JESSABELLE. (2014) A SUPERNATURAL HORROR FILM REVIEWED BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

jessabelle

JESSABELLE. (2014) DIRECTED BY KEVIN GREUTERT. WRITTEN BY ROBERT BEN GARANT. STARRING SARAH SNOOK, MARK WEBBER, DAVID ANDREWS, JOELLE CARTER AND ANA DE LA REGUERA.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

This is the story of a haunting and a possession set in modern times down on the good old Louisiana bayou. Jessie, short for Jessabelle, is the unluckiest girl in the whole world, having just lost her boyfriend and her unborn baby in a car crash that happens just as they’re all driving off happily together to their new home and their new lives. That’s when Fate reckons you’re at your most vulnerable and strikes like a deadly cobra, lol.

Now, after the accident, Jessie is wheelchair-bound and forced to go and live with her one remaining relative, the father she hasn’t seen since she shook the dust of their small town off her feet years ago to go to college. It seems as if she went off to college mainly to get away from her kippy home town and her surly mean father, and you can’t really blame her for that.

When she gets to the house, the Dad opens up a secret cobwebby room that’s been all locked up for at least twenty years and says, well, here, in ya go to the bedroom your mother died in, giving birth to y’all way back when.

God help the girl if she’s of an imaginative bent or in any way given to dwelling on things too much, which of course all young girls are, especially if they’ve suffered a lot or undergone a trauma like bereavement, and Jessie’s life is chock-full of bereavements.

Her mother, her boyfriend, her unborn baby and, by extension, the wonderful life she and her bloke were going to have in their new home with their new baby. All gone up in smoke, the whole kit-and-kaboodle. That’s a lot of bereavements, enough to give any woman the heebie-jeebies.

There’s no furniture in the room barring a giant four-poster bed and a box of video-tapes the mother made for Jessabelle while she was still pregnant with her. The Momma is the kind of hippy-dippy type who believes in psychic readings and fortune-tellings and all that kind of thing.

In the video-taped psychic readings Momma performs for her as yet unborn daughter, she keeps turning up scary shit like death and burnings and an angry female presence in the house that wants Jessie out, because the ghost thinks the house is hers by rights.

Jessie is, not unnaturally, scared shitless by these dire premonitions which, if you’ll excuse my authorial interjection here, was a very unfair and insensitive legacy for any mother to leave for her child to see, long after the mother has died of the cancer that blighted her last months of life. Jessie should be thrilled when her father tries to burn the evil tapes, instead of bitching at him about it.

Unfortunately Pops, who’s clearly no luckier at the game of life than his daughter Jessabelle, only succeeds in burning himself, leaving Jessie in the haunted house alone with no-one to help her with anything. This is where she gets her claws back into her childhood sweetheart Preston, whom she left without a second glance when she quit town.

Preston is unhappily married now to poor Samantha, who is really not thrilled about the helpless little Jessie, with her soft blonde hair and her braless bosoms hanging out of her low-cut dresses, sleeping on their couch because her own house is too haunted to live in for now.

I don’t blame the hardworking, sensibly-dressed-in-sweatpants Sam at all for resenting Jessie. When was the last time Preston unhinged her, Sam’s, flaps in the tender, devoted way he does Jessie’s? (You’ll have to watch the film to decipher this naughty in-joke, lol!)

There’s definitely an angry, jealous female spirit present in Jessie’s house. There’s a tiny coffin buried out on the bayou as well with the skeleton of a newborn baby in it. That’s some real creepy shit right there.

There’s voodoo and superstitious locals who believe in what Preston refers to as ‘all that mumbo-jumbo’ but, as Jessie’s witnessing a lot of strange things since her return to the bayou, she can’t help wondering what evil supernatural forces are at work here and what exactly they want her to do…?

This is a very water-based horror film, with baths and lakes in it. It puts me in mind of THE CHANGELING, WHAT LIES BENEATH and the film adaptation of Stephen King’s excellent novel BAG OF BONES for exactly that reason.

The film’s a bit messy and implausible at times, but it’s not the only film ever to put a wheelchair-bound person in an isolated setting with no possible way of doing certain things for themselves, so we won’t berate it too harshly for that.

I enjoyed the film, though, even the cheesy ending, and I’d certainly recommend it as a one-time-viewing for horror fans. It’s like a floaty supernatural dream or something, with voodoo and some stunning visuals thrown in and some good old-fashioned sexual jealousy to boot. Enjoy it, with my humble blessing, lol.

