» Clemency (2019, USA)

This might be the best death row movie there is going around. It’s not as tear-jerking as the suite of South Korean anti-capital punishment films (such as The Executioner and Harmony, of many). But its premise is less tricky to apprehend than that of Apprentice, for example, or Monster’s Ball, The Quare Fellow or The Hangman: Shepherds and Butchers. It’s unrelentingly unsettling and discomforting. And powerful.

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Posted on April 8th, 2021 at 10:44 pm. Updated on April 8th, 2021 at 10:44 pm.

» The Haunting of Alcatraz (2020, UK)

It’s a huge shame when you set your film in Alcatraz in the 1930s and 40s, only to find that sending your long-haired, bearded actor to the barbershop will blow the entire production budget of £57.99. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on March 15th, 2021 at 8:18 pm. Updated on March 15th, 2021 at 8:18 pm.

» King of the Damned (1935, UK)

If honourable mentions were handed out for well-meaning prison movies, this might get one. Not because it’s a great film (it’s certainly not that), but because it tries, honourably, to draw parallels between the struggle of prisoners against an oppressive regime, and the struggle of undervalued workers against their oppressive capitalist masters. In the end, sadly, the metaphor detracts from any real impact it makes as a prison drama. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on March 7th, 2021 at 9:21 pm. Updated on March 7th, 2021 at 9:21 pm.

» El túnel de los huesos / Tunnel of Bones (2011, Argentina)

“Dreams defeat you more than the cops or the informers.” So says Vulcano (Raúl Taibo), an old school criminal who has committed 50 armed robberies on armoured vehicles, banks and other targets, and is serving a very hefty sentence as a result. But you can’t help thinking that it’s the informers who pose the biggest risk of defeating him in his latest venture.

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Posted on February 17th, 2021 at 10:28 pm. Updated on February 17th, 2021 at 10:28 pm.

» Bajocero / Below Zero (2021, Spain)

When I think of prison escort vehicles being ambushed in prison movies, I ready myself for two escaping prisoners who don’t like each other (but who are handcuffed together) to start bickering as they attempt to run in different directions. This Netflix film, thank goodness, has none of that… and, for an action-thriller, of sorts, wonderfully manages to defy the predictability of its ending until its ending.  It’s a little different on a number of fronts. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on February 2nd, 2021 at 10:27 pm. Updated on February 2nd, 2021 at 10:34 pm.

» Fanged Up (2017, UK)

I think that this is the first romantic comedy I’ve seen where the couple spend a fair whack of the film drenched in the blood of exploding vampires. I may be wrong. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on January 27th, 2021 at 10:46 pm. Updated on January 27th, 2021 at 10:46 pm.

» Pacto de Fuga / Jailbreak Pact (2020, Chile)

Tunnelling movies? We have them in spades. Here is another one, and a good one at that. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on January 16th, 2021 at 10:39 pm. Updated on January 16th, 2021 at 10:39 pm.

» Girls of the Big House (1945, USA)

Up until this film, ‘Big House’ had always conveyed the notion of a ‘penitentiary’ to me. I now know that ‘Big House’ can also mean ‘big house’. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on January 11th, 2021 at 10:10 pm. Updated on January 11th, 2021 at 10:10 pm.

» Brothers (1977, USA)

This is a ‘thinly disguised’ account of the prison life of Soledad Brother George Jackson, part of which takes in his romance with activist Angela Davis. It’s an unheralded ’70s prison movie that deserves more heralding, even if it loses a bit of momentum once prisoner and professor meet and start cheesily narrating their letters to each other accompanied by a laid-back R&B soundtrack. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on December 27th, 2020 at 3:29 pm. Updated on December 27th, 2020 at 3:29 pm.

» Fun and Games (1971, UK)

“Really, Angela, I don’t like to say this, but I think you’re a bit mixed up,” says the housekeeper to the prison Governor’s nymphet daughter, after relatively little exposure to the girl’s troubling and wanton behaviour. “Me? Oh, I wouldn’t say that, Mrs Jackson. I may be a little psychotic, a schizophrenic with undertones of paranoia, a nymphomaniac with irresistible bisexual tendencies… I can tune in AC or DC. I have alternate sadistic and masochistic impulses. I am also an inveterate exhibitionist, and shall probably die of sexual malnutrition before I’m 20, but… apart from that, I’m not in the least mixed up.” It could be that the only interest in this awful film may be to see which of those diagnoses is borne out; not too many are. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on November 29th, 2020 at 10:57 pm. Updated on November 29th, 2020 at 10:57 pm.