Female Prisoner Scorpion: Jailhouse 41
directed by Shunya ItÅ
starring Meiko Kaji and Fumio Watanabe
Toei Company, Arrow
There are Women in Prison movies, and then there’s the Female Prisoner Scorpion series. This is Episode Two of a four movie set just reissued by Arrow, and it takes prison brutality to new heights. The movie follows the vengeance of Nami Matsushima (Kaji) who earned the prison nickname of “Scorpion.” In a previous film she gouged out the eye of the warden; he’s had her chained up in a dank dungeon where she spends her time sharping a spoon into a blade. There’s a new Inspector of Prisons arriving and the warden foolishly hauls out all the girls to show how happy they are. Nami jumps the warden, stabs him with the spoon, and escape with other tough mamas. For the next hour they flee though a bleak volcano ravaged landscape, killing, maiming and butchering various unfortunates who stumble upon them.
For starving, nearly naked women they do a damn good job of holding off the cops. The main theme here is vengeance for the indignities suffered, and its all men who pay the price. When Nami is raped by some businessmen on a vacation she dismembers them and throws their bleeding body parts into one of those ultra-scenic waterfalls Japan is so famous for. There’s intrigue and deceit between the women but there is no real eroticism here, not unless you get off on blood and body parts. I can’t speak for the other discs but be very careful: this is no Pam Grier boobs-in-the-shower movie; it’s a hard edged, graphically violent exploration of just how desperate people can become when mistreated.