I absolutely loved this low-budget British horror film set largely in council flats in a deprived part of England. There’s something very eerie about council flats when they’re in any way rundown, dilapidated or even deserted. Who knows what might lurk behind those closed doors along with the peeling paint, the black mould conditions and the lonely drip-drip-drip of the kitchen tap…?

This film is more of a haunting by a person of a person, rather than the flat itself being haunted, but it’s still good. If you want to watch a phenomenal low-budget British horror film about a haunted block of deserted council flats which are slated for demolition, please, please, please watch Christopher Frampton’s 2014 masterclass in spookiness, THE FORGOTTEN.

It’s terrifically scary and atmospheric, with the broken-down flat complex becoming a character in itself, filled with menace, threat and dread. Like in THE DISAPPEARED, it also features a troubled adolescent boy living with a deadbeat father because there’s no mother in the picture, and, as always, the lead character, the person being haunted, has to decide whether he’s losing his mind or if there actually is someone, or something, out there in the supernatural realm with a message they need him to hear…

Anyway, in THE DISAPPEARED, Matthew Ryan is a young man fresh out of a psychiatric hospital after the abduction one night of his little brother Tom, who is still missing. Matthew suffers terrible, terrible guilt about Tom, because he was celebrating his own birthday with his pals instead of looking after Tom, who wandered off- at night-time- and was taken, just one of a number of kids who’ve gone missing from the local area in recent years.

But if Tom was abducted and is most likely dead, then how come Matthew hears his voice in his ear night and day, and actually sees Tom too in physical form, looking exactly as he did in life, as robust and corporeal as ever he was…? Until Matthew tries to catch hold of him, of course, and then he’s gone like a light being snuffed out.

Matthew’s dad Jake, played by Emma Thompson’s hubby Greg Wise, can barely stand to look at his one remaining son, blaming Matthew as he does for Tom’s disappearance. Life in their council flat is fraught with unresolved tension and unspoken blame. Local thugs beat up Matthew because he’s that ‘weird kid’ with the missing brother. It’s not very nice being Matthew Ryan just now…

Poor Matthew, depressed, guilt-ridden and shadowed by ghosts, is not without support in his grief and confusion. A beautiful young girl called Amy moves into the flat next door and they become fast friends. She points him in the direction of a psychic mum-of-one in a nearby block of flats who might be able to make sense of the visions he’s having of Tom.

Matthew also has his best friend Simon, played by Tom Felton who was posh boy Draco Malfoy in the Harry Potter films, and local priest Adrian Ballan, one of those do-gooder types who take an interest in the fate of local youths. You know the type.

Encouraging the lads to stay in school, to not do drugs and to not knock up Emma from Fourth Year because that’s their future good and fucked then. I shouldn’t think it’d be all that great for poor Emma from Fourth Year either…

Things take an even more sinister turn when Simon’s twelve-year-old sister Sophie goes missing. A tip-off from ‘the other side’ sends Matthew hurtling to the place where he thinks he’ll find both the abductor-killer and possibly some of the victims, maybe even live ones? The final showdown scenes are good ‘n’ gripping.

The atmosphere was lovely and gloomy throughout the film, helped by some gorgeous scenes of old high-rise flats and deliciously ancient-looking churches, crypts and woodland. The director even managed to make some of his shots look like they came from much earlier times, to wit, the ‘Seventies, which I personally appreciated a great deal.

I might have called the movie something else, perhaps, to avoid confusion with the group of people collectively known as ‘the Disappeared’ who went missing, believed murdered by the IRA, in Northern Ireland during the period called ‘the Troubles.’

Even a quick google search of that movie I mentioned earlier, THE FORGOTTEN, yields only a slew of items about a Julianne Moore Hollywood movie from 2004. So, we need some original, snappy and difficult-to-confuse-with-something-else titles here, peeps. THE HAUNTING OF MATTHEW RYAN, perhaps? I like that. We’ll call it that, lol. And top marks to all concerned for making a really smashing horror film.       

