Kittens In A Cage


Reviewed by: Jane Fae

Kittens In A Cage
"Revel in dialogue that will either have you reaching for the off-button within seconds - or in stitches, throughout."

So bad it's good. That's a phrase that gets tossed around in reviews; and one I just know I am going to apply here.

But is it badly good? Or goodly bad?

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Is it like Soap, a soap opera from the late Seventies that set out to spoof the genre in which it was created...and ended up gaining a plausible fan base in its own right? Or is it more like Rat Race, Spice World or Red Dawn (three picks I'm sure you will disagree with), wherein bad acting, ludicrous plot and a legion of directorial failures combine to draw you in.

If you've ever observed: “I can't believe I'm watching this” and continued to watch, it is... so bad it's good! You'll find this trope in anything prison-related. From Prisoner: Cell Block H to Dangerous Women to every other soap ever. We just love our heroines – especially our heroines! - banged up inside....

...which is clearly the inspiration for Kittens In A Cage, a ludicrous, nonsensical stew of criminal women locked inside an institution that probably ought, itself, to be locked up for its own good.

It is a short series of seven episodes, released in 2015. Or, if you prefer, a reasonably short feature, which staples all seven episodes together in one slightly under 2-hour release, now available on the lesflicks platform.

Billed as a 'musical comedy web series', Kittens follows the progress of embarrassingly naïve Junie (Rebecca Mozo) as she transitions from totally-not-guilty-your-honour shooter in a bank hold-up - “they had to finger someone so the bastards fingered me!” - to prison moll and significant other to cell-mate and arsonist Vickie (Erin Anderson).

Along the way, she makes friends with a rogue’s gallery of fellow inmates, including axe-murderer Jeanine (Rebecca Field) and unreformed cannibal Barbara (Jillian Armenante), while surviving the psychopathic obsessions of Matron (Gigi Bermingham) and her submissive henchperson, Nancy (La Toya London).

If you want to take a serious point away from this, it is that in the end, the only difference between prisoners and guards are that the latter have not been caught yet.

Or you can just revel in dialogue that will either have you reaching for the off-button within seconds - or in stitches, throughout. Me? I love double entendre and bad taste puns. So, i stayed for lines like:

“Just because you kill people with an axe doesn’t mean you're bad all the way.”

“If you want you can punish me” (Nancy's submissive streak coming out there!)


“I'm not a homosexual deviant like the girls in here” (Matron, as she pretends not to salivate over Jeanine's well-endowed embonpoint...)

Yes, it's coarse, bad taste, with plenty of girl-on-girl sexual reference. Just don't expect it to make sense plot-wise. There is no good plot reason for Matron to be possessed of a prosthesis with hook where her right arm used to be, other than it allows writer/director Jillian Armenante to insert a French tag-line on a bulletin-board behind her (“j'accroche donc je suis”: “I hook, therefore I am”).

There is – I can't believe i am saying this! - an almost surreal and lyric quality to the dialogue which abounds in an excess of animal imagery: fish metaphors abound, but confusingly, so too do canine ones, resulting in lines like “keep yapping, trout!”

Does Armenante realise she is doing this? I...think so...given the fact that she inserted herself into the cast as Barbara, who in addition to eating other people also ate her own tongue, and so has lost (most of) her voice. Geddit? A writer without a voice!

There is, for English viewers, a strong Carry On vibe here. Or maybe 'Allo! 'Allo! Smutty. Rude. But absolutely oriented towards a lesbian ethic. More horny than porny. Because sure: there are lesbian couplings. But nothing more graphic than you might see on Channel 4 most nights of the week. And one solitary nipple shot is, bizarrely, pixelated out.

Presumably so it does not get mauled by US TV censors.

What else? Junie - cute and innocent Junie! - plays the ukulele. So, every now and then the action stops to insert a musical number. Ukulele rock? Uh huh. I didn't believe it either.

Weaknesses? You mean apart from the lack of coherent plot, characterisation or anything else that might make sense of this? Well, yes: it rambles. Also, the first 20 minutes or so/first episode lacks sharpness, and is too prone to lengthy exchanges that do little to move the action on.

That, though, is more than made up for in later episodes, which revel both in the naughtiness of what is on-screen, and the accompanying dialogue. To begin, I couldn't really understand how this film/mini-series managed to pick up ten separate awards at various film and comedy festivals across the US.

But then I got hooked. Which feels appropriate in the circumstance.

Reviewed on: 17 Apr 2021
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Ukulele-playing bad girl Junie Butler gets muscled into prison by her rat fink friends. Abandoned by all, she turns to the warm embrace of her pyromaniac cellmate as they plot to escape.

Director: Jillian Armenante

Writer: Jillian Armenante, Kelleen Conway Blanchard

Starring: Rebecca Mozo, Erin Anderson, Gigi Bermingham, Pamela Dunlap, Rebecca Field, La Toya London

Year: 2015

Runtime: 116 minutes

Country: US


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