FRANKENSTEIN MUST BE DESTROYED. (1969) A GORY HAMMER FILM REVIEWED BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

veronica carlson fr must be dyd

FRANKENSTEIN MUST BE DESTROYED. (1969)

DIRECTED BY TERENCE FISHER. MUSIC BY JAMES BERNARD.

STARRING PETER CUSHING, VERONICA CARLSON, SIMON WARD, THORLEY WALTERS, WINDSOR DAVIES, MAXINE AUDLEY AND FREDDIE JONES.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

‘He’s a better doctor than he is a painter…!’

Wow, this is a really dark addition to the Hammer-Frankenstein canon. Peter Cushing as the evil Baron Frankenstein actually rapes Veronica Carlson’s character in it, and I’ve never seen the gentlemanly Peter Cushing committing anything stronger than a little murder or grave-robbing as the old Baron Franky. At ninety-seven minutes, it’s longer than some other Hammer-Frankenstein outings too, and the plot gets quite complicated at times.

Let’s begin by saying that it’s a dark day for beautiful blonde landlady Anna Spengler (Veronica Carlson) when Peter Cushing’s Baron Frankenstein checks into her boarding-house, under the thinly veiled disguise of a Mr. Fenner.

He’s actually the notorious Baron Frankenstein who, several years ago, caused a scandal with another medic, a Dr. Brandt, for having the mad idea of transplanting one man’s brain into another man’s body. Wacky, huh?

It’s a change, anyway, from cobbling together a living being from the body parts of cadavers he’s dug up from graveyards or cut down from the gallows. Colin Clive as Henry Frankenstein did this in James Whale’s two brilliant old horror movies, FRANKENSTEIN (1931) and BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1935), and indeed Peter Cushing as Baron Frankenstein has done this himself before as well in various other Hammer-Frankenstein outings.

Baron Franky is determined to continue his gory researches and, what’s more, to complete the unfinished project this time. He’s very driven and nothing and no-one will stop him. He needs to get to Dr. Brandt, his old co-conspirator, because Dr. Brandt has a formula that Frankie desperately needs, in order to go all the way with his brain transplantation ideas. But Dr. Brandt is in the local mental asylum, his mind, to all intents and purposes, ruined. What’s poor Franky supposed to do?

Well, let me tell you exactly what he’s fixing to do. He blackmails the gorgeous Anna’s handsome young doctor fiancé Karl Holst, who rather conveniently works at the asylum, into helping him to kidnap Dr. Brandt and take him to the cellar at Anna’s house. Here, Baron Franky has rigged up a makeshift operating theatre. The only thing is, just who- or what- will he be operating on…?

Dr. Brandt is very close to death after a surprise heart attack. Franky proposes to whip out his brain, his lovely big juicy brain with the secret formula in it, and pop it all nice and fresh into the living body of… someone else.

That basically means that ‘someone else’ will have to be chosen, secretly abducted and operated on to have his brain removed, leaving his head all nice and empty for Dr. Brandt’s delicious, formula-filled brain.

Then, Dr. Brandt’s brain, by the way, will have to be cured of its insanity before it can be coaxed into giving up any of its scientific secrets. It’s Baron Frankenstein’s most ambitious, most complicated and undoubtedly most diabolical scheme yet. Have we any volunteers for the role of living accommodation for the brain of one Dr. Brandt? Come on now, folks, don’t all rush at once…!

Baron Frankenstein refers to these transplants as the next logical branch of surgery. People back then would have been superstitious about this kind of thing, calling it witchcraft and sorcery and the devil’s work and all that, but the Baron was actually quite right. Nowadays, we do transplant operations as almost a matter of routine, but I don’t know if we can just swap around brains willy-nilly quite yet…!

The décor and costumes in this one are just stunning. The blonde, angel-faced Anna Spengler (Veronica Carlson: Hammer’s DRACULA HAS RISEN FROM THE GRAVE, THE HORROR OF FRANKENSTEIN) is especially decorative in her pale pinks and blues and other pastel colours, and her dresses are really flattering.

I like that she’s not a stick insect either, but a really beautiful fuller-figured woman. Her boobs look utterly spectacular in the long pink nightie she’s wearing when the randy Baron Franky comes into her bedroom and rapes her, while her boyfriend Karl is off doing something else.