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger, poet and book-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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BLAIR WITCH. (2016) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

blair-witch-still

BLAIR WITCH. (2016) DIRECTED BY ADAM WINGARD. WRITTEN BY SIMON BARRETT. STARRING JAMES ALLEN MCCUNE, BRANDON SCOTT, CORBIN REID, CALLIE HERNANDEZ, WES ROBINSON AND VALORIE CURRY.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

This film follows on from the hugely successful THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT that hit our screens in 1999 and more or less founded the whole ‘found footage’ genre of films. So, next time you slide a horror film into the old DVD machine, only to be confronted by a bunch of four to six annoyingly good-looking college students wearing night vision goggles and running around like mad things filming nothing we can visibly see, well then, you know who’s to blame, lol.

I must admit I get tired of the genre myself sometimes, especially when a film seems to be mostly shot in the greeny night vision that gives everyone alien eyes. I always defend THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT, though, whenever people slag it off. I don’t care what its detractors say, it scared the living shite out of me, anyway.

This film here sees Heather Donahue’s brother James going back into the woods with a bunch of his friends, the woods where Heather disappeared twenty years ago, to see if he can find out what happened to his poor missing-presumed-dead sister.

Oh, and of course they’ll be documenting their journey every step of the way with their modern cameras and memory cards and memory sticks, and some eejit’s even come up with the bright idea of letting them bring a drone along as well to take pictures from up over their heads. I would fire that guy if it were up to me, and no, there’s no ‘lol’ this time. I’m deadly serious.

Anyway, d’ye remember Heather? She was the only girl on the original expedition and she was also the one in the much-parodied night vision scene where she was sniffling and snotting and apologising profusely to everyones’ Moms for having gotten everyone on the expedition- herself and two lads- into such a pickle.

I should think so and all, humph. I blame her entirely for what happened to everyone. No real reason but ya gotta blame someone and she’s the only one whose name I remember. Now we can ‘lol,’ lol…!

So, Heather’s brother James brings his three mates Peter, Ashley and Lisa into the super-spooky Black Hills Forest in Maryland for a scout round to see, as we said earlier, if he can find out what happened to Heather twenty years earlier. Can he and his mates succeed where the police failed? Well, I’m sure they’re welcome to try but there’s been a lot of water under the bridge since then.

Let’s quickly get the dross out of the way so we can move onto the good stuff and, yes, there is some good stuff. I didn’t like Talia and Lane, especially Lane, who was very off-putting.

These are the two locals who tag along uninvited with James and his mates because they claim to know the area and they have stories about the real so-called Blair Witch, the Elly Kedwards (Kelly Edwards, anyone?) who died in the area at the hands of the gruesome locals back in the day.

The first morning in camp, they wake up surrounded by the freaky folk-art corn-dolly symbols from the original film. Then there’s the usual mad rushing around, with the students trying to leave the woods only to find that the woods won’t let them leave. Time starts to lose all meaning for the campers once the sun literally stops rising and they’re trapped in a permanent state of night. That bit’s good and scary.

Ashley’s foot injury looks like it’s going to be extremely sinister but then it just ‘peters’ out, if you’ll excuse the pun. Her fate and Peter’s are not scary at all. Much more could have been made of these two situations but they were left to go to waste, sadly.

The film doesn’t really start to kick ass until the house, the house that featured in Heather’s found footage and that the police failed utterly to locate themselves, suddenly hoves into view in the middle of the darkest, rainiest, most frightening night of the campers’ lives…

I might actually leave it there because nearly everything that happens from now on is super-scary and it shouldn’t be spoiled for new viewers. I’ll always give a BLAIR WITCH film, be it a follow-up, a sequel or a re-make, at least one chance because the original premise is so strong. BLAIR WITCH definitely deserves at least one viewing. Y’all can make up your own minds as to whether it’s worthy of a re-watch…!

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger, poet and book-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

DEATH WISH. (1974) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

death wish

DEATH WISH. (1974) BASED ON THE NOVEL ‘DEATH WISH’ BY BRIAN GARFIELD. DIRECTED AND CO-PRODUCED BY MICHAEL WINNER. MUSIC BY HERBIE HANCOCK. STARRING CHARLES BRONSON, HOPE LANGE, KATHLEEN TOLAN, VINCENT GARDENIA, STEVEN KEATS, STUART MARGOLIN, WILLIAM REDFIELD AND JEFF GOLDBLUM.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

Big-shot company engineer-architect Paul Kersey is a very unlucky man. Every time he steps outta his New York/Manhattan apartment, he gets mugged by some jive-talking ‘Seventies cats with the Afros and everything who say things like, give us the money, honey and who think they’re cool just ’cause they’ve got flick-knives. Let me tell you cool cats, any asshole can carry a flick-knife. It doesn’t make you remotely special. Think about it.

