I came to this movie knowing literally nothing about it beforehand. Can you imagine the shock I got as the film played out?

I was thrilled to see the gorgeous French actress Isabelle Adjani in the lead female role. She is utterly exquisite to look at, and was superb in Werner Herzog’s film adaptation of NOSFERATU in 1979, in which she played the frail but determined and gutsy Lucy to Bruno Ganz’s Jonathan Harker.

Sam Neill of JURASSIC PARK (1993) and THE PIANO (1993) fame is quite a dish himself, and is still very good-looking in 1981 when this film was made. POSSESSION is set in Cold War-era West Berlin at the time of the infamous ‘Wall,’ about eight years before it eventually comes down. It’s a film about a couple divided, set in a city divided. That’s a catchy sound-bite, isn’t it?

The city streets look attractively decayed, all graffitied and dissolute, some thirty-six or so years after the end of World War Two. The huge run-down apartment building in which Adjani’s character Anna secretes her ‘lover’ greatly resembles one of those in which families of rich Jews resided, before the Gestapo would climb the grand and winding flights of stairs, rap hard on a particular door and inform the occupants of the flat that they have thirty minutes or less to get out of their home, and to bring with them only essential items and enough food and drink for three or four days and nights as well. Neighbours’ doors would remain uncompromisingly shut while the Jews were taken out of their legitimate homes and brought to ghettos, police stations or holding stations for the concentration camps. Chilling times, eh…?

Anyway, Sam Neill plays Mark, a returning spy who comes home to his West Berlin flat to discover that his beautiful wife, Anna (Adjani) has gone off him completely and has even been unfaithful to him, the shocking little hussy. She doesn’t even want him at their flat, which is deeply hurtful and even incomprehensible to Mark.

Throughout the entire film, either one or the other of them is constantly running away from their flat, which is bad news for their son Bob, aged five, who is fifty shades of fucked up due to his parents’ neglect and constant violent behaviour towards each other.

Mark runs off to look for the missing Anna, and Anna frequently disappears to visit the someone- or something- she’s got secreted in the rundown shabby grandeur of the apartment I was describing earlier. Is it real or is it a metaphor for the worst break-up of the most toxic marriage that ever existed…? Critics abound for either argument.

Toxic isn’t even the word for this awful marriage. Anna clearly feels stifled, suffocated, choked by Mark’s possessive, controlling love, and Mark is devastated to discover just how fed-up she is of him. Fed-up is the wrong word as well, it’s simply not strong enough.

She’s screaming hysterically, like a totally deranged person, for much of the movie, she attacks her own person with an electric carving knife, and there’s an horrific miscarriage-slash-birth scene in an empty subway tunnel at night that makes certain scenes in THE EXORCIST look like something out of LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE.

Mark still wants her though. Is it because of her incredible beauty, her desirability, her sexy French accent, lol? Certainly it’s not for her housekeeping skills, which would have to get nul points from any sane jury.

The apartment looks like a bomb hit it, little Bob isn’t being properly cared for and the neighbours, though we never see them, never, ever ever, must be driven out of their minds with all the noise from the perpetually warring couple. Though why should we care? Clearly they’re the same type of neighbour as the ones from Holocaust times, the type who ‘stay out of things’ and ‘don’t get involved’ when their neighbours are in obvious trouble…

And it’s not funny or particularly clever, the warring, unlike the open warfare between Kathleen Turner’s and Michael Douglas’s characters in WAR OF THE ROSES; it’s pure poison. Anna genuinely seems to be losing her mind, becoming unhinged. She’s the original Devil in a Blue Dress, and there’s no getting around it.

The themes include doppelgangers, marriage breakdown and selfish people deciding that they must have exactly what they want when they want it. Why are there doubles of both Anna and Mark? What have they been lined up for? It’s a tad confusing, especially when you see the school-teacher for the first time.

Heinrich the lover- Anna’s lover- is a strange fish all the same. Supposedly better in bed than Mark, despite the fact that he’s Mark’s senior by several years, maybe it’s his smooth talking that melts Anna’s butter. He’s always telling her how much better she is than anyone else, how she deserves only the best, which, I presume, means him and his big willy and his cunning little womanizing ways.

The woman who plays his wizened old mother- he lives with her- was born in 1896, which makes her really, really old in the film, lol. I know, that was profound. I just have a fascination for people who were born in the 1800s, and whose lives might even straddle three centuries, the nineteenth, the twentieth and the twenty-first. This woman’s didn’t; she expired in 1988 at the tender age of ninety-two…!

POSSESSION comes across as a kind of KRAMER VS. KRAMER as imagined by William Peter Blatty who penned THE EXORCIST, lol. It’s truly the break-up from hell, the worst imaginable, and some people consider the whole thing to be a metaphor for the director’s painful divorce. That must have been some divorce, because it’s some bleedin’ metaphor…

I love the electronic Eighties’ movie score, and the jerky stop-start musical stings that crop up from time to time. It sounds like something composed by Giorgio Moroder or Goblin, but it just says online that the music was done by an Andrzej Korzynski, so I don’t know anything about him except that he was some kind of musical genius. Either way, I dig how this film sounds.

The ‘Creature,’ by the way, was designed by Carlo Rambaldi, who also created E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial in the massively popular kids’ movie of the same name. He was the first special effects artist to be required to prove to law enforcement that his creations weren’t real and that dogs hadn’t really been butchered in a film he did called A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin by Lucio Fulci. Rambaldi, by so doing, saved his director from a possible two-year stretch…!

