THE RAVEN, STARRING VINCENT PRICE AND BORIS KARLOFF. (1963) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

raven boysTHE RAVEN. (1963) AN AMERICAN INTERNATIONAL PICTURE. BASED ON THE POEM BY EDGAR ALLAN POE. PRODUCED AND DIRECTED BY ROGER CORMAN. SCREENPLAY BY RICHARD MATHESON. MUSIC BY LES BAXTER. EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS: JAMES H. NICHOLSON AND SAMUEL Z. ARKOFF.

STARRING VINCENT PRICE, PETER LORRE, BORIS KARLOFF, HAZEL COURT, OLIVE STURGESS AND JACK NICHOLSON.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

This quaintly charming horror film is a marvellous example of the work that Roger Corman and Vincent Price did together for AMERICAN INTERNATIONAL PICTURES. With a little help, of course, from a certain sombre-faced writer who went by the name of Edgar Allan Poe, haha.

THE RAVEN begins- and ends- with beloved horror icon Vincent Price actually reciting Poe’s famous poem of the same name and he really does the grim but beautiful words justice. In fact, if you’re going to get someone to read Poe’s words, you really couldn’t do better than have Vincent Price do the job in his deliciously distinctive spooky voice.

My wee son does an impression of the late Vincent Price’s voice that’s so like him it’s uncanny. I really must record him doing it one day for posterity…!

Anyway, in the film THE RAVEN, a rather splendidly-dressing-gowned Vincent Price, playing the magician Erasmus Craven, is sitting about at home when an actual raven comes tap-tap-tapping upon his chamber door, believe it or not. In point of fact, the bird comes to the window but I don’t think that there’s any mention of that in the poem, haha.

The wise-cracking bird turns out to be none other than Peter Lorre under a spell or ‘enchantment,’ put there by an evil wizard called Dr. Scarabus. Some highly hilarious rooting about for ingredients from his dead scientist father’s old laboratory leads to Craven being able to release the Raven, aka Peter Lorre as a boozy second-rate magician called Bedlo, from the spell. The insanity does not, of course, end there…

Bedlo stirs the pot big-time by informing a shocked Craven that he’s seen Craven’s dead wife’s spirit hanging around this Dr. Scarabus’s gaff. Now, Craven still loves the deceased Lenore with every fibre of his being and he’s hell-bent on charging around to Dr. Scarabus’s place to see if what Bedlo says is true.

Also, Bedlo wants his magic-kit back from Scarabus’s house where Scarabus is apparently holding it hostage. The pair high-tail it there in a carriage, accompanied by Craven’s beautiful daughter Estelle and Bedlo’s handsome but rather clown-ish son Rexford, played by a really young Jack Nicholson, long before ever he flew over the cuckoo’s nest to land head-first in THE SHINING…

Horror legend Boris Karloff is magnificent as the aforementioned Dr. Scarabus, a wizard with powers far superior to Bedlo’s but about equal with Craven’s. He greets the deputation with a fake hospitality, feigning polite surprise at their various complaints.

A little display of Dr. Scarabus’s powers over dinner puts Bedlo firmly back in his box. Craven will not be so easy to outwit. But Craven is horribly distracted by the shocking return to life of someone he was sure was dead…

The duel between the two wizards is superbly done and hilariously funny. Vincent Price can be awfully mischievous when he wants to be. The fun and games are wonderful to witness, although the outcome of the duel is never really in doubt. Or is it…?

Hazel Court is fantastic (and delightfully booby-licious!) as the lady whose name we won’t mention for fear of spoilers. Suffice it to say that she also plays a beautiful but duplicitous wife in the excellent horror movie PREMATURE BURIAL starring Ray Milland, a story also based on a work by Mr. Poe. He surely wrote a lot of grim stuff, didn’t he…?

It probably goes without saying that the three leads, Messrs Price, Lorre and Karloff, more than justify their places at the top of the horror tree by turning in warm, passionate and deeply humorous performances. Vincent Price in particular is just marvellous to watch. He’s just having so much fun with it and you can really tell.

As always with AMERICAN INTERNATIONAL PICTURES, the settings, furnishings and costumes are lavishly-gorgeous and rich and gloriously-coloured, with the lovely russets, reds and orangey-browns coming to the forefront as always.

