With the movie "Lockout," we finally get a prison located in outer space. It had to happen at some point -- prison is a business which is booming far more than it should be. There are many prison movies, to the point it makes one wonder what kind of prisons differ from the regular kind.
Sooner or later, filmmakers are going to get creative with what new forms of incarceration they can come up with, and they love to explore those unusual locations for all they are worth. Here are some films that give us prisons that are not the usual San Quentin kind:
In writer/director John Carpenter's vision of the future, the crime rate in America has risen so high that New York (or, more specifically, Manhattan Island) has been turned into a maximum security prison. Actually, turning a city into a prison sounds like a good idea; you can cut down on the prisons you build and incarcerate all your criminals in one place where they can fend for themselves. But like any other prison, you do need to watch your back (especially when you go down 42nd Street).
Alcatraz wasn't the only prison on an island. Check out this movie starring Steve McQueen and Dustin Hoffman as inmates serving their prison time in the notorious French penal colony on Devil's Island.
The conditions are nothing short of brutal, so it's easy to understand why McQueen's character Henri "Papillon" Charrière tried so many times to escape. Despite many dangers such as quicksand, poisonous animals, and the chance of catching leprosy, nothing keeps him from trying to break free (and that's including seven years of solitary confinement).
"Re-Animator" director Stuart Gordon gives us a prison in a dystopian future where the security is extremely high, to the point inmates are implanted with "intestinators" -- devices that cause extreme pain in prisoners if they become violent, and can kill them if they try to escape. The penitentiary is also overseen by the Zed-10 computer which monitors the day-to-day activities and eventually develops HAL 9000 delusions of grandeur.
The John Woo action bonanza has Nicolas Cage sent to a prison so secret that even the inmates don't know where it is. They are also forced to where magnetic boots which force them to stand in place when they misbehave, leaving the guards (gleeful that various human rights organization have no knowledge of this facility) free to torture the prisoners as much as they want.
The only way to get the magnetic boots off is when the staff punish you even further by performing electroshock therapy on your brain. If you do escape to the outside, you will discover that you're in the middle of the ocean, which makes your escape a little more complicated than you thought.
"Joey, have you ever been in a Turkish prison?"
So said Peter Graves in the comedy classic "Airplane," but after watching Alan Parker's 1978 movie, you may feel like you've been to one. Granted, no stay in prison can ever be deemed pleasant, but Sağmalcılar prison literally looks like hell on earth, filled with prisoners brutalized to where their sanity is rendered almost non-existent.
Prisoner Billy Hayes is subjected to both mental and physical torture which later causes him to bite off another inmate's tongue and gets him sent to the insane asylum. Like Hayes, you are desperate to escape the prison with him.
Other articles by Ben Kenber:
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