• Women In Heat Behind Bars

    Released by: Impulse Pictures
    Released on: April 10th, 2018.
    Director: Junichi Suzuki
    Cast: Shinobu Wakana, Reina Hatta, Tomomi Segawa, Susumu Morioka, Shirô Shimomoto
    Year: 1987
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    The Movie:

    Junichi Suzuki’s 1987 trash/sleaze mini-opus Women In Heat Behind Bars opens with a hyper-sexualized scene of a whole lot of prison sex before introducing us to the film’s central character, a lovely young woman named Shinobu Himeno (Shinobu Wakana). She’s been sent to the Asahi Women’s Prison, a hellish industrial looking building populated with the worst of Japan’s female criminal population – and some staff who are just as diabolical and twisted.

    Like most women in movies like this and prisons like this, Shinobu – who on the outside worked as a flower girl - was sent here for reasons that are a little bit… complicated. See, she was involved with a nogoodnik named Sakae (Susumu Morioka) who she, after a long courtship, eventually offered herself to for the first time. Now that the flower girl has been deflowered, she’s eventually framed for a robbery unsuccessfully pulled off by Sakae and his goofy buddies – which, understandably, lands her in the slammer where she has to contend with aggressive lesbians and horny guards with odd fetishes. When the administration brings in the sadistic Syôichi Kiya (Shirô Shimomoto) to better control the inmate population. After Kiya takes Shinobu out of the general population to teach her a lesson himself, an already horrible situation gets even worse, causing Shinobu and a few of her fellow prisoners to eventually stand up for themselves and fight back.

    Short at just under seventy-minutes (as these Nikkatsu Roman Porno pictures tend to be), Women In Heat Behind Bars makes up for what it lacks in serious character development with some appreciably depraved set pieces and quirky supporting players. We get flashbacks not just to fill us in on Shinobu’s story but also some of the other inmates too – but these stories aren’t particularly deep or original. Still, the movie gives us enough to go on to hold our attention from one sex and/or violence set piece to the next. The movie hits pretty much all of the expected ‘women in prison’ genre notes – lesbian inmates, sadistic wardens, horrible living conditions and general degradation – and it does so at a quick pace and with a genuinely grim tone.

    The movie is well shot, making good use of some truly dire looking locations to create a pretty effective atmosphere of dread and of gloom. The cinematography is careful not to expose any of the ‘hair down there’ lest Japanese censors disqualify the film for release, and as such we get some interesting framing and amusing objects put into the foreground to hide the bits that Japan has decided should be hidden. The performances are also decent enough to notice. Shinobu Wakana, who is quite the looker, does a nice job of transforming her character from one who is initially meek and mild into a tougher, more assertive woman as the story progresses. Shirô Shimomoto also does a great job as the man brought in to tighten things up in the prison, chewing just the right amount of scenery to make the role memorable.


    Women In Heat Behind Bars Straddle looks good in this 1.85.1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. Colors are handled well and look quite natural – though the color scheme itself as a seriously bleak one - as do skin tones. Black levels aren’t quite inky deep but they’re strong and detail is pretty good across the board. There are no issues with print damage to complain about and overall this is a clean, sharp, good looking picture free of any obvious digital manipulation of serious compression artifacts.

    The Japanese language Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono track is crisp and clean though occasionally just a tiny bit shrill. The levels are well balanced and there are no issues with hiss or distortion. The optional English subtitles that are provided are free of any typos and easy to read. This won’t floor you but it sounds fine, there are no problems.

    Extras on the disc are limited to a menu, chapter selection and a wonderfully trash trailer for the feature.

    The Final Word:

    Women In Heat Behind Bars doesn’t really reinvent the WIP genre or do much that we haven’t seen done before, but it does deliver pretty much everything you’d expect an entry in the genre to deliver and maybe a little bit more. The movie is well made and features some decent performances to compliment the seediness of it all, and if the DVD release from Impulse Pictures is light on extras, at least it looks and sounds quite good.