To finish; a few words on tentacle sex. Do I approve of it? Well, yes, but only if regular sex with a human male is off the table, for some reason. Say, we were taken over by tentacled space aliens who put all the males in cruel hard labour camps with lots of whipping and no Netflix and then seduced all the females who’d been left without blokes.

Under those circumstances, then, yes, obviously, I’d have no choice but to submit to vigorous sessions of tentacle sex, a type of coitus extremely popular in pornographic Japanese anime or manga titles, known collectively as hentai. They contain elements of fantasy, horror, science fiction and bestiality mixed with traditional pornography, and you simply wouldn’t believe how much the Japanese dig it. I actually wonder what they think of Lovecraft…?

Me, now, I’d only do it if all other avenues were closed, as it were, necessity being the mother of invention, and all that. Any port in a storm, after all. And I’d probably keep my eyes closed the whole time as well, so as not to see anything icky. There’s a small bit of nudity in the film, by the way; Sam Neill’s buttocks and Isabelle Adjani’s breasts. What a note to finish on…




I prepared for our last Movie Day with extra care. Freshly popped popcorn for the two of us, but no butter or melted caramel for Minx, just the plain warm stuff. Hot chocolate for me with a marshmallow on top, and a bowl of warm milk for Minx on the floor.

The film was an old favourite, PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, the 2005 version with Keira Knightley as Elizabeth Bennet and Matthew Macfadyen as Mr. Darcy. I could have cheated and put on the 1995 mini-series version with Colin Firth in it that would have lasted a satisfying five hours and twenty-seven minutes, and put off the evil hour by a considerable amount, but there could be no cheating today. Our appointment was for five o’clock and that was that. We could put it off, but, ultimately, it would only make things worse.

I fluffed up the couch cushions, then did the same for Minx’s special purple satin one with the lace edging, on which she normally curled up regally like Queen Victoria when we watched movies together, but today I didn’t feel like I wanted her to lie on her special cushion.

I wanted her to lie on my lap, for one last time, and be petted and stroked and made a fuss of during this, her last day on earth, her last movie, our last movie day together, our last anything together. I choked back a sob as I lifted her gently from her basket and sat down with her on the couch before pressing ‘play’ on the DVD machine.

Her still soft, cuddly body was not as warm as it had used to be. That was part of it. And, if I touched her critically on her stomach, I would be able to actually feel the tumour that was killing her, that was taking her away from me, but I couldn’t touch it.

My hands studiously avoided that area as I hugged her to me, partly because I didn’t want to hurt her by poking her in her afflicted area, it wasn’t just the revulsion I felt that something so nasty should invade the body of my beloved pet cat, my companion of fifteen years. 

A sly bastard of a tumour that wrapped itself around the organs, and so couldn’t be removed without causing almost certain death to the host organism. The host organism? We’re talking about my cat here, my baby, the only one I might ever have!

‘These things happen,’ the vet had said sadly, tutting at Minx from over the tops of her wire-rimmed spectacles. 

‘I know,’ I’d wanted to scream at her, ‘but to other people, not to me! Why is this horrific thing happening to me?’

But, of course, I’d had to stay calm and concentrate on getting Minx safely back to the apartment, where I gave vent to my grief in long sessions on the couch of retching, choking sobs that felt like they were being torn from the very core of my being.

Minx stayed nearby during these wallows in misery, just watching me non-judgementally and patiently keeping me company until I was back to myself again and capable of opening a tin of Whiskas. She’d survived so much in the fifteen years, the usual coughs and colds, gluey eye and sticky ear infections and feline mishaps, even a brush with a neighbour’s dog, and now, finally, it had come to this.  

Now she was in my lap for maybe the last time, the lap of honour, I told her with a hint of dry humour as we embroiled ourselves once more in the shenanigans of Elizabeth Bennet and her sisters, and the Darcys and the Collinses and the Wickfields. I say ‘we,’ because, practically since I’d had her, Minx had always hopped up onto the couch at the first rustle of a Regency bustle.

She adored period dramas, especially film adaptations of Jane Austen’s and Charles Dickens’ works (the latter’s BLEAK HOUSE was a favourite!), and would sit enthralled on her purple satin cushion for hours with her ears pricked. Or, occasionally, fast asleep on said cushion with her mouth open and the tinkling of a Regency piano in the background, lulling her into kitty beddy-byes.

When the film ended and the credits were rolling, she looked up at me tiredly with an expression on her sometimes snooty little face of perfect love and trust. My heart contracted, as if someone were squeezing it in a stone-hard fist. This was going to be the worst pain of my life so far, on a par with the agony of losing Richard and the subsequent miscarriage. I kissed her on her darling little nose, depressingly dry instead of woffly, wet and permanently twitching with endless curiosity.

‘Don’t worry, kiddo,’ I told her, with a courage I was far from feeling. ‘I’ll be with you all the way. You won’t have to do this on your own.’ 

She gazed back up at me as if to assure me that she believed every word. Tears streamed silently down my face as I carried her tired body, too tired and fed-up even to protest, to the kitchen, where the little kitty carry basket we used for vet trips was all kitted out and waiting. Minx settled in it without a murmur, licking her paws for a minute or two before closing her eyes and settling down for a fitful nap. God love her, all she wanted to do these days was to sleep. I can’t say I blamed her.

We were called from the waiting room into the vet’s office just as a man was coming in from outside carrying a huge dog in his arms.

