Shitty Movie Sundays: Caged Heat 3000, or, Nudity Is the New Black

Caged Heat 3000 VHS boxWho doesn’t want a little sleaze in their life? If the dearth of this kind of movie in the 21st century is any indication, the answer is: not many people.

Existing halfway between some R-rated titillation and outright smut, Caged Heat 3000 is of a type that has little place in popular culture these days. It’s too raunchy for regular release, but not explicit enough to live on those websites we all pretend we don’t visit. Erotic direct-to-video releases are a victim of forty years of increasing social conservatism here in the States, and the internet, which can offer straight porn on demand. What an interesting dichotomy. Movies are becoming more prudish, while smut is more readily available than ever before, leaving the middle ground a barren wasteland for new content. That’s an oversimplification, but there is a lively debate online about the subject of nudity in film.

There’s no debate here at Shitty Movie Sundays. Gratuitous nudity is an important facet of the shitty movie experience, just as much as nonsensical plots, cheap sets, poor effects, bad acting, and all the other things that give the shitty movie fan their fix. We can gaze upon the lazy eroticism and shameless misogyny of a flick like Caged Heat 3000 and laugh. It also brings to mind the days before we were flooded with content, when Caged Heat 3000 might have been the best, or only, option available for a viewer looking to see a little skin.

Caged Heat 3000 is a sequel, in name only, to the exploitation shocker from 1974. Coming two decades later, in 1995, Caged Heat 3000 was directed by Aaron Osborne, who has spent most of his career in film as a production designer, from a screenplay by Emile Dupont. This was Dupont’s only foray into film. The late Roger Corman executive produced, as his company owns the original movie, but his involvement was probably little more than cashing some checks.

It’s the future! The year 3000! An asteroid or similar rock out in space has been turned into a women’s prison/mining colony. The worst of the worst female criminals are sent to the prison to serve hard time digging tunnels and modeling blue spandex. Our protagonist is Kira (Lisa Boyle, who also posed for Playboy), a statuesque ass kicker whose first action in the film is killing another inmate. The powers that be are displeased, and send her to the cell block in the prison where she is most likely to get some comeuppance.

The prison dynamic is just what one would expect from any clichéd prison flick. The guards are sadistic. Prisoners take sides on racial lines, with black prisoners led by Ruggs (Zaneta Polard), who is looking to take revenge on Kira for that opening killing. On the other side are the white prisoners, led by Billie (Debra K. Beatty), who dislikes Kira because Kira decided to be a prison loner, something that only works in movies. The tension grows throughout the film, punctuated by numerous fights and escalating acts of revenge. No new ground is broken, and countless other movies and television series have showcased prison in more compelling ways.

The true measure of a sleazy women in prison flick is the number of shower scenes. The original Caged Heat had four. This sequel only has three, and one of them was a shanking with no nudity, but what this flick lacks in quantity, it makes up for in…quality? No, that’s not the right word. Perhaps ‘concentrated abundance’ is a better descriptor. One of the scenes is ended with a little BDSM sexual assault. And, to make up for that missing shower scene is a nude dance amongst cheering guards that would have sent the censors at the MPAA into a discombobulated lather. But, this flick was never meant to be rated.

This is also a movie that isn’t meant to be taken seriously. It’s exploitative trash, and never pretends to be otherwise. It has plenty of moments of cringe, which are both an indication of our growth as a society, and also our growing fear of any sort of acknowledgement that we are sexual beings.

Offensive, hilarious, inept, and very, very self-aware, Caged Heat 3000 can be a tough watch, but Aaron Osborne kept things moving right along, never letting his movie get boring. That means this flick’s watchability is quite higher than its objective quality, and watchability is what matters at Shitty Movie Sundays. Caged Heat 3000 lands in the middle region of the Index, taking over the #243 spot from Atomic Eden.

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