Film (1992, but released 1993). Fortress Films/Village Roadshow Pictures/Davis Entertainment Production. Directed by Stuart Gordon. Written by Steve Feinberg, Troy Neighbors. Cast includes Jeffrey Combs, Clifton Gonzalez Gonzalez, Lincoln Kilpatrick, Christopher Lambert, Loryn Locklin, Kurtwood Smith, Tom Towles and Vernon Wells. 95 minutes. Colour.
In a near-future and apparently semi-fascist USA it is illegal to have more than one child, and ex "Black Beret" soldier John Brennick (Lambert) and his pregnant wife (Locklin), having lost one child, get caught attempting to cross the border into Mexico. Both are imprisoned (in different areas) in the Fortress, a privately run 30-storey, futuristic, Underground Prison in the desert. The director is a demented cyborg, the gaolers are androids grown from redundant babies, the prisoners carry explosive balls in their stomach which explode during escape attempts, and things look bad. In an escalating series of exploitation-movie over-the-top lunacies, a breakout is achieved, but not before pregnant Mrs Brennick is threatened with fatal Caesarean by circular saw. The film has only one redeeming feature, a sense that exploitation sf-cinema is fun, and its various unpleasantnesses are achieved with commendable vigour and bad taste. Lambert's performance is dire. This Australian/American coproduction was the first of two sf future-prison break-out movies with military heroes to be made in Australia within two years, the other being No Escape (1994; vt Penal Colony; vt The Prison Colony; vt Escape From Absalom), a more humane but less watchable film. [PN]
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