Going back a few decades into Japanese delirium, Stray Cat Rock contains all five films in Nikkatsu’s series, an off-the-cuff cocktail of the fermenting youth scene stirred with various genre tropes and shaken with violence. Tightly packed into fewer than 90 minutes, each movie’s ramshackle action is interspersed with musical numbers set in nightclubs. All the films were made in 1970, with the final installment coming out in January 1971, so watching them all together feels like a concentrated if distorted funhouse-dispatch from the era’s social unrest.
With no continuing characters or plotlines, the films are unrelated except by style, themes, and stars: mainly Meiko Kaji forming the tough-girl image she’d perfect in Lady Snowblood and Female Convict Scorpion. Stray Cat Rock \is less essential than those but has the same appeal.