A Letter from Death Row (1998, USA)

A Letter from Death Row - Bret Michaels as Michael Raine

Bret Michaels, one time lead singer of the glam metal band Poison, wrote this movie, directed it, produced it, starred in it and wrote and performed the soundtrack to it. He might also have done the makeup and manned the food van. If you’re a diehard fan of Bret Michaels, you’ll probably like this. If not…

So many don’t. In fact, it has been universally panned, but I’ve seen plenty worse. Which, I acknowledge, says nothing about this film; it simply says that I’ve seen many, many horrible prison films. And, to be honest, I don’t think I would even regard it as a prison movie, despite almost two-thirds of the action taking place in prison. It’s a thriller, of sorts, where the central character just happens to be in prison.

Michaels is that central character – Michael Raine. Raine, a songwriter, has been charged with the murder of his exotic dancer girlfriend. While on Death Row in the Tennessee State Prison, awaiting his execution by electric chair, he pens a movie script; this one. Despite the murder seemingly being captured on video, he would appear to be innocent. Or not. He would appear to have been caught up in a giant conspiracy going all the way up to the Governor of Tennessee, Bill Roberts (Swan Burrus). Or maybe not.

He is interviewed in prison by the leggy Jessica Foster (Lorelei Shellist), who claims to be writing a book, but would appear to be a confidante (read ‘lover’) of the Governor who seems to be trying to find out just how much Raine knows. Another prisoner on Death Row, ‘Lucifer’ Powers, a priest accused of killing an altar boy, may or may not be caught up in the same conspiracy. And the warden, Leonard Felcher (Rob Wilds), and his chief attack dog, Sergeant Windell (Simon Elsworth), may also be part of it as well… or may just like brutalising prisoners. It’s hard to tell.

There are a number of unlikely twists and turns, which sets it apart from many formulaic prison stories. But the acting (to be kind) is not always strong, there are bewildering cameos from Martin and Charlie Sheen, and Michaels looks a bit like a rock star looking for a vehicle to show off his abs. It’s a missable offering.

A Letter from Death Row #2 - Rob Wilds as Warden Leonard Felcher and Simon Elsworth as Sergeant Windell A Letter from Death Row #3 - Loerlei Shellist as Jessica Foster A Letter from Death Row #4 - Bret Michaels in rock start mode as as Michael Raine

Posted on August 8th, 2016 at 9:59 pm. Updated on August 8th, 2016 at 9:59 pm.

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