Sunday, March 8, 2009

Movie Review: Strict Prison 4

Pain4Fem (released in 2009)

Entire Story In Fewer Words Than Are In This Sentence:
Two prisoners caned after failed escape attempt

Victim Appeal:
Normally, I don't review the later installments of a numbered video series until I have covered all the previous ones, but I'm making an exception for "Strict Prison 4". There are two reasons for this: Amy Hunter and Pandora Blake. This is one of the rare P4F films where the "victims" are genuine spankos instead of hired vanilla girls, so along with "The Spy" (starring Niki Flynn), it is one of their most interesting releases in terms of cast. Amy and Pandora travelled all the way from the UK to Bratislava to work with Peter Schober and company, and this is the first full-length movie I have seen with either of them. That's why I wanted to give it a critique right away. Besides, this is spanking porn, so it's not like you won't be able to follow the plot unless you've seen "Strict Prison 1-3"!

What we have here, then, are two spankees who not only look sexy, but put a lot of heart into the film, both with their acting and with their willingness to take a proper thrashing for the enjoyment of the audience. Naturally, they play inmates at the prison, and according to the official synopsis on the P4F site, they have "too much time on their hands" (you don't say!). Pandora is the more active of the two and initiates a breakout attempt. Her lines are a bit difficult to understand at times, but it's not as bad as she made it sound in her self-critical rant on her blog. Actually, I find that the lazy mumbling adds to her "tough girl" character, which contrasts nicely with Amy's more emotional and fearful portrayal (moreover, P4F were kind enough to add subtitles for the viewers with less than stellar English listening comprehension).

Gratuitous Sadism:
As the movie opens, Amy and Pandora are sitting in their cell while the sounds of a girl getting beaten and screaming can be heard from another part of the prison. Apparently, the two are no strangers to the corporal punishment in this institution themselves. "Suppose they come back and do what they did last time?" asks Amy, frightened and in tears. Pandora tells her to calm down while she is trying to come up with an escape plan: "We've got to think of something... I can't stand to listen to your snivelling any longer!" Confident that they could pick the door lock with a suitable metal object, Pandora feigns stomach pains to get to the infirmary and have a look around. Amy is hesitant, but goes along with the plan, calling the guards for help.

They take the prisoner to the infirmary, examine her blood pressure, give her a vitamin injection and take her temperature (surprise, no fever). The scene is filmed with Pain4Fem's usual fondness for slow procedure, and Pandora makes some cute, pitiful "I feel so terribly sick!" faces. The guards tell her that she can stay in the room for an hour. They will see how she feels afterwards. When they leave, Pandora springs into action. Despite being handcuffed to the bed with one hand, she manages to obtain a small piece of metal.

Claiming that she feels better, Pandora is escorted back to her cell. She proudly hands the smuggled object to Amy, who starts picking the lock. However, one of the guards has his doubts about the stomach pains episode. When he and his female colleague go back to have another look, they catch the prisoners red-handed (guess they should have waited until nightfall, eh?). "You know the consequences: a punishment!" barks the guard. "We will come back." Time for Amy to do some more crying.

Needless to say, the punishment is of the "ferocious beating of the buttocks" variety. The two inmates are sentenced to 35 strokes of the cane each for trying to break out. In addition, Pandora gets 15 whip lashes on her back for the mischief in the infirmary. She takes the whipping while tied to the cell bars. Afterwards, Amy is caned, followed by Pandora. During the main punishment, a rather elaborate restraining frame is used, the same one as in The Spanking Machine. It makes for a highly sexy "standing on two feet while bending slightly forward" position. The thrashings dished out by the male guard (Peter Schober) are towards the upper end of the P4F spectrum, making them pretty hard overall - not the super-severe level that some other Eastern European filmmakers are infamous for, but vicious enough to produce nice marks and plenty of genuine distress.

Best Reactions:
Sadistic viewers should find themselves thoroughly entertained. The punishments are applied with a slow, steady rhythm and deliberate gusto, and they are recorded from a good variety of angles. Departing from the usual P4F custom, both spankees count the cane strokes aloud. Amy's reactions are tearful and openly anguished, with a lot of sobbing and howling. One time, after stroke 21, she adds a polite "Thank you!" even though she wasn't asked to - such are the habits of being the Head Girl at Northern Spanking for all these years, I guess. Her cries reach fortissimo during the last five, extra hard swishes, which are "special", as the guard puts it.

Pandora is the more restrained of the two - while her reactions are no less vocal or pained than Amy's, you get the feeling that she is trying a bit harder to keep her composure. There is always a hint of anger in her cries, and it is delightful to listen to. She only gets three of the "special" strokes (pity), but they are very nice indeed. I especially liked the out-of-control, piercing scream after the last one, followed by a suddenly very meek "Thirty-five...!". When the guard is through with her, the tougher of the two prisoners is "snivelling" quite a bit herself.