I don’t just watch tv. Tips for writing reviews, part 1 — Paper Beats World

If you love what we do here, please consider supporting us on Ko-fi. As some of you may know, I write reviews for a site called Haunted MTL. And yes, being a critic has always been a dream of mine. I think it’s probably a dream a lot of people have. I won’t lie, it’s […]

I don’t just watch tv. Tips for writing reviews, part 1 — Paper Beats World






A note from the author, Sandra Harris: Hi guys, I’m re-posting this review which I penned last September 2016 because, last night, something rather wonderful happened to me. I turned up at the Irish Film Institute here in Dublin to see acclaimed writer Laura Albert talk about her work after a special screening of  AUTHOR: THE JT LEROY, and see Laura I most certainly did.

We met quite by accident in the Ladies’ Toilet, yet another occasion on which I’m thrilled and infinitely thankful to have been born female, haha. She’s absolutely beautiful to look at, with a wicked sense of style, and she’s a really lovely person to boot. She was so generous with her time and more than happy to sign the four copies of her books I’d brought along with me. Yes, four…!

Actually, Laura enjoyed the story I told her of how my now grown-up daughter was sneakily reading her books in the early-to-mid ‘Noughties, and also watching the film THE HEART IS DECEITFUL ABOVE ALL THINGS on the sly at a sleepover with a bunch of her teenaged chums, all without my knowledge, of course…!

I think I would have had a stroke on the spot had I known what my darling little girl was reading in her leisure time, haha. Now she’s an adult herself, we can talk about the books openly so it’s all good. Laura seemed tickled pink by this story of mother-daughter literary shenanigans.

Laura deserves all the success and happiness the future can bring her and I sincerely hope this happens for her. In the meantime, read the books and watch AUTHOR: THE JT LEROY STORY. It’s a stunningly mesmerising watch and Laura is a character whom, I promise you, you’ll never, ever forget. Love and best wishes, Sandra Harris, film critic extraordinaire and a legend in her own lunchtime. Now read on… 

I’ve watched or read a lot of author biopics/biographies in my time, but this one- how do I put this?- stands out somewhat. To be blunt, it was possibly the most bizarre, outrageous and yet strangely compelling author story I’d ever come across.

I’d missed seeing it when it came out in the cinema over the summer this year (2016), so I was thrilled to get a chance to review it for its home release debut. Whatever you think of it, it’s the author movie not only of the year but, let’s face it, probably of the millenium. You’ll most likely never hear a story like this again, so let’s take a peep at what exactly this superb documentary film is trying to tell us.

Okay, where to start? My mind is still blown from watching the film. Okay, let’s focus. A few years ago, a friend of mine (I can now admit that it was my own daughter!) handed me a book and told me to read it. I did, and thought that THE HEART IS DECEITFUL ABOVE ALL THINGS (2001) was a terrific but really harrowing read.

It was supposedly written by a young American male called JT (or Jeremiah ‘Terminator’) LeRoy, whose tragic back-story included child prostitution, drug addiction, homelessness, all kinds of physical and sexual abuse and even the dreaded HIV. (You’ll have noted my use of the word ‘supposedly’ there…)

He was brought up (or dragged up, if you prefer) by his single mother, a truck-stop prostitute or ‘lot lizard’ whose succession of boyfriends all used her little son for their own nefarious purposes. It’s a story to make your blood run cold, frankly.

JT LeRoy famously brought out two books which were absolutely huge at the time they were published. The one I read myself, THE HEART IS DECEITFUL ABOVE ALL THINGS (2001), is a series of ten linked short stories narrated by the boy ‘Jeremiah’ and telling the story of his miserable life on the road with his prostitute mother.

Mom apparently was a real headwrecker who alternately showed the boy both love and abusive behaviour, while little Jeremiah just craved her love and even wanted to be like her. The scenes of abuse Jeremiah received at the hands of his mother’s boyfriends and also his ultra-religious, child-beating grandparents are hard to read. I admit freely that I nearly didn’t make it all the way to the end, though of course I’m glad now that I did.