‘Excuse me,’ the man said as he jogged me accidentally with the hindquarters of the gigantic mutt.

I ignored them and distractedly continued on into the vet’s room…

When I re-traced my steps back out through the waiting room about thirty-five minutes later, clutching Minx’s collar with the little silver jingly bells on it, my defences suddenly collapsed. I sank into a chair and howled. I mean, I really howled. I bawled like a baby who didn’t care who was listening.

Gradually, I became aware that the man who’d come in with the massive dog was still there and had moved seats to come and sit beside me. A manly hand patted my shoulder gently and another one extended a packet of unopened tissues towards me. I grabbed them, tore them open and blew my nose loud enough to wake poor Minx.

Oh, Minxy, where have you gone, and why have you left me all alone, wailed my stupid broken heart, and there I was, off again, weeping up a storm next to a strange man in a vet’s waiting room, not caring that my eyes and nose were red and my nose was dripping and anyone could walk in off the street with a poorly pet and see me like this. My baby was gone. What did anything else matter?

‘It’s okay, Millie,’ soothed the strange man’s voice. ‘Everything’s going to be all right, you’ll see.’ 

My bleary eyes shot wide open suddenly. How did this total stranger know my name? I looked into his face properly for the first time. Bearded, wearing glasses, kind brown eyes glinting behind the glass. Wrinkles around the eyes, although I’d always thought of them more as crinkles, laughter lines. I drew back in shock.

‘Richard?’ I whispered. How had I missed it? I’d been distracted going in to the vet’s office, and paid him no attention, and then devastated and in floods of tears coming out. Plus, he had a beard now. He’d always been clean-shaven before.

He nodded. ‘Hope it’s not an unpleasant surprise. Was that Minx in the basket?’ he added sympathetically, lowering his voice out of respect.

Minx had always loved Richard, and he’d adored her. It had been Richard who’d bought her the purple satin TV cushion and pronounced it fit for a queen. Minx had been nearly as fraught as me when Richard and I had broken up.

I swallowed hard, then nodded. ‘What are you doing here?’ I managed, the shock I felt on seeing him back in Dublin temporarily keeping the Minx-tears at bay.

‘Snap,’ he said wryly, holding up a dog collar with a name and address printed on it.

It was only then that I realised that the big dog he’d come in with was now nowhere to be seen. I also realised that I’d known the dog once, and loved him too. ‘Was that Dixie?’ I asked in dismay.

Richard nodded. Dixie was his father’s dog, even older than Minx. ‘Dad isn’t too clever himself at the moment, so he asked me to bring him in.’

‘Are you back for your dad?’ My voice was hesitant. I didn’t know what I’d do if he said he was just back for a flying visit. 

He nodded. ‘Like I said, he’s not doing so well at the moment. He shouldn’t be on his own.’

‘Are you back for, erm, for a while then?’ I held my breath.

‘You could say that.’ He grinned suddenly, and, just like in the before times, it felt to me like a light had just been switched on. ‘To be honest, Mills, I’m back for good. America is a great country, but I missed home. I missed the old folks. I… I missed you too.’

I said nothing, ridiculously pleased to be called by his pet name for me. We both stood up at the same time, as if simultaneously realising that we couldn’t sit gasbagging in the empty vet’s waiting room all night. I could see the receptionist, out in the lobby, from here, and she looked very much as if she was trying to close up for the night.

He walked me to my car, and watched as I carefully placed Minx’s wicker kitty carry basket on the passenger seat. He watched too as I got in, belted myself up and started the engine.

‘Could I give you a call sometime?’ he asked, almost shyly, when the time had come to say goodbye. He ran his hand through his thick brown hair and made it stand on end, just like in the before times. ‘I know things ended badly between us, and I know it was my fault, but you don’t know how many times since then that I’ve wanted to fix things. Part of the reason I’ve come home for good is to see if… if you’ll have me back. So, can I… can I call you sometime?’

I listened, stupefied. I’d wanted nothing more for the last seven years. But I wasn’t going to cave in too easily.

‘I’ll think about it, I said, smiling to myself as I drove off.

I’d suspended Minx’s little collar from the carry handles of her wicker basket. It jingled happily all the way home.






The world’s press sure do love a busty, charismatic blonde, especially if she’s happy to stand and chat and pose for photos that they can sell for big bucks to the tabloid newspapers. They’re happy to showcase her- often meteoric- rise to fame via a sex tape, raunchy ad campaign, sexy film, reality TV show, successful pop record or marriage to an established celebrity, and in return…? In return, she sells her soul to them in a transaction that can often end in death, disaster, disgrace and ignominy.

Sometimes the blonde bombshell lives to fight another day, as in the case of Pamela Anderson, who seems relatively happy with her life today. Other times, as in the case of Anna Nicole Smith, the subject of the brand-new Netflix documentary, the press take pleasure in viciously tearing down what they’ve so carefully constructed, and the blonde bimbo sees her rapidly unravelling life and career played out on the front pages of the trashiest supermarket tabloid publications. It’s so sad, and grubby too. Sad and grubby…

Anna Nicole Smith was born Vickie Lynn Hogan in 1967 in a town called Mexia (pronounced Meh-hee-ah, the x is silent) in Texas. There are numerous shots of Mexia in the documentary, and, my God, it looks like a depressing place for a lively and beautiful girl to grow up in. No wonder Vickie Lynn wanted out. It’s a town of rundown trailers, tumbleweed and stray cats. To be perfectly honest, it looks like something out of a Stephen King movie.