Dr. Scarabus’s castle exterior takes the form of a stunning-looking painting and the shots of the sea are just beautiful. The film is quite similar to another horror film about the spirit of naughty deceased wives called THE TERROR, also starring Boris Karloff and a young Jack Nicholson. If you haven’t already seen this one, it’s well worth checking out.

THE RAVEN is a terrific watch, anyway. You should put it on one dark windy night when you’re all on your own in the darkened house. That way, when something sinister comes tap-tap-tapping upon your chamber door, it’ll turn the blood in your veins to ice just to hear it, and isn’t it just delightful to be scared stiff…?

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 BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI and ZULU: A DUO OF SUPERB WAR FILMS REVIEWED BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

Zulu-Screencap-michael-caine-2662240-500-289

THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI and ZULU: A DUO OF SUPERB EPIC WAR FILMS REVIEWED BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI. (1957) BASED ON THE 1952 BOOK BY PIERRE BOULLE. DIRECTED BY DAVID LEAN. STARRING ALEC GUINNESS, JACK HAWKINS, WILLIAM HOLDEN, JAMES DONALD, GEOFFREY HORNE AND SESSUE HAYAKAWA.

ZULU. (1964) DIRECTED, CO-PRODUCED AND CO-WRITTEN BY CY ENDFIELD. STARRING STANLEY BAKER, MICHAEL CAINE, JACK HAWKINS, ULLA JACOBSSON, NIGEL GREEN, PATRICK MAGEE, JAMES BOOTH AND CHIEF BUTHELEZI. NARRATION BY RICHARD BURTON.

These are undoubtedly two of the best war films that have ever been made. I’ve loved ’em both since I first clapped eyes on them and I’m thrilled to be reviewing them together like this.

Starring some of the finest actors in cinema history, they’ve won a ton of awards between them and are always featuring on lists detailing the best films of all time. There are quite a few similarities between them as well, as it happens. Let’s take a closer look at both movies, shall we, and see what we make of ’em…

THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI tells the story (fictional, but based on some fact) of a large group of British soldiers who are taken prisoner by the Japanese during WW2. They are sent to a prisoner-of-war camp in Burma and forced to build the titular bridge which will connect Bangkok and Rangoon when it is completed.

ZULU is a dramatisation of an actual battle, the Battle of Rorke’s Drift, that took place between British soldiers and the massive Zulu army in early 1879 in Natal. It was during the Anglo-Zulu War that it happened. In the film, the same Zulus have just massacred large numbers of the British force at the Battle of Isandlwana.

Now they’re coming for the one-hundred-and-fifty of Her Majesty’s soldiers, many of them injured and in the sick bay, who currently occupy the little missionary station at Rorke’s Drift. The odds against the British soldiers are impossible. They’re dead men walking now, surely…?

Both films portray the British soldiers as courageous hard workers who keep a stiff upper lip at all times and never abandon their principles. They’re true Englishmen, after all, from a civilised country where people drink a nice cup of tea and read the morning paper unhurriedly regardless of the situation. It’s a good way to be, eh what, chaps?

Alec Guinness’s stiff upper lip as Lieutenant Colonel Nicholson in THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI nearly gets him killed. He clashes with Colonel Saito, the man in charge of the Japanese prison camp, over a rather piddling matter of principle for which he’s (Nicholson) clearly prepared to die.

It’s almost a huge relief when eventually the equally stubborn pair put aside their differences and decide, for their mutual benefit, to build the best damn bridge they’re capable of creating between them.

Michael Caine is superb in ZULU as the posh privileged army officer with the fancy toff’s name of Lieutenant Gonville Bromhead. He comes from a family of army royalty and initially looks down on Stanley Baker’s Lieutenant Chard.

