The 2022 Daily Writing Challenge – January 22 — Jo Hawk

2022 Daily Writing Challenge Here is a writer whose name you might not know. But you know one of his characters. On January 22, 1906, Robert E. Howard was born in Peaster, Texas. Writing from an early age, he submitted many stories and amassed a drawer full of rejections. In 1924, he sold a piece […]

The 2022 Daily Writing Challenge – January 22 — Jo Hawk

ARCHIVE 81. (2022) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

ARCHIVE 81. (2022) A NETFLIX HORROR SERIES BASED ON THE PODCAST, ARCHIVE 81, BY DANIEL POWELL AND MARK SOLLINGER.

EXECUTIVE PRODUCED BY REBECCA SONNESHINE, PAUL HARRIS BOARDMAN AND JAMES WAN OF SAW, INSIDIOUS AND THE CONJURING FAME.

STARRING MAMOUDOU ATHIE, DINA SHIHABI, EVAN JONIGKEIT, JULIA CHAN, MATT MCGORRY AND MARTIN DONOVAN.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

‘Stay away from the sixth floor.’

Wow. I loved this series, binge-watching the eight delicious episodes over two nights this week and being left reeling- in a good way!- by the number of horror films, authors and tropes it manages to lovingly reference.

It’s the story of a young American man living in the present day called Dan Turner. Dan has terrible sadness and trauma in his past, and he is given a job one day out of the blue that might actually help him to unlock the trauma and even put part of it right, after many years. But not without great personal risk to himself and his mental health, I hasten to add, so it’s not all moonlight and roses.

The job is offered to him by one Virgil Davenport, the rich, reclusive billionaire owner of a company called LGM, of which there is very little known in the public domain. The job is to go and stay in LGM’s isolated compound in the Catskills, completely on his own, for as long as it takes him to restore the videotapes of a young woman’s PhD dissertation…

Dan is a qualified restorer of nearly-destroyed videotapes, you see, and as we watch the series, we will see why he has such a personal connection to these videotapes and why the enigmatic and omniscient Virgil has hand-picked Dan, a bit of a loose cannon because of his past traumas, for this particular job.

We also meet Melody Pendras, the beautiful, dark-haired young college student who, in 1994, takes an apartment in the Visser Building, one of those fabulous old steeped-in-history New York apartment buildings that people are always getting murdered in in films.

She does this specifically because she is doing her college dissertation on the Visser Building, its history and its inhabitants, and she is never seen without her camcorder in her hand, the main tool of her trade.

She’s not just doing her dissertation purely because of the many attractions of the old Visser Building. She has a personal reason both tragic and seemingly impossible to achieve, and Melody is not the kind of person to give up.

She quickly finds out, though, that the Visser Building can be a very scary place to live, and that the exotic, eccentric inhabitants are doing something very sinister and highly suspect in the building’s Community Room every night after midnight. It’s something that harks back to the 1920s and a snuff film starring the beautiful but flawed and ultimately doomed Iris Vos, a member of ‘Twenties society with a very dark secret…

Melody finds out also that her own life could be in jeopardy here in the Visser Building, a full seventy years after the awful events occurred that first put the Visser Building on the map. Dan, watching the tapes in the dreadful isolation of the compound, senses too that Melody is in danger, not least from the eerie face that keeps appearing randomly on the videotapes.

Who or what is on the tapes? Is it after Dan too, whatever it is, and can Dan, who’s obviously smitten with the gorgeous feisty Melody, travel back in time to save Melody from the horrible fate that awaits her in the shadows…? And, even if he saves Melody, will he be able to save himself from a ghastly half-life lived in the place known as… The Other World…? You’ll have to watch the show till the end to find out, folks…

I love the séance in the Visser with all the crazy Visser tenants, like the horrible art collector Cassandra, the tormented psychic Beatriz and the bitchy opera composer Tamara. Not to mention the creepy college professor Samuel Spare, who would pass for a modern-day hipster, but who is clearly the ringleader of whatever it is that goes on in the Community Room after dark…

I love the character of Mark Higgins, Dan’s best- and only- friend, who is pretty much the template for every horror-and-science-fiction-crazed megasuperfan ever. He lives for horror and weird stuff and his horror podcast, and the friendship between him and Dan is so real and warm and genuine that he is actually willing to risk life and limb for his tragic friend. I also love Ratty, whom I kind of wish had had an even bigger part, as the friendship between him and Dan was also a thing of beauty and a joy forever.

