JINGLE ALL THE WAY. (1996) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

jingle all the wayJINGLE ALL THE WAY. (1996) DIRECTED BY BRIAN LEVANT. STARRING ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER, JAKE LLOYD, RITA WILSON, PHIL HARTMAN, ROBERT CONRAD, SINBAD AND JAMES BELUSHI. REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

Ho-ho-ho and Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year and all that festive jazz…! JINGLE ALL THE WAY is one of those seasonal staples that’s as much a part of Christmas as getting pissed on bubbly while you’re waiting for the turkey to cook, and shagging the one person at your work’s annual Christmas do who’s guaranteed to put the snap you drunkenly allowed them to take of your ass up on social media. That’s not just me, surely…? Lol.

Anyway, I’d classify JINGLE ALL THE WAY as a Christmas comedy on a par with THE GRINCH WHO STOLE CHRISTMAS, CHRISTMAS WITH THE KRANKS, NATIONAL LAMPOON’S CHRISTMAS VACATION, HOME ALONE and all those other favourite Crimbo films we all love to unearth at this time of year. Parents will identify with it (painfully so, I’d say!) and kids will laugh their heads off at it.

It stars the Austrian Oak, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and he’s in a much more perilous situation than any fix he’s ever had to face in his TERMINATOR or other action-packed movies. He’s a Dad at Christmas who has failed, repeat failed, to pick up the toy his son wants for Christmas in advance of the big day. Boo…! For shame, Howard Langston, for shame. That’s his name, lol.

He is a bad father. He should be tied to a chair and pelted with tofu balls while Cliff Richard’s MISTLETOE AND WINE plays on repeat on the sound-system. Too harsh, you say? No, I’m sorry but the penalty stands. It has to stand, if the world order isn’t to collapse under a weight of wrapping paper and festive ribbons and bows.

There’s no crime worse than failing to buy Little Timmy or Tammy Snotnose exactly what they want for Christmas. Money equates love, see? The bigger the gift, the more you love your kid. Simple. And buy two of everything. The little brats won’t wanna share. And for Chrissakes, remember the bloody batteries…!

Howard is horrified to discover on Christmas Eve that he has neglected to purchase the toy which his son Jamie has asked Santa for this Crimbo. The must-have toy-du-jour is Turbo Man. I love the way the people in the toy-stores all laugh maniacally at him when he asks for a Turbo Man. Any self-respecting parent worthy of the name knows that that particular toy has been sold out for months. Hah!

The scenes of chaos in the toy-stores in the film on this Christmas Eve are terrifying, but not at all unusual. A family member had the misfortune to work in a Dublin toy-store last Christmas and she still hasn’t forgotten the misery. The stampeding, the screaming and bawling, the abuse, the recriminations, and that was just the staff. Never mind the pushy parents or the marauding kids.

She sits in her chair at home every day now, not talking, just continually rocking back and forth, and when she closes her eyes she can still see the shells falling, smell the awful smell of burning flesh and put her hands into the pile of goo that used to be her best friend’s face… No, wait a minute. That was ‘Nam, wasn’t it? From what I hear, though, there’s not much difference between the two…

Anyway, Howard finds himself in some extraordinary situations as he races around town looking for a Turbo Man doll in time for the Christmas Parade later in the day. Followed everywhere he goes by a manic mailman looking for the same toy and a pissed-off copper who likes to give out parking tickets, he encounters a group of crooked Santas (crooked in the sense of corrupt, not askew!), chases a small girl through a crowded shopping mall, breaks into his neighbour’s house with theft in mind and pretty much terrorises the host of a radio show.

This is all in the name of finding the doll and proving to little Jamie and his wife Liz that he’s neither the screw-up they seem to think he is nor a neglectful, emotionally- and physically- absent parent.

What the kid and the wife don’t seem to realise is that the reason that Dad is away so much is because he’s working his butt off to keep the ungrateful pair in the style they’ve obviously long been accustomed to. And what a style! Their house is fabulous.

As this is an American film, they’ve really gone to town on making the film look as magically Christmassy as possible. I’ve always maintained that the Americans know how to keep Christmas well, as old Scrooge might say.

The houses and snow-covered gardens and streets are all decked out in full festive regalia, the shops look gorgeous and there are real carollers singing in the open air in proper Victorian garb. Charles Dickens, the writer credited with inventing the true traditional Victorian Christmas by putting it all down in his books for posterity, would be proud to see how wonderfully festive it all is.