Anyway, let’s start at the beginning of this, one of Charles Bronson’s biggest ever films, to which I believe there were many sequels made. He plays a family man, the above-mentioned Paul Kersey who, at the start of the film, is enjoying a sexy beach holiday with the wife he still loves, Joanna, even though they’ve been married for years and years and years. It’s sweet that they’re still hot for each other after all this time and still enjoy some nice cosy old-people sex.

They have a nice big apartment thanks to Paul’s nice comfortable well-paid job and a grown-up married daughter called Carol whom they both adore. One fateful day, when Paul is at work and Carol’s husband Jack is presumably at work also in his own place of business, something terrible happens to Joanna and Carol.

They are followed home from the grocery store by three scumbags, a trio of disgusting anti-social losers who gain access to the Kersey family apartment by pretending to be the grocery delivery boy. In a truly horrific home invasion scene, they rape Carol and beat her mother to death in front of her eyes.

Carol never recovers from the shock and ends up being put in a sanatorium by her devastated husband and heartbroken father. Here, catatonic, drugged up to the eyeballs and no longer able to talk, she may well spend the rest of her days.

Jeff Goldblum (THE FLY, JURASSIC PARK, FRIENDS) in his debut film role plays one of the assailants. He has this brilliant, jerky manic quality about him, as if he’s just downed a bucket of amphetamines chased down by a gallon of Coca-Cola and Skittles in order to calm his ADHD or something. He’s all jittery, tense, edgy, nervy.

Already he’s memorable, someone you’d recognise anywhere and whom you know has the capability to one day be good, really good. Although, of course, one wonders what esteemed scientist Ian Malcolm would make of these highly dubious anti-social shenanigans, breaking and entering and referring to one’s John Thomas as a ‘paintbrush,’ as in, ‘I’m gonna paint her mouth...!’ Oh yes, jolly good show, lads, do please carry on.

The effect of the rape-murder on Paul Kersey is what matters here. He’s not a violent man to begin with. In fact, he’s referred to as a ‘bleeding heart liberal’ and he hasn’t touched a gun since his hunter father was accidentally shot dead by another hunter after being mistaken for a deer. Also, Paul was a conscientious objector or ‘conchie’ during the Korean War. He’s still a really good shot though.

After being gifted with a lovely gun by a grateful business acquaintance, Paul takes to carrying the gun around with him on the darkened streets of night-time New York. He uses it to pepper any would-be muggers full of lead, and trust me when I say that a lot of folks are lining up to mug Paul, and they’re all carrying flick-knives. Gun beats knife. That much I do know.

The body count climbs ever higher as Paul start to really get into his role as a self-styled vigilante on the streets of New York. He starts to go out at night deliberately looking for lowlife criminals to shoot, instead of waiting until they just happen along by chance. He’s like a walking one-man protest against crime in New York, which was really bad in real life during this period.

The press pick up on his actions and soon the newspapers, magazines (yes, they still had them back then!) and TV news bulletins are all full of talk of ‘The Vigilante,’ as he now becomes officially known. You can’t just take the law into your own hands, though. That would set a very bad precedent and would be disastrous for the police force.

I love NYPD Lt. Frank Ochoa, the hard-bitten New York detective tasked with getting ‘The Vigilante’ off the streets. In fact, he’s so world-weary, worldly-wise and hard-bitten that he makes Columbo and Kojak look like two girly sissies on their way to ballet class via the ribbon store and the candy kiosk. He’s brilliant.

The higher-ups don’t even need to have this mysterious lone gunman put behind bars or otherwise brought to justice or anything. They just need him to stop doing what he’s doing ’cause he’s setting a very bad example to the public who, like the Hatpin Granny, are all now becoming ‘have-a-go heroes’ themselves in the style of their idol, ‘The Vigilante.’

The rape-and-murder scene is by far the most effective and memorable in the film. The rest of the film is mostly just Charles Bronson shooting at black people. Although I love the film, before I ever saw it I always assumed the premise of it would be to have Charles Bronson track down and kill his wife’s murderer and his daughter’s rapists.

This never seems to occur to him, however, even though they’ve got a fairly big clue in the form of the grocery store where the Kersey ladies did their shopping. He takes his revenge on crimmo lowlifes and society’s drop-outs in general, but not specifically on the perpetrators of the one act from which he’s suffered so badly and which has cost him so dearly. Strange, that. Ah well. Charles Bronson is well fit and handsome in this and he looks great holding a shooter, even an imaginary one. I’ll take that.

Here’s some random stuff about the film which you might or might not know. I bloody well knew I recognised a young Sonia Manzano, who played Maria in SESAME STREET for a whopping forty-four years, on the checkout till in the supermarket early on in the movie. Score one for me, lol.