It’s really quite shocking to see perenially nice guy Peter Cushing in the role of a sexual aggressor, but he’s quite convincing in it too, let me tell you. He’s dripping with olde-worlde courtesy, sure, but he’s got grit and determination too and he lets nothing stand in the way of what he wants, whether that’s Anna Spengler’s watery coffee or her luscious body under that flimsy, diaphanous pink nightie…

Thorley Walters, as much a part of the Hammer scenery as Michael Ripper, plays a policeman here, the copper on the trail of the nefarious Baron Frankenstein. He’s played a Burgermeister in the Hammer films before (VAMPIRE CIRCUS), an acolyte of Dracula’s (DRACULA: PRINCE OF DARKNESS) and assistant to Peter Cushing’s Baron Franky (AND FRANKENSTEIN CREATED WOMAN), and he’s often seen as a kind of buffoon or rather comical character. His role in FRANKENSTEIN MUST BE DESTROYED doesn’t alter that status in any way, lol.

The scene in the back garden of Anna’s house with the burst water main is terrifically ghoulish. The shocking finale in the Brandt family mansion is superb too. And you needn’t think that Dr. Brandt is just going to roll over and play dead when he realises what Baron Franky has in ‘mind’ for his brain, pun definitely intended. There’s gonna be a helluva fight for the last piece of pudding, to quote Gemma Craven as author Polly Clarke in the FATHER TED episode entitled And God Created Woman.

FRANKENSTEIN MUST BE DESTROYED is an excellent example of Hammer-Frankenstein madness and mischief, and I strongly advise you lads and lassies to watch it. And if you run an olde-worlde boarding-house along the lines of Anna Spengler’s, beware of courteous gentlemen carrying doctor’s bags applying as potential boarders. It’s just not worth the hassle, and the back yard will never be the same again. Come on, guys, it’s not brain surgery…!

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, 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:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

You can contact Sandra at:

sandrasandraharris@gmail.com

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

https://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com

GODDESS OF LOVE. (2015) A SEXY-AS-HELL HORROR FILM REVIEWED BY SANDRA HARRIS.©

goddess of love venus

GODDESS OF LOVE. (2015) WRITTEN AND PRODUCED BY ALEXIS KENDRA AND JON KNAUTZ. DIRECTED BY JON KNAUTZ. STARRING ALEXIS KENDRA, WOODY NAISMITH AND ELIZABETH SANDY.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

I absolutely loved, loved, loved this one, a kind of FATAL ATTRACTION or PLAY MISTY FOR ME for the modern era, with its themes of love, obsession and bloody revenge and the intriguing tagline of: Her Love Will Never Die. I only bought it by accident, too, which is what makes it all the more amazing.

A sweet old dear in a charity shop pointed out to me, when I was buying a DVD from their Halloween movie section, that for one extra euro I could get another DVD. So back I dutifully trot to the DVDs and I pick out GODDESS OF LOVE, only half expecting it to be any good. When it turned out to be one of my films of the year, I was thrilled with myself.

It was written and produced by the lead actress, and the reason it’s so good is that She. Knows. Women. She has clearly been through bad break-ups in her time (haven’t we all, lol) and known other women who have too, and she’s drawn on her knowledge and life experiences to make a devastatingly true-to-life film that most women will identify with.

Venus (hence the title) is an American stripper. That’s her real name in the film, by the way, even though her clients might doubt it. She’s a beautiful young woman who can make a fair few bob a night with her pole-dancing, her stripping and her lap-dancing, and she has a gorgeous flat with a balcony view but, as is probably the case with a lot of women who work in the sex industry, she isn’t a happy camper underneath the sexy exterior.

She drinks too much, she takes drugs and she also sees things. She has full-on visions, hallucinations of things that aren’t happening or aren’t there. Whether this is as a result of the drugs or a full-blown mental illness, we don’t know.

And there could be other underlying reasons why this happens. Sexual or other kinds of abuse in childhood, maybe. There could be many reasons why poor Venus is as messed-up as she is.

A lot of women who are abused in childhood end up working in the sex industry. To them, sex maybe equals love, and if they can get love this way, well, then, they will. And who could blame them, or judge them? Very few of us are morally fit to throw that first stone.

Anyway, one night at work Venus meets a punter called Brian, the guy whom all of us women are secretly dying to nab for ourselves. He’s tall, dark, bearded, handsome, rich, he drives a huge glossy SUV, he’s a successful photographer and… get this… he’s a widow to boot! His wife committed suicide and he’s very messed-up because of it. He’s hurt, grieving, wounded, sad… and gagging for sex. The perfect man, lol.

Venus, who can’t believe her luck, takes him home and makes love to him. They start a relationship, in which Venus immediately pulls out all the stops in order to make Brian’s life sweet, easy, loving and meaningful again. She completely forgets about her own life, needs and personality in order to make Brian’s life better and whole again.

