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The Independent Critic

Edward Furlong, Willem Dafoe, Danny Trejo, Tom Arnold, Mickey Rourke, Seymour Cassel
Steve Buscemi
Edward Bunker (Novel/Screenplay), John Steppling (Screenplay)
Rated R
94 Mins.
Arrow Films

 "Animal Factory" Released by Arrow Films 

Ron Decker (Edward Furlong, American History X) is a troubled youth sentenced to a ten-year stint at the notorious San Quentin State Prison for a drug dealing conviction in Steve Buscemi's second directorial effort, Animal Factory. In experienced in the ways of prison life, Decker finds himself taken under the wing of an older prisoner, Earl Copen (Willem Dafoe), who seemingly dominates the prison and has both prisoners and guards in the palm of his hands. As Decker becomes more comfortable in his setting and cocky about his role as Earl's confidante, does he run the risk of setting off the prison's more volatile inmates?

Based upon a semi-autobiographical novel by Edward Bunker, Animal Factory is both a gritty film and a surprisingly sensitive, emotionally resonant one with fine performances across the board from its ensemble cast that also includes Danny Trejo, Tom Arnold, and Seymour Cassel among others. In some ways, the film is a no holds barred glimpse inside the lives of these prisoners and the deals they make on a daily basis simply to survive. Mickey Rourke gives a compelling performance as Decker's cross-dressing cellmate, while Tom Arnold deserves uncomfortable kudos as the kind of sexual predator you hear about in prisons but hope you never encounter - anywhere. 

The film's real meat n' potatoes, though, belongs to the nuanced and believably developed relationship that is fostered between Dafoe's Copen and Furlong's Decker, a relationship that possesses a lingering tension even as it becomes abundantly clear that Copen's intentions are authentic. Buscemi magnificently captures the lingering doubts of Decker, who learns time and time again that this is a world where trusting anyone can be the last mistake you make or, if you're lucky, it may be the only way out. 



  • 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
  • New bonus features TBC
  • Audio commentary by novelist/co-writer/actor Eddie Bunker and co-producer/actor Danny Trejo
  • Theatrical trailer

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic