Amazon Hot Box (BAFF 2018) (Movie Review)

Luke's rating: ★ ★ ½ Director: James Bickert | Release Date: 2018

It's commendable when a movie is unapologetic about being what it is. Amazon Hot Box wears its trashy roots on its sleeve, an attribute which requires the filmmakers to navigate a minefield of potentially volatile reactions in the age of the "Me Too" movement.

Taking the bones of the women-in-prison grindhouse aesthetic and changing almost nothing, Amazon Hot Box places a trio of newbie gals in an exotic locale housing a women's prison overseen by a female Bond villain, wardress Von Krupp (Ellie Church), as she constructs the ultimate torture machine. To make matters worse the cells are run by an aggressive, sexually insatiable inmate. There are also some contain guards who believe they are zombies due to an experiment gone wrong. Things come to a head as the government attempts to step in and replace the prison's current management, even it it means leveling the entire prison.

Boasting a fairly impressive look for what had to be a shoestring budget, Amazon Hot Box still makes liberal use of DIY effects and cheesy, offensive dialogue. The cheapness of it all only effectively heightens the grindhouse vibe. The film is so clearly aiming for and succeeding in the "so bad it's kinda good" aspects like it's hilarious fight choreography and uber low-budget violence.

One's enjoyment of a film such as this hangs entirely on their fondness for imitations of an era long since gone. Few earnestly attempt such a style without succumbing to imitation with little else to offer. Amazon Hot Box falls somewhere in the middle where it's intentions feel honest, but it is also a bit too obsessed with nailing the style that the point of it all is lost in a hail of stock flash animated explosions, gratuitous boobage, and aimless politically charged dialogue.

Amazon Hot Box is unapologetically trashy and can be enjoyed with an appropriately calibrated perspective. However, the film is overlong, allowing the sleaze to outstay the sweaty taboo of it all. Best as a watch, chuckle, and forget than anything that'll have legs in your collection of modern grindhouse classics.

Screened as part of the Buried Alive Film Festival 2018


Staff Writer

Horror movies and beer - the only two viable options for entertainment in the wastelands of Nebraska as far as he's concerned. When he's not in the theater he's probably drinking away the sorrows of being a die-hard Chicago Cubs fan.