SINISTER HOUSE/HAUNTING OF CRESTVIEW ACADEMY: A GRISLY DOUBLE BILL OF HORROR FILM REVIEWS BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

 crestview academySINISTER HOUSE/HAUNTING OF CRESTVIEW HIGH: A DOUBLE BILL OF GRISLY HORROR FILM REVIEWS BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

SINISTER HOUSE aka HOUSE OF BAD. (2013) WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY JIM TOWNS. STARRING HEATHER L. TYLER, SADIE KATZ AND CHERYL SANDS.

HAUNTING OF CRESTVIEW ACADEMY aka BAD KIDS GO TO HELL. (2012) WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY MATTHEW SPRADLIN. STARRING CAMERON DEANE STEWART, ALI FAULKNER, AUGIE DUKE, AMANDA ALCH, ROGER EDWARDS, MARC DONATO AND JUDD NELSON (FROM ‘THE BREAKFAST CLUB’).

Both of these horror films deal with small groups of people who, for one reason or another, are being confined to barracks, as it were, for certain periods of time. They’re each good gruesome fun to watch, although I’m more inclined to favour SINISTER HOUSE, otherwise known as HOUSE OF BAD.

That’s where we’ll start, with the film that ‘GRABS YOU AND DOESN’T LET YOU GO!,’ according to one of its other reviews. I couldn’t agree more, as it happens. I was glued to this one from start to finish. Let me see if I can explain to you guys exactly why…

Three attractive American sisters, Teig, Sirah and Lily, all hole up in the abandoned old childhood home of Teig and Sirah for a month, or at least that’s the plan, anyway. They’ve stolen a massive stash of drugs from Sirah’s boyfriend Tommy, a drug dealer and pimp. Hence the need for a complete getaway.

They’re going to lay low for a month and then sell the drugs off to a contact of Teig’s. What’s that quote from Robbie Burns? ‘The best-laid plans of mice and men gang oft a-gley…?’ Yeah, what he said. You’d better believe that the sisters’ plans will be ganging a-gley all over the bleedin’ shop.

The idea is that the money from the sale of the drugs will be enough to set the sisters up in a new life, something that each of the women desperately need. Sirah’s abusive boyfriend Tommy has had her dancing topless in the clubs.

Teig, the eldest- and toughest- sister, is an ex-con who trusts no-one, not even her own sisters. Lily, their young step-sister from their father’s bit-on-the-side, is an absolute stunner looks-wise but she just can’t keep her pretty little snout out of the heroin trough. And she’s going to be holed up for a month with a suitcase stuffed full of drugs? Good luck with that…!

There are problems right from the start. Lily’s got to go cold turkey, for one thing. As it’s a film and not real life, we don’t really see her going through the horrible traumas that a person coming off the ‘junk’ for realsies would be forced to endure.

Sirah, the weakest of the three sisters, actually misses her abusive pimp and can’t keep her busy fingers from texting him on the phone she solemnly promised her sisters not to use. The seriously on-edge Teig will kill her if she finds out.  She’ll go through her for a feckin’ short-cut, as we say here in Oireland.

It’s not just the physical stuff that’s a problem, either. Their old childhood home is filled with bad memories and evil spirits, dating back to the time when something terrible happened between Teig and Sirah’s constantly warring parents back when the two girls were kids.

Teig and Sirah are still afraid to go upstairs and down into the cellar. Lily demands to know why. The other two sisters think she’s better off not knowing. If you’ve seen this excellent horror movie, you’ll probably think the same. Oh, and there are lovely bare boobies on show here too, and that’s always a big plus…!

HAUNTING OF CRESTVIEW HIGH is a terrible film really, but as I watched it with a friend, we had great fun with it together. If I’d been watching it alone with no-one to have a laugh with, I’d have been bored rigid and bitterly disappointed with the lack of any real scares.

It’s about a bunch of really awful American high school kids in their last year of school, a school for mostly super-rich snobs like the children of politicians or lawyers.

A bunch of six of these privileged little horrors all find themselves in an eight-hour detention one day. Their teacher falls mysteriously ill and goes off, locking the posh brats into the school library for the whole day.  The Health and Safety people will have a f**king heart attack when they hear about this gross act of negligence on the teacher’s part.

