hunger catherine




(First published here in 2016.)

I took this film out of the library recently (yes, there are still those of us who do that, like cave-people who’ve never heard of Netflix…!) and the librarian laughed as he checked it out and remarked that the director really had ‘a thing for billowing curtains.’

I had to laugh too. There certainly are a lot of billowing curtains in this visually beautiful and arty erotic vampire film, along with classical music and classical statuary and paintings. The director was definitely trying to create something artistically eye-catching and in this he’s succeeded, but the film’s not without its problems or, indeed, its stern critics.

Despite its being obviously sexy and stylish, film critic Roger Ebert described the film as ‘an agonisingly bad vampire movie.’ That’s one way of looking at it, I suppose, but it’s found itself a cult following amongst the goth subculture so the news isn’t all bad.

Me personally, I love this film and think it’s one of the best non-Dracula vampire movies ever made, along with INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE and SALEM’S LOT, based on the internationally bestselling books by Anne Rice and Stephen King respectively.

Now to the plot. Miriam Blaylock, played by well-preserved French actress Catherine BELLE DE JOUR Deneuve, is one hot momma. In one way. In another, she’s a stone-cold bitch who also just so happens to be a vampire. That’s right, she’s an ageless and beautiful vampire who is hundreds, maybe thousands of years old.

She lives in Manhattan in a fantastic old house filled with the aforementioned priceless objets d’art. She doesn’t need to go out to work because she’s as rich as Croesus, although she poses as a teacher of classical music along with her handsome younger husband. By the way, did I forget to mention that this classy lassy with the bottomless bank account is married in the film to the Thin White Duke…?

Yep, her hubby John, an eighteenth-century cellist, is played by musician-actor David Bowie, who sadly passed away earlier this year and- as some people maintain!- unintentionally sparked off a chain of celebrity deaths that had us reeling and railing against the Grim Reaper till midsummer at least. It’s been a bad year for celebrity deaths.

He’s a vampire too like his missus but he’s a very tragic figure in this film. When we come in, he’s unfortunately started to age at the rate of knots, even though Miriam, that lying, manipulative bitch, had promised him eternal life and also eternal youth when they first got together back in the eighteenth century.

She may have been telling porkies about the eternal youth thing, but it seems that she was telling the brutal truth about his living forever, which is extremely bad news for her hubby John who’s now so ancient in his appearance that he makes Grampa Simpson from THE SIMPSONS look young…!

Before long, Miriam is callously locking him away in a coffin in a room at the top of the house where, incidentally, she keeps the rotting corpses of her other lovers. She’s pledged eternal love to all of them but we quickly learn that ‘eternity’ for Miriam can end in a heartbeat the minute she tires of you or you can no longer satisfy her. The corpses are doomed to lie there, awake and aware, for all eternity because she’s too goddamn selfish to let them die. That bitch. I told you guys she was cold…!

Things start to get really gruesome after poor, poor old David Bowie has been put in his ‘forever’ box in a heartbreaking scene that would make you feel very angry with Miriam on behalf of John and the other boxed lovers.

The sexually insatiable but horrifically selfish Miriam then turns her attentions to Dr. Sarah Roberts, the author of a dreary but terribly worthy tome called SLEEP AND LONGEVITY who carries out ageing experiments on monkeys, of all things.

Dr. Roberts, a gerontologist consulted by an agonised David Bowie before his incarceration in Miriam’s attic, is played by a freakishly young-looking Susan Sarandon with a painfully ‘Eighties hairstyle. Poor David Bowie thought that maybe she could slow down or even stop altogether his dreadful ageing process but it was no dice, sadly. Science hasn’t advanced that far yet, if it ever does.

Sarah can’t help being mesmerised by Miriam, who is quite simply the last word in feminine allure. The two have lesbian sex in Miriam’s gaff. (Well, what other kind could they have…?) Yes, you do see boobs; Sarah’s, but not Miriam’s…!

The sex is all very artistically-shot and stylish, and by the end of it, Miriam has co-mingled their respective bloods, in a disgustingly non-consensual act of what we’d today probably refer to as rape, and Sarah is on her way to becoming a fully-fledged vampire.

Sarah gets as sick as a dog as her body comes to terms with its new situation. I love the scene in which Miriam tells her new lover that she’ll sleep for six hours out of every twenty-four and she’ll need to ‘feed’ once a week. Just give the girl the instructive pamphlets entitled SO YOU’RE A VAMPIRE NOW or VAMPIRES 101 or VAMPIRES FOR DUMMIES or even SO YOU’VE RUINED YOUR LIFE and let her figure it all out for herself, lol. 

Sarah becomes so desperate for blood when ‘the hunger,’ as Miriam puts it, is upon her, that she kills her own scientist lover when he comes looking for her at Miriam’s place, and she joins in the gory fun when Miriam rips a young male pick-up limb from limb.

Sarah’s scientist friends are alarmed when they examine her blood medically and discover that her bloodstream has actually been invaded by a foreign, non-human blood strain, which is winning the battle for dominance over Sarah’s own normal blood.

It’s extremely frightening for Sarah (‘What have you done to me…?’), and it’s also almost impossible not to think of the way in which the AIDS virus is transmitted. This was, after all, the time when AIDS was rearing its ugly head for the first time. The passing of the vampire gene resembles the transmission of a blood infection. Christopher Lee never had this issue, lol.

In fact, when I first used to watch the devastatingly handsome and sexually dominant Christopher Lee as Dracula in the HAMMER HORROR films, I wanted nothing more than to be a vampire too.

