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Ghosts... of the Civil Dead

Poster for Ghosts... of the Civil Dead'
Directed by John Hillcoat
Produced by Evan English
Written by Nick Cave, John Hillcoat, Hugo Race, Gene Conkie and Evan English
Starring David Field
Chris DeRose
Nick Cave
Music by Nick Cave
Blixa Bargeld
Mick Harvey
Editing by Stewart Young
Release date(s) December 1988 (Europe)
Running time 93 minutes
Country Australia
Language English

Ghosts... of the Civil Dead is a 1988 Australian movie directed by John Hillcoat. The script was written by Hillcoat, producer Evan English, Gene Conkie, and musicians Nick Cave and Hugo Race. It is in part based on the true story of Jack Henry Abbott.


Plot summary

Ghosts... is set in Central Industrial Prison, a privately run maximum security prison in the middle of the desert. An outbreak of violence within the prison has resulted in a total lockdown. A committee is appointed by the prison's governors to investigate the cause of the outbreak, but their findings are in stark contrast to the facts behind the riot. As the viewers see, both the prisoners and the guards are slowly and deliberately brutalised, manipulated and provoked into the forthcoming eruption of violence, to justify the construction of a new and more "secure" facility.

Origin of title

In Roman law, a person convicted of a crime where the punishment included loss of their legal rights as a person was civiliter mortuus, a person without civil rights, a civil dead.


External links


Fuchs, Christian [1996] (2002). Bad Blood. Creation Books.



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