sleepwalkers

STEPHEN KING’S ‘SLEEPWALKERS.’ (1992) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

sleepwalkersSTEPHEN KING’S ‘SLEEPWALKERS.’ (1992) BASED ON AN ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY BY STEPHEN KING. DIRECTED BY MICK GARRIS. MUSIC BY NICHOLAS PIKE. CINEMATOGRAPHY BY RODNEY CHARTERS.

STARRING BRIAN KRAUSE, ALICE KRIGE AND MÄDCHEN AMICK.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

There are times when I just really need to watch me a nice bit of Stephen King, if you know what I mean. This one was a bit of silly, enjoyable fun, and just what I needed to help me switch off mentally at the end of a long tiresome day.

SLEEPWALKERS is not in the same category as Stephen King’s really brilliant film adaptations of his books. These would obviously include THE SHINING, MISERY, DOLORES CLAIBORNE, IT, CARRIE, CUJO, MAXIMUM OVERDRIVE, SALEM’S LOT and PET SEMATARY, to name but a few. What a fantastic author to have so many great book-to-film adaptations to his name. So jealous, grumble grumble grumble…!

On the other hand, neither is it as bad a film as, say, DREAMCATCHER, which sadly was one of the worst, most distasteful movies I’d ever seen, period. SLEEPWALKERS is a bit silly and nonsensical and unbelievable with more than a few loopholes to its name but, for whatever reason, I still enjoyed it. Maybe I was just in the right frame of mind to appreciate it or something.

Anyway, let’s have a look at the plot. High school student Charles Brady and his mother Mary are the titular ‘Sleepwalkers.’ This apparently makes them ‘nomadic, shapeshifting energy vampires who feed off the life forces of young virgin females.’ Good luck with finding virgins in today’s permissive selfie-taking society, anyway…! Good job this was made in the ‘Nineties when there might at least have been a few of ’em still knocking around.

I’m not an expert on shapeshifters as it’s not really my preferred area of horror, I’ll admit to that straight off the bat. I don’t even know that much about them, to tell you the honest-to-God’s truth. They have the power to change their physical appearance, obviously, and they also seemingly have telekinetic powers and the ability to make themselves invisible or ‘dim,’ when the need arises. That could certainly be a handy power at times, like when you see a friend across the street you’d prefer to avoid. Just invisibilise yourself quickly and Bob’s your Uncle.

This mother-and-son shapeshifting combo also have full-on sex with each other as well, which is as bizarre, gross and yucky as you’d expect it to be, haha. They’ve come to this small sleepy town in Indiana after they made their last place too hot to hold ’em when they killed a young one and drained her of her life force. As they’re not traditional vampires, they don’t suck your blood, they just drain your life force out through your mouth. O-kaaaaay…!

Charles is handsome and charming and quickly gets a pretty local girl, Tanya Robertson, to fall in love with him when he surprises her at the cinema where she works. She’s attempting sexual intercourse with a carpet cleaner at the time, or such is my interpretation of the scene.

Anyway, Tanya is the perfect candidate for having her life force drained so that it can feed Charles and his starving mother, who’s obviously worked up quite an appetite from having all that illegal sex with her son. Charles arranges to take her on a date to the local cemetery to take grave rubbings. Big spender, this Charles, eh…?

The look of sheer bewilderment and horror on sappy good girl Tanya’s face when she realises that the blonde and angelic-looking Charles is not what he pretends to be is worth the price of admission alone. Let the gory fun and games commence…!

I really like Deputy Sheriff Andy Simpson, who drives his patrol car around the area with his big fat kitty-kat, Clovis, dozing in the passenger seat beside him.  Clovis is obviously the Deputy Pussy, haha.

There are about a million cats in the film, by the way, because cats are the only creatures who can, literally, ‘see through’ the shapeshifters and can do them lasting harm. The cats are all adorable and do their job really well. Better than some of the human actors…!

My friend and I nearly died laughing at the bit where Crazy Incest Mom was saying to a horrified Tanya: ‘Dance with my son, dance with him…!’ while the lad was dying and rotting in front of their eyes. Yeah, who doesn’t want to cut a rug with a walking corpse…?

Actually, my friend also made an interesting observation on the film as well. She said the film reminded her of arty vampire flick, THE HUNGER, in which the head vampire, a beautiful woman, is the last of her kind and can only generate ‘company’ for herself by turning other people into vampires too.

Charles and Mary (don’t they sound like an old Irish couple?), the Shapeshifters, don’t seem to go around turning other folks into clones of themselves but there’s certainly a strong sense that there aren’t too many of them left in the world. The Mom is hopeful of meeting others of their kind but the son is convinced that there are no more left. It sounds like a horribly lonely existence. I surely wouldn’t want it for myself.

