26 user 18 critic

Ghosts... of the Civil Dead (1988)

Prison gangs clash in a high-tech security jail where there are no rules.


2 wins & 8 nominations. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Mike Bishop ...
David Yale
Chris DeRose ...
Kevin Mackey ...
Dave Mason ...
Bogdan Koca ...
Freddo Dierck ...
Vincent Gil ...
M.E. Duncan ...
Junkie 1
Nick Seferi ...
Junkie 2
Tony Clark ...
Yilmaz Tuhan ...
Food King
Ian Mortimer ...
Mick King ...
Edwin Neal


The inmates and guards of a modern, clean and efficient maximum security wing are slowly and increasingly brutalised until they erupt in violence. Dark and macabre, and based in truth, the story is told in a traditional dramatic style combined with telephone interviews and narration. Written by alpha sixty <alpha60@alphaville.apana.org.au>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Crime | Drama


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Release Date:

1 June 1989 (Australia)  »

Also Known As:

Ghosts... of the Civil Dead - avoimien ovien päivä helvetissä  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


Nick Cave used his experience in local lock up to help write the film, he overheard another inmate say to the police guard "Come here so I can spit in your eye!!" See more »


Maynard: Officer, come here. I wanna spit in your fucking eye!
See more »


References Exterminator 2 (1984) See more »


Performed by Alan Parker
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User Reviews

18 December 2003 | by (Nowhere Interesting) – See all my reviews

This is one of those films that come along very infrequently. It's incredibly powerful and profoundly disturbing. It has a clear message, but never preaches. It is very involved, yet oddly distant. And it is the most extreme, unpolished depiction of prison life that you will ever see, should you be lucky enough to find it.

Co-written by acclaimed singer/songwriter/musician/novelist Nick Cave, this film carries his mark. It is every bit as dark, gritty, chaotic, and brutal as his music (or his novel, the cult favorite "And the Ass Saw the Angel"). The story itself is quite loosely plotted, but extremely layered. It's hard to take it all in with one viewing...and each repeat viewing is an experience unto itself.

Cave also plays a pivotal role in "Ghosts" as Maynard, an unconscionable psychotic whose violent raving pushes the already worsening conditions of the prison to full-scale chaos. Cave's performance is searing, bringing every bit of rage and hatred and bile to the surface...and his entrance into the film is truly unforgettable.

The film-making here is top-notch, from a cinematic point of view. It certainly wouldn't meet Hollywood's "standards," but I mean that as an extreme compliment. The cold, distant cinematography sometimes brings to mind Kubrick's film version of "A Clockwork Orange," and the way the brutality is handled visually makes "ACO" look like "Bambi" by comparison.

Certainly, this is one film that you should not miss. It is, unfortunately, quite rare...but it can be found if one looks hard enough. I will stress quite strongly, however, that this film is NOT for everyone...but for those with strong stomachs and an appreciation of challenging cinema, this is a definite must-see.

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