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Film / Prison

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Prison is a special effects extragavanza horror film by Renny Harlin and starring Viggo Mortensen and Lane Smith, released in the year 1988.

The film opens with the title prison, Wyoming State Penitentiary, being opened again after 20 years. When rebuilding starts, a wrathful spirit (Kane Hodder) is released which starts to cause mayhem around the premises, seeking those who had wronged him in the past.

This film features the examples of:

  • Agony of the Feet: Knowing that supernatural things are going on, Cresus steals a rifle form one of the guards, and shoots his foot to get in the infirmary.
  • Anti-Hero: Prisoner Burke. It helps that he's more of a thief than hardened criminal. The plot makes a huge deal about how he looks so much like the dead prisoner Charlie but in fact Burke never gets possessed or has a part in Charlie's revenge. He's more of a distraction towards Sharpe who focuses his anger towards Burke rather than make the not-too-crazy conclusion that Charlie's ghost is back and pissed.
  • Asshole Victim: All the prison staff, Rhino, and Warden Sharpe himself.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: Charles "Charlie" Forsythe, an executed convict whose spirit poses a danger to anyone in the prison and Ethan Sharpe, the man responsible for sending Charlie to his undeserved death.
  • Burn Baby Burn: Warden Sharpe burns all the inmates mattresses at one point to weed out Rabbitt's supposed killer.
  • Captivity Harmonica: And with it, a whole band of other instruments.
  • Catapult Nightmare: The opening scene depicting Charlie's execution is revealed to be a flashback dream that Sharpe is having when he wakes up from it by bolting upright and screaming.
  • Decoy Protagonist: At first the film follows Villain Protagonist Ethan Sharpe, but then at the climax, the POV is shifted to Burke and Katherine.
  • Dirty Coward: The prison guards Wallace (who doesn't help try to free two prisoners burning to death in solitary) and Johnson (who holds the escaping inmates at gunpoint and even shoots a reasoning Tiny out of fear), and Warden Sharpe (who at the end makes a run for it rather then letting Charlie giving him a taste of his own medicine).
  • The Dog Bites Back: Rhino's cellmate, whom he has been forcing to be his... close partner, gets back at him when he leaves him for dead behind a locked door during the ghost's endgame rampage.
  • Explosive Instrumentation: After Charlie relays the message "The prison dies tonight" to Katherine's computer, it explodes.
  • Great Escape: Attempted by Rabbitt twice; first by stealing a prison transportation bus, then by trying to sneak away when the prison loses all of its power. On his second try, he is trapped and killed by Charlie's spirit, and his body later bloodily crashes the other prisoners' dinner.
  • Groin Attack: After Rhino tells Burke to join his in-prison dealings or else, Burke grabs his balls in a hard grip to kindly suggest that they both should mind their own businesses.
  • Heartbeat Soundtrack: Heard during the opening credits.
  • Identical Grandson: According to Word of God, Burke is Charlie Forsythe's son. In the film, it's quickly noted by both Warden Sharpe and one of the older prisoners who knows what Sharpe did to Charlie how much Burke looks a lot like long-dead Charlie Forsythe...
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Rhino is impaled by a pickaxe that flies by itself through his back.
  • Institutional Apparel: Inmates wear jeans and light-blue shirts.
  • Ironic Nickname: The tall guy Riddle has the nickname Tiny.
  • It Won't Turn Off: Katherine notices this when Charlie's spirit enters her room to give her his first message, and he puts her television set on, which she can't turn off.
  • Large Ham: Lane Smith as Warden Sharpe, who gets crazier and more pissed off at the ghost's antics as the film goes on.
  • Lightning Can Do Anything: Electricity caused by Charlie's spirit can possess computers and machine guns.
  • Lock Down: Ordered by Sharpe when things are getting out of control in the prison.
  • Karmic Death: Several but especially the Warden, who gets fried by Charlie Forsythe for putting him to death for a crime that he didn't commit.
  • Kill It with Fire: Hershey's death. He is trapped inside a solitary cell that's getting hotter by the minute, and he ends up burning to death.
  • Nightmare Dreams: Warden Sharpe's past crimes plague him through nightmares.
  • The Old Convict: Cresus, who has been in various prisons since the forties.
  • One-Word Title
  • Peek-a-Boo Corpse: Rabbitt's mutilated corpse drops through the roof of cafeteria.
  • Prison Riot: As the ghost wreaks havoc, the prisoners grow more frustrated, culminating in a full-blown riot when the power fails for the second time.
  • Psycho Electro: After one inmate with knowing of supernatural stuff summons Charlie Forsythe's spirit, it manifests itself as electric energy that starts causing chaos.
  • Railing Kill: Kramer, one of the prison guards, flies over the railing when he gets electrocuted by Charlie's spirit.
  • Rain of Blood: Katherine notices one of the dead guards above her when his blood drips on her car's windshield.
  • Scary Black Man: Tiny, even though he can be benevolent and even tries to reason with the Dirty Coward guard named Johnson when he holds him and his inmates at gunpoint with a shotgun.