Saturday, 18 June 2011

Review - Prison (1988 - Dir. Renny Harlin)

Kicking off our 80s Prison Season is a late eighties prison film starring Lane Smith (Lois & Clark, V) as a prison warden gone bad and Viggo Mortenson (Lord of the Rings) as one of the prisoners. It is watchable rubbish and good for a late Friday night horror film.

Prison doesn’t actually contain enough prison action for my liking. Most of the usual prison film features are there but seem strangely muted. Lane Smith as the warden is miscast and never really convinces; he was far better suited to his role in the original V. Chelsea Field (Dust Devil), as the love interest, is very shouty at times. Good for music, bad for films. Viggo Mortenson doesn’t really have a lot to do and never becomes much of a hero.

What makes it watchable then? There are some half decent deaths with okay effects (all pre-CGI). The introduction of a supernatural element to the proceedings brings some extra effects spice with electricity bolts and some lively razor wire that wraps itself around a guard in true Evil Dead style. Also, you get to play the ‘He’s a goner’ game throughout the film, which is always a treat. It doesn’t take itself too seriously and is cheap and cheerful, but there are better prison films to come.

If you like this you could also try:
Castle Freak, Silent Hill, Shocker.

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