ANGELA’S ASHES. (1999) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

angela the 3 franks

ANGELA’S ASHES. (1999) BASED ON THE PULITZER PRIZE-WINNING MEMOIR BY FRANK MCCOURT. DIRECTED BY ALAN PARKER.

STARRING EMILY WATSON, ROBERT CARLYLE, RONNIE MASTERSON, JOE BREEN, CIARAN OWENS, MICHAEL LEGGE, GERALD (FATHER TODD UNCTUOUS) MCSORLEY AND PAULINE (MRS. DOYLE) MCLYNN.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

‘A man who would drink the money for the new baby was beyond the beyonds.’

Fancying a good miserable time for myself on Easter Sunday night, after the chickens had been cooked and eaten and the crème eggs devoured, I put on ANGELA’S ASHES. This is one of the few Irish films I can stomach, as some of the rest of them are just too annoying or, quite frankly, not as good as their English or American counterparts. As I’m Irish myself, I’m allowed to say that, lol.

ANGELA’S ASHES is quite simply one of the best films ever made about the Miserable Irish Catholic Childhood, and fair play to author and school-teacher Frank McCourt (1930-2009) for turning his grim beginnings into a multi-million selling book and movie. Talk about making lemonade when life hands you lemons. That’s how you do it, Frankie lad, and more power to your elbow.

Anyway, if Frank McCourt is the hero of his own story, then the heroine must surely be his mother Angela, who put up with so much misery and poverty in her lifetime. Married to a feckless drinking man from the North of Ireland called Malachy McCourt (played by Robert Carlyle), her lot is to have and lose baby after baby (because of the high infant mortality rate for the poor of Limerick’s slums in the 1930s and 1940s) and to be barely able to feed the living ones because they have no money.

We first meet the family in America. They’ve emigrated there presumably to make a better life for themselves, but have to return to Angela’s family in Limerick when the Big Apple turns rotten and worm-infested for them. ‘We must have been the only family in living memory to be sailing AWAY from the Statue of Liberty,’ observes Frank the narrator ironically.

Limerick’s slums are already chock-full of desperately poor families. Frank and his brothers get mocked and taunted in school for wearing broken boots patched with the rubber from a bicycle tire. The family’s furniture comes from the St. Vincent De Paul Society, on the condition, seemingly, that they consent to being insulted and publicly demeaned by the members of the committee while queuing up to beg for it.

Dad is permanently out of work and, on the rare occasions when he’s in work, he drinks the wages and then loses the job for turning up late or not at all. Angela refers to him repeatedly as a ‘useless feck,’ and she’s not wrong there. Robert Carlyle’s character makes me so angry.

His sole contribution to the family seems to be getting Angela pregnant repeatedly, filling his sons’ heads with fairy stories he remembers from his childhood and drinking away every penny he ever gets his hands on, coming home pissed and incontinent offering his children ‘a penny to die for Ireland.’ When he conks out one night with his stupid selfish head practically in the piss-bucket on the landing, you can’t help feeling that he’s found his natural milieu.

Oh yes, he’s big on songs about the bould brave Fenian men and he boasts about having fought for Ireland during the War of Independence but, wouldn’t you know it, there’s no record of his ever having done military service so he’s not entitled to any pension.

He just makes me so mad. He has ‘loser’ and ‘sponger’ written all over him. He castigates Angela for going begging to the St. Vincent De Paul people or picking up coal off the street where it’s dropped off the coal-man’s cart (‘Have you no pride, Angela?’), but I don’t see him bringing in a wage for food and clothes for the kids he’s actively helped to create.

It’s almost a relief when he buggers off for good, off down the wet, waterlogged lanes where the McCourts have their tenement-style dwelling, to take the boat to England and never be heard from again, as far as I know. Frankie, played by three different actors in the three stages of his development, is the man of the house now.

We see Frankie in school, on the one hand being subjected to savage physical discipline and, on the other, being introduced to the joys of reading, a love he never loses. We see him going to the Lyric cinema- when he has the price of admission, and sometimes when he hasn’t!- to watch Westerns and old UNIVERSAL horror movies such as THE MUMMY, starring Boris Karloff. ‘He’s sticking his knife into that nice lady’s belly…!’

Frankie makes his First Holy Communion, for which he has to have his badly-behaved, sticky-up Protestant hair flattened down by his Granny’s spit, and his Confirmation. He develops typhoid and spends two months in hospital. He gets his first ever job as a coal-man’s apprentice, but has to jack it in because his eyes become super-irritated by the coal dust.

He works for the Post Office as a telegram boy and enjoys as a result his first ever sexual experience with a girl. He’s long since learned the forbidden art of ‘self-abuse,’ even though he knows full well that it makes the Virgin Mary cry.

He works for the local moneylender as a writer of threatening letters- one of the highlights being when he throws her ledger in the ocean- and every penny he makes, he puts into a Post Office Savings Account, otherwise known as his Going To America fund. Yes, that’s right. All wee Frankie McCourt wants to do is get back to the land of promise and plenty some day, where everyone has perfect teeth and a lavatory of their own. Oh joy unconfined, lol.

How can he bear to part with the rain, the misery, the hunger, the grinding poverty and the awful knowledge that his mother has to sexually satisfy her horrible cousin Laman Griffin if she wants to keep a roof over her childrens’ heads? Ah well. It’s a free country. Or maybe not…

There’s a brilliant jaunty soundtrack of ‘Thirties and ‘Forties music, lots of stunning rural scenes to ogle, and the cast is dotted with familiar faces from other Irish films and Irish soap operas, namely the now defunct rural soap GLENROE and on-going urban soap FAIR CITY. 

It’s like playing ‘Spot the minor Irish celeb…!’ Oh look, it’s your man from… And wasn’t your one in…? And there’s what’s-her-name from that thing, oh, you know the thing I mean, it was on last August Bank Holiday…!

