» Furnace (2007, USA)

Furnace - Clay Steakley as Scags, his hands melting on the supernaturally heated bars of his cell

Why does a supernatural being, capable of passing through walls and furiously intent on avenging past horrors, wait until someone opens up its resting place before wreaking havoc on the world?  You won’t find the answer here. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on March 28th, 2015 at 8:57 pm. Updated on March 28th, 2015 at 9:19 pm.

» Zombie Death House (1988, USA)

Zombie Death House - Earl Johnson as Arthur Adams holding the head of Head Guard Raker (Howard George)

To say that this is the best prison zombie movie I’ve seen is not saying much. But it is, even if it doesn’t contain any zombies. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on March 16th, 2015 at 7:35 pm. Updated on March 16th, 2015 at 7:35 pm.

» Night Train (2007, China)

Night Train - Liu Dan as Wu Hongyan, supporting collapsed prisoner Zhang Lingling (Meng Haiyan) in court

This, I think, is the first movie I’ve put on this site that has absolutely nothing to do with prisons… although it does include a prisoner or two. I made the mistake, you see, of reading other reviews that suggested that it is about a prison guard who embarks on a relationship with a man who is the bereaved partner of a woman in whose execution she played a part. Not quite. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on March 9th, 2015 at 9:24 am. Updated on March 9th, 2015 at 9:24 am.

» Gaolbreak (1962, UK)

Gaolbreak - David Gregory as gaolbreaking Ron Wallis

It would be hard to imagine a movie called Gaolbreak with less prison content; we get to see a visit cubicle, the door to the visit cubicles, and the outside of the wall. That’s it. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on March 9th, 2015 at 8:55 am. Updated on March 9th, 2015 at 8:55 am.

» Born American (1986, USA / Finland)

Born American - from left, Steve Durham as Mitch, David Coburn as KC, Mike Norris as Savoy Brown, and a blonde extra

There are so many genres that Born American tries to cover, it’s exhausting. There’s the road-trip-that-goes-horribly-wrong movie, the patriotic, xenophobic Cold War movie, the prison fight club movie, and the old fashioned blow-up-the-bad-guys action movie… with a little romance (and some counterbalancing cynicism about world powers’ espionage agencies) thrown in for good measure. It finishes as a bit of a messy disaster on all counts. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on March 1st, 2015 at 4:50 pm. Updated on March 2nd, 2015 at 7:57 pm.

» Abashiri Bangaichi / The Walls of Abashiri Prison (1965, Japan)

The Walls of Abashiri Prison - Hirochi Nanbara as Gonda and Ken Takakura as Shin'ichi Tachibana

When I finally caught up with Abashiri Bangaichi I’d just seen Runaway Train (1985) - another film with two prisoners escaping through ice and snow and then engaging in communion with a train. This one has more snow, but a lot less train. And lots, lots more The Defiant Ones (1958). Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on February 24th, 2015 at 8:01 pm. Updated on February 24th, 2015 at 8:01 pm.

» Prison on Fire: Preacher (2002, Hong Kong)

Prison on Fire: Preacher - Michael Tiu Dai-Yue as Cheng Shing Fung

This has no connection to Prison on Fire (1987) or Prison on Fire 2 (1990) and, without putting too fine a point on it, is bland and tedious. Dull. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on February 21st, 2015 at 8:09 pm. Updated on February 21st, 2015 at 8:14 pm.

» Hold Your Man (1933, USA)

Hold Your Man - Barbara Barondess as Sadie Klein and Jean Harlow as Ruby Adams

There are plenty of films about innocent women in tough prisons. This could be about a tough, not-so-innocent woman in prison (though she is pretty much innocent of the charge that landed her in there), but it’s really about the unlikely survival of a romance between two suddenly-smitten lovers. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on February 13th, 2015 at 9:37 pm. Updated on February 13th, 2015 at 9:37 pm.

» Runaway Train (1985, USA)

Runaway Train - Jon Voigt as Oscar 'Manny' Mannheim and Edward Bunker as Jonah, with Eric Roberts as Buck McGeehy behind them

I guess I knew that this was never going to make my list of true prison movies, but I couldn’t ignore it after one of my correspondents, Peter - a man who has spent a bit of time in maximum security prisons - said of it, “The opening sequence of (the) film – the boxing scene – is easily the most authentic prison scene I have ever seen.”  On the other hand, not one of my train enthusiast readers has urged me to watch it for the authenticity of the careering train sequences. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on February 9th, 2015 at 8:53 pm. Updated on February 9th, 2015 at 8:53 pm.

» Prisoners in Petticoats (1950, USA)

Prisoners in Petticoats - Valentine Perkins as Joan Grey aka Beverly Brent (and the back of Robert Rockwell's head - as Mark Hampton)

This neat little gangster flick, full of crosses and double crosses, checks in at a lean 60 minutes. The copy I got hold of has around 12 minutes missing from it, and boasts a paltry 6 minutes and 18 seconds of prison scenes. Its title of ‘Prisoners in Petticoats’ might therefore give a slightly misleading impression of the film’s overall content. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on February 4th, 2015 at 7:57 pm. Updated on February 4th, 2015 at 7:57 pm.