I’ll leave you with a list of the horror films, things and characters either directly referenced in the series or indirectly hinted at, or even things that just came into my own mind as I watched it:

Stephen King’s THE SHINING; Jack Torrance; the Overlook Hotel; the maze on the grounds.

Stephen King’s DOLORES CLAIBORNE; the Eclipse that brought the whole town out in force to look at it and celebrate it.

Roman Polanski’s ROSEMARY’S BABY.

H.P. Lovecraft.

Christopher Lee.

Hammer’s TO THE DEVIL A DAUGHTER; THE DEVIL RIDES OUT.

THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT.

DON’T LOOK NOW; a deliberate reference!

Nigel Kneale’s THE STONE TAPES.

NIGHT OF THE DEMON, one of Britain’s best-loved horror films.

THE WICKER MAN, and anything else featuring a human sacrifice.

BLOOD ON SATAN’S CLAW.

THE EXORCIST.

Andrei Tarkovsky and his cult movie, SOLARIS.

WHAT LIES BENEATH; the movie, and the title of Episode 8 of the series.

Lin Shaye, beloved horror actress, going into ‘the Further’ in the INSIDIOUS movies. James Wan is one of the executive producers of ARCHIVE 81, after all.

PANIC ROOM and ‘90s sitcom FRIENDS, purely for those magnificent old brownstone apartment buildings!

That’s all I can think of for now, but there might be more, and you might even spot a few new ones yourself. I just love that this show was created by people with an absolute adoration, respect and obsession for horror; it comes across as a real labour of love when you watch it.

Just three further comments; One, I wish THE CIRCLE was a real show, it really speaks to me! Two, my daughter, who was born in the ‘Nineties, and who watched the show with me, was hopping mad that the film-makers of today are now referring to the ‘Nineties as the distant past. It makes her feel old, lol.

And three, the show features some highly intelligent and talented ‘mold,’ as the Americans call it, which is capable of forming itself into other-worldly swirls and patterns all by itself. I just want to say that I have exactly similar patches of talented and creative mould behind my toilet, at the back of all the wardrobes and creeping round my bedroom ceiling.

If it ever morphs into the portal to another dimension, you guys will be the first to know. If, as is more likely, it just causes me to hallucinate and go permanently off my noodle, well, then, I guess you guys will be hearing about that 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 Vampirology. 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 sequel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS LATER,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books:

THE DOLL TRILOGY: REVIEWED BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

THE DOLL (2016), THE DOLL 2 (2017) AND SABRINA (2018): A TRIPLE REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©
DIRECTED BY ROCKY SORAYA AND STARRING LUNA MAYA AND SARA WIJAYANTO.

I was thrilled to bits to find these three Indonesian horror films on Netflix recently. Well, to tell you the truth, I’d scrolled past them a few times thinking, yeah, yeah, a scary doll, oooooh, I’m so scared…! And that’s sarcasm, by the way. But then one night late last week, I decided to give ‘em a chance and watched one a night for three nights, and I loved them.

At nearly two hours long each, they’re terrific value for money, and, the best thing of all, they’re like the Indonesian version of the ANNABELLE and CONJURING films! Which I adore, by the way, so coming across these three little gems felt like Christmas Mark 2.

In each film, a haunted doll plays havoc with the lives of a well-to-do, attractive young Indonesian couple on the up-and-up. They live in the most magnificent modern houses that seem much bigger on the inside than they look from the outside, with all the endless passages and hidden rooms, etc. Plus, up-and-coming they might be, but how can such young couples afford such fabulous mansions…?