Way to keep a low profile, Bradys, by the way! For a family that’s supposed to be keeping its collective head down, they sure do seem to be going out of their way to attract the maximum attention to themselves. Good job the neighbours all seem to be hard of hearing and don’t notice Mom single-handedly wrecking their town…

Stephen King, the man himself, has a wonderfully funny cameo in the film as the fella whose job it is to keep the cemetery, ‘HOMELAND,’ all safely locked up and everything. It sure as heck isn’t his fault if dirty horny pervert teens sneak in and start using the place for their sinful dirty purposes, dagnammit…!

And, believe it or not, horror legends Clive Barker and Tobe Hooper have tiny cameos too so those are well worth looking out for, especially if you’re a fan of these guys.

Enjoy the film anyway. It’s definitely worth at least one watch. Someone send the strict Sheriff with a hankering for spankering young women round to my house immediately, by the way. His services are urgently required here! And if you get scared during the movie, make sure you keep your pussy (sorry, I couldn’t resist it!) handy for stroking. That’ll keep those pesky boogeymen and boogeywomen away for sure…

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

drainiac1

DRAINIAC. (2000) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

drainiac1DRAINIAC. (2000) WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY BRETT PIPER. STARRING GEORGIA HATZIS, ALEXANDRA BOYLAN, SAMARA DOUCETTE, ETHAN KRASNOO, ROB GORDEN, STEPHEN BORNSTEIN, PHILIP BARBOUR AND LESLIE CULTON.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

I quite liked this low-budget horror movie, although it must be said that it’s not exactly THE EXORCIST in terms of well-made scariness. It’s the story of a pretty brunette high-school student called Julie, whose home life is not exactly a bed of roses.

Her Mom committed suicide a year ago and her Dad is such a prize a**hole to her that at first I thought he must be, like, a wicked Step-Dad or something but no, he’s her real Dad and he really seems to hate his daughter. She’s actually a lovely decent girl, so God knows what his problem is.

Anyway, Julie’s Dad is in the habit of buying houses that are real fixer-uppers and selling them on for a few quid. The bad news for Julie is that she seems to be the one who gets landed with the job of cleaning these dumps while Dad buggers off down the pub for a few beers and a moan to his mates about how tough it is to be the parent of an ungrateful offspring…

The house Julie has to clean this time round is a real doozy. It’s big and old, surrounded by trees, and it hasn’t felt the flick of a duster since Jesus was a lad. Her friends, a typically whiny teenage trio called Lisa, Tanya and Jake, drive round to the house to visit her and she ropes them into helping her to clean up.

Naturally, they’re not impressed at having to spend their precious Saturday playing at being Mrs. Mopp. No doubt they’d rather be drinking milkshakes at the mall or texting on their cellphones, or whatever it is that American teens like to do in their free time.

It’s hard to describe where the horror comes in exactly. The house, which we the viewers know has already killed a homeless man when he touched some unidentified slime down in the basement, is not haunted by a ghost in the traditional sense but there’s something evil in the water-slash-plumbing, something that seems to want to kill selected people with whom it comes in contact but not, apparently, others. It’s a discerning evil, see?

The scariest scene is probably when Wade, a local bully who’s followed the teens to the house, jumps out at Julie in the bedroom wearing a genuinely freaky monster mask that looks like the undead villain in THE HOUSE BY THE CEMETERY.

That picture of Wayne on the back of the DVD box made me think that this was a good old-fashioned mutant/monster film, so yes, I was disappointed when I found out that all we were dealing with was a few gallons of possessed water. To quote the teens of today, I was all like, so what, you know, whatever…!

Julie has various nightmares that are spooky enough and there’s a totally gratuitous nude bathing scene involving the leading lady that should keep any male viewers interested. There’s also some tickling and some very mild spanking in the film and a near-rape scenario when Wade the Bully Boy makes a play for Tanya, Julie’s whingy blonde friend.

Tanya, by the way, with her curly blonde hair and permanently pouty, sulky expression, is a dead ringer for Nellie Oleson from sappy (but brilliant!) drama serial LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE. I often used to wonder what it would be like to get a spanking from Pa Ingalls, who was always firm but fair…!

I digress, haha. The exorcism scene at the end of DRAINIAC is pretty cool, with all the weird little creatures and everything, and shows a love of horror on the director’s part that goes a long way towards redeeming the film. Don’t you just love it, incidentally, when a fully-equipped exorcist turns up at your house just when you’ve decided that the place is probably haunted…? Wouldn’t you say that that was just marvellous timing…? Yes, haha, I’m being sarcastic.

I loved the nudie dancing scene that accompanied the end credits. I always watch end credits for that exact reason, to see if the director’s put in any little surprises or extras or whatever. I’ve been last out of the cinema on many occasions, braving the wrath of the popcorn-picker-uppers just to see if there’s ‘a funny bit at the end,’ as we call it in my house.

