• Female Prisoner: Caged! (Mondo Macabro) DVD Review

    Released by: Mondo Macabro
    Released on: January 27th, 2009.
    Director: Masaru Konuma
    Cast: Mina Asami, Nami Matsukawa, Shigeru Muroi, Ryoko Watanabe, Hitomi Yuri
    Year: 1983
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    Female Prisoner: Caged! – Movie Review:

    From Masaru Konuma, the man behind Flower & Snake, Wife To Be Sacrificed and countless other Nikkatsu exploitation pictures comes Female Prisoner: Caged!, a women in prison film complete with all the requisite elements like a kinky warden, a horny priest, masturbatory inmates and a cat fight or two.

    When the film begins, Masayo has just been tossed back in prison. It seems she escaped to headed out and see her boyfriend. Unfortunately for her, this newfound freedom didn’t last and now the warden intends to make an example out of her to help keep the other inmates in line. As the story moves on, Masayo is duped into believing she’s been betrayed by one of her fellow prisoners, while the warden boffs the priest and the prison population lusts after a gang of macho construction workers (one of whom is apparently urine filled!) hiding just outside their reach…

    While one scene in particular suffers from some Japanese government imposed mosaic censoring, Female Prisoner: Caged! is still pretty racy stuff. From its opening scene in which a trio of ants perched on a bowl watch a very lubricated inmate pleasure herself, to the scene in which a woman is gang raped, there’s trash aplenty awaiting viewers looking for salacious and exploitative kicks. Throw in the aforementioned piss daddy, a blow torch, a whipping or two, and some kinky rope play and you’ve got a film that gleefully throws logic and narrative out the window in favor of bare breasts and brutality.

    The cinematography, which comes courtesy of Shohei Ando, (the same man who shot Konuma’s Flower & Snake and Miiki’s Fudoh), ensures that Female Prisoner: Caged! is a very good looking film from start to finish. At a quick sixty-eight minutes in length it’s no wonder that the neither the plot nor the character development are given much of a chance to develop but the camera makes up for that by making expert use out of some quirky angles and lingering just long enough on the bounty of naked women to make us feel welcomingly perverse for going along with it.

    Masaru Konuma has definitely made more intelligent and thought provoking films but comparing this quick and dirty little exploitation picture with the more artsy and cerebral Roman Porno pictures he’s better known for essentially defeats the point of the picture. This one was obviously made for the exploitation hungry early eighties theater goer, not the thinking man. Enjoy it as the trashy entertainment that it is and Female Prisoner: Caged! definitely comes up a winner.

    Female Prisoner: Caged! – DVD Review:

    Mondo Macabro presents Female Prisoner: Caged! in a nice 1.85.1 anamorphic widescreen progressive scan transfer that is, at times, a little bit on the soft side but otherwise very good. Colors look nice and natural while black levels stay consistently deep. There’s a coat of grain noticeable in some spots but perfectly acceptable. There’s very little to complain about in terms of print damage, edge enhancement or mpeg compression artifacts. All in all, the movie looks just fine here.

    The Japanese language Dolby Digital Stereo mix comes with optional English subtitles sounds just fine. Dialogue is clean and clear and the levels are all well balanced. Being an older low budget film, this isn’t a track that has a ton of range but considering the limitations of the original source material, really, it sounds quite good. There are no problems with hiss or distortion and everything sounds nice and crisp.

    Mondo Macabro has carried over their documentary, The Erotic Empire (23:50, anamorphic widescreen, interlaced), that begins with some footage of the 2001 Roman Porno festival in Japan where attendees give their thoughts on some of the films screened. Jasper Sharp talks about the history of Nikkatsu while Seijin Suzuki talks about the two different kinds of films that the studio specialized in and why. Japanese film critic Toshiyuki Matsushima explains who ‘porno’ became introduced into the studio’s vocabulary while artist and filmmaker Romaine Slocombe gives his thoughts on the genre. Actress Kozuko Shirakawa talks about how she didn’t want her parents to find out she was working at Nikkatsu and about working on some of the roman porno movies that she appeared in and some of the director’s that she worked with, Tanaka in particular. The influence of Edogawa Rampo’s writings is covered as is the odd take on sexuality often on display in these films. Plenty of archival clips from various genre entries appear alongside a great selection of poster art to give this documentary plenty of visual flair. Interesting stuff!

    From there, check out the interview with Jasper Sharp (anamorphic widescreen, interlaced) where the author of Fab Press’ Behind The Pink Curtain discusses Female Prisoner: Caged in a fair bit of detail. Sharp provides some cultural context for the film and provides some welcome biographical information on its cast and crew. If that weren’t enough, they’ve also carried over the Nikkatsu trailers for the following films: The Watcher In The Attic, Assault! Jack The Ripper, Naked Rashomon, The Sins Of Sister Lucia, and Female Prisoner: Caged! All of the trailers are in anamorphic widescreen and flagged for progressive, but sadly, there are no subtitles for any of them.

    Rounding out the extras? An essay on the film from Pete Tombs, animated menus, chapter selection, and the ever-expanding Mondo Macabro promo reel!

    Female Prisoner: Caged! - The Final Word:

    While not the be all, end all of women in prison films, Female Prisoner: Caged! is still an entertaining and exceptionally trashy picture with some stand out moments and Mondo Macabro has done their typically strong job on this release even if the extras are a little too familiar. Bring on the rest of the Nikkatsu titles!