I’d live with him in his crumbling Transylvanian castle and drink blood from a jewel-encrusted goblet brought to me nightly by my new husband’s naked, full-bosomed handmaidens. It was going to be sweet. This film put me off the idea of being a vampire for good.

All that sweating and being sick and looking as if you’re dying with the ‘flu while your body craves human blood changed my mind about it, along with the decidedly unsavoury sight of Susan Sarandon in her yucky grey sweat-socks sweating buckets through her old grey T-shirt.

I only ever wanted the glamour and the sex with Dracula, anyway, not so much the other stuff. I certainly never wanted to do my own killing, and I’d only ever be pushed about immortality if I had someone decent to share it with. But, when it comes down to it, isn’t that what Miriam wants for herself…?

So anyway, do Miriam and Sarah live happily ever after for all eternity, or is eternity just too long a time even for a vampire…? There’s a neat little twist at the end that I can’t tell you about, but I thought it was a strange ending to an already strange film. Apparently, some members of the cast were disappointed in the ending but some viewers will think it’s only right and proper.

There are some plotholes in the film, which is so painfully ‘Eighties it looks a bit dated now, but the plotholes, I suppose, are of secondary importance compared to the look of the thing. Willem Dafoe makes a brief cameo as a man who wants to use the pay-phone after Susan Sarandon’s finished with it and the violin-playing kid is really, really annoying. ‘Eighties band BAUHAUS make an appearance and the monkey experiments stuff gets quite confusing after a while. I didn’t enjoy that bit too much.

The first half-hour drags a bit and things don’t really get going until David Bowie is locked away in his coffin, but the hour or so after that is required viewing for fans of the vampire genre. Based on the novel by Whitley Strieber, there’s not one mention of the ‘v’ word in the film, however, which is interesting. Watch this if you enjoy vampire flicks. If you can overlook the flaws, it’s a real little cracker, I promise you.


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, women’s 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:

You can contact Sandra at:


dracula has risen from the grave


The year is 1891, and Count Dracula and his sex-and-spanking-crazed harem of beautiful handmaidens are still camped out in Dracula’s ancestral castle in Transylvania. Dracula’s brother Vladimir’s head currently adorns a spike on the castle battlements. His brother Nikolai’s head, while for the moment still attached to his shoulders, is filled with resentment for Dracula and a continuing desire to depose him as head of the family.

Dracula’s beautiful wife Anna and his demanding mistress –– and cousin –– Carmilla are each jockeying for position as his Number One squeeze, and he has two newly-acquired sons he doesn’t have a clue what to do with.

Meanwhile, the genteel young ladies of the nearby Miss Peabody’s Exclusive Academy For The Education And Refinement Of The Daughters Of Gentlefolks are all still waiting impatiently for Dracula to fly through their bedroom windows at midnight, to endow upon them the sexual awakening of a lifetime and an introduction into Dracula’s twilight world of pleasure deliciously commingled with pain.

Add to this his domineering mother, his four sex-mad sisters, his temperamental nude handmaidens and a cartload or two of angry villagers, and you might just have an idea of why, for this year at least, Dracula’s dance-card is fully filled out…

This book, as all the ‘ANNA’ books are, is based on characters created by fellow Irish authors Bram Stoker and Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu, and is dedicated with much love to the late Sir Christopher Lee, whose performances in the HAMMER ‘Dracula’ films inspired every word of it. May he rest in peace… until he rises once more from the crypt in which he rests…



The black carriage, with the crest of the House of Dracula on either door and the hunchback known to the villagers as Igor sitting silently in the driver’s seat, stood in the courtyard of Ivor’s Tavern and Hostelry, waiting to drive the Wintergreens up the hill to the castle for their eight o’clock dinner appointment.

‘You don’t have to go, you know,’ Leon the barman was saying to Edward Wintergreen now. The English gentleman was having a quick whiskey in the bar while waiting for his wife to finish dressing and join him. ‘We could fix you up with a fine dinner here, we could, some of Magdalena’s nice hot goulash, and plenty of Father’s ale to wash it down. You’d not go hungry. We’d see to that.’

‘That’s very decent of you, Leon, old chap,’ said Edward, draining his glass with a satisfied smacking together of his lips, ‘but I’m afraid the wife’s rather got her heart set on dining at the castle and meeting a real-life Transylvanian count. You know what women are like. We might as well go up there now that we’ve had this rather mysterious invitation.

‘I must confess I’m rather curious myself about the fellow. I mean, what kind of chap buries himself away in a remote little God-forsaken spot like this? No offence to yourselves, of course,’ he added hastily, remembering too late that Leon, his father Ivor and their barmaid Magdalena all lived here too, albeit down in the village and not up in the castle.

‘None taken, sir,’ replied the barman, who was distractedly cleaning the bar with a dish-rag. ‘As to the Count, well, erm, I can’t say as I’ve ever met the fellow personally. I don’t think too many folks hereabouts have met him either. He… he doesn’t go about much, you see… by day.’

‘He sounds quite mysterious indeed, I must say.’ Edward accepted Leon’s refilling of his whiskey tumbler appreciatively. ‘I’m rather looking forward to meeting him myself now, and I know Vanessa is too. She’s literally spoken of nothing else all day, would you believe it? My word, speak of the devil! Here she comes now.’