I’m off now to refresh myself with a nice cool glass of water. Oh wait, on second thoughts, maybe I’d better just have a Coke…

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

sophies-choice-2

SOPHIE’S CHOICE. (1982) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

sophies-choice-2SOPHIE’S CHOICE. (1982) BASED ON THE NOVEL BY WILLIAM STYRON. DIRECTED BY/SCREENPLAY BY/CO-PRODUCED BY ALAN J. PAKULA. MUSIC BY MARVIN HAMLISCH. CINEMATOGRAPHY BY NESTOR ALMENDROS.

STARRING MERYL STREEP, KEVIN KLINE AND PETER MACNICOL AND GÜNTHER MARIA HALMER.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

I must confess that, at the time of writing this review, I haven’t read the novel on which this film is based, but I bloody love the film. It’s the story of a Polish immigrant, the titular Sophie, who in 1947 is living in a boarding-house in Brooklyn with her emotionally unstable lover Nathan.

Into this mix- and their boarding-house- comes a young writer from the Deep South with the utterly improbable name of Stingo. Sophie mistakenly calls him ‘Stinko’ at one point. I think that’s what I’ll call him too. I didn’t dislike his character as such but I considered him to be way too involved in Sophie and Nathan’s relationship. All up in their business, you might say.

True, I know it’s the flamboyant couple in the upstairs apartment who invite Stinko into their lives in the first place, but as a third wheel he’s only asking for trouble. It seems like Sophie and Nathan are the kind of people who constantly need an audience for their passionate shenanigans, their break-ups and make-ups and even their sex.

They’re possibly not a terribly likeable couple. Sophie is needy and craves attention, which is hardly surprising considering what she’s been through, but her overly-affectionate behaviour towards Stinko gives him totally the wrong idea and, before you can say ‘gooseberry,’ he’s head-over-heels in love with her and hanging on her every word.

I suppose that that’s hardly surprising either, given that Stinko is only twenty-two and an impressionable virgin and Sophie is a beautiful woman of the world with a fabulously sexy Polish accent and a dreadful sadness behind her smile.

I’ve never been that big a fan of Meryl Streep’s, oddly enough, but she totally deserved the Best Actress Oscar she won for her role as Sophie. The film was nominated for four other Academy Awards as well, and Streep’s characterization of the tragic Sophie was voted the third best movie performance of all time by PREMIERE MAGAZINE. Hot damn, I wish I knew who made the Top Two…!

I’m not forgetting the character of Nathan, Sophie’s lover, by the way. Played by Kevin Kline, another actor whom I’ve never really cared for, he’s an emotionally abusive headwrecker of a boyfriend with actual serious mental problems.

He ridicules Stinko’s writing- ‘your poor dead mother!’- and he’s constantly accusing ‘the little Polack whore’ of infidelity. He thinks she’s at it with Stinko, though you can hardly blame him, given the enthusiasm with which Stinko leaped head-first into the highly destructive emotional triangle that bodes trouble for each of its three points from the moment it’s created.

For the things Nathan says alone, Sophie should leave him, but of course she doesn’t. She’s up to her tonsils in this toxic relationship. Nathan was slick enough when he wooed her but, once they were established as a couple, his true colours as a nasty piece of work probably came quickly enough to light. Sophie spends half her life waiting for him to come home from drink-and-drug-fuelled benders and his verbal abuse of her is disgusting to witness.

Nathan, a Jew, has a bee in his bonnet about Sophie’s having been in a concentration camp and survived the horrific ordeal. It’s almost as if he resents her for having survived when literally millions of others didn’t. She survived, yes, but at what personal cost to herself? If Nathan even knew the half of it, maybe he’d shut the hell up and give the lady a break.

The two concentration camp flashbacks are my favourite scenes in the movie. Rudolf Hoess, the commandant of Auschwitz when Sophie was incarcerated there, is portrayed as both a slobbering sexual predator and a morally weak chinless wonder who doesn’t keep his promise to a desperate woman in his care and in his power. The scenes concerning Sophie’s titular ‘choice’ are painful and harrowing. You won’t sleep easy after watching them, I promise you.

The phrase ‘Sophie’s Choice’ has kind of passed into popular culture and language as signifying a difficult choice between two equally unpleasant alternatives. I tend to use it at home a lot (in an affectionate way, I might add!) when it comes to deciding between pizza toppings or choice of desserts, haha. Not that you should ever have to choose between desserts, if you get me…!

The ending of the film is unexpected and shocking but, in all seriousness, how else could it all have ended up? This would be a good film to watch late at night over Christmas when the kids’ new toys are already broken and everyone’s tired of seeing repeats of ‘WHITE CHRISTMAS’ or ‘THE SNOWMAN,’ haha. Settle down with the remains of the selection boxes and seasonal TAYTO packs and get lost in a great story. Sorted…!

