Quite a simple premise, the spirit of a dead prisoner returns for vengeance when the prison is reopened for business and full of inmates again. Directed by Renny Harlin, this is yet another enjoyable movie from a man who has very rarely done wrong by me.
It may lack the impact it wants to have, what with the story twists and turns being really rather obvious throughout, but Prison still has some good moments of tension here and there and a few fantastic death scenes.
cast are all pretty good, too. Viggo Mortensen does well in an early
feature role, Lane Smith is fantastic as a strict warden, Chelsea Field
doesn't get that much screentime but holds her own in a movie
overflowing with testosterone and Lincoln Kilpatrick is excellent.
Support comes from Tom Everett, Ivan Kane, Tommy 'Tiny' Lister and even
Kane Hodder so genre fans should be more than pleased with the
assortment of faces onscreen.
The script, by C.
Courtney Joyner and based on a story by Irwin Yablans, does what is
needed though things quickly become far too strange to be explained away
easily so that starts eroding at your suspension of disbelief from
before the halfway mark.
Harlin directs as competently
as ever. There are some nice camera shots and some great use of lighting
which, along with a bag of practical effects, often leads in to some
supernatural event. The gore on display is effective but not overexposed
and the nasty deaths hold up as well today as they did back in the late
80s. It's a shame that the score, by Richard Band and Christopher L.
Stone, never comes close to matching any of the visuals and weakens a
lot of the atmosphere being built up.
Personally, I always felt that while Prison
seemed to come and go when it was initially released the main reason for
that was not because it was a bad movie but because it was quickly
overshadowed by Shocker, released the following year. While the
two are very different movies, there are enough similiarities in the
methods of the killer and the advertising artwork to have possibly
encouraged moviegoers to wait and see the "Wes Craven film". Possibly.
That's my theory and I'm sticking to it, especially because I quite like
Prison even if it's nothing to set the world alight (ironically enough).