Director: Tahara Toshiaki
Duration: 83 minutes
Certain things cross culture and time with similar characteristics. Greed,
lust and Women in Prison films. This Japanese film takes place in the Edo
period but it has all the usual traits of this genre - sadistic prison guards,
vile living conditions, nudity, cat fights, occassional sisterhood, torture,
beatings and as is often the case an attempt to escape. This falls solidly
into the exploitation films coming out of Japan at this time though tamer
Decapitation Island got its name because that is what happens if you try
and escape and are caught - with your head remaining on display for days
to come. Escape to where isn't exactly clear since this is a barren rocky
island miles from landfall. When the guards are not smacking the women around
or torturing them with a steam bath or a cauldron of boiling oil held above
you ready to spill with one false move, then the women are beating each other
up for breaking the rules or just for the hell of it. This little group of
women is ruled with an iron hand by the cruel Omasa the Ripper (Yuki Aresa).
This all seems a bit overdone for a group of about 15 prisoners whose crimes
are kind of minor - gambling, prostitution, drugs.
Two newbies show up - the tough talking dice expert Okiyo (Genshu Hanayagi)
and her pal Osen (Reiko Kasahara) who is an opium addict and running out
of her hidden stash. Neither much like the balance of power or the way things
are being run. There are a bunch of other sub-plots going on which keeps
the film clicking along quickly.