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

schindlers-list

SCHINDLER’S LIST. (1993) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

schindlers-listSCHINDLER’S LIST. (1993) BASED ON THE BOOK ‘SCHINDLER’S ARK’ BY AUSTRALIAN NOVELIST THOMAS KENEALLY. DIRECTED BY STEVEN SPIELBERG. MUSIC BY JOHN WILLIAMS. THEME TUNE PERFORMED BY VIOLINIST ITZHAK PERLMAN. CINEMATOGRAPHY BY JANUSZ KAMINSKI.

STARRING LIAM NEESON, BEN KINGSLEY, RALPH FIENNES, CAROLINE GOODALL AND EMBETH DAVIDTZ.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

I don’t even know where to begin praising this magnificent blockbuster of a film, made by the King of Blockbusters himself, Steven Spielberg. A mere eighteen years before, as a fledgling director, he’d put his name to a little film about a big fish that became the blockbuster to end all blockbusters and made him pretty much the hottest directorial property of his day.

In SCHINDLER’S LIST, he proves without a doubt that there’s no subject he can’t handle, no matter how grim or distressing. The film won a whopping seven out of the twelve Academy Awards for which it was nominated and, in 2004, was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library Of Congress. This means that the film is considered ‘historically, socially and aesthetically significant,’ which anyone who’s seen it will agree that it is.

Apparently, Mr. Spielberg approached this historical epic as a documentary and, having spent a few years conducting my own little researches into this dark period, I would have to categorically state that there’s nothing in the film that comes across as exaggerated, historically inaccurate or just downright wrong, out-of-place or even silly.

Mr. Spielberg did his research with care. This is a spot-on re-telling of what happened to many of the Polish Jews in World War Two, handled with sensitivity but with no desire to gloss over the worst parts.

The three-hour-long story is told in black-and-white, the only splash of colour being the red coat of a little curly-haired blonde girl who ends up in a concentration camp. The subject matter is more than just grim or distressing, the words I used earlier.

It’s somehow much more than that, because it’s all true and it actually happened. Six million Jews were murdered in World War Two, an almost incomprehensible number. Of those who survived, a thousand or so owed their lives to a man called Oscar Schindler…

My fellow countryman Liam Neeson is superb in the role of the titular Schindler, a womanizing German businessman who saves hundreds of Polish Jews from death in the concentration camps by employing them in his enamelware factory in Krakow.

Young or old, male or female, married or single, he takes them on and, in bestowing upon them the status of ‘essential workers’ for the German war effort, thereby keeps them from the gas chambers.

Ben Kingsley does a terrific job too as Itzhak Stern, Schindler’s quiet, self-effacing Jewish accountant who expertly runs Schindler’s business for him.

Schindler’s modus operandi is as follows. He doesn’t operate openly as a messianic philanthropic type. Rather, he shys away from the very suggestion. He claims he’s only out to make money for himself but we the viewers know differently, even though there’s no doubt that he does like the finer things in life.

He’s a member of the Nazi Party himself and does a splendid job of ingratiating himself with senior Nazi officials and greasing the right palms so that, when he needs a favour for his workers, such as keeping them out of Auschwitz on the pretext that he needs their ‘essential’ work skills for his factory, they’ll give him a dig-out, as we say here in Ireland.

As brilliant as Liam Neeson and Ben Kingsley are in their roles, my favourite character here is Ralph Fiennes as the nasty Nazi officer and concentration camp commandant Amon Goeth. He’s so devastatingly handsome in his uniform that I couldn’t help fancying him, even though I know it’s wrong to fancy even good-looking Nazis, haha.

He’s as cruel and ruthless as you might expect a concentration camp commandant to be, but he has a lot of characteristics of the spoilt petulant child about him too.

We first see him bitching about the cold when he’s being taken on a tour of the ghetto into which thousands of Polish Jews were forced to move, leaving their homes and lots of their belongings to people who had no claim on them.

When the concentration camp he’s in charge of is ready to be occupied by the Jews from the ghetto, Goeth treats the ‘liquidation’ of the ghetto as a tiresome inconvenience to himself.

‘I wish this fucking night were over…!’

The clearing-out of the overcrowded ghetto is done so well that it actually looks real. Thousands of people routed from their temporary homes and packed into transports bound for the camps. Families split up, husbands and wives separated and no personal belongings to be taken.

The instantaneous liquidation of the old and the sick in their beds. The rhythmic tramp of the jackboots on the stairs, the sudden burst of machine-gun fire and the hiders in their most obscure of hiding-places are discovered and executed. Steven Spielberg one hundred million percent deserved his Oscars for Best Picture and Best Director. These scenes are masterfully done.

The shower scene at Auschwitz has been described as ‘the most terrifying scene ever filmed.’ I wonder what Alfred Hitchcock, the director of that other shower scene, would have to say about this notion…!