The main person you’ll recognise should be Pauline McGlynn, aka Mrs. Doyle from clerical sitcom FATHER TED, as Frankie’s Aunty Aggie, Angela’s childless older sister. You can tell she has a heart of gold underneath the cranky, crabby exterior. Although she doesn’t once try to give anyone tea…

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. 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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QUO VADIS. (1951) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. © HAPPY EASTER, EVERYONE!

quo vadis royal couple

QUO VADIS (WHERE ARE YOU GOING?). (1951) DISTRIBUTED BY METRO-GOLDWYN-MAYER. BASED ON THE NOVEL BY HENRYK SIENKIWICZ. DIRECTED BY MERVYN LEROY. PRODUCED BY SAM ZIMBALIST.

NARRATED BY WALTER PIDGEON. STARRING ROBERT TAYLOR, DEBORAH KERR, LEO GENN, PATRICIA LAFFAN AND PETER USTINOV.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

‘Tigellinus, bring me my weeping vase…!’

Now, this is a Biblical epic you can really get your gnashers into, and perfect viewing for my Holy Saturday night this year. The DVD box informs me that it features ‘110 speaking parts, 30,000 participants and a filmed-on-location panoply of marching legions, magisterial pageantry and massive spectacle that includes the martyrdom of Christians thrown to the lions before cheering Coliseum throngs.’ You’d better believe it, lol.

Robert Taylor, maybe not quite as handsome or charismatic as Richard Burton in THE ROBE, another famous Biblical epic, but a perfectly acceptable leading man nonetheless, plays Marcus Vinicius, a legion commander in Rome’s powerful army.

At the time we meet him, he’s just returned to Rome after three long years spent conquering Britain and Gaul (France) and, believe me, he’s got some very unflattering things to say about the British and French women he met there, the cheeky sod!

Anyway, he returns to Rome to much fanfare and immediately falls in love- or lust!- with a beautiful young woman called Lygia. (She’s played by Deborah Kerr, who feels in this instance completely inter-changeable with Jean Simmons in THE ROBE, if you know what I mean! Stick-thin and passionate in love, with long hair and a devotion to doing the right thing, whether it comes from the religion of Christianity or not.) 

Once the high-born daughter of the Lygian king, Lygia has resided in the house of the now elderly General Plautius and his wife Pomponia since Rome conquered the kingdom of Lygia and the girl was taken prisoner. The Plautius family adopted her and love her as if she were their own daughter.

Now she’s all grown-up and a committed Christian, or follower of Jesus Christ, the carpenter from Nazareth, born in Bethlehem, who was crucified by the Romans some thirty years before. The followers of Jesus believe that it’s a sin to kill, to rape, murder or pillage, and to keep any man, however lowly-born, in chains and bondage.

None of this sits well with the beliefs of Rome and her legions of armies. When Marcus Vinicius first sees Lygia, he can’t understand why she’s not keen to be clubbed on the noggin, dragged off to his cave by her hair and raped repeatedly, which is what his initial attempts at ‘wooing’ amount to.

He gets angry at her obvious reticence and goes over her adoptive father’s head to the Emperor Nero, who kindly consents to give Marcus ‘ownership’ of the ‘slave’ girl, Lygia. After Nero establishes, mind you, (with the help of Petronius, his yes-man, who actually tells him what to think, the dope!) that she’s ‘too narrow in the hips’ to be of interest to his royal self…!

Nero, played wonderfully by a very young Peter Ustinov in one of his career highlights, is every bit as capricious and wicked an emperor as Jay Robinson’s magnificent Caligula in ‘THE ROBE’ and ‘DEMETRIUS AND THE GLADIATORS.’ He plays Nero like a spoilt, emotionally disturbed child who’s pleasant enough when he’s getting his own way but who can be very, very dangerous when crossed.

When we first meet Nero, he has just had his wife and mother brutally murdered and replaced the former with another, the conniving, hard-faced Poppaea. She’s a striking-looking woman with the most fabulous wardrobe and a terrific line in hair accessories and jewellery.

It is Poppaea’s job to come up with ever more sick and twisted entertainments for her husband, to keep him from the boredom that’s always threatening and that can be perilous indeed for his minions.

She delights in this mission and it seems she’s well suited to her spoilt brat of a husband, who resembles nothing so much as a nasty fat little bully of a schoolboy who’d be quite happy to pull the wings off the birds of the sky if they declined to sing for him. And speaking of singing…!

‘Oh, lambent flames…!’ Nero is under the fond illusion that he is a master at song composition and poetry. It’s the job of his toady, Petronius, who also happens to be Marcus Vicinius’s uncle, to tell Nero he’s the best thing to hit the open mic scene since Ed Sheeran.

Petronius inwardly loathes Nero and has nothing but contempt for him and his stupid musical compositions, but sometimes you gotta kiss up to the king if you want to keep your head. That’s certainly what it’s like under Nero in the corrupt and sleazy Rome of the day.

Nero, who infamously was said to have fiddled while Rome burned, is not a fitting, worthy ruler of the empire that brought so much progress, knowledge, learning and improvements to the world.

A worthy ruler would have tempered justice with mercy and freed the thousands of slaves and allowed them to go back to their homes. He also wouldn’t have considered whipping, torture and execution the correct way to get more work and loyalty from these slaves. That kind of enlightened rulership was still quite a long way off.

There are some highly dramatic but terrifying scenes in the movie, which is rated PG, but I’m not sure little kiddies would be okay with the scenes of Rome burning and her inhabitants panicking while fleeing their deadly collapsing city.

There are also the dreadful scenes of the crucifixion of an elderly man who’s never harmed anyone in his life, and of dozens of innocent Christians, wrongly blamed for Nero’s deliberate arson of their city, being fed to the lions who, by the way, are very, very real lions and are not holograms or computerised in any way…!

You could actually compare Nero to Hitler in a couple of quite significant ways. Both men held the Wagnerian fantasy of the world ending in a flame-licked Armageddon close to their hearts, or to the places where these organs should have been, anyway. Both men wanted to create new, bigger and better cities from the ashes of their ruined ones.

Nero wanted his new city- Neropolis, if you please- to rise like a phoenix after he’d burned the original Rome to the ground. Such wanton death and destruction truly beggars belief. Hitler wanted his metropolis- Hitlerland, no doubt- to arise out of the ruins left behind in his country after World War Two had ravaged it. Neither of them were too bothered either about the lives and homes that had to be destroyed utterly first before their precious new cities could be born.