It’s a loving homage to the hit ‘Eighties movie THE BREAKFAST CLUB, and Judd Nelson actually plays the headmaster in this snobby upper-class school, which will delight any fans of the old movie. There’s actually another film doing the rounds called ‘DETENTION,’ which has the super-cool tagline ‘THE BREAKFAST CLUB MEETS THE GRUDGE…!,’ so I must check that out if I get the chance.

Anyway, the six brats involved in this all-day incarceration are mostly the kids of rich parents who’ve committed foul play against an old native American chap called Jacob Rainwater. They’ve shoved him off his land in order to build the school a huge fancy library.

In return, the school will guarantee that their snotty, ill-bred brats will all graduate on time and with the honours they need to get into their big fancy colleges. It’s well for some…

The spirits aren’t happy, however, even if the kids’ parents are. Some strange paranormal-type happenings in the library on Detention Day have the snotty little poshos running scared. And the situation is not without its element of human conspiracy, either, but I ain’t telling. Let it be a surprise-slash-reward for anyone who actually sits through the whole cringingly bad film…!

So there you have it, guys. Another two-for-the-price-of-one horror film review from your friendly neighbourhood movie critic. The first film is terrific and utterly watchable. It’d be a great story even without the horror, if you know what I mean.

The second film, well, still watch it by all means if it comes your way. Just don’t expect too much from it, that’s all. Except boobies. There are boobies in it so you can expect those. Boobies (like diamonds in the ‘Going to Africa’ episode of THE SIMPSONS!) will make everything all right. Boobies…! Boobies…! Boobies…!

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 LAST EXORCISM/THE HAUNTING OF BATES HOTEL: A DOUBLE BILL OF GRISLY HORROR FILM REVIEWS BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

LastExorcismInterviewLeadTHE LAST EXORCISM and THE HAUNTING OF BATES HOTEL: A DOUBLE BILL OF GRISLY HORROR FILM REVIEWS BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

THE LAST EXORCISM. (2010) DIRECTED BY DANIEL STAMM. PRODUCED BY ELI ROTH. STARRING PATRICK FABIAN, ASHLEY BELL, CALEB LANDRY JONES AND LOUIS HERTHUM.

THE HAUNTING OF BATES HOTEL. (2012) DIRECTED BY BYRON TURK. STARRING JEAN LOUISE O’SULLIVAN, DANTE ZUCCA AND ZACHARY FLETCHER.

I bought both of these films to watch over the recent Saint Patrick’s Day holiday weekend here in Oireland, hence the double review today. While I always enjoy watching horror that’s new to me, however ropey, I must confess that I found one of these films to be possibly the worst horror film I’ve ever seen, while the other one baffled me at first but grew to be a strong finisher. Want to know which one is which? Stay tuned and I promise to tell all…!

Well, here I am telling all as promised, haha. I’ll start with THE HAUNTING OF BATES HOTEL. Being as I am a lifelong fan of Alfred Hitchcock’s legendary horror film PSYCHO  (1960) and the book by Robert Bloch from which it derived, I admit I bought this film for the PSYCHO connection and also for the cover of the DVD box.

The cover features a building not unlike the home that Norman Bates shared with his ‘Mother.’ In an upstairs window, a woman is clearly silhouetted holding a knife. To my eternal disgust, THE HAUNTING OF BATES MOTEL has about as much to do with PSYCHO as GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS has to do with crocheting and needlework. I was deeply, deeply disappointed.

The film is set in an existing real-life horror attraction called the Bates Motel and Haunted Hayride. It’s situated in rural Pennsylvania on a place called Arasapha Farm and television star Bam Margera is seen advertising the Halloween attraction for real at the film’s outset.

In the film, a beautiful young woman called Agnes Rickover goes to work at this attraction to try to recover from a trauma she experienced there a year ago, namely the death of her best friend Lily (an employee of the attraction’s) who burned horribly on the Haunted Hayride.