Vickie Lynn grew up hating her mother and not knowing her father. She was deeply affected by the second thing, if not the first as well. She became famous through her appearances in PLAYBOY magazine, her contract with GUESS Jeans, in which she replaced supermodel Claudia Schiffer, and then her controversial marriage to oil billionaire/ businessman J. Howard Marshall, an octogenarian who gifted Anna Nicole Smith, as she now preferred to be called, about a hundred thousand dollars a month while he was ‘dating’ her.

J. Howard Marshall’s stepson son, E. Pierce Marshall, was adamant that Anna would never see another penny of his father’s money after the demise of the oil tycoon at the age of eighty-nine, and so a nasty court case ensued that would continue on through the courts even after the deaths of Anna Nicole and E. Pierce Marshall. A bit like that never-ending court case, Jarndyce vs. Jarndyce, in BLEAK HOUSE by Charles Dickens…

Anna Nicole denied all claims of gold-digging, but I do actually believe her when she thanks J. Howard Marshall, whom she met while she was working in a strip club, for taking care of her and her son Daniel, her child by her first marriage when she was only seventeen and still living in Mexia.

He bestowed financial security upon her and her child, and, in return, he got to say that a fabulous-looking young one like Anna Nicole Smith was, first, his girlfriend and, then, his wife. I don’t believe he was forced into anything, so why should Anna Nicole be slated for her part in the union?

One of the most shocking bits of the documentary occurs when the adult Anna Nicole goes in search of the father she’s been missing her whole life. Suddenly, under the full glare of the camera, he’s there, Donald Hogan, wearing dark glasses and with his hair all quiffed up like Elvis, looking shifty as hell just in case he’s coming in for any flack.

Far from giving him flack, however, the twenty-four-year-old Anna Nicole, wearing hotpants and with her hair in schoolgirl pigtails, is all over him. ‘He’s my daddy,’ she purrs as she strokes him and caresses him and proudly shows him off to the camera. It’s all very disturbing.

Then she whisks ‘her daddy’ and her half-brother Donnie, Donald’s son, off to the Playmate of the Year ceremony at the Playboy mansion where she was to pick up the top award. Donald Hogan, the sleazy low-life, must have thought he’d died and gone to heaven. First, a heavily sexualised Anna Nicole wants him for her ‘Daddy,’ then there are Playboy Bunnies as well.

Anna Nicole later confided in a friend that ‘her Daddy’ had tried to have sex with her after the party and she was so ‘disappointed.’ Disappointed? I was so un-surprised by his scummy actions that I’d actually called it as soon as I heard they were headed off to the ball together. His own son admits that, while he didn’t see it happen, he wouldn’t put it past his old man, who’d previously been in trouble for child rape. What a nice guy.

Then we have the pictures of a drunk and dishevelled Anna Nicole stumbling out of nightclubs and into different guys’ cars, footage of her saying the wrong thing at her court case, and then the awful news from her chauffeur that ‘Baby Girl is gone,’ that the big, brash, busty larger-than-life model and Playboy Bunny has fatally overdosed in some hotel room, just like her idol, Marilyn Monroe

This is a sad watch. Anna Nicole herself is vivacious and bubbly to look at, but not when tragedy strikes her little household, which it does more than once. I found this documentary better and more honest and revealing than the recent one about Pamela Anderson and even the biopic about Marilyn Monroe. If you liked those, you’ll love this.

Drink, drugs, eating disorders, unsuitable men (or women), arguments between same, bad financial moves or investments, causing death by drunk or dangerous driving (and now, any kind of sexual harassment as well) can all ruin a star’s career. And thank God the paparazzi are always there to document these falls from grace, otherwise we might never get to hear about all of them. Some might actually slip through the net.

And we don’t need to ever feel sorry for these celebrities, as they’ve asked for everything they’ve gotten by attempting to stick their heads up over the parapet and become famous. How very dare they? Yes, I’m being heavily sarcastic and scathing towards the paparazzi, whom some have likened over the years to vultures picking over the cadavers of their victims. It’s a pretty good analogy, too.

Anna Nicole Smith was a woman who tried to live the American (substitute any other country where appropriate!) dream, just like so many others before her. She had the looks and the personality and the determination, but fame killed her in the end, dare I say, just like so many others before her. Jean Harlow, Jayne Mansfield, Marilyn Monroe, Princess Diana, Anna Nicole Smith. Pamela Anderson and Britney Spears live on. Good on them for surviving and not succumbing, but it could all have been so different for them too.




Wow. This ghostly horror film completely blew me away. I’d been You-Tube-ing ‘ghost ships’ and related stuff, on account of having read some really scary true-life stories about same in John Robert Colombo’s TRUE CANADIAN GHOST STORIES, an excellent book I read over Halloween. Then a clued-in FB friend recommended DEATH SHIP, and I was intrigued enough to give it a go.

It stars George Kennedy as the main character, a Captain Ashland, the captain of a cruise ship who’s on his last voyage before handing charge of the ship over to Richard Crenna’s Trevor Marshall. I love George Kennedy.

He was one of those very masculine old-school actors like Paul Newman or Steve McQueen, although I’m not sure if he was ever treated as romantic lead material. Very unfair, as I’ve personally always fancied him, this big giant bear of a man with his gruff deep voice and commanding demeanour. My ideal man, in fact, lol.