Both men pored for hours over scale-models of their new cities. When the Second World War was nearing its end and Hitler was trapped in the bunker with his minions, he retired from reality altogether and just spent his days playing with his models of a new city that would never be built, because the man who’d dreamed it  up would be dead, in disgrace for all eternity.

And the way that Nero scapegoats the Christians for the arson he committed, does that remind you of anything else? Hitler’s scapegoating of the Jews for everything that was wrong with Germany, from the Versailles treaty to mass inflation and unemployment, maybe?

They could almost be twins, Nero and Hitler. Hitler had artistic pretensions too, don’t forget. Thought he could paint, just like Nero fondly imagined he could sing and compose songs and poetry to rival anything the gods themselves could come up with. Just wait until Nero reads Petronius’s parting jibes…! Methinks a rude awakening is on the cards.

So, let’s leave these two nutcases behind and briefly return to Marcus Vinicius and the lovely Lygia. How can they find love and happiness together when Lygia believes deeply in the teachings of Christ and Marcus is a firm non-believer and a sexual harassment lawsuit waiting to happen to boot?

Lygia admits she’s attracted to him, despite his caveman ways, and could easily love him if only he’d keep an open mind on the subject of Jesus. Can Marcus overcome his jealousy of the carpenter dude he’s never met and accept Lygia’s overwhelming love for Christ and his precepts? Or is it all doomed to end in tears on the sandy floors of the Coliseum? You’ll have to watch this cracking Biblical epic to find out, readers. Happy Easter to one and all.

‘O Lambent Flames’ is Number One on iTunes and Spotify this Easter Sunday.

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. 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 UNINVITED. (1944) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

uninvited

THE UNINVITED. (1944) BASED ON THE BOOK ‘UNEASY FREEHOLD’ BY DOROTHY MACARDLE. DIRECTED BY LEWIS ALLEN. SCORE BY VICTOR YOUNG.

STARRING RAY MILLAND, RUTH HUSSEY, GAIL RUSSELL, DONALD CRISP, ALAN NAPIER, CORNELIA OTIS SKINNER, DOROTHY STICKNEY AND BARBARA EVEREST.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

I read the book that inspired this film in February of this year, and it was the best horror book I’d read in ages, if not ever. It scared the bejeesus out of me. I was half-afraid to keep going and yet for a million quid I couldn’t have stopped. It scared me as much as Shirley Jackson’s THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE, and that’s saying something.

The film of THE UNINVITED is a beautifully atmospheric gothic haunted house film, and the two lead parts are well acted by Ruth Hussey and the marvellous Ray Milland (THE PREMATURE BURIAL, DIAL M FOR MURDER, THE LOST WEEKEND).

It’s an important film historically because it’s the first one to portray ghosts as credible and legitimate entities, rather than just comedy spooks played for laughs. Having said that, the film is nowhere near as scary as the book, which was disappointing for me. It’s still a bloody good film though, and lovely to look at. Here’s the lowdown anyway.

It’s the late ‘Thirties, for a kick-off. Roderick and Pamela Fitzgerald are two London siblings with Irish roots. They are holidaying together in Cornwall with their little terrier Bobby when they accidentally happen across a gorgeous old empty house on the edge of a cliff. They fall in love with it instantly and decide to buy it.

Pamela, a sensible girl with a tendency towards bossiness, is the driving force behind the siblings deciding to pool their savings and bury themselves in the country. Pam has decided that it’s the perfect place for music critic Roderick to pen the kind of music he’s always wanted to write, instead of just reviewing other peoples’ work. Ahem…!

This is a change from the book, in which he’s a journalist on a newspaper who’s trying to write a book on the side, a dreary old tome that gives him no joy and which, during the course of the novel, he gleefully throws over for a play.

I personally prefer Roderick as a writer rather than a musician. As a writer myself, I love reading books and watching movies about people who want to write things but are having trouble with it. Heh-heh-heh. I just like knowing that success doesn’t always tumble easily into other writers’ laps either…!

Anyway, Rodders and Pamela buy the house, Windward, at a knockdown price from a local toff who resides in the town of Biddlecombe. He’s a retired gent called Commander Beech, who admits as they’re hammering out a price that previous tenants of the house have experienced what he delicately terms ‘disturbances’ while living there. Well…!

Roderick and Pamela aren’t the least put off by this news. In fact, Pamela is positively aglow with excitement while the cynical Roderick just laughs it off. There’s no such thing as ghosts, right?

The Commander’s sheltered little grand-daughter Stella is the only person who doesn’t want the house sold, as it’s the house where she lived for the first three years of her life with her parents, who are now both dead.

But the Commander seems to want shut of the house, with the proceeds of the sale going straight into a bank account for Stella. The sale goes through. Pam and Rodders move in to the enchanting old house on the cliff, along with Bobby the terrier- leave that squirrel alone, Bobby, you little fecker, you!- and their painfully ‘Oirish’ cook, Lizzie. Ah shure, begob and begorrah and shure all you can do is pull the divil by the tail and all the rest of it.

Of course, the siblings gradually discover that the Commander’s reluctant words of warning about ‘disturbances’ may not be a load of old hogwash after all. One of the rooms in the house, the room in which Stella’s artist father did his painting, is cold and unwelcoming and imbues anyone who enters it with a terrible feeling of depression and hopelessness. I feel the same when I walk into my bedroom and see the masses of wrinkled clothes piled up there awaiting ironing, lol.

The sound of a woman bawling her eyes out with unhappiness wakes both Pam and Rodders in the night, but there’s no unhappy woman to be found anywhere on the premises. Lizzie’s cat refuses point-blank to climb the staircase in the eerie, candle-lit house- no electricity, can you imagine that?- and Lizzie herself swears she saw someone on the landing who definitely didn’t belong there.

Strangest of all is the effect the house has on Stella, the Commander’s beautiful young grand-daughter who, by now, has captured the much older Roderick’s heart completely and utterly. The age difference doesn’t seem to bother anyone, so who are we to judge them, some eighty-odd years later? It’s none of our business, I say. Leave ’em alone.