Chard is an engineer who, incidentally, is busily- and sweatily!- engaged in building a bridge when Bromhead swans up on his horse, as cool as the proverbial cucumber. What is it with army men and their little bridges…? The two men quickly learn to work together, however, when those pesky Zulus start swarming over the horizon…

Although my favourite characters from THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI are those of Nicholson and Colonel Saito, William Holden is top-notch too as the American prisoner-of-war, Commander Shears. He daringly escapes from the impossible-to-escape-from prison camp and then is horrified when he’s asked to go back there by Jack Hawkins as the English Major Warden, who has orders to blow up the bridge that his fellow Englishman Nicholson has so lovingly created. Blow up the bridge? Jolly good show, chaps. Jolly good show…!

Actor Jack Hawkins is another feature that both films have in common. He also stars in ZULU as the rather naïve Swedish missionary Otto Witt, father to the beautiful Ulla Jacobsson’s Margareta and a man who’s partial to a bit of a tipple.

I love when that fine South African-born British character actor Nigel Green (COUNTESS DRACULA with Ingrid Pitt) as the exceptionally stiff-upper-lipped Colour Sergeant Bourne tells the drunken Otto Witt to ‘quiet down now sir, there’s a good gentleman, you’re scaring the lads…!’

Nigel Green gets another great line when a green and terrified young soldier says to him as they quietly wait to be overrun by Zulus: ‘Why us, Sarge?’ Not turning a hair, the splendidly-moustached Colour Sergeant Bourne replies: ‘Because we’re here, lad. Because we’re here…’

In a nice touch of authenticity, the real-life Chief Buthelezi plays his own great-grandfather, the Zulu King Cetshwayo, in the film. Also, a lot of singing talent is on show here as the Zulus take on the Welsh soldiers in the regiment in a sort of THE VOICE OF WALES X FACTOR MEETS ZULU’S GOT TALENT type of thing so be sure and buy the soundtrack…!

There are lots of terrific actors in minor roles in both films too, such as James Donald as the infinitely civilised and reasonable but also pragmatic Major Clipton in THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI and another James, this time James Booth, from ZULU. He plays the malingerer Private Henry Hook, the guy with the bad attitude who rather surprisingly ends up winning an award for bravery along with no small number of his colleagues.

These are two cracking war films that’ll make great viewing if you were to watch ’em back-to-back some lazy Saturday afternoon, like I’ve just done myself. Don’t forget to maintain that stiff upper lip throughout, though, and keep a tight rein on any tears that might threaten to fall during your viewing of this truly smashing and emotional double-feature.

It’s just not the done thing to sob and sniffle like hysterical women in front of the ranks, you know. As to what exactly constitutes the done thing, well, you know what, old boy? In the words of a certain Colonel Nicholson: ‘I haven’t the foggiest…!’

Zulu-Screencap-michael-caine-2662240-500-289

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

HAMMER HORROR’S KISS OF THE VAMPIRE. (1963) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

kiss of the vampire showdownKISS OF THE VAMPIRE aka KISS OF EVIL (when shown on American television). (1963) HAMMER FILM PRODUCTIONS. DIRECTED BY DON SHARP. PRODUCED BY ANTHONY HINDS. WRITTEN BY ANTHONY HINDS UNDER THE NAME ‘JOHN ELDER.’ STARRING EDWARD DE SOUZA, JENNIFER DANIEL, CLIFFORD EVANS, NOEL WILLMAN, BARRY WARREN, JACQUIE WALLIS, PETER MADDEN AND VERA COOK. REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

This is another fantastic entry in the Hammer Horror canon of DRACULA-slash-vampire films. It comes five years after Christopher Lee first donned the cloak and fangs to play Bram Stoker’s timeless horror creation Count Dracula for Hammer Film Productions, and a mere two years before Sir Christopher reprised his role again in Hammer’s DRACULA: PRINCE OF DARKNESS.

Neither Christopher Lee as the Count nor Peter Cushing as Van Helsing the vampire-hunter appear in KISS OF THE VAMPIRE, my only gripe with an otherwise perfect vampire film. Let’s take a look at the plot, shall we, film buffs…?

A young just-married couple, Gerald and Marianne Harcourt, are honeymooning in Bavaria, definitely a gorgeous spot for honeymooning. Except for the cult of bloodsucking vampires that occupy the castle overlooking the village where the Harcourts are obliged to spend several days due to motor-car trouble. See what you get for trusting so-called modern technology? You’d never have had that trouble with a coach and horses…!

