The Strip Search

» The Stanford Prison Experiment (2015, USA)

The Stanford Prison Experiment - Michael Angarano as 'guard' Christopher 'John Wayne' Archer and 'prisoners'

I’m not aware of any other psychology experiment that has spawned three films; I don’t think that poor Ivan Pavlov can boast even one movie, notwithstanding Pavlov’s Dog (2005). And I’m not sure why, after two perfectly sound movies in Das Experiment (2001) and The Experiment (2010), it was seen to be worthwhile to make yet another film based on Dr Philip Zimbardo’s famous 1971 experiment examining the psychology of prison - its impact on prisoners and guards. (more…)

Posted on March 28th, 2016 at 11:59 am. Updated on March 28th, 2016 at 11:59 am.

» Boys Behind Bars 2 (2014, UK)

Boys Behind Bars 2 - Wade Radford as Darrell and Honey Bane as Mizz Alison Muncher

The first Boys Behind Bars (2013) was a cheap and nasty film saved from being solely an exercise in debasement by an engrossing performance by Wade Radford as the most diabolical of three prisoners who prey on a younger, vulnerable fourth. While Radford reprises his role as Darrell from the original film, this sequel has absolutely nothing to commend or redeem it. It is a very strong contender for the worst prison film I’ve seen. (more…)

Posted on March 14th, 2016 at 4:23 pm. Updated on March 14th, 2016 at 4:32 pm.

» The Chair (1988, USA)

The Chair - Paul Benedict as Warden Edward Dwyer, Gary McCleery as inmate Rick Donner, and Mike Starr as guard Wilson

A warden with a past he’d rather forget. An idealistic psychiatrist running a new psycho-support program for prisoners. A prison not fit to house prisoners. A wrathful ghost of a former warden. And a film that mixes comedy and horror, but misses the mark on both counts… while remaining sort of amiable. (more…)

Posted on February 15th, 2016 at 1:12 pm. Updated on February 15th, 2016 at 1:25 pm.

» Pardon (2005, Turkey)

Pardon - Ferhan Sensoy as İbrahim, Ali Çatalbas as Aydin and Rasim Öztekin as Muzaffer (Muzo)

It’s been said before that the idea of being thrown into a Turkish prison is so much more evocative than being banged up any other country’s prisons. But just as a foreigner, perhaps, and maybe ignoring a lot of other serious and exotic contenders. Pardon, a farce said to be based on a true story, shows a different sort of terrible experience in a Turkish prison for three locals. (more…)

Posted on January 18th, 2016 at 8:42 pm. Updated on January 18th, 2016 at 8:48 pm.

» Jailbird Rock (1988, USA / Argentina)

Jailbird Rock - Robin Antin as Jessie White and Robin x as Echo

I think it was when Warden Harold Bauman (Ron Lacey), in dismissing any idea of his prisoners putting on an artistic performance, said, “They’re not here to have fun. They’re here to be miserable,” that my wife asked, “Don’t you get sick of the same, same things all the time?”. Or it could have been earlier, such as at the arrival of the prisoner who doesn’t deserve to be in prison, or the tough prisoner running the show, or the ineffectual warden and his corrupt second-in-charge, or the earnest counsellor pushing for reform… It could have been at any point in the film, really. (more…)

Posted on November 22nd, 2015 at 5:10 pm. Updated on November 22nd, 2015 at 5:12 pm.

» Blackbird (2012, Canada)

Blackbird - Connor Jessup as Sean Randall

It might not be perfectly sensible to liken a person unable to escape bullying to a person trapped in prison. The bullied Sean Randall chose the one way he thought he could fight his way out of feeling that trapped. Then he went to prison and was bullied there, too. So he wanted out, desperately, but on being released was subject to restrictions that made him feel he was back in prison. Tricky.

(more…)

Posted on August 4th, 2015 at 9:16 pm. Updated on August 4th, 2015 at 9:16 pm.

» Bad Girls: The Musical (2009, UK)

Bad Girls: The Musical - Caroline Head as Nikki Wade and Laura Rogers as Helen Stewart

OK, OK… like the odd filmed play or opera about prison on DVD, this might not strictly fit the definition of a prison movie. But it’s not so different to many movies that are filmed in studios with disjointed plots, shoddy sets and stagy dialogue. (more…)

Posted on August 2nd, 2015 at 8:18 pm. Updated on September 19th, 2015 at 10:45 pm.

» Rise (2014, Australia)

Rise - Nathan Wilson as Will McIntyre and Martin Sacks as Jimmy Cove

You know how sometimes one scene or one line in a movie just loses you, and you can’t find a way back in? Early in Rise nurse Will McIntyre (Nathan Wilson) is falsely accused of spiking the drink of and then raping a girl with whom he has had a one night stand. At his trial, the prosecutor asks the victim to tell the court what happened next. Falteringly, she begins with, “He had my arms pressed under…” and McIntyre’s barrister jumps up and interjects, “Your Honour, this is all hearsay evidence!” Eh? Really? (more…)

Posted on July 19th, 2015 at 1:38 pm. Updated on July 19th, 2015 at 1:42 pm.

» Chicken Mexicaine (2007, Switzerland)

Chicken Mexicaine - Bruno Cathomas as Roby Schmucker and Juana von Jascheroff as Dr Helen Berger

Roby Schmucker (Bruno Cathomas) has found himself back in jail, again. He is awaiting trial on a ‘heavy’ robbery, and on Day 1 in the mess room is confronted by the prison’s top dog, African-Swiss Charles ‘Chief’ Müller (Kyle Popooda). Schmucker doesn’t appreciate Müller’s welcome and makes some unkind comments about his ethnicity. It’s not received well. One of Müller’s men spits in Schmucker’s food, onto which Müller then empties an entire salt cellar. Schmucker sticks it out for another mouthful or two but then launches into a face-saving rant: “Chicken Mexicaine! This muck’s called Chicken Mexicaine!” before reminding everyone that he’s an old hand. It’s a quirky, off-beat title for one of the wackier, more off-beat prison movies. (more…)

Posted on January 27th, 2015 at 8:38 pm. Updated on January 27th, 2015 at 8:50 pm.

» House of Whipcord (1974, UK)

House of Whipcord - Sheila Keith as officer Walker and Penny Irving as Anne-Marie de Verney

There are private prisons, and then there are private prisons. (more…)

Posted on November 3rd, 2014 at 6:37 pm. Updated on November 5th, 2014 at 7:49 pm.