» 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. Read the rest of this entry »

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

» Get Santa (2014, UK)

Get Santa - Jim Broadbent as Santa painting up a storm in prison

I confess I’m not the biggest fan of all things Christmassy - including, it must be said, Christmas movies. Or rather, I’m not much of a fan of the notion of Christmas movies, because I don’t think I’ve ever watched one from start to finish. Until this one. Which I rather enjoyed. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on December 25th, 2016 at 9:26 pm. Updated on December 26th, 2016 at 7:52 am.

» Vast / Inside (2011, Netherlands)

Vast - Sigrid ten Napel as Isabel

This is a short (49-minute) but poignant portrait of a 16-year-old girl in a juvenile detention centre. Perhaps the first thing to note is that ‘vast’ in Dutch does not mean expansive, but rather ‘fixed’ or ’set’; the film deals with her inability to break away from the things that have formed her - to deal with them and attempt to move on. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on December 16th, 2016 at 8:12 pm. Updated on December 16th, 2016 at 8:12 pm.

» Inside (1996, USA)

Inside - Eric Stolz as Marty Strydom and Nigel Hawthorne as Colonel Kruger

Interrogation movies generally fit into the misery porn category and, arguably, are amongst the least challenging to write. Take an innocent person, or relatively innocent person, and subject him or her to unmitigated violence and degradation. One hopes that more of the audience sides with the victims than the brutal interrogators, but you never know. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on December 10th, 2016 at 8:09 pm. Updated on December 10th, 2016 at 8:09 pm.

» Край / The Edge (2010, Russia)

The Edge - Ignat (Vladimir Mashkov)

Don’t be fooled. Although this is set in a gulag, it’s far from a movie about prison life, or labour camp life. It’s a film about one man’s passion for trains - steam trains, with a touch of romance thrown in. And a bit of concussion. ‘Concussion’ in the broadest sense imaginable, so that at times it is used interchangeably with shell shock. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on December 8th, 2016 at 8:26 pm. Updated on December 8th, 2016 at 8:28 pm.

» Samar (1962, USA)

Samar - George Montgomery as Dr John David Saunders

Oh dear. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on November 27th, 2016 at 12:16 pm. Updated on November 27th, 2016 at 12:23 pm.

» Vortex (2001, Germany)

Vortex - Arne Fuhrmann as Boon and Vincent Xzedden

According to my DVD player, Vortex is just under 47 minutes long. It is a model of German efficiency; neat, compact, not too showy, solidly constructed. The Volkswagen Golf of sci-fi prison films. But with a few disconcerting surprises, like finding a stranger’s underwear wedged between the seats. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on November 12th, 2016 at 6:28 pm. Updated on November 12th, 2016 at 6:28 pm.

» O Şimdi Mahkum / In the Jail Now (2005, Turkey)

O Şimdi Mahkum - Burhan Öçal as Numan Kolsuz holds a knife to the throat of Levent Kazak (as himself). Gökhan Özoğuz (as himself) is at top right.

Most prison comedies don’t work. This one does. It features an unexpected, slow descent into farce; it’s clever, and it’s black. It’s not entirely novel - it’s a variation on the theme of Two Way Stretch (1960) - a criminal breaking out of prison to do no good, only to break back in and give himself the perfect alibi - but is refreshingly different.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on November 5th, 2016 at 8:20 pm. Updated on November 5th, 2016 at 8:31 pm.

» 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. Read the rest of this entry »

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

» Chained Heat (1983, USA)

Chained Heat - Sybil Danning as Ericka and Linda Blair as Carol Henderson

Inside the first 20-odd minutes one prisoner gets shot dead after holding a toy gun at a guard who was about to rape her, a prisoner with whom the Warden is having a sexual relationship is killed by other prisoners for being a snitch, an African-American prisoner is sliced up by prisoners in an all-white cellblock, and the Warden and Guard Captain are separately implicated in corrupt drug activity. And there’s a shower scene. This film is not afraid of action. Or cliché. Or exploitation. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on October 16th, 2016 at 2:19 pm. Updated on October 16th, 2016 at 2:19 pm.