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15 out of 20 people found the following review useful:

Awful Screenplay

Author: Claudio Carvalho from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
5 February 2008

While opening the abandoned south wing of the Blackgate Prison to receive three hundred new inmates, one security guard and one prisoner enters in the furnace room. In the evening, the guard commits suicide and later the inmate is found dead in his cell in weird circumstances. Detective Michael Turner (Michael Paré) investigates the suicide case and he notes that the guard had just lost two fingers. He drives to the prison, where he discloses an uncanny event in the furnace room.

"Furnace" is a lame movie with an awful screenplay that does not develop well the characters or the situations, which are absolutely disconnected, senseless and without explanation. The conclusion is terrible, with many people dying (security guards, coroner, prisoners etc.) and the only action is sealing again the wing of the prison without any further consequence. My vote is four.

Title (Brazil): "A Fornalha" ("The Furnace")

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12 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

William Butler Does Not a Great Director Make

Author: gavin6942 from United States
24 March 2008

Inmates at the local prison are dying horribly. The local police detective is drawn in to the case after one of the security guards dies (shoots himself) upon going home. Can he, with the help of the prison psychologist, find out what is causing these nasty deaths? And what is in the furnace? I was a bit excited to receive this film. Tom Sizemore? Disposable but fun. Danny Trejo? I'll take him (even though his role here is small and forgettable). I was even more interested because of the involvement of director William Butler, whom I had previously interviewed. To put it lightly, we didn't get along as well as I would have liked. And I really wanted to like his film... but it's not good. I can sum it up in one word: bland. It's the visual equivalent of munching on cardboard. It's slow, the characters are uninteresting and Michael Pare is such a boring lead that I couldn't care about him (and cared even less when he gave his clichéd speech about his lost family).

The film also suffers from a serious woman problem. Let's be frank: when you set a film up with some gorgeous women, throw in a sex scene and label the movie "unrated", people expect to see some skin. Don't get your hopes up. The sex scene has a strategically-placed candle, so you get nothing. And then, one is left to wonder if the main character is blind: he keeps blowing off the smoking hot redhead CSI woman who is interested in him and instead pursues the mediocre psychologist. I speak for every red-blooded male: more screen time for hot women, less screen time for average women. Thank you.

There's a "bad twist" later on. Actually, I don't know if it's a twist or not, but we're given information we should already have known. So, it's either a bad twist or they are insulting our memories and intelligence. As well as our patience, since I suspect many people didn't make it to the end.

The best part of this movie was the special effect used to show the "ghosts". Now, I don't really understand what the deal is with the ghosts... they seem to be unlimited in their travel ability rather than attached to the prison. But nevermind that. The visuals were really cool. They could have been the same old CGI that every other movie uses and frustrates me, but it was something new: a black and white "television static" effect. It was legitimately creepy. So, effects department, my hat's off to you.

This film is avoidable. It's slow, not well-acted (aside from Ja Rule, surprisingly) and adds nothing new to the history of horror. Perhaps with a second viewing I could appreciate it better, but it seems that they took a weak story and stretched it out into a weaker film. You're better off renting just about anything else.

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7 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

Goodbye Gorno! Hello Old Universal Horror!!!!!!!!

Author: leatherfacepartydown from United States
15 February 2008

A maximum security prison can be looked at as the ultimate house of evil, as it occupies some of the most sadistic criminals. Its walls are terrifying, its gates ensure that no evil can get out. In the case of FURNACE however, a force within the confines of the eerie Black Gate Prison reveal a darker evil than the most extremely violent offenders incarcerated.

FURNACE, the latest film by William Butler (MADHOUSE), opens with a prison guard who commits suicide after coming home from a shift at the Black Gate Prison. Homicide detective Michael Turner (Michael Pare) is assigned the case and quickly discovers something odd. The guard had two fingers severed and bandaged. When an inmate is found dead (the last one who saw the guard alive), he decides to go to the prison to investigate where he runs into his old partner Frank Miller (Tom Sizemore), now a drug addicted, corrupt prison guard. Miller is leading an excursion into the darkest reaches of the prison, where a few inmates (Danny Trejo and rapper Ja Rule) are taking part in. As Miller learns more about the prison, he teams up with the prison psychiatrist (Jenny McShane) to find that spirit from within the prison has returned to extract vengeance on the guards and inmates inside the prison.

