Directed by Donald Wrye. Starring Linda Blair ("Chris Parker"), Joanna Miles ("Counselor Barbara Clark"), Allyn Ann McLerie ("Emma Lasko"), and Mary Murphy ("Miss Murphy"). Not Rated.
Source: Region 1 DVD (VCI)
Running time: 01:38:32
14 year-old Chris comes from an old-fashioned family, in that she has a subservient mother who stays home and cooks, and a strict father who won't hesitate to smack a bitch - such is the case when Chris is apparently on the other end of a beating, which causes her to run away from home and end up in an all-female juvenile detention center, where she's psychologically and verbally abused by other girls and even raped in a communal shower by the ringleader of a female gang. It's an unpleasant and shocking experience for Chris to say the least, but when she's eventually released and attempts to make her dysfunctional family life work, she finds that perhaps being in a home for troubled teens isn't so bad after all.
Despite growing up in the 80's and experiencing some of them first-hand, my mind never ceases to be blown when I watch older made-for-televison movies while keeping in mind that they aired on regular network television. BORN INNOCENT originally aired on NBC in September of 1974, and it was the first film that Linda Blair had starred in since her iconic role as the demonically-possessed Regan in THE EXORCIST. BORN INNOCENT proved to be very controversial after its debut on network television, and understandably so; the film as a whole focuses on an underage girl being abused in more ways than one and it included the aforementioned rape scene, which, even by today's standards, is a bit intense and would probably be censored due to the fact that the actress involved (Blair) is a minor and appears nude. Regardless of the controversy, its ratings were impressive, but it didn't stop the network from quickly pulling the rape scene.
There's not much to say as far as reviewing the film. There isn't much of a plot, and as the movie progresses, signs of Chris's former self slowly fade away as she gradually blends in with her surroundings (ie. the juvenile detention center and its inhabitants), seemingly giving up all hope of a bright future and coming to terms with her status as a misfit from a broken home. Regardless of the infamous rape scene, BORN INNOCENT isn't as exploitative as you'd think. The film is more or less a reflection of what happens to a young girl when her parents and, to a certain extent, society have failed her.
Even though it's a downer and not a fun movie to watch by any means, I still consider it to be quite the treasure, just for the simple fact that it's one of those movies that I can't believe even exists, or at the very least hasn't disappeared into obscurity (which was actually the case for three decades until VCI somehow obtained a print of it and released it on DVD with the rape scene still intact).