I did not, however, recognise Olympia Dukakis as a cop at the precinct. Also, Denzel Washington swears blind that he did not make his film debut here as an alley mugger, and I don’t see any reason in the world for him to lie about it.

Finally, I am never, ever going to New York because of all the muggings and the high crime rate in general. I don’t care if it’s years later and things have changed, I’m still not going and you can’t make me.

I’ll stay here in good old Ireland where we don’t have that level of crime. Here we just have junkies who’ll jab you with a syringe-full of HIV-infected blood on 0’Connell Street unless you hand over your smartphone and wallet pronto. What’s that they say? It’s better the devil you know…? I should say it is an’ all.

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger, poet and book-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 DEVIL BAT (1940) and THE VAMPIRE BAT (1933) : A DOUBLE BILL OF BATTY HORROR FILM REVIEWS BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

 

bela devil bat

THE DEVIL BAT (1940) and THE VAMPIRE BAT (1933): TWO BRILLIANT OLD CLASSIC HORROR FILMS REVIEWED BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. When he’s not playing his most famous role of Dracula, Bela Lugosi is at his absolute spine-tingling best when he’s playing a mad scientist or doctor who’s hell-bent on either getting revenge on the world for some real or imagined slight, or on gaining world domination just for the hell of it. Because he can, in other words, lol.

In THE DEVIL BAT, a genuine little gem from 1940, he plays Dr. Carruthers, a well-respected and well-loved scientist living in a small American village. The village’s biggest employer seems to be the Heath and Morton Cosmetics Company, for whom Dr. Carruthers also works, developing new formulae for successful perfumes, aftershave lotions and other lotions and creams that you slap on your skin so that you smell real nice like to the opposite sex.

In fact, it was Dr. Carruthers’s excellent work that’s made the Heath and Morton Cosmetics Company the multi-million-selling business it is today. Old Doc Carruthers has no shares in the company. All he got for his trouble was a lousy bonus cheque. The rage and resentment he’s been feeling against the two Heath and Morton families know no bounds.

When we meet the embittered old Doc first, he’s perfecting a sort of deadly monster killer bat who can be trained, in the same way that a dog can be trained, to murder anyone who smells of a certain scent. Like, say, aftershave? Like, say, aftershave indeed, heh-heh-heh.

He gives different male members of the two families his new patented aftershave to ‘try out,’ knowing full well that when he releases the hounds or, in this case, the killer bats, the mens’ lives aren’t worth tuppence any more. They’re toast, in other words. Dead men walking on the Green Mile, so to speak.

While the bodies pile up, an ace reporter by the name of Johnny Layton is called in to get a story for his paper about the murders. His sidekick, a photographer with the dubious nickname of ‘One Shot Maguire,’ provides the comic relief and Mary, the beautiful daughter of one of the families, the love interest for the dynamic newshound Layton.

Bela and his killer bats are the undisputed stars of the show, however. The gleeful grins on Dr. Carruthers’s face when he realises that his fiendish plans are working is just joyous to behold. Bela in general is just a sheer joy to watch.

His face definitely lends itself to an array of marvellously devious expressions. Just look at him cackling his ass off through the laboratory door at the sight of his super-bats becoming bigger and bigger and bigger. It’d warm the cockles of the coldest heart.

THE VAMPIRE BAT (1933) has pretty much everything you could possibly want in an old horror movie: a Burgomeister, a dark little village somewhere in Europe, worried townspeople, a concerned little town council, an angry mob, complete WITH torches, lol, and Lionel Atwill, Fay Wray, Melvyn Douglas and Dwight Frye as the stars. What else could you really ask for?

Certain selected villagers in the little hamlet of Kleinschloss (the little castle?) are being found dead in their beds of a dreadful blood loss. Drained of their precious life’s haemoglobin, all that’s left behind is a sack of skin and bones that’s truly horrible to behold.

The villagers, naturally, are up in arms about the murders and talk of vampires is rearing its ugly head no matter how superstitious and backwards it makes the villagers look. They don’t care a flying fig about how they appear, all they care about- quite rightly, too- is not being murdered in their beds by some unknown gruesome entity.

Screen villain Lionel Atwill (he plays Moriarty to Basil Rathbone’s Sherlock Holmes in SHERLOCK HOLMES AND THE SECRET WEAPON) here portrays Dr. von Niemann, the town’s one medic and well-respected scientist who’s as baffled about the murders as anyone else. And if you believe that, you’ll believe anything, lol.

Screen royalty Fay Wray, whom you might be more used to seeing in her scandalous scanties being carried up the Empire State Building by a big hairy ape (KING KONG, 1933) is Dr. von Niemann’s attractive young assistant, Ruth, whose scientific knowledge you could probably write on the back of a stamp, but she shore is mighty purdy…!