Arnie is funny and handsome throughout, especially when he’s all togged out as Turbo Man for the parade. I love the way his wife says ‘Howard…!’ in surprise when she realises that she’s actually sexually attracted to her husband in the super-hero suit. Well, it’s a very snug-fitting suit, ahem. I wouldn’t be in any rush to take it back to the costume shop myself…

Phil Hartman, the voice of both Lionel Hutz and Troy McClure from THE SIMPSONS, does a real star turn here as the obnoxious Ted, Howard’s annoying, know-it-all next-door-neighbour who always has to go one better, much to Howard’s irritation.

It’s a lot like THE SIMPSONS, with Ted as Ned the pious and virtuous neighbour who gets his son’s TURBO MAN weeks in advance of Christmas and Howard as Homer who forgets it completely until- you guessed it- the last minute.

Homer, however, would have forgotten it because he was more interested in boozing at Moe’s Bar than in preparing for Christmas, something he’d perceive to be Marge’s territory. Howard only forgets because he’s genuinely snowed-under at work. Snowed-under, geddit? It’s funny ’cause it’s Christmas.

Anyway, the housewives all adore the newly-divorced Ted, and Ted has his sights set on Howard’s missus Liz, probably because he’s actually jealous as hell of the muscular Howard. I love Ted’s line to Howard which reveals all Ted’s own insecurities and petty envy: ‘You can’t bench-press your way out of this one…!’ See what I mean? Jealous, jealous, jealous.

The film is good clean fun, if a tad far-fetched and, at the end, the commercial message it’s been sending to viewers all throughout the film (to buy, buy, buy and then buy some more) gets turned completely on its head, which is nice.

Keep watching those end credits as well, because there’s a cute little twist right at the very end which impatient viewers, anxious to switch off and get the little horrors to bed, might miss. Aw, kids. Kids are great, aren’t they? You can’t live with them, you can’t donate them to charity. Well, that’s what the woman in Oxfam told me, anyway, and she’d know…

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.
Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens’ fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

You can contact Sandra at:

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

https://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com

http://sexysandieblog.wordpress.com

http://serenaharker.wordpress.com

sandrasandraharris@gmail.com

jingle all the way

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CARRY ON SCREAMING! (1966) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS.

fenella fieldingCARRY ON SCREAMING. (1966) DIRECTED BY GERALD THOMAS. PRODUCED BY PETER ROGERS. WRITTEN BY TALBOT ROTHWELL. MUSIC BY ERIC ROGERS. STARRING KENNETH WILLIAMS, CHARLES HAWTREY, JIM DALE, HARRY H. CORBETT, PETER BUTTERWORTH, BERNARD BRESSLAW, JON PERTWEE, TOM CLEGG, ANGELA DOUGLAS, JOAN SIMS AND FENELLA FIELDING. REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

‘Foul feet

smell

something horrible…’

Where do I even begin to talk about one of the greatest horror comedies of all time? I’ve always been a huge fan of the CARRY ON franchise (31 classic British comedies made between 1958 and 1992) anyway, but this Hammer Horror spoof featuring some of the franchise’s finest actors and actresses really takes the cake.

It’s funny, glamorously gothic, mysterious and downright wacky all at the same time, with sparklingly witty writing, terrible puns and hilarious sight gags all chucked in for good measure. The blend of comedy and horror works so well, and I love the way that they’re both parodying the Hammer Horror movies of the day and also lovingly homage-ing them as well.

Let’s see now, where do we start? Well, at the beginning, I suppose, in Hocombe Woods in the time of horse-drawn carriages and gaslight, where something mysterious walks at night and carries off local damsels who are never seen again.

If it was a real Hammer Horror film, it might of course be Christopher Lee as Count Dracula who’d be doing the carrying-off. Well, in actual fact, it’d be good old Eddie Powell as Christopher Lee’s double who’d be doing it, as Chrissy had a trick back and couldn’t be humping women around like sacks of coal all the livelong day…!

But this isn’t Hammer Horror and, for once, it isn’t the horny, bloodthirsty Count who’s stalking the forest for comely female victims with bounteous bosoms and sturdy, pinchable hindquarters. But someone or something is kidnapping local women from Hocombe Woods and ‘disappearing’ them without a trace. The woods, a hotspot for courting couples, are becoming an increasingly dangerous place to be.

It falls to the lot of Detective Sergeant Sidney Bung, married to a battleaxe of a wife played by Joan Sims, and his bungling sidekick Detective Constable Slobotham to get to the bottom of the mystery, starting with the disappearance of a certain Miss Doris Mann from Hocombe Woods.

Doris’s boyfriend, Albert Potter, a randy tradesman, is outraged at her abduction, not least because he hadn’t managed to penetrate her well-protected virginity before she ‘opped it, so to speak. And after all the trouble he went to to deflower her, as well, only to be thwarted at the last hurdle…!