The scene I personally find the most frightening is the one in which the transport of Schindler’s female workers accidentally ends up in Auschwitz instead of in Schindler’s home town, which is where all the male workers have already safely arrived.

The train stops at Auschwitz in the dead of night. The women are terrorised by the guards shouting, the attack dogs barking, the glaring lights shining in their faces and, over everything, a thick layer of ash falls like snow. It’s coming from a giant chimney nearby that’s blazing away even in the middle of the night.

The women are used to having to queue up to give their names and show their papers to Nazi officials whenever they are sent anywhere new. Their confusion, a confusion that gives way slowly to horror, is perfectly summed up when one of the women says:

‘Where are the list-makers? Where are the tables?’

There are no list-makers and no tables with list-consulting officials sitting at them here in Auschwitz, no queuing to show your papers to someone. This is truly end-game…

There are so many brilliant scenes in this film, including the infamous ‘shooting from the balcony’ one that was hilariously parodied in FAMILY GUY, but I won’t spoil it for you by telling you about any more of them, except to say that sometimes a short scene of only a few seconds can be extremely powerful. I’m thinking particularly of the one where the Jewish man has his side-curls ridiculed and cut off by a group of Nazi soldiers.

The whole idea of Nazi debauchery and high living while concentration camp inmates exist in fear of their lives is handled very well here and Steven Spielberg’s depiction of this terrible era feels accurate and insightful.

Though that little film about the big fish we mentioned earlier will always be my favourite film of this particular director’s, SCHINDLER’S LIST comes a close second. After the dinosaur film, of course, and the one about the extra-terrestrial and the other one about the close encounter with an alien spaceship…!

After all of these, it’s my favourite film of his and, if you haven’t seen it yet, you really should watch it now. Those of us who’ve seen it should rewatch it. Lest we forget that ‘whoever saves one life, saves the world entire…’

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

psycho3h

PSYCHO 3/PSYCHO 4: THE BEGINNING- A TERRIFYING DOUBLE REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

psycho3hPSYCHO 3 AND PSYCHO 4: THE BEGINNING- A TWO-FOR-THE-PRICE-OF-ONE JOINT REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

PSYCHO 3. (1986) BASED ON CHARACTERS CREATED BY ROBERT BLOCH. DIRECTED BY ANTHONY PERKINS. WRITTEN BY CHARLES EDWARD POGUE. MUSIC BY CARTER BURWELL. CINEMATOGRAPHY BY BRUCE SURTEES. STARRING ANTHONY PERKINS, JEFF FAHEY AND DIANA SCARWID.

PSYCHO 4: THE BEGINNING. (1990) BASED ON CHARACTERS CREATED BY ROBERT BLOCH. DIRECTED BY MICK GARRIS. WRITTEN BY JOSEPH STEFANO. MUSIC BY GRAEME REVELL AND BERNARD HERRMANN (HIS ORIGINAL SCORE). STARRING ANTHONY PERKINS, C.C.H. POUNDER, OLIVIA HUSSEY AND HENRY THOMAS.

The late great director Alfred Hitchcock kicked off this whole hoop-la in 1960 when he brought Robert Bloch’s novel PSYCHO to the big screen in spectacular style. The original movie famously marked a new beginning for cinema in terms of how much gore, violence and sexual deviancy directors were allowed to show the viewers in their work. Quite a lot, apparently, haha.

The sequel, filmed three years after Alfred Hitchcock’s death in 1980, is a fantastically fun romp of which I’m convinced Hitchcock would have whole-heartedly approved. It even stars the lovely Vera Miles, reprising her role as Marion Crane’s younger sister Lila who’s hellbent on making Norman pay for his crimes. I can honestly say that it’s the most fun I’ve ever had watching a sequel, and one of those rare occasions on which, for me, the sequel nearly surpasses the brilliant original.

PSYCHO 3 takes up the story literally only a month or so where PSYCHO 2 left off. Creepy, disturbed transvestite Norman Bates is still living in the big creepy house above the Bates Motel. He has a new ‘Mother’ installed in the front bedroom and she’s bossing her little Normie around just like he’s used to (and comfortable with, haha.) He also has a nosey reporter shadowing him and trying to ferret out the whereabouts of a missing old lady about whom I shall say nothing further, heh-heh-heh…

Norman has a new temporary motel manager too, the handsome, sexy and sexually promiscuous Duane ‘watch the guitar’ Duke, and a new tenant-slash-friend-slash-possible lover in the form of mentally-disturbed runaway nun Maureen Coil. Maureen is ably played by Diana Scarwid, who is also known for portraying Joan Crawford’s grown-up daughter Christina in the famously uncomplimentary biopic, MOMMIE DEAREST (1981). God, how I love that movie…!

