New to Blu: Arrow Video - Female Convict Scorpion: Beast Stable (1973)
Beast Stable is the third film in the infamous Japanese exploitation Female Convict Scorpion series. It's part of a genre known as "Pinky Violence" which features sexy bad girls who don't take any guff from anyone. Most of these films rival Italian giallo flicks on the stylish violence scale and are chock full of scantily clad hot women with a tough side. Female Convict Scorpion is also considered a "women in prison" series as well, though Beast Stable takes place outside of the jailhouse for the most part.
Meiko Kaji (Lady Snowblood, Stray Cat Rock) reprises her role as the beautiful yet deadly Nami Matsushima, a woman who was wrongfully imprisoned in the first film in the series. She escapes and ends up entangled in the tribulations of a prostitute in the red light district and incurs the wrath of a maniacal former mistress from the prison. The plot in general is quite thin and not much is explained throughout the film. There isn't a lot of rhyme or reason why scenes transition from one to the next and it drags to a halt in the middle of the movie. While exploitation films in general usually don't have intricate plots, the two films previous to this one were much more coherent which leads me to believe that movie was most likely rushed.
Although the story is mediocre, director Shunya Itō's eye for framing and color saves this from being a complete mess. There are some incredibly stylish and cool shots and when the action does heat up, it's filmed in a visually appealing way. Meiko infuses the character of Nami with a savage grace that is otherworldly and switches between a wild-eyed manic and a calm and cool assassin at the drop of a hat. She is tall and slender and I love how she wears all black outfits that make her look like a shadowy vengeful spirit. There is definitely some sexual exploitation going on with the women in this film, but that is a trope in this genre of film so if that's not to your taste then it's advisable to skip these types of movies. I will say that Nami is a badass and all the men who perpetrate wrongs against the women in this film get their just desserts.
Arrow Video recently released a box set that contains all four of the Female Convict Scorpion films as well as some extras. I found the video quality to not be much better than previous releases, but it is nice to have all these films in one place. The packaging and cover art are gorgeous as well. Overall, it's a great set for fans of Toei's Pinky Violence series or revenge flicks.