The Big Doll House (1971)

Available on Netflix Streaming, as of 9/7/2012
On DVD via Amazon

Featured prominently in Machete Maidens Unleashed! The Big Doll House is one of the infamous Roger Corman classics produced in the Philippines.

Featuring a cast of beautiful women, the film is a bizarre mix of exploitation, humor and surprisingly strong female empowerment.

In stark contrast to the gender sterotypes you would expect in a film like this, the women in The Big Doll House are not just victims, but also villains and action oriented anti-heroes. There’s a distinct counter-culture vibe to the goings on which feels a little out of place among the gratuitous scenes of female nudity, and just when you think you have things all figured out, along come the men to act as comic relief. It’s almost as though three different films were mixed together in the editing room.

The result of this mashing of stylistic tones somehow works however and the film carries your interest from scene to scene.

Overall, there is an underlying sense of parody about the whole thing, as if the audience is not supposed to take any of this seriously. It’s a tack that really works in the film’s favor though. While it would be easy to take things too far, push the edge just for the sake of shock value, the film never really goes off the rails in any unexpected way. The exploitation elements, the violence, even the humor come across as playful more than anything else.

All of this serves to make The Big Doll House a quirky good time.


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