I’ve done this many times myself in the past so I know how she feels and why she’s doing it. I got exhausted watching her do all the things I used to do with certain guys. Concentrating on her appearance to the point where she’s worn out, never able to just relax in her pyjamas in case he calls over for sex.

Cooking for him, keeping her flat exhaustively clean and tidy for him, dressing up in her hooker clothes to have sex with him, working hard to keep him amused, satisfied and interested in the bedroom and forgetting her own needs entirely.

There’s one really uncomfortable scene in which she’s all strippered up, doing a lap-dance for a bored and snoozy Brian, who says all he wants to do is sleep. How is it nice and relaxing for her to have sex with him, when she feels obliged to treat him like a punter who must always get his money’s worth? She feels like she has to put on a performance, a great big spectacular show, for him every time. It’s awful to watch, but it’s her own fault.

Clearly, like many of us, she feels like her own looks and personality aren’t enough to keep him. She has to become a complete and utter doormat for him as well. It’s so sad to watch, and yet we women do this for men all the time.

The only reason I’m not doing it myself for some guy right this very minute is because I took my frozen heart out of circulation for a bit so that I’d have time to write my romantic fiction novel, which I did. At least I did that. Maybe it was something of a self-protection thing too.

I pride myself on having learned from my previous mistakes, but probably all it’d take for me to be back living for some bloke twenty-four-seven would be for ‘some bloke’ to crawl out of the woodwork claiming he loved me too. That’s how easy it is to steal away a woman’s heart.

Anyway, even more embarrassing to watch is when Venus presents Brian with a beautifully wrapped package containing a statuette of the famous Venus De Milo after which Venus was named, the Goddess of Love with the arms lopped off at the elbows.

Not only does Brian, supposedly a photographer and connoisseur of beauty, not know who this iconic creature is, but he hasn’t a clue why Venus is giving him such a thoughtfully chosen gift. The cretinous philistine. Who doesn’t know who the Venus De Milo is, and what kind of photographer worth his salt hasn’t heard of it?

The work in the relationship is all being done by Venus. She sends the little loving ‘miss you’ texts, she arranges all the dates and the nights out, she puts her own life completely and utterly on hold while she waits for Brian to phone.

She even spies on him, sitting on the cold damp ground by the trees across from his fabulous gaff, for hours on end in the dark, to see if he’s doing what he said he’d be doing on nights when he can’t see her, ie, working away quietly at home by himself.

She has good reason to believe that he might be seeing another woman, a stunning-looking antiques shop owner called Christine LeGrande. Christine was his deceased wife’s best friend, she’s posed nude for his photography sessions and they had a ‘brief fling’ when Brian’s wife killed herself, because they each knew the kind of pain the other was going through.

I’d be 99.99% certain that Christine’s ‘pain’ on losing her friend was 100% assuaged by gaining the friend’s husband, whom I’ve already stated is the kind of man most women would kill for. And what an irony that is, given what happens in the second half of the film when poor, poor Venus goes round to Brian’s house one night and discovers the real truth about her snivelling, gutless and faithless so-called boyfriend…

I won’t tell you how the film ends because it’s just too good to spoil, but Venus’s descent into what the DVD box calls ‘the dark side of psycho-sexual insanity’ is fantastic to watch but we feel awful for Venus at the same time.

And the sad thing about it is that guys watching this film will just dismiss Venus as another mental-as-f*ck bunny-boiler, because doing that means that they won’t ever have to look at their own possibly faulty, irresponsible behaviour towards women. Guys never learn, and women continue to suffer.

That’s not to say that Venus is entirely blameless and put-upon in this whole mess. She doesn’t derive her self-esteem from herself (the clue’s in the name, apparently!), but has grown used to deriving it from the men in her life. As someone who’s done this their whole life, I can’t help but relate to this. At least I have the awareness about this now, but having the awareness is only half the battle, sadly. Lol…! Why can’t it ever be the whole battle?

Venus only feels good about herself when her relationships are going well; when they begin to unravel, so do her good feelings about herself. And then the downward spiral into drink, drugs and feeling shit about herself will begin to bubble over, and it’s never that far from the surface at any time anyway. Alexis Kendra is a film-maker whose work I’d love to see more of. I’ve said it earlier and I’ll finish on it. She knows women, and she knows the struggle too.