He was terrific in DALLAS as JR Ewing’s enemy, Carter McKay. I also loved him in the Western movie BANDOLERO! as July Johnson, the straight-down-the-line sheriff who pursues a couple of criminals (played by James Stewart and Dean Martin) into Mexican bandit territory because they’ve brought with them as a hostage the woman that he, July, loves. Alas, the woman, played by the stunning Raquel Welch, prefers bad boy Dean Martin to good guy George Kennedy, and, in the end, no-one really gets what they want. Sigh. Such is life.

Anyway, Captain Ashland is a grumpy bastard who maintains he went to sea to captain a ship and sail the seven seas, not to pander to the gushing socialites who all want to be able to say that they’ve sat at the captain’s table for dinner while they were cruising. I see his point, but on the other hand I see theirs too. No point going on a poxy cruise unless you can say you’ve chowed down at the captain’s table, lol.  

His pandering to vacuous socialites gets cut brutally short on this, his last trip, however. The cruise ship is scuppered by another vessel that comes at them out of nowhere and blows the whole lot of ’em out of the water in a POSEIDON ADVENTURE-style maritime catastrophe. This other vessel is the titular DEATH SHIP. Climb aboard at your peril…

The survivors, cast adrift in a lifeboat, have no choice but to board the ghostly vessel. The survivors are, neatly and coincidentally, Captain Ashland; his successor-to-be Trevor Marshall and Marshall’s wife and two cute kids, Robin (a girl) and Ben, who are allowed the full run of the ghost ship in a highly irresponsible manner that would earn their parents a rap on the knuckles today.

There’s a sexy young couple called Nick and Lori who were having sex when the iceberg, sorry, the ghost ship, struck (that’s the way I’d like to go, by the way, lol); the ship’s comic (bet he doesn’t find his new gig too bloody funny!) and a random old lady passenger, who are the ghost ship’s first two disposable casualties. Oh yes, the ghost ship wants to kill them all, didn’t I say? Cue evil snigger.

The ‘death ship’ is magnificent in its rusty, cobwebby state of dereliction and decay. We don’t know if it’s a ghost ship as such or what those in the maritime business would call a ‘derelict’ ship, a real ship that somehow lost its crew and passengers and now sails the seven seas rudderless, a navigational hazard if it should happen across another vessel in its path.

What we do know is that the ship is a relic from Nazi Germany, a so-called ‘Gestapo interrogation ship’ where ‘enemies of the state’ were taken and tortured horribly for what bits of information they possessed.

Out at sea, miles from anywhere, who was there to hear you scream? We also know that ghostly, unseen hands operate the rusty, dusty machinery and direct it towards hurting, maiming or even killing the passengers now in its evil clutches.

I love the way that they only show you the bare minimum of ghostliness in the film, and the way that Nazi Germany and the ‘Forties, the time when this ship was peopled with real-life seamen (titter, seamen!), are revealed to us in little bite-sized snatches, rather than in huge chunks of flashback.

 There are the bunks with the pin-ups of Betty Grable and stars of ‘Forties German cinema plastered around them; the ‘Forties music on the record player and the home cinema with film footage of Hitler and his minions playing on a loop; the German voice issuing orders through the speakers in the radio room; a mere glimpse of the German naval captain on his bridge.

Then there is the ‘interrogation room’ itself, no more than a brutal torture chamber, and the Freezer Room, possibly the saddest place on the whole entire God-forsaken ship. And God doesn’t seem to have ever had a place on this carrion ship of death and decay and hopelessness, and it’s certainly not God who’s steering its eerie, lonely course now.

The ship of doom is having a very unhealthy effect on Captain Ashland. I love the bit where the sensible, Daddy-ish, woollen jumper-clad Trevor Marshall comes to his wife and says: ‘The ship has caused Captain Ashland to take on the persona of a German naval captain, it’s like it’s possessing him in some way!’ Or words to that effect, anyway.

It’s the funniest bit of the film, which is definitely not a comedy. It’s like something out of THE SIMPSONS, that line is. You half expect to hear Lisa Simpson, the voice of reason, saying: ‘Well, d’uh! Everyone’s already worked that out, Dad…!’

So now, Captain-to-be Marshall has to save himself, his wife (played by Sally Ann Howes, or Truly Scrumptious from CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG) and unruly children and the sexy young couple (who just can’t seem to keep their kit on!) from the gruesome machinations of Captain Ashland, who has a definite kind of ‘The Shining’ thing going on with the ship of death.

And he- Captain Ashland- now resents Trevor Marshall as well, thinking it’s Marshall’s fault he’s losing his captaincy, and not his own complete and utter inability to be a ‘people person.’ He’s out for Marshall’s blood, and, as long as he’s being evil, the ship of death is determined to help him…

The ship itself is terrifyingly creepy, from the untenanted radio room, where a crackly German-speaking voice issues its instructions through the speakers, to the long echoey corridors where the sound of loudly clanging doors can be heard, unnervingly, from up ahead. It’s kind of like the Overlook Hotel from THE SHINING, peopled by ghosts and the bad energies from the awful deeds that took place there, but on sea instead of on land.

(When I first watched this film on YouTube a couple of years ago, the blood-shower scene featuring the beautiful Victoria Burgoyne as the sex-crazy Lori, Nick’s girlfriend, was available to watch in its rather naughty entirety. Now, for some reason, it’s gone. Maybe the morals brigade didn’t want this scene corrupting the new generation of horror film fans.)