The Commander, largely unaware of the growing attraction between his grand-daughter and Roderick Fitzgerald, doesn’t want Stella going to the house on the cliff for other reasons, reasons that have nothing to do with a possible romance with Rodders Fitzgerald. It’s the house he’s worried about, and he’s right to be worried.

The house seems to be simultaneously both a dangerous place for Stella to be, a place of violence and terror and malignant forces who want to do her harm, and also a place of peace and happiness where she’s convinced the loving spirit of her mother still lingers.

But Stella’s mother, of whom Stella’s childhood memories are all happy, warm safe joyous ones, would hardly wish to do her daughter harm, would she? In that case, then, who is the malicious influence lurking in the shadows at Windward who wants to see Stella throw herself off the cliff and dash her brains out on the jagged rocks below?

Could it possibly be that two spirits haunt the mysterious, isolated house on the cliff, one the benevolent ghost of Stella’s loving mother and the other…? Who exactly is the other, and what is he or she so pissed off about that only the taking of Stella’s young, barely-begun life will pacify them?

That’s what Rodders and Pamela have to hurry to find out, with the help of the nice Dr. Scott from the neighbourhood (Rodders and Stella aren’t the only two players in this little drama who feel the sting of Cupid’s arrows; watch where you’re aiming that thing, you tubby little cherub, you!) and a very unpleasant and maybe even slightly demented woman from Stella’s past called Miss Holloway. Let’s just hope the siblings are in time…

The ghostly manifestations in the book are terrifying. The light coming from the darkened nursery late at night, the murmurs, the crying, the sickening, ghastly cold that actually drains a person of their physical strength and will to carry on and the figure materialising out of the mist, it’s all the stuff of nightmares and, trust me, I had a fair few after reading THE UNINVITED.

The movie doesn’t quite manage to convey the same sense of dread and horror, but it’s still a gorgeous film which I would have been perfectly happy with if I hadn’t first read the book, lol. The lesson here is obviously this. Never read books…

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. 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 WANNSEE CONFERENCE. (1984) A CHILLING NAZI VISION REVIEWED BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

wannsee reinhard

THE WANNSEE CONFERENCE. (1984) BASED ON TRUE EVENTS. WRITTEN BY PAUL MOMMERTZ. DIRECTED BY HEINZ SCHIRK. STARRING DIETRICH MATTAUSCH AND GERD BÖCKMANN.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

This is one of the best, if the absolute grimmest, of all the Nazi films I’ve ever seen. It’s as good as DOWNFALL (DER UNTERGANG), the gripping story of Hitler’s last days in the bunker under the Reich Chancellery in Berlin, while the Russian army were less than a few miles away and their bombs and explosions shook every building in Berlin to its foundations.

It’s so realistic, THE WANNSEE CONFERENCE, that every time I watch it I feel like I’m watching a piece of found footage, that this is what actually happened, that this is exactly what happened when some of the Nazis’ top personnel got together at this luxurious villa in Wannsee in Berlin to discuss the finer details of what came to be known as ‘The Final Solution’ to the so-called ‘Jewish Question.’

Only one copy of the ‘minutes’ of the meeting survived the war, and it is from this that the dialogue is derived. The dialogue is of necessity fictionalised, but it comes from an extremely true place, as it were.

The purpose of the meeting was threefold: to thrash out the details of the Final Solution; to ensure the co-operation of the various Nazi government departments, who were represented at the meeting, in the carrying out of the Final Solution; and, finally, to decide who or what constituted a Jew, and therefore should be included in the Final Solution.

The meeting, which had been delayed a bit by America’s entry into the war after Pearl Harbour happened in December 1941, took place at the beautiful private villa in Berlin at the behest of the Reichsfuhrer-SS, otherwise known as Heinrich Himmler, one of Hitler’s ‘bestest’ men.

It was Hitler’s wish that the German Reich and all her occupied territories should be made ‘Juden-frei’ or ‘free of Jews,’ and Hitler’s wish was ‘Heini’s’ command. Hitler rarely troubled himself with the finer details of any of his policies, unless it was for the grandiose pie-in-the-sky model cities and buildings he intended to create after the war, which of course never happened. There was no ‘after the war’ for Hitler.

But the worse things became for Germany in the war, the more he immersed himself in these blueprints for mad projects that would never get done. It was obviously his chosen form of escapism, something in which he could retreat when the going got tough.

The onerous tasks pertaining to the Final Solution were left to his top men, who in turn sub-delegated the job to underlings and so on and so on until the job was done. Hitler and Himmler both envisioned a kind of ‘combing’ movement that ‘swept’ Europe ‘clean’ of Jews from left to right and vice versa, the way you’d go through a child’s hair with a fine-tooth comb during an epidemic of what we used to call ‘unwelcome visitors.’

Himmler delegated the job of making Germany and her occupied territories ‘Juden-frei’ to his pet toady, Reinhard Heydrich, tall, blonde, perfectly ‘Aryan’-looking and so cold he’d make the icy winds that blew around the glacier that proved the Titanic’s downfall feel like a gentle Caribbean breeze. The actor who portrays him here is so like I imagine the real Heydrich to be that it’s actually scary. No, scratch that. It’s terrifying.

The Nazis invited to this conference sit around a long polished table in their highly decorated uniforms, gorging themselves on delicious finger food, fine cigars and fancy cognacs while they hammer out the details of the Final Solution. As the star-struck secretaries in the reception areas outside the conference rooms put it, ‘there’s a lot of top brass here today.’

Hitler gets ‘heiled’ more times than you can shake a stick at. Facts and figures are thrown around while the various personnel report to Heydrich how ‘Juden-frei’ the areas under their personal responsibility have become or are hoped/intended to become in the near future.

Maps of occupied Europe are displayed to the room, with little coffins on them indicating the places where large numbers of Jews have already been killed. It’s shocking to the viewer, these little coffins, but the attendees don’t even bat an eyelid. The coffins are only used to represent Jews, after all, and not real people.

