TRUE STORY OF A WOMAN
IN JAIL: CONTINUES
sordid saga of Mayumi, a beautiful woman trapped in the hell of
the Japanese penal system, continues... Or does it?
Story of a Woman in Jail: Continues
is a tad strange for what is ostensibly a direct sequel. The main
character — and the actress who portrayed her — returns, but the
events and backstory of the original movie (True
Story of a Woman in Jail: Sex Hell, also released
in 1975) are either ignored or completely changed. This results
in much more of a quasi-remake than any kind of proper sequel.
film's start Mayumi (Hitomi Kozue) is locked up in solitary
confinement for some unspecified infraction. With her time in
the punishment cell complete, she's returned to Cellblock 3
only to walk in on the brutal hazing of the
prison's latest inmates, a trio of brand-new arrivals being
stripped and humiliated by the other prisoners. Mayumi tells
them to lay off the new girls, resulting in a fight between
her and the ringleader. The fight is inconclusive; revenge is
later visited upon Mayumi when she's held down by the ringleader's
gang and pissed on. ("Make sure you get it in her nostrils!")
narrative now switches back and forth between the various characters,
to include two of the newcomers (a naive, innocent youngster,
busted for shoplifting, and a post-op transsexual prostitute),
the ringleader of the mean girls, and a corrupt male guard, who
not only takes advantage of the women sexually but has an ongoing
racket providing fresh meat for Yakuza-run brothels on the outside.
As for Mayumi, she meanders in and out of these plot threads —
when not confined to the punishment cell — until an unexpected
opportunity for revenge presents itself. Then all hell (albeit
not of a sexual nature) breaks loose.
stated above, Continues is really
a quasi-remake of the original Mayumi-in-Prison flick, not a true
sequel. Therefore you needn't have seen the first movie to able
to get into this one. In fact, it might be a better thing if you
haven't... There's a feeling of 'been there, done that' when viewed
after Sex Hell, since a number of
plot elements are simply recycled. Also, the alteration of Mayumi's
backstory seems rather odd if you've already seen the first film.
(In Sex Hell, Mayumi is a nurse betrayed
by her doctor boyfriend, who killed his fiancée on the
operating table in a convenient medical 'accident'. After he tries
to pin the blame solely on her she stabs him to death. In Continues,
however, Mayumi is sent to prison for murdering one of the men
who gang-raped her and her mother, and nearly killing another.)
Having viewed these films in order, I think a mash-up of the two,
to make a single film, would work like quite well (using Mayumi's
history from Continues instead of
the hospital chicanery). Director Kôyû Ohara again creates some
arresting tableaux — the gang rape flashback is particularly harrowing
— and manages to include even more nudity, which those familiar
with the first film might not think possible. I don't recall much
use of optical fogging (areas of the screen intentionally blurred
to obscure genitalia) in Sex Hell,
but it is deployed at least three or four times in Continues,
indicative of the film's higher degree of carnality.
optical fogging is the least of reasons why Japanese sexploitation
cinema of this period stands apart from its Western contemporaries.
Generally speaking, it is aesthetically more artful in execution
but also kinkier and much crueler. Rape is a near-constant theme;
modern audiences may well be taken aback, even offended, by the
way it is handled in movies like this, since it's presented with
a casualness and unmistakable prurience that would be utterly
unthinkable in our more politically correct era. (That most of
the female characters in these "Pinku" flicks seem to
secretly enjoy being raped — fantasizing about their experiences
even while simultaneously disgusted by them — is bound to outrage
feminists.) Sexual humiliation and shame play large roles in these
stories, which I suppose is understandable given the ordered,
unfailingly polite nature of Japanese culture and society. As
polar opposites of these attributes, the transgressive elements
of the Pinku films exploit this dichotomy with a vengeance...
Pissing on them, one might say — all with a cruel, sadistic smile.
another solid entry in Impulse Picture's steadily expanding Nikkatsu
Erotic Films Collection. As with Sex
Hell, the anamorphic 2.35:1 transfer looks great, particularly
for a nearly 40-year old low budget exploitation pic; the Japanese
Mono audio track — backed by first-rate (removable) English subtitles
— is perfectly satisfactory.
Pinku expert Jasper Sharp's concise liner notes highlight the
interesting career of director Kôyû Ohara. 7/08/12