Caged Heat
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJonathan Demme
Written byJonathan Demme
Produced byEvelyn Purcell
StarringJuanita Brown
Roberta Collins
Erica Gavin
Ella Reid
Rainbeaux Smith
Barbara Steele
CinematographyTak Fujimoto
Edited byJohanna Demetrakas
Michal Goldman
Carolyn Hicks
Music byJohn Cale
Renegade Women Company
Artists Entertainment Complex
Distributed byNew World Pictures
Release date
  • 1974 (1974)
Running time
83 minutes
CountryUnited States

Caged Heat, also known as Renegade Girls, is a 1974 women in prison film. It was written and directed by Jonathan Demme (in his directorial debut) for New World Pictures, headed by Roger Corman. The film stars Juanita Brown, Roberta Collins, Erica Gavin, Ella Reid, Rainbeaux Smith, and Barbara Steele.

John Cale wrote and performed its soundtrack music, which features the guitar playing of Mike Bloomfield.

Two later films, Caged Heat II: Stripped of Freedom (1994) and Caged Heat 3000 (1995), made use of the Caged Heat name and the women-in-prison situation, but are unrelated to the original film.


Jacqueline Wilson (Erica Gavin) is convicted for illegal drug offenses and sentenced to a women's prison. She and several fellow convicts fight the repressive policies of the prison warden (Barbara Steele).



Demme had produced two films for Corman, including the women in prison picture The Hot Box (1972). He wanted to become a director, and wrote a script for Corman, but the producer did not want to fund it, as he thought the cycle had peaked. Demme succeeded in raising the finance on his own and Corman agreed to distribute it through New World Pictures.[1]

Originally titled Renegade Girls, the final title is most likely a reference to two earlier prison-themed movies, Caged and White Heat, both of which Jonathan Demme discussed paying homage in his DVD commentary to Caged Heat.

Critical reception

The film was Jonathan Demme's debut as a film director. Producer Roger Corman thought that the content of his company's previous "women in prison" films was inadequate, so he instructed Demme to create a screenplay that would bring something novel to this genre. However, Corman also wanted Caged Heat to retain most of the violence and nudity that audiences for this genre had come to expect.

Demme introduced new aspects to Caged Heat, including a satirical approach and making the sadistic warden female instead of male.[2] To a lesser degree, Demme also incorporated elements of liberal politics, feminism, and social consciousness into his screenplay. Because of all these new elements introduced to the "women-in-prison" genre, and because of the film's status as Demme's first feature, some movie critics consider it to be more interesting than the average run-of-the-mill women-in-prison exploitation movie.[3]

Further reading

See also


  1. ^ a b Christopher T Koetting, Mind Warp!: The Fantastic True Story of Roger Corman's New World Pictures, Hemlock Books. 2009 p 64
  2. ^ Maltin, Leonard. "Roger Corman Interview". Caged Heat [Motion Picture, DVD version]. USA: New Concorde
  3. ^ TV Guide Movie Reviews. Accessed 25 Jul 2009