Review: Female Convict Scorpion: Beast Stable (1972)

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The third of five “Female Convict Scorpion (AKA Female Prisoner Scorpion)” films, and the last helmed by series director Shunya Ito, Best Stable takes our anti-heroine out of the prison yard and into the mean streets to fight for her life as an escaped convict.  Unfortunately, Beast Stable never rises above its mediocre script.

Nami Matsushima, played by the beautiful Meiko Kaji (Lady Snowblood, Stray Cat Rock), is on the run from the law after escaping from prison.  She ends up in the red light district, befriended by a prostitute with a brain-damaged brother who she locks away and has sex with (no, I’m not making this up).  Both women end up trapped by a local mistress from Scorpion’s prison days.  It’s a classic anti-hero against everyone else film, and the basic plot works.  There just isn’t enough of it.  In the first five minutes we see Scorpion saw a detective’s arm off and run down the street while still handcuffed to it, and we see a mongoloid screw his sister.  Still, it isn’t enough to make up for a general dearth of character and dialogue.

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Ito has a real eye for composition that elevates the material out of the gutter inhabited by its “pinky violence” subject matter.  It’s especially outstanding for the 1970s when film stocks were dull and zoom lenses were overused by most cinematographers.  In fact,  Beast Stable is a better example of articulate film making than most modern features.  Does that make it entertaining?  Well, no.  The script for this film is just too lean, with minutes upon minutes of no dialogue and no action.  Ito and his cinematographer (who isn’t credited on IMDB) try to make up for the lackluster screenplay visually, but there simply wasn’t enough yen in the budget to keep things interesting.

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Meiko Kaji is nice to look at, but she’s given very little to do here.  She hardly speaks at all.  It all makes me think that this film was rushed into production without a final shooting script.  Whatever the reason, the film drags along like a detective’s severed arm in a dog’s mouth.

If you love “pinky violence” flicks or just like the first two Scorpion films enough to be curious about what’s next, you may enjoy this.  For everyone else, Beast Stable is not recommended.