‘The most sexually perverse movie to hit our screens since David Cronenberg’s CRASH.’

Daily Record.

I don’t know about ‘sexually perverse,’ but this Korean film is certainly what I would describe as an ‘ouch-y’ type of a movie. There are at least two major ‘ouch’ moments in the film, each involving fish-hooks (yes, fish-hooks!) that I personally could have done without.

Apart from these squeamish-making scenes, and the scenes of animal cruelty in it as well,THE ISLE is a really rather good, starkly beautiful film about the folks whom society throws away; prostitutes, their pimps, people who feel isolated and the people who put themselves outside the law by committing maybe a one-off crime, as in the case of the film’s male lead, a criminal on the run from the law.

It’s the story of a stunningly beautiful mute woman called Hee-Jin, who runs what is known as a ‘fishing isle.’ Men come and stay at the gorgeous picturesque lake for a few days at a time in order to avail of the lake’s excellent fishing and take a break from the rat-race for a bit.

They stay in structures that each look like a child’s wendy house or play-tent on top of a raft. The tiny ‘houses’ are not big enough for a man to stand up in, but he can sleep in them, and also use them to shelter against the rain if needs be. The ‘toilet’ is merely a hatch leading to a hole in the bottom of the raft: lift up the hatch and do your business in the lake. It’d put me off swimming in the lake, that’s for damn sure.

Hee-Jin rows out to the little fishing ‘houses’ with bait for the fishermen, and coffee and food as well. They’re all sexist pigs who try to get their ravishing ‘landlady’ to speak, but she just flat-out ignores their bullshit. She’s not only supplying them with the necessities of life and fishing, however.

The most expensive commodity with which the fishermen are provided is, well, sex. Teenage prostitutes are rowed out to the fishing houses by Hee-Jin, whenever the men require them. The girls have a pimp, but to all intents and purposes, Hee-Jin is their madam, although she has sex with the clients herself when required.

The girls cut tragic figures, with their skinny legs and tiny feet in their huge clunky hooker shoes, the miniscule outfits and garish make-up of their trade. They act so blasé and know-it-all, but underneath all the bluster and bravado, they’re just children. It’s heartbreaking, really, to see them being pawed and mauled and even abused by the disgusting, much older businessmen who have rented the fishing houses.

A problem arises when one of the little baby hookers develops a crush on Hyun-shik, the criminal on the run with whom Hee-Jin, mistress of the fishing isle, has fallen in love, or in her version of love, anyway.

Both Hee-Jin and Hyun-sik have a very skewed take on love. Their affair is violent, masochistic and probably very unhealthy by so-called ‘normal’ standards. It seems to be the case that they’re almost vying with each other to see who can physically hurt themselves the most, usually with the dreaded fish-hooks.

Hee-Jin is a woman to whom violence comes easily. She swims like a fish and is eerily and supernaturally mermaid-like in the way in which she silently manipulates the residents of the fishing isle and the prostitutes and pimps who frequent the area also. I don’t fancy the chances of the little baby hooker who falls for Hyun-sik, the man whom the damaged-beyond-repair Hee-Jin has marked down for herself…

The film is visually gorgeous to look at. The isolated lake in the rain, the lonely fishing houses in the sunlight, the solitary Hee-Jin as she sits with her dog watching the rain fall on her little domain; it’s all haunting, compelling beyond words. The isolation of the undoubtedly fabulous surroundings mirrors exactly the alienation of the protagonists. Watch the film with your legs tightly closed and your hand clamped firmly over your mouth. Why? I have only one word for you people… fish-hooks. Or is that really two words…?


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:

Top Four Tips For New Bloggers — Lorraine Ambers

Hello, and welcome. Yesterday was my five year blogging anniversary. Woo hoo!! So I thought I’d celebrate this monumental goal by sharing my top four tips. These are all things I wish I’d known at the start. But don’t let any of these tips overwhelm you; the most important step in becoming a blogger is to start. Many bloggers, myself included, have learnt through trial and error.

Top Four Tips For New Bloggers — Lorraine Ambers




‘Act like you own the place…’

This Korean family drama film won four Oscars, including the one for Best Picture, the Palme d’Or and two Baftas. It’s been described by various media outlets as ‘a masterpiece,’ ‘thrilling, mischievous, dazzling,’ ‘wickedly funny’ and ‘an international phenomenon.’

That’s a helluva lot of good press, isn’t it? I’m not really going to say anything negative about the film, other than that it’s ridiculously far-fetched at times, and we’re expected to suspend disbelief in a big way more than once. If you can live with that, and take the film at face value, then PARASITE is actually a hugely enjoyable watch.

