Koyu Ohara’s sequel to True Story of a Woman in Jail: Sex Hell / Jitsuroku onna kanbetsusho: sei-jigoku (1975) is several notches below the prior film’s story department, since the script by Akira Momoi (Eros School: Feels So Good [M]) repeats each of the key sequences, and there’s really only one central character: ‘jealous’ man-killer Mayumi (Hitomi Kozue), back in solitary confinement after being re-arrested for the murder of the doctor who fingered her for a botched surgery, and sent her to juvenile prison for the first time.
That Mayumi is inured to the horrors of jail is expected, but her age is never definitive: in the outside world Mayumi was a trained anesthesiologist, but she's sent to juvie with pedestrian teen hookers, gang-bangers, and wayward waifs. Nikkatsu's series, of which four were directed by Ohara, is all nonsense, since the so-called juvenile delinquents in this ‘true crime’ franchise are played by adults – basically, an easy way to show bad nude youthful behaviour without casting underage master thespians.
There’s also the peculiar nature of the sex scenes: some are fogged to hide privates, while others use strategic blocking to ensure no pickles or beavers appear onscreen. The question begs: Why bother staging graphic content if it’s going to get white-fogged in the end?
Continues goes through the basic plot points inherent to the limited dramatic range of the women in prison [WIP] genre, but Mayumi is given a new backstory (seen again via flashbacks) which presumably precedes her entry into the medical profession: after being raped alongside her mother by a band of punks, Mayumi hunts down her aggressors, stabbing one successfully, but she's arrested after blundering in her second kill. The strange thing is, more than the prior film, Mayumi’s character is now a trenchcoated vigilante wielding a samurai sword that feels like a portent to Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill diptych, and one can't help wondering had Tarantino been an up & coming director at Nikkatsu in 1975, this might have been a sampling of his exploitation style.
The sudden bursts of mob revenge also evoke the rebel youth films Roger Corman was producing in the seventies (Switchblade Sisters), and without the softcore / fogged / supposedly hardcore scenes, this would be a straightforward Japanese variant of the WIP genre. However, being a Roman Porno, there are fixations unique to Nikkatsu’s whatever-goes standard, and Ohara’s very odd fixations are rather distinct. His obsession with humiliating the female body through probing examinations, disinfectants, period flows and urine streams go beyond mere visual representation. The girls engage in plenty of literal pissing contests (or as historian Jasper Sharp brands them, “territorial pissings”), but Ohara also fills the soundtrack with watery sound effects, be it the trickling in bathrooms and the garden, or the off-screen tap in a guard's personal darkroom where he develops exploitive photos of a garden rape for extra cash.
The sleaze factor in Continues is sometimes profound – the lack of any real story means most scenes involve humiliation, rape, forbidden copulation, or a free-for-all escape and murder spree – but it is an elegantly photographed film, balancing a docu-drama grittiness with exquisite close-ups and compositions within the 2.35:1 ‘scope ratio. Also retained from the first film is the pseudo-tragic theme song and bluesy jazz cues composed by the Downtown Boogie Woogie Band. The music is more of a patch edit job this time round, but the style of the cues (with their raw funk flavour) also falls within that spread of music relished and sometimes appropriated by Tarantino in his garburated exploitation mash-ups.
Impulse’s DVD sports a nice transfer with clean mono sound, and while there’s no trailers, Sharp’s liner notes contextualize the film within Nikkatsu’s hugely prolific porn period.
Ohara’s entries in the WIP series includeTrue Story of a Woman in Jail: Sex Hell [M] (1975), True Story of a Woman in Jail: Continues (1975), New True Story of a Woman’s Detention Centre: Love Hell (1976), and Female Convict 101: Suck (1977). Star Kozue also appeared in True Story of Sex and Violence in a Female High School (1973), Female Teacher: Private Life (1973). Also available from Impulse / Synapse is Ohara’s unambiguously titled I Love It from Behind! (1981) and the S&M cult classic Fairy in a Cage [M] (1977).
© 2013 Mark R. Hasan