FURNACE is the second film directed by William Butler and he does a very good job at setting the film's atmosphere, slowly building tension to the story. The film makes excellent use of its primary location, a Tennessee State Prison (and it does look great on screen). At a scant 85 minutes, the film runs at a brisk pace. Butler, a veteran of horror, definitely knows the genre well and he provides some solid chills here. The film's final act reveals the mystery of the furnace and while it provides the film's more extreme moments, it does fall into territory we've seen before. I also didn't feel the need for things to be explained because the visuals alone were enough to tell the story (Butler is very good with visuals). The dialogue is a little cringe worthy at times in moments of drama and in back story, but what separates this from others is that Butler did assemble a really fine cast for this film.

The ageless Michael Pare, who I've always liked, is fine as Turner, the dedicated detective with a tragic past. It's fit for him and it's good to see him still able to carry a film. He's always been reliable to give a decent performance. I've said before that I've admired Tom Sizemore as an actor and he delivers another good performance as Miller, the film's antagonist. Mirroring his harrowing off screen life, to see Miller as a man fallen on hard times dealing drugs did make it feel uncomfortable to watch at times, but Sizemore delivers it all with a fiery demeanor. Danny Trejo, an ex-convict, mainly has an extended cameo as Fury, and does his scenes well. Ja Rule is surprisingly good as a convict who warns Turner of the evil within the furnace of the prison. Kelly Stables of THE RING is fun as a coroner who has a friendship with Turner (though the mention of a cup of coffee after every exchange did get a little tedious). Jenny McShane is OK in her role as the prison psychiatrist, but the character does seem a little out of place with the rest of the film.

The special effects are interesting in this film, with lots of digital effects (a surprise considering Butler's career as a special effects artist) which are good and effective in showing the ghosts inside the prison but the practical effects are very good here. I wouldn't say the film is extremely bloody or gory, but there are some nasty effects which combined with some good use of lighting make for some very scary moments.

The DVD contains some alternate scenes which doesn't offer anything new to the story and were wisely cut out, but there are some entertaining interviews with Ja Rule, Danny Trejo, and Tom Sizemore. Sizemore in particular shows his unpredictable behavior with some very funny moments.

In all, FURNACE is an enjoyable movie, a throwback in a sense with some fine performances. With this film and MADHOUSE, William Butler is proving to be a modern day Roger Corman in delivering on a small budget with some familiar yet enjoyable fare. If there's one thing, Butler does respect and love horror, and it shows in his work.

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13 out of 22 people found the following review useful:

Not a total waste of time...

Author: Nightmare-Maker ( from United Kingdom, Colchester.
17 December 2007

After just viewing the DVD of THE FURNACE...UNRATED, I suppose I got what I expected - not a whole lot to shout about, but not a complete waste of an hour and a half.

It's got a fairly well known cast, mainly made up of C Listers, Danny Trejo, Tom Sizemore, Michael Pare...and Ja 'Jeffrey Atkins' Rule, where the hell did they drag him up from! (he even has his mug slapped smack bang on the centre of the cover - errr!) - To be fair the acting was OK, could have been a total disaster.

The film has a fairly good atmosphere, just don't expect THE EXORCIST type atmosphere - aim more at the more recent Ghost movies like THE RING. And yet again, what is with this UNRATED tag they keep putting on the covers, there's nothing here that would'nt have been in an 'R' rated version.

I must just finish by saying the make-up effects guys, have done a great job - the burns and gore are actually pretty realistic, just hoped for a bit more on that front.

My advice...whatever you do DO NOT buy this film, unless it's really cheap, give it a rent or wait for Cable/Satellite.

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All seen before, but still watchable...