No-one wants to be found wanting in the presence of ‘Heini’s’ little pet, Reinhard Heydrich, regarded by many historians as one of the main architects of the Holocaust. Hitler dubbed Heydrich ‘the man with the iron heart.’ In other words, he has a swinging brick where the command central of his emotions and feelings is meant to be.

It is openly admitted here amongst these men, maybe for the first time, that the Jews whom they intend to send to ‘labour camps in the East’ are in fact destined for the dreaded ‘special treatment’ or ‘sonderbehandlung’ in the occupied areas of Poland known as ‘the General Government.’

No words stronger than this ‘sonderbehandlung’ will ever be put down on paper for fear that they might incriminate themselves, but here, amongst themselves, it is safe to admit such things out loud, even in the presence of the female secretary who’s taking the minutes and the waiters who serve them with their cognacs and canapés. Those cocky gits. The top brass, I mean, not the waiters.

The process of getting the Jews to the ‘labour camps in the East’ is discussed step-by-step with cold practicality. ‘Israel’ and ‘Sarah,’ their derogatory names for the male and female Jew, will obediently sign over their property to the Reich and hand the keys of their dwelling(s) over to the designated Nazi officials.

Then, carrying one suitcase and the paltry sum of no more than fifty marks- which will all be stolen from them at their destination anyway- they will board a train (most likely a cattle train) to ‘the East’ in a quiet and orderly fashion.

The destination will be one or other of the various concentration camps (Auschwitz, Treblinka, Sobibor, Mauthausen, Dachau, Bergen-Belsen, Belzec) and, at the end of the road, they’ll find the gas chambers and crematoria waiting silently for them.

Gas? Some of the men around the table, one in particular, pale a little at the mention of the gas. Either they didn’t know about it prior to today, or it just slightly offends their delicate, fastidious sensibilities to be hearing such nitty-gritty details.

Some people, the so-called ‘mental defectives’ and the disabled mostly, have already been put to death by means of travelling vans into which they would be piled and then killed by exhaust pipe, in much the same way that a person would commit suicide by sitting in their car with the exhaust running.

People grew to know in time that these vans heralded death for some. This is one way of doing it. But the downside of this method is that you can only kill a handful of people at a time. It’s slow and cumbersome, too slow and cumbersome.

Rudolf Höss, the commandant of Auschwitz whose post-war memoirs provide us with one of our most valuable documents of World War Two, gets a mention here then. He apparently ‘swears by Zyklon B,’ the pellets of insecticide that have been proven capable of murdering large numbers of people at a time.

The Jews are ushered into an ‘undressing room,’ where they are told to remember where they put their stuff for afterwards. This lulls them into a false sense of security, making them think that there will be an ‘afterwards.’

Once they are locked securely into the gas chambers, an SS man- it was always an SS man- will nip up sharpish onto the roof of the building and drop the pellets of Zyklon B in through an opening.

It could take several minutes for the gas to take full effect and the hundreds- or thousands- of people inside the room to die. There could be shouting and screaming for several minutes after the doors are locked. Victims could be observed through a peephole in the door.

Then the Sonderkommando, the concentration camp prisoners tasked with doing this horrible, horrible job that the SS themselves didn’t want, enter the room with gas-masks on to cart the bodies off to the nearby crematorium for burning.

The sights that would await them when those doors were opened were truly terrible. With blood, faeces and urine dripping from every orifice and their heads sometimes twisted on backwards with the pain and fear of what they’d undergone, the corpses were shocking to behold. Some members of the Sonderkommando might have to take pliers and remove the gold teeth from the mouths of corpses, surely the job straight from the jaws of hell itself.

Every so often, the members of the Sonderkommando would be themselves murdered and replaced by other prisoners. They were never left alive for long. The SS didn’t want people who knew so many of their grisly secrets to be walking around free, free to tell everyone they met about what they’d witnessed and experienced in the death camps.

At the conference, a lot of time is spent debating the ‘half-Jews’ and ‘quarter-Jews,’ and how exactly you determine whether someone is one or the other and how you then treat them. Previously, Jews married to Aryans or who had been married to Aryans but were now widowed had been exempt from ‘Sonderbehandlung,’ but now there’s talk of a clean sweep, of cutting all the ‘bacteria’ out of the diseased organism for good, for the good of the organism. This analogy from the plant world comes courtesy of one Adolf Hitler, by the way. Have you read MEIN KAMPF yet? Great cure for insomnia.

It’s a bit like a privileged gentleman’s club, this conference. Whenever any Nazi official proposes something particularly bloodthirsty for the Jews, most of the others rattle and bang the table with their fists and make approving, ‘hear, hear’- type noises, while swilling their pricey cognacs and smoking their fat cigars.

‘Why should our chaps die at the front while Israel and Sarah swan off to a holiday resort?’ one official says of the concentration camps. Well, Israel and Sarah will soon know the real meaning of work, the Nazis say, as the plan for any able-bodied Jews is forced labour and for them to be worked literally to death.

Another man is worried about whether he will lose his Jews- his free labour, he means- to the camps, as he needs them for his armaments factories. Why import and pay foreign workers, he says, when you can get the Jews for nothing? He’s delighted to hear that he can hold onto his slaves, at least for now.

The main player here, even more than Heydrich himself, who shamelessly chats up the pretty secretary (What’s WRONG with her, by the way? Has she no womanly feelings of compassion for the victims of genocide under discussion, or is she only interested in landing herself a man, preferably a high-ranking Nazi officer?) in front of everyone present and who expects a ripple of sycophantic laughter every time he cracks a little joke, is probably Adolf Eichmann. He’s the ‘numbers’ man and Heydrich’s so-called ‘Jew specialist’ or ‘Jew expert.’

He’s the un-extraordinary ‘petty bureacrat’ or pen-pusher about whom German-Jewish philosopher Hannah Arendt made her remarks referring to ‘the banality of evil.’ This was while Eichmann was on trial for war crimes in Israel in 1961, after being snatched from Buenos Aires by the Israeli group Mossad. He’d been hiding in South America since the war, having escaped from Europe via the ‘ratlines’ used by escaping Nazis for that exact purpose.

