Some writing resolutions you can keep even in a plague year — Dark Dates

I’ve never been a fan of New Year’s resolutions. In part this is due to my fondness for seeing autumn, with its ‘back to school new notebook’ vibe (and the fact that my birthday is in September) as a much more natural fresh start, in part because in a normal year my work schedule tends […]

Some writing resolutions you can keep even in a plague year — Dark Dates

COLETTE, OR PRISONERS OF AUSCHWITZ. (2013) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

COLETTE, OR PRISONER OF AUSCHWITZ. (2013) BASED ON THE BOOK ‘A GIRL FROM ANTWERP’ BY ARNOLD LUSTIG. DIRECTED BY MILAN CIESLAR. STARRING CLEMENCE THIOLY, JIRI MADL AND ERIC BOUWER.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

This is an excellent, well-acted and well-scripted Holocaust movie, based on the concentration camp experiences of Arnost Lustig, the Czech Jewish author. It’s the story of two lovers, Colette and Vili, who meet in Auschwitz, one of the Third Reich’s most hellish places of detention in World War Two.

Three of the main actors seemed to be to be dead ringers for existing celebrities. Colette, the main girl, is the image of Winona Ryder when ze Nazis cut her hair. The miniscule Vili ‘Half-Pint’ Feld looks like Ross Kemp, aka Grant Mitchell from EASTENDERS, and one of the lady kapos is a doppelganger for Cate LORD OF THE RINGS Blanchett. It didn’t affect my enjoyment of the fim or anything, it’s just funny to have so many of the actors look like other more famous mainstream actors, lol.

Anyway, Auschwitz as you may know was part labour camp and part extermination centre for any Jews, Roma gypsies, homosexuals and other so-called ‘sexual deviants’ and ‘enemies of the Reich’ unfortunate enough to come within the Nazis’ remit, as it were.

As well as the work done for German industrialists and notorious Jew-haters IG Farben (they hated Jews but used thousands of Jewish concentration camp inmates as slave labour during the war), Auschwitz also generated its own work in relation to the gassings of the millions of prisoners that went on there, and this is where Vili and Colette, a beautiful Belgian Jew, come in.

New arrivals to the camp ‘selected’ for extermination had to be herded together naked into the ‘shower rooms’ for ‘bath and inhalation,’ and their clothes, belongings and even hair ‘processed’ by other prisoners, who would be allowed to live as long as they were useful to the Nazis and had this essential function to fulfil.

Vili worked at sorting out the belongings (we know that rooms and rooms were filled from floor to ceiling with spectacles, shoes and photographs of loved ones amongst other things stolen from those wrongly condemned to death) of the ill-fated Jews, running here, there and everywhere across the camp with blankets filled with material goods.

Sometimes the prisoners might find food amongst the belongings of the dead, bread, chocolate bars and jars of preserves, and this would help keep them alive for a little longer. Working with the possessions of dead Jews was a privileged position compared to some you could be allotted in the camp (latrine detail was to be avoided at all costs, along with rock-breaking in the quarries), because you never knew what goodies you could find.

A piece of jewellery you could secrete away somewhere safe, and then use it as a bribe for one of the kapos to keep you alive for one more day. Everyone in Auschwitz, staff and prisoners alike, was on the make and on the fiddle, and underhanded deals like this were practically the lifeblood of the camp.

(Remember in the movie Schindler’s List, where Schindler offers diamonds to Rudolf Hoess, the Auschwitz camp commandant, in exchange for some of Schindler’s workers, who were accidentally put on the wrong train and sent to Auschwitz instead of somewhere slightly better? He takes ’em, too!)

On the other hand, to be caught with such contraband on your person was a killing offence. The Germans were fanatical about prisoners not being allowed to ‘steal from the Reich,’ even though the Nazis themselves stole so much from the Jews in their clutches. The irony, huh?

