The Nasty Guard

» Noem My Skollie / Call Me Thief (2016, South Africa)

Noem My Skollie - David Manuel as Gums and Dann-Jaques Mouton as the older Abraham 'AB' Lonzi

A young kid with a bit of potential but a tough upbringing starts up a criminal gang with three of his mates. Much later, in his late teenage years, he (with another of his gang) is caught red-handed inside a shop they are burgling; he gets two years in prison, plus six cuts with a heavy cane. He survives by reading and writing letters and telling stories. His mate is not so lucky; he is repeatedly raped and becomes a gang leader’s wyfie (woman). After his release the young man’s fortuitous pursuit of a romantic interest narrowly saves him from joining his other three gang members in a criminal exploit that goes horribly wrong. The others nonetheless elect him as the fall guy, but once the trial begins they belatedly, and ruefully, admit that he wasn’t there. They hang. He doesn’t. It’s a story that takes almost 2½ hours to tell. (more…)

Posted on November 16th, 2017 at 9:22 pm. Updated on November 16th, 2017 at 9:22 pm.

» With Prisoners (2017, Hong Kong)

With Prisoners - Neo Yau Hawk-sau as Leung Yick Fan

Is it a good thing, ultimately, that this whistle-blowing film seems a little tame? That the boot camp abuses suffered by the juvenile offenders in Hong Kong’s Sha Tsui Detention Centre don’t seem to be as shocking as those in many other prison movies (which is not to say that gratuitous elbow strikes, and asking a detainee to clean a toilet with his fingers and then clean his teeth with the same fingers, and assorted other beatings and demeanings are not abusive). It’s a good thing for Hong Kong, isn’t it, if Sha Tsui (which caters for juveniles and young adults from 14 to 25) is not as rotten as some other prisons. Somehow, though, the film seems a little pallid and limp. (more…)

Posted on October 20th, 2017 at 5:08 pm. Updated on October 20th, 2017 at 5:08 pm.

» Hell on Devil’s Island (1957, USA)

Hell on Devil's Island - Rex Ingram as Lulu and Helmut Dantine as Paul Rigaud

Who would have thought that a film set entirely on Devil’s Island would have not all that much to do with prison… and ultimately more to do with tax evasion? (more…)

Posted on September 16th, 2017 at 11:00 pm. Updated on September 16th, 2017 at 11:00 pm.

» Star Slammer (1986, USA)

Star Slammer - Suzy Stokey as Mike and Sandy Brooke as Taura

You have to feel for the prison ship’s newest prisoner, Taura (Sandy Brooke). Not only is she (vaguely) innocent, but she has to wear a different, more revealing uniform to every other prisoner and sport a horrible ’80s perm. Mind you, she’s not on her Pat Malone on that last count. (more…)

Posted on August 4th, 2017 at 9:23 pm. Updated on August 4th, 2017 at 9:31 pm.

» Wrath of the Crows (2013, Italy)

Wrath of the Crows - Tiffany Shepis as Princess, with Domiziano Arcangeli as Larry in the background

Wrath of the Crows is an Italian, English-language religious-fantasy-horror production, featuring one of those boutique prisons that looks like a real prison from the wide outdoor shots, but like the entire prison consists of just five movie set cells and only two staff once the action moves inside. And, to my surprise, a lot of people don’t seem to mind such things. (more…)

Posted on May 27th, 2017 at 8:51 pm. Updated on May 27th, 2017 at 8:51 pm.

» The Man Who Broke 1,000 Chains (1987, USA)

The Man Who Broke 1,000 Chains - Val Kilmer as Robert Elliot Burns

We know that this is a great, real-life story. But why the need to retell it? (more…)

Posted on March 11th, 2017 at 3:49 pm. Updated on March 11th, 2017 at 3:49 pm.

» Seduto alla sua destra / Black Jesus (1968, Italy)

Black Jesus - Woody Strode as Maurice Lalubi

That this follows on from my review of Strange Cargo (1940) is pure coincidence, I can assure you, but the two films’ themes are eerily similar. (more…)

Posted on February 28th, 2017 at 8:59 pm. Updated on February 28th, 2017 at 8:59 pm.

» Hell’s Kitchen (1939, USA)

Hell's Kitchen - Grant Mitchell as the nasty Superintendent Hiram Krispan

I’ve been dudded, I’m afraid. Nearly all the internet synopses of this film say things like, “a paroled ex-con tries to go straight and reform a brutal reform school, only to face a frame-up courtesy of the school’s corrupt warden.” But it’s not a reform school at all, but a place to which boys from reform school are paroled (and the ‘paroled ex-con’ is not on parole, and the frame-up is not chiefly the warden’s doing). Anyway, this has the dubious honour of having absolutely no prison in it at all, although when the uniformed guards use their batons against the residents, it does seem a little like a juvenile jail. Oh well.

(more…)

Posted on February 4th, 2017 at 3:43 pm. Updated on February 4th, 2017 at 3:43 pm.

» Fortress 2: Re-Entry (2000, USA)

Fortress 2 - Christopher Lambert as John Brennick with a touch of sunburn while in 'The Hole'

Who could forget the original Fortress (1992) and its magnificent intestinator? There’s nothing in this sequel to match it, sadly, although each prisoner does receive a new behaviour-modifying neural implant that also expropriates the optic nerve and allows ZED, the prison’s all-knowing computer, to relay each prisoner’s vision onto staff-monitored screens. Which is sort of handy. (more…)

Posted on December 27th, 2016 at 7:31 pm. Updated on January 1st, 2017 at 9:01 am.

» Lust for Freedom (1987, USA)

Lust for Freedom - Judi Trevor as Ms Pusker, William J Kulzer as Sheriff Coale and Melanie Coll as Gillian Kaites

“I never realised how much I took freedom for granted until it was taken away.” So says ex-cop, ex-prisoner and narrator Gillian Kaites (Melanie Coll), explaining her lust for freedom. Don’t expect anything deeper. (more…)

Posted on November 1st, 2016 at 9:45 am. Updated on November 1st, 2016 at 11:02 am.