|Vintage Pulp||Oct 14 2022|
Worse than Alcatraz. Tougher than Rikers. It's the prison island of scantily clad women.
This tateken style poster was made to promote the Edo era drama Onna-ro hizu, generally known in English as Island of Horrors. The story centers around Nembutsu Island, a rocky outcropping in the Shiranui Sea used as a prison. It's inhabited by about fifteen coincidentally beautiful female captives and six samurai guards. Nobody calls the island by its real name. It's usually referred to as either the Isle of Women, which sounds kind of fun, or Decapitation Island, which does not. The new warden has been assigned there as punishment for not being tough enough in his other stops—a charge he's eager to disprove, with the help of the slap-happy guards and their baroque tortures. Additionally, the women are terrorized by Omasu the Ripper, your typical sadistic prisoner who subjugates the others in order to curry favor with her captors. And worse still, bubonic plague arrives. So, it's not overstating the situation to say that things are pretty bad on Nembutsu Island.
So how do you get the hell off that godforsaken rock? It isn't easy. The women are aware that sometimes there are pardons or paroles, and that knowledge gives them hope. But what if those lucky recipients sent from the island are not freed, but instead secretly sold into sexual slavery? Not saying that's what going on. But, you know, what if? Of course, there's no way the prisoners could ever find that out unless someone who was supposedly freed returned to the island. Omasu has her own departure plans. She tells the warden she knows where a cache of stolen ryō—gold currency—is hidden, trying to leverage it for freedom. She tries to leverage her body for that purpose too. But in the end, release from Nembutsu Island may come down to simple teamwork, and watching the inmates come to that conclusion makes for a well above average women-in-prison drama, worth a watch for the darkly beautiful cinematography and island visuals, as well as good performances from stars Maya Kitajima, Reiko Kasahara, and Yuki Aresa. Onna-ro hizu premiered in Japan today in 1970.
JapanDaiei StudiosOnna-ro hizuIsland of HorrorsMasakazu TamuraMaya KitajimaReiko KasaharaYuki Aresaposter artcinemamovie review