Colette is put to work going through the Jews’ clothing, searching it for jewellery, money and other belongings. They used razors and sharp knives to slit the seams of the garments, because people sometimes secreted their valuables in their seams.

She even comes across her own handbag in the process, which contains her only photo of her family, her mother, her father, her two sisters and the family dog. She tries to keep the photograph, but the kapo (supervisor) is watching her so she has to relinquish it, add it reluctantly to the pile.

The main thing about Colette in the film is that she catches the eye (and more than just his eye!) of one of the SS men in the camp. Weissacker is young and blond and arrogant, and he has a real thing for Colette.

As a person, he’s immature and acts like a spoilt child. He sees something he likes, he has to have it. If he breaks it, well, too bad. He’ll chuck it on the scrapheap and find something new to play with.

Weissacker has rough, selfish sex with Colette while calling her horrible names (‘Swallow my Aryan load, you filthy Jewish whore, you know you want it,’ that kind of nice loving pillow talk), and their union has a not-altogether-surprising result, a result that ultimately turns out to be quite significant in the love story of Colette and Vili later on.

The whole narrative is book-ended by the story of a Jewish author in the ‘Seventies who has spent years desperately trying to find Colette, the woman he loved with all his heart and soul in Auschwitz.

They even got to make love a few times, thanks to their bribing of one of the kapos. (Colette has such appeal for the staff of Auschwitz that she even has to give oral sex to a female kapo in exchange for connubial visits with the pint-sized Vili. Sex was a commodity, as much as food or diamonds, and could be used very successfully as such if you used it well.)

I love the gigantic Fritz, played by Andrej Hryc, who gets to have it away with the Cate Blanchett-lookalike kapo. Clearly she likes a nice big powerful older man too when it comes to nookie, lol, the same as myself. Overall, a great film, although the subject matter is of necessity grim. Perfect viewing for the last few dwindling hours of 2020. Happy New Year, everyone.

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

Her debut romantic fiction novel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books.

How to Effectively Manage Multiple Narrators in Your Novel – by Ken Brosky… — Chris The Story Reading Ape’s Blog

on Jane Friedman site: I read a book recently that will remain unnamed. The book was entertaining, and at its core was a pretty darned good mystery with some fantastic twists that made the ending a payoff for the ages. I enjoyed it from start to finish. But I just couldn’t shake some negative feelings […]

How to Effectively Manage Multiple Narrators in Your Novel – by Ken Brosky… — Chris The Story Reading Ape’s Blog

SOME LIKE IT HOT. (1959) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

SOME LIKE IT HOT. (1959) DIRECTED, PRODUCED AND CO-WRITTEN BY BILLY WILDER. STARRING MARILYN MONROE, TONY CURTIS, JACK LEMMON, GEORGE RAFT, PAT O’BRIEN, JOE E. BROWN AND JOAN SHAWLEE.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

‘Well, nobody’s perfect…!’

This black-and-white romantic comedy is generally considered one of the best films of all time, never mind just best comedy film. Its sparkling quickfire dialogue, inspired comic performances and zany plot have ’em rolling in the aisles every time. With laughter, that is, lol, not with anything else.

It stars Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon as, respectively, Joe and Jerry, a couple of down-on-their-luck session musicians living in Chicago in 1929, during the good old days of Prohibition. A tendency to booze, womanise and gamble their every penny away (well, on Joe’s part, at least) sees them permanently skint and looking for work.

The two lads are also blessed with a real gift for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, which is how they come to be unwilling witnesses to a terrible mass shooting based on the real-life Saint Valentine’s Day massacre, in which seven mobsters were lined up against a wall in a dingy garage and brutally mowed down by four unknown gun-wielding assailants. Still unknown to this day, in fact, though of course there are theories.

Anyway, the two lads escape the murderous mobsters, who don’t like to leave no witnesses, by only the skin of their teeth. With the terrifying mob boss ‘Spats’ in pursuit, not to mention his even more frightening henchmen, Joe and Jerry decide they need to scarper, and on the double too.

