Question: I have a question about a movie I saw a long, long time ago. I don't know the name of it, but I do know some details. It is about two girls who, while taking a trip, are stopped by a sheriff who arrests them and sends them to prison. They don't see much of each other while in prison, but when they do, they talk about how they were framed and how they both want to escape. I must note that these girls were pretty, and I think this is why the sheriff arrested them, because in this movie the warden and staff would use the girls in the prison at their own parties, forcing them to wear evening gowns and "entertain" their guests. As the movie progresses, these two girls finally plan a way out. While picking potatoes, they both decide to make a run for the fence or bushes. One girl gets away, but the other gets shot and killed. That is all I know about this movie. I really hope that you can come up with a name for me as I have been looking for a very long time to no avail. I think that this movie was made in the early '70s.


Answer: You're thinking of the memorably awful Nightmare in Badham County, Michele — a 1976 TV-movie that genre fans might enjoy for its shocking kitsch value, as long as they've got strong stomachs.

As you say, the story featured Deborah Raffin and Lynne Moody as a pair of unlucky young travelers picked up by an evil sheriff (The Rifleman's Chuck Connors), who throws them in an all-female work camp overseen by a pervy, evil warden (The Brady Bunch's Robert Reed, in power-'fro mode). Also along for the ride were Della Reese (Touched by an Angel), as a fellow convict, and Tina Louise (Gilligan's Island), as a malevolent guard.

While hilarious in its over-the-top storytelling and the wedging in of cliché after cliché (in the '70s it apparently was not possible to drive through any part of the South without being shot, hunted, enslaved, eaten or otherwise molested by rednecks and corrupt lawmen), the topics the movie tackles so ham-fistedly are often too disturbing to laugh at. The women were indeed forced to "entertain" party guests and guards, and while Nightmare boasted many of the women-in-prison staples for which fans of the genre roar (girl-on-girl mud brawling, uniforms that shredded down to nothing when an inmate so much as sneezed, etc.), it elicits more cringing than laughing.

An uncut version was released theatrically in foreign markets and on home video, but to my knowledge the movie isn't available anymore. You may try your luck with some used-tape stores, however.