|Female Demon Ohyaku (1968)|
|Writers:||Koji Takada and Takeshi Takahashi|
|Starring:||Junko Miazono, Koji Nanbara, Kunio Murai and Kinji Nakamura.|
|The Plot: Our film begins with Ohyaku, an infant at the time, being held by her mother as she attempts to commit suicide by jumping off of a bridge into water. The young Ohyaku survives this leap, but is forever scarred across her back. We skip forward and find Ohyaku (Junko Miyazono) as a beautiful young woman. She has become a hustler of sorts, and has lately been running a scam where she seduces rich men before her friend breaks into the room and threatens to murder his cheating “wife.” The scam works well, but Ohyaku also manages to make a living working as a tightrope walker where all of the horndogs come to watch her walk across the tightrope while trying to peek up her dress. When the crowd becomes overly rebellious one evening, the young Ronin named Shin (Kunio Murai) stands up and helps protects the young woman’s honor. Shin and Ohyaku soon begin flirting, and it seems that Shin wants to induct this woman into his gang of bandits. His latest plan is to rob the local Sengoku government of a hefty shipment of gold, but he only intends to do this in order to teach the greedy bureaucrats a lesson. Meanwhile, Ohyaku finally discovers her mother’s secret past, as a prostitute, and this leads her fleeing into the arms of Shin who accepts her as a woman as well as a warrior. The two are soon engaged, and they are successful in robbing the government of the previously mentioned shipment of gold. However, the tables are turned when they are sold out and Shin is placed on the chopping block. With everything in this young woman’s life being stripped of her, Ohyaku intends to take revenge on those who have denied her the life she so desperately wanted.|
There are traces of numerous genres found in Female Demon Ohyaku. The pinky violence elements do actually come out during the early parts of the movie, as well as the latter half when we see Ohyaku’s full transformation, but this is a title that throws numerous ideas at the wall trying to see what sticks. The early half of the movie generally focuses on Ohyaku’s role as a scam artist, something not totally lost on many Girl Boss-themed movies that would come in the future. However, as the movie progresses, it turns into a rather tense thriller. You’re never entirely sure what Ohyaku’s ultimate plan will be, but she seems so quick witted that it becomes sure that she will get her vengeance once she is placed inside of the feudal prison system that the latter half of the movie takes place in. During the final half of the film, there are even faint hints of the horror genre to be found. I was particularly reminded of Teruo Ishii’s work, particularly Blind Woman’s Curse, where ghoulish visuals accompany rather morbid tales. The movie develops some regularly dark ideas throughout, and its tendency to bring about bloody and disgusting violence only helps to reinforce these rather bleak moments. In one of the most vicious scenes of the film, we watch as Ohyaku herself is strung up by her hair (which produces bleeding from her scalp) as her lover is decapitated right in front of her eyes. The violence is brutal, but it is handled in a way that doesn’t come across as fun or silly like it does in something like the Lone Wolf and Cub series. This is a movie that shows the stark and brutal violence from the feudal period, without any form of sugar coating.