Mr. Kim is the dad of a poor Korean family, two parents and a daughter and son. They live all squashed together in a tiny basement flat, and they scrape a meagre living out of folding cardboard pizza boxes into the shape in which they arrive at our homes. They steal their Wi-fi from the lady upstairs, so don’t feel too sorry for them! They all have street-smarts, and they know a good thing when they see it.

A particularly ‘good thing’ comes along in the shape of the Park Family. Nathan Park is a rich businessman, his wife is a rather empty-headed lady of leisure, and their two children are spoiled with toys and gadgets and an expensive education, but very little in the way of quality time with their parents who, like a lot of rich folks, have their priorities arse-about-face.

One day, somewhat out of the blue, Mr. Kim’s son, Ki Woo, is offered a job tutoring the teenage daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Park. He looks around their cold, half-empty palace of a house with the huge rooms, long corridors and the objets d’art all locked away in cabinets (for looking at, not touching), and he decides that his own family deserve a bit of this rich-people action…

What happens next is very funny, but quite sneaky and under-handed too. Ki Woo contrives things so that his older sister is employed by the Parks as an extremely expensive art therapist for their troubled young son, even though the sister has to google ‘art therapy’ before she arrives for her first lesson so she can appear knowledgeable on the subject…!

The two siblings then fix it so that their dad, Mr. Kim, who apparently smells like a boiled rag for some reason (don’t ask!), is hired by Nathan Park as his chauffeur, and Mr. Kim’s wife as the Park family cook and housekeeper.

Mr. Kim’s family don’t let on to the Parks that they are a family, so at the very least, they’ve taken on their various jobs under false pretences and are lying to their new employers. They do their respective jobs well, but I’m sure that Mr. and Mrs. Park won’t like being kept in the dark as to the true identity of their new staff.

And besides this deception, Mr. Kim and his family have contrived together to get the previous chauffeur and housekeeper sacked, so that they can take their jobs. They’ve really been quite ruthless and conniving about infiltrating the Park family, so, naturally, there will have to be consequences for their actions. These consequences are bloody, hilarious, extreme and genuinely startling, given that we see the film as just a bit of a black comedy at first.

But it’s not just the poor low-lifes who are at fault here. There’s fault on both sides in this case. Nathan Park is a cold, distant man, more interested in his work and the trappings of his material success than in his family. His marriage is not a strong one. The wife is obsessed with getting her children the best of everything, and seems to forget that, sometimes, all a child needs is his or her parents’ individual attention. Both the Park parents seem to have lost sight of this universal truth.

Nathan Park and his wife, while they’re not at all abusive or stingy with their cash, treat their staff as less than human beings. They are so spectacularly caught up in their own hollow lives (the huge birthday party for the son is a good example of this) that they fail utterly to see their staff as anything but automatons, just robots there to do their bidding, robots without feelings, sadnesses, triumphs, troubles and catastrophes of their own to contend with.

Therefore, there will have to be consequences on the Park side too, so that they can have the chance to change their selfish, self-absorbed ways and start to look at all other human beings as just that… other human beings, who have the same rights, hopes, dreams and aspirations as rich people; they just haven’t been blessed with the same material gifts as rich people.

This was one of the last films to be shown in the cinema before the Great Coronavirus Lockdown of 2020. It’s quite a long picture- a whopping two and a half hours long, and there isn’t even a war in it!- but, if you have an evening to spare and a bag of popcorn in the cupboard just begging to be eaten, I’d recommend PARASITE. It’s as good a see-how-the-other-half-lives movie as any you’ll watch this year.


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:


Okay, peeps, so let’s get on with the list we were working on of all the things that characterised my own personal lockdown of 2020; I believe we were up to number twelve?

12. Sport: sport was bloody everywhere in the lockdown. Now, I hate all sports, except for the one that has Cristiano Ronaldo in it, and I would have loved a sports-free three or four months, but no such luck. Irish people are obsessed with bloody sports. A mere lockdown wasn’t going to stop them getting their daily fix. Give us this day our daily sports…

First, the sports news on the news bulletins we watched daily told us of all the sporting events that were being cancelled one by one as the lockdown (and the coronavirus) took hold. Then, they told us how all the sporting organisations, teams and individual personalities were coping with the cancellation of their various sporting events. Well, negatively, one would assume…!

Then a series of whimsical sports news items began to permeate, not only the sports news, but the main news as well. A load of mad sports people were running marathons in their gardens, completing triathlons in their gardens, building swimming pools in their gardens and raising money for charity by doing mad sporty things, you guessed it, in their gardens.

