Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Review - Fortress (1992 - Dir. Stuart Gordon)

I originally bought this to be part of the 80s Prison Season. Then I saw when it was made. Grande pantaloons. Never mind, I'll review it anyway.

Made by Stuart Gordon in the time between Re-Animator and the career killing Space Truckers when the studios trusted him with bigger budgets. The budget can mostly be seen in the look of the fantastic Fortress prison. There is a sense of scale and verticality that is not seen in other prison films. 

Death is always close by: either by falling off a retractable bridge, another inmate pushing you into the laser bars on the cells or death by Intestinator. Ah, the Intestinator. Virtually the only reason for the film's existence. The Intestinator is implanted into the inmates when they first enter the Fortress. If you cross a yellow line you get pain. Cross a red line and your intestines suddenly appear on the wrong side of your skin accompanied by a loud bang. Very funny.

I've never been that keen on Christopher Lambert (Highlander)  and I'm still not after this film. He's a bit of a personality bypass. Jeffrey Combs (Re-Animator, Castle Freak), meanwhile, is great as D-Day. Looking like a male version of Professor Twelawney, he draws you into the film's world with his mechanical tinkerings. You really don't want him to die. I'm not telling you whether he does or doesn't. Kurtwood Smith is fairly creepy as the Prison Director, Poe. Not as good as his top sweary performance in Robocop, but not too bad.
Stuart Gordon knows how to make a fun film and he probably should have gone on to greater things, but without Space Truckers we wouldn't have had Dagon. Which would have been a shame.

If you like this you could also try:
Screamers, Nemesis, Escape From New York, The Hidden.

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