‘I was only a tiny cog in the Nazi killing machine,’ was his catch-cry during his trial, after which he was hanged for his crimes. This was how he liked to minimise his actions but we know that he attended this milestone conference. We know that he was one of the main Nazis responsible for organising the Jews onto those cattle trains that would take them to those mythical ‘labour camps in the East.’

A monster doesn’t always have to look like a monster, and be actually caught in the act of grinding children’s bones to make his bread, to have been responsible for the atrocities with which he’s charged. Eichmann is certainly a case in point for this particular argument.

He’s the Nazi who infamously said that when he died, he’d jump into the pit of hell with glee, happy in the knowledge that he had put six million Jews down there with him. Here, he’s certainly a fussy little bureaucrat, kissing Heydrich’s butt and pulling figures out of his sleeves and demonstrating his intimate knowledge of ‘The Jewish Question.’

I just want to bring one more conference attendee to your attention. There’s a portly, jowly official called Dr. (he has a degree in law) Rudolf Lange present, a young enough Nazi who was largely responsible for Latvia’s Holocaust. He’s another one who likes to get a laugh for his actions.

He falls asleep at one point, probably rendered dozey by all the cognac he downs at the meeting, and glories in the laugh this generates amongst his colleagues. To fall asleep while the details of the deaths of millions of people are being worked out seems irreverent, to say the least.

He’s brought his beloved German shepherd dog Hasso along to the conference with him because Hasso ‘needs a vacation.’ The inference here is that the dog is treated better than the Jews under discussion at the conference. He’s a great dog also, apparently, for ‘sniffing out Jews’ from their hiding places ‘in the latrines’ or ‘up chimneys.’ The film ends with Lange throwing a ball or a stick for the dog.

The whole film is an exercise in ‘show, not tell.’ The meeting unfolds in real time and a certain amount of knowledge on the part of the viewer is assumed. No character sits down and says to his colleagues: ‘Now, folks, as we all know, this is World War Two and Germany is about to start losing the war in a big way,’ and so on.

The discussion is all highly practical, to the point and cold and calculating, and Heydrich advises the report-givers to ‘be brief’ as his time is valuable and his cool blonde Aryan presence is required elsewhere.

The pragmatic and bureaucratic way in which the subject is gone over is frightening. If Eichmann typified for Hannah Arendt ‘the banality of evil,’ then surely this conference taken as a whole is an example of the pettifogging, bureaucratic mind-numbing and also terrifying minutiae of evil. Could this type of thing ever happen again? Well, all it takes is for good men to do nothing…

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. 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

NOTHING BUT THE NIGHT. (1973) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

nothing night lads

NOTHING BUT THE NIGHT. (1973) DIRECTED BY PETER SASDY. PRODUCED BY ANTHONY NELSON KEYS. SCREENPLAY BY BRIAN HAYLES. STARRING CHRISTOPHER LEE, PETER CUSHING, DIANA DORS, GEORGIA BROWN, GWYNETH STRONG AND KEITH BARRON.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

This is an odd little curiosity of a film which I was thrilled to discover recently on DVD. It stars two of Britain’s most iconic horror stars, Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing, as well as the ravishing Diana Dors, one of that country’s most beautiful actresses ever.

I would have given the film a different title, as I’m not sure exactly what ‘Nothing But The Night’ refers to and it sounds a bit wishy-washy. Maybe it’s part of a quotation or something. Even something like ‘Island Of Terror’ or ‘Island Of Horror’ might have been a slight improvement. Weak as both suggested alternatives undoubtedly are, at least you’d know from the off what kind of film you were dealing with.

It starts off with a group of annoying schoolchildren on a bus. Was it their screechy rendition of ‘Ten Green Bottles Standing On A Wall’ that caused the bus driver to crash the bus and kill himself? Whatever it was, the bus driver is dead and the lead child, a girl called Mary, is hospitalised.

A doctor called Peter Haynes decides that she’s suffering from repressed trauma because she has repeated nightmares about fire. He enlists Peter Cushing, as his supervisor and the head pathologist of the hospital Dr. Mark Ashley, to help him get to the bottom of it. What can a pathologist do to help? Well, if Mary dies in a fire, I suppose he can perform the autopsy, lol.

Christopher Lee as a retired copper called Colonel Bingham then asks his friend Mark Ashley- yes, our pathologist- for help as well, because a good chum of his has died and Colonel Bingham suspects foul play. The chum who died was a Trustee of the Van Traylen Foundation, a foundation which runs an orphanage in Scotland, and three Trustees in all are dead by now in mysterious circumstances. That’s well suspicious, obviously.

By an incredible coincidence, Mary Valley, the fire girl (played by Gwyneth Strong, aka Rodney’s bird from ONLY FOOLS AND HORSES), is one of the Trustees’ orphans. Also, there were three more Trustees aboard the bus that crashed. Curiouser and curiouser, as they say.

Dr. Haynes is convinced that there’s more to Mary’s case than meets the eye. He gets involved with a sexy, supercilious reporter lady called Joan Foster, who thinks she knows it all and who is trying to re-unite Mary with her birth mother Anna Harb, and therein hangs an interesting tale. Could there be a story in it for Joan?

Played by Diana Dors in a messy red wig, Anna Harb is portrayed as a crude, common-as-muck ex-prostitute who spent ten years in Broadmoor and had Mary taken away from her for working as a prostitute while the child was in her care. That seems unfair, as clearly Anna Harb was only doing it so that she and Mary could eat, but whatever. The state (in most countries) has always been unfair to women.

Now Anna wants her child back but the Trustees are determined that this won’t happen. They whisk Mary from the hospital off to the island on which their orphanage is situated, leaving poor distraught Anna Harb with no choice but to follow her daughter to the island in secret.

Sir Mark and Colonel Bingham head to the island also, to investigate the deaths (suicides or murders?) of the three former Trustees. They are accompanied by Inspector Cameron, well played by Fulton Mackay (one of the stars of the sitcom PORRIDGE) with his brilliant Scottish accent.

