Female Prisoner: Caged! | Varied Celluloid

Female Prisoner: Caged!

Posted by Josh Samford On January - 3 - 2013

Female Prisoner: Caged! (1983)
Director: Masaru Konuma
Writers: Osamu Murakami
Starring: Mina Asami, Nami Matsukawa, Shigeru Muroi, and Ryoko Watanabe



The Plot: Masayo (Mina Asami) is a convict who continually tries to escape from prison. This has made her an idol to many of her other fellow convicts, but it has also made her the enemy of a ruthless girl gang who are under direct orders of the warden to persecute anyone that they deem unruly. The warden, along with her chief assistant guard, completely dominate this women’s prison with an iron fist, and they see Masayo as the leader of their rebellion. They do their best to try and set Masayo up, including an attempt to “feed” her to a group of savage rapists, but they can’t seem to get the best of this unruly woman. Will they manage to finally control Masayo by using external forces, or will Masayo ultimately prevail?


The Review
The world of Nikkatsu roman porno movies can be deliriously difficult to try and maneuver your way through. Such films are very broad in their subject matter and they certainly do cross over into multiple subgenres. Such is the case between violent pink, roman porno, and even general women-in-prison exploitation. This is the interesting dilemma we encounter when discussing Female Prisoner: Caged!. Considered to be a part of at least two out of three of the previously mentioned subgenres, viewers such as myself would be better suited to simply watch the movies and try to decipher their merit rather than putting too much emphasis on classifications. Female Prisoner: Caged is one of the few women-in-prison movies produced by Nikkatsu, and although the movie can be seen as a walking series of genre cliches, it does become notable for a few different reasons. Directed by genre stalwart Masaru Konuma, starring one of the biggest roman porno stars of the era Mina Asami, and being made at the end of the roman porno boom, the place that Caged! has in genre history might sometimes prove to be more interesting than the actual film itself.

Straight from the jump, audiences know that they can expect some genuine sleaziness with Female Prisoner. The movie actually begins with one of the most explicit scenes of masturbation that I can recall coming from the Japanese exploitation market during this era. Although no penetration or pubic hair is shown (for those of you who do not know, such things would be deemed illegal), the filmmakers still manage to titillate the audience by making this scene appear as “wet” as possible. This soaked scene of bodily fluids almost seems to defy human anatomy. Yet, this introduction only serves as a taste of what is to come. As any person who has ever seen a women-in-prison title will tell you, there are a certain number of genre cliches that are quite simply expected. There has to be a lesbian scene, there needs to be some violence/torture, and there needs to be plenty of showering. All of these scenes do of course make an appearance in Female Prisoner: Caged!, but Konuma and company do manage to take things to a slightly more perverse level. When the film reaches the point where we see a yard full of women on their knees begging for sex from a group of road workers, and their pleading is satiated by a man who proceeds to give three of the girls a golden shower, audiences should realize that this is a slightly different women-in-prison flick.

Indeed, this film is entirely about pushing the boundaries of what Konuma could get away with. I am hard pressed to find much else within the movie in terms of cinematic substance. This of course isn’t a knock against the film, afterall who goes to a women-in-prison movie expecting substance? Ultimately, viewers are instead left talking about how naughty the movie turns out to be. Naughty it is indeed, as Konuma manages to capture some pretty kinky imagery. Amongst these we have numerous masturbation sequences, priests committing rape, a cream pie, some bondage, and plenty of other sex acts. As Jasper Sharp points out in his interview on the Mondo Macabro DVD, at this point during the eighties, the adult video (AV) market was starting to become a big money maker and this had a dramatic effect on the softcore market. In the same way that studios such as Nikkatsu had to fight the independent pinku films originally, they entered a new battle with the growing popularity of hardcore porn. Female Prisoner: Caged! even goes so far as to include a scene of pixelated sex that is very reminiscent of the popular sex films that were being peddled at the time. At one point, where we get to see a stream of semen pouring down a woman’s leg post-coitus, it becomes apparent that Nikkatsu were certainly willing to dig into some taboo subject matter in order to garner an audience. For better or worse, the roman porno genre grew up during its short heyday, and “romance” wasn’t always on the table.

If you’re going to give the movie any kind of narrative credit, it has to be in the fact that this title doesn’t try to completely ape the many establishing elements that make up the women in prison genre. Granted, we have the showers, we have the rape, and we have the lesbian sex, but the movie does manage to deviate from expectation in many ways. For instance, there’s usually a sense of the “outside” within these films. Normally our leading lady is spending time in the joint because of something that her previous boyfriend did or caused, but in this go around, we don’t have any idea what these women did to ultimately wind up in jail. Instead, the question moves away from who they were in their former life, but instead everything revolves around the present. In doing this, the audience has their focus placed wholly on these characters. How they made it to this point is secondary only to the fact that they currently live in a hellish situation. Yet, due to this lack of contrast, hell starts to seem like what these characters survive in and know best. Even with the expectations of this nightmarish reality, nothing can prepare the audience for the bizarre and disturbing conclusion to the film.


The Conclusion
Although Female Prisoner: Caged! turns out to be a relative interesting piece of work, it is hardly genre-defining. An interesting film that is riddled with issues, I give it a three out of five. There is fun to be had here, but only for those who are really intrigued by Nikkatsu’s roman porno line or general Japanese exploitation.




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