With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013
With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

Monday, January 27, 2014


Switchblade Pictures
Hellhole: Inmate 611 / Joshû 611: onna-tachi no yakata
Directed by Riichi Katsu
Japan, 2007, 75 minutes

The world of women-in-prison is a time-honored guilty pleasure genre. Hellhole: Inmate 611 (a.k.a. Female Prisoner 611: Hell Hole), which was released by Switchblade Pictures on DVD in November, 2013, unfortunately is not a very good addition. 

Saya Mizushima (Akira Kiuchi) is a celebrity who has been sentenced to prison for assault. She had been seeing Ando Yuya (Kentaro Nakakura), the handsome, wealthy young CEO of CyberSector, an IT company. After discovering that he was also getting it on with Takako Sawaguchi (Minami Aoyama) of CyberSector's accounting department, Sayaka lost it and attacked both of them.

Assigned  prison number 611, she refuses to knuckle under to the dictates of Keiko Mikawa (Jaguar Yokota), the female warden and a real bitch. This leads to a lengthy period in solitary after which she is assigned to a cell with four other female prisoners. One of them is Reiko Wada (Harumi Nemoto). She and Saya had at one time been members of "The Ladies," a girl gang. Reiko also had some dirt on one of the male wardens, which she had used to blackmail him into insurinng the parole of another prisoner.

There are a few scenes showing tits and ass. One is the ludicrous "can-can" performed by a new inmate in which she is naked and jumps from one leg to another, the intent being to get anything hidden in her vagina to fall out, he butt already having been subject to a visual search using a flashlight. Another sex scene features simulated intercourse between one of the female prisoners and a male guard.

Sadly, there are no lesbian encounters. Saya, it should be noted, is not one of the prisoners who gets naked. Neither does Kei Mizutani, the Queen of the Japanese B-movies in the '90s, who here plays a rather benign prison guard. It's been awhile since I'd seen her in a movie and I was looking forward to it. However, I was rather disappointed: she didn't have much to do and would probably have been better utilized as the dastardly prison warden played by Yokota.

In fact disappointing is the word that best describes my overall reaction to this film. I don't expect a helluva lot in terms of story, dialogue or acting in sexploitation fare such as this, but even so Hellhole: Inmate 661 was quite a letdown. Even the nudity was rather ho-hum.

The only menu selections on the DVD are for playing the movie or selecting the special features, which are limited to the Japanese Trailer, trailers of other titles available from Switchblade Pictures and the disc credits for Hellhole: Inmate 611. Thus there is no "Setup" option, although the English subtitles can be toggled on and off using the appropriate button on your remote or computer DVD player.

There seems to have been a manufacturing problem in mastering the video. The aspect ratio indicated  on the DVD box is "LB 4:3" but when inserted in various players, the default 4:3 image was squished on the sides, making it necessary to select an aspect ratio such as "Full" or "Wide Zoom," depending on the player and TV input. (I tried it on four players, including a PS3, an older Panasonic DVD player, and my relatively new iMac and found this to be the case on all of them.) On my Sony portable DVD, for example, I had to select the "Full" vs. the "Normal" LCD aspect feature. I can't recall ever encountering this type of annoying problem before; fortunately, experimenting with the various aspect ratio settings was a fairly quick and easy work-around.

ACF Rating: 1 out of 4 stars; poor, not recommended. Switchblade Pictures has put out some decent to very good offerings, but sadly this is not one of them.