The little inn where the young couple are staying over, rather ambitiously monikered the ‘Grand Hotel,’ is a quaint and charming wee place. The landlady, Anna, nurses a terrible un-named sadness, however, and her lovely old hubby Bruno, while suffering too, is just trying to get on with things. You know the way men are, haha.

An invitation for the young English couple to dine at the aforementioned castle, the property of a Dr. Ravna, is the source of much excitement at the little inn. Gerald and Marianne, in particular Marianne, are positively captivated by the charming doctor and his attractive and accomplished grown-up children, Carl and Sabena.

A party invite comes hot on the heels of the dinner invitation for the Harcourts. It’s a sexy masked ball and the booze is flowing, especially for the not-exactly-used-to-it Gerald, who wakes from a drunken-and-drugged stupor to find his wife missing. What’s more, the Ravnas are closing ranks and claiming that they know nothing at all about any so-called wife of his…

A friend of mine has remarked in the past that Dr. Ravna looks like Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing mashed together. Sometimes I see it, sometimes I don’t. I do think, however, that the rather wooden Marianne, she of the fixed expression and unmoving hairstyle, resembles no-one so much as Doris Mann, the blonde woman from the marvellous spoof horror film CARRY ON SCREAMING who gets turned into a mannequin. Even being turned into a vampire-hussy doesn’t cause her expression to change or her hair to move at all…!

I love Clifford Evans as the alcoholic Professor Zimmer, who has good reason to be hitting the booze so hard and so often. Under his sternly-bearded exterior, he shares a joint pain with Anna and Bruno, the inn-keepers. He might also be the only person who can help a shell-shocked Gerald to free his missus from the cult of the vampires.

I don’t know if I’d bother if I were Gerald. I’m sure that Marianne could be easily replaced at any good department store where mannequins adorn the window displays. Sorry, sorry. I love the film, but Blondie surely could have used some serious loosening up…!

The film is as gorgeously filmed and coloured as you might expect from any Hammer production, with stunningly beautiful costumes, scenery, settings and interiors. I don’t like KISS OF THE VAMPIRE as much as, say, BRIDES OF DRACULA or any of the Christopher Lee Dracula films, but it’s still a super-worthy addition to the Hammer canon of brilliant vampire films.

Stakes through the heart, black magic, a bloodstained chest (though not the kind you’re thinking of!) and a thoroughly unusual ending make for an extremely enjoyable watch all round. Vampirism is here depicted as a sort of social disease that mostly afflicts those enjoying a decadent lifestyle. Another reason to keep buying those Lotto tickets, so…!

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

HAMMER HORROR’S BRIDES OF DRACULA. (1960) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

yvonne monlaurTHE BRIDES OF DRACULA. (1960) HAMMER FILM PRODUCTIONS. DISTRIBUTED BY UNIVERSAL INTERNATIONAL. DIRECTED BY TERENCE FISHER. PRODUCED BY ANTHONY HINDS.

STARRING PETER CUSHING, MARTITA HUNT, YVONNE MONLAUR, DAVID PEEL, FREDA JACKSON, ANDRÉE MELLY, MILES MALLESON, MICHAEL RIPPER AND MARIE DEVEREAUX.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

Oh wow. This is one of my personal favourites in the Hammer Horror canon of DRACULA films. It might even be my favourite of the lot of ’em if it weren’t for the fact that Christopher Lee is noticeably absent from the cast.

Luckily for his fans, the devastatingly handsome and sexually magnetic six-foot-five actor agreed to reprise his role as the Prince of Darkness in the 1965 DRACULA film which was called, coincidentally enough, DRACULA: PRINCE OF DARKNESS. Wasn’t that a big coincidence?

As you can probably see, I’m something of a fan of the late great Sir Chris. I’ve always felt a little bit connected to him through a series of other little coincidences. As a matter of fact, I joined Facebook on his birthday without knowing at the time that it was his birthday.

If that doesn’t seem like a big deal, well then, get your laughing gear around this little fact. On the day he died (not the day on which his passing was revealed to the public), I emailed my novel in three parts (then only two!) to Mr. Lee’s agent with a note asking said agent nicely to pass it on to him personally.