Desperate for work and possessed of a healthy desire to stay alive and out of the clutches of Spats & Co., they dress up as dames and join Sweet Sue and her Society Syncopators, an all-girl band headed by overnight train to a Miami hotel for a series of gigs. They’ll be paid, and Spats’ll never find them there. He’s looking for a couple-a dudes, after all, not a pair of broads with gams up to here and pointy booby things…!

Sweet Sue, the ballsy band-leader who’s been around the block a time or two and whose trademark is to screech continually for ‘Bienstock,’ the band manager, when things go awry, thinks there’s something a little ‘off’ about Josephine (Curtis) and Daphne (Lemmon), but I think they both make smashing broads, especially Tony Curtis who has such a lovely feminine face in full make-up.

Both Josephine and Daphne fall immediately in love with Sugar, the singer with the band. Sugar (Marilyn Monroe) is stunningly beautiful, with her bleached blonde hair, red lips, great pins and fantastic boobies, but she’s an emotional mess from years of being jerked around by guys and well on her way to becoming an alcoholic.

Daphne is hilariously pursued by an ageing eccentric billionaire when the ‘girls’ drop anchor in the Miami hotel, while Josephine/Joe disguises himself as a young eccentric billionaire in order to win Sugar’s badly dented heart.

Much the same way as Daphne has to keep reminding himself, I’m a girl, I’m a girl, I’m a girl, I have to keep reminding myself that it’s a comedy film, when I watch poor Sugar falling more and more under the spell of that lying bastard, ‘Shell Oil Junior.’ It’s really despicable to play with Sugar’s heart the way he does, but okay, I get that it’s a film and that, in 1959, this was the kind of thing that passed for a great laugh…!

Joe E. Brown is superb as Osgood Fielding the Third, and his tango scenes with Jack Lemmon are so funny. They make a really good couple! Spats’s henchmen are terrific too. You definitely wouldn’t want to bump into any of them down an alleyway on a dark night, and none of ’em ain’t gonna win no beauty contests no-how, but they’re all great intimidating fun.

Sweet Sue’s gals are all top totty, and the boozy party in Daphne’s bunk on the train remains a major highlight, along with those nude-effect dresses Marilyn Monroe wears in her musical numbers that make her look topless. How did they ever get those dresses past the censors? And what sublime titties, lol. Boop-boop-be-do…!

So, does Spats ever catch up with the two hapless witnesses to his foul crime? Does Sugar end up with the fuzzy end of the lollipop again, or has she really found true love this time with yet another in a long line of no-goodnik saxophone players? (I really doubt it, but whatever. It’s just a film. It’s just a film…!)

Will Osgood Fielding pop a question to a certain someone, and will he and that certain someone live happily ever after on Mumsy’s yacht and on Mumsy’s money? Well, I ain’t psychic, you know. Maybe we should ask someone who might know. All together now: ‘Bienstock…!’

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

Her debut romantic fiction novel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books.

THE TOWERING INFERNO. (1974) A FANTASTIC DISASTER MOVIE REVIEWED BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

THE TOWERING INFERNO. (1974) DIRECTED BY JOHN GUILLERMIN. ADAPTED BY STIRLING SILLIPHANT FROM THE NOVELS ‘THE TOWER’ BY RICHARD MARTIN STERN AND ‘THE GLASS INFERNO’ BY THOMAS N. SCORTIA AND FRANK M. ROBINSON.

STARRING AN ENSEMBLE CAST LED BY PAUL NEWMAN AND STEVE MCQUEEN.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

This blockbuster disaster film contains more Hollywood stars than you can shake a stick at, and is perfect Christmas viewing, because when else do you get to watch a film with a running time of one hundred and sixty-five minutes? Exactly, lol.

In a nutshell, it’s the story of a magnificent new San Francisco skyscraper, known as the Glass Tower and comprising one hundred and thirty-eight storeys, making it the tallest building in the world until something even taller comes along.

