Written by: Michael Den Boer on December 2nd, 2017
Theatrical Release Date: USA, 2000
Director: Steve Buscemi
Writers: Edward Bunker, John Steppling
Cast: Willem Dafoe, Edward Furlong, Danny Trejo, Mark Boone Junior, Seymour Cassel, Mickey Rourke, Tom Arnold, John Heard, Edward Bunker, Steve Buscemi
BluRay released: November 28th, 2017 (USA) / November 20th, 2017 (UK)
Approximate running times: 94 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Rating: 15 (UK), NR (USA)
Sound: LPCM Stereo English
Subtitles: English SDH
BluRay Release: Arrow Video USA
Region Coding: Region A,B
Retail Price: $39.95 (USA) / £19.99 (UK)
“Troubled youth Ron Decker is sentenced to a ten-year stint in the notorious San Quentin State Prison for a drug-dealing conviction. Inexperienced in the ways of prison life, he’s taken under the wing of Earl Copen, an experienced con with the entire prison in the palm of his hand – inmates and guards alike. But as Ron grows increasingly cocky in his privileged role as Earl’s confidant, is he in danger of biting off more than he can chew with some of the jail’s more volatile inhabitants?” – Synopsis provided by the Distributor
Animal Factory’s screenplay was adapted from Eddie Bunker’s semi-autobiographical of the same name. At age seventeen Eddie Bunker gained notoriety, when he became the youngest inmate ever incarcerated at San Quentin.
Where it comes to films about prison, far too many of them sanitize prison life. And though there have been a handful of films that have done a good job recreating the essence of prison life. I have yet to see a film that has delivered a more unflinchingly effective portrayal of prison life then Animal Factory.
The characters are well defined and the cast are all very good in their respective roles. With this film’s standout performance being Willem Dafoe (To Live and Die in L.A., The Last Temptation of Christ) in the role of Earl Copen, a veteran prisoner who takes Ron Decker, the protagonist of the film under his wing.
Other performances of note include, Edward Furlong (Terminator 2, American History X) in the role of Ron Decker and Mickey Rourke (Angel Heart, The Wrestler) in the role of cross dressing inmate named Jan the Actress. Other notable cast members include, Danny Trejo (From Dusk Till Dawn), Seymour Cassel (The Killing of a Chinese Bookie) and Tom Arnold (True Lies).
From a production standpoint, there is not an area where this film does not deliver and then some. The narrative is well constructed, key moments are given ample amount of time to resonate and the visuals so a superb job reinforcing the bleakness of the story at hand. Standout moments include, a scene where Earl pretends that he has lost his grip on reality to get released from solitary confinement and the film’s finale, which provides a very satisfying conclusion to the events that have just unfolded.
Animal Factory comes on a 50 GB dual layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen. Colors and flesh tones look accurate, image clarity is strong throughout, grain remains intact and there are no issues with compression.
This release comes with one audio option, a LPCM stereo mix in English and included with this release are removable English SDH subtitles. The audio sounds, clean, clear and balanced throughout. And range wise, the more ambient aspects of the soundtrack are well represented.
Extras for this release include, a trailer for the film (1 minute 14 seconds), an interview with critic Barry Forshaw covering Eddie Bunker’s varied career titled Eddie Bunker Life of Crime (20 minutes 50 seconds) and an audio commentary with novelist / co-writer / actor Eddie Bunker and co-producer / actor Danny Trejo.
Topics discussed in the audio commentary include, the origins of the film, how the film was adapted from a novel written by Eddie Bunker, the cast, Steve Buscemi, background information about prison life and onset memories.
Rounding out the extras is a reversible cover art and a twenty-eight-page booklet with cast & crew information, an essay titled Too Real: Steve Buscemi and Edward Bunker’s Animal Factory written by Glenn Kenny and information about the transfer.
Overall Animal Factory gets a solid release from Arrow Video.
Note: This film is also being released by Arrow Video on DVD.