Caged Heat (alternate title: Renegade Girls) is an exploitation film from 1974 of the "women-in-prison" film genre. It was written and directed by Jonathan Demme 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 features, 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 films.
Caged Heat centers on the story of Jacqueline Wilson (Erica Gavin). Wilson is sentenced to a women's prison after her conviction on illegal drug offenses. Wilson, naturally, becomes associated with a group of fellow female convicts, and they fight against the repressive policies of the prison's warden (Barbara Steele).Erica Gavin... Jacqueline WilsonJuanita Brown ... MaggieRoberta Collins... Belle TysonElla Reid ... PandoraCheryl Smith... Lavelle (as Rainbeaux Smith)Warren Miller ... Dr. RandolphBarbara Steele... Supt. McQueenCrystin Sinclaire ... Crazy Alice (as Lynda Gold)Mickey Fox ... BerniceToby Carr Rafelson ... Pinter (as Tobi Carr Refelson)Ann Stockdale ... BonnieIrene Stokes ... Hazel
Demme had produced two films for Corman, including the women in prison picture The Hot Box (1972). He wanted to turn director and wrote a script for Corman, but the producer did not want to fund it, as he thought the cycle had peaked. However Demme succeeded in raising the finance on his own and Corman agreed to distribute through New World Pictures.
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. 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 run-of-the-mill, women-in-prison exploitation movie.