People start dying ‘mysteriously’ around the Park pretty much on Agnes’s first shift. She determines to get to the bottom of both Lily’s death and the deaths of the other Park employees also. She enlists the aid of her cute but relectant writer friend Clyde to do this. I don’t want to give too much of the lame ‘plot’ away so I’ll just say this. The ‘who’ is pretty obvious. The ‘why’ is never revealed. I want my tenner back.

THE LAST EXORCISM is much more promising and worthwhile although, again, the DVD box features a scene that’s not even in the movie. Sigh. That always annoys me, even though it happens fairly frequently. At least the film inside was worth the ninety or so minutes of my life.

The Reverend Cotton Marcus, hailing from Baton Rouge, Louisiana and as smug and self-satisfied a character as you’ll find in any film, has been performing exorcisms since he was knee-high to a grasshopper. In this ‘found footage’ supernatural horror film, he admits freely to the public, through a documentary he’s allowing to be filmed about him, that he no longer believes in demons.

Say what? That’s right, folks. A medical issue caused him to lose his faith, but he still continues to perform fake exorcisms as a sort of placebo for the people who think they’re possessed by the devil. In other words, if they think he’s curing ’em, he really is curing ’em, if you follow me, It’s purely the placebo effect but, if it works, isn’t he doing them a favour rather than a disservice…?

Anyway, in this ‘documentary,’ he reveals all the tricks of his trade, such as phoney demon noises and making objects move and fall over by using wires. If this was a real documentary, it’d be hard not to be utterly sickened and disgusted by the tricks being played upon individuals who genuinely believe that they’re possessed by the devil. Still, it’s just a film. Isn’t it…?

Cotton’s camera crew follow him to the Sweetzer farm, where the Dad of the family tells them that he thinks his sixteen-year-old daughter Nell is possessed by a demon. Against the wishes of Nell’s brother Caleb, Cotton, filmed by his crew of Iris and Danny, duly performs a phoney exorcism on the pleasant and obliging young girl.

A few phoney demon noises later and Bob’s your Uncle, or so Cotton thinks. Imagine his shock when he’s confronted by evidence of a genuine possesion taking place inside the body and soul of the home-schooled young lady. Things take a distinctly creepy turn as Cotton and his crew discover that they’ve bitten off way more than they can chew with Cotton’s so-called ‘LAST EXORCISM…’

I was scared once or twice by this film, which is a good sign, although of course by now I know what to expect from exorcism films. Projectile vomiting or spewing, heads and bodies twisting to unnatural angles and girls with long dark hair and white nightdresses scuttling up walls and speaking in tongues.

It’s always the same, isn’t it, and this film is no different, although it’s still good. Show me a possession film where the possessed person is a balding, middle-aged businessman with a paunch and a wart on his face and I’ll show you a possession film with a difference. Don’t think it’s gonna happen, though. Not while girls with long dark hair and white nighties are still selling horror flicks.

A rather Dennis Wheatley-esque ending, which I quite enjoyed, completes the picture. I’d definitely recommend giving this one a watch. Not so, sadly, in the case of THE HAUNTING OF BATES MOTEL. Use it to prop up a wonky table, by all means, but that’s about all it’s good for. I just hope and pray that Alfred Hitchcock hasn’t seen it on the flatscreen television in the elegant and comfortable lounge of the afterlife. He’d certainly be turning in his grave.

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

RITES OF SPRING/THE EXORCISM OF EMILY ROSE: A DOUBLE BILL OF HORROR FILM REVIEWS BY SANDRA HARRIS.

emily-roseRITES OF SPRING/THE EXORCISM OF EMILY ROSE: A TERRIFYING DOUBLE BILL OF SUPERNATURAL HORROR FILM REVIEWS BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

RITES OF SPRING. (2011) DIRECTED BY PADRAIG REYNOLDS. STARRING A.J. BOWEN, KATHERINE RANDOLPH, ANESSA RAMSEY, MARCO ST. JOHN AND JEFF NATIONS.

THE EXORCISM OF EMILY ROSE. (2006) DIRECTED BY SCOTT DERRICKSON. STARRING LAURA LINNEY, TOM WILKINSON AND JENNIFER CARPENTER.