The husbands are young and fit, usually working in finance or construction, and the wives are young and beautiful with lovely long hair and have nothing to do while their husbands are off out, bringing home the bacon. They have too much time on their hands, which is why sooner or later they’re bitching at their husbands about haunted dollies.

In the first first film, the haunted doll of a murdered child causes chaos in the life of the young couple, who might not have acquired their dream lifestyle quite by honest means. The doll was found up a haunted tree, by the way, and it’s not good karma to do a whizz up agin it, lol. Not illegal, mind you, but just not good karma.

The exceptionally dopey wife, egged on by another bored housewife across the street (give these women something to do, for Gawd’s sake!!!), stupidly welcomes a DON’T LOOK NOW-style ghost into her home, mistaking it for a child that needs shelter, and then runs around like a headless chicken for the rest of the movie trying to shake it off.

In THE DOLL 2, possibly my favourite of the three films, the stunningly beautiful Luna Maya plays Maira, whose daughter Kayla dies in a horrible car crash, but later returns- in ghost form, natch- through the medium of a haunted doll.

The doll, Sabrina, was Kayla’s own in life, and so ugly and frightening it should come with a health warning. The ‘doll’ in the first film was cute and mischievous-looking. Sabrina is a proper horror. And it keeps moving around the place, seemingly without recourse to human agency. Talk about Elf on the Shelf gone bad.

Luna Maya is brilliant as Maira, the grieving mother who is convinced her dead child has come back to her. I was more than happy to see her reprising her role in the third movie, this time with a new hubby in tow, the owner of a famous toy factory, and a new child, though not her own. Her husband is playing guardian to his orphaned niece, but how was she orphaned, o-ho…? That’s a question for nearer the end of the film…

Little Vanya, the niece, not unnaturally misses her mom, who is easily summoned back from the dead by means of a sort of Ouija board game. Summoning folks is easy-peasy. It’s getting rid of them, that’s the hard part. You’ll know the trouble with inviting the dead into your life, of course, if you’ve watched all the same movies I have.

Sometimes, if that door is left open a mite too long, something else can slip unnoticed into the world of the living, and then they’re harder to get shut of than herpes. Maira is terrorised on a harmless family trip to the beach by something from another dimension that wishes terrible harm on her. Who’s she gonna call? Why, the Indonesian version of Ed and Lorraine Warren, of course!

Miss Laras, the beautiful and elegant Ghost-Buster lady, features in all three films, each time with different blokes who might be a husband, a brother, or just a work colleague, I’m not really sure. There are plenty of loopholes, not to mention whopping great plotholes, in all three films, but I didn’t care because the movies are such great fun.

They’re incredibly violent as well, just to let you know. Every second cast member is walking around possessed and equipped with a big knife for stabbing. And, if you’re a director who’s budgeted for a certain amount of knives for your film, you sure as hell ain’t gonna wanna waste them.

What’s strange about these knives, however, is that a load of people are stabbed with them, then they get up and seem perfectly fine again just a few minutes later. ‘I’ve been stabbed? Ah shure, that’s nothing! I’m grand again, anyway.’ Maybe they’re trick knives, lol.

And I love the way the characters in this universe don’t seem to have to endure any tiresome legal repercussions for their actions, in particular the numerous stabbings. The cops are rarely called and, if they are, you can always put ‘em off by saying things like, ‘Don’t worry, Officer, we’ve got this,’ or ‘Shure, youse can go on home, it’s a bit dangerous for you lot here,’ and then they just bugger off as meek as lambs. Makes me wonder what we pay our own police force here for, when we could just be dealing with crimes ourselves like the guys in these three films.

