Prison (1988)

R | 102 mins | Drama | 4 March 1988

Director:

Renny Harlin

Producer:

Irwin Yablans

Cinematographer:

Mac Ahlberg

Editor:

Andy Horvitch

Production Designer:

Philip Duffin
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HISTORY

Prison marked the second American movie by Finnish director Renny Harlin, and the first movie that Harlin directed on American soil.
       Producer Irwin Yablans, who launched the Halloween (see entry) movie franchise in 1978, was looking for a unique place to set a horror film, the 4 Feb 1987 HR stated, and realized that there had not yet been a horror film set in a prison. Concluding that a prison was one of the most horrific places imaginable, Yablans developed the story, and hired C. Courtney Joyner to write the screenplay.
       With a $6 million budget, principal photography began on 18 May 1987, according to a 22 May 1987 DV production chart. The 22 Feb 1987 LAT reported the film was shot at the abandoned Wyoming State Prison in Rawlins, WY. The prison was built in 1895, but closed in 1982 when a modern prison opened seven miles away. The warden and some prisoners were used as extras. The old facility once housed outlaw Butch Cassidy, the 4 Mar 1988 NYT noted.
       Prison was released on a regional basis, opening on 4 Mar 1988 in New York City, but it did little business at the box office, the 8 Mar 1988 DV reported.
       End credits state: “Special Thanks to the following: Wyoming Film Commission; City of Rawlins, Rawlins Wyoming; Holiday Inn, Rawlins Wyoming; Old Penitentiary Joint Powers Board; Daily Times, Rawlins Wyoming; KRAL Radio Station, Rawlins Wyoming; Wyoming Surplus Property, Cheyenne; Continental Airlines; City of Rawlins Police Department; City of Rawlins Fire Department; and the people of Rawlins who ... More Less