Melvyn Douglas (James Whale’s THE OLD DARK HOUSE, 1932) plays Fay Wray’s boyfriend and the detective assigned to the murders. He has a logical scientific approach to the hideous blood-lettings and he thinks that all this talk of vampires is a load of superstitious old twaddle and old wives’ tales, more suited to the Dark Ages than these modern times. Will he have cause to eat his words? Place your bets, ladies and gentlemen, place your bets…

The star of the show here is Dwight Frye, best known for playing Renfield in the Bela Lugosi DRACULA (1931) and Dr. Frankenstein’s humpbacked servant Igor in James Whale’s FRANKENSTEIN (1931). Like Bela with his mad scientists, Dwight Frye seems to have been typecast as insane loners and outcasts, but he does it so wonderfully!

Here, as Herman Gleib, the local misfit and pariah who’s not the full shilling- an Irishism for someone who’s not playing with a full deck- he cackles just like Renfield and scares the horrified locals, amongst whom he’s totally persona non grata.

His penchant for befriending bats and acting weird and secretive in general causes him to be blamed for the murders by the locals. He’s just a handy and natural scapegoat. Poor Herman, with his manic grins and his criminally bad haircut. He just can’t catch a break. There’ll be tears before bedtime. You mark my words…

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger, poet and book-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

NIGHTMARE. (1964) A VINTAGE HAMMER HORROR REVIEWED BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

nightmare

NIGHTMARE. (1964) DIRECTED BY FREDDIE FRANCIS. WRITTEN AND PRODUCED BY JIMMY SANGSTER. STARRING JENNIE LINDEN, MOIRA REDMOND, CLYTIE JESSOP, BRENDA BRUCE, GEORGE A. COOPER, IRENE RICHMOND AND DAVID KNIGHT.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

This is a terrific old vintage Hammer Horror that’s similar in theme to another of their films, TASTE OF FEAR (1961), in that it deals with a woman who is a victim of the phenomenon known as ‘gaslighting.’

The term derives from the 1938 Patrick Hamilton play GASLIGHT and the two subsequent film adaptations of the play in 1940 and 1944. The 1944 film starred Ingrid Bergman and was a huge hit.

The term ‘gaslighting’ means to make another person doubt their own sanity or perceptions of reality by, basically, playing tricks on them and causing them to think that they’re losing their mind. It’s a nasty, despicable thing to do and is nearly always carried out for nefarious reasons and not for good ones.

Women are usually the victims and men the perpetrators, certainly in films anyway. I suppose you could ‘gaslight’ a man but it would just be harder, naturally, in view of their being made of sterner stuff than we hysterical, weak-minded females, who are so vulnerable and impressionable compared to our male overlords. Hahaha…

Anyway, NIGHTMARE is a gorgeously gothic and atmospheric black-and-white horror film in which a young woman at boarding/finishing school, Janet, is haunted by the shadowy memories of something that happened to her in her past.

Janet saw her mother stab her father to death when she was only eleven years old. The mother was declared insane and locked up in an asylum for life. Janet not only has the nightmares about the stabbing to contend with, but she’s also plagued with the most terrible fears that she’s going to end up like her mother, that she’ll inherit her mother’s insanity and end up going out of her mind and being incarcerated for life just like her Mum. They do say that these things run in the family, don’t they?

A nervous, impressionable young girl like Janet, with all her doubts and fears and issues regarding her traumatic past, would be a prime candidate for a spot of gaslighting. After a particularly severe bout of nightmares, Janet is sent home from school and back to High Towers, her old home, where she is now under the care of a man called Henry Baxter. Quite how he became her guardian after the death of her father and the incarceration of her mother I’m not exactly sure, but her guardian he indisputably is and he decides what’s good for her.

Accompanied by her teacher, Miss Lewis, Janet returns to High Towers to be greeted by the housekeeper, Mrs. Gibbs, and the chauffeur-cum-gardener-cum-handyman John, played by the wonderful character actor George A. Cooper. These two are old family retainers and are faithful friends to Janet and staunch defenders of hers as well. They give her all their loyalty, which is lovely to see.

There’s a new member of staff at High Towers now too though, an attractive nurse called Grace Maddox whom Henry Baxter has hired to be Janet’s ‘companion.’ Once she’s installed back home, however, Janet’s nightmares only seem to worsen.

Now she’s seeing a white-shrouded woman with a hideously scarred face roaming around the house wherever she looks. Janet feels like she’s going crazy with fear and doubt. These visions culminate in a horrible, unforeseen murder at High Towers. Who is the murder victim?

