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Scrubbers 15 rating

The borstal drama – billed as the female Scum – features Amanda York and Kathy Burke as inmates of a ruthless women’s prison.

Drama 1982 93 mins

Director: Mai Zetterling


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The success of borstal drama Scum saw screenwriter Roy Minton re-enlisted to scribe this female variant, a similarly seething account of the internecine rivalries of a women’s prison. Amanda York and Kathy Bates are among the ensemble of inmates waging a constant battle with the wardens, fellow prisoners and their own pent-up emotions.

Noted for its questionable depiction of lesbian relationships (as examined in Andrea Weiss’ documentary A Bit of Scarlet), Scrubbers nevertheless offers an interesting women’s take on the prison experience. Its authentic perspective is indebted to its female director, former Swedish screen-star Mai Zetterling, who adapts Minton’s screenplay with gusto while retreating from the heightened histrionics of later female prison examples like Bad Girls (1995), of which Scrubbers can be seen as a direct antecedent.