Jim Dale is marvellous as Albert Potter, the gormless lug who’s slap-bang on top of Bung and Slobotham’s list of suspects, until they find definitive proof that they’ve ‘fingered’ the wrong man and that the case might, in fact, have a supernatural element to it that they hadn’t bargained on…

Charles Hawtrey, a wonderful comic actor who only has to say ‘hello…!’ in that funny voice of his and you’re cracking up already, is superb as Dan Dann, the lavatory man, who runs a mens’ convenience and has some rather vital information to impart to Bung and Slobotham, but will he live long enough to pass on what he knows? That, folks, is the sixty-four-million dollar question.

The key to the mystery might just lie at Bide-A-Wee, a spooky gothic mansion in the heart of the forest that houses a right motley crew of Halloweeny-style weirdos. Bernard Bresslaw appears first as the butler Sockett, who informs the coppers and Albert Potter that the master of the house has been dead for some time but he’ll see if he can rouse him nonetheless… Talk about the bleedin’ Addams Family.

Kenneth Williams, a man who surely was born to make a snidey-comic remark with an accompanying snidey-comic facial expression, is brilliant as the not-quite-all-there Dr. Orlando Watt. He’s hard to keep track of because he just seems to keep coming and going, but you’ll get quite a charge out of him when you get to know him, har-de-har-har.

I’ve saved the best for last. Fenella Fielding as Valeria, Dr. Watt’s sex-pot sister, gives all the Elviras and all the Vampiras a run for their money. Oh yes she does, with her long lustrous black hair, her chalk-white skin, red lips and smoky voice, her hourglass figure in that delicious red dress with her fabulous boobies on a plate for all and sundry to drool over, and drool they undoubtedly do. I could quite go for her myself if I weren’t such a committed man-eater, haha.

Valeria, a sexually-assured woman with a wealth of wiles and experience at her painted fingertips, easily runs rings around the besotted Bung and Albert Potter. As if having the undying devotion and everlasting lust of Sockett and the hideous Oddbod weren’t enough for her, the saucy strumpet.

Bung will have his work cut out for him, trying to figure out why the basement of Bide-A-Wee is filled with strangely lifelike waxwork dummies and why, even more curiously, a mannequin that Albert Potter swears is the living image of his beloved Doris Mann has turned up in the window of a local department store.

Will Bung and Slobotham, the latter of whom cuts a rather charmingly matronly figure in a wig and corset, ever get to the bottom of the unorthodox happenings at Bide-A-Wee? Will Joan Sims ever stop nagging her browbeaten husband? Will Dan Dann be able to meet you sometime at his convenience and, most importantly of all, will the luscious Valeria ever stop smoking? It’s unlikely, dear readers, to say the least…

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.
Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens’ fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

You can contact Sandra at:

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

https://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com

http://sexysandieblog.wordpress.com

http://serenaharker.wordpress.com

sandrasandraharris@gmail.com

https://twitter.com/SandraAuthor

PARANORMAL ASYLUM aka THE REVENGE OF TYPHOID MARY. (2013) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

paranormal asylumPARANORMAL ASYLUM or THE REVENGE OF TYPHOID MARY. (2013) DIRECTED BY NIMROD ZALMANOWITZ. WRITTEN BY FRED EDISON. STARRING AARON MATHIAS, NATHAN SPITERI, LAURA GILREATH AND GRACE EVANS.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

This is by no means a perfect horror film. The script is needlessly confusing and has a half-finished feel to it, the acting is hammy and the dialogue clunky, and some of the scenes are downright unbelievable (half-naked Apron Meat Lady, I’m talking to you…!).

I still enjoyed it though. There was some gorgeous scenery on show, namely the abandoned castle on the island, and I especially enjoyed reading up on the background of the film’s sort of anti-heroine, Typhoid Mary.

Typhoid Mary, as the name suggests, was a real-life woman who was infamous for having infected up to fifty people with typhoid during her career as a cook during the latter years of the nineteenth century. She was born in Ireland (thanks a lot, Typhoid Mary, making us look bad in front of the bigger countries!) and emigrated to America when she was fifteen.

Poor old Mary Mallon, to give her her birth name, was an asymptomatic carrier of typhoid, the first on official record. While maintaining perfect health herself, she unknowingly (well, I’m assuming she couldn’t have known, how could she?) infected pretty much every family she worked for as a cook. They would have died horribly too, with fever and diarrhoea. Typhoid is not a pretty disease.

When the authorities eventually figured out that Mary was the common denominator in all these infection cases, they tried isolating her and making her promise never to work as a cook again, where her poor hygiene practices (lack of hand-washing, etc.) would have contributed greatly to the spread of the disease.

Mary was finally incarcerated for life on North Brother Island, after it was discovered that she’d gone back on her word and had started working as a cook again. Keeping her quarantined was the only way the authorities could think of to keep the public safe from her.