SARAH (2000) is narrated by an unnamed boy who details his grim existence as the son of Sarah, a ‘lot lizard’ who works the truck-stops in West Virginia. Like the mother in THE HEART IS DECEITFUL ABOVE ALL THINGS, she by turns rejects him and shows him affection. It’s a sad, sad story. I’m getting depressed just thinking about it.

Anyway, the thing about these two iconic books is that they were presented to the reading public as the autobiographical experiences of this shy, troubled young man, JT LeRoy, who only ever appeared in public heavily disguised in a blonde wig and huge visor sunglasses.

Celebrities flocked- and I do mean flocked- to his side, all anxious to take the reclusive author under their wing. Bono from rock group U2 (of course…!) was one of the first in the queue, armed with the apparently legendary ‘Bono Talk’ about the industry and the fickle, heartless Bitch-Goddess that is Showbusiness. Well, I wouldn’t know about that now, Ted…!

Courtney Love, BLONDIE‘s Debbie Harry, Lou Reed, Shirley Manson, the front woman from the band GARBAGE, Billy Corgan from THE SMASHING PUMPKINS and Asia Argento, daughter of horror maestro Dario Argento, are all clearly shown in the documentary sucking up big-time to JT, the then shit-hot ‘It’ boy of the literary world. Heh-heh-heh. Celebrities, honestly! Such utter twats. I’m actually sooooo fucking embarrassed for them. The state of them.

Anyway, then comes the bombshell. Rumours begin to circulate that JT is not only not whom he claims to be, but also that he never wrote those two books at all and therefore couldn’t even lay claim to having had those terrible experiences that had people feeling so sorry for him.

News about ‘the biggest literary hoax of the century’ began to hit the news-stands. The two people closest to the so-called ‘JT LeRoy’ knew the answers that an outraged media and literary public were seeking but, the thing was, were they talking…?

This is such a fascinating story. My friend (okay, daughter!) who’d given me that book to read a few years back watched the documentary with me and she’s still fuming over the reveal of the author’s true identity. She’d never heard anything about it before and she was stunned, to say the least.

For her, it was probably a bit like finding out that, say, JK Rowling hadn’t written the Harry Potter books or that her childhood heroine Jacqueline Wilson hadn’t really penned those lovely books about the trials and tribulations of being the daughters of divorced parents, haha.

I’ll let you guys in on a little secret. I actually much prefer the real author to the impersonator (who really bloody annoyed me) and that’s a fact…! I think the film will be of interest to non-writers as much as writers. It’s a gut-wrenching human interest story of gender confusion, real child sexual and physical abuse and overwhelming feelings of being unloved and unwanted (feelings that many people can identify with) that, frankly, I think everybody should try to see. There now, enough from me. I’ve done my bit. Now you guys can go watch the fim and do yours…!





‘The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?’ Jeremiah 17.9

Oh, wowee-wow. This is a hard film to watch, as is any film with sustained child abuse in it. The book, along with two others, were supposedly autobiographical novels written by teenage boy author sensation, JT LeRoy.

About halfway through the ‘Noughties, however, the whole JT LeRoy thing was revealed to be both fraudulent and JT himself the relative-in-law of Laura Albert, the real writer of the books.

Ms. Albert is actually a lovely, open and friendly woman whom I met when she came to Dublin about five or six years ago for a screening of the documentary AUTHOR: THE JT LEROY STORY.

She stated at the time of the big ‘Exposure’ that using the avatar-slash-persona-slash-alias of JT LeRoy to ‘hide’ behind helped her to write things she might otherwise have found too tough to commit to paper.

Nothing wrong with that, except that convincing people that JT LeRoy was the author of the books was construed as, ahem, fraud, and there might have been some, er, legal unpleasantness attendant upon the whole thing…

The whole thing was viewed as quite the literary swizz, in fact, and some people were really not very happy at all about being swizzed, and I suppose you can’t really blame them. But let’s move on to the plot, shall we?