The two men looked towards the stairs as the recently married Mrs. Vanessa Wintergreen slowly ascended the stairs of the inn, carefully holding onto the banisters as she went and closely followed by Magdalena, who was carrying Mrs. Wintergreen’s fur stole and reticule.

Edward’s eyebrows shot right up at the sight of his wife in the fabulous gown of bronze-coloured satin, low in the neckline (rather outrageously low, he fancied), cinched-in at the waist and full in the skirt.

With the diamonds he’d given her on their wedding day back in England at her ears, throat and wrists (he’d advised her against bringing these on their honeymoon in Eastern Europe, preferring instead to place them in his bank for safe-keeping, but now he was glad to see them adorning her person), and her masses of blonde hair dressed in an elaborate confection of tiny pearls and glittering diamond flowers, he had truly never seen her look more ravishing.

He wanted to ravish her right now, in fact, right here in the bar, maybe on one of the sofas with Leon and Magdalena watching. He wanted to tear that gorgeous satin dress off her body and jam his stiff prick right up to the hilt in between her legs. He wanted to make her cry out with pleasure and passion, like he’d done earlier today when he’d taken her roughly, like a farmhand might take a chambermaid, on their big double bed upstairs at the inn.

He took a swig of whiskey to cover his confusion at having entertained such vulgar thoughts about his lady wife, then choked on it and had to be pounded vigorously on the back by the quick-thinking Leon, who was round the bar in a thrice.

Good heavens, what the devil had come over him? He’d never had such lustfully earthy thoughts about Vanessa before, only since coming to this queer, isolated place in the Transylvanian mountains. Red in the face from choking and mortification, Edward chanced a light, embarrassed laugh. ‘You see what you do to me, my dear?’

‘Oh Edward, my darling, you frightened me so!’

Vanessa fussed around him like a mother hen, while Leon and the sulky-faced Magdalena stood to one side and watched. Edward looked down the décolletage of his wife’s gown and was aroused anew at the sight of her full white breasts, pushed fetchingly upwards and outwards by the tightly-laced corseting all the ladies were wearing these days.

Christ, how he wanted to fuck her! He wanted to fuck her till she couldn’t see straight, stand upright or sit down properly. He wanted to fuck her in every hole she possessed, and then force her pretty lips apart and splatter them with his issue. Then, unable to believe the filthiness of his own mind, he coughed and spluttered so violently that Vanessa only fussed and fluttered all the more about him.

‘Well, I suppose we’d better be cutting along,’ Edward said when he’d somewhat recovered his composure but was still pulling at his collar, feeling it to be too tight, and anxious to be out in the fresh night air. It was suddenly much too hot and airless in the bar. ‘We can’t keep the driver waiting any longer, I suppose.’

‘There’s no rush, is there?’ said Leon, hurrying back behind the bar and refilling Edward’s whiskey glass once more. ‘Don’t worry about the driver. He’s paid to wait, he is. You take your time, Mr. Wintergreen. I’m sure you’ve time for another one, on the house this time?’

‘Well, I really shouldn’t,’ Edward said, looking at his ornate pocket-watch, a wedding gift from his mother, and missing the cross look his wife directed at him and the much crosser one directed at Leon by Magdalena. ‘But since it’s on the house…’

Edward was more than a little tipsy when the pair of honeymooners eventually left the bar. Leon accompanied them outside, involuntarily crossing himself at the sight of Igor the hunchback, dressed in a black cloak and hat, all hunched over on the driver’s seat, silent and uncommunicative as the grave.

‘Don’t go!’ said Leon, just as Edward was helping Vanessa into the carriage. ‘Stay here, we’ll play cards. My father will play and so will his regulars, we’ll have a lock-in and make a regular party of it!’

‘Leon, let them go!’ exclaimed Magdalena, pulling him away from the carriage by the shirt-sleeves. ‘They want to go, just let them go and be done with it!’

‘You know what they’re walking into, Maggie!’ he snapped back, holding onto the carriage door as it began to pull out of the courtyard. ‘Have you no heart, woman, no compassion, no feelings?’ The two were still arguing as the carriage set off at almost breakneck speed for the path that wound its way up the jagged mountainside.

‘Do you know,’ remarked Edward with an intoxicated giggle as they were jolted from side to side by the speed to which the driver urged the four jet-black horses with the black plumes bobbing to and fro on their proud heads, ‘if I didn’t know better, I could have sworn that Leon didn’t want us to leave the inn tonight and go visiting at Castle Dracula.’

‘What a rather bizarre notion, Edward dear!’ replied his wife, attempting with difficulty to retain her upright position as the carriage climbed ever higher on the mountainside. ‘Why ever should he wish to do such a strange thing?’

‘Dashed if I know, m’dear,’ said Edward, folding his arms and preparing to take a little whiskey-fuelled nap. ‘Dashed if I know…’



A pair of huge black gates creaked ominously apart of their own accord to permit them entrance.

‘Edward, for pity’s sake, wake up!’ urged Vanessa, shaking her husband by the shoulder to no avail. ‘We’re here. We’re at the castle! Wake up!

In the back of the carriage, Edward snored gently and paid no heed at all to his wife’s panicked ministrations. Vanessa, mortified, continued shaking him and calling his name as the carriage drew to a halt inside the castle gates. Once they were safely inside the castle’s courtyard, the big black gates creaked closed once more, again seemingly of their own accord.

‘Sleeping it off then, is he?’ grinned the hunchback.

He had leaped down from the driver’s seat with what Vanessa assumed was surprising agility for a hunchback, and had opened the carriage door and was poking a completely insensible Edward in the chest now, an activity which seemed to afford him great amusement.