She died on the island in 1938 after years of quarantine. Live typhoid bacteria were found in her gallbladder after her death. It was a tragic waste of Mary’s life and the lives she (knowingly or unknowingly) destroyed with the disease she carried.

Typhoid Mary passed into legend after her death and her name crops up a lot today in popular culture. For example, she’s a character in a MARVEL comic now. Good for you, Typhoid Mary, good for you.

Anyway, in the film PARANORMAL ASYLUM, two college friends called Mark and Andy want to make a documentary film about Typhoid Mary’s incarceration and death. This seems to involve running here and there frantically to different places and setting up a live computer feed from a darkened corridor somewhere.

Andy’s girlfriend Michelle is supposed to be ‘helping’ them, but during a séance she accidentally gets herself ‘possessed’ by the spirit of Typhoid Mary. Whoopsies…! Now she is doomed to wearing a slightly darker wig for all eternity and cooking meat after a lifetime of being a committed vegetarian. Oh dear. How, um, awful.

Mark, who’s quite cute with his longish hair, his douchebag stubble and his silver rings, forms a dangerous habit of not reporting to the authorities the deaths of the people who croak in his presence. The woman Evelyn, though I’m not quite sure why she’s there, looks genuinely terrifying in her spooky make-up. She’d make a good madwoman in a film about, well, a mad woman. Other than that, the film is a bit pants.

It introduced me to the real-life story of Mary Mallon, though, the woman who’s described rather cruelly, I feel, as being ‘tall, heavy and single.’ Remember when Lenny Leonard from THE SIMPSONS was attracted to the online profile of a woman called Mary who was allegedly ‘single, heavy and ready to settle for less…?’ ‘This Mary’s got the whole package!’ Lenny crows delightedly. She surely does, Lenny. She surely does…

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.
Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens’ fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

You can contact Sandra at:

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

https://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com

http://sexysandieblog.wordpress.com

http://serenaharker.wordpress.com

sandrasandraharris@gmail.com

https://twitter.com/SandraAuthor

JOHN CARPENTER’S ‘THE THING.’ (1982) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

the thingJOHN CARPENTER’S ‘THE THING.’ (1982) DIRECTED BY JOHN CARPENTER. BASED ON THE NOVELLA ‘WHO GOES THERE?’ BY JOHN W. CAMPBELL JR. MUSIC BY JOHN CARPENTER AND ENNIO MORRICONE. SPECIAL EFFECTS BY ROB BOTTIN. STARRING KURT RUSSELL, KEITH DAVID, PETER MALONEY AND A. WILFORD BRIMLEY.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

It’s shocking nowadays to read over the bad reviews this film initially garnered on its release, and then to compare them with the rave reviews it’s received retrospectively and continues to receive to this day.

Either those early critics really, really got it wrong or it was simply a case, as some people think, of THE THING’s having simply found it too hard to compete with two other films that were released at the same time.

Namely, Steven Spielberg’s E.T. THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL, which of course presents an altogether different, more positive view of alien visitors from Outer Space, and Ridley Scott’s BLADE RUNNER. 1982 was clearly a good year for science fiction movies…!

Suffice it to say here that this film is widely regarded nowadays as one of the best horror movies ever made and John Carpenter, its creator, one of the best horror movie directors. Did I mention that I saw him perform his movie soundtracks live in Dublin’s Vicar Street last Halloween Week? I didn’t? Well, gather round, friends, and I shall tell you a wondrous tale…!

Haha, I’m only joking. I told that story enough last year. Today we’ll just talk about THE THING. So, um, well, here’s the thing, geddit? See what I did there?

 It’s the story of a highly malevolent, parasitic alien life form that somehow finds its way onto an American scientific research station in Antarctica, after thousands of years of being buried nice and cosy-like in the ice.

That’s a hell of a story, isn’t it? Something similar happens in the marvellous horror movie, HORROR EXPRESS, starring Hammer royalty Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing, and also TV detective Kojak, aka actor Telly Savalas. Who loves ya, baby?

Anyway, once the lads at the research station encounter THE THING for the first time (in their dog pound as it’s initially taken the form of a cute cuddly bow-bow), they still don’t even grasp the enormity of the situation they’re in. This is only the beginning of the horror for the men, whose lives on the station are probably isolated enough and tough enough as it is.

THE THING has the power to take on any life-form it chooses, but only if there’s already an existing life-form for it to take the shape and form of, if you get me. It sneakily decides to take on the appearance of various scientists at the station, and the only way for the other brainiacs to tell the difference is by doing a blood test, which isn’t always convenient:

‘Um, excuse me, Mr. Thing, would you mind awfully just taking a seat here and giving me your arm? It’s only a little prick, you’ll hardly feel it, and you can TOTALLY go back to killing us all afterwards, I promise! We even have lollipops here for anyone who gives blood. Hey, how about those Mets, huh…?’