Asia Argento, stunning Italian actress and the daughter of legendary film-maker Dario Argento, is excellent and very believable as the main character Sarah. Sarah is a trashy wench indeed, a drug addict prostitute and alcohol abuser, and the America she inhabits, the America of truck-stops and cheap motel rooms, is portrayed as a bleak and unforgiving place to be.

The daughter of physically abusive and, frankly, terrifying, Christian Fundamentalists, played by Peter Fonda and Ornella Muti, Sarah is probably the most effed-up person you’ll ever see on screen.

When we first meet her, she’s getting her seven-year-old son Jeremiah back from his stable foster family. She’s not much cop at mothering, to put it mildly. Neither is she doing him any favours by taking him away from the only decent home he’s ever known…

First, she convinces the terrified boy that his foster parents don’t want him, then she wallops him over the head (metaphorically at first) with the full impact of her dysfunctional lifestyle. Poor kid doesn’t stand a chance.

No school, no regular meals- just what he can find or forage- and physical and sexual abuse by the bucketload, courtesy of Sarah’s long parade of dead-beat truck-driving boyfriends. Sometimes they all just live in the trucks for a while because it’s handier.

The child is also left alone in the house for days at a time while Sarah goes on holiday with some guy. But don’t worry, folks! There might be some crackers in the cupboard…

Poor Jeremiah lives with his grandparents’ brutal cult for three years while a drugged-up Sarah goes gallivanting with her men, each one more unsuitable than the last.

Then she swans in and takes him back again. Thus begins the next phase of Jeremiah’s miserable existence; dressing up as Sarah’s ‘little sister’ so her boyfriends won’t be put off by the fact that she’s saddled with a kid. Nice, huh?

Jeremiah becomes even more messed up with all the cross-dressing stuff. Throw in an exploding meth lab and Sarah’s deteriorating mental state and you’ve got yourself a recipe for certain disaster. The film is well-acted but so, so bleak.

Marilyn Manson has a small role as a dead-beat boyfriend who succumbs to Jeremiah’s sexual advances- yes, you read that right- while the child is dressed in his momma’s ‘seduction’ gear. It’s just so effed-up.

One disturbing footnote to the film is the following. Jimmy Bennett, who plays young Jeremiah, received a large cash settlement from Asia Argento after he claimed that she’d sexually assaulted him in a hotel room in 2013, when he was seventeen and she was thirty-seven. It’s all a bit sordid. Watch the film if you think you can handle it, but don’t say you weren’t warned.





Who doesn’t love a story like this, in which a rich toff lady gets with a nice hairy bit of rough, who’s got good garden soil under his fingernails and fire and a nice pork pie in his belly? LADY CHATTERLEY’S LOVER is one such story.

Emma Corrin plays the titular Lady C., or Constance ‘Connie’ Reid, the gorgeous young brunette who marries Baronet Clifford Chatterley, who in turn owns a huge bit of real estate in the countryside called-you guessed it- Chatterley.

Anyway, Connie and Clifford manage to consummate their marriage the night before Clifford goes off to fight World War One, and presumably write a shit-tonne of war poems as well, lol, as was the style of the time. When he returns, he’s an impotent as a Nevada Boxing Commissioner, a line used by Montgomery Burns in popular cartoon THE SIMPSONS.

He can’t now get Connie pregnant with an heir- or even a ‘spare,’ eh, Prince Haz?- so he suggests, rather open-mindedly of him, I think, that Connie should sleep with someone else in order to conceive. Enter the deliciously ‘reserved’ (a pun!) gamekeeper of Chatterley, Oliver Mellors, who lives in a darling little rustic hut on the estate.

The sex is hot and raunchy. Just think of long shapely legs in silk stockings wrapped round a trim male waist and firm buttocks. Think of a wail of desire and a woman’s fingers entwined in a man’s curly hair while her lips seek out his and their tongues lap together like waves on a seashore.