The funniest scene in this film is when the suicidal Sister Maureen thinks that Norman, dressed up as his Ma with a big old glinty knife in his hand, is the Virgin Mary come to save her from death. Boy, is she way off…! Norman as saviour instead of murderer? That’s certainly a new angle.

I also love the scene when the Sheriff is helping himself to some ice from the cooler outside the Motel and he doesn’t realise that it’s more than ice that he’s putting into his mouth… Eeuw!

Another hilarious scene is when Mother goes missing after a police raid on the Bates house. Norman’s running around the house frantically searching for her when he finds a note from her telling him that she’s in Cabin Twelve of the motel. What the hell does Norman find when he gets to Cabin Twelve? You’ll have to watch the film to find out, horror fans.

My favourite scene in this third film in the franchise, though, doesn’t have any killing or blood in it at all. It’s a shot of the old neglected Bates house before all the action kicks off. The birds are twittering around as they always do, pooping on the bird-table and everywhere else, and the whole house and little bit of scrubby garden just look so dry and dusty, unloved and deserted. Dead ‘Mothers’ certainly don’t do yardwork. The scene is perfectly set for some murderous shenanigans.

PSYCHO 3 may not reach the dizzying heights of the original film or even the first sequel but it’s still a terrifically fun watch and I absolutely loved it. The lovely old sheriff from PSYCHO 2 is in it again:

‘I was FOR you, Norman. I believed in you. They’ll never let you out again…!’ The staff of the diner are back again too and overall, the whole film is perfectly in keeping with the feel of the second one to which it’s a direct follow-up.

PSYCHO 4: THE BEGINNING is a different story. It’s a completely different kettle of fish, you might say. It’s one of those new-fangled ‘prequels.’  We’re expected to believe that Norman is out of the mental institution once more, for good this time.

Not only that, but he’s living in a lovely home far away from the Bates Motel and he’s got a wife too, who works as a psychiatrist which is how they met, and they have a baby on the way…! What the dickens is going on…? Can this be the Norman Bates we’ve grown to love… and fear?

Moreover, he’s managed to achieve all this in just a few short years. Excuse me for being just a teeny bit sceptical. Norman Bates as a productive, normal member of society, making love normally and in a way conducive to begetting an offspring? Do me a favour…!

Norman is telling his story through a series of gruesome flashbacks to Fran Ambrose, a no-nonsense lady who shoots from the hip. She also happens to be a popular radio talk-show host who’s doing a show on Men Who Kill Their Mothers. I really like the character of Fran. She’s smart, intuitive and bound to rattle a few cages with her show on murderous Mummy’s Boys.

Naturally, as Norman is the poster-boy for this particular group of degenerates, the producers are creaming themselves (excuse my French!) over their new caller and his grim tale of child abuse, gender confusion and double murder by strychnine-poisoning.

Possibly the most unbelievable thing about Norman’s story is the casting of Olivia Hussey as Norma Bates. From everything we’ve ever known about Norman’s Mumsie, she is surely not stunningly beautiful with fabulous long silky hair straight out of a shampoo commercial, is she?

Furthermore, surely she does not sit around the house in silky lingerie and kimonos sipping Long Island Iced Teas in the middle of the day when there’s work to be done and she almost certainly does not talk in that annoying, phoney-baloney British accent. There, I’ve said it, haha. What do you guys think?

Also, if Norma is supposed to be so sexually repressed and the product of her practically Victorian-style upbringing, why then is she being portrayed as the biggest slut in Christendom? Riddle me that, screenwriters!

Still, the more I watch this final sequel, the more I get used to her and begin to believe her performance. I don’t mind admitting when I’m wrong, if that’s what’s surprising you guys. I may have judged the lady a little harshly initially. Sorry, Ms. Hussey…!

Anyway, she’s not a great mother, this Norma Bates. She probably loves her son and only child Norman deep down but she’s dreadfully inconsistent with him, hugging him and laughing with him one minute and screaming at him hysterically the next.

Her behaviour towards him is sexually inappropriate as well. Getting him to ‘blot her with her flower-water’ indeed! He has to rub cooling lotion on her semi-naked body and then she berates him for getting the inevitable erection.

After seeming to do her utmost to arouse him sexually, she forces him to dress in womens’ clothing in a crazed attempt to make him ‘forget’ he has a penis. As if a guy would ever forget that…!

The film-makers had a real chance here to portray Norman’s messed-up childhood and show us exactly why Norman ended up as he did. When I first watched this film, I felt that instead, they’d gone down another route entirely and that the resulting film was a bizarre, sometimes baffling mish-mash of vignettes and flash-backs that frequently didn’t make sense and that had more than their fair share of plot-holes.

After watching the film a few times and, as I said, getting used to Olivia Hussey as ‘Mother,’ I decided that Norman’s weirdness and murderous tendencies first as a confused teenager and then as an adult male had pretty much been perfectly adequately explained. Who wouldn’t have grown up deranged after a head-wrecking upbringing like the one that he had? That’s what his Mother was, an absolute head-wrecker of a woman, slapping him with one hand and stroking him with the other.