Kurt Russell, deeply attractive in a full beard and with his thermal long johns on under his outer clothing, is the main character, R.J. MacReady, and the scientist who’s the most proactive in trying to track down and destroy THE THING. He’s (Mac) ready for anything, geddit? His answer to everything is fire. It’s hilarious.

Every time he spots anything that remotely resembles THE THING, he turns a flame-thrower on it and no exceptions. If he’s not careful, he’ll forget himself and end up scratching his arse with that flame-thrower or trying to turn on the TV with it. It reminds me of an episode of THE SIMPSONS where they’re trying to figure out something, I forget what, and Marge ends up saying ‘No fires!’ to all of Homer’s pyromaniacal suggestions.

The feeling of suspicion and paranoia that builds up in the station as the men all view each other now as potential enemies is so strong, it’s almost palpable. Everyone’s all, like, let’s just sit here, real nice and quiet-like, where we can all keep an eye on each other, real friendly-like.

No-one trusts anyone else and, when mens’ tempers are frayed in such an isolated and claustrophobic situation, things can be triggered almost accidentally, bad things.

Again, it’s like that episode of THE SIMPSONS in which Bart Simpson, Milhouse Van Houten and Martin Prince each have shares in a rare comic-book, the first RADIOACTIVE MAN comic or something, but they quickly grow to distrust each other, each thinking that the other is planning to commandeer the comic for itself. There are very few situations in life that can’t in some way be compared to an episode of THE SIMPSONS…!

The special effects in THE THING are amazingly good, stomach-turning and extremely gory. They’re so good it’s actually incredible to think that they were created a whopping thirty-five years ago and yet they’ve never been bettered since.

Please don’t argue with me about this. I am a woman. I am programmed to win every argument, without exception, and I fight dirty, too, and I’ll resort to tears if I have to, haha.

Although there are some excellent horror film franchises on the go today (INSIDIOUS, THE CONJURING, SINISTER, PARANORMAL ACTIVITY, to name but a few), no-one’s ever really managed to scale the dizzying heights that John Carpenter and Rob Bottin achieved together all those years ago. Maybe no-one ever will.

I read online that the film is screened every Winter, along with THE SHINING, for the lads at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station. That’s funny and kinda sweet but it’s also a bit like showing ALIVE as the in-flight movie on an aeroplane or a virus outbreak film in the hospital waiting-room to people experiencing, well, um, a viral outbreak. Funny but inadvisable, haha. Maybe even a little tactless…! 

I’m off now to make a nice cup of tea to settle my stomach after all those gory special effects. I only wish there were some way to do it where I didn’t have to get up from my chair, wash a cup, get the teabags, boil the kettle… Wait a minute. Where’s me flamethrower…?

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.
Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens’ fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

You can contact Sandra at:

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

https://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com

http://sexysandieblog.wordpress.com

http://serenaharker.wordpress.com

sandrasandraharris@gmail.com

https://twitter.com/SandraAuthor

THE WARSAW GHETTO aka THE COURAGEOUS HEART OF IRENA SENDLER. (2009) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

sendler 1-fullTHE COURAGEOUS HEART OF IRENA SENDLER aka THE WARSAW GHETTO. (2009) DIRECTED BY JOHN KENT HARRISON. BASED ON THE BOOK ‘THE MOTHER OF THE HOLOCAUST CHILDREN’ BY ANNA MIESZKOWSKA.

STARRING ANNA PAQUIN, MARCIA GAY HARDEN, GORAN VISNJIC AND STEVE SPEIRS. REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

This is a surprisingly good made-for-television movie about one of the darkest periods in human history, the Holocaust, and one of the landscapes where the Holocaust took place, the Warsaw Ghetto. Hundreds of thousands of Jews were hounded and hunted into an area of German-occupied Poland, ie, this ghetto, that was too small for their huge numbers and where disease and starvation flourished.

It was from this infamous space that thousands of Jews were shoved onto cattle trucks and trains and sent off for so-called ‘re-settlement in the East,’ which we of course know now meant death by gassing in Treblinka or the other death camps.

This film has been likened to Steven Spielberg’s SCHINDLER’S LIST but in reality, it doesn’t come close to capturing the life of chaos, terror, deprivation and random executions that the Jews lived in this hell-hole. It does try hard, however, and I found it both entertaining and enjoyable, if one could ever be said to ‘enjoy’ a film about such a grim subject.

Anna Paquin seems to have recovered by now from the trauma of starring in a film which saw a naked Harvey Keitel being the direct cause of Paquin’s screen mother Holly Hunter having one of her fingers chopped off by an enraged and hearetbroken Sam Neill.

