“ANIMAL FACTORY”— Life in Prison

”Animal Factory”

Life in Prison

Amos Lassen

Ron Decker (Edward Furlong) is a troubled young man who is sentenced to a ten-year stint in us San Quentin State Prison for a drug-dealing conviction. He is totally inexperienced in the ways of prison life and is protected by Earl Copen (Willem Dafoe), an experienced con who seems to have the entire prison in the palm of his hand (inmates and guards alike). As Ron becomes increasingly arrogant and cocky in his privileged role as Earl’s confidant, he just might find himself in danger of biting off more than he can chew with some of the prison’s volatile inhabitants. 


Steve Buscemi directed this account of men caught up in the penal system and the deals they cut with each other, and themselves, in order to survive. Ron is young, educated, and middle-class and is serving a ten-year sentence for peddling marijuana. Copen has been in prison for 18 years and is known as “King of the Yard.” He gets drugs for his buddies, is friends with several guards, and knows how to play the “prison game”. Although Ron tries hard to be a good prisoner, he runs into trouble with a hillbilly (Tom Arnold) who nearly rapes him in a bathroom. We then begin to see the violent milieu of frequent stabbings and retaliations, in addition to the constant tension between the races and Ron begins to understand that he is no man of his own and wants to gain revenge on his attempted rapist. consciousness. He wants revenge. But Copen, who has gotten him a relaxed job in the library, is convinced that his young friend can achieve an early parole if he plays his cards right.

The mentoring relationship between the two men stands at the emotional center of “Animal Factory”. Copen helps Decker walk through a dark period of his life and offers him safety and a small measure of hope. We see a caring relationship.

Buscemi lets prison life speak for themselves. Ron quickly learns that nothing has prepared him for prison’s violence, rape, and racial tension, or the ways such underlying threats can reshape his character even if they remain unrealized. He finds some protection with his mentor whose multiple extended stints have made it easy him to develop connections among prisoners and guards alike. However, he is never sure of Copen’s intentions and at first keeps him at arm’s length, but he also finds his options elsewhere are limited and unpleasant. Violence is always in the background as an everyday possibility, and when it occurs, it flashes by quickly enough to seem almost unreal.

Ron and Copen’s relationship is an uneasy alliance that comes out of the possibility of redemption, or at least escape.

Special features include:

– High Definition digital transfer

– Lossless original 2.0 stereo audio

– Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing

– Interview with critic Barry Forshaw covering Eddie Bunker’s varied career

– Audio commentary by novelist/co-writer/actor Eddie Bunker and co-producer/actor Danny Trejo

– Theatrical trailer

– Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Jacob Phillips

First Pressing Only: Collector’s booklet containing new writing on the film by Glenn

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