And who is the real victim here, the victim of a cruelly sadistic gaslighting campaign that causes a young woman to be locked up in an insane asylum and two vicious murderers to crawl out from under their stones for a brief period of basking in their mutual cleverness?

Of course, the evildoers in films nearly always get their richly-deserved come-uppances, as you know, and NIGHTMARE is no exception to this rule. I won’t tell you what happens but the ending is brilliantly worked out.

Those ingenious Hammer lads, Freddie Francis and Jimmy Sangster, have done it again. NIGHTMARE is well worth your time, and it’s vintage Hammer gold as well. Make sure you watch it.

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger, poet and book-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 WOODS. (2013) A CREEPY ‘FOUND FOOTAGE’ SASQUATCH MOVIE REVIEWED BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

woods sasquatch rebecca

THE WOODS. (2013) DIRECTED BY MARK BACCI. STARRING REBECCA DAVIS, MARK BACCI, GRAEM BEDDOES, JOHN FITZGERALD AND ALIYAH O’BRIEN.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

I would always automatically want to watch a film called ‘THE WOODS,’ because some of my favourite horror films are either set in woods or feature woods heavily in them, like, obviously, THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT. This film was probably the Mammy and the Daddy of the genre known as ‘found footage,’ even though I’m not sure if it was the very first such film.

Remember when Principal Seymour Skinner from THE SIMPSONS set the kids of Springfield Elementary a film project but he qualified it by saying he didn’t want ‘thirty BLAIR WITCH knock-offs,’ to which the disappointed kids all chorused ‘aaaaaaaaaw…!’

That shows us how often THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT has been copied, aped, imitated, mirrored, emulated, plagiarised and so on, lol. Lisa Simpson herself copies it at one point in another episode of THE SIMPSONS, the one with the chicken bones in the attic when it turns out that Marge’s former high school beau Artie Ziff has been squatting in the Simpsons’ house for some reason.

Lisa does her own version of the famous close-up scene from THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT, in which the lead girl in the woolly hat, the Last Girl Standing, incidentally, does her big crying scene to camera.

She’s apologising like mad to everyone and anyone she can think of for getting herself and her fellow campers into the mess they’re in, she’s basically apologising to posterity for her mistakes and she’s got snot and tears racing each other down her face, which is lit from below with a torch, night-vision style. It’s a terrific scene, much parodied.

THE WOODS, not to be confused with the Harlan Coben novel of the same name, is billed as ‘TROLL HUNTER MEETS THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT.’ Now, I’ve never seen TROLL HUNTER but I’m a big fan of THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT and I thumb my nose jauntily at its critics.

They can go hang for all I’m bothered, lol. And to the people who say it’s not scary, well, I tell them that they must be completely lacking in imagination. Lacking in a soul, even. It scares the Christ outta me, anyway.

I can also tell you unequivocally that THE WOODS is pretty much exactly like THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT, but with the Sasquatch, or the Bigfoot, as the predator in question. I’ve never really found the Sasquatch terribly threatening as a movie monster but there were a few eerie moments in THE WOODS that made me think about the subject a bit more in-depth.

Like, there was this scene set at the edge of a lake or a stream or something, and suddenly I’m thinking, what if you were standing there at the lakeside all alone, in one of those dense forested areas in Canada or North America or somewhere like that? It’s silent all around you except for the faint rustle of the wind in the treetops or maybe the lonely call of a bird. It’s a completely isolated part of the woods.

You’re standing quietly looking out over the peaceful lake when suddenly you notice a huge shape, bigger than a man, standing across the lake from you amongst the trees, watching you just as quietly…

Your blood freezes over in that way it does and you take a step but then the shape, that hulking figure across the water that you can make out but you can’t tell exactly what it is, all you know is that it’s enormous, takes a step too…?

I think I’d wee myself with sheer terror, excuse my French. This film made me think of the Sasquatch, big enough and strong enough to tear a man to ribbons with his huge bare- but furry- hands, in a whole new creepier light.

Rebecca and Mark are an attractive couple in their thirties. For some reason known to themselves, they’ve decided to go into the titular woods to make a ‘hoax’ Sasquatch film/ documentary.

Why it has to be a hoax film is unclear to me, as they’ve already talked to loads of very convinving locals who’ve assured them that there is, in fact, a murderous Sasquatch up in them there hills. It’s responsible, seemingly, for the deaths of a married couple who went up into the woods with their baby, who was very kindly spared by the possibly maternal Sasquatch.

Anyway, Rebecca and Mark trek up into these fabulously spooky, dense tangly woods, woods that it would be very easy to get lost in, never mind the Bigfoot, to retrace the steps of this unfortunate couple who preceded them.