‘Stop doing that!’ said Vanessa, annoyed.

Her cheeks were flushed with embarrassment and her eyes glittered with unshed tears. How could Edward humiliate her like this, by falling into a drunken stupor after consuming too many whiskies at the inn and failing to wake once they’d arrived at their destination? She’d never forgive him for this, truly, she wouldn’t! He wasn’t just letting his wife and his marriage down, but as a representative of England in this strange and foreign land, he was letting his country down too!

‘Best leave him here to sleep it off,’ decided the hunchback. ‘He’ll come to no harm here in the courtyard. No-one will interfere with him here.’ He indicated to Vanessa that she should therefore follow him into the castle by herself, but she hung back.

‘Whatever will the Count and his household think of us?’ she twittered in distress. ‘For my husband to respond so rudely to the Count’s kind invitation is the gravest of affronts to the proprieties, albeit, I can assure you, an unintentional one, so surely we will no longer be welcome here!’

‘Oh, don’t worry about the Count,’ said the hunchback with another one of his disconcerting grins. ‘He don’t bother about no proprieties. And he’ll be glad to see you, I have no doubt,he added with a lascivious glance at Vanessa’s décolletage.

Vanessa immediately pulled her fur stole closer about her neckline and gave her escort her haughtiest stare, which he returned with another grin. What a forward and impudent creature this hunchback was!

If Edward were awake, the drunken fool, he would never have permitted this Igor fellow to leer so obviously and salaciously at her breasts in the low-cut bronze-coloured gown. But Edward was unconscious, passed out like a farmhand in a haystack after a couple of strong whiskies and so she, his wife, would have to fend for herself as best she could.

A nervous Vanessa followed the hunchback through the courtyard to a pair of black doors which seemed to open of their own volition at their approach. Inside the black doors was a vestibule of sorts, dark and shadowy, where Igor took her fur stole from her but not, of course, her reticule, and then he led her from there into a hall of some great size and magnificence, illuminated by the light of a thousand carefully placed candles. Vanessa gasped at the size and strangeness of the place, the like of which she’d never seen before. How foolish of Edward to be missing it!

Her astonishment on seeing the hall, however, was as nothing when she observed the man who was stepping forward to greet her. He was tall, so tall that he must surely dwarf Edward if the pair stood side-by-side, and so handsome! Vanessa had never seen such a truly handsome man in all her born days.

His dark hair, with a mere smattering of grey at the temples, was slicked back from the cruellest but most compelling face and sharpest cheekbones she’d ever laid eyes upon. His lips were full and finely-cut and his dark eyes were so penetrating that she rather fancied, there in the half-gloom of the hall, that they could see into her very soul. She could have no secrets from this man, she thought, and then she wondered how in the world she could have known such a thing on such short acquaintance.

‘My dear Mrs. Wintergreen,’ he said, taking her hand and kissing it (the touch of his lips burned her skin and made her gasp, which fact was not unnoticed by her host), ‘permit me to introduce myself. I am Count Dracula, the latest incumbent of an old and noble family title, and this is my Cousin Carmilla Karnstein, who resides with my wife Anna and I.’

Out from behind him now stepped a woman of such extraordinarily sensuous beauty that even Vanessa felt drawn to her. She was tall, though not so tall, of course, as her cousin the Count, and well-built and shapely of figure. Her hair was long and honey-coloured and fell freely down her back, and her flashing eyes were the strangest purplish colour.

The woman bowed, a mocking laughter lighting up her eyes, and Vanessa bowed stiffly in return. What a handsome pair they made, the Count and his cousin Carmilla Karnstein! Vanessa wondered briefly why the Count’s wife Anna was not present herself to meet the guests from England.

‘My wife is indisposed,’ said the Count smoothly, almost as if he could read her thoughts. ‘As I understand your esteemed husband is also?’ he added with a certain delicacy for which Vanessa was grateful. ‘My dear Mrs. Wintergreen, pray do not apologise!’ he said then, interrupting her mortified apologies. ‘It is of no moment, I do assure you. My cousin Carmilla and my servant Igor will see immediately to his comfort.’

He exchanged a strangely significant look with his cousin, the meaning of which was lost on a bewildered Vanessa, and snapped his fingers at Igor, who nodded briskly. Then Igor and Carmilla left the room together, Carmilla seeming almost to glide past in the manner of a swan. What an odd pairing they made, the tall proud beauty with the strange, almond-shaped violet eyes and the hunchback loping, obediently but, alas, very obviously lop-sided, alongside her.

‘Alone at last,’ said the Count graciously, turning to his guest and bowing low.

He smiled, for the first time showing a pair of white, razor-sharp fangs on either side of his red full lips. At the sight of them, an already overcome Vanessa swooned clean away. The Count picked her up with no more difficulty than if she’d been a doll and strode quickly out of the Great Hall with her.

Some of her elaborately dressed blonde hair came loose from its confines and swooped almost to the floor. The Hall was perfectly adequate for the receiving of guests, but for what the Count had in mind for the charming and utterly English Mrs. Vanessa Wintergreen, he’d be requiring a bed…


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, women’s 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:

You can contact Sandra at:


bunker film



I loved this made-for-television film rendition of Hitler’s last weeks and days in the Bunker, the little underground kingdom in the nearly ruined gardens of the Reich Chancellery in Berlin where the doomed German dictator ended his life and reign of terror simultaneously.