Check out what happens to Norman’s first ‘girlfriend,’ a slutty young lady who gets more than she bargains for when she decides that she’s attracted to the young Norman Bates. Check out the rather brilliant final scenes as well, when poor Norman is deluded enough to think that he can actually escape the ghosts of his past. What Norman’s got to accept is that, with a past like his, you don’t get to ever escape it. You just have to learn to live with it somehow…

This last film in the franchise is by no means a flawless movie like the first three, but a PSYCHO sequel is a PSYCHO sequel and I’m still glad we have it. C.C.H. Pounder does a great job as the sympathetic radio-show host and I’m always happy to see Anthony Perkins portray Norman Bates, even if the film is a trifle inferior to its elder siblings.

I hope one day to see a film that shows us what happens when Norman’s son or daughter grows up. Will he or she be as flawed and dysfunctional as the genes that spawned them? How could they not be? No-one seems to have committed to this project as yet but maybe one day they will. What fun and games we’ll have then, PSYCHO fans…!

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

exorcism 2

EXORCISM. (2014) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

exorcism 2

EXORCISM. (2014) SINISTER HOUSE FILMS. WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY LANCE PATRICK. MAKE-UP EFFECTS BY NATALIA CYBULSKA AND ALEXA DAISY SEABORNE. STARRING ALEX RENDALL, AISLING KNIGHT, SARAH AKEHURST AND LEE AKEHURST.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

This is a terrible film. I really must stop buying DVDs just because they have the words ‘exorcism’ or ‘exorcist’ in the titles, haha. It’s just that I’m so keen to see more films along the lines of ‘The Exorcist,’ but there are times when these seem a bit thin on the ground, sadly.

This was a real stinker anyway, no offence to the film-makers. I normally try never to tear anyone’s efforts down as I always feel that everyone’s vision for their own art is as valid as anyone else’s, but this movie is a mess. The idea behind it is a good one, it just falls down in the execution.

The plot in a nutshell is this. A group of mouthy, not-very-likeable English young people make their way in their van to an empty house in the desolate countryside in the middle of the night. They’re planning to make a film about an exorcism that supposedly took place in the house back in the early ‘Sixties. A priest did a botched job on the exorcism and was never seen again. Neither was the demon. Until now…

Annoying, there were no subtitles on the film and some of the actors’ mumbling was virtually indecipherable, so I only gleaned this latter bit of essential information from the back of the box.

Anyway, as soon as they get inside the house, weird stuff starts happening immediately and the actors and crew start dying in ‘mysterious’ ways. Mercifully, you might say in some cases…! Rob the director is a gobby nightmare. Ash the lead actress is a squeaky, screechy cow. Kate is a mopey, cranky buzzkill.

I liked Chris the behind-the-scenes cameraman and Jo the busty make-up lady but that’s about it. (These two have the same surname, by the way, so they might be brother and sister or summat like that.) The ghost or whatever it is in the house can take the rest of ’em as far as I’m concerned. He or she is welcome to them, heh-heh-heh. As I said, they’re not a very nice bunch of people.

Captions appear on-screen regularly throughout the film but some of them don’t seem to make much sense and some of them are actually mis-spelled. Is there any excuse for that?

The film seems to be trying to copy various other horror films as well, like THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT, REC and THE EXORCIST itself. Normally, I’d consider this to be a fitting tribute to great movies that came before but, in this case, the film is such a chaotic mess that I won’t make my usual comments.

Putting on the old greenish night-vision and painting black circles around ‘possessed’ people’s eyes to indicate said possession can undoubtedly be scary when it’s done right but it doesn’t really work here. Ditto tying a possessed woman to a bed and making a supposedly ‘demonic’ voice come out of her mouth. Oh dear oh dear. Was there nothing in this film that actually worked…?

Well, it’s only an hour and a quarter long, that’s good. Also, I liked the bit about the group’s van-driver finding their camera and playing their footage back in the safety of his own gaff, only to find that something monstrous has followed him home, that bit was good. But then they had to go and ruin it with another bit, the bit about the snow, which made only about as much sense as anything else in the film. Sorry, guys…!

EXORCISM is a lazy, lazy title. And the bit with the ‘possessed’ priest chasing screechy Ash through the woods, occasionally popping up to say ‘Boo!’ and then apparently running away again before re-appearing again a few seconds later was hilariously bad. Why can’t he catch her…? She’s right there. What’s wrong with him…? Seriously, he’s a really stupid and incompetent possessed priest.

Like I said, it was a great idea but poorly-executed and, dare I say it, even poorly acted and scripted. It could have been a much better, tighter film but it wasn’t, so there you go. Oh boy. This is the meanest review of a film I’ve ever penned. I’m normally much nicer about people’s efforts but this film was just a disaster.