That’s Jane Campion’s exquisite film THE PIANO I’m referring to here, of course. Anna Paquin is now known for getting her own kit off as well in the hugely successful- and sexy!- HBO vampire drama TRUE BLOOD.

 THE COURAGEOUS HEART OF IRENA SENDLER, based on a true story, sees Anna Paquin playing a real-life Polish social worker who safely smuggled 2, 500 children out of the accursed Warsaw Ghetto during World War Two.

Her invalid mother is played in a nice understated way by Marcia Gay Harden, who once portrayed a religious nut trapped in a supermarket in the excellent film adaptation of Stephen King’s novella, THE MIST.

Anyway, Irena is appalled at the sheer scale of the suffering in the Ghetto. With several families crammed into the one room, with limited food and sanitation facilities, many Jews began to take on a gaunt and bedraggled-looking physical appearance.

This suited the Germans down to the ground, of course, as it only helped to perpetuate the myth that the Jews were dirty, lice-ridden creatures ripe with disease who should be exterminated like vermin.

In fact, typhus was one of the perils Irena had to face as she went into the Ghetto time and time again and came out with small children whom she placed with Polish families for ‘safe-keeping,’ as it were. The distress of the mothers who are having to part with their precious children in order to better ensure a future for them is shown very realistically here.

Stefan, Irena’s handsome dark-haired Jewish boyfriend and partner-in-crime, as it were, looks like Phil Dunphy from TV sitcom MODERN FAMILY. I’m just saying, haha. I loved Piotr, her big burly helper who shared the risks and the burden equally with Irena. I sure could use someone like him to muck in around the house.

I wonder if he survived the war, and how many of the children did as well? Have there ever been any reunions of the children saved by Irena Sendler, like we know there have been of the people now known as ‘Schindler’s Jews?’ It’d certainly be interesting to find out.

The bit where Irena is taken by the Gestapo and tortured is flippin’ terrifying, the tensest and scariest part of the whole film. The film is billed as a 12s, but I wouldn’t show those scenes to a twelve-year-old, especially if they’re in any way sensitive in nature.

This film, light on Nazis and concentrating mainly on Irena’s mission and the kiddies she saved, is an excellent tribute to the woman who smuggled so many children to safety right under the very noses of the leather-coated and jackbooted Gestapo.

The real-life Irena, who was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 when she was actually still alive, appears in person for a moment at the end of the film talking about those long-ago but still relevant days, which is a lovely touch.

It might be a movie spoiler to say that our heroine went on to live a long and hopefully happy life after that terrible period in history was over, but if anyone ever deserved to, it was surely Irena Sendler. The film adds another layer, as it were, to our knowledge of what went on in German-occupied countries during the war and, for that alone if for nothing else, it’s worth watching.

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.
Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens’ fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

You can contact Sandra at:

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

https://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com

http://sexysandieblog.wordpress.com

http://serenaharker.wordpress.com

sandrasandraharris@gmail.com

https://twitter.com/SandraAuthor

THE LODGE and THE WRONG HOUSE: A DOUBLE BILL OF HORROR FILM REVIEWS BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

househuntingnew1-600x253

THE WRONG HOUSE and THE LODGE: A DOUBLE BILL OF HORROR FILM REVIEWS BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

THE WRONG HOUSE aka HOUSE-HUNTING. (2012) WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY ERIC HURT. STARRING MARC SINGER, ART LA FLEUR, HAYLEY DUMOND, VICTORIA VANCE, PAUL MCGILL, JANEY GIOIOSA AND REBEKAH KENNEDY.

THE LODGE. (2008) DIRECTED BY BRAD HELMINK AND JOHN RAUSCHELBACH. WRITTEN BY DEB HAVENER. STARRING KEVIN MCCLATCHY, ELIZABETH KELL, OWEN SZABO AND MANDY KREISHER.

I picked up these two little horror finds at my local music/DVD store recently and made a night of watching them back-to-back. It was a thoroughly enjoyable experience but, like George Washington, I cannot tell a lie. THE WRONG HOUSE is a million times better than THE LODGE, which I think we’ll start with.

It’s kind of a typical run-of-the-mill dopey-young-couple-holidaying-in-a-creepy-cabin-in-the-woods type of film, and I must admit that I wasn’t crazy about the couple involved, which makes it harder to properly engage with the film. Julia and Michael don’t seem to have that good of a relationship.

Michael, a dope-smoking Little Rich Boy with a wealthy Pops, seems to love Julia, at least, and he’s hoping to use the weekend away at an isolated mountain lodge as a chance to pop a certain question. He’s got the little box and everything.