And it looked like RTÉ and TV3 were all filming the same garden every time, as well. Oh look, it’s the studio garden, we’d say sarcastically when it came on the news, yet again, as part of an ‘inspiring’ or ‘heart-warming’ little end piece to finish on. I was really starting to hate these cheese-fest pieces with all my heart, I can tell you that for nothing. They were so sweetly optimistic and hopeful that they made me grind my teeth in reaction. Bah humbug, much?

Then the sports news people engaged in endless speculation as to when the various sporting fixtures might be allowed to resume/continue/pick up where they left off, etc. Would the various sports be able to socially distance their participants and any spectators?

Would spectators be banned, at least for a while? How much money had been lost on horse-racing so far this year, and should all players of every sport be tested for the virus before being permitted to take part in their sport of choice? How long would it be before I threw myself off a cliff out of sheer desperation? It was just endless, the speculation. But worse was to come.

Then, the sports fixtures/tournaments, etc. started to come back. Oh God. A different one back every day, with Irish television focusing on the GAA (Gaelic Athletic Association) as usual. One cannot underestimate the importance of our national sports body to the Irish public.

Our entire government could collectively mince down the street, each TD dressed as a wealthy dowager twirling a parasol and peering over the top of a lorgnette, and the headlines would still be about whether or not the GAA would be able to go ahead with a certain fixture. I’d ban all sports if it were up to me, except for the one with the men in the little shorts chasing the ball. That one can stay.

13. And now let’s talk about Le Sexe. Due to the two kilometre travel restrictions in operation, a lot of single people didn’t- couldn’t- have any sex during the lockdown, and a new phrase was born… quarantine-horny.

Were you quarantine-horny during the lockdown, because your sex buddy lived further away from you than the two kilometres? And then, when the two kilometres was increased to five kilometres, were you quarantine-horny because your sex buddy lived further away from you than the five kilometres? Did you live in hope of having the travel restrictions reduced so you could get your leg over?

The travel restrictions have indeed since been relaxed to twenty kilometres. If your sex-buddy lives further away from you than these twenty kilometres, then you, my friend, if you’ll excuse my French, are truly fucked, lol. Or not, as Le Case may be.

I wonder about those couples, though, who were self-isolating together or just stuck at home together for the ten or twelve weeks. I have some questions. Did they pass the time by copulating like rabbits non-stop? Will there be a baby boom in nine months time?

Did they wear masks when they did it, or did they do it from behind to minimise the risk of any infection spreading from mouth-to-mouth? Did people forget about STDs while worrying about coronavirus, or did they still remember to wear condoms?

I saw couples holding hands together and kissing on the streets during the lockdown. If this is what they do in public, I doubt very much whether they practise abstinence behind closed doors. Is the time right for the people of Ireland to rediscover sex and their sex buddies, or do we still need to stay at least two metres apart for the foreseeable future? I don’t know any man who could manage it from two metres away, heh-heh-heh. I truly wish I did, but I don’t. I think we might need some governmental input on this one. Guidelines, please…!

14. Getting in touch with old friends, because hearing about all the deaths on the news made you wonder if they were safe.

15. Seeing the Guards in their hi-viz jackets everywhere we went during the pandemic was hugely comforting. I liked that they had the power to tell gobshites who didn’t think the travel restrictions applied to them to turn the car right around and go the feck home. I forget some of the details of this particular story, but remember the guy who drove from one county to the other at the height of the pandemic to pick up a trampoline? Behold, I give you your Number One Gobshite…

16. Online shopping, because what other kind was there…? It’s my poor card that’s on a bleedin’ ventilator now.

17. It’s probably the first time in the history of the Universe that the whole world is experiencing the same thing at the same time. This aspect of the pandemic is so weird. We all went into lockdown more or less together, we endured the fear and the difficulties and the isolation of it all together, and now we’re all coming out of it together, give or take a few weeks. It’s a shame that it took a global pandemic to bring us together in the first place, but everything happens for a reason. Now that we’ve all connected with each other, I really do hope we stay that way.

18. Streets as quiet as Christmas Eve night every night, because, with the pubs and clubs and restaurants all shut, no-one had any reason to come into town after dinner.

19. Newsreaders saying ‘A Saint Patrick’s Day like no other;’ ‘A Mother’s Day like no other;’ ‘An Easter Sunday like no other;’ ‘A May Bank Holiday like no other,’ followed by depressing shots of an empty Grafton Street, Dublin’s main shopping street. All right, we get it! We’re living in strange times. No need to hammer it home…

20. Seeing more of your neighbours than ever before (not necessarily a good thing), because everyone’s either furloughed or working from home.

