January is Prison Month at CHUD. We figured that since it’s a bright new year with tons of hope we’d spotlight movies about jail. Seems to make perfect sense. Prison movies are a staple in Hollywood. They are brutal, inspiring, formulaic, and unless you’re having a particularly bad run make you feel a bit better about your own lot in life. This January we’ll share some of the best, worst, and most peculiar.

Previously: Bad Boys.

The Prison Flick: Felon (2008) Buy it from CHUD

Featured Talent: Stephen Dorff. Val Kilmer. Harold Perrineau. Nick Chinlund. Marisol Nichols. Ric Roman Waugh (director)

The Plot: While defending his home from an intruder a man (Stephen Dorff, a good actor who should be a lot higher on the food chain) kills the man in his front yard with one majestic swing from a baseball bat. He should have bunted. Sentenced for manslaughter the hard working family man is thrust into the deep end of the prison system and is forced to survive in the vicious world behind bars. He’s given a notorious cellmate (Val Kilmer in a fantastic and subdued performance), a terrible head guard (Harold Perrineau), and adversity in every direction. It works.

Quality: This is one of those movies you see the box art for and immediately assume it’s two reputable actors collecting a check. This is a good movie. A really good one. No complaints.

Racial Tension: So much. The Aryan Brotherhood has a prominent presence here and there. Plenty of white on black violence and vice versa. Latins also punch and get punched. Apparently in prison your race plays a prominent role in who punches your face.

So it’s like America.


Does Someone Die To Teach an Important Lesson? No! Well sorta. But not really. Though it caters to many prison flick tropes Felon doesn’t kill off a fresh-faced inmate to showcase the horrors of the penal system.


Grievous Prison Shit: There are a few shankings that would make Breaking Bad’s corrupt lawyer wince in remembrance. Guards shoot rubber bullets and bullet bullets at and into folks. Many are punched, kicked, and racially epithetted.


Best Line:

“Do you wanna fuck or fight?”

38 incarcerated minutes in.

Is there penetration behind bars? No one gets sexed, which basically makes me want to commit a crime. Seriously, though it’s alluded to there is no romance in the world of Felon‘s slammer.


Random Notes: Val Kilmer dishes some valuable advice on the rules in his cell, including how to jerk off, fart, and poop. Stephen Dorff is a smaller gentleman. Harold Perrineau is a versatile actor. The nudity in this film is minimal but they do a great job of making it sad and invasive without bringing attention to it. Nick Chinlund is awesome here in a subdued voice of reason role. Ric Roman Waugh’s a pretty damn good filmmaker. If you like Val Kilmer grunting this movie is for you. If you want free Converse All-Stars, get jailed. Mr. Kilmer lost weight and gained beard for the role. That’s a sacrifice. If it ain’t white it ain’t right.


Out of a Possible 5 Stars


 Message Board Thread for CHUD Behind Bars.