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This is a work in progress attempting to catalog & review every Women in Prison film ever made.
Lina Romay Passes
Away at 57
Stunning brunette Lina Romay rates highly as one of the boldest, most sensuous and enticing actresses to appear with tremendous frequency in a large volume of European horror and exploitation features made from the early 1970s to the present day. Romay was born Rosa Maria Almirall on June 25, 1954, in Barcelona, Cataluna, Spain. Her cinematic pseudonym was taken from a singer/actress in mambo king Xavier Cugat's band in the 1940s. Following graduation from high school, Romay studied the arts, married actor/photographer Raymond Hardy (they later divorced) and began acting in stage productions.
Lina first met infamous and prolific maverick Spanish independent filmmaker Jess Franco in the early 1970s. Romay and Franco eventually became a couple. Although they have never officially tied the knot, Romay is Franco's common-law wife. Lina made her film debut as a gypsy girl in La maldición de Frankenstein (1972). She had small parts in a few other Franco films before playing more substantial lead and co-starring roles (she has acted in over 100 Franco films). Despite her lack of formal training, Lina nonetheless naturally projects an extremely brazen, earthy and uninhibited screen presence that's both alluring and captivating in equal measure. In fact, her open, unabashed and downright aggressive sexuality has even led to her willing and enthusiastic participation in explicit scenes in hardcore porno fare.
Lina's most memorable roles include the voracious Countess Irina Karlstein in Erotic Kill (1973), brutalized innocent Maria in the sensationally sleazy Barbed Wire Dolls (1976), vicious top con Juana in the similarly scuzzy Wanda, the Wicked Warden (1977), especially inspired in a dual part in Die Marquise von Sade (1976) and bawdy prostitute Marika in the gloomy Jack the Ripper (1976). Romay has posed for nude pictorials in such men's magazines as "Cinema X" and "Sex Stars System." In addition to acting, Lina also worked on a handful of films as a writer, director, producer and assistant editor. In real life Lina Romay was the total radical opposite of her wild and outrageous screen persona. On February 15th, 2002 at the age of 57, Lina lost her fight against cancer. She will be missed and always remembered at The Big Bust Out.
★★★½ NEW TRUE STORY OF
A WOMAN IN JAIL
Directed by Koyu Ohara
Cast: Hitomi Kozue, Yuri Yamashina, Hiroshi Chô, Yuki Minami, Asuka Miyazaki
A year after True Story of a Woman in Jail Continues (1975), Nikkatsu must of got wind that Toei was re-launching the Sassori series with New Female Prisoner #701 (1976) allowing director Koyu Ohara to be back in business with New True Story of a Woman in Jail (1976). Toei replaced Meiko Kaji as Sassori with Yumi Takigawa but Nikkatsu liked what they had going so even though the word “new” is in the title, actress Hitomi Kozue is back in the gray bar hotel. This time Nikkatsu had a secret weapon with Fumio Kônami screenwriter of the original Female Convict Scorpion 701 (1972) and Zero Woman: Red Handcuffs (1974). A frequent scribe for the legendary Kenji Fukasaku, Kônami knows the W.I.P. genre. We begin with a variation on Mayumi’s ever changing storyline. It’s a pink film, who’s going to notice, right? In this one the poor gal was courted by a warden and once they had finished the ol’ silk sheet dance, his yakuza girlfriend busts in and cracks a bottle over Mayumi’s pretty noggin. Then the duo ties her up real nice and forces her to watch them grind out their frustrations. Our heroine returns to set wrongs right with a Tanto knife. Slash! Slash! Time to throw her on the fur bus and roll opening credits! All the successful elements are rehashed from the first two episodes but this time the conflict is supplied by the sickie sadist running the joint.
Turn the kink knob up to eleven. We have a cackling prison commander who unleashes a giant electric tentacle on bound inmates so the Warden and Wardress can get into the mood for the horizontal bop. When inmates learn of their sexual shenanigans, poison is secretly place on their dildos to silence them forever. These freaks are downright unpleasant. To silence Mayumi they bring in the tattooed yakuza gal she cut up. This leads to catfights, knife fights, explosions and a riot.
The third time is a charm because it all works. Screenwriters Fumio Kônami & Mikio Matsushita incorporate tons of Christian imagery giving the proceedings a much needed shot in the arm of juxtaposed weirdness. The secret S&M chamber is behind the church alter, statues of the virgin Mary are used as dildos, a faction of inmates walk around singing religious hymns and women go down on women striking the Jesus Christ pose. One inspired scene pokes fun at Japanese censors by having the inmates draw nude people and take turns adding pubic hair with crayons. They rub the pieces of paper together and then dump a load of glue on them simulating a money shot. Not a big deal to the Western raised raincoat porn crowd but pretty ballsy of the Japanese.
The biggest welcome change is the entire action takes place in the prison! It’s full throttle big, bold and brassy too. The steamy bathhouse fight between Mayumi and the Yakuza broad is visually exciting and somewhat energetic for a change. My only complaint is it should have been extended. With five minutes left in the film, just when you think it’s a pee pee free event, a gaggle of inmates urinate on Mr. Tentacle shlong. Damn! I guess Ohara had to top himself. Was that in the script? Who knows? While not in the league of the Sasori series, for a softcore knock off this is by far the best. Undoubtedly this was due to the screenwriting contributions from Kônami. The series might have been over but Nikkatsu and Koyu Ohara were not done cashing in. He returned with Female Convict 101: Sucks (1977). One side note, these films also go by the name of True Story of a Woman Condemned.