Still, an interesting new side of myself has opened up suddenly. I didn’t know I could be so deliciously bitchy, haha. At this rate, I could stand in for Simon Cowell on the judging panel of X FACTOR if he ever gets the sniffles or stubs his big toe and can’t make it into work. I’d better go give the show a call right away and let ’em know I’m available, there’s probably a waiting list…

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

daughters of satan

DAUGHTERS OF SATAN. (1972) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

daughters of satanDAUGHTERS OF SATAN. (1972) DIRECTED BY HOLLINGSWORTH MORSE. MUSIC BY RICHARD LASALLE. CINEMATOGRAPHY BY NONONG RASCA.

STARRING TOM SELLECK, BARRA GRANT, TANI GUTHRIE, PARALUMAN AND VIC SILAYAN. REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

Any film that begins with naked whipping is usually fine by me, and this brilliant old ‘Seventies erotic horror movie is no exception. It has the added bonus of starring Tom ‘MAGNUM P.I.’ Selleck, whose thick luxuriant moustache and hairy-chested manliness has provided fantasy fodder for many a horny housewife over the decades.

My favourite role of his wasn’t, in fact, the Hawaiian-shirted detective but the time when he played Monica Geller’s much older boyfriend Richard in ‘Nineties sitcom FRIENDS. It was so sad when they split up because Monica wanted babies and Richard didn’t, as he’d already been there and done that with his first wife. All together now: ‘Awwwww…!’

Anyway, I loved the scene after they’d split up and Monica was curled up on the couch miserably smoking one of Richard’s yucky cigars with one of his old beloved American Civil War tapes in the VCR, just to feel close to him. Well, we can all relate to that, I guess.

She’s asleep by the time her Dad, played by the wonderful Elliott Gould, comes over to see how she is. The look of pure bliss on Dad’s face once he’s commandeered the smouldering cigar and the Civil War documentary for himself is just priceless.

Tom Selleck is terrific in DAUGHTERS OF SATAN too. He plays a moustached, hairy-chested handsome man (no change there, so!) called Jim Robertson who lives in a gorgeous house in the Philippines with his beautiful wife Christina.

She’s an empty-headed harmless little thing who looks fabulous in an array of typically early ‘Seventies dresses, but she’s seeing a psychiatrist and one suspects that the lift, in her case, doesn’t quite reach all the way to the top, haha. I’m not saying she’s wacko or anything, but she’s definitely impressionable and easily influenced and that’s what makes her perfect for the horror that unfolds.

Any-hoo, one day art buff Jim buys a rather macabre painting of three witches being burned at the stake (with a big black dog being burned with them) because the middle witch is a dead ringer for the lovely Chris.

Chris is understandably baffled as to why he’d bring such a hideous and upsetting thing home with him. I mean, a picture of her being burned at the stake, for crying out loud…! Some husbands have no common sense at all.

The advent of the painting brings some strange changes into the Robertson household. A big black devil-dog appears out of nowhere, who’s devoted to Chris but tries to take off one of Jim’s legs every time they cross paths.

A surly disobliging maid called Juana (a bit like Consuela from FAMILY GUY!) joins the household too. Again, she’s all up in Chris’s business but she’s nothing short of downright rude to Jim.

The arrival of the strange close-mouthed domestic servant at the same time as the devil-dog reminded me strongly of one of the most famous Satanic movies of all time, DAMIEN: THE OMEN, which came along just a few short years later. The indomitable Billie Whitelaw played the sinister Mrs. Baylock to perfection. I don’t know who played the mutt. I really must watch that film again later.

Gradually, anyway, Jim realises that weird stuff is happening to his painting that appears to be mirroring real life. The third witch in the picture bears a strong resemblance to Juana the maid, for example, and the painting of the dog keeps fading in and out to beat the band. Weird…!

When he discovers another painting in the series in which he himself features as the man who’s condemned the three witches to death, it becomes clear that his own life might be in danger as the three reincarnated witches, his own innocent wife included, seek revenge for their grisly ends all the way back in 1592… Eeep!

Barra Grant, a real looker, is excellent as the dreamy, dopey Christina. Tani Guthrie plays a blinder too as the sex-mad head witch who really enjoys whipping half-naked females. You do see tits in this, by the way, and jolly nice tits they are too. And not surgically-enhanced, either, unless I miss my mark.

You’ll also hear some great early ‘Seventies horror movie music and you’ll discover a novel use for ice in both the killing of a husband and also the establishing of an alibi so you don’t get done for the aforementioned. Nice…!

You’ll see some gorgeous cinematography and ‘Seventies costumes and interiors and whatnot too. This is a really enjoyable film, with tits and whipping and even some titty-whipping into the bargain. Seriously, what more could anyone possibly want from a horror movie…?

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