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DVD Reviews: Ghosts of the Civil Dead

The Final Say!

Feature Score:
DVD Extras Score

Reviewed by Dean Malandrini
Review Date: 18 May 2003
Distributed by:
The AV Channel
Running Time: 90 Minutes

Ghosts of the civil dead, is a story that has been based on actual events around the situation in a maximum security prison in the eighties.  The story is introduced by a new character entering this highly corrupted prison system.  At the time of his incarceration central industrial prison is a few days away from a raid and the longest ever recorded lock down. 

The lockdown comes about the administrations provocation of both inmates and law enforcement staff.  The prisoners before the time of the lockdown were all heavily involved in drugs, sex and the jailers knew all about it, it kept the prison population under control, easy to manage, but when administration steps in and begins raids on the cells all hell breaks lose.  Now with all prisoners clean and heavily on the edge, administration begins to send them all the crazies, the type of prisoner that would kill you for your shoe laces this puts everyone in danger. 

The move is very, very slow to start and just when you think it is; that’s it the entire movie doesn’t intensify.  The story is a boring one but there are certain points in the movie where you can give it a ‘Oh there’s something interesting happening’, not my type of movie.  I like movies where things actually happen, I suppose because it is based on a true story they can’t just add exciting bits in to make it interesting.  The movie would have been a bit risky for its time and very controversial, the violence will amuse and the sheer fact that this type of thing happens in OUR prison system is quite daunting. 

The quality of both the sound and picture were sufficient throughout the movie though Australian films do have that home video type of look to them.  Extras on the DVD are tremendous there are oodles of extra information about the actual event that took place.  Extras include over two hours of interviews, research material used to make the film as real as possible, photo gallery, story boards, letter from Jack Henry Abbott, Nick Caves annotated script, history of the film told by producer and director, Audio interviews with cast and crew, biographies, posters, and also reviews on the movie from its time. 

Ghosts of the Civil Dead Features

  • World Exclusive Interviews with Nick Cave, Mick Harvey & Blixa Bargeld (1988 & 2000)
  • History of the film
  • Audio Interviews
  • Biographies
  • Music Soundtrack Excerpts
  • Critical Analysis (audio essay)
  • Reviews
  • Posters from all over the world
  • Nick Cave's Annotated Script
  • Research Scrapbook
  • Letter to Director from Jack Henry Abbott
  • Photo Gallery
  • Storyboards
  • Cannes, Venice
  • Trailers
  • More than 2 Hours of Interviews


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