The Strip Search

» 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.

» Fiore (2016, Italy)

Fiore - Daphne Scoccia as Daphne Bonori, with Josh in his cell in the background

Director Claudio Giovannesi taught at the Casal del Marmo juvenile detention facility in Rome for a number of months in order to get a better appreciation of the centre and its inhabitants. It paid off. This is a finely observed, stripped down, silence-rich portrait of an incarcerated young woman, and of her budding romance with a young man who is held in the male section of the same facility.

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Posted on October 4th, 2016 at 9:24 pm. Updated on October 4th, 2016 at 9:24 pm.

» Hellhole: Inmate 611 (2007, Japan)

Hellhole: Inmate 611 - Akira Kiuchi as Sayaka Mizushima and Jaguar Yokota as Guard Keiko Mikawa

An odd, boring film. Oddly boring. On the basis of a number of reviewers bemoaning the lack of lesbian sex and shower scenes, I thought that this might be a women’s prison movie with something to say. It isn’t and doesn’t. It does, however, aim to educate, giving a helpful rundown on the prisoners’ day and explaining various aspects of prison life - such as that the reception process is known as ‘red fall’ because inmates used to wear red clothing, and that prison food is known as ‘Mossou chow’, a mossou being the bowl from which the food is eaten. These are useful pieces of information. But all this illumination is interrupted by several less edifying and rather tedious sex scenes where the gratuitous wearing of underwear and draped bedclothes adds substantially to the degree of difficulty. And very little else happens in the rest of the film. (more…)

Posted on June 18th, 2016 at 8:57 pm. Updated on June 26th, 2016 at 1:57 pm.

» 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.

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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.