Review: Stuck! DVD

Stuck DVD boxSTUDIO: Ariztical | DIRECTOR: Steve Balderson | CAST: Karen Black, Susan Traylor, Mink Stole, Jane Wiedlin, Starina Johnson, Pleasant Gehman
RELEASE DATE: 11/9/10 | PRICE: DVD $24.95
SPECS: NR | 95 min. | Drama | widescreen | stereo

RATINGS (out of 5): Movie | Audio | Video | Overall

Writer/director Steve Balderson’s drama Stuck! takes it cue from the beloved women-behind-bars movies, specifically those of the 1950s, such as Caged (1950) with Eleanor Parker and Women’s Prison (1955) with Ida Lupino.

But Stuck! isn’t a send-up of yesteryear’s films as much as it is a deliberately antiseptic (if a prison film can be called that) re-creation of the less salacious aspects of that era’s films. It’s not camp and it’s not winking at us — it’s a straight-forward telling of the story minus the parts where guys in the audience lean forward to watch.

Stuck! follows the prison movie template set forth last century to a tee: Pretty young Starina Johnson (the upcoming The Casserole Club, also directed by Balderson) is sent to the slammer and put on death row for murder of her suicidal mother, a crime Johnson didn’t commit. In the lock-up, she meets the genre’s classic characters, including an intelligent husband-killer (Susan Traylor, Finding Graceland), a weirdo (The Go-Gos’ Jane Wiedlen), a religious zealot (Mink Stole of John Waters movie fame) and, of course, a butch lesbian (Pleasant Gehman, also in The Casserole Club). Our heroine has occasionally violent and sexual encounters with them all in and out of their cells and showers until an inevitably riotous climax.

Filmed in black-and-white and featuring an appropriately jazzy score by Rob Kleiner, the movie accomplishes what Balderson set out to do. But Stuck! doesn’t really grab you past the initial novelty and cleverness of his conviction to deliver a period film that feels like it was made in that period. For that, we give the movie kudos.

We just wish it was more fun.

The DVD is bare of special features.


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About Laurence

Founder and editor Laurence Lerman saw Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest when he was 13 years old and that’s all it took. He has been writing about film and video for more than a quarter of a century for magazines, anthologies, websites and most recently, Video Business magazine, where he served as the Reviews Editor for 15 years.