A convict is executed via electric chair for a murder he did not commit n later the prison is closed. The dead convict's soul returns from the afterlife to take revenge but goes on a killing spree when the prison is reopened after thirty years.Written by
Love Will Be Hurrying to You
Written by Margaret Connell and Melissa Connell See more »
Rather Unique Haunted Film
*** (out of 4)
A rundown prison is about to re-open after twenty-years as Warden Sharpe (Lane Smith) plans to use the 300 new inmates to clean the place up and get it into working shape. One of the inmates (Viggo Mortensen) helps break down a sealed execution room, which unleashes the spirit of a previously killed convict and soon strange murders are happening throughout the prison.
PRISON is a film I skipped for over two decades because I thought the story just sounded downright stupid. There's certainly egg on my face because while the story is lacking and there are some major flaws here and there, for the most part this is a pretty well-made film that manages to have some very good performance and a terrific atmosphere. A lot of credit has to go to director Renny Harlin who made this just before A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 4 and three years before breaking into the mainstream with DIE HARD 2.
What works so well with this movie is the atmosphere created by the director. The rundown prison makes for a wonderful setting and I thought the entire thing had a rather authentic feel. Just watching the film you could really feel yourself inside these prison walls thanks in large part to the atmosphere, which is perfectly captured by some very good cinematography. The cinematography also works extremely well during the murder scenes where all sorts of crazy stuff is usually happening. The death sequences here are original to say the least, although they're certainly a lot different than the type horror fans were wanting to see during this period.
Speaking of which, it's easy to see why PRISON didn't get too much love when it was originally released. Released during the era of slashers, I'm not sure how many people wanted to see a haunted prison movie and especially one that didn't feature that many gory deaths. What death scenes are here are quite unique but I'm sure most people were wanting Jason and Freddy. Not some invisible killer. As much as I enjoyed the majority of the film, there are still some problems including the story that really doesn't add up to much. Another problem is that the 102-minute running time starts to drag a bit towards the end.
Another good thing working for the film are its performances with Smith being extremely good in his role as the warden. I thought he did a very good job and delivered an intense performance, which is going to remind many of the one Tommy Lee Jones gave in NATURAL BORN KILLERS several years later. Mortensen also does a very good job leading the film and it's easy to see even here that he was destined to become a strong actor. Chelsea Field is good in the role of a social worker and supporting players Tom Everett, Ivan Kane and Lincoln Kilpatrick also turn in good work.
PRISON is quite original when you think about it, although there are some flaws here that keep it from being much better. People who overlooked the film back in the day certainly deserve to give it a shot.
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