Those who value balanced brain-chemistry and a regular heart-rate, approach "Female Convict Scorpion: Jailhouse 41" with extreme caution. For within this film lie feral sex, hyper-violence, impulsive lesbian orgies, mock crucifixions. Spoons sharpened into shivs. Eye-melting depictions of the most shockingly jagged DIY abortions. Filmed in colours that tilt without warning from ashen, pale shades into lurid hues, "Female Convict Scorpion: Jailhouse 41" brings the characters from Tooru Shinohara's popular manga to genital-swinging life. The storyline assumes the form of a quest for vengeance by a woman imprisoned - but director Shunya Ito's images and the singular star-presence of Meiko Kaji combine to transcend a common B-film revenge-tale and take on an execution that is unadulterated impact. Although conceived as a follow up to Ito's "Female Prisoner No, 701: Scorpion", "Female Convict Scorpion: Jailhouse 41" can nonetheless be enjoyed and obsessed over as a stand-alone achievement, a unique totem for the annals of 1970s Japanese cine-exploitation. It's in this instalment that full-blown artifice locks horns with psychosexual horror - before collapsing in a pile of offal, wearing the grin of a gassed corpse. Prepare yourself for lock-down.
The masterpiece of the series
- Female Convict Scorpion: Jailhouse 41 review by RD
Considering that the Female Prisoner Scorpion movies are essentially exploitation films (though interestingly it seems the concept doesn't exist in Japan), Jailhouse 41 is the one that breaks all the rules. It functions certainly as an exploitation film but moreover is startlingly art-house and innovative, for instance in how it tells the back-stories of lead characters. (I won't spoil how.) And at the centre is a near silent Meiko Kaji who does more with her expression than a million lines of dialogue could ever hope to convey. True, there are some scenes that are not pleasant (but intentionally so) and the men are almost all cartoonishly terrible human beings but this a true diamond in the rough and a film that you hope to find: unique, remarkable and that you want to watch time and again.