Anyway, I relished every stabby minute of this excellent trilogy (It could also have been named ‘RICH MARRIED LADIES WHO DON’T HAVE ENOUGH TO DO START IMAGINING SHIT AND THIS LEADS TO ALL KINDS OF EVEN MADDER SHIT AND STUFF’) and I encourage you guys to watch it too. It’s great escapism for the auld COVID times. And that, as we all very well know, is nothing to be sneezed at…

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 Vampirology. 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 sequel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS LATER,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books:

Talent Isn’t Everything – by Melissa Donovan… — Chris The Story Reading Ape’s Blog

on Writing Forward: Every writer hopes for talent, but what is talent, exactly? Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary offers several definitions: a special often athletic, creative, or artistic aptitude. general intelligence or mental power: ability the natural endowments of a person Talent gives people an edge or a head start. With talent, you can learn faster and perform […]

Talent Isn’t Everything – by Melissa Donovan… — Chris The Story Reading Ape’s Blog

ROOTS. (1977) THE MINI-SERIES REVIEWED BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

ROOTS. (1977) HISTORICAL DRAMA MINI-SERIES BASED ON ‘ROOTS: THE SAGA OF AN AMERICAN FAMILY’ BY ALEX HALEY.
STARRING LEVAR BURTON, JOHN AMOS, LESLIE UGGAMS, BEN VEREEN AND GEORG STANFORD BROWN.
REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

I watched this multi-award-winning and ground-breaking mini-series over Christmas and New Year, and was blown away by its great scope and depth of feeling. As the book on which it’s based says, it’s the saga of an American family, but, as the book title doesn’t say, the family in question is black and not white.

The series traces their multi-generation-spanning history from 1750, in which the head of the family is born a free man in Africa, to the aftermath of the American Civil War which freed the slaves, but didn’t exactly equip them with a blueprint for how to live after they’d been freed. The Ku Klux Klan also feature.

Kunta Kinte is born in the Gambia, in West Africa, in 1750, to a tribe of proud Mandinka warriors. He has a loving mother and father and grandparents, and, when he becomes a teenager, has no more to worry about than whether or not he’ll pass his manhood trials, a rite of passage for all young men that determines whether or not they can move into their own huts as fully fledged men and take a wife. I think it’s true to say that Kunta Kinte loves his life and embraces and accepts its many challenges.

Just after he finishes his all-important manhood training, he is captured by American slave traders while out alone one day, looking for some wood to make a drum for his little brother, and brought over to American to work on the rich white men’s plantations. He was stalked as if he were a wild animal and brought, chained and terrorised, to the waiting ship, The Lord Ligonier.

That hellish three-month journey, in which the captured slaves were chained to bunks while in a prone position, covered in their own vomit from the constant sea-sickness, was probably the part of the series that had the most profound effect on me.

I felt outraged on behalf of the free black people wrongly taken from their homes to work as slaves and harvest the white men’s crops and cotton, etc., in America. It was appalling to witness.

I even felt outraged to see Ralph Waite, aka the virtuous Pa Walton of THE WALTONS, as a seasoned slave overseer on this boat, encouraging the captain, played by Ed Asner, to rape young black women to provide himself with a night-time ‘belly-warmer.’ It was truly disgusting and distressing to watch, so, for the people to whom it actually happened, well, I can’t even begin to imagine.

Kunta eventually arrives in the Deep South of Northern America, and lives as a slave for the rest of his days. It takes him a long, long time to give up on his dreams of being a free man, and the cruel plantation overseer and catchers of runaway slaves have to whip him savagely and chop off part of his foot in order to ‘cure’ him of the desire to run away.

He probably gives up on his dream of someday being free again when he and his wife Belle, a fellow slave, have their one child, a daughter, Kizzy. At last, Kunta has something to stay put for. He teaches his daughter about Africa and all the old ways that the cruel overseers would have them forget.

Kunta and Belle love this little girl with all their hearts and souls, and one day have to endure the agonising pain of watching her be sold off to another plantation owner, one of the worst misfortunes that could befall a slave. Families were separated if it suited the owner, causing untold anguish for those sold, and those who remained behind to mourn.

Owners varied from understanding enough to brutally cruel, like Missy’s new owner, Tom Moore, brilliantly played by Chuck Connors. He rapes her on her first night away from her loving parents, and fathers her child, Chicken George, whom she adores.