All scenes are good, including the back whipping, but I have to give the nod to Pandora's caning. As a matter of personal taste, I just like the subtly defiant reactions better. Moreover, Pandora is fully undressed during the punishment (Amy simply has her prisoner's gown pulled up), and she gets more vivid welts, including a bit of blood.

Best Line:
After Pandora is brought back to her cell from the infirmary and the guards leave, she signals to Amy that she has indeed found a suitable object to pick the lock. She starts searching in her bra and jokingly asks her cellmate: "Do you want to have a feel?" I'm going to select that little flirtatious remark as the best line of the film, even though Amy's laughing reply ("You dirty bitch!") is pretty good, too. I liked the whole moment because it looked genuinely spontaneous rather than scripted.

Nice Psychological Touch:
Of all the CP movies with a prison setting that I've seen over the years, I think this is the only one featuring an actual escape attempt. I'm sure other stories like this exist, but I don't remember any right now. In any case, "Strict Prison 4" is one of the more elaborate examples. It's funny that we don't get to see this plot line more often, isn't it? Nine out of ten mainstream prison films are all about the big breakout. But not in spanking porn. Maybe it's because, in the porn version, the outcome is too foreseeable. Obviously, the inmates have to be caught and soundly thrashed! It's a bit like watching Titanic - you know the bloody ship is going to sink, so whatever suspense there is has to come from the details.

I certainly enjoyed the details of this story, with the feigned illness, the trip to the infirmary and all that. Even though you know exactly what is going to happen, there is a certain tension. Actually, it's a pity that Pain4Fem didn't make more of the idea and let the prisoners get caught before they even manage to leave their cell. There is unused potential here. I'm not asking for outdoor scenes, search dogs and helicopters. But a scene with Amy and Pandora sneaking around in the building would have been a lot of fun. Maybe there is an idea here for the next team of inmates, in "Strict Prison 5".

How Good Is It Really?
A very watchable title from Pain4Fem, chiefly carried by its excellent cast. Amy Hunter and Pandora Blake are a joy, both during the acted scenes and the CP segments. Obviously, this is an absolute must-have for their fans, but it is also a good video in its own right - coming with the usual proficient craftsmanship of P4F, an entertaining little storyline and two great, fairly severe caning scenes.

What You Learned:
When you handcuff Pandora Blake, make sure to tie both hands. Or, better still, leave one free, but arrange to have a surveillance system in the room - then thrash her for whatever mischief she gets up to.


! said...

"Besides, this is spanking porn, so it's not like you won't be able to follow the plot unless you've seen 'Strict Prison 1-3'!"

"I guess. Her cries reach fortissimo during the last five, extra hard swishes, which are "special", as the guard puts it."

Punctuation should always be inside quotation marks!

Ludwig said...

Rachel: According to the American rule, punctuation should be inside quotation marks. However, the British rule is that you place the punctuation inside or outside the quotation marks depending on whether or not the punctuation is part of the quoted phrase.

As you have probably noticed from terms like "colour", I generally use British English in my writing here. Which is mostly an aesthetic consideration, nothing more - I just think the additional "u" looks nice (Germans love ornaments). I don't always use British English, though. For instance, at the beginning of this review, I write "installments" instead of "instalments". Again, it was simply an aesthetic choice.

You could, of course, point out that this is inconsistent, in which case I would suggest that you bring your German language skills up to a level that compares to my English, and then we can seriously talk about such matters. Auf deutsch.

Anyway, back to the question of quotation and punctuation: as you can see, I use the British rule, because it gives you more freedom and the results are usually a lot more logical than those of the American rule. Especially in the two cases you selected. The exclamation mark in the first one is not part of the movie title, it is my way of emphasising the point I'm making in that sentence. And in the second case, the comma isn't part of what the guard actually said, either.

In other words, if you want to be a smart-ass with me, you will have to try harder. Normally, your penalty for failing so miserably this time would be a good spanking. But in light of the geographical distance, I'm going to choose a punishment which you can fulfil (see, British English!) more quickly.

Your homework is to research the background of the American rule of putting punctuation inside quotation marks.

1) Which of the two conventions is older, the American or the British one?

2) Are there any practical (rather than purely theoretical / grammatical) reasons for the American convention? If so, what are they?

As you will find, the answers to these questions are quite interesting, and perhaps of a different nature than you would expect.

Indy said...

Well, I had planned to comment on your review, Ludwig, but this interchange with Rachel is far too funny to ignore. You do realize the danger of accusing a Canadian of being too American, don't you?

