Starring as the prison in this rough penal pic with its special effects-laden horror story is the 87-year-old Wyoming State Penitentiary, which has attracted tourists rather than cons since 1981. The structure takes on all the menace of the house in Amityville Horror or hotel in The Shining.
The crumbling stone fortress is grounds for revenge because, as aged inmate Cresus (Lincoln Kilpatrick) points out toward the end, ‘things won’t stay buried.’ It turns out that in 1964 guard Ethan Sharpe (Lane Smith) watched an innocent man fry in the electric chair.
Sharpe, now a warden, is appointed to the prison’s helm despite recurrent nightmares brought on by a guilty conscience. The wronged convict’s evil spirit is mad enough to eliminate a few of the new guards and inmates.
Viggo Mortensen plays Burke, a James Dean type antihero spared death but not a lot of bumps and bruises. His resemblance to the electrocuted con apparently is just a coincidence in the screenplay of producer Irwin Yablans’ story.