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Movie Details

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Directed By
Alan Clarke

Phil Daniels, Mick Ford, Ray Winstone

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Scum (1980)
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Movie Review by BillyBob
April 23rd, 2014

When It Comes To Exploitation - It's Scum-ilicious

Well? With an attention-grabbing, little title like "Scum", how the hell could one possibly expect to be treated like anything else but dirt while viewing this decidedly nasty (and apparently realistic) look at the reform school system (for young, male offenders) as it stood in 1970s Britain?

Clearly filmed for its sheer shock-value and its focus on brutal violence, I find it really hard to believe that "Scum" was initially intended to be a 1977 Made-For-TV movie. But, due to its fairly graphic depiction of suicide, male-rape and racism, the prudish BBC refused to allow its release for public broadcasting.

And, so, Scum was eventually re-shot by its director, Alan Clarke. And it then made its theatrical debut (much to the public's gasps & shock) in 1979.

The positive outcome of Scum's brutal storyline being brought to the immediate attention of the general public was that serious and dramatic changes (for the better) promptly went into effect. These corrections quickly improved the dismal conditions that clearly existed at youth detention centers all across the UK.

Scum's fist-in-your-face story tells the tale of Carlin, a new reform-school inmate who's already earned a fierce reputation as being a very bad-assed bad-boy.

The lousy attitude of the authorities in charge at this particular "Borstal" make no attempt to reform or improve matters for the inmates. Instead they actively encourage face-to-face power struggles between new recruits and the "old hands".

And here's where Carlin gets repeatedly challenged by Pongo, the toughest, meanest gang leader of the whole miserable lot. What follows in the wake of Pongo's taunts and harassment I'll leave to your imagination.

Yes. Scum is most certainly chock-full of endless hate, racism and profanity. (And, yes, an inevitable "prison riot" is thrown in for good measure)

And, yes, Scum is most definitely flawed and cliched like any other film you'd see about life-behind-bars. But, still, 35 years later (even for the ultimately jaded viewer), it still manages to pack a considerable-sized wallop, even if one's "been there/seen that" a thousand times before.

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