THE ROBE and DEMETRIUS AND THE GLADIATORS: A DUO OF BIBLICAL MOVIE REVIEWS BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

robeTHE ROBE and DEMETRIUS AND THE GLADIATORS: A DUO OF BIBLICAL MOVIE REVIEWS BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

THE ROBE. (1953) BASED ON THE NOVEL BY LLOYD C. DOUGLAS. DIRECTED BY HENRY KOSTER. STARRING RICHARD BURTON, JEAN SIMMONS, VICTOR MATURE, MICHAEL RENNIE AND JAY ROBINSON AS CALIGULA.

DEMETRIUS AND THE GLADIATORS. (1954) BASED ON CHARACTERS CREATED BY LLOYD C. DOUGLAS IN HIS NOVEL ‘THE ROBE.’ DIRECTED BY DELMER DAVES. STARRING VICTOR MATURE, SUSAN HAYWOOD, MICHAEL RENNIE, DEBRA PAGET, ERNEST BORGNINE AND JAY ROBINSON AS CALIGULA.

‘Were you… out there…?’

I know Easter was about a month ago but I’m still cheerfully riding that wave of great old Biblical epics, haha. THE ROBE and its sequel DEMETRIUS AND THE GLADIATORS have always been two of my all-time favourites, along with BEN-HUR, KING OF KINGS, THE TEN COMMANDMENTS, SPARTACUS and THE GREATEST STORY EVER TOLD, to mention but a few. Well, I think those are the main ones!

It was said of some guy once, I don’t know who, that ‘he killed more men than Cecil B. De Mille,’ referring of course to the number of extras used in this type of film. They all had a cast of thousands all right, along with camels and rolling hills and raucous open markets in which you could buy a nice living-room carpet and a pair of comely slave twins to go with your watermelon and jugs of wine. They’re all marvellous old films and you just don’t see their like anymore.

THE ROBE is the story of Tribune Marcellus Gallio, brilliantly played by screen heart-throb and two-time hubby of Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton. He plays a rich Roman soldier from a good family, a boozer and a womaniser who falls afoul of the Emperor Caligula and gets stationed in the back end of nowhere, otherwise known as Jerusalem, as a sort of pay-back.

While he’s there, he’s put in charge of the unit that’s responsible for crucifying a local troublemaker of note known as Jesus Christ. Yep, that Jesus Christ…! Not unnaturally, the crucifixion has a profoundly unsettling effect on Tribune Gallio.

Believing himself bewitched by Jesus’s robe, which he shamefully won in a card game, Marcellus sets out to find it and destroy it. Yeah, he obviously lost it again after he won it, haha. He nearly loses his mind with the strain of it all before miraculously converting to Christianity, much to the surprise- but not displeasure- of his childhood sweetheart Diana, played by the lovely Jean Simmons. (Mrs. Spartacus, remember?)

Demetrius, played by the beefy and burly Victor Mature, is Tribune Gallio’s slave and the star of the sequel movie, DEMETRIUS AND THE GLADIATORS. Demetrius, a handsome Greek, becomes a devoted follower of Jesus after witnessing the shocking events of the crucifixion alongside his master, Marcellus.

Poor Demetrius is captured and tortured by the Emperor Caligula, who is more than a little disturbed at rumours of an underground cult, ie, Christianity, that places another god above himself. Caligula’s ego is insanely over-developed and any suggestion that he’s not the one true God himself is like a red rag to a bull.

The actor portraying Caligula in both films, Jay Robinson, was only twenty-three and then twenty-four respectively when he starred in them. This is incredible to imagine as he is absolutely magnificent as the spoilt brat of an Emperor, who quite literally throws screaming tantrums when he doesn’t get what he wants.

‘I want Tribune Gallio! Bring me Tribune Gallio before morning or I’ll have you all killed!’ What did I tell you? Completely and utterly spoilt…

In DEMETRIUS AND THE GLADIATORS, our freed slave Demetrius finds himself in a school for gladiators run by Ernest Borgnine’s tough nut, Strabo. Demetrius attains such success in the arena that he attracts the attention of Messalina, the wife of Caligula’s doddery old uncle, Claudius.

Messalina, played by Susan Hayward, is a saucy temptress who has forced her aged hubby to wear the cuckold’s horns so many times that they’ve worn an actual groove across his bald pate. When a fatal incident in the gladiators’ recreation room causes Demetrius to reject his Christian faith, the horny little hussy has no trouble at all in luring the hunky gladiator to her bed.

Caligula takes an interest in the robe in this film, mistakenly believing that it imbues the wearer with powers of immortality. Huh. It’s not a flippin’ cloak of invisibilty or anything. It’s not a magic cloak or anything like that. Or is it…?

Anyway, he orders Demetrius away from his carousing and merry-making in Messalina’s love-dungeon and tells him to find the robe and bring it to him. Demetrius finds the robe, but he finds something else as well, something which will hopefully jerk him back to his senses in a big way. And after several months spent lying between Messalina’s alabaster thighs (nice legs, what time do they open…?), the randy sod’s gonna need some serious deprogramming…!

These old films are so special. They’re not just for Easter, either. Any Saturday or Sunday afternoon during the year would do for a good long viewing of a nice swords-and-sandals epic. Now bring me a mojita this minute.