21. We became really attached to the Angelus during the lockdown. This is a religious thing; the Catholic religion, to be precise. It’s basically just one minute of church bells ringing out on RTÉ ONE television at 6 o’clock every evening, just before the Six-One News, the main news bulletin of the day for most people.

You’re meant to use the time for private reflection as you watch the images provided, often of older people working at various crafts that are dying out in these modern times. It always comforts me to know that probably half the country is watching these self-same images right alongside me at the exact same time.

At the weekend during the crisis, RTÉ ONE would put on a little programme called ‘IRELAND REMEMBERS’ as well. To the accompaniment of a very sad, dirge-like music and a background of images of people laying wreaths in our Garden of Remembrance, photos of people who had died of COVID-19 would appear on the screen.

Mostly these people would be elderly, but some were quite young, and it was not at all unusual to find me in floods of tears at the terrible waste/loss of all of these vibrant lives, young or old, by the end of the piece.

22. Finally, there’s my book. My debut novel, THIRTEEN STOPS, published by Poolbeg Books, was supposed to hit the shops in physical form this July. That’s not now happening, thanks to the fact that some of the shops here are still shut, and a load of other books that were meant to come out during the pandemic are now coming out ahead of mine, so mine will have to wait a bit.

The e-book is out for now, though (the link is below), to keep us all going, and the book is available for Print-On-Demand from Amazon if you’d like an actual print copy. Thanks to anyone who’s bought it so far (that’s a huge help, lol), and thanks for following the progress of this mini-memoir too. We’ve reached the end of our memoir, but not, I hope, of our association. May that be long and happy.


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:


So, yesterday, I had a bit of a moan about the shops and services that shut down during the lockdown, leaving us all bereft of boozers, bistros and, most importantly, haircuts, lol. Today, let’s talk about… the News!

8. The News, with a capital ‘N,’ became a lifeline for my family and me during the pandemic. No matter what else we’d be doing during the day, the three of us would come together at half-five every day for The News. First on TV3, then the hour-long News on RTÉ One, a good-value-for-money bulletin that nicely bridged the gap between afternoon and evening for us as well.

We hung on the newsreader’s every word. How many deaths today? How many new cases of the virus? How are we doing for deliveries of PPE (personal protective equipment)? How many kilometres can we travel from home, and how long do the elderly have to stay home for?

What are the government doing about everything? How long are we likely to be in ‘severe’ lockdown, and when will we be able to ease up on restrictions? We lapped it all up. The News was- and still is- our main link to the outside world (topped up daily by online news reports). Sometimes, when one bulletin ended, we’d switch over to Sky News and watch that until we felt we’d had our fill.

The world news was even worse. Ireland actually seemed to be doing better than some other poor countries, who were hit extremely hard by the insidious coronavirus. China, of course, then Spain, Italy, the UK, our nearest neighbours, and now Brazil, all experienced (some are still experiencing) literally thousands of deaths. We saw pictures of eerily silent, empty European capitals that mirrored our own people-free streets, all as quiet as your average Christmas Eve night. The whole thing was chillingly apocalyptic.

We came to regard the newsreaders almost as friends. We commented daily on the womens’ attire and hairstyles, deciding together almost gleefully whether an outfit was flattering or not to a certain person’s height or figure, and we could tell when a male reporter had had his hair cut, or his ears lowered, as we say here in Ireland. A lot of the out-of-studio reports were delivered from streets near where we live, so we had great fun identifying the locations and saying things like: ‘I was only down there the other day,’ lol.

9. The personalities who have become the collective ‘face’ of the fight against coronavirus for the country as a whole are definitely worth a mention : our lovely kindly Chief Medical Officer, Tony Holohan, and the man who looks a bit like him who stands behind him and signs the news for the deaf; our super-concerned, super-posh Minister for Health, Simon Harris (no relation… I think!); and our esteemed Taoiseach (pronounced Tee-shock), Leo Varadkar, a trendy, young-ish guy whose speech-writers get him to quote from movies and popular culture in his lockdown speeches so that he’ll seem ‘down with the kids.’ Hmmmmm.

Never mind that we more or less voted his party out of power four months ago; he’s been clinging on to the virus for dear life for the duration of the lockdown (like a drowning man to a lifeline), garnering as much attention for himself as he can before he eventually has to make way for the even less charismatic Míchael Martin, who by all reports will become our first ‘rotating’ Taoiseach at the end of the month. Oh joy unconfined. La plus ca change around here, la plus c’est la bleedin’ meme chose. Capiche?

