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Prison of the Psychotic Damned (2006)

Prison of the Psychotic Damned


Prison of the Psychotic Damned is a independent horror film starring low budget scream queen Melantha Blackthorne, up-and-coming scream queens Susan Adriensen and Noel Francomano along with actress, vocalist, model Demona Bast and newcomer Jim Vaughn.  The story is relatively standard for this type of film: a group of people go into an abandoned location rumored to be haunted to spend the night looking for ghosts only to be terrified when they actually find them.  I've seen Melantha in several films before and I've read numerous glowing reviews of Prison of the Psychotic Damned, so I was expecting something that really stood out from the numerous independent films that are released these days.  Although there were certain elements of the film that were extremely well done, for the most part Prison of the Psychotic Damned struck me as relatively typical of this type of movie and honestly, a little disappointing.

The opening credits featured cool imagery and awful music (imagine Courtney Love but worse singing over a poorly written, amateur home recording).  Melantha Blackthorne is featured in a short opening clip that I guess is there to build history for her character, but really it seemed completely unnecessary for the overall plot.  This is followed by way too much time spent on the crew in their car getting to the aforementioned "abandoned location," which in this case is a former train station turned insane asylum called 'The Terminal.'  It is supposedly the most haunted place in America.  The building that the majority of the film was shot in made an excellent set, especially once it got dark.  Their use of awesome pre-existing architecture for their sets gave the movie a higher budget feel than it otherwise would have had.  Unfortunately, there was even more time spent with the crew setting up once they finally did reach the location.  Once night hits, they actually get their act together and start looking for ghosts.  This is where things really pick up.  The lighting is wonderful and there are a lot of great shots.  You get lots of blood and gore during this section of the movie.  The story starts to fall apart by the end of the film, but the visuals for the second half of the movie are really cool anyway.  There's also a good bit of nudity starting in the beginning with Melantha's random intro scene and picking back up in the second half when everything starts getting bloody.

I've read that Prison of the Psychotic Damned cost about $250,000 to make which puts it way into the top range of the films that I review, so I don't think that any of the issues I have with the movie can be blamed on lack of budget.  The locations couldn't have been much better.  The lighting was great, the camera shots were cool and for the most part, the audio was better than most of the low budget movies that I watch.  Still, this movie just didn't have whatever it was that I had expected from reading other reviews.  Part of it was that the acting here was pretty bad.  Since I've seen a couple of the actresses before in other films and thought that their acting fine, I can't help but think the blame should go to director DW Kann.  I feel particularly bad for Noel Francomano.  Her character, Nessie, was poorly written which led to her seeming out of place and annoying in the film.  I also could have done without all the fart jokes which seemed to make up the majority of Jim Vaughn's character, Jason.  I realize that most of these movies don't have brilliant writing, but they usually at least have a beginning, a middle and an end.  This one had a dragged out beginning, a solid middle and a convoluted mess for third act.  

I can't help but wonder what I would have thought of the movie if I hadn't read so many great reviews before seeing it.  Maybe I was just expecting too much and would have enjoyed the film more if I had no preconceived ideas about it.  Once the film finally gets rolling, there are plenty of artistically shot, awesomely bloody scenes that stand out above the standard films of the genre.  Unfortunately, it just took too long to get there and I felt let down by the conclusion.  Overall, I've seen worse, but I've also seen much better.

Gore-o-meter rating: 4 out of 5
(There are some great gore scenes)

Skin-o-meter: 3 out of 5 (There's a good amount of nudity)