Female Convict Scorpion: Production Context, Gender Politics, and Cinematic Excesses in a Japanese Women-in-Prison Film Series

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Abstract

This article focuses on Female Convict Scorpion, a Japanese women-in-prison film series (1972-1973), which exemplifies studio-produced exploitation cinema. The series is influenced by the contemporaneous yakuza cycle and its anti-authoritarian social realist agenda. Produced during a time of rapid political-economic-social change in the country, the Female Convict Scorpion series combines exploitative content—the display of nudity, violence, and sensational subjects—with an underlying feminist sensibility, a mixture that embraces the ambiguities of commercial genre cinema. Through close textual analysis, this research explains the contradictions in this women-in-prison series by 1) providing evidence of the female gaze and the subversive narrative tropes, which reveals the feminist subtext in these films, and 2) examining the stylistic and narrative effects of cinematic excesses. This article, thus, re-evaluates these popular genre films as in a time capsule, documenting the significance of their expression of gender politics in 1970s Japan through the distinctive production context and presentation of cinematic excesses.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)88-108
Number of pages21
JournalNew Review of Film and Television Studies
Volume22
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2024

Keywords

  • women-in-prison films
  • gender politics
  • cinematic excesses
  • 1970s Japan
  • exploitation
  • feminist film theory

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