives. She is determined to escape, and seduces the warden to gain an upper hand. She makes a pact with two other prisoners who can help her, including the nurse's sweetie. Working together, they eventually make good on the escape with help from the nurse, only to be caught by the police, and returned to the prison, where the warden has been caught in her evildoing and faces criminal charges.

End Spoilers

Since the plot is mostly a throwaway, the above paragraph won't detract from your appreciation of this film. The point of the film is sensationalism. There is nearly constant nudity, mostly full frontal and rear, and the action even includes hard-core hetero and lesbian sex scenes here and there. While the three prisoners are on the outside, we are treated to the sight of a man's penis being cut off and shoved in his mouth, and a heart-warming family scene in which a young boy watches one of the escapees cut off his father's penis and feed it to a dog to stop its barking.

There have been various releases of this film around the world over the years, most of them trimmed. I am aware of releases in the USA, Germany, and China. The American release was rated X in 1980, and that was likely a censored version. It was banned in the UK, and the would-be distributor lost a court case over it, so it is still banned there.

Blue Underground has now released a fully restored version on DVD, including all of the hard-core footage. This is simply a must-own for any WIP fan.



  • No features except the original trailer
  • the transfer is anamorphically enhanced, and is not especially vivid



Wall-to-wall nudity. Only three women are identifiable from the credits: Maria Splendore, Neide Ribeiro, and Marta Anderson.

The Critics Vote ...

  • No major reviews on file. Apparently Roger Ebert never got to this on his to-do list.

The People Vote ...

  • IMDB summary. IMDb readers say 4.9 based on only 42 votes. Anyone giving this a low score should never have watched it in the first place.
The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

Our own guideline:

  • A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre.
  • B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. In order to rate at least a B-, a film should be both a critical and commercial success. Exceptions: (1) We will occasionally rate a film B- with good popular acceptance and bad reviews, if we believe the critics have severely underrated a film. (2) We may also assign a B- or better to a well-reviewed film which did not do well at the box office if we feel that the fault lay in the marketing of the film, and that the film might have been a hit if people had known about it. (Like, for example, The Waterdance.)
  • C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by people who enjoy this kind of movie. If this is your kind of movie, a C+ and an A are indistinguishable to you.
  • C means it is competent, but uninspired genre fare. People who like this kind of movie will think it satisfactory. Others probably will not.
  • C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie, but genre addicts find it watchable. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film, but films with this rating should be approached with caution by mainstream audiences, who may find them incompetent or repulsive or both. If this is NOT your kind of movie, a C- and an E are indistinguishable to you.
  • D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-. Films rated below C- generally have both bad reviews and poor popular acceptance.
  • E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre.
  • F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.


Based on this description, this film is a genre masterpiece which is absolutely everything a WIP should be, and goes well over the top in several places. This is simply a must-own for any WIP fan. (And a must-avoid for anyone else.) Obviously a classic C+++++++.

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