Entitled at the time ANNA MEETS COUNT DRACULA, now updated to FANGS AND FOREPLAY… THE EROTIC ADVENTURES OF DRACULA, the lead character is modelled wholly on Christopher Lee’s Dracula in the Hammer Horror films of the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s. Only with- ahem- added sexiness and tons and tons of sex and spanking.

Naturally, he would have read it, loved it and proposed that I write the film script for it. And of course, despite his advanced years, he would have wanted to play the leading role himself. If only things had worked out differently for us…!

Anyway, you’ll have gathered that, while I adore this film, I don’t dig the Baron Meinster (David Peel) as the head neck-biter here. Whoever heard of a blonde-haired Dracula figure? It’s an abomination! Other than that one little gripe, THE BRIDES OF DRACULA is sheer perfection from start to finish.

The stunningly beautiful and, sadly, recently deceased Yvonne Monlaur plays Marianne Danielle, a young Frenchwoman travelling alone through Hammer’s gorgeously-imagined Transylvania. She’s on her way to take up a position as a teacher of French and Deportment at a posh swanky girls’ finishing-school.

She does no teaching worth a damn in the whole film, though. Circumstances see her breaking her journey overnight at the castle-in-the-mountains home of the Baroness Meinster, a magnificent old dame with more chutzpah than a whole bevy of finishing-school beauties put together.

She’s marvellously played by Martita Hunt, an actress who once went up in flames in the dusty old surrounds of Charles Dickens’ Satis House as the lovelorn Miss Havisham. That 1946 adaptation of GREAT EXPECTATIONS, also starring John Mills as Pip, was the first time I ever saw Martita Hunt act and I never forgot how wonderful she was. I absolutely adore her in BRIDES OF DRACULA.

The Baroness’s feisty exterior masks a terrible sadness and an even worse secret. Nosy little Marianne can’t, of course, resist poking her exquisite little French nose into the tortured old noblewoman’s business.

When she finds out what the Baroness and her loyal servant Greta have been hiding, she most unwisely sets their ‘secret’ free. Free to wreak the most unimaginable horrors on the people of Transylvania, that is. And neither Marianne nor her pupils at the school will escape unscathed…

Peter Cushing is fantastic as always as the impeccably-suited and beautifully-spoken Dr. Van Helsing, the authority on the ‘cult of the Un-Dead’ who are threatening to consume the little village in an orgy of bloodlust and godlessness. He handles himself with aplomb and undoubted gutsiness against the horrors of vampirism and those who practise it.

Freda Jackson does a terrific job of portraying the crazy-as-a-loon Greta, the faithful old servant of Baroness Meinster’s whose mind is destroyed by the turn of events. Kudos also to Andrée Melly and Marie Devereaux, who make stunning Brides for the evil disciple of Dracula’s.

Miles Malleson (1888-1969) is brilliant also as the fee-hungry Dr. Tobler who likes the odd tipple. Like, every five minutes, haha. He plays a dotty entymologist Bishop in the 1959 Hammer version of THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES (also starring Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing) who also likes a tipple. Very much so. A small sherry here, a small sherry there, they all add up. I wonder how much booze his on-screen characters consumed over the years…!

Miles Malleson was actually born the year that the scallywag known as Jack The Ripper cut a bloody swathe through the- ahem- working girls of Whitechapel, London. Isn’t that incredible, that he was born that long ago? It kind of boggles the mind to think that far back.

THE BRIDES OF DRACULA pre-dates all the nudity and sexiness of the Hammer DRACULA films from the ’70s, but it’s still more than sexy enough to satisy the naughty viewers who tune in to Hammer as much for the glamour as for the storylines.

The settings and costumes are, as always, fabulously-coloured and lavish, and it would be a Fussy Freddie indeed who doesn’t imagine himself back in nineteenth-century Transylvania when he watches the film. The film surely has that unmistakable Hammer Horror ‘feel’ and vibe to it.

And Yvonne Monlaur is surely one of the greatest beauties of the modern era. Those eyes and full, succulent blow-job lips…! Snigger. I mean that in the nicest possible way. She’s a knockout. And so is the film. Miss it, as they say, at your peril. And they’d be right. Un-dead right…

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