Think of his magnificent organ, sliding inwards and upwards in a sauce of feminine arousal, and of his proud, upstanding soldiers, each one ready, willing and able to hit the spot and do the honours on behalf of his battalion. Crikey, I’m confused now. Do I describe the female orgasm or hand out the Victoria Cross? Oh well. It’s much the same thing, you know…!

Oliver the gamekeeper has feelings, apparently. He’s angry at the thought of Constance’s using him to conceive a child, but it must be obvious to everyone at Chatterley that Connie doesn’t give a fig for her injured husband and is head-over-heels in love with the gamekeeper. Utterly besotted doesn’t even cover it.

After all, it’s Oliver she dances naked in the rain with, Oliver to whom she gravitates every minute of the day. And, when she realises she’s pregnant with Oliver’s child, it’s not Clifford (the Big Red Dog???) with whom she’s planning on settling down and playing House. But what’s Stuffed Shirt Clifford going to have to say about all this…? Constance is still his Awfully Wedded Wife, after all, isn’t she…?

Not a whole lot happens in this film except for gorgeous scenery and inter-class sex, is that what you’d call it? The housekeeper, Mrs. Bolton, is played by Joely Richardson who, of course, played Lady Chatterley in the 1993 BBC TV serial version, with Sean Bean as her lover.

Finally, there’s a lot of sex in the fillum as I may have mentioned, but it’s not a very sexy film at the same time. Not a lot of chemistry between the two leads, you see, and no scenes at all where the viewer would be positively transported with passion out of their own circumstances and into the lovers’. It’s a very ploddy, ‘meh’ sort of film.

Here’s a short wee sketch I wrote myself that might have livened the film up a bit.

Characters: Constance is the wife; Clifford the husband; and Oliver the lover.

Constance: Right, well, I’m off then, Clifford. I’m leaving you for Oliver, remember?

Clifford: Bugger. Was that today? I was sure it wasn’t until next week.

Constance: Clifford, you’re fucking hopeless, you know that?

Clifford: Well, at least I’m not the laughing stock of Chatterley like you, doing it with that gardener fellow every time my back is turned.

Constance: Clifford, your back is always turned, silly! It happened at the Battle of the Somme, don’t you remember? The doctors couldn’t turn you back around the right way again, remember?

Clifford: Thanks for reminding me, bitch. So, anyway, how do you and your gardener fellow propose to live without my millions?

Constance: We shall live deliciously, my gardener and I, feasting on fresh air and sunshine and poetry and art and Oliver’s massive knob.

Clifford, savagely disappointed: And to think I spent all that time trying to teach you that money is the only thing worth living for. I’m ashamed of you, Constance.

Constance: Oh, fuck off, Clifford, you old dullard. Here’s Oliver now, anyway. Now you’ll really see something. Oliver, honey, over here!

The couple start fucking, much to Clifford’s utter disgust. A crowd gathers round to praise Oliver’s exceptional swordsmanship.

Constance, moaning in mid-coitus: Lend us twenty quid, would you, Clifford? I’m a bit stoney, and you only pay Oliver once a year. It takes forever to come round.

Clifford: Give me one good reason why I should give you a brass farthing, woman?

Constance: Well, seriously, Clifford, old chap, you’re sucking Oliver’s cock right now. He’s not a bloody object, you know. A sex-thing on sale to the highest bidder. He’s very sensitive on the subject of being used for sex, as it goes.

Clifford: Ah balls. He reaches mournfully for his wallet and does the necessary.

Oliver grins broadly, carries on sucking and waves to the camera.




I’m on my local street

And it’s raining

It’s the second Monday in January

Not even the third one

The one that everyone calls

The most depressing day of the year

That’s next Monday;

I just seem to be having mine

A little early

That’s all

I’m wet and my back hurts

From humping these shopping bags around

And I’ve a mountain of worries

Stored up in my head

For careful use throughout the coming year

I’m starting to categorize them singly

(I’m very particular about my worries)

Fearful of losing one

Of letting one fall in the gutter

And roll away down the street like a frisbee

When a one-legged man

Whizzes past me in a wheelchair

His aura trailing behind him

Like a birthday party banner

So that I can read it clearly

‘Count yer blessings, love,’

It calls to me

‘’Cause yeh never know the day nor the hour.’

