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Barbed Wire Dolls.jpg
US theatrical release poster
Directed by Jesus Franco
Produced by Erwin C. Dietrich
Written by Jesus Franco
Connie Grau
Christine Lembach
Starring Lina Romay
Monica Swinn
Paul Müller
Ramon Ardid
Jesus Franco
Music by Walter Baumgartner
Daniel White
Cinematography Jesus Franco
Edited by Peter Baumgartner
Marie-Luise Buschke
Distributed by Aquarius Releasing
Release date
  • 23 April 1976 (1976-04-23) (West Germany)
Running time
81 minutes
Country Switzerland
West Germany
Language French

Frauengefängnis (released in the US as Barbed Wire Dolls and in the UK as Caged Women) is a 1975 Swiss horror film directed by Jesus Franco. It is part of the women in prison cycle of violent sexploitation films that flourished in the 1970s and early 1980s.[1]

When originally submitted for release in 1976, the British Board of Film Classification rejected it. It was only passed the following year after extensive cuts.


Cult director Jesus Franco's Swiss-West German production is a women's prison tale, with Lina Romay as Maria who is jailed after killing her father, played by director Jesus Franco,[2] who tries to rape her. Lesbian wardens, torture, nudity, sex, insanity, conspiracy and a downbeat twist ending round out the formula.

The womens' prison, based on an isolated island, is run by a man who impersonates a doctor, Carlos Costa. In fact, he is a killer who murdered the actual doctor of that name, whose name he then assumed. Assisting him is a monocled lesbian woman known only as The Wardress who regulates the prison with an iron fist. The Wardress reads Nazi volumes such as Albert Speer's history of the Third Reich as leisure reading. She wears jackboots and tight shorts under a white shirt in some scenes. In other scenes she wears a see-through black sheer fabric top.

Due to the practice of placing prisoners in isolation and torturing them (for example, via chaining them naked to a wall just out of reach of food, or placing them naked on a wire-frame bed where they receive electric shocks), several prisoners in the past have died. The current authorities in charge of the prison have concealed this by claiming these prisoners died of heart failure; but they are reaching the point where any more reported 'heart failures'will appear tool suspicious to the authorities on the mainland.


  • Lina Romay ... Maria da Guerra
  • Monica Swinn ... The Wardress (credited as Monika Swinn)
  • Paul Muller ... Carlos Costa (credited as Paul Müller)
  • Ramon Ardid (Raymond Hardy) ... José (credited as Ray Hardy)
  • Roger Darton ... Milton Warren
  • Ronald Weiss ... The Warden
  • Martine Stedil ... Bertha Contrini
  • Eric Falk ... Nestor
  • Peggy Markoff ... Pompadour (as credited as Peggy Markhoff)
  • Nathalie Mann
  • Denis Torre
  • Jesús Franco ... Maria's Father (uncredited)
  • Beni Cardoso ... Rosaria Cortina


  1. ^ Judith Mayne (2000). Framed: lesbians, feminists, and media culture. University of Minnesota Press. p. 131. ISBN 0-8166-3456-4. 
  2. ^ Tatjana Pavlović (2003). Despotic bodies and transgressive bodies: Spanish culture from Francisco Franco to Jesús Franco. SUNY series in Latin American and Iberian thought and culture. SUNY Press. p. 117. ISBN 0-7914-5569-6. 

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