Julia doesn’t seem to care about Michael too much, though, judging by the number of times she tries to get out of having sex with him. And surely a surfeit of sleazy vacation sex is the main reason for a young couple heading for the hills for a couple of days? But he’s a doped-up twat, so I can’t say that I blame her too much for that.

The titular Lodge is nice and spacious and comfortable enough, but how come the seriously uptight owner is hanging around the place like a bad smell instead of leaving the young ‘uns to their own devices as they’d- not unnaturally- been expecting? Henry is a decidedly odd fish but, to add fuel to an already over-stoked fire, there’s a shadow at the window and I think it wants to come in…

This is a pretty violent film, and there’s some sexual violence in there as well, deservedly earning the film its 18s rating. I could have completely done without the addition (more like tacking on) of a fourth person into the mix, however.

It took away some of the film’s believability and it looks like it was added because what’s a movie nowadays without a creepy mute of a long-haired girl in it, standing there in the corner like a spare part with her bedraggled barnet obscuring her mopey face? Bit of a spoiler there but I just had to get that off my chest…!

Believe it or not, and I’m sure you can easily believe it, there’s a creepy mute of a long-haired girl in THE WRONG HOUSE too, but there’s a perfectly satisfying reason for her not talking. Yes, it’s annoying that she’s there at all but in this case she’s serving a purpose.

Meh. I’m getting really tired of the creepy-mute-girl trope. Can’t they ever mix it up a bit? Have an overweight middle-aged garage mechanic or lollipop lady (or even a sarcastic hippopotamus wearing glasses and carrying a briefcase) standing in a corner blindly staring at nothing instead of a long-haired girl? Just for a bleedin’ change, you know…

THE WRONG HOUSE is also known as HOUSE-HUNTING. Two families, the Hays family and the Thomsons, each turn up at a remote countryside farmhouse at which they think is an Open Day, designed to let prospective buyers check the place over with a view to buying it.

Both the Hays family and the Thomsons absolutely love the place. And the house must really, really like them too, because when it’s time for them to go home, it won’t let them leave. All their attempts to go home leave them right back where they started, back at the house. The house has an evil purpose in mind. It’s called revenge, and it’s going to drive the two families clean out of their minds…

The two Dads, Marc Singer as Charlie Hays and Art LaFleur as Don Thomson, are absolutely excellent as the two alpha males who desperately try to hold their families together  while the house closes in around all of them like a ghastly inescapable fog that holds evil within it, terrible evil.

Victoria Vance as the domesticated Thomson Mom Leslie is wonderful in her moving portrayal of a woman who’s tragically lost a child and can easily be pushed over the edge of sanity because of it. The three young ‘uns (including Mopey Girl) I disliked intensely. What horrible bloody kids…!

The tension is ramped-up again and again as the families turn on each other and tear strips off each other, much to the delight, one would imagine, of the watching house. The house is always watching, by the way.

Watching and waiting. Just what you don’t really want in a house you’re contemplating buying, methinks. A know-it-all, smart-alecky house imbued with human reasoning and a malevolent sentient. What a pain in the ass…!

So the consensus is as follows. THE LODGE, meh. It’s okay but it’s only okay. THE WRONG HOUSE, excellent. Scary, well-paced with no droopy or flagging bits and with a satisfying ending that only disappoints if you’re, like, super-fussy and hard to please.

I loved this film, anyway. I always love films about evil houses that have pre-ordained, murderous agendas. They really float my boat. Float my boat good. Watch it and float with me. We all float down here, dontcha know…?

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.
Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens’ fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

You can contact Sandra at:

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

https://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com

http://sexysandieblog.wordpress.com

http://serenaharker.wordpress.com

sandrasandraharris@gmail.com

https://twitter.com/SandraAuthor

 

 

THE RAVEN (1935) and THE BAT (1959): A DOUBLE BILL OF HORROR FILM REVIEWS BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

bela lugosi the raven

THE RAVEN WITH BELA LUGOSI AND BORIS KARLOFF AND THE BAT WITH VINCENT PRICE: A DOUBLE BILL OF CLASSIC HORROR FILM REVIEWS BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

THE RAVEN. (1935) DIRECTED BY LEW LANDERS. BASED ON THE POEM BY EDGAR ALLAN POE. STARRING BELA LUGOSI, BORIS KARLOFF, IRENE WARE, SAMUEL S. HINDS AND LESTER MATTHEWS.

THE BAT. (1959) STARRING VINCENT PRICE, AGNES MOOREHEAD AND GAVIN GORDON. WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY CRANE WILBUR. BASED ON ‘THE CIRCULAR STAIRCASE’ (1908 NOVEL) BY MARY ROBERTS RINEHART AND ‘THE BAT’ (1920 PLAY) BY MARY ROBERTS RINEHART.

