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TRUE STORY OF A WOMAN IN JAIL: SEX...
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Reviewed by: Ammon Gilbert

Directed by: Koyu Ohara

Starring:
Kozue Hitomi
Seri Kaori
Hiromi Maya

Movie:  
star star star star
Extras:  
star star star star
Overall:  
star star star star
What's it about
We follow a group of women serving time in a woman’s Juvenile prison facility, as they endure inmate dynamics and all things that allegedly happen behind bars. While on the inside, they dream of their lives on the outside, forcing a few to contemplate the ultimate plan to escape.
Is it good movie?
Thanks to CAGED HEAT, the latter half of the 1970s and the early 1980s had an influx of Women in Prison movies, which is essentially a sexploitation film set in an all-women prison where anything goes. And while it’s an odd concept to run with that essentially feeds strictly off of male fantasies of what a women’s prison must be like (but is likely far from the truth), it became its own genre of film that reached far beyond U.S. cinema and into international territories, including Japan. Hence Koyu Ohara’s 1975 Women in Prison extravaganza, TRUE STORY OF A WOMAN IN JAIL: SEX HELL.

Released as part of an Erotic / Porno Film Collection, SEX HELL is your classic Women in Prison movie that follows the formula of CAGED HEAT (even its storyline is more or less the same), but exploits it even more (as if that were possible). Every clichéd happening of what goes on when a bunch of female criminals are locked up in one place takes place here: medical examinations, group bathing, girl-on-girl prison sex, sex with guards, cat fights, and every other degradation you could fathom. It’s exploitation at its finest and even goes overboard in its obsession with bodily functions, such as peeing, pooping, and menstrual cycles.

While I’m sure the film was hardcore for its time, this is erotica—not porn. There’s no full frontal nudity (from men or women), no beaver shots, no shots that confirm if the rug matches the carpet, no penetration or anything else that would classify it as porn. It could be closely compared to soft-core, but even soft-core shows a bush or two (hell, even CAGED HEAT showed a bush or two). That aside, there’s plenty of sex, plenty of nudity, and plenty of needlessly topless situations that keeps one’s interest for the full 72 minute run time. SEX HELL is full sexploitation that edges into some uncomfortable and not very fun situations, but that could just be the general Japanese handling of sex, where the women never really seem to be enjoying themselves and the men are always dirty old men. Not to say there’s a lot of rape going on here, but because they never appear to be having a good time while getting drilled, it sorta feels that way.

All that to say, for fans of the grindhouse, for fans of Women in Prison exploitation cinema, or simply sexploitation films (in general) from the ‘70s, SEX HELL is definitely for you. If you’re not really into any of those things, then… well, you’re not missing much by skipping this one.

Video / Audio
Video: Remastered and looking better than (I’m sure) it ever has, the film’s presented in 2.35:1 {16x9] widescreen. Crisp and clear, yes, but it also retains that grimy grindhouse look that’s just so gosh-darn appealing.

Audio: 2.0 Mono in Japanese (with English subtitles) is adequate… it is what it is.

The Extras
No extras, unless you count the little 2-pages of “linear notes”, which is essentially an excerpt from a book on Japanese Cinema by Jasper Sharp that sorta sheds light on the whole Japanese Grindhouse scene and the Women in Prison movies of the era.
Last Call
SEX HELL follows the formula set by CAGED HEAT to the heat, offering a true piece of exploitation in the genre of the Women in Prison movies that were huge in the ‘70s and ‘80s. For fans of this style of true grindhouse entertainment, and for those who don’t bat an eye at gallons soft-core nudity, SEX HELL is a flick worth checking out. That said, it’s a damn shame there weren’t any extra features on this DVD, as a collection of trailers from all the other exploitation films being released in this Nikkatsu Erotic Film Collection would have been perfect.
ARROW IN THE HEAD'S RATING SYSTEM
star star star star I'D BUTCHER MY FAMILY TO SEE THIS AGAIN
star star star HANG ME BUT I DUG IT A LOT
star star AN OK WAY TO KILL TWO HOURS
star JUST SLING AN ARROW IN MY HEAD AND LET ME DIE IN PEACE

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