As for your "aesthetic choices," your case with respect to British punctuation would be more compelling if you used single inverted commas rather than quotation marks. They're kind of cute and you don't have to hit the shift key, so I like them.

Nonetheless, I look forward to reading Rachel's finished assignment. I suspect it may take her a while, as she has a more important task to finish first.

As for the movie review, it was great. I now feel that I have a sufficient appreciation of the strengths of the film that I can avoid watching it in good conscience, even though I'm sure the stars were quite wonderful.

Ludwig said...

Indy: "You do realize the danger of accusing a Canadian of being too American, don't you?"

Yes, and that was half the fun. I'm not really accusing her of being too American, though. Only of being too reckless and too much of a smart-ass for her own good.

Which, on second thoughts, might be one and the same thing... *wink*

"As for your 'aesthetic choices,' your case with respect to British punctuation would be more compelling if you used single inverted commas rather than quotation marks. They're kind of cute and you don't have to hit the shift key, so I like them."

I use quotation marks instead of single inverted commas because we have that practice in my native German language. I have a German keyboard, so I have to use the shift key for both, anyway. I use single inverted commas when I have a quote inside a quote, such as in the passage above - in my mind, that is another advantage of the quotation mark system.

"As for the movie review, it was great. I now feel that I have a sufficient appreciation of the strengths of the film that I can avoid watching it in good conscience, even though I'm sure the stars were quite wonderful."

I'm glad that you found the review helpful, but I think you are missing out by not watching the film. It's a great video with two great spanking actresses / bloggers. Go and see it already.

Ah well, something tells me you are not going to watch my Mood Pictures film, either. So at least you are letting all of us down and no one is getting preferential treatment. Amy, Pandora and I will have to make a film together one day, I suppose. You couldn't avoid watching it in good conscience if all three of us were in it!

Indy said...

I'm afraid you're right, Ludwig. I've enjoyed Pandora's and Amy's work for other producers, but the only way I'd watch this one is with someone who fast forwards through the beatings. :-) Ditto for your debut-- especially as the other beatings in that film look frighteningly inaccurate. When you make your debut for Firm Hand or NSI, I'll be sure to watch it right away!

Graham said...

Ah, British English. What a special place it has in my heart now that I live in Europe and am required to use it in my professional life. (Is it anyone's fantasy to spank an American for constantly mocking the king's English? Let's just say I've got material.)

But in all seriousness, here's my philological dilemma re: British v. American English... In America, we have a snack known as the "English muffin." But in England, they just call that a "muffin." So, the food that we Americans call a regular "muffin" ... well, what the devil is that in British English?

Keeps one awake at night, it does.

Pandora Blake said...

And here I was all excited that there were 6 comments from people earnestly discussing the film! So much for my vanity.

Thanks for the positive review, Ludwig. Would it be disingenuous of me to reveal that I did think of your avowed preference for subdued defiance, when I realised that that was the direction I was going to go in?

I still haven't seen it myself yet. The problem I have is that Tom wants to watch it with me as a porn film, and I want to watch it with Amy, where we can eat popcorn and cackle and throw things at the screen. Ah, the complexities of balancing the personal and professional.

Indy said...

Pandora, surely you'll have to watch it separately with both? And write a blog post on the difference in the experiences? I'm not much for seeing bloody welts myself, but I am interested in what it's like to make such a film and to watch oneself in it.

Ludwig said...

Indy: If you promise to legally download a copy of the film, I suppose I could make you a CD where all the beatings are cut out. *laughs* That offer stands for "Strict Prison 4" and for "Inmates".

I'd say the former is worth watching even without the CP action, at least for fans of Amy and Pandora. I'm less sure about "Inmates" - if you take out the caning scenes, my part boils down to a glorified cameo. At least Pandora had some dialogue, even though you only understand half of it.

(Note to Pandora: just kidding! As I wrote in the review, it really isn't all that bad.)

I remember your email where you mentioned that you had finally seen "The Exchange Student" with Niki, but looked away during most of the caning scenes. It's the exact opposite of what a lot of the single-minded hardcore sadists do, the people who love the Lupus / Mood level of severity - they only watch the action and fast-forward through the rest! I sometimes wonder if I'm the only guy in the world who actually watches the entire video...

Graham: Now, that is an interesting philological dilemma. Let me know when you figure it out. I don't really need that knowledge where I live, but I'm curious nonetheless. As for me, I merely have to make sure that I order a "Vienna sausage" snack when I'm in Germany and "Frankfurters" when I'm in Austria - which is the same thing, but it goes to show you that the Germans think the Austrians are sausages, and vice versa.

