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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Prison [Blu-ray]


(Renny Harlin, 1988)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Empire Pictures

Video: Shout! Factory



Region: 'A' (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:42:54.168

Disc Size: 41,008,380,610 bytes

Feature Size: 30,075,291,648 bytes

Video Bitrate: 29.93 Mbps

Chapters: 12

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: February 19th, 2013



Aspect ratio: 1.78:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



DTS-HD Master Audio English 3284 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3284 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio English 1660 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1660 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Commentary: DTS-HD Master Audio English 1645 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1645 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)



English, none



• Audio Commentary with Director Renny Harlin

Hard Time: The Making of Prison (38:00)

US Theatrical Trailer (1:30)

• German Theatrical Trailer (1:26)

• Poster and Stills Gallery

DVD of Feature included in the package





Description: Creedmore Prison becomes a supernatural battleground when the specter of Charlie Forsythe, a man executed for murder, returns seeking vengeance from the brutal guard, Ethan Sharpe, who was aware of his innocence. The lives of the inmates hang in the balance as Forsythe and Sharpe lock in demonic combat. Directed by Renny Harlin (Cliffhanger, A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master, Deep Blue Sea). Starring Viggo Mortensen (A History Of Violence, Eastern Promises), Chelsea Field (Dust Devil, The Dark Half) and Lane Smith (Red Dawn).



The Film:

Prison guard Ethan Sharpe (Lane Smith) watched as Burke (Viggo Mortensen) dies in the electric chair in 1964. Over two decades later, Sharpe is the warden, and Burke returns from the dead to exact revenge on the wicked warden when the prison re-opens. Two victims drip blood while dangling in barbed wire in a macabre dance of death, and the guards and inmates suffer at the hands of the malevolent Burke as he seeks his supernatural vengeance. The film location was the Wyoming State Prison. Built at the turn of the century, the jail became a tourist attraction in 1981.

Excerpt from MRQE located HERE

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.

Excerpt from TV Guide located HERE

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

Prison arrives on Blu-ray from Shout! Factory looking a bit dull and lifeless. It seems easy to note that this was shot in the 80's with lackluster film-stock. I suspect the dual-layered image is not dramatically different than the original theatrical presentation. The film is a shade smokey and dark, perhaps purposely 'dreamy', but we are frequently inside a low-lit, spooky, abandoned prison. I didn't note any excess noise. This Blu-ray looks okay but nothing particularly remarkable. The outdoor scenes in the yard showcase some superior contrast but that's about all.
















Audio :

Audio is offered in a more-than-capable DTS-HD Master 5.1 at 3284 kbps with a lossless 2.0 channel option. It never seems to 'take-off' though and this inconsistency may be more a factor of the original production. The score by Richard Band and Christopher L. Stone is a bit more notable than the effects with decent depth. Separations aren't crisp but do exist - although not establishing much more chilling ambiance as would have been appreciated. There are optional English subtitles and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked.


Extras :

Shout! Factory are usually good with adding supplements and here we get an audio commentary with director Renny Harlin were he discusses his European roots and some less-subtle themes in the film. I kinda liked it. Filling in further gaps in the production details is a 40-minute featurette entitled 'Hard Time: The Making of Prison' with Harlin, Irwin Yablans (Producer), writer C. Courtney Joyner and others giving soundbytes with scenes played in the background or through transitions to interviewed participants. There is the US and German theatrical trailer, a Poster and Stills Gallery and the package contains a DVD of the Feature.



I'm always up for a prison flic and this has the supernatural factor as well to augment the documentation of the dour life in the slammer. Yes, part are goofy but I was attentive throughout and that has to be a positive. The Blu-ray does its job of presenting the film and nice to have the addition of the commentary and featurette. Certainly not for all - but many might kick-back for an emotion-packed ride with Prison. For its genre this is certainly above-average.

Gary Tooze

February 18th, 2013



About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
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Gary W. Tooze






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