But separation and pain await this mother and son too. Kizzy sadly doesn’t live to see her beloved son George, raised on tales of Africa and words of the Mandinka language (ko means fiddler, and kamby bolongo a river), leading his family into what amounts to their ‘promised land,’ a patch of land he acquires in Tennessee as a free man after that war to end all wars, the American Civil War.

You’ll see any number of familiar faces in the show, including: Sandy Duncan, Lloyd Bridges, Robert Reed, Brad Davis, Cicely Tyson, Lorne Greene, Scatman Crothers, George Hamilton, Maya Angelou, O.J. Simpson, Gary Collins, Ian McShane, Doug McClure and Louis Gossett Jr. It’s a case of spot-the-famous-face, which is always terrific fun, for me, anyway.

It’s a fantastic cast with great acting, great sets and great dialogue, but the message is, hopefully, what we’ll remember the most, and that is: that no man has the right to enslave another, and we are all born- or should be born- free and equal to one another.

Based on the true story of author Alex Haley’s own family, this is a saga that everyone should watch, or kids should watch and study in Irish schools. It’s on a par, is it not, to what the Nazis did to the Jews in the Holocaust…?

Whole swathes and tribes of people who’d never done anyone any harm were wrenched from their families, jobs, homes and homelands and brought somewhere halfway round the world against their will to serve the misguided purpose of a stronger, so-called ‘civilised’ people who wrongly thought that might meant right. ROOTS should be watched by everyone who’s not old enough to have seen it first time around. Lest we forget…

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 Vampirology. 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 sequel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS LATER,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books:

How I’m trying to get out of my writing slump — Marie K. Ricci – Author | Translator

Let’s be honest, it’s been months that I’m in a writing slump. The beginning of 2021 was fire though : I published my collection of poems, wrote the first draft of what would be either the first part of a novel or the first volume of a two-volume series and started writing the second part […]

How I’m trying to get out of my writing slump — Marie K. Ricci – Author | Translator

Just letting my readers know, I’m still alive — Author Fred J. Lauver

Some of my author friends are very prolific when it comes to writing blogs and having something to say everyday in social media. I’m not among them. It’s not that I don’t write––I’ve been writing seven days a week––on short stories, novels, and novellas. But I’ve never been comfortable talking about myself. Yes, I know […]

Just letting my readers know, I’m still alive — Author Fred J. Lauver

NATIONAL TREASURE. (2016) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

NATIONAL TREASURE. (2016) BASED ON OPERATION YEWTREE. DIRECTED BY MARC MUNDEN.

STARRING ROBBIE COLTRANE, JULIE WALTERS, TIM MCINNERNY, KATE HARDIE, SUSAN LYNCH AND ANDREA RISEBOROUGH.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

I really enjoyed this sex crime courtroom drama TV series, although it made me feel sick as times, based as it is on the police investigation into Jimmy Savile, which dredged up a fair few other little fishies in its net as well.

Robbie Coltrane (HARRY POTTER, CRACKER, FROM HELL with Johnny Depp) is superb as ageing comedian and television star, Paul Finchley. He’d be cast in the same mould as some real life comedians like, say, Bruce Forsythe, Les Dawson and the like. Paul’s star is now on the wane, and his TV duties have dwindled to presenting- we’ll assume- a fairly crappy, if popular, daytime quiz show called Smuggle.

When we meet him, he’s presenting a Lifetime Achievement Award to his own former comedy partner, Sir Karl Jenkins, an event which sticks in his craw more than he lets on to the people around him. After twenty or thirty years at the top of his telly game, Paul Finchley is now washed-up, a has-bean, old hat, a Z-list celebrity, while sycophants and his close friends presumably make sure to keep telling him he’s ‘a national treasure.’

It’s at this point that Paul is charged with raping a woman called Rebecca Thornton in the ‘Nineties, over twenty years ago. When this becomes known, several more women come forward with similar allegations, although some of these subsequently fade away again and only two end up coming to court. The woman with the first complaint, a one-time fan-girl of Finchley’s, and Christina Farnborough, the Finchleys’ former babysitter.