What they discover on this isolated island would put you in mind of poor old Sergeant Neil Howie coming to Summerisle to investigate what he thinks is the case of a missing child in the 1973 mystery film THE WICKER MAN. What he discovers there is the stuff of nightmares, and Christopher Lee as the arrogant and aristocratic Lord Summerisle is the puppet-master expertly pulling the strings behind the nightmare.

Now the boot is on the other foot for Christopher Lee. Here, as the terribly English and upper-crust ex-copper Colonel Bingham, he experiences first-hand the terrors that the island holds for strangers and outsiders such as himself, while his chum Sir Mark unravels scientifically the exact truth behind what has been happening here on the mysterious island.

There’s at least one very gruesome death in the film, as well as a rather spectacular end scene involving Christopher Lee which, without giving anything away, made me want to yell at the screen: ‘Come on Chris, you’re Dracula, you’re Saruman, kick their asses! Knock ’em down! Flatten the little bastards! Are you gonna let them tread all over you like that?’ It felt rather demeaning to see him lying in the mud like that, but he was clearly overpowered, lol.

He looks so handsome too in his lovely hound’s-tooth jacket and beige overcoat (probably both his own), with that furry caterpillar of a moustache clamped to his upper lip for dear life. I prefer him without the moustache but it does make him look even more distinguished than usual. He’s more than manly enough to carry it off.

Peter Cushing looks and sounds immaculate here, as always, and the two leading men are so natural and easy with each other that it’s not at all hard to picture them being friends with each other in real life, two good mates who worked together and genuinely liked and respected each other. God bless ’em both. They were magnificent. Hope they’re resting in peace together now, the pair of ’em.

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. 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

MICHAEL ARMSTRONG’S SCREENPLAYS: THE DARK. (1960) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

horror house jill

MICHAEL ARMSTRONG’S ‘THE DARK.’ (1960) PUBLISHED IN 2019 BY PAPER DRAGON PRODUCTIONS.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

‘Michael Armstrong is creating history by being the first film-maker to publish his entire screenwriting output. With the original uncut screenplays in print for the first time ever and peppered with a mixture of wildly entertaining anecdotes, astounding behind-the-scenes revelations, creative and educational insights and brutal ‘no holds barred’ honesty, these books are guaranteed to provide a completely new kind of reading experience while offering a unique insight into the movie industry. Starting from his first professional screenplay written in 1960 when he was only fifteen and which he subsequently directed in 1968, the books will ultimately encompass a career that has spanned over fifty years. The books will include not only those screenplays which made it onto a cinema screen but, for the first time ever, all those that didn’t- and the reasons why…’

http://www.michaelarmstrong.co.uk/publications

http://www.paperdragonproductions.com

Some of my regular readers might have heard me mention a certain Michael Armstrong, a screenwriter and film director whose luxurious script-books I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing over the past eighteen months or so, according as they roll off the presses at Michael’s publishers, PAPER DRAGON PRODUCTIONS. If you want to know where or how you might have heard of Michael before, I can tell you that he wrote the screenplays for the following films:

THE DARK- 1960.

THE IMAGE- 1964. Starring David Bowie in his first screen appearance.

THE HUNT- 1965.

MARK OF THE DEVIL- 1970.

THE SEX THIEF- 1973.

ESKIMO NELL- 1974. A riotous sex comedy starring beloved English actor Roy Kinnear and a young and handsome Michael Armstrong himself.

IT COULD HAPPEN TO YOU- 1975.

THREE FOR ALL- 1975.

ADVENTURES OF A TAXI DRIVER #2- 1975.

ADVENTURES OF A PRIVATE EYE- 1976.

THE BLACK PANTHER- 1976. The story of Donald Neilson, the British armed robber, kidnapper and murderer who abducted wealthy British teenager Lesley Whittle in 1975.

HOME BEFORE MIDNIGHT- 1979.

SCREAMTIME- 1981.

HOUSE OF THE LONG SHADOWS- 1982. The only film in the history of cinema to star horror legends Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, Vincent Price and John Carradine all together.

LIFEFORCE- 1983.

PAPER DRAGON PRODUCTIONS are not only publishing the screenplays of Michael’s that got made into films, but also the ones that didn’t, for one reason or another. He’s written a load of horror movie scripts, some of which were extremely progressive and before their time, for example, BEELZEBUB, the story of a haunted computer which could have- should have- been made into a fantastic horror film, and OUIJA-BOARD. Of course, nowadays every second horror film-maker does a ouija-board film, so I’ll just point out that Michael wrote his script in 1989, people. 1989, while the hot-shot directors of today were still in nappies…! Check out some of my favourites quotes from THE DARK:

‘The moon’s full. Let’s hunt for ghosts.’

MADGE: ‘How the hell did I ever get talked into coming here?’

CHRIS: ‘Because you’re like the rest of us, dear. Bored with life.’

‘Maybe the house’ll catch fire again… I like fire.’

Something curved flashes: The sharp blade of a kukri.

‘We get rid of the body. Act as though we didn’t even know that he’d been- that this had happened.’

‘He was there!- He came out of that room!- He saw me and he beckoned!- He was covered in blood!’

‘Madmen are affected by the moon, aren’t they? The moon to me isn’t anything horrid, though… It’s beautiful… You know?… Maybe because I’ve always been afraid of the dark… and the moon gives me light when it’s dark.’

THE DARK (1960) is a script along the same lines as BEELZEBUB and OUIJA-BOARDIt’s the script of a slasher film penned long before slasher films were even popular, and it was deservedly made into a film by Tigon British Film Productions and American International Pictures in 1968/9, although the production was definitely what you might call ‘troubled.’

You can read all the gory, behind-the-scenes details in Michael’s book, you scurvy gossip-mongers, you! Michael directed this one himself, by the way. He was super-young when he did it and I’m guessing that he knew even long before this point just exactly what he wanted to do with his life. It’s good to have that clear sense of direction early on, ba-dum-tish…

The film was re-titled prior to release as THE HAUNTED HOUSE OF HORROR in the UK and HORROR HOUSE (USA). To be brutally honest, although both of these new titles are perfectly fine, Michael’s own title suits the script better because he was calling it ‘THE DARK’ for a very particular reason, which you’ll see for yourselves when you read the book.