Pandora: The record number of comments for a movie review is 11, and we are getting close to that already, so I think you should be happy about that, regardless of what the discussion is about!

Other than that, I support Indy's suggestion: watch the video separately with Tom and Amy, then blog about the intricate differences.

Anonymous said...

Ludwig, Now that you've witnessed mood castings in the flesh, how does it compare to P4F in terms of severity?

Ludwig said...

I filmed with Mood Pictures, not Mood Castings. It isn't really relevant to your question because the severity is pretty much the same, but I'm just mentioning it for the record.

I think the comparison is obvious to anyone who watches the videos. Mood Pictures are quite a bit more severe than Pain4Fem, with both longer and harder thrashings. They arguably make the most severe CP movies in existence today. The severity in Pain4Fem productions varies quite a bit - some are fairly hard like this one, while others like "School Days" are considerably lighter. It depends on the models.

The "special" cane strokes taken by Amy and Pandora here or by Niki Flynn in "The Spy" are very hard indeed, roughly in Mood / Lupus territory. The bulk of the punishment, on the other hand, is what I would describe as "fairly hard" - not the level of the other Eastern European producers, but certainly enough to be enjoyable for sadistic viewers.

The sheer physical force is only one aspect, anyway - other things like the reactions of the spankee, the look of the marks or the general atmosphere of the CP scene also come into play. From a sadistic point of view, a super-severe scene can still be utterly boring while a lighter one can be exciting and erotic. And that's before we even talk about the rest of the film, the story, the acting and so forth...

Indy said...

I saw that we were at the record number of comments for a movie review in this Palace, so I just wanted to make sure that the release of Strict Prison 4 is properly recognized by actually breaking the record.

I am still interested in the answer to the question Ludwig proposed in an earlier comment: is he the only one who watches these films from start to finish, appreciating equally the artistic set-up and the sadistic beatings?

! said...

Damn. I'll get that done soon.

! said...

As with most grammatical disputes between the British and Americans, the British quotation mark rule, in which punctuation is placed inside or outside of quotation marks, is older. However, the “American” rule was standard in 19th century Britain, when mechanical type was introduced. “Before the advent of mechanical type, the order of quotation marks with periods and commas was not given much consideration. The printing press required that the easily damaged smallest pieces of type for the comma and period be protected behind the more robust quotation marks” (Wikipedia). The American rule retains the “typesetter’s rule,” and is used in both non-technical formal writing and everyday English. By contrast, the British have reverted back to their logical placement of punctuation inside or outside of quotation marks.

Ludwig said...

Rachel: Good effort, but your answer wasn't quite correct.

The British quotation mark rule, in which punctuation can be placed inside or outside of quotation marks, is actually the newer one. Also called "logical quotation", it was advocated by the Fowler brothers in their highly influential book "The King's English" (1906).

The American rule, where punctuation is always placed inside quotation marks, is the older one. It goes back to the "typesetter’s rule", which was the old British rule in the 19th century - interestingly, as with many such differences, the American rule of today actually follows an older British standard.

The "typesetter's rule" was dictated by the technology of the time. In an old-fashioned mechanical printing press, the stress on outermost characters is greater than on inside characters. The wider type blocks for the quotation marks proved more robust against this stress than the thinner type blocks for the period and the comma. You see? Therefore, the quotation marks were placed outside, to protect the easily-damaged type blocks for the period and comma.

In other words, the American quotation mark rule carries on a completely outdated convention that was based on keeping 19th century printing machines working...

Anyway, enough about that. Your answer was at least partially correct (the part about the American rule being based on the old typesetter convention), so you get a D ("below average") for content, a B ("good") for effort, and the final grade is C ("average").

Caroline Grey said...

Indy, I'd like to know, too. I am endlessly frustrated by Lupus films, because I want all the CP porn I see to have that level of production and plot and costuming and cleverness, but I get about three strokes into the beatings and shove my head under the couch cushions.

But I'm a big coward about watching CP, anyhow. I'm fascinated about the idea of taking a thrashing that hard, and have taken some pretty harsh ones (not to that level...I'd say two-thirds that level) but I can't watch a friend getting a medium-level caning without suffering.

Which just goes to show I'm a shitty sadist. :)

I might actually watch this film because I love Pandora. If I watch the beating part it will be out of some strange sense of sympathy and solidarity rather than pleasure.

Unknown said...

Hi, Ludwig. If you read the section on 'Quotation Marks' in "Fowler's Modern English Usage" (H W Fowler), which has weathered the years rather better than "The King's English", then all will become clear about quotation marks and punctuation marks.
Your knowledge of the English language is astonishing given that it is not your native tongue.
Kind regards,