10. The familiar faces from other countries this lockdown include the UK’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who proved he was human by catching the virus himself and nearly dying of it, and who staunchly stood by his adviser, the surly and rather ungracious Dominic Cummings, when the latter shamelessly flouted his own travel restrictions during the pandemic and got off pretty much scot-free, to the outrage of the UK’s more law-abiding citizens.

The ordinary people of Britain were busy enduring all the hardships and privations of the lockdown at its height, but seemingly the rules and regulations didn’t apply to the toffs and aristos, only to the plebs. Well, they could at least have told people…!

America’s President Donald Trump has become an object of fascination for us during the pandemic. We tune in to the News to watch his exploits the way that our eyes would be unerringly drawn to a terrible car crash on the side of the road as we drive by. What enormous gaffe has he committed today, we’d wonder; which country has he insulted now?

He’s had it in for China all lockdown, of course, accusing the Chinese of starting and spreading COVID-19, and even withdrawing America’s funding from the WHO (the World Health Organisation, not the dinosaur rock band) because he believes them to be too ‘China-centric’ in their dealings. Wow. He really doesn’t like China.

Then there was the time he appeared to be advocating the ingestion of household bleach to combat the coronavirus (the bleach companies were quick to disassociate themselves!), and the time- well, this was only yesterday- when he allowed thousands of Americans (though not as many as he’d have liked, apparently) to gather in Tulsa, Oklahoma, for one of his massive re-election rallies.

This, despite the fact that; A, the virus is still killing people in large numbers over there and the attendees weren’t even required to wear masks, and B, the place he’d chosen to hold his rally was once the site of a White Supremacist massacre. Not exactly great timing, right in the midst of the George Floyd-inspired ‘Black Lives Matter’ campaign…

I’ve been thinking a lot about Trump’s wife Melania too, this lockdown. Yes, she’s beautiful, but is she happy? What’s it like being married to Trump? Is he kind to her? Do they have proper conversations, other than just, we’ve got that function tonight so be ready at five-thirty, or pass the jam, dear?

Does he cheat on her? Do they have sex, and is he a selfish lover? What’s he like to have sex with? Does he favour the traditional man-on-top missionary position, or does he like to be dominated? Can he give a woman an orgasm? Does he have a big or small willy, and is it at least functional? Does she have boyfriends? These are things we’ll probably never know the answers to for sure, but it’s fascinating to speculate, and there’s no point saying it’s not…!

11. We’ve had to get used to a whole new vocabulary connected to living side-by-side with this virus. We’ve learned phrases like social distancing, no bloody harm if you ask me, because Irish people for far too long have all crowded together to eat, drink, dance, socialise, shop, bury our dead, marry our couples and protest against various injustices, and all one on top of the other like a horrible conjoined blob-monster from a science fiction movie. It’d be no bloody harm, as I said, if we learned to put a little bit of distance between ourselves and our fellow man for a while.

Other phrases/words we’ve picked up include self-isolation, PPE, the containment phase, ‘the new normal’ and ‘cocooning,’ a word invented by the government to try and keep the elderly safe at home while the worst of the virus rampaged through the country. I’m not sure how successful they were at this, unfortunately.

I asked one elderly lady from my community how she’d gotten on while cocooning. She looked at me blankly and said: ‘Cocooning? What’s that, lovey?’ Another elderly person of our acquaintance, an old man, replied: ‘Was I cocooning? I was, in me hole!’ when asked about his lockdown experience. That means no, he wasn’t cocooning in the slightest, by the way.

So, um, there you have it, anyway. This just confirms my own personal long-held views that old people (like cyclists!) don’t think that the laws of the land apply to them, and they can just do whatever they feel like doing, whenever they feel like it. When I get to that age, I am so going to do the same…! And the numbers of people I’m going to shove out of my way just because I’m an old person going somewhere will be too many to count.

More new vocabulary for these strange and unusual times included ‘flattening the curve,’ ‘furlough,’ ‘easing out of lockdown,’ ‘a step-wise plan for easing out of lockdown,’ ‘full lockdown,’ ‘partial lockdown,’ a ‘spike in the statistics’ and, finally, the infamous ‘second wave.’ This is the wave you give someone when they failed to see your first effort, lol.

That’s it for now; I’ll finish up the few remaining bits and pieces of my list of lockdown oddities during the week to come (including the no-sex-during-quarantine thing!), and I’ll see you guys then!