THE DARK is the story of a bunch of no-good young ‘uns in Swinging Sixties’ London, some of them creative types like artists, singers and songwriters. They’re young, bright, rich (well, some of ’em are), beautiful (again, some of ’em are!), bored and looking for what used to be called kicks. Thrills. Spills. You know the type of thing. Fun.

They have sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll, but all that’s not enough for them, the greedy young ‘uns. They want more. More what, I hear you ask? Well, more excitement, I suppose, as if the sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll weren’t enough for most people. The beautiful people are like that, of course. Always looking for more. And they usually get it too. ‘Cause they’re beautiful, d’uh…!

They’re like the Bright Young Things in Hammer’s DRACULA AD 1972, Caroline Munro and Johnny Alucard and the rest, who hold a Satanic ceremony in a deserted ruined church in London and end up bringing Count Dracula back from the dead. Which was exactly Johnny Alucard’s intention, but of course his dopey chums don’t know that and they get a helluva fright, especially Caroline Munro who’s stuck right there in the firing line.

But it proves the point that kids who already have sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll do sometimes turn to black magic, the occult and the dark arts for that little something extra when they’ve grown tired of everything else in their lives. It’s the next step up on the ‘kicks’ ladder, as it were. The kids in THE DARK are no exception. One of them, Chris, says about another one of their member, Sheila:

‘I think she’s seen every horror film that’s ever been made.’

To which Sheila promptly replies:

‘Well, they’re such fun. I like monsters… They amuse me. I think being frightened is fun.’

Thank you, Sheila! You’ve hit the nail on the head there. We all think being frightened is fun. Why else would we read books like this or watch films like THE HAUNTED HOUSE OF HORROR? Because we want a good old fright, that’s why. I personally think it’s because it takes our minds temporarily off our own crappy little lives, haha. Later on, Chris says of Sheila:

‘The way you relish blood, Sheila, anybody’d think you were a vampire.’

To which she (jokingly?) replies:

‘Yes, well, you’d better watch out next time I give you a love-bite, then.’

The kids jump at the chance to drive out into the countryside in the middle of the night, in the middle of a party, just because one of them says he knows of an old deserted house that might be haunted.

In my day- harrumph!- the party was the party, and was plenty good enough for us. Just like in my day, we didn’t get expensive goody-bags to take home after a party because we’d just been to a fucking party. That WAS the party. Harrumph again!

The cars draw up outside the house;

An old dilapidated building; huge and sinister.

Then:

They enter the room…

Where there are still pieces of old furniture,

Even torn curtains hanging.

Most of the glass in the windows is broken

And there has been a vague attempt at boarding them up.

A great deal of damage obviously the result of hooliganism.

If this house isn’t haunted to buggery, I’ll eat my… well, I’m not a hat person but I’ll eat something, anyway. A large slice of chocolate cake, maybe. There’s some in the cupboard. Anyway, Richard, the guy whose idea it was to come to this house in the first place, tells us a bit about the house’s history:

‘Apparently, the family who owned this house were all bumped off one dark night. One of them went mad, for some reason, and killed all the rest.’

Then, a little later:

‘The story goes that one dark night, one of the sons- for no apparent reason- went raving berserk and hacked his entire family to death.’

Oooooooooh. Shades of THE AMITYVILLE HORROR here and the Ronald DeFeo murders, a full decade and a bit before they happened too so we know that Michael came up with the idea himself and wasn’t inspired by the Amityville phenomenon. Another girl, Sylvia, states clearly her opinion of the house:

‘I can feel an evil presence here. There’s an aura about the place.’ Also: ‘That house is evil. I could feel it. It’s evil.’

And Richard adds, after informing us that the abandoned old mansion is now supposedly the property of an aged cousin of the deceased owners who now lives in a mental home (that’s nice and cheerful, innit?), that the place is ‘the house of the dead.’ So now we know…

It’s not altogether surprising when one of the young ‘uns is brutally murdered while the kids are holding their makeshift séance in the obviously haunted house. But when Chris makes the stunning discovery that ‘the (front) door’s still bolted,’ it clearly means that the calls are coming from inside the house…!

Lol, it doesn’t mean that, but it does mean that whoever killed the murder victim is still in the house. It could even be one of them and, as they can’t find another perpetrator when they search the house, it means that it probably is one of them.

So how do they cope with this staggering knowledge? Well, I can totally assure you that they do all the wrong things and get themselves into such a tangled muddle that it’s hard to see how they can ever get out of it, which is exactly what you want from a horror movie.

There’s a wonderful scene set in the British Museum, a place which I’ve always wanted to visit. It sounds so atmospheric and spooky, with the weight of thousands of years of history inside its walls. I want to visit it even more now that I know that they have stamp rooms and literary rooms as well as the Egyptian rooms. They’d better still have those, lol. They’d jolly well better not have changed anything in the last sixty years or else. Or else what? Well, I’ll just be very pissed off, that’s all.

All kinds of sexual tensions and forbidden attractions are simmering away below the surface as well, as couples come together and break apart with all the frequency you might except from a large mixed group of horny young ‘uns in their twenties. There’s some gorgeous writing in there too which is brilliantly evocative of the atmosphere Michael tries successfully to create:

The shadows loom like gigantic veils… Draped over the walls.

The sky is slashed with clouds.

The house stands alone; Bathed in the moonlight.

You can really see the house standing there, can’t you, all dark and brooding and evil, like in THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE, where whatever walked there, walked alone…? You see the house in your mind’s eye and then you immediately know that some really bad shit is going to go down in there. How could it not, in a house that’s obviously so chock-full of bad mojo and as malignant as a particularly persistent cancerous tumour? 

There are some fantastic full colour and black-and-white movie poster photos towards the back of the script-book which will be invaluable to the collector of movie memorabilia, and the book itself- or indeed, any or all of the books- would make a wonderful gift for any film buff or movie lover. As usual, all the books are available to buy from Michael’s own website and his publishers, PAPER DRAGON PRODUCTIONS. So, until next time, for God’s sake don’t go in the house…!

http://www.michaelarmstrong.co.uk/publications

http://www.paperdragonproductions.com

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. 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