Anthony Hopkins was brilliant as Hitler, as you might expect, because Anthony Hopkins doesn’t do anything by half-measures, but what really fascinated me here was the timing of the gradual emptying out of the bunker as the Russians came ever closer to taking Berlin and ending the Second World War, the worst war in the history of the world.

At first, when Hitler first descends in January 1945 to its murky depths, life in the Bunker is relatively civilised. Hitler takes tea at four every day with his secretaries, Gerda Christian and Traudl Junge, and Constance Manziarly (played here by Pam St. Clement, aka Pat Butcher from EastEnders!), his treasured cook, who is able to create both the bland vegetarian diet he preferred but also the home-made cakes for which he has a weakness. O-ho, so somebody likes cakes, eh…? Lol.

Hitler treats his captive female audience to the long boring monologues for which he is notorious, speeches about dogs (his dog Blondi has puppies while in the Bunker), his vegetarianism (which caused him to suffer excessive flatulence, and I’m sure the ladies would have noticed!) and the evils of smoking.

Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s Minister for Propaganda and head toady and boot-licker, is present full-time in the bunker at this stage. So too is Martin Bormann, one of Hitler’s top men, Otto Gunsche, Hitler’s personal adjutant, Rochus Misch, the guy who works the all-important switchboard, getting messages in and out of the Bunker, and Hitler’s personal doctor, Dr. Theodor Morell, pops in and out, administering the highly unorthodox injections and (allegedly!) the cocaine eyedrops that keep the dictator going.

The situation conferences around the big table to discuss the progress of the war take place daily, and Hitler’s generals, like Guderian, Keitel, Jodl & Co. are either issued with wholly impractical orders or bawled out publicly for not having carried out the last batch. Of wholly impractical orders, lol.

Hitler in the last days of the war is moving armies around on his little maps that no longer exist, because they’ve been wiped out by the Russians, but he keeps up his outward insistence that the tide could still turn in Germany’s favour.

These situation conferences become more and more stressful for all concerned. Towards the end, when time has lost all meaning and no-one in the Bunker any longer keeps to a schedule, they could start at 1am and go on till daylight.

Hitler frequently loses his temper with his generals, whose failure to win the war for him feels like a betrayal, and his screaming fits are legendary. You can’t have a Hitler film without the little guy with the funny moustache and the queer hairstyle throwing a good old screaming fit in it.

In the last few weeks and days of April 1945, when even Hitler knows that the war is lost, things become incredibly tense and gripping to watch. Hitler’s staff beg him to leave the Bunker and flee to the relative safety of his mountain retreat in Berchtesgaden, in Bavaria. He’s adamant that he won’t leave Berlin, however.

His long-term mistress Eva Braun has joined him in the Bunker by this stage, and even her forced air of desperate oh-look-how-frightfully-gay-we-all-are has had the shine well and truly worn off of it.

She won’t leave Berlin either, however, or her Fuhrer. Whatever fate is mapped out for her Adolf, she will share it, even unto Death. She gives an expensive fur stole of hers to one of the secretaries. ‘Think of me when you wear it,’ she trills gaily. Hmmm. Even for the secretaries, who survive the war, there won’t be any opportunities to wear that fur stole for a while.

Albert Speer, Hitler’s pet architect and the Minister for Armaments, features heavily in the film. Knowing now that their dreams of rebuilding Germany together after the war are as dust in the wind, Hitler puts Speer in charge of his despicable ‘scorched earth’ policy: destroying what’s left of Germany so the Russians won’t get their hands on it. Not just bridges and military installations, but houses and shops and farms and factories as well.

The German people will have nothing left to live on when this policy has been carried out. That was probably partly what Hitler wanted all along, to take everything with him when he himself went out in a blaze of glory, like in Wagner’s Twilight of the Gods or the Götterdämmerung he’d always admired and wanted for himself and Germany.

Also, the German people had let him down, hadn’t they, by not going all out to help him win the war, so maybe they didn’t deserve to live on after he did. What a mindset. I’m fucked so all you lot are fucked as well. It seems like a pretty typical Hitlerian mentality.

Luckily for the German people, Speer in the end only pretends to Hitler that he’s been carrying out this disastrous policy. He doesn’t believe that the fate of Germany should be tied inextricably to that of one sick and twisted individual, and he’s right. He confesses to Hitler what he’s done as he’s leaving the Bunker and saying goodbye to his former Fuhrer forever, but Hitler is too far gone to give a shit by then.

Poor Hitler. His health is wrecked, his friends are deserting him right and left, his bezzy mate Himmler has actually crawled into bed with the Allies, his trademark glossy black locks are as grey as a badger’s arse now and his lovely dream of the Thousand Year Reich is in ruins.

Oh, and Eva Braun’s pregnant sister Gretl’s husband, Hermann Fegelein, has been caught trying to scarper without permission and is now paying for his crime by being left to dangle on a meathook. (Other film versions have Fegelein being shot.) What’s to live for now?

The Bunker inmates can be divided into those, like Speer, who choose to leg it while Hitler is still alive, and those who hang on till the bitter end. These include Eva Braun, Gunsche, Goebbels and his wife Magda and their six children, who are all living in the Bunker by this stage, Misch the transmissions technician, Constance Manziarly the cook (who was never seen or heard from again after the war) and the secretaries.

