• Women In Prison (Impulse Pictures) DVD Review

    Released by: Impulse Pictures
    Released on: December 10th, 2019.
    Director: Nobuaki Shirai
    Cast: Erina Miyai, Natsuko Yashiro, Toru Ibuki
    Year: 1978
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    Women In Prison– Movie Reviews:

    Nobuaki Shirai, the man behind Nun Story: Frustration In Black, made the aptly titled Women In Prison for Nikkatsu in 1978. When this sixty-nine-minute sleaze-fest opens, we see a bunch of weird mannequins! A woman in a bridal outfit kisses one and says ‘thank you for everything’ before dancing around a bit. A man arrives and apologizes for being late. They embrace and she talks about how she cleaned the shop before handing over a wad of cash and telling him ‘this is everything I have.’ He thanks her and says it’s enough to save the company. Her name is Ryoko Kagami (Erina Miyai) and she doesn’t want to keep the pastor waiting any longer – but he pushes her aside, he has to take the money to Osaka immediately. She’s clearly upset, their wedding is tomorrow, but he talks her into it and then they make love. As they do, another woman named Jun (Natsuko Yashiro) walks into the room and calls out for him – it’s then that we learn his name is Keiichi (Tôru Ibuki). When she finds them screwing she screams and says ‘What’s going on? You’re my fiancée!’ On top of that, Jun is pregnant with his baby! Ryoko doesn’t react well to this at all. She grabs a pair of scissors and stabs Keiichi.

    Not surprisingly, Ryoko winds up in jail. She talks to the warden when she only has four months left in her term and is told not to screw up her release by getting anxious and making mistakes. After that? It’s potato digging time! They inmates of the woman’s prison are sent out into the fields to do manual labor under the watchful eye of Mr. Kimoto (Yûsuke Kazato). The girls find him handsome and stage an older inmate passing out – when Kimoto comes to attend to her, they grab his junk! That night, Ryoko thinks about her release but notes that the scars on her heart will never be healed. Nearby two other prisoners have rad lesbian sex while another prisoner finds a stray cat, butters up her hoo-haw and has a little kitty on kitty action of her own.

    The next day in the fields, Kimoto is attacked by the women who bind his legs and get his pants down and then gang rape him. After that bit of fun it’s back to the cells where they are introduced to their new cellmate in for embezzlement – her name? Jun Moriyama. She and Ryoko immediately recognize each other, locking eyes. Jun isn’t shy, she calls Ryoko a murderer to her face but is shot down by the other inmates who tell her not to start fights. Jun only wants to get out to see her infant baby, hoping that Keiichi will wait for her. He shows up with the baby and asks her for money but when she tells him she has none he leaves.

    Eventually, things do flare up between Ryoko and Jun. They fight in the bath room but the other inmates break it up. The next day a mentally unstable inmate imagines seeing her son on the other side of the fence. She makes a break for it and is found a short time later having hanged herself. When Jun’s father dies, she’s let out with an escort to attend the funeral. Ryoko sees an opportunity here to get away with something without jeopardizing her release and has some of the others sneak her out in a laundry cart. She and a few others attempt to scale a wall – Ryoko makes it over and high tails it away from the prison, eventually taking a ride with a man into the city. He knows what she did and wants something from her in return – ‘My morning wood can’t chop itself.’ With that out of the way she steals his money and heads out to find Jun – who has a plan of her own to find her man and her baby - while inside a guard with a thing for her gets word of what’s happened and sets out to find her before she gets busted. Ryoko’s got a few tricks up her sleeve though, and none of this will end well.

    Not quite the WIP movie cliché you might expect it to be given the title, this one doesn’t have a domineering warden or lesbian guards running about. Only roughly half of the film actually takes place inside the prison. There’s only one lesbian scene and the prison environment is far less predatory than it is in most WIP pictures. Still, Nobuaki Shirai and company offer up a decent amount of legitimate sleaze and, on top of that, tell a pretty engaging story at the same time. The plot isn’t super deep but it’s solid enough to hold our attention without any issues. This isn’t as stylish as some of the other Roman Porno pictures that have come out via Impulse Pictures, the cinematography is pretty basic here, but it’s competently shot with a decent score.

    The movie makes some interesting observations about how women are often ‘taking the bullet’ for their men, and we see that first hand with the way that Keiichi treats both Ryoko and Jun. A lot of the other inmates complain that they’re in there because of men and/or that their men are probably screwing around on them while they’re doing time. You can’t really call this a feminist picture per se, but it’s maybe got a bit more going on in terms of ‘girl power’ than your average women in prison picture.

    Performance wise, Erina Miyai – who shows up in Sex Hunter: 1980, Zoom In: Sex Apartments and Sexual Assault At A Hotel – makes for a great lead. She’s a very nice looking woman, which doesn’t hurt anything, but she’s got a calculated intensity to her performance here that just works. Ryoko is more than a little unhinged and Miyai is able to effectively communicate this with facial expressions and, more specifically, that look in her eyes. Natsuko Yashiro is also very good here. Her character is clearly damaged goods, wanting to believe with all of her heart that Keiichi is going to remain faithful to her – after all, she’s in there because she tried to help him. Tôru Ibuki plays the sleazy male lead effectively as well.

    Women In Prison– DVD Review:

    Women In Prison is presented in 2.85.1 anamorphic widescreen in a transfer that is once again clearly taken from an analogue tape source but at least it’s one that was clearly in good condition. The image is definitely soft and detail is never particularly strong but the picture is stable, no problems with tape rolls or tracking lines of any kind. Colors look noticeably flat and black levels are inconsistent, usually closer to grey. This isn’t reference quality by any stretch but it’s all watchable enough.

    The Japanese language Dolby Digital Mono track is fine. It’s a bit flat and it has some audible crackle in the opening few minutes but thankfully that goes away fairly quickly. The white subtitles are clean, clear and easy to read and free of any noticeable typographical errors.

    There are no extras, just a static menu.

    Women In Prison – The Final Word:

    Women In Prison is a more than decent slice of vintage Nikkatsu exploitation highlighted by a great performance from the lovely Erina Miyai. Impulse Pictures’ DVD won’t blow you away with sterling quality but it’s watchable enough and the movie is worth checking out.