"Scum (1979/Blu-ray/Kino Lorber)" Review

Review: Scum was a film that I ran across a couple years ago while checking out different films that Blue
Underground had released on DVD. After seeing the title and reading the synopsis I had to hunt down this film. On the DVD set I got had both the original BBC television version and the remade theatrical version. Both were directed by Alan Clarke and each are great especially the theatrical cut that is on this release. I will warn you from the start that if you are easily offended you will want to stay away from this film. Anyways on with the autopsy!

Like I have stated in previous reviews that I love to run across prison films especially ones that are great. Most of the ones I have reviewed are dealing with the horror genre or sci-fi, Scum is more in the genre of other classics like Midnight Express and The Shawshank Redemption. Like the two films mentioned this one shows a more brutal and realistic side of the prison environment, but takes place in a British youth facility. I actually see this as one of the most brutal and disturbing films of it's kind. Very much like Shawshank this film follows a main character and also some of the people around him and you get to know those characters as well and get to feel for what they are going through. The character who I actually ended up liking the most was Archer, he is a very intelligent character and has a very likable personality. Archer definitely does stick out amongst the rest of the cast which seems to be more on the common and basic side of the spectrum.
I very much think that the writer of the 1983 film "Bad Boys" starring a young Sean Penn got some inspiration from Scum. Both are different in their own right, but each do follow a main character that goes from being nothing to being the leader of the convicts. Now the only thing I will mention about the comparison between the original BBC television movie and the theatrical one is that I really enjoyed the theatrical version more, it is better put together and the characters seem more lively and entertaining. They did use some of the same cast, but some was changed. I think most who see both will agree with me on this. Now I have only seen one other film from Alan Clarke and that was "Made In Britain" which was also a great film, I will soon be on the look out for The Firm and Elephant. Alan Clarke truly does know how to take the subject matter and show you the realistic side of it and often in it's most brutal form. I think that is the way subjects like this should be shown. Nowadays there are tons of documentaries and shows that give you a glimpse of what prison life is like, but of course on a filtered level.
Overall when it comes down to Scum I honestly see this as one of the best "prison" films that has ever been made. Now if you can't handle seeing a more realistic side of what goes on in our correctional system then please go back under your rock and act like everything is perfect and wonderful in the world! When it comes to the picture quality they did a fantastic job of preserving this film as well as cleaning it up properly. Compared to the 2006 DVD release it does look better, but that release looked great as well. Along with the great picture the audio is quite great as well, you get choice between 5.1 surround sound and 2.0 stereo and both are clear and great sounding. There is a good amount of special features on this release which seem to be different from the limited edition Blue Underground release.

-Daniel "Damnation" Lee

Director: Alan Clarke
Genre: Drama
Blu-Ray Release Year: 2013
Theatrical Release Year: 1979
Time Length: 96 mins.
Company: Kino Lorber 
Website: www.kino.com