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, 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:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

You can contact Sandra at:

sandrasandraharris@gmail.com

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

https://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com

 

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What To Do If You Find Any Of These 7 Scary Things In The World Of Blogging — Chris The Story Reading Ape’s Blog

Originally posted on Hugh’s Views & News : Sometimes, the world of blogging can seem like a terrifying place. With pitfalls, slippery slops to guilt, stress and bloggers’ burnout to avoid, it can make any blogger want to make a hasty retreat. Fear not! I am here to help you avoid and overcome 7 scary…

via What To Do If You Find Any Of These 7 Scary Things In The World Of Blogging — Chris The Story Reading Ape’s Blog

ZOLTAN: HOUND OF DRACULA. (1977) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

reggie nalder face

ZOLTAN: HOUND OF DRACULA. (1977) BASED ON THE NOVEL ‘HOUNDS OF DRACULA’ BY KEN JOHNSON. DIRECTED BY ALBERT BAND. STARRING MICHAEL PATAKI, REGGIE NALDER AND JOSE FERRER.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

This is a very strange film; I’m not honestly sure if I’ve ever seen a stranger. I’m reviewing it, though, because of two things. One, it’s referred to on the DVD box as ‘the infamous midnight movie gem, ZOLTAN: HOUND OF DRACULA,’ which harks back to an earlier, possibly much cooler and more exciting era of cinema-going.

And two, because it co-stars Reggie Nalder, who, a year or two later, went on to star as Mr. Kurt Barlow, in other words the vampire, in the television dramatisation of Stephen King’s superb SALEM’S LOT, one of the best vampire books ever written. It’s right up there with DRACULA itself, Anne Rice’s INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE and Whitley Strieber’s THE HUNGER. Mr. Barlow is an extremely sinister character, maybe one of the scariest ever screen vampires.

ZOLTAN: HOUND OF DRACULA starts in modern times, with a bunch of soldiers back in ‘the old country,’ i.e., Romania, blasting open a tomb that contains the coffins of dozens of dead members of the Dracula family. That’d be quite the find for us vampire lovers, wouldn’t it?

The dopey soldier ordered to guard the tombs overnight thinks it might be a good idea to pull the stake out of the body of one Dracula family member. It’s the last bright idea he ever has, poor lad.

The corpse he’s unwittingly re-animated is that of Zoltan, Count Dracula’s faithful big black hound, a Doberman Pinscher, and Zoltan’s first task in his new life is to kill the dopey soldier who unintentionally gave him that life again. That’s gratitude for you, eh?

The clever doggie then pulls the stake out of his beloved master, not Count Dracula himself but a part-vampire called Veidt Schmidt (Reggie Nalder), a servant of the Count’s like himself. Together, Zoltan and Schmidt served the Count faithfully back in the day, but now all the Draculas have expired and there’s no-one left for the pair to work for. Or is there…?

The last of the long line of Draculas was apparently smuggled out of Romania years ago for his own safety. Name of Michael Drake, he now lives in California, America, and apparently has no idea he’s a vampire. Schmidt and Zoltan travel to California to find Michael, pursued hotly by an Inspector Branco from ‘the old country,’ whose job it is to stop them.

In the meantime, Michael, a typically American middle-aged married man with a family, has piled his wife and two kids, their two German Shepherd dogs and a box of adorable newborn puppies into their gigantic Winnebago camper van for a holiday by an isolated lake. How long will it be before Veidt and Zoltan, and then Inspector Branco, catch up with them there?

What I didn’t really get about the movie is this: if Veidt and Zoltan want to find Michael to beg him to be their master again, why are all their overtures towards him murderous? Why are they constantly trying to kill him, then?

Some of the scenes featuring dog attacks are very vicious, especially the one where Zoltan is attacking a lonely hitchhiker, and another one where several dogs are keeping Branco and Michael, now fighting fiercely together to defeat the representatives of the house of Dracula, under siege in a fishermen’s cottage.

The dog attacks look so real, and by this stage Zoltan has recruited some local doggies to his cause as well, including Michael’s big mutts Annie and Ramsey. We even see the adorable missing black puppy being vampirised and turned into a puppy of the Un-dead. It’s too cute and weird, but then I mentioned that it was a strange movie, didn’t I?

It’s a very odd little film indeed, but worth at least one watch for Reggie Nalder’s tremendously creepy made-for-horror face and also for all the doggie action, both cute and spooky. Bow-wow, Zoltan old friend, bow-wow. The Meaty Chunks are under the sink.