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:



What characterised the 2020 coronavirus Lockdown for me and my family? I think we’ll make a list this time. I love lists!

1. Well, first of all there was the shock and outrage we felt on March 12th when we were told by the government that the schools would shut that day and remain shut until March 29th. March 29th? How dared they? We couldn’t all mind our own kids by ourselves for two whole weeks without any input from the state! God Almighty, if only we’d known then what a long haul we were actually in for, and how ludicrous the idea of anyone or anything re-opening for business on March 29th really was…!

2. Then the shops shut. Not the essential food or medicine-y ones like Tesco or Boots, but the ones that made life worth living, like the bookshops (how are books not an essential service, essential for the good mental health of their readers?), the DVD and record stores, the stationery shops and netcafés, the good shops.

I was distraught. I personally probably own more books than one could ever possibly read in a lifetime, but that’s not the point, goddammit! I like to know I can buy another one when I feel like it.

I loathe and detest clothes shopping, so the fact that I couldn’t buy a million pairs of pyjamas in Penneys like everyone else apparently does routinely didn’t bother me one whit, but walking down a street and seeing ‘CLOSED DUE TO COVID-19’ on every shop door was hard to take. It felt a bit like in the classic horror movie Nosferatu when a whole town shuts down on itself because of… you guessed it… the plague…!

3. Even the charity shops shut. Now that hit me hard, as those are the places from where I’ve sourced most of my books and a goodly number of my DVDs. Learning that I couldn’t go for a grand old browse whenever the mood took me really hurt me in the place where I feel it the most: my bookshelf…!

4. I wasn’t too bothered about the pubs closing, as I hadn’t really used them in a long time. And, besides, as a writer, I tend to favour drinking at home anyway. A glass of wine as a reward for a few hours of slaving away over a hot keyboard had already been my modus operandi for some time. Heh-heh-heh.

However, as an Irish person, I knew full well what a big deal it was for the nations’ pubs to collectively close, their windows displays eerily ‘paused’ on shamrocks and shillelaghs for the next several months to come. How the big pub drinkers coped with the lockdown, I honestly don’t know.

Takeaway ‘pints’ and ordering ‘pints’ online became a thing towards the end of the lockdown (well, the pubs need to re-coup some of the money they lost this year and there will always be people desperate enough, or thirsty enough, to order ‘pints’ this way), but I’d be much too worried about spillages (and waste!) to even contemplate using such a mad service.

5. The closure of the restaurants and cafés hit me like a ton of bricks. I live surrounded by so many brilliant eateries that I’d barely fried an egg in years, and was only really aware of the kitchen as the place in my house where I store the wine and chocolate.

The lockdown forced me and my kids back into this tiny unloved space to cook, actually cook, foods like eggs, meat and even v…v…v… what’s the word I’m looking for?… v… is it vegetables? I’m surprised our systems didn’t violently rebel against them, lol.

I’m thrilled to see the restaurants and cafés starting to re-open once again, but we grudgingly admit that the lockdown has taught us a few much-needed culinary skills, and my adult daughter now no longer believes that going into the kitchen might actually kill you, which apparently is the message she’d picked up from me over the years…!

6. The hairdressers’ shops have been shut since March. I’ve been waiting four months, and might have to wait several weeks more due to queues, to have the natural blonde colour put back into my crowning glory. I’m counting down the hours. Enough said.

7. The churches all shut down too. Now, although I’m a Catholic, I don’t go to Mass (I know; shame on me!), but I’ve been absolutely gobsmacked by the way churches immediately started live-streaming their Sunday and other services online directly into parishioners’ homes, as casually and easily as if they’d been doing it for years.

Who knew that the Catholic Church could respond so quickly and efficiently to the modern Mass-attending needs of their flock? Of course, if you didn’t have Internet access, you were screwed, but online Mass was apparently a big hit, drawing more people that way than ever came into the actual buildings to park their butts on the pews, and remember the priests who did the Irish dancing up on the altar that time? ‘Twas gas crack altogether, like something out of Father Ted.

Now that the churches are opening their doors once more, I’ll be able to go back to (hopefully) buying my way into heaven, one candle at a time. (It’s thirty cent a candle. It all adds up.) I’m hoping that, when I meet my Maker, I’ll be able to tell Him that I’m fully paid up, and, with any luck, He’ll be so busy with the queues he’ll just wave me through and on to Reception…!

We’ll go on with our list of Lockdown complaints (I mean, my memoir!) tomorrow, hopefully, so see you then, with masks on, lol.