 The Death Ship sailed the seven seas (Are there really seven? Can someone actually count them for me, please?) long before there was a Captain Ashland or a Trevor Marshall, and it will sail them long after those two men have returned to the dust from which they came. I can’t recommend this superbly spooky British-Canadian horror film heartily enough. It’s captured my imagination in a way that nothing else this year has. Full steam ahead for frights and frolics…    





This Thai movie is wickedly stylish, slick and laced with a razor-sharp social commentary on the haves and the have-nots. Don’t be put off by that last fact, though. It all fits together beautifully with the action and the stunning visuals of food, food preparation and the consumption of food. In fact, if you like food, and would like a sneak peek behind the scenes of both a high-class kitchen and a bustling street food restaurant, then this is the exact movie for you.

Aoy is the movie’s heroine. She’s a beautiful young woman who works in the second scenario as laid out above, the bustling street food restaurant owned and operated by Aoy and her family. They work hard, long hours and the money isn’t great, but the food is delicious and cooked with love by a family in which each member really genuinely cares about the others.

Aoy is feeling vaguely dissatisfied with her life, though. She wants to be ‘special,’ and not just another run-of-the-mill noodle cook at a street food café. Therefore, when she receives a mysterious invitation to come and train with celebrity chef, Chef Paul, she jumps at the opportunity to cast off her old life.

Chef Paul is charismatic, taciturn, rude, self-centred and abusive to his staff. He doesn’t run a restaurant, but a highly skilled catering team that take on commissions and cook high class, expensive food for rich clients, the only people who can afford it. The cooking is done in front of the clients, in the clients’ home or a venue of their choosing.

He thinks he sees something worthwhile in Aoy, and pushes her extremely hard to do things exactly the way he wants her to. Aoy puts up with his screaming, plate-flinging abuse because she sees that she is getting better as a chef. It’s pretty obvious, too, that she wants to ascend to the dizzying heights of chef superstardom, just like Chef Paul has already done, all by himself.

Paul can be utterly unscrupulous at times too, though. When he conspires to commit an actual illegal act to satisfy the whim of one of his super-rich employers, Aoy has enough of his bullshit and walks out, a brave move for one in her not-quite-cemented position.

She sets up on her own, with a sponsor who’s convinced he can make the quiet, talented beauty over into a superstar in her own right. One thing Aoy never expects, though, is to be pitted in direct competition with Chef Paul at an unbelievably high-priced gig. Can Aoy hold her nerve against the ice-cold Chef Paul, or will she crumble under the immense pressure? It’s all to play for, folks…

This film is not suitable for vegetarians, or anyone who dislikes seeing meat in its raw, bloody state being chopped up and cooked. Chef Paul says he wants his food to be messy and drip down the chins of his customers, and we see something of that in the film.

I didn’t like when he tore that poor live lobster limb from limb in front of us. And the illegal thing he colluded in, which I mentioned above, simultaneously turned my stomach and made me angry. See what you think yourself when you see it.

The dishes are pretty much all unrecognisable to my uninformed mind, except for noodles. I especially like the sound of Aoy’s ‘crybaby’ noodles, a family recipe handed down for generations in her family. In the end, isn’t family and love more important than being a soulless, high-priced chef who thinks that love and food are nothing to do with each other…? Let’s hope Aoy makes the right decision…

Watch out for the scenes in which Chef Paul reveals something of the humble beginnings that drove him to become a top chef, those in which the bankrupted family tearfully celebrate their morbid ‘Last Supper,’ and also those in which Chef Paul does ‘food as performance art’ in a way that I could almost guarantee you’ve never seen done before.

It’s the highlight of the film, but very bad news for the cow. As I said earlier, this isn’t a fillum for the vegetarians. Or the vegans. Or animal lovers. Or animals themselves. Make sure to blindfold the pets before you roll the movie. It’ll only upset them otherwise.  





I’ve seen this seventy-five-minute horror film twice now. The first time, I was alone, it was night-time and I’ll admit I was thoroughly spooked by it. Then I watched it with my two (adult) kids over our Saturday night takeaway because I wanted them to see and enjoy it too.

They thought it was rubbish. Garbage. A load of old bollocks. My son even made some rude toilet noises to express his disapproval. I was gutted. I just wanted them to like it too, even though there’s a lot wrong with it. It just rubbed me up the right way at the right time, I guess. That can happen sometimes.

The story has two main characters, Ben and Tina. They’re a You-Tubing, engaged American couple, New York to be precise, who film cool, out-of-the-way or haunted locations in the hope of one day making it to a million views.

Ben is the driving force behind the relationship. What Ben says goes. Sure, Tina will whinge and whine about it and call him mean and a dick, but ultimately Ben’s will triumphs over Tina’s every time, because he is strong-willed and she is weak-willed. See?

Their latest project has had a whopping half a million views, but greedy Ben isn’t happy with that. He wants a million views, and, to ensure that the beautiful but insecure Tina has an incentive to work even harder on his goal, he teases her about them getting married once their website has hit those all-important million views. I think that’s a pretty crappy thing to do, taking advantage of Tina’s vulnerability and insecurities, but a lot of guys are like this, sadly. Some women too, no doubt.

They travel to the South of France to seek out a sanatarium that’s submerged under an artificial lake. The place is mobbed with tourists, however, and Ben has a massive sulk over the thwarting of his lovely plan. No amount of consoling from Tina will help.

