is the first of many in a series depicting the harrowing prison existence of a convict who uses his wits and fists to survive. Leon Isaac Kennedy's character is thrown deep into the bowels of the prison system, where the only consistent truth is kill or be killed. To show his strength and gain respect from the other inmates, Kennedy must distinguish himself as a boxer, taking on all comers to save his own skin and regain his pride as a human being. Surprisingly effective in its harsh detailing of violent prison life, the film addresses the dehumanization of prisoners without excusing their crimes. Thought of as an exploitation picture, Penitentiary
rises above its roots to provide a blunt and passionate look at one man's struggle on the inside. --Robert Lane
Best label 2011
"It's often the smaller-funded labels that do the best work. Arrow has released marvellous discs of many of cinema's classics, such as Bicycle Thieves, Rififi and Les Diaboliques, but it's for their horror releases that they truly excel. The more respectable directors like George A Romero and Dario Argento get their due here, but Arrow also pull out all the stops for such (unfairly) lesser regarded Gore-teurs as Lucio Fulci and Frank Henenlotter. Blu-rays of Fulci classics The Beyond and City Of The Living Dead show that the films are far more atmospheric and better made than they ever appeared before, and for Henenlotter (with the imminent Frankenhooker disc) you get extensive extras that cover the rarely examined scene of low-budget New York film-makers and the lost grindhouses of Times Square and 42nd Street."