The Other Side of Hell

A state hospital for the criminally insane that’s worse than its patients. A deranged man goes there voluntarily and is likely not to be heard from again, nevertheless he persists and finally escapes to tell the tale.

The starting point is effectively Wiseman’s Titicut Follies, but there the institution is run by doctors. Sadistic, murderous guards rule the roost in Kadar’s film.

Years roll by on a nervous breakdown, only a film witness and tape evidence can provide leverage against the place, and there’s retribution for that. Since hell hears no canticles, the last recourse is a well-planned escape.

The thematic construction is very apt and lively. The breakdown occurs at the father’s death, the son feeling unforgiven tries to communicate with the dead, raising a ruckus. Later he hides his recording apparatus in the ashes of the old furnace room, etc.

The cruelties are unoriginal and include “cockfights” between inmates, druggings and beatings, and bets on how long it will take for an injection to drop a man to the floor.