These are two marvellous old horror films starring no fewer than three of the horror genre’s most iconic legends: Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff and Vincent Price. All we’re missing here is Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee. If we had those two guys as well, we’d have ourselves a real horror party, haha.

Bela is absolutely magnificent in the deeply atmospheric gothic movie THE RAVEN as the demented Dr. Richard Vollin, a talented surgeon who’s obsessed with the writer Edgar Allan Poe. He adores Poe’s famous poem, THE RAVEN, but his main interest in the melancholy scribe is in the whole torture thing that Poe espouses in his grim writings.

Dr. Vollin, an expert on Poe, has gone so far as to recreate one of Poe’s torture chambers in his basement. It comes complete with its very own pit and pendulum, and Dr. Vollin is thrilled with himself at the thought of how state-of-the-art it all is. All he’s lacking, really, is a victim on whom to inflict all these delightful tortures…

His opportunity for victim-finding comes when he befriends the Thatcher family after saving the life of the movie’s eye-candy, Jean Thatcher. Judge Thatcher, Jean’s father, however, thinks that Dr. Vollin is stark staring mad and inappropriately in love with Jean, who’s engaged to a rather stodgy and dull but worthy chap called Jerry. The Judge doesn’t want Jean involved in any way with the rather odd Dr. Vollin. Quite rightly, says you. The man’s clearly a nutcase…!

Dr. Vollin invites Jean, her father, Jerry and a few friends to a get-together in his creepy old mansion in the countryside. A storm is raging outside as the mad doctor prepares to lure his guests to his evil torture chamber.

Don’t even ask me how he’s planning to get away with murdering a number of the town’s prominent citizens. Probably half the town knows they’re there, as well. This doesn’t seem to bother Dr. Vollin one iota. That’s what makes him a madman, see? Madmen don’t give a shit about piddly little trifling details like that. Details are for shmucks, haha. Madmen have their minds on higher things.

He’s particularly excited about torturing Judge Thatcher, who doesn’t think that he, Vollin, is good enough for his precious daughter. Bela is looking forward to scoffing down a nice dish of revenge, which we all know is best served cold, haha.

He’s going to need a bit of muscle, though, to carry out his fiendish plans. Enter Boris Karloff, who gives a wonderful performance as Edmond Bateman, the pitiful escaped killer who is unwise enough to let Dr. Vollin operate on his face. Bateman only wanted his face altered a little bit so that he could escape detection for a while longer.

The spiteful Dr. Vollin has other ideas, however. If Bateman wants Vollin to undo the terrible damage he’s done to poor Bateman’s kisser, Bateman will have to go along with Vollin’s plans for torture and revenge. Not to mention a little spot of… murder…

Vincent Price is suave, smooth and terribly sexy as yet another doctor in THE BAT, a fantastic black-and-white mystery thriller. He plays Dr. Malcolm Welles, a medic who’s conducting extensive research on… you guessed it, bats!

Could he also be the deadly murderer who’s terrorizing a small American town, the killer known as ‘The Bat’ because of the way he tears out women’s throats with his sharp claws? He’s certainly Suspect Number One, according to the local constabulary, anyway.

The film also stars Agnes Moorehead, an excellent actress still retaining here most of the gorgeous bone structure and beauty of her youth. She plays a murder mystery writer who’s staying in the town that’s currently going in fear of its life because of this so-called ‘Bat.’

She’s staying with her loyal maid Lizzie in the town’s most haunted old house and the fun really starts when ‘The Bat’ starts targeting the two game old gals personally. Is it really them he’s after, though, or could it be the missing million-dollar stash of bank securities secreted somewhere about the old house that’s drawing him ever nearer…?

Both films, especially the older one, are super-atmospheric. I think I have a soft spot for THE RAVEN in particular, though, simply because it’s so old, a mere four years older than the DRACULA movie that made Bela Lugosi’s name and cemented his place forever in horror movie history.

Boris Karloff, of course, made his name in horror when he did THE MUMMY in 1931. Vincent Price was already famous when he made those fabulous Edgar Allan Poe adaptations with Roger Corman for AMERICAN INTERNATIONAL PICTURES in the middle of the twentieth century.

THE RAVEN and THE BAT are two of my favourite old horror films from Lugosi, Karloff and Price. Hopefully, any of you guys who have yet to see them will feel the same about them after you’ve watched them.

And hopefully too, you’ll agree with me when I say that they just don’t make ’em like that any more. Let’s be thankful for these old cinematic treasures and continue to carefully preserve them. God knows, they’re worth their weight in old.

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.
Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens’ fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

You can contact Sandra at:

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

https://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com

http://sexysandieblog.wordpress.com

http://serenaharker.wordpress.com

sandrasandraharris@gmail.com

https://twitter.com/SandraAuthor