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, 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:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

You can contact Sandra at:

sandrasandraharris@gmail.com

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

https://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com

http://sexysandieblog.wordpress.com

http://serenaharker.wordpress.com

https://twitter.com/SandraAuthor

FRIGHT. (1971) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS.©

fright

FRIGHT. (1971) A BRITISH LION FILM. WRITTEN BY TUDOR GATES. DIRECTED BY PETER COLLINSON. STARRING SUSAN GEORGE, HONOR BLACKMAN, GEORGE COLE, DENNIS WATERMAN, JOHN GREGSON, TARA COLLINSON AND IAN BANNEN.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

This is a terrific horror-thriller movie in the sub-genre of what we would call ‘babysitter horror.’ Remember the original version of WHEN A STRANGER CALLS (Carol Kane), the first twenty minutes of which are pure unadulterated perfect horror? Damn right. ‘Have you checked the children?’

There’s also HOUSE OF THE DEVIL (Jocelin Donahue), in which a young American college student desperate for rent money is lured out into the sticks on the pretext of a babysitting job, but when she gets to the creepy old house in the country, she discovers two things. One, the baby she’s been called out to sit for isn’t a baby at all, but an elderly lady; and two, that the entire family are up to their tits in a devil cult. Lol. Dontcha just hate it when that happens?

And then, of course, there’s the original babysitter horror itself, HALLOWEEN, with Jamie Lee Curtis’s Laurie Strode doing duty as the babysitter and the masked escaped criminal Michael Myers providing the chuckles, I mean, the murders.

FRIGHT stars the delectable Susan STRAW DOGS George as Amanda, the young babysitter and child welfare student who comes to the isolated house of Mr. and Mrs. Lloyd to watch their son Tara, while they go out to the Plover Inn in the village a few miles away and celebrate ‘a sort of anniversary.’

The real star of the film is Susan George’s infinitely expressive, mobile face, with the huge eyes, the lush trembling lips and the slightly gammy but still charming teeth. This woman can really show fear in her face. Her long blonde hair and perfect, petite little body all go to complete the package.

The camera loves her, and her face can be shot endlessly in close-ups and you’d never get tired of it. Also, she’s rather smashing at portraying women who are being pushed around and abused by men. You can see this here, and also in STRAW DOGS which she made later in the year for Sam Peckinpah.

Anyway, as Amanda, she shows up at the Lloyds’ house in her fab little woolly pinky-purple mini-dress with the kinky black knee-boots, all set to babysit their little blond cherub of a son, Tara. By the way, in Ireland, Tara is a girl’s name. Just sayin.’

The Lloyds are played by George Cole (MINDER, THE VAMPIRE LOVERS) as Jim and the super-posh and classy Honor Blackman (GOLDFINGER, THE AVENGERS, TO THE DEVIL A DAUGHTER) as Helen. They are an uneasy pair.

Helen is obviously on edge, and doesn’t really want to leave the house, or her baby son, at all, but she’s going to go out to dinner for her husband’s sake and for the sake of living life as normal. Even though they clearly have a secret, one that might possibly place Amanda and the baby in danger if things pan out the way Helen clearly fears they’re going to.

The Lloyd house is big and old and creaky. Amanda gets a few scares initially that turn out to be no more than taps dripping or washing-lines tapping off the branches of trees. But when she sees a distorted man’s face through a ground floor window-pane, she can’t pass this off as a mere commonplace event.

She gets really scared and is glad when her male friend Chris (Dennis Waterman; MINDER, THE SCARS OF DRACULA) pops round to try and get in her knickers. She resists him at first, then gives in part of the way, then throws him out on his ear. Women, eh? Talk about moody and inconsistent. Men are like children. They need consistency in a woman. No means no and all that. Chris leaves, angry, confused and in a danger he’s unaware of…

In the meantime, there’s someone in the Lloyd house who shouldn’t be there and poor little Amanda, in her skimpy mini-dress that opens at the front to show her brassière and her perfect little boobies, is about to be subjected to a nightmare that will only be topped when Susan George films STRAW DOGS later in the year for Sam Peckinpah, the Daddy of Movie Violence. Will Amanda make it out alive? Will Tara? And what is the secret that’s eating Helen Lloyd up from the inside out…?

I love the shots of Helen and Jim boogey-ing on the dance floor in the Plover Inn, and also the fact that Amanda is watching Hammer’s PLAGUE OF THE ZOMBIES on the Lloyds’ ancient telly. FRIGHT could so easily pass for a Hammer film itself. 

I also love the confident, ginger-moustached cop who’s clearly in charge of the station’s one gun, and the way the desk sergeant won’t tell the Inspector a single solitary dicky-bird until he’s painstakingly made out a handwritten report.