Prison marked the second American movie by Finnish director Renny Harlin, and the first movie that Harlin directed on American soil.
       Producer Irwin Yablans, who launched the Halloween (see entry) movie franchise in 1978, was looking for a unique place to set a horror film, the 4 Feb 1987 HR stated, and realized that there had not yet been a horror film set in a prison. Concluding that a prison was one of the most horrific places imaginable, Yablans developed the story, and hired C. Courtney Joyner to write the screenplay.
       With a $6 million budget, principal photography began on 18 May 1987, according to a 22 May 1987 DV production chart. The 22 Feb 1987 LAT reported the film was shot at the abandoned Wyoming State Prison in Rawlins, WY. The prison was built in 1895, but closed in 1982 when a modern prison opened seven miles away. The warden and some prisoners were used as extras. The old facility once housed outlaw Butch Cassidy, the 4 Mar 1988 NYT noted.
       Prison was released on a regional basis, opening on 4 Mar 1988 in New York City, but it did little business at the box office, the 8 Mar 1988 DV reported.
       End credits state: “Special Thanks to the following: Wyoming Film Commission; City of Rawlins, Rawlins Wyoming; Holiday Inn, Rawlins Wyoming; Old Penitentiary Joint Powers Board; Daily Times, Rawlins Wyoming; KRAL Radio Station, Rawlins Wyoming; Wyoming Surplus Property, Cheyenne; Continental Airlines; City of Rawlins Police Department; City of Rawlins Fire Department; and the people of Rawlins who made this production possible.” More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
22 May 1987.
---
Daily Variety
4 Feb 1988.
---
Daily Variety
4 Mar 1988
p. 3, 52.
Daily Variety
8 Mar 1988
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
4 Feb 1987.
---
Los Angeles Times
22 Feb 1987.
---
Los Angeles Times
24 May 1988
Calendar, p. 8.
New York Times
4 Mar 1988.
---
New York Times
4 Mar 1988
Section C, p. 33.
Variety
2 Mar 1988
p. 12.
Village Voice
15 Mar 1988.
---
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Empire Pictures in Association with Eden, Ltd. Presents
An Irwin Yablans Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
3d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
WRITERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
2d unit dir of photog
2d unit, 1st asst cam
2d unit asst cam
2d unit loader
Still photog
Gaffer
Best boy
Elec
Key grip
Best boy
Ariflex cam and lenses provided by
Grip and lighting equip provided by
ART DIRECTOR
Prod des
FILM EDITORS
Addl ed
Addl ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
Apprentice ed
Negative cutter
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dresser
Set dresser
Set dresser
Set dresser
Set dresser
Scenic artist
Scenic painter
Scenic painter
Scenic painter
Prop master
Prop asst
Weapons master
Const coord, Location crew
Carpenter, Location crew
Carpenter, Location crew
Carpenter, Location crew
Carpenter, Location crew
Carpenter, Location crew
COSTUMES
Ward supv
Ward asst
Seamstress
MUSIC
Cond by
Mus supv for Empire Pictures
Mus ed
Mus coord
Mus score comp and performed entirely on the
AudioFrame courtesy of
Orig score published by
SOUND
Sd mixer
Boom
Supv sd ed
Supv sd ed
Eff ed
Eff ed
Dial ed
Dial ed
Asst sd ed
Apprentice sd ed
Foley rec
ADR group coord
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Dubbing rec
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec mechanical eff created by
Des/Supv, Etan Enterprises
Crew, Etan Enterprises
Crew, Etan Enterprises
Crew, Etan Enterprises
Crew, Etan Enterprises
Animatronics, Mechanical & Make-up Imageries
Animatronics, Mechanical & Make-up Imageries
Modeler, Mechanical & Make-up Imageries
Modeler, Mechanical & Make-up Imageries
Modeler, Mechanical & Make-up Imageries
Contact lenses, Mechanical & Make-up Imageries
Lab tech, Mechanical & Make-up Imageries
Lab tech, Mechanical & Make-up Imageries
Lab tech, Mechanical & Make-up Imageries
Lab tech, Mechanical & Make-up Imageries
Titles & opticals
Eff coord/Printer op
Titles
MAKEUP
Makeup/Hair
Asst makeup/Hair
Addl Makeup/Hair
Spec makeup eff created by
Des/Supv, Mechanical & Make-up Imageries
Shop foreman, Mechanical & Make-up Imageries
Prod mgr, Mechanical & Make-up Imageries
Makeup artist, Location crew
Makeup artist, Location crew
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting dir
Casting assoc
Exec in charge of prod
Unit mgr
Prod coord
Prod auditor
Scr supv
Lab tech
Lab tech
Lab tech
Lab tech
Set supv, Location crew
Casting coord, Location crew
Extras casting, Location crew
Asst to the prod, Location crew
Asst to the dir, Location crew
Asst to Charles Band, Location crew
Transportation capt, Location crew
Prod secy, Location crew
Prod mechanic, Location crew
Wyoming prod asst, Location crew
Wyoming prod asst, Location crew
Wyoming prod asst, Location crew
Wyoming prod asst, Location crew
Wyoming prod asst, Location crew
Wyoming prod asst, Location crew
Denver prod asst, Location crew
Denver prod asst, Location crew
Los Angeles prod asst, Location crew
Los Angeles prod asst, Location crew
Caterer, Location crew
Caterer's asst, Location crew
Craft services, Location crew
Post prod faciliteis provided by
Exec in charge of post prod
Post prod coord
Post prod asst
Projectionist
Projectionist
STAND INS
Stunt coord
COLOR PERSONNEL
Laboratory
SOURCES
SONGS
“Love Will Be Hurrying To You,” written by Margaret Connell, Melissa Connell, published by Big Neck Music, ASCAP
“Chaos,” written by Ron Jankowski, Sunny Hilder, published by Marble Lady Music, ASCAP, Solshien Music, BMI.
DETAILS
Release Date:
4 March 1988
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 4 March 1988
Los Angeles opening: 20 May 1988
Production Date:
began 18 May 1987
Copyright Claimant:
Eden, Ltd.
Copyright Date:
7 April 1993
Copyright Number:
PA613596
Physical Properties:
Sound
Recorded in Ultra-Stereo®
Color
Duration(in mins):
102
Length(in feet):
9,237
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
28841
SYNOPSIS

When construction of a new prison is behind schedule, prison overcrowding forces the state of Wyoming to reopen Wyoming State Penitentiary in Rawlins, which has been closed since 1968. Ethan Sharpe is appointed to be the warden. Three hundred prisoners are transferred into the aging facility and put to work cleaning it up. When two inmates, Rabbitt and Hershey, try to escape, Sharpe puts them in solitary confinement and punishes everyone else by canceling all mail and visitation privileges. Sharpe who worked at the old prison as a guard and witnessed the 1964 electrocution of prisoner Charles Forsythe, still has nightmares about it. He also has the gold chain and crucifix that Forsythe wore around his neck. One day, Sharpe sends several inmates, including Burke and his cellmate, Joe “Lasagna” Lazano, into the basement to break through a wall that conceals the execution chamber. As they do so, various machines throughout the prison self-activate and explode. Lightning bolts emanate from the execution chamber and spread through the penitentiary. One prisoner’s hands are burned, and he reports that he shook hands with a spirit. As water covers the floor in the solitary confinement cells, Hershey screams that the ground is on fire. Burke rushes in and saves Rabbitt, but Hershey’s body is burnt to a crisp. Despite Burke’s heroism, Warden Sharpe warns it will make no difference to the parole board. Put back in a regular cell, reports Rabbitt devises an escape plan, but Burke wants no part of it. Sharpe goes into the old execution chamber and places Charles Forsythe’s gold chain and cross on the electric chair. An instant later, the prison’s power shuts down. Sharpe ... +