Enter Pierre, a mysterious French local who’s the image of Roger Taylor from QUEEN as he is now, and his cunning plan to take the couple miles off the beaten track to see an even more submerged wonder… an old family home, perfectly preserved, at the bottom of another lake, only they have to drive quite far and then hike on foot for a couple of miles to get to it. Are they perchance interested? Ben nearly wets himself, he’s so eager to do this thang.

So it’s on with the diving gear and into the lake, while Pierre ‘minds’ their stuff for them. Oh, he’ll ‘mind’ their stuff for them all right. I’m sure it’ll all be very well taken care of, when Ben-Tina have died horribly at the clawed hands of the haunted house and Pierre gets to keep their stupid drone and expensive camera equipment and other cool You-Tuber gadgets and gizmos.

You’d swear Ben-Tina had never watched a single horror fillum in their whole lives. That’s the only reason, surely, for their trusting acceptance of Eric and his offer to provide them with an ‘alternative’ adventure.

They are as stupid as the stupidest people in horror films ever. No-one knows where they are. No-one knows where they’ve gone. They’re completely at the mercy of this dodgy Pierre fella, who, at the very least, might nick all their cameras and electronic goods. At worst, he might be planning their gory deaths.

Tina doesn’t really even want to go diving in the stupid scary lake, as she’s not sure her diving skills are up to it, but Ben overrules her completely as usual. Down they go, down, down, down to the house under the lake…

When the submerged house looms large in front of them like the wreck of the TITANIC, Ben decides they should ‘split up’ to try and find a way in. Sure, no problem, trills Tina, immediately setting off in the opposite direction to Ben. I don’t believe for a second that that would happen. It’s more likely that she’d be so petrified with fear that she’d refuse to leave his side for a second. Still, it’s a movie. Suspend disbelief and all that.

The house is quite creepy, especially as it’s under water. Under water, sometimes things aren’t what they appear to be. Unexplained noises, lights, shadows, silhouettes and floating dolls all put the willies up our intrepid pair.

I’d have been out of there by the time the first scary doll went floating past my head, but Ben-Tina are determined to unlock the house’s secrets for themselves. Are a few thousand views on You-Tube really worth dying for…? I wouldn’t have thought so but, then, that’s just me. The young ones of today might think differently…

I’m actually not going to tell you any more. What Ben-Tina discover in the house is between themselves and you, if you ever decide to watch this for yourself. I like the film, despite its flaws, and I hope you do too. By the way, if you like bubbles and chains that misbehave for some reason, boy, are you in for a treat…!




I loved this Netflix ten-part drama series about, well, the sinking of Japan due to seismic activity in the earth’s crust, but the weird and wonderful thing about it is as follows. It looks like a modern-day series written to serve as an awful warning against the very real current threat of climate change, but it was actually written in 1973 by Sakyo Komatsu, one of science fiction’s finest writers.

It hadn’t been that long since the atomic bomb had fallen on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and so I suppose that that would have been on the mind of any sci-fi author writing in those times. The writer also specifically said that he was inspired to write it while thinking about what the nationalistically-minded Japan would do if she lost her land for whatever reason.

His 1973 book JAPAN SINKS was very quickly turned into the 1973 film, SUBMERSION OF JAPAN, which I’d love to see. Anyway, the uncanny thing is how prophetic the book turns out to be fifty-odd years later, when sea levels around the globe are rising due to the melting of the polar ice-caps and tsunamis and tidal waves are already making themselves known in places like Turkey (the massive earthquake) and Pakistan, who are still recovering from the dreadful floods that last year put a third (a third!) of their country under water. And they’re not even one of the heavy hitters when it comes to the chief contributors to global warming…!

I’m no Greta Thunberg now, but even I realise that having a third of your country under water is a cataclysmic event. But it’s not even on the News anymore, and neither is Turkey. News moves on and changes so fast, I get that, but surely we should still be talking about the tsunami that put one third of Pakistan under water? Is it because Pakistan is a poor country? Would we be still talking about it if it were England or America that was one third under water…?

Anyway, in the Netflix series, JAPAN SINKS, here’s what happens. An eccentric scientist-slash-meteorologist discovers from his maps and charts that there are going to be gigantic floods that will put the whole of Japan underwater if the government persists in using a crack in the sea floor to store their liquefied pollutants. PS, that sounds like something Mr. Burns and Smithers from the nuclear plant in THE SIMPSONS might do…!

After the initial disbelief regarding the end of the world, the government, led by a handsome and charming Prime Minister of Japan and ably assisted by two charming and handsome male officials, Keishi Amami and Koichi Tokiwa, get down to business, literally. They transfer Japan’s main businesses and companies to other countries, who are happy to take them in because they’ll be getting the benefit of Japanese expertise and world-famous business acumen.

Then, disaster strikes earlier than expected and parts of Japan are flooded and break off. The race is on now to evacuate 120 million peeps or thereabouts to the different countries of the world. If you can find yourself a place somewhere, well and good, but, if not, don’t worry, you’ll be entered into a government lottery and placed somewhere in the world that way.

I love the way that the floods are polite enough to hold off submerging Japan until Keishi Amami’s ex-wife and young daughter are safely away from it, and until all the government officials have done their jobs successfully and are permitted to evacuate themselves. Permitted to evacuate themselves…? Tee-hee, that sounds rude, lol.

Anyway, the well-mannered tsunami wouldn’t dream of causing any trouble, so it stands by politely and waits, maybe scrolling on its phone or even sexting its missus, while all the time those last government officials and about three million hold-outs amongst the Japanese people scramble for a place on Hokkaido, apparently the highest part of Japan.

