Prison (1988) - Rotten Tomatoes

Prison (1988)





Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

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.more
Rating: R (adult situations/language, violence)
Genre: Drama, Horror
Directed By:
Written By: C. Courtney Joyner
In Theaters:
On DVD: Feb 19, 2013
New World Video


Lane Smith
as Warden Eaton Sharpe
Viggo Mortensen
as Burke / Forsythe Ele...
Chelsea Field
as Katherine Walker
Tom Everett
as Rabbitt
Ivan Kane
as Lasagna
Mickey Yablans
as Brian Young
Matt Kanen
as Johnson
Jeff L. Deist
as Gate Guard
Kane Hodder
as Charlie Forsythe/Gas...
Pat Noonan
as Collins
Rob Brox
as Pervis
Larry Moore
as Reptile Guard
John Hoke
as Old Warden
George Wallace
as Joe Reese
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Prison

Critic Reviews for Prison

All Critics (9) | Top Critics (4)

Full Review… | July 24, 2008
Top Critic

Full Review… | June 24, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

Full Review… | May 20, 2003
New York Times
Top Critic

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Washington Post
Top Critic

Prison is a gritty and gorgeous horror flick that's not only well acted and engaging but also delivers some shockingly fun and grisly deaths.

Full Review… | March 6, 2013

A horror film in which staging gruesome deaths becomes a lame substitute for creating tension and eeriness.

Full Review… | May 4, 2005
Lessons of Darkness

Audience Reviews for Prison

Renny Harlin's second feature is a well made supernatural horror film that is much better than what you'd think. Sure, the film looks a bit dated nowadays, and there's been far better ghost tales than this, but in the long run, Prison is a surprising, accomplished film that is an obscured genre film that should see the light of day. The cast do a good job here, but the standout aspects of the film are the special effects, the kill sequences as the supernatural force kills prison inmates and guards alike. Renny Harlin, who has a checkered career, pulls off a good, entertaining and enjoyable ride. This is a pleasant flick to watch for horror fans that enjoy a good ghost story. Although there's never anything truly great on-screen, there are enough good bits here and there throughout the film to make it an enjoyable yarn to simply sit back and enjoy. The plot was original and it's what kept me interested in the film, unlike Kevin VanHook's Death Row, which uses basically the same premise as this movie, this is a far better film that is good gory fun. Despite its lacking acting, the film is held together by effective directing for Harlin. If you're ever looking for a fun little obscured gem of a horror tale, then pick this one out. The film is not perfect, but it has enough going for it to make it a worthwhile good time for genre fans. What makes this film good is the fact that you never see the supernatural force itself, and it leaves it up to your imagination to guess what kind of demented, evil supernatural force is terrorizing the prison. We know it's the prisoner that wants revenge, but you never see him, thus it makes for a more enjoyable viewing as it keeps you guessing till the very end.

Alex roy

Super Reviewer

Harlin's first theatrical effort quickly establishes his garish stylistics choices such as a POV tracking shot to the electrical chair. It also adheres to his sound-and-fury-signifying-nothing sensibilities wherein the inmates are besieged by a barrage of loud pyrotechnics without a plausible reason since the ghost's only objective is murdering the newly appointed warden. It's all swiftly paced and tautly photographed, but the midsection is a sluggish going-through-the-motions initiation into penitentiary life such as rivalries, riots and sage advice about having "the face of a lifer". But like the 'Final Destination' movies, it's arduous to be frightened by an incorporeal Grim Reaper firing a gun turret and wrapping razor wires around a sadistic guard. 'Prison' retains Harlin's whizz-bang shepherding, but it's a vapid, spineless revenge story with corridors that imitatively resemble Freddy Krueger's boiler room.

Cory Taylor
Cory Taylor

Super Reviewer

At first I doubted that I'll enjoy this movie very much, but as it went on the movie kept on getting better and better. It's about an evil spirit trapped in a prison after his execution that wanted revenge.
I loved the elements of horror in this and the deaths very quite constructive too. Barbed wire one was my favourite.
Overall a pretty intense horror flick with a variety of characters and lots of deaths. Though I was quite confused about the connection between Viggo Mortensen's character to the evil spirit.

Matthew Ashworth

Super Reviewer

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