Brought to a women’s prison in a tropical country which resembles the film’s Philippines-set location, Lee (Pam Grier) and Karen (Margaret Markov) encounter sadistic matron Densmore (Lynn Borden) who voyeuristically observes through a peephole as the inmates take a shower. Prone to emotional outbursts, she orders a guard to escort Lee to her private room, puts on a black glove and strikes Lee across the face, but is almost immediately restrained when the level-headed warden Logan (Laurie Burton), with whom she has a lesbian relationship, forcibly enters the room and orders Lee’s return to the prisoners’ area. Following a fight in the prisoners’ meal hall between Lee and Karen, which spreads into a free-for-all, the two are punished by lockup inside a metal box exposed to the broiling tropical sun, with only enough space to stand back-to-back and, shortly thereafter, scheduled for transfer to a maximum security prison. As the lightly escorted bus traverses a country road close to the jungle, the convoy is attacked by revolutionaries, led by Ernesto (Zaldy Zschornack), bent on rescuing his companion, Karen, a key member of the group. In the ensuing battle, Lee and Karen, who are chained to each other, strangle matron Densmore with their chain, while warden Logan is fatally shot by the rebels. At that point, army reinforcements led by Captain Cruz (Eddie Garcia) arrive on the scene, the rebels retreat and Lee and Karen run into the woods. They subsequently force a couple of nuns to give them their habits, then travel on a bus in this disguise and, later, after getting a ride from a truck driver (Bruno Punzalah), throw him out of the truck and drive off. Before being sentenced on a drug charge, Lee was a prostitute for the region’s most prominent pimp and drug dealer Vic Cheng (Vic Diaz), whose $40,000 of ill-gotten profits she managed to hide and, as a result, is now being hunted by him and his henchmen. Lee and Karen chained together needs to find their way across the wilderness and survive all the dangers they encounter on their way to freedom…

“Black Mama, White Mama” is a 1973 women in prison film with elements of blaxploitation and actually not that bad in that genre. Despite the fact that we get to see the usual lesbian guards, nudity, violence, exploitation of women etc this movie still has a production value (even if it´s a B-movie). Pam Grier and Margaret Markov are both will powered, independent, strong and beautiful women in their roles. What actually makes “Black Mama, White Mama” really work is that we have the side stories (beside the usual women in prison story), on one hand the revolutionaries that tries to find their member Karen and on the other hand Vic Cheng´s bandits that tries to find Lee and the $40,000. Meaning the storyline is quite vivid, dynamic and has many colourful characters based in good and truly evil. (3 out of 5)

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