And I pack away my piddly little troubles

I’m sure that they won’t mind

Waiting another week

To be allowed out





I loved this Christmas horror movie, which is streaming now on Shudder. Darlene Hagen is played by Anna Gunn, who seems to be most popular for her role on BREAKING BAD. I admit I never watched BREAKING BAD. It came too soon after THE SOPRANOS for me to be ready to welcome another series into my life. Who am I kidding? It’s still too soon for me.

Anyway, Darlene is a recovering alcoholic whose teenage daughter Sally went missing about twenty years ago and was never seen again. Darlene, after having been to hell and back during these twenty years, finally feels ready to host Christmas for her family again.

She’s no longer married, so it’ll be her sister and her kids coming for Christmas dinner tomorrow. Darlene’s sparky best friend Gretchen from across the road (played by Janeane Garofalo, comedienne and actress; THE TRUTH ABOUT CATS AND DOGS), is cheerleading a nervous Darlene along every step of the way. Ms. Garofalo looks fantastic at whatever age she is now (fifty-eight, but she doesn’t look it!) and is my favourite character in the film.

Anyway, Gretchen has finished helping out at Darlene’s house with the cooking and baking and goes home for the night. It’s a snowy Christmas Eve. Both their houses are beautifully lit up for Christmas and the snow makes the whole landscape look like something off a gorgeous sparkly Christmas card.

The inside of Darlene’s house is charmingly festive-looking too. In fact, this here movie is as seasonal as DIE HARD, lol, just in case anyone was in danger of doubting this was a Crimbo movie; I know what you Christmas Movie Doubters are like. Don’t you start that shit with me!

So, Darlene is home alone, about ready to hit the hay so Santa can come down her chimney for his once-yearly treat, when two things arrive/happen at once. A, an upgrading of the snow-storm from picturesque to blizzard, and, B, a knock on the door that turns out to be Jack, her ex-brother-in-law. As he and her sister are split up now, Darlene feels a bit weird asking him in, but she can’t exactly leave him on the doorstep in the snow, either.

So, what the hell are you doing here on Christmas Eve, Jack? The little weasel (played by the son of William Roache, aka Ken Barlow on Coronation Street) tries to make out like this is supposed to be a lovely surprise for his ex-wife and kids, who are coming tomorrow for Christmas at Darlene’s.

It becomes quickly obvious, however, that Jack has more on his mind than chomping down on a few mince pies and pulling some crackers with his ex-missus. For one thing, why is he going on and on about how much Darlene has always meant to him? It’s Darlene’s sister he’s been married to, not Darlene.

And why, if his intentions are pure, why has he brought a gun and cable ties with him…? A rum cove if you don’t mind me saying. Who brings a f**king gun to Christmas dinner? A guest you do not want to invite to your home to pull your cracker, that’s who.

The rest of the movie involves a wild and violent cat-and-mouse chase throughout the huge old house, but, don’t worry folks, Darlene still finds time to play a bit of ice-hockey!

What is the secret Jack is trying to impart to her so urgently? And what he has got to ‘apologise’ for? And is it fair of him to expect a shell-shocked Darlene to pronounce and carry out the sentence herself? Self-serving and arrogant, and rotten to the care. That’s our Jack.

Darlene, on the other hand, is an extremely likeable character. It’s obvious that she still adores her daughter Sally, a budding musician, and that she’s spent these last twenty years keeping Sally’s ‘missing’ status to the forefront of her own and her friends’ and family’s lives.

She’s stapled ‘MISSING’ flyers to telegraph poles. She’s gone on local and even national media to talk about Sally. She now helps other people who have missing loved ones. She’s been a campaigner and a fighter and that most active and proactive of creatures, a mom whose child has gone missing and may be in danger/trouble. You can imagine her out on the highway in the snow, handing flyers to passing cars.