‘Oh, you’ve been shot in the ‘ead there, ‘ave you, sir? Well, just hang on out here, sir, will you, while I go and fetch a pen and paper and write all this down for the Inspector, sir. Now where did I put that darned pen? It were ‘ere a minute or two ago. ‘Ere, you, Davies, ‘ave you had me pen? Blue it is, with a chewed cap where I chewed it myself. Oh, you’ve given up and died, ‘ave you, sir? Right on the floor down there? Fair enough, sir, I can’t say I blame you, but just hang on a minute, will you, while I make a note of it for the Inspector? Oh yes, that’s right, I’ve lost me pen, ‘aven’t I…?’

Cracking stuff. Watch FRIGHT. It’s a good atmospheric watch with loads of shocks and scares along the way. Out now from STUDIOCANAL, it features interviews with Susan George (she’s still alive and looking very well) and good-humoured cinema critic and snappy dresser Kim Newman. I saw him give a talk once, but unfortunately didn’t get close enough to him afterwards to ask for an autograph. You snooze, you lose.

But please don’t snooze while you’re on your own in a strange house, with their telly and your refrigerator privileges. That could be the very chance a boogeyman needs to gain access. And, once he’s in, he can be very hard to get rid of…

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, 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:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

You can contact Sandra at:

sandrasandraharris@gmail.com

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

https://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com

http://sexysandieblog.wordpress.com

http://serenaharker.wordpress.com

https://twitter.com/SandraAuthor

LAST SHIFT, A HAUNTING AT SILVER FALLS and HONEYMOON: A TRIPLE-DECKER HORROR FILM REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

honeymoon

LAST SHIFT (2014), A HAUNTING AT SILVER FALLS (2013) AND HONEYMOON (2014): A TRIPLE-DECKER SANDWICH OF JUICY HORROR FILM REVIEWS FOR HALLOWEEN BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

Watching these three American supernatural horror flicks back-to-back was a very pleasurable use of my time this weekend. HONEYMOON was particularly good, but we’ll leave that one till last and begin with LAST SHIFT, which was pretty decent itself too.

It concerns a beautiful young rookie policewoman called Jessica Loren, whose very first shift ever as a copper is the titular ‘last shift’ for an old and rundown police station. A newer, bigger and more modern cop-shop has just opened up down the road a bit, and all the police business has been transferred up there and all the emergency calls in the area re-routed there too.

But the old cop-shop has to stay open for just one more night, just one more shift, so that the hazardous materials people can come and collect some old dirty evidence that needs taking away. Jessie draws the short straw, though God knows why they would put a lone woman in charge of a haunted police station when they could easily have picked a big burly man to do the job. Sexist but true.

And yes, by the way, the place is haunted to buggery, lol. No sooner has Jessie parked her butt than the phone starts ringing and a girl called Monica begins sobbing and begging for help, saying she’s been captured and, wherever she is, there are other girls there too and she thinks they’re all dead.

Jessie reports the distress call to the new cop-shop and waits for the frightened girl to ring back. There’s plenty to occupy her time while she waits. An incontinent homeless man takes root in the station and refuses to leave, furniture moves around seemingly all by itself and eerie figures start popping up all over the deserted cop-shop, which will put you nicely in mind of some other films you may have seen involving abandoned lunatic asylums, schools, hospitals, etc. Are the staff merely hazing their newest recruit, or is there a more sinister explanation for the freak- and freaky- occurrences…?

I loved all the Manson Family stuff in the film, especially as I’ve only just finished reading HELTER SKELTER, prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi’s excellent book on the murders, the trial and the aftermath. I’ve also watched the 2004 film of the same name and an absolutely trippy documentary from 1973 called, simply, MANSON.

I think the makers of LAST SHIFT had studied the Manson Family murders carefully and definitely had Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel, Leslie Van Houten and Charles Manson himself in mind when they created their disturbing boogeymen… and women…!

A HAUNTING AT SILVER FALLS was the weakest of the three films. A recently orphaned teenage girl called Jordan is sent to live with her sexy Auntie Anne and Anne’s beefcake of a husband, Kevin, in the titular town of Silver Falls. Anne and Kevin are a little fruity.

I think we first discover this when they lock Jordan in the bathroom with a slice of bread when they go on their ‘Date Night.’ Admittedly, Jordan is inclined to be a tad rebellious and has been running around with local nerd Larry Parrish, but still, ‘imprisoning’ her in the john (so she can go potty when necessary, one assumes) is taking the in loco parentis bit a little too far, dontcha think?