On the night before their joint suicide, Hitler marries Eva Braun. The next day, they say goodbye formally to their remaining acolytes, and then they retire forever to bite into cyanide capsules (previously tested on Hitler’s beloved dog, Blondi), and Hitler also shoots himself in the head for good measure. He won’t let himself be captured and hung upside-down and naked in the town square, which is what has happened to his crony Mussolini, the Italian dictator, and Mussolini’s missus.

Otto Gunsche carries the bodies outside, then sets them on fire as per Hitler’s wishes. Magda Goebbels poisons her six children with cyanide capsules, then allows her husband to shoot her dead outside in the garden before in turn shooting himself.

With the bigwigs gone, it’s every man for himself. It’s the moment when the musicians playing ‘Nearer My God To Thee’ on the Titanic pack up their instruments, wish each other well in a gentlemanly fashion and then scramble desperately for a place on a lifeboat.

The Bunker descends into chaos as Gunsche, the secretaries, Martin Bormann and assorted others pack up and try to make it through the Russian lines to the British armies, who don’t seem to be as terrifying to the Germans as their Russian counterparts.

The secretaries paint lipstick spots on their faces to give themselves the appearance of smallpox. ‘Do you want to be raped (by the Russians)?’ one says to the other. Her terrified friend promptly yanks the lippy out of her hands…!

When even the loyal and dutiful Rochus Misch eventually leaves his post and the final transmissions squawk their contents to the empty air, there’s a definite feeling in the Bunker that the fat lady has well and truly warbled her last note.

The Bunker is empty, the Fuhrer is dead, Berlin is in ruins, the war is lost and the Russians are knocking- none too politely- on the doors of the Reich Chancellery. Years and even decades in Russian prison camps await some of those fleeing from the Bunker.

What ghosts would haunt the silent corridors of the Bunker today, if it still existed, which of course it does not? Hitler is supposed to have told an underling, a young man, that his spirit would remain on duty within its walls for all eternity, keeping an eye out for those pesky Russians.

A pretty pathetic story, probably not true, but I still wouldn’t have ever wanted to be down there alone in those days after the war ended when the Bunker was dark, waterlogged and filled with the flotsam and jetsam of all those disappeared lives.

It must have been a bit like being alone on the wreck of the aforementioned Titanic. This film captures that eerie feeling perfectly, which is why I loved it. Historians are fascinated by the events that took place in the Bunker. Watch this film and you’ll get a fair idea why this is.


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, women’s 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:

You can contact Sandra at:





‘Norman Stanley Fletcher, you have pleaded guilty to the charges brought by this court, and it is now my duty to pass sentence… You are an habitual criminal who accepts arrest as an occupational hazard and presumably accepts imprisonment in the same casual manner. We therefore feel constrained to commit you to the maximum term allowed for these offences. You will go to prison for five years.’

‘Ronnie Barker will be remembered for Fletcher in PORRIDGE long after everything else he was in has faded from memory.’ DAILY EXPRESS.

This comedy series set in an English prison is just so good, I’m genuinely gutted that I can never again watch it for the first time with new, excited eyes. I’ll be re-watching it, however, hopefully many times, and I’ll remember it till my dying day as possibly the best, funniest and also the most warm-hearted and true-to-life sitcom I’ve ever seen. Gorblimey, I’m tearing up here. Whatever would Fletch say…?

Norman Stanley Fletcher, better known as Fletch, is a petty criminal whom the Beak is sick and tired of having up in front of him, charged with yet another offence involving thieving or fraud. This time, Fletch is hit with a good stiff sentence… five years in Her Majesty’s Slade Prison, a fictional nick up North somewhere, Cumberland I think, surrounded by moors and suchlike, so escape won’t exactly be an easy option.

Fletch is a hard-as-nails, tough-as-old-boots old lag from the big smoke. Muswell Hill in London, to be precise. Every sentence ends with ‘intcha?,’ as in, aren’t you? and ‘an’ all,’ as in, as well, too, also.

He’s perpetually chewing gum, he doesn’t react with any surprise to the things he hears and sees in the nick because he’s seen and heard it all before, and he’s got his own rather skewed sense of morality. It’s okay, for example, for Fletch to nick a tin of pineapple chunks from the kitchen, but the lag who in turn steals the tin from Fletch is the lowest of the low, innit?

This time round, Fletch has a new young cellmate called Lenny Godber, played by the dreamily handsome Richard Beckinsale who was tragically dead of heart failure by the age of thirty-one.

Fletch, rather grudgingly at first, takes Lenny under his wing, but the two soon find themselves to be friends for life, partly cemented by the confidences they exchange in the wonderful two-handed episode in Series One called ‘A NIGHT IN.’

As well as being drop-dead gorgeous, Lenny is surprisingly thoughtful, insightful and sensitive for a house-breaker serving his first sentence. He’s got an unusually wide vocabulary for a con and a philosophical turn of mind, and he uses the prison’s training programmes and courses of study to better himself.

When Fletch kindly arranges to steal the History O Level Exam papers for a nervous Lenny, Lenny has no trouble deciding that he wants to pass the exam the honest way. Which is just as well because Fletch’s man Warren, dope that he is, has only gone and nicked the wrong bleedin’ paper, ‘asn’t he? Much good the Biology papers will be in this instance.

Fletch doesn’t understand Lenny’s constant quest for self-improvement. He personally just wants to do his time in peace and quiet, if anyone will ever let him. He particularly just wants to lie on his top bunk with the Page Three Stunna of the day and have himself a nice time, nudge nudge, wink wink. Let’s just hope the visiting party from the Home Office have the manners to knock before they enter his bloomin’ cell, lol.