The film takes place on the night of the Tower’s inaugural party, which will see bigwigs and celebs from all over the place rocking up to be seen swanning up the red carpet and quaffing case after case of champagne in honour of the world’s tallest new building, which offers both office and apartment space, if you please.

On the evening of the party, however, an electrical fire caused by faulty wiring (caused in turn by that peculiar phenomenon known as cutting corners) starts on the 81st floor of the Tower. By the time the fire has been detected, the inaugural party is in full swing up in the Promenade Room on… guess where?… the 135th floor. The race is on to get the party guests out of the building before they’re sizzled to a delicious bacon-y crisp and the Tower becomes the world’s tallest lighted matchstick…

An uber-manly Steve McQueen plays Michael O’Hallorhan, the San Francisco Fire Chief, who has a lot of scathing things to say about big-shot industrialists who build skyscraping monstrosities such as the Glass Tower, without making sure that they are safe and as fire-proof as possible.

Tasty hunk of beefcake and alpha male Paul Newman stars here as Doug Roberts, the ethical architect who designed the building in good faith and didn’t expect the man who built and owns the building, William Holden as the unscrupulous James Duncan, to cut corners in things like electrical wiring and peoples’ safety.

Blond blue-eyed Doug is trying to talk Faye Dunaway’s gorgeous Susan Franklin into running off with him to the back of beyond, but she’s just been offered an editorial position with the magazine she’s been writing for for years, and so she’s dragging her designer heels. Maybe a night spent in fear for their lives will help the sexy pair to put things into perspective …

Richard Chamberlain plays the weak and cowardly Roger Simmons. He’s James Duncan’s son-in-law and the electrical engineer who cut all the corners at a sly nod from his Pops-in-law.

Duncan, of course, was trying to do what builders everywhere have been doing since the dawn of the construction industry: that is, shave a few bucks off the end cost of building the thing. Now, however, the fire is going to cost the Duncan family a hell of a lot more than just a few bucks…

Roger’s married to Duncan’s beautiful daughter Patty, but their marriage is going to hell in a handbasket, because that’s what happens when you’re a woman whose bloke only married you for Daddy’s money and not because he loves you.

While Steve McQueen and Paul Newman are busting their collective humps to save people from the burning building, the selfish and craven Roger Simmons seeks only to save his own skin. He doesn’t even care what happens to his wife, which is how we know the marriage is kaput. Will he make it? Will karma allowed the self-serving S.O.B. to walk free from his sins? Will she hell…

Fred Astaire and Jennifer Jones co-star as a loved-up elderly couple destined for heartbreak, Robert Vaughn plays a U.S. Senator and O.J. Simpson (yes, that one!) portrays Harry Jernigan, the building’s Chief Security Officer who saves a cat from Frying Tonight, and that makes him all right in my book.

My favourite story, but perhaps the saddest story of all, sees a suave and handsome Robert Wagner as PR man Dan Bigelow make love to his secretary near the top of the building, far above the fire floor. Everything is going beautifully, not to mention sexily, until the secretary utters the immortal words, Darling, do you smell smoke…?

Such a great star-studded movie. Watch it with THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE for the ultimate disaster movie double bill, and then thank your lucky stars that, thanks to good old COVID, you won’t be booking any cruises or attending any parties in a San Francisco skyscraper any time soon…

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

Her debut romantic fiction novel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books.

Eight Common Writing Mistakes – by Melissa Donovan… — Chris The Story Reading Ape’s Blog

On Writing Forward: We all make mistakes in our writing. The most common mistake is the typo — a missing word, an extra punctuation mark, a misspelling, or some other minor error that is an oversight rather than a reflection of the writer’s skills (or lack thereof). A more serious kind of mistake is a […]

Eight Common Writing Mistakes – by Melissa Donovan… — Chris The Story Reading Ape’s Blog

ESCAPE FROM SOBIBOR: THE 1987 AND 2018 FILM VERSIONS REVIEWED BY SANDRA HARRIS.