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:




This is a really gorgeous and sumptuous film version of Edgar Allan Poe’s creepy story, and one of the cycle of film adaptations of Poe’s works undertaken by legendary director, Roger Corman.

The magnificent horror legend Vincent Price plays Nicholas Medina, a wealthy nobleman living in (almost) solitary grandeur in his cliff-top Spanish castle by the sea in the middle of the sixteenth century. It’s 1546, to be precise. Nearly time to be getting the dinner on, so…!

Nicholas doesn’t receive many visitors, as a rule, but, as the film starts, a man called Francis Barnard comes to his castle door, demanding to be let in and to be given the details of his sister, Elizabeth’s, recent demise. Nicholas’s sister, Catherine, feels that they have no choice but to let the man in and try to endure his pointed, suspicious questions about his sister Elizabeth’s death.

Elizabeth, by the way, was Nicholas’s beloved wife, who passed away recently under rather mysterious circumstances. Nicholas is still distraught and absolutely bereft at her passing. He loved her with all the intensity and possessiveness of his autocratic heart, and now he almost wishes that he were in the grave alongside her.

We see flashbacks of Nicholas’s perfectly idyllic life with Elizabeth (Barbara Steele), in which they dined, chatted eagerly and played music together, Elizabeth’s speciality being the harpsichord. Their life together might seem a little dull to outsiders, but Nicholas certainly seems to be having a ball with his ravishing young wifey in the flashback clips, and so does Elizabeth, to be fair.

But now Elizabeth is dead, under circumstances that her brother Francis finds highly dubious. Not only that, but harpsichord music is now being heard all over the castle, when everyone knows that the harpsichord was Elizabeth’s favourite instrument and that she was the only person in the house who ever played it.

The maid is claiming to hear her dead mistress’s voice in her bedroom and, then, when Nicholas hears it too, a grisly decision is taken. There is nothing for it but to go down to the crypt in the castle’s cellars and exhume the corpse of Elizabeth Medina. Just to check that she’s really dead, and not wandering around the draughty castle in her flimsy burial shroud saying ‘boo!’ to people when she pops out from behind the drapes to give ’em a heart attack.

Nicholas’s mental state is hanging by a thread at this stage (he physically swoons in virtually every second scene), but down they go, he, Catherine, Dr. Leon (who pronounced Elizabeth dead at the time of her demise) and Francis, Elizabeth’s brother. Down, down, down they go into the dusty, cobwebby bowels of the Medina castle…

Vincent Price is superb at playing widowers-in-mourning. He’s just terrific at it, and also at wearing the doublets and hose and long luxurious dressing-gowns and velvet slippers of Ye Olden Times.

Barbara Steele is the most beautiful and fascinating actress to ever don a wasp-waisted gown in which to play the ghost of herself, and the sets are gloriously-coloured and the torture chamber splendidly, if ghoulishly, equipped. Still, you’d expect that from a torture chamber, wouldn’t you?

Adding the Spanish Inquisition to the plot and the torture chamber as well was an inspired piece of writing, and the possession of Nicholas Medina by his father’s evil ghost a fiendishly delicious twist in its tail. The whole film is truly a feast for the eyes, and there are plenty of twists and turns to keep the viewer’s interest.

The only thing I found puzzling was that the film-makers hired three very similar-looking men to play Dr. Leon, Francis Barnard and Nicholas’s man-servant, Maximilian, who saves the day at the end of the movie.

All three men have short dark hair and similar nondescript faces and are pretty much of identical height and build. Why would the film-makers do that? The men look like three fraternal triplets. I just found the whole thing kind of confusing. It doesn’t detract from the movie in any way; it’s just weird that they didn’t hire actors between whom it was easy to tell the bleedin’ difference…!

You’ll love THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM. It does credit to Poe’s work, and it’s one of the many jewels in both Roger Corman’s and Vincent Price’s crowns. And scream queen Barbara Steele’s majestic presence is truly the icing on an already fabulous cake.


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:





This film is a Hammer black comedy rather than a Hammer horror. Or, to look at it another way, it’s only a horror in the sense that it’s a film about one of the most horrible families you could ever hope to watch on a cinema screen.

I believe the movie was a commercial success, and it’s certainly very well acted (it was a stage play to begin with), but there’s something about it that makes my skin crawl a little bit. Am I in the minority here, or does anyone else feel a little bit uncomfortable watching THE ANNIVERSARY…?

