Air Date: Nov. 5, 1976 (ABC)
Production Companies: ABC Circle Films, Ambroad
Running Time: 102 min.
Available on: YouTube
Written by: Jo Heims
Directed by: John Llewellyn Moxey
Cast: Deborah Raffin, Lynne Moody, Chuck Connors, Fionnula Flanagan, Tina Louise, Robert Reed, Della Reese, Lana Wood, Ralph Bellamy
Rating: 5 vintage televisions (out of 10)
Funny story about watching Nightmare in Badham County (1976) the other night on YouTube… When Cathy Phillips (Deborah Raffin) and Diane Emery (Lynne Moody) are arrested on false charges in a small southern town and taken to jail, Sheriff Danen (Chuck Connors) tells the latter to do what he says or he’s going to hurt her. He then proceeds to rip off Diane’s UCLA t-shirt and I thought I saw two little boobies bouncing in midair.
No, it couldn’t have been… this was a TV-movie, for heaven’s sake! However, near the 30-minute mark, when they’ve been taken to a women’s prison farm, one of their fellow inmates is beaten with a leather strap for eating a potato. The woman beating her cuts off her clothes and not only did I know I was seeing boobies, I also saw full frontal nudity in the region of her crotch. That was it… to the internets I ran…
It seems that I was watching an international version of the film to which the producers decided to add some extra scenes involving nudity, a successful move that contributed to it becoming a huge hit overseas, especially in China. Because of the subject matter, I would rather have not seen this version. It makes it hard to separate in my mind what might have originally appeared on television in the mid-1970s.
I don’t know much about the history or evolution of “women in prison” films, but this one seems to contain all the tropes you’d expect. However, it’s elevated by the cast. And, with gratuitously distasteful scenes removed, I imagine there’s a compelling story originally delivered in a non-exploitative way. Behind the scenes are also some familiar names: John Llewellyn Moxey (director) and Charles Bernstein (composer.)
I’m going to chicken out and give an average rating to Nightmare in Badham County because I don’t feel like I actually saw it, at least as it was first intended to be seen. I feel like there are some serious dramatic moments and some genuinely suspenseful scenes, but they’re overshadowed in the international version by unnecessarily graphic embellishments that made me feel uncomfortable I was watching.
Visit the TV Terror Guide: 70's TV Movies playlist at ClassicHorrors.Club TV on YouTube to watch Nightmare in Badham County as well as all the great movies from this series...