Ghosts...Of the Civil Dead - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Ghosts...Of the Civil Dead Reviews

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June 30, 2013
I was very dubious about watching this and rightfully so. I should have gone with my instincts. Some appalling stuff in this and quite strange too. Things just happen for no apparent reason and there's no real plot. The critics raved about this, but they must have been pretty warped.
June 18, 2013
Ghosts...Of the Civil Dead, I believe was well advanced in what the prison system, of today was to become, I have seen what they where like, from the 70s through to the 80s, 90s also into 2000s, for what it is worth, I found Ghosts...Of the Civil Dead to be spot on, based on reality and delivered, with great casting, I have to add...that I was also an extra in this movie, along with my younger brother, we played as our selves, I am also on the original DVD cover, I am the one with the thick beard and the eagle on my chest, my name is Roy Farrell, I was and still are very happy to have been, even as small a part I played, and the full size color poster of me, I am recognized all around the world, even long after I pass from this world, great movie....John Hillcoat, great story......!
Nick Cave, played as prisoner "Maynard' a sick minded criminal, was good, a little more than was needed, great score of music through out though.
David Field, I met dave on set, whilst doing a mock up role play of the prisoners starting a riot, I started it of when they said grabbing David Field down the stairs and assaulting him like there was no tomorrow, they had to stop us I remember as it was thought to be a real fight, I guess, I will say well acted, my overall view of this movie...."GREAT MOVIE"
½ May 5, 2013
Unsettling and at times repulsive, the film nevertheless brings a dark insight to bear which is as difficult to reconcile as it is to argue with.
½ April 15, 2013
One of the most disturbing films I've sat through. This is due to the exhaustive level of scenes depicting the raw reality of maximum security prisons. Not to mention John Hillcoat's fragmentary style, which gives us short vignettes full of brutality, cruelty, and utter destruction with voice over narration by indistinct voices, making it all the less personal. What is presented is, while difficult and grotesque, in many ways necessary because it brings to the mind the problem of how best to incarcerate our criminals and how best to treat them, and how easily both of these can go wrong. Overall, it was really well made, in fact, exceptionally well made for a first feature by John Hillcoat, who would later reteam with Nick Cave for another three films, each of them gritty, pulse-pounding, and ethereal nightmares.
Super Reviewer
October 25, 2012
It's quite an unique film, but uneasy to watch. The narration is quite different, the film techniques are extraordinary. I must say the screen play is somewhat scattered, with non-directional editing. The use of colour for the prison was pretty interesting, but the film failed to provide any entertainment. The film is, very Aussie indeed, but also very unrealistic (The character-Lily is kinda disturbing to watch)
August 28, 2012
Vicious circle: the psychotic inmates and the dictatoric prison facility creates civiliter mortuus from everybody among the walls of the prison. Hillcoat's apocalypse takes place in a prison and with one exception he never shows physical brutality, but many psychological and uses a cold, sterile and objective eyesight. That's why Ghosts... of the Civil Dead is even more shocking than The Proposition and The Road.
August 11, 2012
Interesting thematically. The effects let it down, I also found the Australian accents & acting somewhat grating. Cinematography good at times & terrible at others. An interesting low budget Australian take on the prison film. Good music including music from (& also acting by) Nick Cave.
June 18, 2012
madness, scary, real. What to show your teenager when he's acting out and putting on the bad attitude, this will show that there is baddies out there and you definitely don't want to be living with them in a place like this. a great eye-opener. Keep your doors and windows locked, you never know who may be out there....
½ June 18, 2012
Vastly understated gritty prison drama which displays horrid details of humankind via an unjust and irrational prison system. Slow and gradually eerie, but with many missed opportunities.
June 18, 2012
Total waste of plot, no nothing. Only plus was Nick Cave as a psycho, but he was in about two scenes...
Super Reviewer
½ June 18, 2012
"Ghosts of the Civil Dead" is Australian director John Hillcoat's first feature -- also, his first collaboration with musician/screenwriter Nick Cave (preceding "The Proposition," "The Road" and this year's "Lawless").