ESCAPE FROM SOBIBOR: THE 1987 AND 2018 FILMS.

ESCAPE FROM SOBIBOR. (1987) DIRECTED BY JACK GOLD. STARRING RUTGER HAUER, JOANNA PACULA, ALAN ARKIN AND HARTMUT BECKER.

ESCAPE FROM SOBIBOR. (2018) DIRECTED BY KONSTANTIN KHABENSKY. STARRING CHRISTOPHER LAMBERT, KONSTANTIN KHABENSKY AND FELICE JANKELL.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

Both these films are based on actual events. On the fourteenth of October 1943, an uprising occurred in the Nazi extermination camp known as Sobibor, in which a core group of prisoners killed a number of SS guards and fled the camp through the main gate, along with most of the rest of the inmates.

The group of organisers and leaders consisted of Jewish prisoners who’d been in the camp for a while, led by a quiet, unassuming man called Leon Feldhendler, and Russian Jewish POWs, led by Alexander ‘Sasha’ Pechersky.

In the 2018 film, Sasha Pechersky is so quiet and unassuming himself and so realistically dirt-covered that it took me ages to figure out just which character he is. There’s no mistaking him in the 1987 film, lol.

Here he’s played by the tall, blonde handsome Rutger Hauer, and he marches confidently into the camp with his fellow POWs about halfway through the movie and immediately starts looking for a means of escape.

Sobibor was an extermination camp, one of several employed by Nazi Germany to rid themselves of the ‘undesirables’ of Europe; mostly Jews, of whom six million died in the Second World War, but also homosexuals, Roma Gypsies, political troublemakers and insurgents, and generally people considered to be ‘enemies of the Reich.’

The ‘procedure’ for ‘receiving’ prisoners at Sobibor is well laid out in both films. A train full of hungry, thirsty terrified Jews, chug-chug-chugs into Sobibor station, to be greeted by hordes of SS men with vicious dogs on leads and scores of Sonderkommando.

These last were Jewish prisoners permitted to stay alive only because they manned the crematoria and disposed of the bodies after gassing. They were the men in the ‘striped pyjamas,’ who knew full well that their days were numbered too and that, as soon as they’d outlived their usefulness to the SS, they’d be killed also. It was a nightmarish existence.

A pretence was maintained at the station, however, that all was well and there was nothing to be at all worried about. A voice on a PA system repeats words to exactly that effect on repeat. ‘Welcome to your new lives. You will be given useful work here and will be fed and warm. The separation of men and women is only temporary. Please don’t be alarmed. You will be re-united later, once we’ve assigned you your barracks.’ An orchestra comprising prisoners and stationed on the ramp plays classical music to make the new arrivals feel at home.

That’s the good news. The bad news is that, because of outbreaks of typhus in the concentration camp system, the new inmates, the ones without useful trades who’ve all been safely stood to one side by now, will have to take a ‘shower’ first, before being integrated into the camp.

Well, that’s not so bad, murmured the new arrivals. Maybe things won’t be so bad here after all. The women and children and old folks say cheerio for now to the younger, stronger, healthier men and women left on the station ramp, and are chivvied along the forest path to the gas chambers and crematoria, never to return…

The 2018 film shows us the frightened, naked young women with their hair cut short being ushered into the gas chambers by young soldiers with guns. The heavy door clangs shut with a resounding finality.

The gas is switched on by the young man outside the door. A moment or two of puzzlement, bewilderment on the part of the women, and then they start vomiting, coughing, struggling to breathe. A powerful scene, but emotionally very hard to watch.

Both films show first the disbelief, then the anger, rage and desire for revenge in the young boys and older men who’ve survived the selection, when they first realise that their whole entire families have been murdered in the camp’s gas chambers, and they are now possibly the sole survivors.

