Reviewed by Johnny Butane
Starring Michael Pare, Tom Sizemore, Danny Trejo, Ja Rule
Directed by William Butler
Released by MeLee Entertainment
William Butler’s a weird cat; the former Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3 star-cum-director showed a bit of promise with his first feature, Madhouse, but overall I really think the guy should just stick to working makeup effects and writing Gingerdead Man movies because if his output continues to be on the same level as Furance, I don’t think we’ll be paying attention to his directorial gigs much longer.
Suicides are expected when you run a maximum-security prison I’m sure, but once a long-sealed off section of Blackgate Prison is re-opened to house overflow prisoners, they become way too common for detective Michael Turner’s (Pare) comfort. First a security guard comes home, totally ignoring his scantily clad wife, and blows his brains out. Shortly after a prisoner who was helping out with the re-opening of the old section is found burned alive in his cell. Could it be a coincidence that everyone who’s dying just so happened to be in this old, creepy section off the prison? If it were this movie would’ve been even more boring … but at least somewhat funny.
Slowly Turner peels back the layers of cover-ups and deceit to find out what’s really going on; the ghost of a little girl who was burned alive in the prison furnace decades earlier is out to get revenge on, well, everyone I guess. There’s no rhyme or reason to who she targets, she just wants to make others suffer the same way she did, and who can blame her?
Of course during his investigation, Turner’s got to have a love interest or two; he is after all the gravely voiced hunky detective with a depressing past. One of said interests is a cutesy medical examiner who seems to enjoy her job a bit too much. The two of them actually have a flirtatious exchange over the body of the dead security guard, which goes nowhere feeling genuine at all and is creepy for all the wrong reasons.
The other love interest is a do-gooder who’s trying to cut through the layers of hypocrisy in the prison and make sure they’re taking good mental care of their wards. Or something like that .This interest leads to a long, plodding love scene which shows nothing of him (thank God) or her (slightly disappointing) and, like all love scenes, slows down the entire pace of the movie. Not that there’s much pace to work with.
Tom Sizemore phones in a performance as a washed-up detective turned prison guard, who of course has a history with Turner. Not that anything ever really comes of it; it’s just there to add more drama in an attempt to make everyone feel more real. Sadly, it doesn’t work.
Most of the ghostly visuals are the same overused crap we see in every other haunting film made these days, with the one or two-frame insert shots of our little ghostette looking creepy and burnt, showing up just long enough to freak out whomever her next victim is before she disappears. The gore is pretty good, which is to be expected when a former effects man is the director, so there’s one positive note you can cling to, if you need it.
There is one good scene, though; Sizemore’s character, who barely keeps his rage in check on a good day, goes nuts during the film’s finale when the obligatory prison riot breaks out and just starts randomly gunning down inmates. It’s actually pretty amusing, though doesn’t go on very long. Sizemore is at his best when he’s crazy, that’s for sure.
As for the features, we have six “alternate” scenes that consist mainly of longer takes of various deaths throughout the film. It’s clear why some were cut down, but overall I don’t really see why they were included here other than to pad the features.
Then we have interviews with Ja Rule, Danny Trejo and Tom Sizemore. The Trejo one is pretty short, only about six minutes, and was obviously done by someone who didn’t do any research, as the second question asked is “have you done any horror movies before?” Whoa, huh? That’s pretty much what the guy is known for these days!
Why Ja Rule is interviewed is a mystery, aside from him being fairly well known in the hip-hop world, but he’s barely in the movie at all. The cream of the crop, though, is Sizemore. He doesn’t even pretend to be calm or collected during the talk and ends up making himself look pretty insane and very, very desperate. It’s worth watching for a giggle.
All in all, Furnace is just another blah horror entry to clutter the direct-to-DVD market. As if the floating head cover weren’t enough on it’s own to dissuade you from picking it up believe me, this furnace is just blowing smoke.
2 out of 5
2 1/2 out of 5
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