True Story of a Woman in Jail: Sex Hell DVD Review
Written and Directed by Koyu Ohara
1975, 70 minutes, Not Rated
DVD released on April 10th, 2012
Hitomi Kozue as Mayumi Hojo
Maya Hiromi as Harumi Matsunaga
Rie Ozawa as Kazue Ishii
Tatsuya Hamaguchi as Rie
Impulse Pictures' series of Japanese classic erotic/sexploitation movies keeps rolling with True Story of a Woman in Jail: Sex Hell. If they were looking for movies that pushed the envelope, this one certainly is one of their top titles.
The film kicks off with a woman urinating in a filed while a cop looks on and holds her by a rope that's tied to her shackles. After that, you get a busload of women stripping down to nothing, a close-up of a long line of derrieres, a doctor basically stabbing women with a speculum, a discussion about dirty panties having another woman's "ketchup" (their term, not mine), a second dialogue concerning menstruation, and a sex scene with a bit of forced oral sex. At that point, the film reaches the 10-minute mark and the story really begins.
When it comes to plot, Sex Hell is nothing special, even within the women in prison genre. In the film, a group of young women is thrown into a juvenile hall for a variety of crimes. The guards are always creepy and horny, the women have their own cliques going, the food is deplorable, and punishment is dished out regularly for the slightest misconduct. Mayumi, a new inmate with a very mysterious past, decides to go against the gang with which she shares a cell. Plenty of tension, sex, and violence ensue. Eventually, Mayumi concocts an escape plan to in order to seek revenge on the person who had her incarcerated, but she will have to join forces with some of the same women she has been fighting against since the day she came in.
True Story of a Woman in Jail: Sex Hell is sexually graphic, violent, and a bit gory. However, the dialogue is sparse and the plot ends up feeling like a mediocre vehicle they had to use because simply showing the sex/violence scenes without a back story would've made no sense. Despite that, the movie is worth a watch because it pulls no punches when it comes to what the title promises. The writing might be awful and the plot a secondary thing, but a "rice penis," constant nudity, sexually charged communal baths, late night masturbation and sex sessions, a lot of blood, a stabbing scene that's a mixture of Psycho's shower scene and Jack Nicholson's deranged face in The Shining's "Here's Johnny!" scene, and vicious catfights (one of which leads to an abortion), make this a enjoyable film.
Video and Audio:
The audio is acceptable and the images are very clear for a film from 1975. However, the best technical aspect of the movie is the camera work. Instead of filling scene after scene with ghastly grey clouds to censor sex, there is a surprising amount of creative angles and prop use. The entertaining angles are also used for most action sequences and help keep the eye amused despite the pervasive darkness and somewhat repetitive backgrounds.
The only offered feature is removable English subtitles (for those Japanese speakers who don't want yellow letters obstructing the obstructions in the shots) and liner notes from Japanese film scholar Jasper Sharp.