I actually saw this TV movie when I was in my early teens. It was during the end of the ‘70s, a time when I still had no idea what a B-movie was. It was on late at night on some cable TV channel. What I do remember thinking, however, is how impressed I was with the whole thing. Innocent girls, life in the slammer... It reminded me of another TV movie I had caught prior to this one called CAGED WITHOUT A KEY starring Susan Dey from THE PARTRIDGE FAMILY. If you ever get the chance to cross path, watch it. It is indeed worth it. NIGHTMARE IN BADHAM COUNTY tells the tale of two UCLA besties on a summer road trip who are falsely incarcerated in a Southern prison farm when they meet a sheriff from hell. What happens to them and the other inmates will forever change their lives.
Without revealing too much let’s just say that, boy, they sure don’t make them like that anymore. I don’t think they could anyway with all the segregation and name calling going on. You see, the two leads happen to be black and white and when they aren’t even allowed to talk to one another once in the detention camp, planning an escape route as a team becomes almost impossible. Of course NIGHTMARE IN BADHAM COUNTY is more than just being driven by race. It is foremost a story about strength and survival grade-B style. Curvy inmates, wicked wardens, women-on-women action—the sleaziness is all there but played down to the hilt to comply with the TV censors (check out the international cut if you want some female nudity). Still, it is quite daring for its time, I must say.
The movie follows the same pattern as those other sleazy TV films of the era, such as DAWN: PORTRAIT OF A TEENAGE RUNAWAY (prostitution), LITTLE LADIES OF THE NIGHT (prostitution), ALEXANDER: THE OTHER SIDE OF DAWN (male prostitution), BORN INNOCENT (juvenile detention for girls) but what stands out most in NIGHTMARE IN BADHAM COUNTY is the level of acting led by its two female stars, the late Deborah Raffin from LACE 2 and KNOTS LANDING Lynne Moody. Both give bravura performances worthy of Emmy nominations. OK, perhaps not exactly on that level but they do deserve some praises. In fact all do, from TOUCHED BY AN ANGEL Della Reese to Robert Reed from THE BRADY BUNCH fame and let’s not forget GILLIGAN ISLAND Tina Louise who plays against type as a sadistic prison guard. I almost failed to recognize her with a face shed of makeup and a tomboyish attitude.
NIGHTMARE IN BADHAM COUNTY has already reached the DVD market in 2012 as part of an eight-movie pack aptly named MOVIES FOR THE MAN CAVE, but I think it’s time for the film to resurface as a solo act. Perhaps in the form of a Blu-ray edition that of course would include both censored and uncensored versions and loads and loads of supplements. I’m sure this would make fans, like moi, very, very happy. So what do you say, Shout! Factory? Do we have a deal?
Until next post—Martin