When construction of a new prison is behind schedule, prison overcrowding forces the state of Wyoming to reopen Wyoming State Penitentiary in Rawlins, which has been closed since 1968. Ethan Sharpe is appointed to be the warden. Three hundred prisoners are transferred into the aging facility and put to work cleaning it up. When two inmates, Rabbitt and Hershey, try to escape, Sharpe puts them in solitary confinement and punishes everyone else by canceling all mail and visitation privileges. Sharpe who worked at the old prison as a guard and witnessed the 1964 electrocution of prisoner Charles Forsythe, still has nightmares about it. He also has the gold chain and crucifix that Forsythe wore around his neck. One day, Sharpe sends several inmates, including Burke and his cellmate, Joe “Lasagna” Lazano, into the basement to break through a wall that conceals the execution chamber. As they do so, various machines throughout the prison self-activate and explode. Lightning bolts emanate from the execution chamber and spread through the penitentiary. One prisoner’s hands are burned, and he reports that he shook hands with a spirit. As water covers the floor in the solitary confinement cells, Hershey screams that the ground is on fire. Burke rushes in and saves Rabbitt, but Hershey’s body is burnt to a crisp. Despite Burke’s heroism, Warden Sharpe warns it will make no difference to the parole board. Put back in a regular cell, reports Rabbitt devises an escape plan, but Burke wants no part of it. Sharpe goes into the old execution chamber and places Charles Forsythe’s gold chain and cross on the electric chair. An instant later, the prison’s power shuts down. Sharpe orders a prisoner count, but Rabbitt makes his escape just before they go into lockdown. As he sneaks through the bowels of the prison, Rabbitt sees metal tubing, pipes, and ropes move on their own, seemingly controlled by supernatural forces, and the pipes kill him. The next day, when Rabbitt’s body falls through the ceiling into the cafeteria, prison board member Katherine Walker demands an investigation of the two inmate deaths. Sharpe orders guards to collect all the mattresses from cells and place them in the courtyard. He douses them with gasoline and sets them on fire, declaring the prisoners no longer have cells, only cages. Believing Rabbitt was murdered, he demands the killer confess, but no one responds. Sharpe orders a guard to do a body search of each prisoner, then makes the convicts stand in the courtyard in their underwear through the night. The next morning, when an older prisoner, Burton Cresus, collapses from exhaustion, the guards harass him. Burke is blamed for the incident and placed in solitary confinement. Meanwhile, a guard is attacked by a coil of barbed wire that strangles him. When another guard comes into the break room, he, too, is attacked by the wire. Afterward, the coil pushes the first dead guard’s body through the ceiling into Sharpe’s office. Sharpe puts the prison on lockdown, but just as the prisoners return to their cells, the power goes out and guards cannot lock the cells. The prisoners riot, but guards get them into their cells and manually lock the cell doors. Meanwhile, the electrical devices in Katherine Walker’s motel room, including her computer, turn themselves on. Her computer screen repeatedly flashes “1964 . . . The Prison Dies Tonight!” She goes to the local newspaper and learns that Charles Forsythe’s 1964 execution was the last carried out there. Forsythe’s picture looks like Burke. In a cell, a prisoner cuts his chest repeatedly with a shard of glass while repeating an incantation to summon the “creature of darkness.” Suddenly, a hole appears in the wall and multiple bolts of lightning hit him and other prisoners. The cell doors explode open and the electricity goes out in the entire prison. As the prisoners try to escape, Sharpe goes to the infirmary and chastises Cresus, who tells him that Charles Forsythe’s spirit is exacting revenge. Cresus, who was an inmate at the prison when Sharpe was a guard, witnessed him killing a prisoner, then helped him frame Forsythe for the murder. Their testimony sent Forsythe to the electric chair. In the years since, Sharpe has arranged for Cresus to get easy prison assignments. Meanwhile, Burke escapes solitary confinement, goes to the infirmary, and takes Sharpe hostage. As prisoners dash across the courtyard to freedom, machine guns on the guard tower begin firing. Arriving in her car, Katherine dodges gunfire. Cresus and Burke convince her to drive them and their prisoner, Sharpe, out of the prison, but the prison gate close before they can escape. Burke climbs the prison wall to open the gate from the guard tower, then makes his way down the other side of the wall. As Katherine drives through the gate, Cresus dies. When she stops for Burke, Sharpe steals the car and drives away, but a bolt of lightning hits the road in front of him. Sharpe sees the image of Forsythe being electrocuted. The car explodes, killing him, but Burke and Katherine survive.


+

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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