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FURNACE
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Reviewed by: JimmyO

Directed by: William Butler

Starring:
Michael Pare
Tom Sizemore
Ja Rule

Movie:  
star star star star
Extras:  
star star star star
Overall:  
star star star star
What's it about
A detective is brought on to investigate a series of “accidents” at a maximum security prison. Soon after he arrives, he comes to the conclusion that there may be more than meets the eye as to what is driving these men to their deaths.
Is it good movie?
When a prison guard arrives home to his sexy young wife making plans for their anniversary, he walks into the bathroom and takes a gun to his head. His death, and a few others seem to revolve around the inspection of a abandoned wing at a prison. All who find themselves in a certain room thereabouts seem to end up either being burned, having fingers cut off or hung in their cell by an electrical cord. It is up to Detective Michael Turner (Michael Pare) and the prison psychologist, Dr. Ashley Turner (Jenny McShane) to figure out what is happening while the abandoned furnace seems to burn.

Furnace is a surprisingly involving ghost story. Set around the towering walls of a maximum-security prison. There is an atmospheric discomfort set amongst the dark prison walls. As the group of prisoners are helping to clear a long abandoned wing of the prison, a ghostly presence seems to be sending some of the guards and prisoners to bizarre deaths. Dr. Turner seems to think it is the fault of substance abuse but has no idea where or how this mysterious drug is getting to the inmates. And when the detective shows up and more bodies pile on, they both realize something is much darker than a bad trip.

William Butler who you should know as a genre actor who appeared in Friday the 13th Part 7: The New Blood and Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 3, handles directing duties quite well. What could have been another really bad direct to DVD prison flick ably rises above the sometimes passable special effects, to make an entertaining scare flick. Yes, the CG is weak, yet much of the gore seems to be a worthy attempt and the actors are good enough to make for a fun flick to watch with a bunch of friends. Most notable performances include the always cool as ice Michael Pare and that Wildman himself, Tom Sizemore.
Video / Audio
Video: This is a nice 2.35:1 widescreen transfer.

Audio: Also quite good is the Dolby Digital 5.1 which makes for some creepy sounds when the ghosts come calling.
The Extras
The extras are pretty cold for Furnace. First up is the Original Theatrical Trailer. Not the greatest representation of the film in the fact that it focuses on the gore too much, thus making it look like just another cheap straight to DVD flick, which it is, but I liked it better than most.

There are three Cast Interviews including Danny Trejo (4:38), Ja Rule (14:06) and Tom Sizemore (16:56). The three interviews are what you call “generic” interviews (when an “interviewer” is hired to ask prepared questions) and frankly weren’t very good. In lieu of showing the interviewer, it posts the questions for you to read, then we see the answers. Big mistake if you don’t know the difference between “roll” and “role”. When they are asked “How did you get the roll?” It just seems like somebody should have caught that. I wills say that Tom Sizemore is just kind of cool and he is able to make this a pretty fascinating interview, if a bit long. I really dig that guy.

We also get a few Alternative Scenes that vary just a tad from the finished project. They include “Robbin’s Death”, “Jamison’s Death”, “Janitor Being Killed”, “Scagg’s Death”, “Riot” and “Furnace Scene”. I liked the Riot sequence because the hot chick doctor is given a little more fun to do, but in general, this wasn’t all that exciting of an extra.

And finally, we have Trailers for “The Last Winter”, “Storm Warning”, “Croc” and “Maneater”.
Last Call
While not the most memorable horror film set inside a prison, William Butler knows enough about horror to make for a fun watch. I liked the story and the ghost girl and ghost dad, albeit with some poor CG effects, were eerie enough to make for a surprisingly spooky ghost story. The performances are good enough, especially Tom Sizemore chewing a whole lot of scenery and Michael Pare who just seems to get cooler every time I watch the guy. Not a great film, but certainly a worthwhile little chiller.
ARROW IN THE HEAD'S RATING SYSTEM
star star star star I'D BUTCHER MY FAMILY TO SEE THIS AGAIN
star star star HANG ME BUT I DUG IT A LOT
star star AN OK WAY TO KILL TWO HOURS
star JUST SLING AN ARROW IN MY HEAD AND LET ME DIE IN PEACE

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