She’s always held out hope as well, hope that Sally is still alive. Hope that someone’s holding her against her will, maybe in the sex slave trade, and that she may someday escape and walk back through the door, like so many other female abduction victims have done in recent years. Jaycee Dugard. Natascha Kampusch. The three victims of Ariel Castro. Darlene names some of the ‘returned’ victims in the film in connection with her long-standing search for Sally.

It’s touched on in the film as well that Darlene is a recovering alcoholic, who actually nearly relapses in front of our eyes. It would not surprise us to hear that she started drinking as a result of Sally’s disappearance.

Did her drinking break up her marriage, of which we know little, of was it simply the disappearance itself? Many couples split up after a child goes missing, unable to bear either their own pain and guilt or the other parent’s.

THE APOLOGY is well made and plotted, and I don’t think it could really have been improved in any way, other than, at the end, to make Gretchen and Darlene realise they’ve been gay for each other the whole time and would like to get married in the New Year. They’d make a smashing, intelligent couple. And their coffee would always be delicious.





I love this film. Charley Boorman, son of director John Boorman who made DELIVERANCE, is phenomenally good as Tommy/Tomme, the white boy who is kidnapped by a native tribe of the Brazilian Rainforest and brought up by them as a member of their tribe, the Invisible People.

Why was little Tommy in Brazil in the first place? Well, because his dad Bill Markham, played by the sexy and gorgeous Powers Boothe, is the engineer building a massive dam there that involves the gradual erosion of the Rainforest; the gradual erosion, by extension, of the homes of the one or two indigenous tribes that still live there.

The edge of the world used to be so far away when we were young, comments the chief of the Invisible People at one point. But so-called ‘progress’ brings the ‘edge of the world’ closer to them year by year. Eventually, even the land on which their homes are built will have been eroded. What then? It’s a grim prospect indeed.

Ten years pass and the dam is nearing completion. Tommy’s dad never gives up hope of finding his son. It finally happens at a crucial moment. Bill is at a waterfall, fleeing from the Fierce people who, you can tell from their name, are a lot less pleasant than the nice, quiet self-effacing Invisible People who stole Tommy.

Tomme (pronounced Tommay), now seventeen and a man, is at the same waterfall, searching for sacred stones to bring to his marriage to the lovely Kachiri. Tomme’s and Bill’s eyes meet through the falling water and they know each other immediately, mouthing ‘Dadde?’ and ‘Tommy?’ to each other across the river. It’s a breath-taking moment.

Tomme saves Daddee (pronounced Dadday) from the savage, cannabilistic Fierce People, then Dadde recovers from his injuries at the home of the Invisible People. Tomme marries Kachiri after an elaborate ceremony which involves his bonking her on the head with a huge stick and carrying her unconscious to their new home, where the marriage is consummated in the usual way. I wonder what happens if the bride gets a concussion from the pre-marital bonk on the noggin with a stick the size of a bleedin’ bedpost. Nookie interruptus, perhaps…? Girlfriend in a coma, even…?

The rascally rogue Chief Wanadi, leader of the Invisible People, invites Dadde to stay with them forever, smoking the pipe of oblivion and availing himself of the delicious nudie totty. Cor blimey! What a way to live, eh? But Dadde has a wife and daughter to get back to and a dam to build. He won’t be the cause of his wife suffering any more anguish. Reluctantly, he takes his leave of his son.

Very soon after this, however, the terrifying Fierce People’s greed for money and guns sees the near-destruction of the Invisible People. Charley begs for Daddee’s help to save the women of his tribe, including his beloved bride, Kachiri, who are all in mortal peril. They’ve been abducted and are being forced to work as prostitutes in a filthy brothel run by white men in conjunction with the Fierce People.

Dadde plays a blinder, but then it turns out that there’s something else he can do for Tomme and his tribe that might guarantee their future safety, if not outright survival. Has Dadde got it in him? Has Dadde got the balls?

