Female Prisoner 701: Scorpion (1972)

Matsu: Not a happy camper.

Matsu: Not a happy camper.

I learned a long time ago to be wary of weird Japanese flicks, especially ones that involve any sort of female subjugation. Obviously a film with Female Prisoner in the title will involve exactly the sort of thing I warned myself to stay away from, but I threw caution to the wind and moved Female Prisoner 701: Scorpion to the top of my Netflix queue. And I’m glad I did.

The film is put out by Toei Company, which meant nothing to me, but of course meant the whole world to Q. Responsible for Kamen Rider and a whole bunch of other crazy shit, Toei’s output shares common hallmarks, like weird camera angles and zooms and awesome lighting à la Dario Argento. That kind of stuff is all over Female Prisoner 701, and the movie

If this is what Japanese prisons are made of, I sure hope I never see one.

If this is what Japanese prisons are made of, I sure hope I never see one.

is beautiful because of it. The plot, of course, is not so beautiful.

Matsu is a beautiful, young girl who falls for a crooked cop named Sugimi. Sugimi tricks Matsu into a trap involving some pretty nasty Yakuza, and as a result she’s beaten, raped and humiliated. Matsu attempts to exact revenge on Sugimi, but fails, and so she is thrown in jail, where she is still not safe from Sugimi’s slimy hands. Worse still, the prison guards, warden, and other inmates all want to make Matsu suffer as much as possible. She endures countless nights of torture in solitary confinement,



endless days of digging holes meant only to be filled up again. She spends most of the film tired, hungry and angry, but I had a sneaking suspicion the whole time that she’d get her revenge in the end…

This movie is not for the squeamish. There are some pretty disturbing scenes involving sexual violence and torture. Luckily, those scenes don’t make up the bulk of the movie, and everything is so stylized it’s removed from reality a great deal. Like most cult Japanese flicks, this movie is really bizarre. Totally worth watching, but definitely not for everyone. This is a movie I’d share with a certain, small group of folks. Everyone else is probably just as happy not knowing it exists.


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