‘They think I’m Jimmy fucking Savile,’ Paul groans at one point.

No doubt the men whose names were on the cops’ hit-list after the revelations about Jimmy Savile felt, as Paul Finchley did, that they were the victims of a witch-hunt, but there does seem to have been a culture of ‘big stars get everything they want’ in the TV stations back in the day. Women were disposable and not as important as the big- male- stars of the day, and how they felt about things didn’t really come into it at all.

The series goes to great lengths to show us the affects of these allegations on the Finchley family. Finchley himself is shell-shocked, but steadily maintains his innocence. His and his wife Marie’s adult daughter, Dee, was a mess to begin with.

She lives in a halfway-house for women with drug and addiction problems. Her two children live with their dad at the moment, and there’s some suggestion that she may lose them to him for good if she can’t get her act together.

We keep seeing flashbacks of her and her dad together in her childhood, and Dee seems to be trying to remember whether or not he sexually abused her. Her mum, Marie, warns her at one point not to ‘go there,’ as they have enough troubles to be going on with.

A word about Marie, brilliantly played by Julie Walters. Marie is outwardly the perfect wife and mother, devoted to her family and standing by her man all the way. She’s doing that thing where she’s supporting Paul in public, and going to court with him and everything, but looking daggers at him in private, banning him from the marital bed and acting like he’s, well, Jimmy Savile, and like he’s disgraced and shamed the family.

She’s had this one-sided arrangement with Paul all their married life, an arrangement which suits only Paul, which is why I call it one-sided. He is a serial philanderer/adulterer, addicted to having affairs and one-night-stands. Even now, in his mid-sixties and walking with a cane, he has sex with prostitutes.

The arrangement is this. As Marie is unable to stop him from straying, he can sleep around as much as he likes, as long as he’s honest about it and tells her about it. She then ‘forgives’ him, but I bet he’s had to pay for his sins with holidays and new kitchens and bathrooms and designer wardrobes over the years. Carmela Soprano in THE SOPRANOS received plenty of such ‘guilt gifts’ throughout the course of her marriage to mob boss, Tony Soprano, in the hit HBO TV series of the same name.

It’s a most unsatisfactory arrangement. Marie’s soul-destroyed by all the cheating, so much so that she’s thinking of seeking consolation with Paul’s old comedy partner, Tim McInnerny as Karl, who’s always fancied her. Whatever happens, whether Paul is found guilty or not guilty, it doesn’t look like he’ll have much of a marriage to come back to.

The two women accusing Paul of rape are treated shabbily in court, as you might except. Even in real life, women like this are frequently seen as gold-diggers. Oh, the man’s rich and famous, eh? Well, then, obviously this bird’s after a nice big pay-out, whether through the courts or for selling her story to the newspapers!

This is a terrific drama, well acted and very of the moment, what with all the accusations of sexual misconduct flying around the globe today. Every month, someone new seems to get ‘cancelled’ for political incorrectness or charged with actual sexual abuse of people they encountered- or targeted- in the course of their successful careers. It’s a depressing thing to think about. Great drama, though. Watch it if you can.

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 Vampirology. 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 sequel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS LATER,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books:

STIR CRAZY (1980) AND SEE NO EVIL, HEAR NO EVIL (1989). A DOUBLE REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

STIR CRAZY (1980) AND SEE NO EVIL, HEAR NO EVIL (1989). A DOUBLE REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©
STIR CRAZY. (1980) DIRECTED BY SIDNEY POITIER. STARRING GENE WILDER, RICHARD PRYOR, GEORG STANFORD BROWN, CRAIG T. NELSON AND BARRY CORBIN.
SEE NO EVIL, HEAR NO EVIL. (1989) DIRECTED BY ARTHUR HILLER. STARRING GENE WILDER, RICHARD PRYOR, JOAN SEVERANCE, KEVIN SPACEY AND ANTHONY ZERBE.

