Directed by: Shunya Ito
Starring: Meiko Kaji, Mikio Narita, Yayoi Watanabe

The third (and last of the franchise to be directed by Ito) FEMALE PRISONER film feels a lot different to both of its predecessors. In fact apart from a single extended sequence at the film's end, the setting is taken outside of prison walls and into the wide world beyond. But in a way the outside world seems like its own penitentiary.

Matsu has escaped prison once again and is trying her best to settle into whatever kind of 'normal' life she can. The film opens with a brilliant sequence (probably the best opening for any of the films so far) in which Scorpion is seated in a subway car trying her best to blend in. Two police officers recognize her and try to detain her. One officer manages to get a handcuff around her wrist (the other cuff around his own) but she manages to slip out the door of the train just as it is closing. The only way to escape is for her to cut off the officer's arm which she does so swiftly just in time for the opening credits in a wonderful sequence showing her running through the busy streets with a disembodied arm swinging from her wrist.
A new character is also introduced in this third film, a distraught young woman named Yuki (who coincidentally is played by Yayoi Watanabe who played Yuki in the original film) who sells her body in order to provide for herself and her mentally retarded brother. She also gives up her body for her own brother to satisfy his sexual desires.

The two women meet in a cemetery and strike up a strange kind of mutual friendship most likely fuelled by their similar predicaments. Both women are trapped in their own prisons and have next to no opportunity at living a normal life. But while Matsu responds to scenarios with her patented violent vengeance Yuki is seemingly cursed with getting fucked over and over again. Her only real means of escape is the terrible thought of killing her very own brother.

Although BEAST STABLE is still firmly an exploitation flick it is quite a bit more tame than the previous two films although it does include incest, torture, forced abortion and some nudity. And as usual no woman can take more than 5 steps outside without being accosted and having her clothes ripped off. As for the story itself it is fairly well told but at times does feel a little disjointed especially when it comes to the ending which was awesome in itself but ultimately felt almost tacked on.

Shunya Ito is a masterful director and it's a shame that over a 40 year career he has only directed around 14 films, and more of a shame that BEAST STABLE marked the end of his involvement in this series. But to be honest he chose a good time to end it because the way this film ends there is no need for any more sequels even though Meiko Kaji would later return to her role in the fourth film GRUDGE SONG.
BEAST STABLE is easily Ito's bleakest film in his trilogy which I found almost ironic since it is set in the 'free' world outside of prison. In one scene Kaji's character is even reduced to tears which is something I never would have expected. And although the symbolism from the previous movies is not quite so prevalent here there are some wonderful scenes - my favorite showing the lit matches drifting down into the dark depths of the sewer, a few at a time first and then eventually a downpour of them.

BEAST STABLE is a lot different from Ito's other FEMALE PRISONER movies and if you're looking for another WIP film then you may be sorely disappointed. However it is a great film in its own right and showcases some nice storytelling, more of Ito's unusual artful style and some decent acting. And of course once again Meiko Kaji plays the role of Scorpion to perfection.

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