Will they be safe there? Will the big bold tsunami swallow them all up, or will it stop in exactly the right place and at exactly the right time to save their collective bacon? (Hint: the weather phenomenon does a complete THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW…!)

Watch JAPAN SINKS and find out. It’s the television series that comes closest to showing us what all our fates will be if we don’t start taking the global warming threat seriously, and treating it like it pertains to us and not just to them. No sex, no nudity, no bad language, but for once we don’t need ‘em. JAPAN SINKS is just fine on its own.





This is a magnificent film to look at, set as it is in neutral Sweden during World War Two. Firstly, on the subject of being neutral during World War Two. Winston Churchill, a decent enough cove, accused Sweden of ignoring the greater moral issues of the war and playing both sides, the Allies and the Axis Powers, for profit.

She (Sweden) provided Germany with steel and machine parts, and permitted German soldiers on leave to travel freely through her country on their way to Norway or Germany. This doesn’t sound like Sweden was neutral exactly, but just saying she was neutral to get out of the conflict while favouring Germany slightly.

Before the war, Sweden refused to take in European Jews seeking even temporary refuge from the far-reaching arm of the Third Reich. When the tide of war shifted in favour of the Allies, however, she changed her tune a bit. Two Swedes, Count Folke Bernadotte and diplomat Raoul Wallenberg, are famous for having saved thousands of Jews’ lives towards the end of the war.

In fact, overall, again towards the end of the war, Sweden saved large numbers of Norway’s and Denmark’s imperilled Jews, so you could say that she maybe made up somewhat for her treatment of Jews before the war.

I have a lot of mixed feelings about neutrality myself. Has any country the right to remain ‘neutral’ while someone like Hitler is marauding across a continent and destroying it with fear, hatred, prejudice and ignorance? Not really…!

That’s why I kind of can’t understand why America aren’t wading in right now and helping Ukraine to defeat the Russians, who surely aren’t much better than Hitler and the Nazis? Are they afraid of starting the Third World War, and do they fear losing it also…?

Don’t worry, this isn’t a case of the pot calling the kettle black. I’m aware that my own country, the so-called Emerald Isle (ahem), was ‘neutral’ too during the war. A lot of folks, however, still think that we were pro-Germany.

We refused to close our German and Japanese embassies and, on the death of Hitler, our then Taoiseach (pronounced Tee-shock) Eamon de Valera visited the German ambassador in his official residence and GAVE HIM HIS CONDOLENCES ON BEHALF OF THE IRISH PEOPLE…! F**king hell. Eyebrows were raised Stateside, I can tell you.

We were apparently indifferent to the suffering of the Jews in the Holocaust, and refused to take them into the country on the grounds that they would steal Irish jobs, houses and food and cause anti-Semitic unrest wherever they landed.

We’ve made up for it a bit, years later, by taking in literally any and every Ukrainian person who fled here after the war with Russia was declared, but we should still be disgusted with ourselves for our collective behaviour during the Second World War.

After all that, now onto the film! It’s the story of an attractive young blonde Swedish woman (is there any other kind?) called Annika who, in 1939, leaves her childhood home on the farm in rural Sweden and travels to Stockholm, the Big Smoke, to start a new, hopefully more exciting life. Here, she meets the two most important people in her life: Berit, her best friend in the whole world, and her husband, Bengt.

Annika and Berit work in a hotel restaurant kitchen, share a flat together and live a wildly sociable life of parties, dates and dances together in neutral Sweden during the early years of the war. The men aren’t all away fighting Hitler (like they maybe should be?) and so the two pretty young ones have no shortage of willing, horny suitors.

Berit is played by the beautiful Helena Bergstrom, who portrayed Astrid, Bill Nighy’s gorgeous but pissed-off Swedish wife, in STILL CRAZY in 1998. Berit is a tragic and fragile figure, brought up without a mother. Now a bubbly brunette, she’s tough on the outside, but as soft as butter inside. She’s devotedly loyal to Annika, and would do anything for her.

She’s desperately gay- in the original sense of the word!- and laughs and giggles her way through life and work. She’s man-mad, of course, and when she becomes pregnant with a baby that has as many as three possible Baby-Daddies, she’s determined to go through with the pregnancy and keep the child, while knowing that it’s gonna be hard, real hard.

Meanwhile, Annika is married to her dream guy, Bengt, the athlete son of a rich merchant, who can afford to keep Annika in furs, jewels and fancy hats. It’s quite distasteful watching Annika wear her gorgeous fur coat, a gift from hubby, while thousands of Jews and others are perishing in the concentration camps.

In fairness to Annika, I don’t think she knows much, if anything, about concentration camps, even though her cousin Hans was put in one for being a communist, but she doesn’t seem to care for her new finery and fripperies much. She values her friendship with Berit more, much, much more.

The dream marriage turns into a nightmare when Bengt shows himself to be a domineering bully of a husband, the kind who says, show me your phone, and where have you been till now? He thinks Annika has had too much independence up to now, going drinking and dancing with that pregnant slut Berit, and he intends to curb that independence, with force if necessary.

What will happen to Annika and the poor love-starved Berit? Where will they be when the All-Clear finally sounds over a relieved but battered Europe? I sincerely hope they stay together, as friends who are practically family.

1939 is an excellent film, with some gorgeous sweeping views of Sweden, great costumes and make-up and hairstyles. Helena Bergstrom wins my Best Actress accolade, and then of course there’s the whole question of neutrality to mull over as well. Happy mulling…