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Inspired by one of my absolute favourite films, the bruising, brilliant 1972 prison vengeance tale by Shunya Itō. Meiko Kaji plays Nami Matsushima, or as she is dubbed, SASORI – a wronged woman betrayed and left to rot in jail by a sleazy cop on the take, targetted by sadistic guards and malicious inmates alike yet persevering with a piercing gaze that demonstrates her indomitable will to exact her revenge.
Truly one of the stand-out exploitation films of its era, or indeed any era, the film inspired 3 direct sequels with Meiko Kaji in the lead (which I intend to create further designs for), a subsequent two-film 1970s run with Ryôko Ema and Yôko Natsuki attempting to take over the mantle, and a slew of later remakes, reboots and ripoffs. Meiko Kaji, at the time gaining renown for her run in the Stray Cat Rock series, balked at studio Nikkatsu’s drift towards ever more graphic sexual content and jumped ship for Toei Studios to take the lead and sing the exquisite theme song for the film. And while this first entry into the Kaji quadrilogy doesn’t skimp on the exploitative elements of the pinku genre, it wields them in a pointedly, angrily, defying any male-gaze viewer to treat the scenes as mere eye candy before thrusting a shard of blood-splattered glass right through their cornea.
The poster was created by stitching multiple screenshots, which were whittled down from dozens taken from throughout the running time, from the film together after running each through various processes to achieve the aged, grainy riso printing style. The middle section, for example, drops a cropped-out image of Nami into an unrelated crowd scene, which was then superimposed over a shot of a prison escape later in the film, with a slew of clone stamps and texture layering to try to hide the seams. Missing elements (such as arms or the tops of peoples heads), or areas where props or background obscured or confused the image, were either painted in or carefully removed manually. Areas of light and shade were added to ensure clarity using a variety of brushes, often a pixel or two wide, to avoid affecting the riso effect. The overall design idea came about extremely quickly during a slow-moving day at work, as you can see from this extremely comprehensive sketch. During the process, a simplification of the design and colour scheme emerged, and I found it more interesting to work under these restrictions – just the dark blue and white of the prison uniforms, and the yellow lettering and light blue background of the original release poster logo.
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2 thoughts on “Female Prisoner 701: Scorpion”