» The Expert (1995, USA)

The Expert - Michael Shaner as Martin Kagan, holding Assistant Warden Dr Alice Barnes (Alex Datcher) hostage

OK. So this bloke, John Lomax (Jeff Speakman), is not happy. Outraged, in fact, and seeking revenge and justice, in that order. He breaks into the Westgate Penitentiary in Tennessee*, to kill Martin Kagan (Michael Shaner), the psychopathic murderer of his sister, Jenny. Kagan has maintained that it was one of his multiple personalities who killed her, not him, and inexplicably he is supported in this by Westgate’s new Assistant Warden, psychologist Dr Alice Barnes (Alex Datcher), who has recently petitioned the Governor to move the resentenced Kagan off Death Row and into a new prototype rehab program for the criminally insane, The Saddle Horse, where he will talk to schoolchildren about stuff. But it just so happens that Lomax’s break-in coincides with a small emergency in the prison, from which nearly all the prisoners have been transferred to a newer prison, and in which Kagan has taken Dr Barnes hostage, shot and killed Warden Munsey (James Brolin) with his own gun, killed several other guards, and has freed all but one of the other condemned men from their cells. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on September 26th, 2016 at 6:00 pm. Updated on September 26th, 2016 at 6:00 pm.

» True Story (2015, USA)

True Story - Jonah Hill as Michael Finkel and James Franco as Christian Longo

This is a long way from being a prison movie, even though many of its key moments occur in prison. Or more specifically, in two visit rooms in two prisons. And involving just one prisoner. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on September 18th, 2016 at 12:45 pm. Updated on September 18th, 2016 at 12:53 pm.

» Šerif za mrežami / The Sheriff Behind Bars (1965, Czechoslovakia)

The Sheriff Behind Bars - Otakar Prajzner as Jakub

A teenage thief, Jakub Bartoš (Otakar Prajzner), tells a court that he is the ’sheriff’ or boss of his gang - hoping to both protect and curry favour with its real leader. He gets two years in a youth detention centre but hopes that through good behaviour he might get out in one - and share much sooner in the spoils that the gang has hidden. It doesn’t quite work out that way.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on September 13th, 2016 at 10:16 pm. Updated on September 13th, 2016 at 10:16 pm.

» Red Heat (1985, USA)

Red Heat - Linda Blair as Christine Carlson

Red Heat has an (undeserved) reputation as an exploitative Women in Prison film. Not surprising, perhaps, given that’s how it’s marketed these days. But its standout feature is not sleaze, but the same sort of xenophobia that characterises prison films like Midnight Express (1978) and In Hell (2003). Who would have thought? Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on September 6th, 2016 at 9:02 pm. Updated on September 6th, 2016 at 9:02 pm.

» Convict 762 (1997, USA)

Convict 762 - Shannon Sturges as Captain Nile and Frank Zagarino as Vigo

This is a traditional thriller set in a fairly traditional outer space prison. So it’s only proper that, despite the film being set hundreds of years into the future, the plot turns not on some fanciful 24th Century technology, but on the artisanal searing of a prisoner’s identification number into his flesh with a red hot poker. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on September 1st, 2016 at 10:16 pm. Updated on September 1st, 2016 at 10:16 pm.

» The Traveling Executioner (1970, USA)

The Traveling Executioner - Mariana Hill as Gundred Herzallerliebst and Stacy Keach as Jonas Candide

The Traveling Executioner depicts what may be the earliest example of outsourcing correctional services; I can’t, off the top of my head, think of an earlier one.  Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on August 26th, 2016 at 9:51 pm. Updated on August 26th, 2016 at 9:51 pm.

» Apprentice (2016, Singapore / others)

Apprentice - Firdaus Rahman as Aiman Yusof

Aiman (Firdaus Rahman) is a prison officer. He is in his late twenties and lives with his older sister, Suhaila (Mastura Ahmad), in a modest flat. He doesn’t approve of her Australian boyfriend, and she doesn’t approve of his job. And she has good reason; their father was convicted of a gruesome murder committed before Aiman was even born, and then hanged. All those years on, it’s still raw. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on August 20th, 2016 at 8:27 pm. Updated on August 20th, 2016 at 11:36 pm.

» A Letter from Death Row (1998, USA)

A Letter from Death Row - Bret Michaels as Michael Raine

Bret Michaels, one time lead singer of the glam metal band Poison, wrote this movie, directed it, produced it, starred in it and wrote and performed the soundtrack to it. He might also have done the makeup and manned the food van. If you’re a diehard fan of Bret Michaels, you’ll probably like this. If not… Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on August 8th, 2016 at 9:59 pm. Updated on August 8th, 2016 at 9:59 pm.

» Spoiler (1998, USA)

Spoiler - Gary Daniels as the 'spoiler' Roger Mason

“The most exciting breakout movie of all time,” the DVD blurb claims. Well, not quite. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on July 23rd, 2016 at 10:45 pm. Updated on July 23rd, 2016 at 10:45 pm.

» The Last Castle (2001, USA)

The Last Castle - Robert Redford as General Eugene Irwin and Paul Calderón as Dellwo

The Last Castle has many of the hallmarks of a Shawshank; a classic battle of strategy between principled prisoner and corrupt warden, an imposing prison setting (the magnificent, fortress-like Tennessee State Penitentiary), and similar production values. But it doesn’t quite have the same impact… maybe because its message is a little muddier. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on July 21st, 2016 at 9:14 pm. Updated on July 21st, 2016 at 9:14 pm.