This is a film that I’ve been meaning to get around to for quite a while now. That up there is the theatrical-release poster. Aside from being pretty shoddy, look at all those faces – ‘it’s that guy, and that one, oh, and is that? Oh yes it is!’ – this is a film made up of Hollywood’s second men.
Animal Factory, based on the far superior novel by Edward Bunker, is Steve Buscemi’s second feature as director. Brattish eternal teenager Edward Furlong plays mopey youth Ron Decker who, after being thrown into prison for marijuana charges, finds an unlikely relationship with a set of unlikely prison inmates, particularly freaky Earl Copen played by Willem Dafoe. Now that’s synergy.
So, we’re in this prison: there’s gangs, there’s rebellion against the prison guards, there’s an underground drugs trade, there’s Micky Rourke as a terrifying drag queen and there’s this guy doing his regular schtick (apologies for the awkward photo). All that aside, there isn’t much else to Animal Factory that keeps you interested, regardless of how beautiful the Wrestler is as a woman. Again, it’s right here. Animal Factory ends up being a bit banal. Already failing to provide anything new to the prison drama sub genre, it doesn’t even take form as a decent rehash. All we’re presented with is the stereotypical rigmarole of prison life, add to that Furlong becoming increasingly petulant and Dafoe evermore creepy.
To be honest, this film is a bit of a gas. Essentially, it’s a camp TV movie. That implies that it’s terrible, and it really is. However, it isn’t offensive; it’s pure escapism and relatively enjoyable on a superficial level. Plus, did I mention that it’s got Mickey Rourke in drag? Oh I did? Twice already? Oh well, one more couldn’t hurt.