A vanguard prison trumpets its cleanliness and efficiency, but the corrupt staff conspires to push the inmates toward a self-destructive riot. There's not much more to the story, and "Ghosts" is one of those films where every character strains so hard to be grim, intense and frightening that you end up just rolling your eyes. I approached this movie as a Cave fan, and he indeed is the best reason to watch. During his feral heyday, he appears as a hate-speaking psychotic who spends all his screen time screaming vulgar abuse at whoever is unlucky enough to fall within eye range. Good fun. Alas, his crude score (composed with help from two of his band members) is little more than a loop of four ascending cello notes with wispy female moans on top.

Considering its harsh setting and premise, "Ghosts" is much less violent than expected. Most of the fights occur offscreen. This may be a cost-cutting measure as much as an aesthetic choice. But if you're keen to watch rugged men glowering in isolation, do not miss this film.
½ June 18, 2012
A high-tech maximum security prison in the middle of the Austrialian outback holds only the most violent and psychotic monsters. The facility is a very repressive place to the point that prisoner cruelty is questioned. These cruel, unnecessary acts against the prisoners grow harsher and harsher as the months pass eventually causing a rebellion among the prisoners leading the horrific violence. John Hillcoat's first feature examines the idea of how cruelty breeds more, most of the time harsher cruelty. Its a study of circular violence and the darkness of men. The prison in the film is really the main character. There are lots of various characters that he goes back too, but really the flow of the story is the impending doom and growing tension which takes place in the film leading to the horrifically violent conclusion. Hillcoat tells the movie in almost an documentary sort of way. As each month passes, we are updated, with text, as to the latest violence that as happened, as it seems to increase every month. The film also has narration throughout, talking about the hell hole he is in, and giving insights into the situation from multiple viewpoints. The film is not biased at all as it splits its time between the prisoners and guards, showing the behind the scenes of these desperate worlds of which both live in this hellish place. The film is quite atmospheric and the visual design just adds to the tension and it all really works brilliantly together to tell the story. . Nick Cave plays one of the most psychotic inmates who arrives about two-thirds of the film. He is fantastic as this psychotic inmate who doesn't fear anything or anyone and is 100% insane. This really is like no prison film I've seen before.
½ February 7, 2012
Very hard. An honset reflection of the situations in maximum security prisons and their prisoners. David Field is fabulous once again, allowing me to believe that with Vince Collisimo and David Wenham, he is one of the true great modern aussie actors. Nick Cave plays a great(but small role too).
January 29, 2012
It's a depressingly ultra-realistic and overlooked aussie film, I'm supprised the Police havn't tryed to ban it like the Snouts in the Trough book has been.
March 31, 2010
People just needs to see this film.

John Hillcoat is a great artist.
February 27, 2010
presented as part of my virtual gay and lesbian film festival in honour of mardi gras - possibly on of the best 3 Australian films ever
½ November 29, 2009
Wow. This is John Hillcoat's extremely bleak and dismal feature film debut, written and scored by Nick Cave, and it certainly is a brutal one. The film follows a series of events in a maximum security prison that led to a riot and a lengthy lockdown; how the events were reported vs. how they actually occurred, showing the way in which the prison system is manipulated in order to create fear and subsequently the demand within society for protection. This is done almost entirely through narration with very little actual dialogue exchanged, though the characters within the prison all take on realistic, believable and individual qualities throughout. The end result is something very powerful and thought provoking. The film falters a couple times in attempting to explain itself too much. A bit of narration towards the end pretty much sets out in detail the entire message of the film which is a shame as up until that point the film had done a good job of avoiding such direct exposition.

Still, all in all, it's a great film and yet another addition to the list of prison films that are a billion times better than The Shawshank Redemption. Not quite as good as Scum, but up there.
October 28, 2009
Hillcoat + Cave = grim greatness.
October 26, 2009
A fairly unhappy prison movie. There aren't really any characters to relate to. Typical Australian grittiness and brutality. Nick Cave's in it.
April 15, 2009
One of the roughest movies ever made. Like OZ if OZ hadn't gotten stupid. It's pretty good too. Based off real prison stories, acted by ex-cons, ex-guards, body builders, and one utterly insane Nick Cave in a his full on drug fueled crazy from the 80s. Can't recommend this movie to just anyone, cause we all know how women love stories about spending the night in jail, but it's worth seeing.
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