Mister Mackay, or ‘Scotland the Brave,’ is Fletcher’s nemesis, a screw who’s firm but fair. In his own words, he holds all the lags in equal contempt…! Getting one over on Mr. Mackay, whose exaggerated accent and gestures are almost criminally funny, is probably the thing that brings Fletch the most pleasure in life inside.

You see, the little victories Fletch manages to wring from Mackay in particular and the prison system in general are what makes life behind bars bearable. Look out for Fletch’s hilarious description of how the terminally regimented Mr. Mackay has sex with his wife. Bellows: ‘Stand by your bed…! One, two, three… knickers down… NOW…!’

Mr. Mackay has a foil, of course (for every bad cop there’s a good cop), in the form of the nervous, rather jittery but undoubtedly kind-hearted Mr. Barrowclough. He’s a progressive thinker who believes that the men in his care are there to be rehabilitated and treated as human beings rather than lowlives for whom there’s no hope. Mr. Mackay thinks Barrowclough is for the birds because of such forward-thinking and modern ideas.

Of course, Barrowclough’s lovely good nature means that he can be easily taken advantage by Fletch and the other lags, but it’s nice to see as well that not every screw thinks that the prisoners are irredeemable scum who should all be locked up and the key thrown away for ever.

Poor Mr. Barrowclough has a miserable home life courtesy of his domineering wife Alice, so much so that he often wishes, as he tells Fletch, ‘that I were in here wi’ you lot…!’ Fletch’s skills as a marriage guidance counsellor are in great demand, not just with Mr. Barrowclough but also with the other lags, so much so that everyone’s in shock when it transpires that Fletch’s own wife has left him for another man… or has she…?

Other characters include: Ingrid (Patricia Brake), Fletch’s sexy blonde daughter who comes in on visiting days with ‘unfettered knockers,’ much to the other prisoners’ interest; and Mr. Geoffrey Venables, the posh prison governor whose ivory tower existence away from the crims of Slade Prison renders him ineffectual at dealing with most crises; after all, when Jim McLaren (Tony Osoba), the black angry Scottish bloke, is up on the prison roof after a scrap at the footy match, it’s down to Fletch to talk him down. McLaren, an orphan, was found as a baby ‘up a side-alley wrapped in the Glasgow Herald.’ Just like a bag of chips, the poor lad. No wonder he couldn’t go straight.

Then there’s the ‘genial’ Harry Grout (Peter Vaughan), the most powerful prisoner in Slade prison and the least genial bloke you’re likely to meet. He even gives Fletch the willies. He never goes anywhere without his muscle man for back-up and, if Grouty wants a favour, you’d damn well better do it, or else you might just get your face re-arranged… and all for free an’ all…!

Alun Armstrong (THIS IS PERSONAL: THE HUNT FOR THE YORKSHIRE RIPPER, DAVID COPPERFIELD, BLEAK HOUSE) has a cameo as a Geordie con called Spraggon, a former illiterate who’s now writing his first book. Maybe a tin of snout will release his Muse? Dudley Sutton from LOVEJOY plays Reg Urwin, a prison trustee who wants a helicopter out of Slade and ten grand in used notes. Hang on a minute, Reg, and we’ll see what we can do…!

Christopher Biggins plays the cuddly kitchen trustee Lukewarm, surely the first openly gay character on British television? David Jason (OPEN ALL HOURS, ONLY FOOLS AND HORSES, A TOUCH OF FROST), brilliantly made up as an auld fella, plays crafty old Blanco, Lukewarm’s cellmate, who’s been inside seventeen years for topping his wife.

He swears he’s innocent, however, does old Blanco, and so Fletch and the lads set up a campaign to prove said innocence. Shame they’re wasting their time. He may not have offed the wife, but he’s definitely guilty of summat, all right, the cunning old lag…!

The box-set I own has all three series of the show on it, plus two cracking little Christmas specials and an hour-long documentary, presented by Johnny Vaughan, about how great the show is and why it just might be Britain’s Best Ever Sitcom. I have no problem with any of that, lol.

I’ll leave you with Fletch’s invaluable three-pronged piece of advice for any new inmates to Slade Prison, with which, by the way, Mr. Mackay doesn’t altogether agree: One, bide your time; Two, keep your nose clean and your head down; and Three… (altogether now!)… DON’T LET THE BASTARDS GRIND YOU DOWN…!


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, women’s 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:

You can contact Sandra at:

A Writer’s Guide… to Writing a Character with Depression

Author Ari Meghlen Official Website

Since I don’t have a guest post today, I thought I would put in one of the A Writer’s Guide articles I received, since this series is going to be put on hold for a while, I wanted to share the last few I had. 

This is part of the series of blog articles called “A Writer’s Guide…”.  The purpose of this series is to give detailed information on skills and occupations that writers can use when creating characters.

Check out today’s article by writer Tobias Salem is on writing about a character with depression.

View original post 1,907 more words

Tips for Writing Your First Novel

Red Typewriter, mug of black coffee

1. Your Protagonist must have strong convictions to hold to as things change his world.

  • A Mennonite pastor has a daughter killed by a drunk driver. His beliefs call for forgiveness, but does he want revenge instead? Every character in your story should want/need something.

2.     List 10 inner demons for your Protagonist, choose the best one and work it into the back-story, then see how it affects him now and how it could hinder him in the future.

