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175 of 356 readers found this review helpful.
I have to admit something to you bums out there; I look forward to getting a Kevin VanHook film. I can't say why exactly, because all his movies seem to fall apart and aren't even that good. I guess the reason I like them so much is at times they can be fun. We've reviewed a few here (Slayer, Voodoo Moon, The Fallen Ones) and all got an average or below average score of blah. I have faith though. Receiving a movie in the mail by this guy does make me want to pop it in right away. The faith that I mentioned is that this guy begins to relish in the fun instead of trying to put too much or too little into a movie. Voodoo Moon had it's moments and much potential, but overall has too many different things in the mix, and too little actual story or explanation. The same could be said about this movie. VanHook is trying too much and at the same time too little which comes out tastless and flat. In fact, I would say that this movie was a step back from Voodoo Moon.
A group of filmmakers (original, no?) decide to visit an ailing ex-prison guard in the hospital. The WB looking filmmakers are doing a documentary about a horrible prison massacre. Talking to the old man (Stacy Keach in his 2 seconds of film time even though he is on the cover) tells the tale of how the prisoners and guards went crazy and burned the place down. Why exactly did they do this? Who knows.
Next thing we see is a group of armed robbers deciding to hide out in the prison after their robbery went sour. (original, no?) One of their crew took a bullet in the leg. While the prison was originally believed to be a great hiding spot, once a drop of blood hits the floor the vengeful prisoner ghosts come back to get revenge on the criminals for some reason or another. Uh-oh! What's this? In come the filmmakers. They also get stuck in the prison and in the mix with the living criminals. People die and it all leads up to an ending that makes no damn sense, but sure had a lot of horrible CGI. The end.
So my problem with this movie is that I cared about absolutely no one in it or anything that was going on for that matter. There was no tension, creepy moments or resolve. Instead of making this movie about just people getting killed in a prison we are also told that Busey's character had a grandfather that went to the prison. He has some kind of tie into all of this, but I missed that. I guess we are given some grand plan on how to stop the prison ghosts from killing and also an attempt of explanation to how all of this came out, but either again I missed it or it made little to no sense. I'm going to lean towards it not making sense. I watched the scenes that tried to explain, yet nothing clicked. I'm sure this all made sense in VanHook's head, but how's about letting the viewer in on what's going on. See how there is too much, yet too little. Quite the riddle yet VanHook does it.
Let's get to the two things that this movie had. One was Jake Busey. I've always been a fan (even if every role seems to be the same for him) and in Death Row he was his same old acting self if not too over the top at moments. Not a bad thing at all. The second was the death scenes. For a blah movie, the death scenes had some moments. From a hot female body (what a waste) being sliced in two, attacked from a license plate press and a great bar cell squish that all gave a slight glee of grue to my face. Unfortunately again, everything before or after the kills were nothing.
Death Row wasn't horrible by any means, but it also sure as hell wasn't good. Like watching golf on TV, it just was things moving on a screen that gave me no involvment. If you are thinking about buying this movie, don't. If you see it at the video store I can't even recommend a strong rent. If it is on TV however (cable) then I would say give it a watch if for anything only the fun death scenes. Use the rest of the movie for bathroom breaks.
2 cans for Busey and some good kills and gore.
Added: Tuesday, March 13, 2007
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