Easily the best non-Stewart Gordon film to be released under the auspices of Empire Pictures, PRISON is an effective and unique chiller that successfully combines two genres: the prison film and horror. Conceived and produced by HALLOWEEN executive producer Irwin Yablans, the film begins
at Creedmore Prison in 1964 as an innocent man is being executed for the murder of an inmate who was really killed by brutal prison guard Ethan Sharpe (Lane Smith). During the next 20 years Creedmore, which was built at the turn of the century, is closed down and Sharpe moves up the penal system
ladder--although he is plagued by nightmares. In 1984 the state decides to reopen Creedmore and make Sharpe its warden, and before long the vengeful ghost of the executed man is unleashed. An intriguing genre hybrid boasting a stronger than usual cast and excellent, atmospheric direction from
Finnish newcomer Renny Harlin, PRISON is an impressive piece of low-budget genre work. With the movie played as a straight prison drama for close to half its running time, the filmmakers take the time to develop the characters and set the mood before pouring on the gore. Cold stone walls, cramped
cells, low-key lighting, and flooded floors all contribute to the dank, dark, claustrophobic feel. The gore effects, while graphic, are handled with dispatch. The entire film plays almost like a good old-fashioned horror excursion in which mood is more important than gut-churning carnage.
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