Decapitation Island


Director: Tahara  Toshiaki
Year: 1970
Duration: 83 minutes
Country: Japan

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 than many.


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.

Rating: 5/10