DVD Review – Animal Factory (2000)

Animal Factory tells the story of a young offender, Ron Decker (Edward Furlong), thrown into a rough as f*ck prison with offenders 5-10 years his senior. Rather than see him caught bullied into a gang, he’s taken under the wing of a senior offender called Earl (Willem Defoe). Earl puts himself and his crew at risk to make sure Rick isn’t chewed up and spat out by the prison system – but it isn’t long before wants a piece of the fresh face kid.

Steve Buscemi brings Eddie Bunkers prison yard tales to life in a grime, yet overly believable story about life in a high security prison. If that is not a selling point what about this casting – Eddie Furlong, Willem Defoe, Danny Trejo, Mickey Rourke, Tom Arnold and even John Heard – aye, you read me right – Kevin McAllister’s dad!

The film delivers a straight forward story told over 90 minutes which I appreciated – it focuses on the relationship between Furlongs character just trying to survive and Defoe looking out for him. It does not need to compare itself to Shawshank Redemption – I’m glad it didn’t try.

Edward Furlong was a great choice – he was the right age, still looked young and vulnerable enough for the role. Defoe, I mean – come on! Of course, Defoe was pitch perfect for his role, hell seeing him with a skinhead made him look intimidating as fuu. One last star-studded performance was Mickey Rourke as Jan the Actress – a cross dressing inmate who shares a cell with Decker – Jan acts out more like a big sister to Furlongs Decker.

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Arrow Home Video sent us a DVD copy of this release and it comes with two set of special features – firstly there is a 20-minute retrospective on the career of Edward Bunker as told by critic Barry Forshaw, it’s a mixture of movie clips with Barry talking over his experiences with Edward throughout the years.

We are also treated to a audio commentary from Edward Bunker and Danny Trejo – I listened to a thirty minute sample of the commentary and whilst both men are not constantly yapping throughout the recording they seemed happy to talk about their experiences on set, talk about their histories with the characters seen on screen and what it was like working on set and both of them discussing their lives on the inside – Trejo, also a famous ex-convict/actor.

Overall a fun little release – special features are light, but its great to see these smaller gems getting reintroduced to the world twenty years later.