Many of these young lads played an active part in the uprising, even killing SS men when they had to. ‘You’ve turned the Jews into killers,’ mutters one such boy in the 2018 film to the SS man he’s just killed. Killing would never have been in the natures of most of these men, but needs must when the devil drives…

The men and women who’ve survived the initial selection on the ramp are put to work at the trades that saved their lives, trades such as shoe-maker, leather worker, seamstress, tailor, jeweller, goldsmith and so on.

Other prisoners will be put to work sorting the belongings of the dead Jews. The Germans were notoriously greedy and the stuff they stole from their captives would fill, and probably have filled, several museums of remembrance.

They even took the women’s hair and stuffed mattresses and pillows with it, and one of the worst jobs of the Sonderkommando was to pull the gold teeth from the mouths of the dead with pliers. The gold was melted down, often to make trinkets for the SS. How greedy, how petty, how unnatural was that?

Even the bones that remained after cremation were used as fertiliser, to enrich the fields and crops of the Reich. How clever they must have thought themselves, these Nazis: there’s not a bit of the Jew that can’t be put to work for the Fuhrer!

Rutger Hauer as Sasha is by far the most dominant, most charismatic and most handsome (lol) character in the 1987 film. I cried when he tells Joanna Pacula (GORKY PARK, 1983), who plays his ‘pretend’ girlfriend Luka, that he can’t be with her the way she wants because he has a wife and child back home in Russia whom he loves very much.

She can’t stop loving him, though, naturally (in all fairness, you’d need a heart of stone not to love him), and the film tells us that the shirt she gives him to wear for good luck on the day of the uprising is today displayed in a war museum somewhere.

Hartmut Becker is excellent, too, in the 1987 film as the sadistic Nazi Gustav Wagner, whose cruelty to the inmates was legendary. He came up with some really nasty ways to make the inmates as a whole pay for the actions of a few escapees, and I think we can be fairly confident that, when he was found dead with a knife in his chest in Sao Paulo in 1980, it wasn’t his own hand who’d inflicted the death blow, as his solicitor tried to maintain…

Highlights in the 2018 film include the first killing of an SS man on the day of the uprising. Can a man’s face really end up looking like that? Not usually outside of horror movies…!

Also, there’s Christopher Lambert (HIGHLANDER, GREYSTOKE: THE LEGEND OF TARZAN, LORD OF THE APES) as war criminal Karl Frenzel rather inappropriately telling a roomful of captive Jews that he was once in love with a beautiful Jewish girl but his father put paid to the romance. Our hearts aren’t exactly bleeding for you, Frenzel, you lunatic, you.

Also, possibly the most disturbing scene in the newer film is the one in which the blind-drunk SS hold a bacchanal in front of the Jews, who’ve been kneeling on the appel-platz since roll-call, starving and exhausted.

Trigger happy, shooting indiscriminately, whipping inmates for fun, harnessing inmates to carts and racing them, boozing till they puke, Hitler’s precious SS show themselves up in this disgusting orgy of out-of-control violence to be what they really are, a loutish, drunken raggle-taggle bunch of thugs and bullies, with neither dignity nor decency.

I prefer the 1987 film because it’s got more heart, more warmth and more Rutger Hauer, but both films are well worth a watch. I’m dedicating this review to my mate Caroline, who adores Rutger Hauer, and I want to wish a happy Christmas and a happy, healthy (hopefully COVID-free!) and peaceful New Year to Caroline, Gary and all my lovely loyal readers.

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

Her debut romantic fiction novel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books.

BLACK WATER: ABYSS. (2020) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

BLACK WATER: ABYSS. (2020) DIRECTED BY ANDREW TRAUCKI. STARRING JESSICA MCNAMEE, LUKE MITCHELL, AMALI GOLDEN, BENJAMIN HOETJES AND ANTHONY. J. SHARPE.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

This Australian creature feature was made by the guy who did the excellent 2007 ‘big croc’ film, BLACK WATER, but, in my humble opinion, this movie isn’t as good. The crocodile is hardly ever on-screen and, when he is, he’s disappointingly small. I like my crocs the way I like my sharks. Massive, lol.