Anyway, it’s Larry who first lets it slip to Jordan that Silver Falls is haunted. Haunted? That’s right, by the spirits of two young girls who were apparently murdered by their father, who is on Death Row right now for the crime.

When Jordan puts on a ring she finds in the forest, some weird stuff starts happening and she starts getting ‘visitations’ from the little ghost girls, who need nothing so much as a good scrub and brush-up. Scruffy little ghost girls! Smarten yourselves up and get jobs, the pair of ye. Contribute something to society, besides a few ghostly wails and spooky faces.

Can Jordan and Larry work out what the shabby little ghost girls are trying to tell them before it’s too late? By which I mean, before Larry’s father Dr. Parrish, the world’s meanest psychiatrist, can have Jordan sedated and committed like he’s clearly dying to do, and before the real killer of the two dead girls can have a pop at her too…?

HONEYMOON was super-entertaining from beginning to end. A seriously loved-up couple called Bea and Paul head to Bea’s childhood vacation cottage in the woods for a private honeymoon. (The Irish for ‘honeymoon’ is ‘mí na meala,’ which literally means ‘the month of honey.’ After it’s all over, that’s when things turn to shit, right? Lol.) 

At first, things between the couple are positively idyllic. They have nothing to do but go boating on the lake, walking in the woods and making hot, passionate love all the hours God sends. Nice work, eh…?

The only fly in the ointment initially is when Bea discovers that her childhood mate (possibly sweetheart; she’s not saying!) Will is still living in the district. Now he has a wife, a strange, frightened little thing whom Paul, anyway, thinks might be getting abused by Will. Bea also teases Paul about being less ‘alpha’ than Will. Clearly she doesn’t know the first thing about Men And How To Handle Them, as that is something you never, ever do. Ever.

Anyway, one night Paul, woken up by an unnaturally bright light permeating their holiday home, finds Bea missing from their marital bed. After an unnerving search of the cabin and then the woods, he eventually finds her… in the woods, naked, cold and disorientated. That can’t be good, right…?

Paul takes her back to the cabin and tries to be happy with her rather lame explanation of sleepwalking, but it isn’t too long before he begins to wish that sleepwalking was all his little Honey Bea was up to in the creepy dark woods…

This film actually caused me a sleepless night last night, the Sunday night. Thanks to a household mishap a few years back (let’s just say that someone who ought to have known better was playing at being Tarzan), my bedroom curtains don’t close properly all the way across like they’re supposed to. Every light on the street, therefore, car lights, street lights, police and ambulance lights, traffic lights, etc., penetrates my street-facing bedroom at some point or another throughout the night.

Every time I opened my eyes last night, it was to the kind of hi-viz searchlight beam the FBI might use when sussing out a crime den. And every stick of furniture in my bedroom very kindly took on the shape of a tall, sinister man-being, at no extra charge. I was utterly frazzled, convinced I’d been probed and inseminated in every trembling orifice, by the time the dawn broke. Thanks a bunch, HONEYMOON! Do please let me know when I can return the favour…

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, 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:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

You can contact Sandra at:

sandrasandraharris@gmail.com

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

https://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com

 

AND SOON THE DARKNESS. (1970) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

and soon the darkness

AND SOON THE DARKNESS. (1970) SCREENPLAY BY BRIAN CLEMENS. DIRECTED BY ROBERT FUEST. STARRING PAMELA FRANKLIN, MICHELE DOTRICE, JOHN NETTLETON AND SANDOR ELES.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

This is exactly the kind of super-atmospheric 1970s British chiller I adore. It reminds me very much of ASSAULT (1971), aka IN THE DEVIL’S GARDEN, starring James Laurenson and featuring Lesley-Anne Down in her debut role. In it, a serial killer-slash-rapist terrorises the students of a girls’ college situated near a creepy forest.

In AND SOON THE DARKNESS, two pretty little English nurses from Nottingham taking a cycling holiday in northern France are terrorised in a similar fashion by an unknown assailant, and the film becomes a bit of a who-dunnit in that we have at least four plump, juicy, positively succulent suspects to choose from.

The two girls are Jane, played by Pamela Franklin (from THE INNOCENTS (1961) with Deborah Kerr), who actually looks as French as French can be with her chic bobbed brown hair and the little blue scarf knotted jauntily about her neck, and Cathy Mercer.

Cathy, a luscious blonde with long hair and a delectable figure, is portrayed superbly by none other than Michele Dotrice. Michele went on to experience television immortality for playing Betty Spencer, the long-suffering wife of the accident-prone Frank Spencer (Michael Crawford) in the hugely successful sitcom, SOME MOTHERS DO ‘AVE ‘EM.

