10,000 Bullets   Exploring the world of Cinema from the Arthouse to the Grindhouse™

True Story of Woman In Jail: Sex Hell 
Written by: on March 23rd, 2012

Theatrical Release Date: Japan, 1975
Director: Koyu Ohara
Writer: Koyu Ohara, Akira Momoi
Cast: Hitomi Kozue, Meika Seri, Maya Hiromi, Rie Ozawa, Tatsuya Hamaguchi, Machiko Aoki, Akira Takahashi, Kôji Yashiro, Chika Kano, Chieko Harada, Ema Katori, Yoko Ohta

DVD released: April 10th, 2012
Approximate running time: 72 Minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Rating: NR
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono Japanese
Subtitles: English
DVD Release: Impulse Pictures
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $24.95

Synopsis: It’s new arrivals day as the latest batch of hardboiled jailbait are incarcerated in the toughest juvenile detention center that never existed.

This is a Nikkatsu pinku, but first and foremost a WIP film. Shamelessly borrowing various elements and plot points from Toei’s four Female Prisoner Scorpion series and their girl gang ‘pinky violence’ films, it retains a sharp edge while adding lots more sex and nudity. This is an early effort from Koyu Ohara, who is better known for later releases such as Sins of Sister Lucia, Wet & Rope, and White Rose Campus: Then Everybody Gets Raped. This feature takes a more ‘realistic’ approach than those later films and is filmed mostly in a rather bland, matter-of-fact style. Nevertheless there are some impressive stylistic touches and much more action, conflict, and content than you would generally expect from a pinku product.

Most of the “here comes a sex scene” moments occur in the first half mainly through flashbacks and real time lesbian encounters. Each one actually furthers the story and/or is necessary to the plot. Even the most sensational scenes (and there are more than a few) produce echoes that reverberate throughout the later proceedings. So what may at first seem to be merely an aimless, meandering, and pointless script proves to be both complex and compelling.

The absence of a central character may be the films major weakness as it leaves the audience with no emotional bond to any single character and we remain as passive observers. Of course, there’s no headlining star here either (such as Naomi Tani in later Ohara films), so this device does spare any single actress from having to carry the film. It can be said that none of the performers steal the show, but they all competently portray their roles and convey their characters’ motivation and situation.

The DVD:

Just getting an anamorphic widescreen print with English subtitles of a Japanese genre film is something to celebrate these days, so the lack of any extras is hardly of consequence. The source print is very fine with little or no damage. The colors are muted but appears to be the director’s intent. It seems that even the daytime street scenes were purposely filmed on overcast days, but more likely they just took the shots they got. This more realistic presentation is also found in the next installment of the Female Prisoner series: ‘New Female Prisoner Scorpion: #701’.

This film demands repeat viewings to be fully appreciated. Once the beginning and end are known, then the tender parts in the middle can be devoured with rapacious desire and savored with unnatural relish.  Or just enjoy the many communal bath scenes and strip searches.

Note: There is a liner note folder which also includes the original poster art. I didn’t read it until after I had finalized my review. The text is by Jasper Sharp, author of the new book, The Historical Dictionary of Japanese Cinema, out now from Scarecrow Press.

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