Author: Rabbit-Reviews from Åland Islands
12 March 2012

If you like horror movies, here's a good warm-up flick Furnace. It is a mish mash of different ideas and takes on the same things that we have seen in so many other movies. Lets start with the setting, an old prison (wow how imaginative, at least it's not an old hospital, and then continue with the haunting story, a troubled detective and all we need know are some twists in the story that I will leave for you. That being said the movie itself is watchable, that old abandoned section of the prison really looks spooky and the furnace itself is scary as hell. There is that eerie vibe that anything can jump out at any given time, and this is the thing that made the movie good. Actors were mostly C list, with a few exceptions (Tom Sizemore, Michael Paré and Danny Trejo are B's) and they've done their job accordingly.

After a series of strange and mysterious deaths in a maximum security penitentiary Blackgate(what an appropriate name) Detective Michael Turner is called to investigate the case. Although they were attributed to drugs by a Blackgate psychiatrist Dr. Ashley Carter, he senses that something is very wrong. And that feeling increases as he finds out that a recently opened prison block was closed for fifty years because the previous warden was murdered there. It seems that that prison block has a secret that just wants to be discovered and it does not care who is in its path… Check out my review site Rabbit-Reviews for movies that are worth watching, Rabbit out...

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The gap between aspiration and execution

Author: Neil Welch from United Kingdom
4 June 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is an interesting movie.

To start off with, let me say that the cookie-cutter plot - essentially this is about mysterious deaths taking place in a haunted prison - is poorly executed, the script is not very good (with masses of unresolved plot points, inconsistencies etc.) and cast of largely unknown actors contain some individuals who are not very good.

And then it turns out to be made by someone who clearly believes he is making a movie which is about ten grades of quality above its actual level. This thing is well made, with a sense of visual style, special effects which are clearly low budget but nonetheless effective.

Unfortunately, it is fatally hobbled by the lacklustre source material. No matter how good the stitching, a sow's ear remains a sow's ear, but it remains interesting watching the disparity between the rubbishy material and the aspiration to make it into something better than it is.

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FURNACE proves that even real actors need a decent script.

Author: cybersleuth58 from United States
26 August 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Some of this contains descriptions that could serve as spoilers... So be warned...

Michael Pare, Danny Trejo, and Tom Sizemore are not exactly unknowns! So how could it be that bad??? Furnace is a movie which proves that even with talented actors a movie can be awful!

There are so many elements that make this movie terrible. The lines are delivered poorly. There was no attempt to research the material; too much of it was completely ridiculous. For example, when an inmate is brought up from the furnace area speaking nonsense, the "doctor" orders "20 cc's of Haloperidol"! What???? Do you mean mgs?? Michael Pare's character makes some stupid comment to the "doctor" about having a posh practice in the suburbs to which she responds something equally as stupid about not "learning about the depths of the mind from sexually repressed housewives". The script is full gems like that! I could not figure out if the "Hot CSI girl" (aka coroner) was supposed to be the Medical Examiner or a crime scene tech...

Unreality takes this movie to the point of being farcical. The prisoners all get to be one to a cell. (No overcrowding here)! There was also no racial tension... The Hispanics hang with the blacks and the whites. The doctor chalks up a lot to "narcotics" but apparently no one even thinks to pull urines on the prisoners or the guards. In fact, no one at the prison impresses the viewer as being particularly competent.

I got so bored after about 30 minutes that I found myself checking my email. Because of the complete lack of character development there is no desire to see them resolve the conflicts presented by the... errr.... plot, and I use that term loosely.

This was so far fetched that it felt like something a kid might have written. Don't waste your time with this one... Unless of course you've come out of surgery and have been given such good drugs that you don't care ...

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Average ghost story in the vein of The Ring.

Author: Paul Andrews ( from UK
17 February 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Furnace starts as Blackgate Prison guard Joey Robbins (Paul Wall) kills himself at home, his wife tells detective Michael Turner (Michael Paré) that there was no reason for her husband to commit suicide. Then later that night a prisoner named Jamison (Taylor Kinney) seemingly also commits suicide at Blackgate, detective Turner feels the two cases are linked somehow & when a third inmate is also found dead Turner is convinced something is going on. Turner befriends & enlists the help of Blackgate psychiatrist Dr. Ashley Carter (Jenny McShane) who is sure that illegal drugs are to blame but as Turner investigates the three apparent suicides the one connecting factor is a recently reopened cell block that has been bricked up for fifty years after the previous warden was murdered there, Turner discovers the dark past of the cell block has a very real present day effect as vengeful spirits seek revenge...