I love both of these American comedies and frequently watch them together at Christmas. I don’t mind admitting, though, that both films start out really strong, with terrific comedy performances from the two leads, and then they kind of lose their way and become a wee bit confusing and tiresome. The performances of the two leads, however, are most likely what you’ll remember about the films so it’s all good.

STIR CRAZY sees Wilder and Pryor take on the roles of two best friends, a down on their luck scriptwriter and aspiring actor, who get sentenced to 125 years in prison after being mistaken for two violent bank robbers dressed as chickens. (It’ll make sense when you watch the film, lol.) The prison is the kind of one with chain gangs doing hard labour in the blazing sun and guards whose truncheons seem to be permanently set to whuppin’…

While inmates of this particularly tough prison, they make friends with other convicts and impress the warden greatly with Gene Wilder’s prowess on the mechanical bull. When said warden arranges for Wilder’s character to take part in the annual prison rodeo, a small select group of prisoners, Wilder and Pryor included, arrange to use the rodeo as a chance to break out…

Despite being a convicted criminal, Gene Wilder still manages to have a romance with JoBeth Williams, the mom from POLTERGEIST, who’s playing his lawyer’s assistant. The two lads together also make firm friends with Grossberger, the most feared inmate in the prison, and they find that he’s surprisingly loyal and blessed with a beautiful singing voice. Seemingly, all he needed was for someone to just reach out to him…

My favourite part of the film is probably when Gene Wilder takes a list of his prison grievances to the warden, with the honest expectation that the warden will be only too delighted to discuss the ways in which he can help to enhance and improve the prison experience of the men in his care. Set that night-stick to whoppin’, boys… I also love Craig T. Nelson, aka COACH and the dad from POLTERGEIST, as the warden’s bullying second-in-command.

In SEE NO EVIL, HEAR NO EVIL, the two lads play a blind man (Pryor) and a deaf man (Wilder) who accidentally get mixed up with a trio of murderous thieves and have to go on a mission to clear their own names (yep, they’ve been wrongly accused again!) and, hopefully, catch the thieving real killers as well.

Kevin Spacey is quite good as one of the villains, with the gorgeous leggy Joan Severance on duty as the eye-candy. The scene where Gene Wilder threatens to ‘shoot’ a nudie Joan Severance with his erection is very funny.

It’s also the film in which are uttered the immortal words, ‘Fuzzy Wuzzy was a woman,’ and the scene in which Gene Wilder freaks out at the thought that he’s somehow contracted the ‘mens rea’ always makes me laugh out loud.

I don’t much care for Anthony Zerbe as the mysterious Mr. Sutherland, the villains’ boss, as I’m all worn out by the chase at this point. (Don’t get me wrong, watching a blind man and a deaf man attempt to drive a getaway car through downtown New York is pretty hilarious.)

And I was completely underwhelmed at the moment it’s revealed that the gold coin everyone’s been chasing is a ‘room temperature superconductor.’ Are we supposed to be impressed? Talk about meh.

Wilder and Pryor are always funny, though, and lovable and cuddly and, in the case of Gene Wilder in particular, surprisingly sexually attractive. I’ve always wanted to just give him a big hug, gaze deep into his brilliant blue eyes while gently touching his curly hair and then take it from there, lol.

Both men are great comedic partners, and the way they vibe off each other more than makes up for any deficiencies in plot. The scene where they meet at Wilder’s news kiosk is so funny, and ditto the one where Richard Pryor is masquerading as a Swedish sex therapist for geriatrics. The bit where he says, in authentic Swedish Chef from THE MUPPET SHOW pidgin English, ‘Mostly, they just like fucking…!’ is just a priceless moment in the film.

Happy New Year, anyway. Let’s welcome 2022 with open arms and open minds. I won’t challenge the Universe to fisticuffs by saying that things can’t get any worse, so instead I’ll just say that we all sincerely hope that they’ll get a little easier.

  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 Vampirology. 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:
https://www.amazon.com/Thirteen-Stops-Sandra-Harris-ebook/dp/B089DJMH64
The sequel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS LATER,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books:
 https://www.amazon.com/dp/1781994234