Well, Dadde Bill is very well put together, which we know from the scenes in which he appears in a loincloth, so I reckon he’s got the balls all right. But more than balls; he’s got the heart, a big huge warm heart full of love for his beautiful son, who has clearly grown up with the loyalty and devotion to family his father managed to instill in him in his early years. ‘Give me the boy till he is seven,’ say the religious order, the Jesuits (I think?), ‘and I will show you the man.’

Quick round-up, now. All the Invisible People are in the nip; no willies, though, just boobies and nudie posteriors. Powers Boothe is a truly handsome and masculine man. I would have liked to know him. And finally, something really random now. Would you like to hear something MAD I learned this year about cannibalism? Not that cannibalism isn’t completely bonkers in and of itself, of course! But get this! Gather round now, children…

Back in the 1950s, doctors and scientists became aware that a tribe in Papua New Guinea known as the Fore (pronounced Four-Ay) weren’t having a lot of luck with their women and children, vast numbers of whom were dying of a horrible disease they’d christened ‘kuru,’ which means trembling.

The symptoms were this all-over-body trembling and an increasing inability to manage their own limbs, movements and emotions. Kuru is often called ‘the laughing disease’ because of the bouts of uncontrollable emotion evinced by the sufferers. Isn’t that horrible and creepy? One of the most famous books on the subject is called ‘LAUGHING TO DEATH’ for this exact reason.

Anyhow, how come the women and children were the only sufferers, and not the men? Wait till you hear this. The Fore tribe were cannibals, as you might have guessed. They eat their dead so as to always keep a bit of the deceased about them, but the guys ate the ‘good’ fleshy meat bits and this left the women and children to chow down on… guess what? The brains…

Don’t, I beg of you, ever knowingly eat the brains of another human being, cooked or uncooked. They may contain bad, abnormally folded proteins called Prions which can transfer to the eater and cause big spongy holes to appear in their own brain. Big spongy holes in your brain is A TERRIBLE THING TO HAPPEN. A fatal degenerative brain disorder is the only outcome.

The Fore people were eventually persuaded to give up eating their dead in the 1960s, but, because of kuru’s long incubation period, their people still died of the disease as late as 2009/2010. Right into the modern age. What a grim thought. Want to hear grimmer?

If sheep are fed the brains of their own kind in their feed, as a way of skimping on the food bills, the poor little critters can develop the form of kuru known as ‘scrapie.’ It’s a Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathy akin to kuru and caused by bad prions. The poor baa-baas itch so badly with the disease that they end up ‘scraping’ their fleeces off by rubbing them off any surface they think might help them to alleviate their itching.

Bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or BSE or Mad Cow Disease, is another dreadful Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathy or TSE caused by bad prions or proteins. Cattle become infected after being fed grub that contained the remains of other cattle who developed the disease spontaneously, or of scrapie-infected sheep.

The human form of BSE is Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. If you catch this fatal degenerative brain disorder from infected meat, here’s what can happen to you: dementia, involuntary movements, blindness, weakness, coma, death.

It’s a very good argument for going vegetarian, isn’t it? Alzheimer’s Disease is another one of those diseases associated with the build-up of bad proteins in and around the brain. The brain with Alzheimer’s doesn’t look dissimilar to the brain with kuru. In both cases, pockets of nerve cells will have been decimated to leave holes in the brain.

I’m sorry for bringing up all this depressing, horrible medical stuff over the festive season, but, A, I’ve been down a lot of weird Internet rabbit holes this year, and, B, I remember myself and a boyfriend laughing ourselves stupid in the late ‘90s or early 2000s about the very notion of Mad Cow Disease.

We literally didn’t have a clue about the hideousness and pain and suffering associated with this disease and we thought the idea of a Mad Cow was hilarious. Now I know different. (I don’t know what happened to him.)

To sum up, THE EMERALD FOREST; good. Cannibalism; bad. Very, very bad.

Happy New Year, y’all…