Co-written, co-produced & directed by William Butler this feels like a fairly standard rip-off of The Ring (2002) as the vengeful spirit of a young girl is awakened & seeks some sort of revenge or some wrong that needs righting, as such I suppose it's OK but nothing memorable & there are better examples out there. The plot is fairly standard stuff but the prison setting is quite cool & one underused in the horror genre, the actual revelations at the end are forgettable & don't seem to have much thought put into them. There are also various plot ideas that go nowhere, Tom Sizemore's character in particular is just totally forgotten about, the prison riot is never resolved & there's no real reason given as to why the ghost makes people commit suicide rather than just kill them. The character's are alright & they are fleshed out a little (although it's never made clear why Turner & Miller dislike each other so much), at 80 odd minutes in length it's not too long & while it's not the most incident packed film ever there's just about enough going on to sustain ones attention.

Text at the beginning of Furnace claims it was 'Inspired by Actual Eevnts' which I found hard to believe. There seems to be comic book references aplenty here, the two main characters called Frank Miller & Michael Turner are both real life comic book artist's & Blackgate Prison is the name of the prison used in the DC comic books including Batman. Although quite well made it's not that scary & the ghost scenes are a bit dull, the usual slightly pale looking girl who moves in strange ways as well as a burned man who are typical ghost fair. There's very little gore, there's a bit of blood, a couple of severed fingers & nothing else.

The IMDb reckons Furnace had a budget of about $3,000,000 which sounds like a lot of money to me, the production values are good but bland. Filmed in the old Tennesse State Prison apparently which explains why there's only about ten inmates. The acting is alright, rapper Ja Rule has a cameo while Tom Sizemore probably filmed his footage in a couple of days.

Furnace is an OK time waster, it's the sort of Asian ghost story that has been done to death & the sort of story you can't do much with & Furnace doesn't even try. I've seen worse but I've seen better too.

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1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Good, but we've seen it all before.

Author: Prolox from Canada
9 June 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Actor turned director WILLIAM BUTLER helms this okay, but none to original or arresting horror thriller. A series of weird deaths at a prison follows the discovery of a hidden corridor of cells & a furnace where those who discover it, soon wind up in the morgue with the help of a psychiatrist, a detective attempts to get to the bottom of it all & discovers a chilling past & murderous ghosts attempting to make sure it's terrifying past remains a secret. As an all around horror buff & film critic, I have seen a few of William Butlers films as an actor (Ghoulies 2/Friday The 13th Part 7/Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3/Night of the Living Dead 90') so if anyone could make a horror film I figured it would be Will, after receiving a horrible bashing at the hands of most horror buffs over the okay, but somewhat mediocre RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD PARTS 4 & 5, (His scripts were tampered with by other writers who didn't know a lick about the RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD franchise & it's rules) I felt sorry for him & figured William might redeem himself with this horror item & while it does have a few creepy moments, is excellently directed & strongly acted & well written with many twists & turns in it's script, it overall remains pretty mediocre fare, to start with the film is none to original when it comes to story (but then what is these days?) & the writers add nothing new to help separate it from films like PRISON & even though their not set at prisons, films like BOO & THE SICK HOUSE etc. in fact the film almost shares the same plot twists as those & feels overlong despite an 85 minute running time. Now don't get me wrong, FURNACE is not a terrible film, I myself wanted to like it I really did, but I just couldn't get into it, maybe next time. Still I look forward to future William Butler films whether in acting or directing.

** stars

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6 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

Very Horrifying - Moody and Dark!

Author: carolyn-carter50 from United States
19 December 2007

My boyfriend and I rented this yesterday. I loved it! Him not as much as me but overall the film was very scary and dark. The little girl in the film who had been burned badly was really hard to look at though the make up was so painfully created and realistic! I don't know many of the actors but over was scared to death! I highly recommend.

The story stakes place in a dilapidated old prison where the ghost of a murdered young girl wanders the hall in search of her killer. Its not until the ending that you realize that her killer is the last person you expected. It's a pretty twisted premise so I don't recommend it for the kiddies!

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