Bette Davis, the grande olde dame of the silver screen, is undoubtedly magnificent here as Mrs. Taggart, a shrewdly manipulative old biddy who rules her family with an iron fist in a glove carved from solid granite.

From her entrance at the top of the stairs in her palatial family home, clad in a fire-engine red dress to match the eye-patch over her damaged left peeper, she steals every single scene she’s a part of and leaves the younger ones standing, though they’re no slouches either in the acting stakes.

Old Ma Taggart’s husband has been as dead as the dodo for a good ten years. Nonetheless, every year on the anniversary of their marriage, Ma gathers her ‘beloved’ family around her for an excruciating, nails-on-a-blackboard-style get-together in which the suspicions, the rivalries and the dislike-verging-on-hatred that simmer inside the individual family members during the year bubble to the surface and spill over into all-out war.

Ma is at the centre of everything that’s rotten about the Taggart family. She controls the family purse strings and, therefore, her three sons. By choosing to remain at the head of the Taggart construction company herself and make her minions dance to her tune, it’s clear she sees herself as the boss of all she surveys. My money, my rules, is how she sees it, and divide and conquer is, seemingly, how she prefers it.

She dispenses insults, barbs and little digs with the same coldly glittering panache with which she might mix you a drink at the family bar. The dialogue is bitchy, quite witty in places and comprises the blackest of black comedy, and the very best lines, of course, all go to the girl with the Bette Davis Eyes, La Davis herself.

Her three sons have all the problems you might expect in a family where the mother is the dominant one, the driving force in their lives. It would be hard for any of them to be truly successful in their lives and happy in their relationships without first getting out from under the thumb of their dreadful mother, whose modus operandi is to ferret out a person’s weak spot and beat them over the head with it until they cry ‘mercy!’

James Cossins (FAWLTY TOWERS, SOME MOTHERS DO ‘AVE ‘EM) plays the eldest son Henry. He seems like a gentle, sweet man, but he so far has been unable to sustain a romantic relationship and probably never will, not while his malicious mumsy continues to manipulate him regarding his cross-dressing and knicker-nicking tendencies.

Ma alternately shields him from the legal repercussions of his crimes (well, stealing women’s knickers off a clothesline is illegal, isn’t it?) and holds it over him and his brothers as a threat. As in: ‘If you won’t do exactly what I want, I’ll hand poor dear Henry over to the police and he can get treatment for his ‘ailments’ in a mental hospital…!’ The auld bitch. How can she threaten poor dear Henry like that? Poor guy doesn’t know whether he’s coming or going.

Terry, the middle son, isn’t up to much. Sure, he’s given his old bag of a mother five grandchildren with his wife Karen, but he gets constantly bawled out by Karen for not standing up to Mrs. Taggart. Karen is a relentless nag.

Watch her in CARRY ON CLEO, giving endless grief to her hen-pecked husband Hengist Pod, played by Kenneth Connor, and you can easily imagine her tearing strips out of Terry too. Terry is not his own man. He gets dominated by his overbearing mother and nagged to death by his wife. I don’t think he’s happy.

Tom, the youngest, is a womaniser who brings a different girl to ‘the Anniversary-with-a-capital-A’ every year. This year he’s brought the pretty blonde Shirley to flaunt in his mother’s face.

There are rather dark sexual undertones in this storyline. Ma Taggart is horribly jealous of anyone who grabs her precious youngest son’s attention, and she’s used to dispatching his girlfriends swiftly before they get their claws into Tom and their feet under the Taggart table.

Old Ma Taggart might have some slight bit of difficulty in dislodging this little lady from out of the family tree. Shirley is determined to be Tom’s wife, and, as she’s pregnant, she might just have more of a chance than any of the others did.

She seems to want to dominate Tom in the same way that his mother does, though, and Tom seems to have a bit more gumption than either Henry or Terry, so he may not tolerate this from Shirley. ‘Out of the frying pan…’

Shirley makes the mistake of trying to ‘stand up’ to Mrs. Taggart. This, as the mouthy Karen could have told her, is a terrible road to go down. No woman will ever be good enough for one of Mrs. Taggart’s precious sons. Even the flawed, broken ones, she wants to keep close to her for ever. That’s probably the way she likes ’em best, to be honest with you.

It’s an unhealthy foursome, Ma Taggart and her three sons, like a stinking pulsating mass of something icky from a science fiction movie that needs to be zapped, incinerated and then scraped away the next morning by the council. And what happens on the night of ‘the Anniversary?’ itself? Well, it’s family-only, I’m afraid. No randomers need apply. Mummy wouldn’t like it…


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: