The Big Bird Cage


1h 28m 1972

Brief Synopsis

Terry, a social-climbing young woman accidently gets caught up in the activities of two revolutionaries, Blossom and Django, and finds herself in a concentration camp for women. In the center of the camp is a towering wooden machine ("The Big Bird Cage") in which the women risk their lives processing sugar as the evil warden looks on. The prisoners are subjected to sadistic cruelty from the guards and fellow prisoners, and all attempts at escape are delt with...permanently. Terry's only hope for escape lies in Blossom and her revolutionary allies.

Film Details

MPAA Rating
Release Date
Jun 1972
Premiere Information
Los Angeles opening: 6 Sep 1972
Production Company
New World Pictures
Distribution Company
New World Pictures
Country
Philippines and United States
Location
Philippines

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 28m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Metrocolor)

Synopsis

At a nightclub in the tropics, glamorous Terry Rich, the American mistress of the island's prime minister, is watching the floorshow when the singer, Blossom, smashes her accompanist's guitar, extracts a machine gun from inside and signals for the rest of her armed gang of revolutionaries to rush in and rob the patrons. The guitarist, Django, who is also Blossom's lover and a co-leader of the band, recognizes Terry and decides to kidnap her and hold her for ransom. Jealous of Django's attention to Terry, Blossom speeds off in the getaway car with the others, leaving Django behind. After commandeering a cab, Django throws out the cabbie, then drives off with Terry. Hearing police sirens wailing in the distance, Django abandons the car on a bridge and jumps into the river below to escape. When the police arrive, they arrest Terry as an accomplice of the robbers and, disapproving of her sexual involvement with many of the country's politicians, decide to exile her to a women's prison camp deep in the jungle. On the trip there, Terry comforts Rina, a frightened new inmate, and upon arriving, meets Zappa, the depraved warden, who warns the new arrivals that vicious guard dogs will be sent after them if they try to escape. The camp's police force is composed of homosexual men, who are immune to the women. At the thatched cottage to which she is assigned, Terry meets the brash Bull Jones, who declares that she rules the cottage and sneers at Terry's assertions that she will be released in a day or two. The other inhabitants of the cottage, Carla, Karen, Mickie, Lin Tsiang and Gertie, warn the newcomers about the "birdcage," a terrifying mechanical mill that presses sugarcane and occasionally an inmate if she slips under its gears. Meanwhile, at the rebel camp, the revolutionaries are so impressed by Blossom's formidable martial arts and lovemaking talents that they decide they need their own women in order to fuel the revolution, and realize that a ready supply of females awaits them at the women's prison camp. They then formulate a plan in which Blossom and Django will infiltrate the camp and free the women. Assigned to grueling labor in the fields at the prison camp, Rina suffers a breakdown and is imprisoned in the "mad house," a primitive cage filled with frenzied women. In the infirmary, Lin Tsiang witnesses one of the inmates steal a bottle of embalming alcohol for personal consumption. That night at the cottage, Rocco, one of the guards, rousts Lin Tsiang under the pretense that the warden wants to have sex with her. In reality, Lin Tsiang is the warden's informant, forced to betray her confederates' confidences in exchange for fleeting contact with her young son. After Lin Tsiang tells the warden about the stolen alcohol, the inmate responsible for the theft is taken to the birdcage. Soon after, during a rally at which the governor is to speak, Blossom tosses a fake grenade at the official and is arrested and sentenced to the prison camp. At the camp, meanwhile, Terry has learned that several government officials are to come for an inspection, and thinking that this is the perfect opportunity to expose the vile conditions of the prison, convinces the warden to let her greet the officials and release Rina from the mad house so that she can also act as part of the welcoming committee. However, when one of the officials recognizes Terry as the prime minister's mistress, he orders the warden to have her ejected immediately from the gathering. Once Terry is gone, the officials, who view the occasion as