That’s right, bring me a mojita right now or I’ll feed you all to the lions! Haha, I’m only joking, of course. I simply wouldn’t dream of channelling my inner Caligula (Caligulady, geddit?) around you guys. As if I’d feed you guys to the lions. But a mojito would be nice…

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

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SINISTER 2 AND INSIDIOUS 3: TWO BRILLIANT HORROR MOVIE SEQUELS REVIEWED BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

Insidious-Chapter-3-1

SINISTER 2 and INSIDIOUS CHAPTER 3: TWO HORROR MOVIE SEQUELS REVIEWED BY SANDRA HARRIS.

SINISTER 2. (2015) DIRECTED BY CIARAN FOY. PRODUCED BY JASON BLUM, SCOTT DERRICKSON AND BRIAN KAVANAUGH-JONES. STARRING JAMES RANSONE, SHANNYN SOSSAMON AND LEA COCO.

INSIDIOUS CHAPTER 3. (2015) WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY LEIGH WHANNELL. PRODUCED BY JAMES WAN, JASON BLUM AND OREN PELI. STARRING LIN SHAYE, LEIGH WHANNELL, ANGUS SAMPSON, DERMOT MULRONEY, JAMES WAN AND STEFANIE SCOTT.

These two horror films from 2015 have a lot in common. They’re each co-produced by hotshot horror movie producer Jason Blum and they each belong to two of the biggest horror film franchises in recent years, SINISTER and INSIDIOUS.

I’d already seen the original SINISTER movie, starring Ethan Hawke as true crime writer Ellison Oswalt, and loved it, but I was coming to INSIDIOUS 3 completely blind, having seen neither of the first two INSIDIOUS films. Chapter 3 blew me away, so I now absolutely cannot wait to get my mitts on the first two instalments.

SINISTER 2 sees Deputy So-And-So from the first SINISTER movie desperately trying to keep a beautiful young mother called Courtney and her two small sons Zach and Dylan from the clutches of two villains.

The first of these is Courtney’s abusive husband, who has discovered his wife’s remote hiding-place for herself and her two boys. This violent hot-head wants his family back, but they don’t want to come back. This is where Deputy-So-And-So, who’s completely smitten with Courtney, comes in. Can he be her knight in shining armour…?

The other villain is, of course, Bughuul, the freaky-ass supernatural child-snatcher from the original movie. Both of Courtney’s kids are seeing dead children all over the creepy house in which they’re hiding out with their terrified mother who’s fleeing from her nasty husband, but Bughuul seems to have his evil eye on one of the boys in particular to do his vile bidding. Can Deputy-So-And-So stop this possessed kid from destroying his whole family…?

Bughuul is once more adding to his collection of freakishly sick home movies in this film, by the way. As a huge fan of crocodiles, I loved the home movie in which they featured. The rat thing, while being imaginative and inventive, made me sick to someone else’s stomach, haha. Very Marquis de Sade-esque, I’m sure.

As for the rest of the home movies, it was all just like, fire again, seriously? Still, there’s some pretty nasty stuff in there. Damn you, Bughuul, you sick f**k, will you ever get yours…? I await any future developments with intense interest.

INSIDIOUS CHAPTER 3 sees a pretty young student called Quinn Brenner battling with the evil demon that has unfairly attached itself to her. All she wanted to do was to contact her dead mother (clearly she’s never seen any of those ouija board movies, the dozy mare!), but instead she finds herself in great physical danger as the demon of someone who died a long time ago tries to drag her down into the Underworld with him.

Yes, it’s a guy. Remember the nearly-dead guy in the bed in the movie SEVEN (1995), starring Brad Pitt? First-time director and a close friend of James Wan, who directed the first two INSIDIOUS movies, Leigh Whannell, wanted his demon to look like the guy from SEVEN. The demon is actually played by the guy from SEVEN…! He’s equally terrifying in both films and he’s the reason why I will never, ever watch the movie SEVEN again. So there, haha.

Quinn enlists the help of psychic Elise Rainier to help her fight the demon. Elise, brilliantly played by Lin Shaye, apparently featured in the other two INSIDIOUS movies, along with ghost-hunters Tucker and Specs, played by Angus Sampson and Leigh Whannell himself.

The scenes in which Elise goes into the otherworldly zone known as ‘The Further’ are freaking terrifying. Parker Crane, or the ‘Bride In Black,’ whose origin story I’m unaware of because I haven’t yet seen the first two films, scared the living daylights out of me. I definitely want to find out more about such a hideous and malevolent creature.

The scene where Elise follows the demon known as ‘The Man Who Can’t Breathe’ (because he’s wearing a gas-mask, see?) down into the dark depths of her Reading Room nearly spooked me half to death as well. The film is full of jump scares, which some horror fans tend to look down on, but when they’re well done, as they are here, they can be super-effective.

Heart-throb Dermot Mulroney (YOUNG GUNS, COPYCAT, MY BEST FRIEND’S WEDDING) plays the rather ineffective Dad here who keeps leaving his crippled daughter to fight the demon on her own. Lin Shaye totally steals the show for me though. She kicks ass all through the movie, especially against the ‘Bride In Black.’ I wish she was my Nan, haha.

Anyway, these are two terrific sequels from franchises which I know you horror fans will all know as well as you know your own names. Both are well worth watching and, as for INSIDUOUS Chapters One and Two, I cannot wait to get my hands on them.

There’s a lot of top-notch, high quality horror flicks being made nowadays, despite some folks’ assertions that all the best horror movies were made thirty or forty years ago. It gives one a lot of hope for the future. It 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