Jane and Cathy are, as I said, cycling through northern France on their holidays. Jane seems to be enjoying the fresh air and the scenery, but Cathy is bored to death with the empty roads, the wide-open spaces and the lack of hot night-spots. Or night hot-spots, if you prefer.

They are being followed at a distance by a strikingly attractive dark-haired French male on a moped, and having a good time with this stranger, to whom she’s never addressed so much as a word, would be much more the flirtatious Cathy’s idea of fun than endlessly cycling along these deserted French roads till her butt grows numb.

The two girls argue about this very subject. Cathy decides to mutiny and she downs tools- ie, her bicycle- and proceeds to lie down to sunbathe in a little clearing by some woods at the side of the road. You might as well bugger off, she tells Jane, if you’re so eager to keep cycling all bloody day. Me, I’m stoppin’ ‘ere! Ooooooh Betty…! You never made a worse decision.

Jane gets the hump and cycles off, stopping for a drink outside a really crappy café down the road a bit. After a while, she grows uneasy and decides to go back for her friend. But Cathy is gone. So is her bicycle, her backpack and the knickers she draped over the bushes so that they could dry in the sunlight. Jane doesn’t know what to think.

Thanks to a British woman who lives in the area and works as a teacher, she knows that a young tourist girl was murdered hereabouts only two or three years ago. More than just murdered, the British woman tells her with a snooty, disapproving face that can only mean that the girl was raped as well. It was a sex murder. But it was the girl’s own fault, of course, the woman is quick to point out, for being ‘alone on the road…’ Well, Jane is ‘alone on the road’ now. And so was her missing friend, Cathy…

Jane is starting to dread that something awful, something unthinkable, has happened to Cathy. The feeling of dread, for me, begins building up in this film right from the start, when you first see the two girls, cycling two abreast (cycling to a breast, tee-hee-hee) on a foreign country road.

Nothing but miles of open road and open sky. There is as much capacity for horror in wide-open spaces as there is in cramped basements and dusty attics, and this film portrays that really, really well. I mean, when there’s nobody around for miles and miles it can be nice and peaceful, sure, but it also means that there’s no-one around to come to your assistance if you get into trouble. The suspense and tension here just keep on being ratcheted up, until our jangling nerves are in shreds and we want to screech, tell us who it is already!

It’s one of those films that portrays not only sexy, half-dressed young women (come on, just LOOK at those short shorts!) in peril but also the holiday-maker in distress. Jane is careering around madly, looking for someone to help her find her friend, and she keeps coming up against both the language barrier (her French is barely functional) and also the difficulties inherent in trying to impress upon bored policemen who don’t speak your language that there really is a missing girl. Pamela Franklin’s face, like that of Michele Dotrice, is just so incredibly expressive. I’d give ’em both Oscars just for their brilliant facial expressions alone.

Hungarian actor Sandor Eles as the smoulderingly sexy Paul Salmont is just fantastic. Is he evil or does he really just want to help out Jane, a damsel in some very obvious distress? Frankly, I wouldn’t care how evil he was, he’s so devastatingly good-looking, and so super-cool too in his sunglasses and with his little moped tightly clamped between his brown-trousered thighs, lol. Hold me, he commands Jane. Phwoar! He wouldn’t have to ask me twice.

Locations of note? The little clearing by the woods at the side of the road where Cathy decides to have her nice lie-down, and the derelict caravan park. It’s not exactly Tom and Pippa’s homely, wholesome family-run caravan park from Antipodean soap opera HOME AND AWAY, is it? What horrors will we find there? God alone knows.

The scene at the edge of the woods reminds me of the five minutes at the beginning of another superb old British horror film called THE APPOINTMENT (1981). A schoolgirl called Sandie is making her way home from school by way of… you guessed it… a short-cut through the woods. It’s the last thing she ever does. It’s terrifically spooky.

Woods can be perilous, as well we know. As can going abroad on holiday to a place where you don’t speak the language, and the three inhabitants of the one village you pass all seem so inbred as to make the guys in that fine example of French extremity cinema, THE ORDEAL, look like models of deportment and sanity. The moral of the story? Forget your foreign holidays and bloody well stop at home. End of.

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, 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:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

You can contact Sandra at:

sandrasandraharris@gmail.com

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

https://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com

http://sexysandieblog.wordpress.com

http://serenaharker.wordpress.com

https://twitter.com/SandraAuthor