This is a pairing of horror films which I always associate with each other because I first watched them at around the same time. They’re both top-notch horror films which I re-visit every year, and always one after the other, usually RITES OF SPRING followed by EMILY ROSE.

Let’s take a closer look at them, starting, appropriately enough, with RITES OF SPRING. Although you wouldn’t think it with the cold, the wind and the sleet, it is in fact Spring, a time for snowdrops and daffodils, green shoots and… the most hideous of human sacrifices…

There are two storylines running concurrently in this American horror movie directed by an Irishman, RITES OF SPRING. Firstly, we have a small group of criminals who are planning to kidnap a rich man’s little daughter in order to ransom her for the pay-off of a lifetime.

The kidnapping goes to plan up to a point, but blood is shed during the home invasion and the kidnappers are forced to bring along an extra hostage they hadn’t bargained on. They bring both their hostages to an old abandoned school miles from anywhere and wait for the pay-off to arrive…

The other storyline is bloody terrifying. Two attractive young women are abducted by a strange old man. They wake up to find themselves suspended from hooks in an old dump of a shed out in the countryside somewhere.

The old man keeps popping in to cut them with knives or cut their clothing off their trembling bodies. He keeps asking them if they’re ‘clean’ but, just in case they’re not, he’s got a bucket of water and a bristly sponge handy. Eeeep…!

As if that wasn’t scary enough, the viewers get the distinct impression that a human sacrifice of some kind is just around the corner. And who- or what- is the old man keeping prisoner underneath the locked trapdoor? And what does the man need the girls’ blood for?

When the two storylines spectacularly collide, a chase begins that always puts me in mind of THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE and SWITCHBLADE ROMANCE, among others. The folk horror element will probably remind you somewhat of THE WICKER MAN.

The chase in the second half of the film is tense with some truly shocking moments. Even the cover of the DVD box is super-sexy, picturing a naked woman suspended from a rope and silhouetted against the night sky while in the background looms a dilapidated old barn.

THE EXORCISM OF EMILY ROSE is based on true events which, when I researched ’em briefly online, scared the living daylights out of me. The film is part courtroom drama and part horror, the horror being told in terrifying flashbacks. Though it’s naturally not a patch on William Friedkin’s THE EXORCIST, the Mammy and Daddy of exorcism films, it’s still a brilliant and really watchable horror story.

Laura Linney plays Erin Bruner, a high-flying barrister whose job it is to defend a priest called Father Richard Moore, who’s played by wonderful English actor Tom Wilkinson (THE FULL MONTY, IN THE BEDROOM).

He’s accused of bringing about the death through negligence of a beautiful young woman with everything to live for called Emily Rose. How, you might ask, did he do this? As we’re told in flash-backs, he performed an exorcism on the girl with the full consent of her worried parents because she’d exhibited signs of demonic possession. These included contortions of her body, speaking in strange languages and seeing horrible visions of demonic faces, among other things.

The lawyers prosecuting poor old Father Moore are maintaining that the girl was anorexic and that she had epilepsy coupled with psychosis. These conditions, they claim, neatly cover all of Emily’s symptoms. Erin Bruner, on the other hand, attempts to convince the sceptical court of the existence of demonic possession, because that’s what Father Moore and Emily’s devastated parents truly believe was the root of Emily’s terrifying experiences.

The scenes in which Emily first notices the demonic influences around her are really scary. So are the ones in which Father Moore and Erin Bruner both feel the demonic presence close by in the dead of night (at 3am, to be precise, the REAL witching hour) and the ones where the priest bravely attempts to rid the girl of the evil spirits that plague her.

Emily’s bodily contortions are super-freaky and all real and not computerised, from what I can make out. They’ll put the willies up you big-time. I could have done without the gold initialled locket in the snow and maybe even the stigmata as well, but otherwise, this is a really scary film that you shouldn’t watch just before going to bed because it’ll give you the worst nightmares you’ve ever had.

But do watch it if you can. Even if you think that exorcisms and demonic possession are just a load of old hogwash from the movies, there are plenty of people who don’t agree. Even if you’re determined to remain a hardened sceptic, at least try to keep an open mind. After all, there are more things in Heaven and Earth and so on, aren’t there…?

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