Very quickly, the couple encounter signs that the so-called ‘mythical’ Sasquatch isn’t a myth at all but a very real danger. A couple of mauled hunters and some blood-stained trees later (Bigfoots, or should that be Bigfeet, mark their territory by daubling tree stalks with blood) and the couple are tearing into each other with fright.

It’s sort of a knee-jerk reaction to take their fear out on each other. People do it all the time in real life. It’s also perfectly normal and natural to apportion blame for the predicament to each other, rightly or wrongly. 

People do that all the time in real life too! Often when we do it, it just means that we’re scared shitless and feel helpless to lift ourselves out of our particular dilemmas, whatever they are. Blaming the other person makes us feel marginally better for a bit.

If I were Mark and Rebecca though, I’d stay together, very close together indeed. Separating, voluntarily or otherwise, while in these accursed woods and being stalked by an unknown and unseen terror, is not a good idea. It might even be the last thing the terrified couple ever do…

The camera is careful to always keep Rebecca’s butt in her tight shorts in view, as well as her nice round boobies in her little vest top. Like two bobbing apples they are…! Director’s got the right idea anyway. Tits and ass are never out of place in a movie like this.

The only thing that’s not believable is the fact that the couple- one of them in particular- seem to survive several days and nights in the woods without food or drink or even shelter. How is that even possible?

And, even though they’ve long lost their tent by the end, why aren’t they at least carrying any backpacks with water and vittles in ’em? Without water and vittles to sustain you and give you energy, why, that Sasquatch, he gon’ have you for breakfast and wipe his butt with whatever’s left…

Other than this piddly beef, though, THE WOODS is a superior found footage film and probably the best one I’ve seen with a Sasquatch in it. Well, it’s the only one I’ve seen with a Sasquatch in it but hey, we won’t split hairs. Sasquatch hairs, lol. We’re amongst friends here.

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger, poet and book-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

BLACK FRIDAY, BLACK DRAGONS and SCARED TO DEATH: A TRIO OF BELA LUGOSI FILMS REVIEWED BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

bela lugosi headshot

BLACK FRIDAY, BLACK DRAGONS AND SCARED TO DEATH: A TRILOGY OF BELA LUGOSI HORROR FILMS REVIEWED BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

I love everything that the mysterious Hungarian actor Bela Lugosi ever did. If he’d advertised cat food, I would have loved those adverts as much as anything else he ever made. He and Boris Karloff, the two Lon Chaneys (father and son), Christopher Lee, Vincent Price and Peter Cushing are the Kings, the undisputed Kings, of the horror movie genre.

Everything that Bela does, every movement he makes, every word out of his mouth, is fascinating to me. I love the way he’s nearly always playing a mad scientist or a mad doctor who’s trying to take over the world with his eye power or clawed hand power, or maybe by building a monster or some kind of unholy army of the night, and it’s up to a feisty newspaper reporter and his best gal to stop him from attaining the world domination he always seems to crave, lol.

In BLACK DRAGONS (1942), he’s a mad medic once more, a Dr. Melcher, who pulls off possibly the most amazing feat of plastic surgery since, well, since I don’t know when. He travels to Japan to turn six members of the fiendish Black Dragon Society, all Japanese, all in cahoots with the Nazis, into six upstanding American industrialists, all through the magic of plastic surgery.

The real American industrialists will, of course, be killed, leaving the six Japanese impostors to step neatly into their lives in America. It’s the most improbable scheme ever devised and no foolin.’ Dr. Melcher, meanwhile, has to remain imprisoned in Japan so that he doesn’t give the game away.

But, in America, someone is killing off the fake industrialists one-by-one. Who could it possibly be? Nobody knows their true identities, except for Dr. Melcher and the lads back in Japan who commissioned the life-swapping plastic surgeries.

Each of the murder victims is found clutching an exquisite and obviously expensive-looking Japanese dagger, so I say look for the man who owns a Japanese dagger shop or who otherwise has access to an unlimited supply of Japanese daggers somehow.

Good thing there’s a reporter on the trail, and a young lady whom he likes called Alice, whose Uncle Bill is at the centre of the murders. The film contains the most blatant sexism I’ve ever seen in a ‘Forties movie, and ‘Forties movies are already pretty damned sexist. But just wait till you hear this little lot. It’ll make your jaw drop.

The reporter wants to keep Alice safe and away from all the commotion occasioned by the murders. He says something at one point along the lines of: ‘I wish we were married, so I could beat you up and then you’d have to stay home and you’d be nice and safe.’

