The Sunday Cult Film Corner: “Ghosts… Of The Civil Dead (1988)”

06 May

Ugh. Feel pretty drained out today. Have managed to complete a lengthy complicated feature piece that is set to get slashed and ground up through a massive editing process over the coming week. Add to that, an increasingly punishing training schedule for a big sporting event. I’ve been chopping logs and wrestling the local cat population, as well running 14 1/2km today. Right now i need to mong, big time.

But that can’t stop me from playing British Bulldog with your sensibilities for it’s Sunday night and that can mean only one thing. Yes – THE SUUUUUNDAYYYYY CUUUUUUULT FIIIIIIILM CORRRRRRRNERRRR!! (burp).

And this week, i have a true classic ’80s cult drama spilling over with nasty sex, violence and degradation of the dregs of human society. Ladies And Gentlemen, i give to you GHOSTS OF THE CIVIL DEAD.

Directed in 1988, by John Hillcoat, GOTCD is set in the near future within the confines of a sprawling, privately run maximum security prison. Initially seen as the model of clean, efficient incarceration, the prison erupts into an orgy of violence. To find out what happened, a committee is set up to find out the causes. The results and testimonies, which are shown in the film, present a picture that goes against the facts of the riot.

GOTCD is a highly disturbing, brutal film which shows the viewer the true nature of what prison often do to those in society that are caught up in the criminal justice system. The cons may be vicious, odd and sometimes evil, but then again so are the “good” guys, the men that are supposed to guard and rehabilitate them. The film’s title refers the fact for a lot of civilised society, these people are dead, mere ghosts, and as such they have no rights, no say, and no future.

The look of the film is especially disturbing. It predates the seminal TV prison series “OZ” by several years in its depiction of a brutal prison life. What the film really is a brutal Sci Fi film. Like being on a spacecraft, the prison is a contain, pressurised space, all gleaming corridors, intercom communications, and a claustrophobic atmosphere that no one can escape from.

the film is also known for having an early acting role for Nick Cave (who also helped write the music and script). together they would continue their work on the films “The Proposition” and possibly the best date movie in the world, “The Road”.

I remember seeing this film in the early ’90s, and to be honest, there aren’t many films like this out there. It certainly leaves an indelible stain on your soul. After watching it, you don’t want to go anywhere near a prison ever again.

So if want to be brutalised in the best Australian fashion, then strip to your underwear, punch holes in the world, and watch this, with the volume turned up….

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Posted by on May 6, 2012 in Film


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