Prison title

Tag line : In 1956 Charles Forsyth was sent to the electric chair. Now he's back...

PrisonThis supernatural shocker from 1988 stars a young Vigggo Mortensen as a new inmate at an old decrepit prison, which has just been re-opened to ease over the crowding at the other facilities in the area.

But it seems that something is very wrong, as shortly after their arrival, prisoners start to die in mysterious circumstances. The governor, played by US TV actor Lane Smith, believes one of the other prisoners to be the culprit and proceeds to dish out a regime of brutal punishments on the other inmates to try and weed out the killer.

But as more and more bodies start to pile up under increasingly bizarre circumstances, it becomes apparent that sinister elements are at work. Some of the older inmates think it might have something to do with a long dead prisoner named Forsyth, who was the last person executed there and, by some strange co-incidence, the current governor had overseen the execution of, back in his days as a guard.

With more and more bizarre events happening in the jail, tensions between the guards and inmates rise, culminating in a full blown riot. But even if they don't kill each other in the process, it seems that the ghost of Forsythe doesn’t want to let anyone leave there alive....

Pre-dating Wes Craven’s similarly themed “Shocker” by over a year, this low budget horror, from director Renny Harlin, proves to be quite an effective little chiller and is certainly a guilty pleasure of mine. It’s certainly interesting to see Viggo Mortensen, who’s probably better known these days from those Lord of the Rings films, in one of his earlier roles.

Lane Smith is aptly cast as the hard nosed governor as is Chelsea Field, who plays Dr Walker. Also, lookout for stuntman Kane Hodder, who played Jason in the later Friday the 13th sequels, who has a couple of minor roles in the film as both a guard and the ghost of the executed Forsyth.

Overall Marks 6/10.

Terrifying Trivia.

  • The movie was filmed inside the derelict former Wyoming State Penitentiary, located in Rawlins, Wyoming, which had closed some 6 years previously in 1981. The site is currently preserved as a museum and is open to the general public. The original jail there was constructed in the 1800's as a 'Frontier' prison and claims to be the only jail to have held notorious outlaw 'Butch Cassidy'.

  • The films budget was $4,000,000.

  • Viggo Mortensen played Forsythe for the electrocution scene, although horror veteran and stuntman Kane Hodder played him for the films finale, where his electrocuted body emerges.

  • Chelsea Field, who plays Dr Walker, also starred in "Dust Devil".

  • The electric chair room was actually constructed inside the prisons former gas chamber. The original chair, which was used to restrain condemned inmates, was still in place when they came to film, and so was carefully removed so they could put a prop electric chair in its place.

  • Horror actor Bill Butler worked on the film as a special make-up effects artist

  • The water covering the floor in the lower levels of the prison, where the solitary confinement cells are, was not put there by the film makers. That level of the prison had been flooded for years, but despite the temperature being below 10oC, Viggo Mortensen still insisted on filming his scenes, in which he was only partially clothed, himself.

  • Tom Everitt, who plays 'Rabitt', also starred alongside Viggo Mortensen in "Leatherface : Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3" in which he played Alfredo, the gun toting gas station attendant.

  • The main vehicle entrance into the prison courtyard did not actually exist, the filmmakers had cut out a section of the perimeter wall specifically for that purpose.

  • Many of the extras were made up of actual inmates and guards from the new prison, which had been built to house the people from the old Wyoming Penitentiary when it closed.

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