an opportunity for sexual debauchery, begin to molest the inmates, causing the emotionally fragile Rina to run amuck, overturning furniture and screaming at the bewildered officials. Furious, the warden sends Rina back to the mad house and orders the work quotas to be doubled. The harsh quota leads to a spate of inmate deaths, prompting Terry to try to escape. Fleeing to a nearby village bar, Terry pleads to use the phone, but instead, the leering patrons drag her into a room and are about to rape her when the prison guards, led by their dogs, arrive and take her back to camp. Blossom arrives in camp just in time to see Terry hung by her hair and tortured. That night at the cottage, Blossom challenges Bull for control. The next day while working in the fields, Bull and Blossom face off, and when Blossom bests Bull in a fight, she assumes leadership of the camp. Meanwhile at a local bar, Django, feigning homosexuality, introduces himself as Sam Smith and flirts with Rocco. Smitten, Rocco recruits him both as a lover and a guard at the camp. The warden, meanwhile, recognizes Blossom as one of the revolutionaries and demands that she reveal Django's whereabouts. When she refuses, she is tortured and carried to the infirmary by Django and Rocco. Terry, who is also there recovering from being tortured, recognizes Django. After the men leave, Blossom tells Lin Tsiang, who works at the infirmary, that an escape is planned for that night. Later, Karen, furious with Mickie for continually calling her a "dyke," attacks Mickie in the fields, and as a result, both are sentenced to work at the birdcage. When a gear jams, the warden orders Mickie to climb below the wheel and free it, but when debris from the structure above falls onto the wheel, it crushes her. Enraged, Karen charges toward the warden and is shot by Rocco. As the others start to revolt, Blossom stops them, after which the warden then orders all the prisoners to be locked up for the night. Aware that a breakout is planned for that night, Lin Tsiang pleads to see the warden, and when Rocco refuses her request, she mutilates herself and is taken to the infirmary. There, Terry eavesdrops as Lin Tsiang tells the doctor about the planned breakout. That night, as the women fashion primitive weapons from bamboo, Rocco comes into the infirmary looking for Django. After Terry smacks Rocco in the head with a pot, Django grabs his gun and hands it to Terry, then ties up Lin Tsiang and takes Rocco hostage. Slashing open the thatched sides of the cottages, Django enters and distributes fire bombs that he has made from the infirmary's embalming supply. As one of the guards sounds the alarm, the women take turns raping the reluctant Rocco. Just as the doctor warns the warden about the planned escape, Django tosses a bomb at the watch tower, sending it exploding into flames. In the melee, Terry takes Lin Tsiang prisoner, then frees Rina from the madhouse and sets the birdcage on fire. Soon after, reinforcements summoned by the warden arrive and begin to gun down the insurgents. As the flaming birdcage crashes down onto the warden, Django and Blossom run to the river, where Django is shot dead by one of the guards and dies in Blossom's arms just as a soldier hurls a grenade at her. Terry, Carla, Rina and Lin Tsiang also flee to the river, and, hearing the dogs baying in the distance, plunge in and are swept over a waterfall. In the descent, Carla breaks her leg and insists that Rina and Terry continue without her. After tying Lin Tsiang to a tree to serve as bait for the dogs, Rina and Terry flee into the jungle and are about to give up when the revolutionaries arrive and rescue them.

Film Details

MPAA Rating
Release Date
Jun 1972
Premiere Information
Los Angeles opening: 6 Sep 1972
Production Company
New World Pictures
Distribution Company
New World Pictures
Country
Philippines and United States
Location
Philippines

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 28m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Metrocolor)

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

Jack Hill's onscreen credit reads "written and directed by Jack Hill." The 1971 New World Pictures' film The Big Doll House (see below) was also directed by Hill, produced by Jane Schaffer and featured Pam Grier. Like The Big Doll House, The Big Bird Cage was also shot in the Philippines, but the setting was not specified in the story.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States 1972

Released in United States 1972