Delirium (1972)

Back when I was posting regularly to PrisonFlicks I also had plans to build up a series of sister sites that would cover some other genres.  That never quite came to fruition, but I’ve always been interested in writing more broadly about other films in the exploitation genre. Now that I am taking another stab are writing about movies I’ve decided to expand my focus, which explains today’s detour into the Italian Giallo genre. There will be some other changes in how I post as well, mostly just simplifying the process — fewer images, no detailed list of actors, and mostly the reviews will be shorter with a lot less plot summary and more focus on commentary.

Anyway, I’ve never really focused much on Giallo pictures — honestly I though Giallo was a kind of ice cream. Not that I haven’t always been a fan of Italian movies. Some of the very best Eurosleaze came from Italy, and I’ve always been fascinated by Italian cannibal movies which, until the recent torture porn horror cycle, were some of the most repulsive things put on film.

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Sugar Boxx (2009)

Quentin Tarantino has never quite achieved again the brilliant of Pulp Fiction (1994), but he has definitely helped sustain and even rekindle interest in 1970s exploitation films. This has even led to various efforts to recapture the vibe of those films. Tarantino himself along with Robert Rodriguez teamed up on Grindhouse (2007), and we’ve seen various unfortunate remakes including of I Spit on Your Grave (1978/2010), The Hills Have Eyes (1977/2006), and Straw Dogs (1971/2011). The most interest of these homage films is actually a neo-exploitation gem Run! Bitch Run! (2009) which is both a loving tribute and itself a rousing 70s style exploitation flick.

Sugar Boxx is in that same genre, though rather than plumbing the rape-revenge genre, it is a slightly updated take on the the women in prison theme. The updating is genuinely subtle. In many ways, the movie is a straight 70s actioner. Continue reading

Update

Wow, where did 2008 go? I wish I could claim I’d just been too busy to review movies.  Writing the Great American Novel perhaps.  Or getting filthy rich.  Or even hooking up with strippers from different cities.  But no, the truth is… I’ve been mostly playing World of Warcraft.  My guild managed to kill Illidan right before the expansion — yeah after the nerf… but still.  And since I do also have a wife, kids, and job, it is Prison Flicks that suffers as a result.

I did see a couple of relevant movies, however, this year, and I’m working on a few reviews right now.

Female Prisoner #701 — Scorpion (1972)

Starring: Meiko Kaji, Yayoi Watanabe, Rie Yokoyama, Isao Natsuyagi, Fumio Watanabe, Yôko Mihara, Akemi Negishi, and Hideo Murota

Directed by: Shunya Ito

Rating: handcuffs.gifhandcuffs.gifhandcuffs.gifhandcuffs.gif(4 out of 5)

Matsu as the dark angel of vengeanceWhen I started this site, I assumed that the most interesting movies would be the serious dramas, and the most fun would be the women in prison exploitation pictures. As it turns out the WiP flicks are often the most fun, but they have also proven to be the most interesting in various ways. Most notably, while basically many of these films contain the usual straight-forward exploitation elements — shower scenes, catfights, etc. — there are a handful that clearly aspire to more and that manage to be surprisingly thought-provoking. Female Prisoner 701: Scorpion is one of those. I really wish I understood more about the relationship between feminism and politics in 1970s Japan. I could gleen a fair amount just from watching this movie, but really, I think FP701 could support a much more extended and detailed analysis than I am able to provide.

Anyway, the movie begins in a prison in Japan. The warden, Goda (Fumio Watanabe) is being presented with a proclamation honoring his 27 years of service. The movie was made in 1972. The 27 years mentioned is no accident, of course. In the middle of the ceremony, the alarms ring. The guards scatter to deal with an escape in progress, and the proclamation itself gets trampled under their feet. We cut to a scene outside the prison as two women run through a marsh, chased by armed men. The escaping prisoners are Matsu (Meiko Kaji) and Yuki (Yayoi Watanabe). Matsu is definitely in charge. Yuki lags behind and Matsu goes back to help her. Yuki is doubled over, and we get a shot of blood running down her legs. Matsu tell her not to worry, that it is just her period, which had apparently stopped while locked up. I perked up right there. I mean, yeah, that could be just a throw-away bit, but it strikes as pretty obvious that the movie is laying the groundwork here for a recurring theme about Japanese society, political power, and either misogyny or at least subordination of women. Continue reading