There’s a lot I could say to that right now that I’m not gonna say. Just keep telling yourself, ‘that’s the way it was back then, it was the style of the times, all relationships were like that back then, fuhgeddaboutit, things have changed since then…’

BLACK FRIDAY (1940) sees Boris FRANKENSTEIN Karloff performing the almost obligatory surgery as a Dr. Ernst Sovac. This time, he’s transplanting part of the brain of a criminal called Red Cannon into the brain of his friend, Professor George Kingsley, who’s been badly injured in a car accident caused by the criminal. Fair enough, I suppose, lol. And it’s very FRANKENSTEIN-y too, isn’t it?

Anyway, though, the criminal part of his friend’s brain keeps asserting itself over the nice scholarly part of the friend’s brain. It’s like when Homer Simpson from THE SIMPSONS finally gets his longed-for hair transplant, but the thick luxurious quiff of hair has come from the show’s resident criminal and petty thug, Snake, who’s just been killed in the electric chair.

Every now and then, Snake’s thuggish personality comes out in Homer, much to the alarm of Homer’s son Bart, who’s unfortunately on Snake’s to-kill list. In BLACK FRIDAY, Red Cannon’s evil brain vies for supremacy over George Kingsley’s much more moderate one.

Dr. Sovac observes these transitions back-and-forth from evil to good and back again with interest. Red Cannon apparently stashed away a half a million bucks before he died and Dr. Sovac allows greed to get the better of him.

He wants to find that money for himself and use it to further his scientific research, no matter what the consequences for poor old George Kingsley, who’s supposed to be his oldest and closest friend. For shame, Dr. Sovac, for shame…

Bela plays a criminal called Eric Marnay in this film. He’s one of Red Cannon’s gang, even though you might have expected him to play the lead role, that of the mad scientist-doctor. He often was made to play second fiddle billing-wise to Boris Karloff, with whom he doesn’t play any scenes here.

He was included in films frequently just so that the film-makers could say, hey, lookee-here, Bela Lugosi’s in this flick! Sometimes, the roles were actually quite small and didn’t reflect his status as the man who’d played the most famous role of all time, Universal Studios’ DRACULA in 1931.

Anyway, Marnay’s desperate to get his hands on Red’s cash, and when members of Red’s gang start being mysteriously bumped off one-by-one, just like the fake Japanese industrialists in BLACK DRAGONS, Marnay is initially complacent. More dosh for me, is what he’s obviously thinking. But his time will come too, and maybe sooner than he thinks…

SCARED TO DEATH (1947) is the strangest little film I’ve ever seen. It looks a great deal older than it is and it’s filmed in something called ‘natural colour,’ so it has the distinction of being Bela’s one-and-only colour film.

It’s based on a play called MURDER ON THE OPERATING TABLE by Frank Orsino, and at times the film actually looks like a play, but a kind of scrappy one where everyone keeps chiming up at the wrong time and nothing makes a lick of sense.

George Zucco, who’s played Moriarty twice in the Basil Rathbone-Nigel Bruce SHERLOCK HOLMES movies, portrays a Dr. Van Ee, whose daughter-in-law Laura has somehow died of fright and the flashbacks are going to try to explain how.

Dr. Van Ee’s son Ward has been trying to get an unwilling Laura to divorce him and Dr. Van Ee has been treating Laura for mental illness. As she’s a reluctant patient, you can see that a lot of suspicion should really attach to both Van Ees for her sudden death-by-fright. They both want her out of the picture, after all.

Bela plays a visiting cousin of Dr. Van Ee’s called Professor Leonide. Resplendant in a red-lined black cloak (just like Dracula’s!) and wide-brimmed black hat, he apparently used to be a stage magician in Europe. He’s accompanied by a little malignant dwarf called Indigo and, together, they present a source of terror for Laura, the wife of Ward Van Ee. What’s the deal with that, we wonder?

A floating green mask appears to be the main source of horror for the beleaguered Laura, however. Who’s behind these ghostly apparitions, and what does it mean for the three Van Ees, locked together in a ghastly dance of death and mutual dislike?

The plot is further complicated by the intrusion of a nasty newspaperman, desperate for a story, who is absolutely horrible to his ditzy blonde girlfriend. From what I’ve seen of these ‘Forties relationships, I shouldn’t be at all surprised if the ditziness turned out to be caused by repeated blows to the head from her tyrannical newspaperman boyfriend…!

Anyway, Bela is marvellous in all three films, no matter how small or bizarre the roles he plays. I love him in anything he does. He was the best Dracula ever filmed- as well as one of the first- and he’s credited with turning Bram Stoker’s creation into the handsome, suave, sexy, domineering lust-object later perfected by Christopher Lee in the HAMMER HORROR films. Good old Bela. May he never be forgotten.

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger, poet and book-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