Plus the characters don’t feel particularly likeable, either, although the situation in which they find themselves is certainly about as perilous as it gets.

The film reminds me of another one I saw earlier this year, 47 METRES DOWN: UNCAGED, in which four bikini-clad schoolgirls go exploring an underwater cave that only the father of one of them knows about, as he’s some kind of biologist or researcher or something.

Anyway, the petrified kids encounter a shark that has been down there in the dark waters for so many years he’s actually evolved somehow into having no eyes, because he doesn’t need them where he is. That doesn’t make his bite any less deadly, though. The youngsters have a hell of a time trying to navigate their way out of the underground cave system without being, ahem, eaten, nom nom nom.

In BLACK WATER: ABYSS, five young people in their late twenties/early thirties decide to do one of the maddest things I’ve ever come across, which is, to willingly lower themselves into a hole in the ground out in the back of beyond in Northern Australia, with the intention of doing a spot of spelunking, ie, exploring the caves beneath.

They do this, despite the fact that some Japanese tourists have recently gone missing in the exact same spot. What’s even madder is that two of them shouldn’t really be there at all, as they don’t really have the stomach for this type of thing and are just tagging along to be with their respective other halves.

Jen suspects the obnoxious, full-of-himself alpha male he-man Luke of cheating. She accompanies him on this mad trip presumably to try to strengthen their wobbly relationship, or maybe just to keep her eye on him. We already know she doesn’t entirely trust him because we’ve seen her going through his phone behind his back. Never a good sign, that.

Victor, an asthmatic who can’t travel without his inhaler, is in remission from a recent brush with cancer and doesn’t seem strong enough for this kind of venture. Yolanda, his bird, is knocked up and shouldn’t be going anywhere near an underground cave she has to abseil down a rope to get to, but she’s as gung-ho about the trip as Luke. Alarm bells ringing yet?

Cash is Luke’s tour-guide friend who found the caves, and he’s on the trip too. If this recce of the caves turns out okay, Luke and his aptly-named friend Cash could have a proper little money-making scheme on their hands.

Whilst they’re all down in the admittedly cool underground caves, a storm above ground causes rising flood waters where the five friends are. Oh, and there’s a crocodile down there too, which might just explain what happens to our Japanese tourists…!

The rest of the movie just sees the five young folks trying to get out of the caves and back on to terra firma without been drowned in the flood waters or eaten by the killer croc. Their various relationship difficulties come to the fore as well while they’re undertaking this perilous journey back to the world above ground. If you like to watch heads bobbing above water while nothing really happens for ages, then, boy, is this the film for you!

The croc is a very discerning animal, as he knows exactly which characters to pick off and which to leave, which characters are dispensable and which must be allowed to live till the end. The bad get their come-uppance, the good and the innocent are spared, and then, bam, a plot twist at the last minute.

BLACK WATER: ABYSS, despite being nowhere near as scary as I would have liked, certainly makes you think about some of the worst, most claustrophobia-inducing ways to die, for example, up to your eyes in cold water in a tight space that’s just suffered a rockfall, while a giant (well, biggish) reptile throwback from the dinosaur era nibbles at your ankles.

It’s a film definitely worth watching once, but, to be honest, I won’t watch this one again. As the two movie-obsessed young lads from superb comedy series THE LEAGUE OF GENTLEMEN might say: Seen, seen, seen…

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

Her debut romantic fiction novel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books.

4 Strategic Actions for a Productive Writing Year – by C.S. Lakin… — Chris The Story Reading Ape’s Blog

on Live Write Thrive: At the end of every year, I blog about planning. The new year is looming on the horizon, and to many it feels like the chance at a fresh start. We can say good riddance to 2020—for so many reasons, to be sure. But I also hope you spent some time […]

4 Strategic Actions for a Productive Writing Year – by C.S. Lakin… — Chris The Story Reading Ape’s Blog