View original post 324 more words

#Omens&Symbols . . .Cup of Life and Death


“Tibetans have a custom of turning over their cup before going to sleep,
signifying not just the end of the day, but the end of one’s life.
In the morning, we first think:

I am alive, I can see, I can hear, I can feel.

Then we turn the cup right side up:

My new life begins, and I am ready to receive.

In the morning, the mind is very fresh, and just one moment
of appreciation for being alive can orient our whole day,
and remind us of the continual cycle of living and dying.”

Photo by Somchai Chitprathak on Pixabay.
Text & image source: Steven Crandell @ Ecumenicus

View original post


landlady uk


This is a little paperback book I found in a charity shop the other day. The gems I’ve found in places like that over the years! Just recently, in a box of free-to-take-away old books, I’ve discovered paperback copies of JAWS, PSYCHO 2, THE EXORCIST and ROSEMARY’S BABY. Not bad at all for a free box!

THE LANDLADY, with a distinct BURNT OFFERINGS feel to it, is in a similar vein to these ’70s paperbacks I’ve mentioned. On the cover, it’s referred to as ‘A mind-wrenching tale of malevolent horror.’

There’s a circle cut out of the title page through which you can see a woman’s face, then when you open it up you see that the face belongs to an old-fashioned doll with ‘Twenties make-up, a torn white dress and a grotesquely cracked bare left breast. So far so good, eh?

 It concerns a young married couple called Sam and Jessica Porter and their two-year-old daughter Patience. They move into a gorgeous big old house in upstate New York that has a fabulous view of the mighty Hudson river. Unfortunately, the house isn’t theirs; they’re only renting from a Mrs. Frederick Falconer, the titular ‘landlady.’

The house is so big that it straddles two streets and has two entrances and even two addresses. Mrs. Falconer lives on the Maynard Hill side, and her new tenants, the Porters, occupy the Granite Terrace end that faces the Hudson.

A door in the middle of the house, referred to as the side door, connects the two houses from the inside, but Mrs. Falconer makes it clear she doesn’t want her tenants using this door to come into her part of the house and, to be honest, the Porters don’t much like the idea of their pushy, frequently stroppy landlady waltzing willy-nilly into their side whenever the fancy takes her, either.

Not that she waltzes, you understand. She’s a heavy-set old dear pushing eighty, who walks with a big heavy cane that makes clumping noises overhead as she moves around upstairs.

She has disturbing mood swings; sweet as pie one minute, then screaming blue murder the next. She’s intrusive, nosey and judgemental and feels free to criticise Jessica’s parenting, which outrages Jessica, and she never knows (or cares) when she’s outstayed her welcome downstairs at the Porters.’

Worst of all, Jessica’s new friend from the area, Mary Smith (the Porters still keep in touch with their old eclectic group of friends), tells Jess that tenants who rent the Falconer place don’t tend to stay there long, and they don’t tend to leave with their marriages intact, either.

Mrs. Falconer has a strange, but unerring, habit of coming between couples and pouring poison into the cup of their marital bliss. The locals, in other words, don’t have anything good to say about the widowed Mrs. Falconer.

A word about Sam and Jess as a couple. Sam is thirty-three and can’t settle to anything since he gave up acting as a bad lot. He currently works in building maintenance with a French chap called Pierre Villard, but he’s failing at this enterprise now too and Pierre wants shut of him. Friendship and business don’t mix well, but Sam makes big errors of judgement that usually result in he, Jess and Patience having to up-sticks and move to a new place.

There’s not much stability in this for Jess and her child. You get the impression that the clever, intellectual and well-educated Jess might be better off striking out on her own with Patience, rather than waiting around for Sam to find his ‘dream job’ and finally be happy and settled. (It’s never gonna happen…!)

Sam seems to love his wife and child but he’s absent, either working or drinking heavily, for most of the scary incidents in the book, and I see him as a deadbeat father and a neglectful, selfish husband, thinking of only his own needs and rarely of his family’s.

Twenty-four-year old Jess, on the other hand, is devoted to her family. She’s devastated when, one night not long after they move in, the bright and curious little Patience has an horrific screaming fit in her cot and, afterwards, when she’s calmed down, she seems to have regressed back into being a baby rather than a toilet-trained and sociable toddler.

The discovery of a smoked cigar butt and a hideous female sex doll, covered in slime, in and around the baby’s cot, leads Jess to the horrible realisation that there must have been an intruder in her precious baby’s room, an intruder who possibly committed a heinous sex act near, or even with, the baby. What the hell is she going to do?

Sam is no help, as he’s running around trying to pin down an elusive acting job with the help of an old flame (grrrrr…!) while Jess is trying to cope with everything on her own. Patience’s mental state –– and future mental stability and well-being –– are at stake here and Jess is worried sick about her.

And there’s also the disturbing notion of the intruder coming back to finish what he started with Patience. If he got in once he can get in again, especially… especially if he’s coming from inside the house…

There’s also the murder of local clerk Nora Kelly in the mix, the murder that occurs just as Sam and Jess move into the Falconer place, and the fact that old Mrs. Falconer seems to have an extreme allergy to the police calling to the gaff. What exactly is the old dear trying to hide, upstairs in the Maynard Hill side of the house…?

I guessed the twist just before it came but it was still a great twist. I really enjoyed the book as a whole. It’s the kind of short horror book that used to come out in the ’70s with some regularity, but they don’t seem to make ’em like that any more. Ah well. Thank heaven for the charity shops…!


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, women’s 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:

You can contact Sandra at: