HALLOWEEN. (1978) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

HALLOWEEN. (1978) DIRECTED BY JOHN CARPENTER. PRODUCED BY DEBRA HILL. SCREENPLAY BY JOHN CARPENTER AND DEBRA HILL. MUSIC BY JOHN CARPENTER. CINEMATOGRAPHY BY DEAN CUNDEY.
STARRING JAMIE LEE CURTIS, NANCY LOOMIS, PJ SOLES, CHARLES CYPHERS AND DONALD PLEASENCE.
REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

‘Death has come to your little town, Sheriff.’

‘No man did that.’
‘He’s not a man.’

This is the big one, the film that kicked off one of the most successful franchises in movie history. It tells the story of serial killer Michael Myers, who in this film stylishly and effortlessly joins fellow horror movie icons- some already in existence, some yet to come- Freddie Kreuger, Jason Voorhees, Leatherface, Jigsaw and Co. in the ‘Horror Movie Villain Hall Of Fame.’ (I don’t know if such a thing actually exists, by the way. I’m just speaking metaphorically, lol.)

Michael Myers brutally murders his somewhat slutty older sister Judith when he’s still in short pants. He gets banged up in a mental hospital for his trouble. There he stays for fifteen long years. Then, one dark spooky night, he escapes, much to the disgust and horror of his head-shrink, Dr. Loomis, brilliantly played by Donald Pleasence.

Dr. Loomis knows the score, you see. He might be the only character in the film who does. ‘I met this six-year-old child with this blank, pale, emotionless face, and the blackest eyes; the devil’s eyes … I realized what was living behind that boy’s eyes was purely and simply … evil.’
 
As Dr. Loomis says himself in the film, he spends the first seven years of Michael’s incarceration trying to get through to him, then the next eight attempting to see to it that the boy never gets out of captivity. Michael is pure evil, you see, without logic, reason or remorse. And you can’t kill pure evil, remember that…

Michael makes his way back to the fictional town of Haddonfield, Ohio, where the abandoned old Myers house has fallen into creepy disrepair. He focuses his attention on schoolgirl Laurie Strode, who spends her free time babysitting local kids and hanging out with her boy-crazy friends, Annie and Linda.

Jamie Lee Curtis, the daughter of Janet Leigh of PSYCHO fame, is fantastic as Laurie, the character that made her famous. As she goes about her lawful business with her gorgeous long blondey-brown hair swinging free and a pile of schoolbooks under her arm to indicate to us the studiousness of her nature, she gets the feeling that she’s being watched. She’s right to feel that way, dead right.

She is being watched, by a tall, well-built male wearing a dark-blue boilersuit. Oh, and he also wears a terrifying-looking white mask… Nothing to be worried about there, so…! You’ll see so many iconic scenes of Michael in this stalking part of the film.

Michael standing behind the bushes, with half of him squarely in shot on the street and the other half behind the bush. Michael standing amidst the billowing white sheets in the back garden. Michael watching Laurie from across the street as she sits in class, but when she looks back, of course he’s gone, leaving poor Laurie wondering if she’s imagining things…   

Halloween arrives and Laurie is babysitting the neighbours’ sproglet again. Across the street, the confident, curly-haired Annie Brackett is babysitting too, only she’s not a very good babysitter because she palms her little charge off on Laurie so that she can go and pick up her boyfriend Paul and bring him back to her employers’ empty house to have sex. What a little hussy, eh?

Nancy Loomis as Annie, the weed-smoking daughter of Haddonfield’s sheriff, is just fantastic. She carries a whole portion of the film all by herself as she potters about, chatting away loudly to herself, in the house of the little girl she’s babysitting for, Lindsey Wallace.

The whole time she’s there, taking her kit off after she spills food on herself and so on, she’s being watched by a fascinated Michael. Although she feels a little uneasy at times without knowing why, especially in the darkened laundry room which is down the back of the Wallaces’ garden, the first she hears of any possible threat or danger is when Michael Myers strangles her to death in a chillingly realistic scene.

In Annie’s absence, hers and Laurie’s other friend, Lynda, a flirty, sexy blonde cheerleader, brings her bloke Bob into the Wallaces’ empty house and they immediately rush upstairs to engage in sexual shenanigans. Hmmm, the teens of Haddonfield are clearly over-sexed. Maybe there’s something in the water.

Well, Michael Myers is not called the scourge of the Haddonfield Babysitters’ Club for nothing! I made that bit up, by the way, I mean, no-one actually calls him that besides me, but they should do because he seems determined to put a stop to their fun, their dope-smoking, beer-swilling sexual antics, in the only way he knows how… That’s right, folks, killing!

Anyway, after all the sex, Bob goes downstairs in the darkened house to pick up a couple of post-coital beers and gets himself impaled on Michael Myers’ stabby little friend, his huge trademark knife. My favourite scene in the whole movie is the one that comes next.

Annie is sitting up in bed topless, waiting impatiently for her boyfriend to bring her her beer. Well, well. Slutty and bone-idle. I see. Her boyfriend comes to the bedroom door and stands there motionless, not speaking, draped from head to foot in a white sheet. Or is it her boyfriend…? Well, the figure is wearing Bob’s glasses so it must be Bob, right…? I love that the film has a bit of a naughty, cheeky sense of humour as is illustrated clearly here.

Meanwhile, Laurie is doing her nut waiting for her friend Annie to get in touch about picking up the nipper she’s meant to be minding. Eventually, she tires of waiting, pops across the street to the Wallaces’ house where Annie is supposed to be babysitting Lindsey and discovers some things she’ll see in her nightmares for the rest of her life.

The street is empty. No parents, no neighbours are around to help her. Things go from bad to worse for poor Laurie as she is then chased through the Doyles’ darkened house by the knife-wielding masked man. It’s her turn to be killed now, apparently, and Michael has saved her till last. At one stage, she’s even cornered in a closet while Michael Myers stabs his way through the wood.

She is helped in timely fashion by the overcoated Dr. Loomis, who’s been wandering around Haddonfield all night looking for his escaped mental patient. The good doctor shoots the maniac, sending him flying through an upstairs window and into the garden below. He should be dead after all that, right? Wrong. Dr. Loomis turns his back on the ‘boogeyman’ for a minute and he disappears, leaving the way beautifully clear for a sequel or three…

Laurie: That was the boogeyman.

Dr. Loomis: As a matter of fact, it was…

There’s just so much to love about this ground-breaking film, the ‘Daddy,’ if you will, of the slasher movies. The superbly memorable musical score by John Carpenter. The way that Haddonfield looks so pretty, all decked out in rustic browns and oranges for Halloween. The sheer annoying shrillness and over-confidence of Annie that nearly makes us want to root for the slasher.

The scene in the graveyard with the uprooted headstone… ‘He came home…’ The spot-on performances of Donald Pleasence and Jamie Lee Curtis. Last but not least, Michael Myers himself. His trademark boilersuit, knife and mask ensemble. The way his chalk-white masked face can suddenly materialise out of the shadows and make you jump.

The unhurried, calculated way in which he hunts down his prey, who can never seem to run as fast as he can walk. The way that you can kill him, or think you’ve killed him, but he won’t stay dead. He’s bloody brilliant. He’s my favourite of all the iconic horror movie baddies. I’m even a little sexually attracted to him, rightly or wrongly. He’s the strong silent type. I like that in a guy…

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

HALLOWEEN 3: SEASON OF THE WITCH. (1982) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

HALLOWEEN 3… SEASON OF THE WITCH. (1982) WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY TOMMY LEE WALLACE. PRODUCED BY JOHN CARPENTER AND DEBRA HILL. MUSIC BY JOHN CARPENTER AND ALAN HOWARTH.
STARRING TOM ATKINS, STACEY NELKIN AND DAN O’HERLIHY.
REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

I love this film. It’s my absolute favourite of all the non-Michael-Myers films in John Carpenter’s HALLOWEEN series of films. Haha, okay, it’s the only non-Michael-Myers film in this particular series of films, I know that.

I also know that some critics think it’s not a worthy addition to the HALLOWEEN franchise because it doesn’t have Michael Myers in it, he of the latex mask and decidedly stabby tendencies, but I still think it’s a brilliant movie.

Yes, it’s true that I miss the silent-as-the-grave Michael Myers and his messed-up mind, but HALLOWEEN 3 is a little cinematic gem. It reminds me of WESTWORLD and THE STEPFORD WIVES, two of my favourite flicks, because of the über-creepy robots and even creepier musical score. The plot is actually pretty ingenious as well.

Handsome, well-spoken Irish actor Dan O’Herlihy (g’wan, the Irish!) plays the film’s expensively suited and booted villain, Conal Cochran. He is the megalomaniac founder of Silver Shamrock Novelties, based in the sleepy American town of Santa Mira, which has sort of become the company’s town, if you get me.

Mr. Cochran, unbeknownst to the world at large, has allowed his immense wealth and power to go to his immaculately-coiffed silver head. He’s going all-out for Halloween this year. He intends to revive the ancient Celtic rites of the night known as ‘All Hallows Eve,’ but not in a good way. Oh no, not in a good way at all, dear reader.

He wants to return the night to its original witch-cult beginnings. He intends that there will be mass sacrifices on this coming Halloween night, as there would have been on Halloweens-of-yore, and not just of adults, either. That’s practically the worst part of this fiendish plan.

Half the kids in the country have bought Cochran’s fabulous Silver Shamrock novelty masks- pumpkin, skull or witch- for the fast-approaching Halloween. But when they put the masks over their heads at nine o’clock on Halloween night while watching a ‘special give-away broadcast’ on the television horrorthon, they’ll get a little more than they bargained for… Well, okay, a lot more than they bargained for, but I’m not going to tell you what that is so don’t ask me, lol.

Only two people stand in the way of crazy old Mr. Cochran’s fiendishly evil plan: the divorced alcoholic, Dr. Daniel Challis, who’s witnessed the aftermath of a toy salesman’s horrific death at the hands of one of Cochran’s robotic goons, and the murdered salesman’s daughter, Ellie Grimbridge. The pair find themselves thrown together in the hunt for the truth about what happened to poor old Harry Grimbridge.

Together the two travel to the quiet little American town that houses the Silver Shamrock factory, engaging, incidentally, in some sexy shenanigans when they find themselves sharing a Santa Mira motel room.

Tsk, tsk, how shocking of them, especially as the womanising Challis is twice Ellie’s age if he’s a day. This seduction scene comes as no surprise to fans of John Carpenter’s superb horror movie, THE FOG, of two years’ earlier, however.

In THE FOG, Tom Atkins portrays Nick Castle, a middle-aged man who picks up and sleeps with a practically teenaged Jamie Lee Curtis, whose character, Elizabeth Solley, is engaging in the highly dangerous activity known as hitch-hiking. They go straight to bed, despite the whopping age gap. Castle even allows himself to be paid for his ‘services’ with one of Elizabeth’s drawings, the scoundrel. If anything, he should be paying her…!

Sure, Castle lets Lizzie hang out with him for the duration of the movie, but you can bet your ass that, as soon as the last ancient mariner has slithered back into the deep from whence it came, he’ll be giving her the bum’s rush with the words, see you next fog, baby…! The dastard.    

Anyway, there are no flies about shrewd businessman Conal Cochran’s person, as you might expect, and he figures out in a heartbeat that ‘Mr. and Mrs. Smith,’ as the saucy pair of illicit lovers are calling themselves, are onto his little game.

He captures the twosome, though separately, and tells Challis that he will share the fate of the poor unsuspecting children of America, after first giving him a gruesome demonstration of the masks’ power.

Then he slaps an ‘infected’ mask on Challis, and leaves him alone to reflect on the hopelessness of his position until it’s time for the ‘Big Giveaway’ at nine pm. Oh yes, did I mention that it’s now Halloween Night…?

ATTENTION: WHOPPING GREAT SPOILERS AHOY, ME HEARTIES, BIGGER THAN THAT FUCKIN’ ICEBERG, Y’ARRR…!

Challis manages to escape the megalomaniac’s factory of death, staffed entirely by evil robots, though not until he’s managed to screw up Cochran’s machinery of terror, which actually includes a bloody great rock nicked from Stonehenge, if you can believe that…!

Challis then grabs Ellie and starts hightailing it back to his home-town where his own kids, in the care of his estranged wife, are looking forward to putting on their Silver Shamrock masks at nine o’clock in front of the ‘special give-away broadcast.’ Before Challis can make it back to town, however, he is attacked by Ellie, who is no longer human but an evil robot… Eeeek!

Challis eventually makes it back to town, but more important even than reaching his own endangered kids is his effort to get the different television stations not to run the Silver Shamrock ‘special broadcast.’

If he fails at this, the kids watching the broadcast will get one heck of a nasty surprise. One by one, the stations agree. There’s still one more station to persuade before nine o’clock, though. Will Challis get through to them on time? You’ll have to watch the movie and see for yourself, lads…

ATTENTION: WE’RE SAFELY PAST THOSE PESKY SPOILERS, Y’ARRR AGAIN…!  

Apparently, in making this movie that has neither Michael Myers, Laurie Strode nor Samuel Loomis in it, the creators of HALLOWEEN- John Carpenter and Debra Hill- had it in mind to create a sort of anthology series of horror stories that all take place at Halloween.

Personally, I think that that’s a cracking idea but disappointing box-office takings dictated otherwise and the idea was scrapped. The rest of the HALLOWEEN films all featured the strong, silent Masked Slasher known to us as Michael Myers.

That was no bad thing either, of course, as Mikey M. is an unforgettable horror icon. He’s up there with Hannibal Lecter, Norman Bates, Freddie Kreuger, Jason Voorhees, Jigsaw and Leatherface. Still, a separate horror anthology might have been quite cool, too.

Anyway, watch HALLOWEEN 3. Ah, go on. It’s bloody brilliant. You’ll love it. And don’t forget. EIGHT MORE DAYS TILL HALLOWEEN, HALLOWEEN, HALLOWEEN! EIGHT MORE DAYS TILL HALLOWEEN, SILVER SHAMROCK…! EE-OO, EE-OO, EE-OO, EE-OO, EE-OO, EE-OO, EE-OO, EE-OO, EE-OO, EE-OO, EE-OO, EE-OO…!

And I most certainly will not go and eff myself, thank you very much. I happen to think that this is a highly enjoyable and entertaining jingle that absolutely does not make me want to claw off my own ears with a garden rake every time I hear it, so there. Put that in your pipe and smoke it…

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:

THINGS HEARD AND SEEN. (2021) A NETFLIX HORROR FILM REVIEWED BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

THINGS HEARD AND SEEN. (2021) BASED ON THE BOOK ‘ALL THINGS CEASE TO APPEAR,’ BY ELIZABETH BRUNDAGE. DIRECTED BY SHARI SPRINGER BERMAN AND ROBERT PULCINI.

STARRING AMANDA ‘MEAN GIRLS’ SEYFRIED, JAMES NORTON, RHEA SEEHORN, KAREN ALLEN AND F. MURRAY ABRAHAM.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

I had two things to say about this movie and a quick glance on Wikipedia informs me that they have both been said before. Well, ain’t that a kick in the head? I’m going to say them anyway, because they’re the two things that actually strike me most about the film.

Firstly, this movie would probably have worked much better without the supernatural element, because the ghost story is woefully weak and the story about the car-crash marriage is strong and could have been even stronger if it wasn’t trying to squash in a ghost story as well.

Secondly, the movie is very similar to Robert Zemeckis’s excellent oeuvre, WHAT LIES BENEATH, from 2000, one of my favourite films of all time. Harrison Ford and Michelle Pfeiffer absolutely smash it as the cheating, charming gaslighting research scientist/college professor and his wife, who’s being haunted by the ghost of someone intimately known to her husband, if you catch my drift.

The wife is dead-set on bringing the mystery to light. When Michelle PFeiffer says to Harrison Ford: ‘That girl must be brought up,’ the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. The husband in WHAT LIES BENEATH is unwilling for his ghastly-slash-ghostly secrets to come under scrutiny, because of the obviously negative repercussions for himself and his nice cosy set-up and career success.

So, he decides to get rid of the one person who knows his secret and is standing in the way of his keeping hold of the reins of his lovely, well-respected rich scientist life. And if that one person in his way can also be shown to be a tiny bit unstable and have a history of seeing things that aren’t there, well, so much the better for Mr. Professor…

THINGS HEARD AND SEEN has a very similar plot and is a very similar film, although the 2000 movie does the ghost story better. It’s 1979. Catherine and George Claire move with their little daughter Franny from their Manhattan apartment to a huge old farm in upstate New York. George, an art professor, is taking up a position in the college there and he’s extremely happy with his promotion.

Their lovely new house has a ‘troubled history.’ You know what that means. Folks died horribly there in the past, lol, and their spirits are not at rest. Not that there’s anything to ‘lol’ about in people dying horribly, haha. Ooops, I did it again…

Anyway, George is confident, handsome, ambitious, superior, smug, and a lying, cheating bastard to boot. He can- and does- charm the knickers off his female students, who all think that Professor Claire is just the swoonsomest swooner that ever swooned, snigger. They think he’s ‘the most,’ which folks may or may not have continued saying into the ‘80s, I just don’t know.

Catherine, on the other hand, doesn’t seem to be George’s biggest fan, for some reason. She’s jumpy, edgy, tearful, snappy and struggles with bulimia. She doesn’t seem to have a passion in life the way George is passionate about art. As she and George seem to have gotten married and pregnant straight out of school, maybe she hasn’t had a chance to find out what her true passion in life is yet, besides, of course, her child.

Added to this, she’s ‘seeing things’ around the house, shadows, people, ghosts and suchlike, but she can’t tell George about it because he’s grossly insensitive to her ‘vibes,’ and says he doesn’t want her ruining the new house on everyone by saying it’s haunted. The ghost story really needed to be sharper and more clear-cut, rather than a bit fuzzy and confusing the way it is.

George quickly finds himself a nice bit of stuff to keep him warm on the winter nights, because he’s not getting any nookie at home, what with Franny being in their bed nearly every night.

Catherine is stuck at home with the baby twenty-four-seven, with no-one to talk to but the two young lads who come to do jobs around the place. Even when the Claires get invited out to parties as a couple, George turns into a big, weed-smoking, drunk-driving jerk, so maybe they’d be better off staying at home.

Then comes the revelation that George has committed an illegal act to get the cushy position he’s in now at Saginaw College. It wasn’t hard to guess what happened in the plot from here, but there’s at least one thing in the last twenty minutes of the film that will probably surprise you, so do watch it to the end, even if you think you’ve already guessed the ending.

I liked F. Murray Abraham (SCARFACE, AMADEUS) as the cuddly and genial head of the college’s art history department, Floyd DeBeers- great name!- though I knew exactly what was going to happen to him the minute he said that he was going to have to inform the college of George’s pretty major deliberate act of deception. That isn’t the only thing that George has told lies about, either, so stay tuned.

Karen Allen, a classy lassy probably better known as Indiana Jones’s love interest, Marion Ravenwood, in the action-adventure films RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK (1981) and INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL (2008), has a small role in the film as a new acquaintance of the Claires’. There’s that Harrison Ford connection again! 

As I’ve said, the ghost story is as weak as piss, excuse my language, but the toxic marriage story is gripping, and could have been even gripping-er, which isn’t a word at all, if they’d just concentrated on that and nowt else. WHAT LIES BENEATH did it first and also did it better, but THINGS HEARD AND SEEN is worth a watch too, if only for comparative purposes.

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 OPEN HOUSE. (2018) A NETFLIX HORROR FILM REVIEWED BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©


THE OPEN HOUSE. (2018) DIRECTED, WRITTEN AND CO-PRODUCED BY MATT ANGEL AND SUZANNE COOTE.
STARRING DYLAN MINNETTE, PIERCEY DALTON, PATRICIA BETHUNE, SHARIF ATKINS AND AARON ABRAMS.
REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

This horror film had a predictable beginning, a very exciting middley-bit and a disappointing, unsatisfactory ending. The blurb said that a mother and son have a terrifying experience when they move somewhere new, so I guessed straightaway that the dad of the family was for the chop. And he was. Whoever would have thought that nipping out to buy a half-dozen eggs was fraught with so much peril? I’ll think twice in the future before demanding a chucky egg and soldiers for my brekkie…
 
So, anyway, after Dad pops his clogs, downtrodden Mum Naomi Wallace and her touchy teenaged son Logan, an aspiring runner, leave their house and their debts behind to go and spend some time in Naomi’s rich sister Alison’s holiday home in the mountains. Alison, by the way, comes to the funeral of her brother-in-law (the egg guy) dressed as if she should be wrapping herself around a stripper’s pole, but she’s rich so she can do whatever the fupp she likes.

It’s miles from anywhere, this fancy holiday home that Naomi and Logan are bound for, and if anything happens to their car or the phone service, they’d be basically screwed, being so far away from civilisation, but it’s rent-free and they can’t seem to think of anything else to do in the wake of dad’s demise, so off they go…

The one snag is that the sister is trying to sell the house, so the Wallaces can’t stay there indefinitely. Also, they have to vacate the premises every Sunday between ten and five, so that strangers can nose around the property, re-arrange any carefully-shelved items, cast aspersions on the linoleum in the hall and disparage the fittings in the bog. This phenomenon is known as an ‘Open House,’ and it sounds horribly intrusive and like an invasion of the tenants’ privacy. But the Wallaces are poor now, see, and beggars can’t be choosers…

Any-hoo, after the first Open House has been inflicted on Naomi and Logan, Logan in particular gets the feeling that there’s someone else in the house with them. When they search the place, however, there’s no-one to be seen. But they’re getting hang-up phone calls, their stuff is being moved around like crazy and the hot water in the shower keeps being switched to cold.

Mom spends a lot of the movie in the shower in the nip, then going down to the darkened basement to re-light the pilot light which keeps switching itself off. I’m not sure if we’re meant to infer that the intruder, whom by now we know to be a big man in heavy boots, is hiding out in said basement, but Mom sure does spend a lot of time down there, barely wrapped in her towel while attending to the troublesome water heater

There are quite a few plot-holes in the film, clues that seem to lead nowhere and one or two red herrings in the form of a senile, widowed neighbour, who might or might not have a living husband, and an attractive, would-be suitor of Mom’s. Or, are they red herrings…?

Once the action gets going and the intruder theory starts to really gather momentum, there are some very scary moments, especially when Mom sifts through the newly-developed photographs she’s taken recently in an attempt to re-kindle an old interest…

The violence against the poor defenceless mother is horrific and possibly even gratuitous, likewise what happens to Logan. I’ve already mentioned that I was disappointed with the ending, so I won’t say any more for fear of the dreaded spoilers. You can make up your own mind regarding whether the film is a hit or a miss.

It’s by no means a bad film as such. I’ll just reiterate what I said at the start. THE OPEN HOUSE has a predictable beginning, a very exciting middley-bit and a disappointing, unsatisfactory ending. But that’s only my opinion. You can check out the film yourselves on Netflix and you might even end up thinking that my verdict on it is as suspect as the one in the O.J. Simpson trial, lol. Have fun deciding…

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

HOUSE OF WAX. (1953) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS.

HOUSE OF WAX. (1953) DIRECTED BY ANDRÉ DE TOTH. BASED ON A SHORT STORY BY CHARLES S. BELDEN AND THE 1933 FILM, MYSTERY AT THE WAX MUSEUM.

STARRING VINCENT PRICE, CAROLYN JONES, PHYLLIS KIRK, PAUL CAVANAGH, DABBS GREER AND CHARLES BUCHINSKY, AKA CHARLES BRONSON.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

(WRITTEN IN 2016, IN PRE-PANDEMIC TIMES!)

This film is a fantastic horror classic starring legendary horror maestro Vincent Price. I had the great pleasure of watching it recently on the big screen at Dublin’s Lighthouse Cinema. The film was in 3-D and I’ve honestly never been happier to sit in the dark for ninety or so minutes wearing a pair of ridiculous oversized glasses that cut into my poor little ears and nose.

Vincent Price is superb as always as Professor Henry Jarrod, who spends his days lovingly crafting wax sculptures whom he thinks of almost as his children, he loves them so much. He specialises in aesthetically-pleasing historical figures and considers his Marie Antoinette to be the pièce de resistance of his magnificent collection. And rightly so, if you ask me. She’s a proper little corker.

His business partner Matthew Burke is more concerned with the figures on their balance-sheets than with the stunning figures moulded by Jarrod, however. He wants Jarrod to sculpt more sensational pieces that could form the basis of a Chambers Of Horrors-style exhibition and bring more paying customers into their premises. Jarrod is naturally repulsed by the idea and refuses point-blank.

I don’t personally see anything wrong with the idea of a Chamber of Horrors. We have one here in Dublin in our little wax museum with Hannibal Lecter in it and Buffalo Bill from SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, as well as Dracula (modelled on Christopher Lee in the Hammer films) in his coffin and Freddie Krueger from the NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET movies.

I’d love to see a Jack the Ripper waxwork set against a Victorian backdrop, or any other famous serial murderers either from real life or from films; Dr. Crippen, say, or John Christie, the Rillington Place murderer, Burke and Hare, the infamous body-snatchers, or even- thinking outside the box here!- Countess Elizabeth Bathory of Hungary. She supposedly retained her legendary youth by bathing in the blood of virgins, whom she obviously had to murder first. Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum in London probably features some of these lads.

People love a good scare, and they’re more than willing to pay for it if it’s good enough. That’s why we buy horror DVDs and books and true-life crime magazines, and why we go to a Chamber of Horrors or, in the old days, to a travelling freak exhibition or for a ride on the ghost train at a funfair. Although I’m on Vincent Price’s character’s side overall, I kind of see where Matthew Burke is coming from too, wanting to make a few bucks out of a horror show.

Burke is even more desperate for money than Jarrod realises, however. He sets fire to the museum, nearly killing poor Jarrod in the process. Jarrod survives, but he is horrifically disfigured from trying to save his precious creations.

The scene where the wax figures are melting in the terrific heat from the fire is so powerful that it’s one I’ve remembered from my childhood. It’s, quite simply, unforgettable. Unforgettable and so very sad. Those poor wax figures…! They didn’t deserve that horribly gruesome end.

Fear not, gentle readers. The Wax Museum rises again, under the direction of Jarrod once more, but it is a Jarrod with crippled hands who is unable to sculpt the way he used to. His deaf-mute assistant, Igor, played by a young and deliciously muscular Charles Bronson, does the work for him now, following his employer’s instructions, of course.

The Wax Museum, oddly enough, has a new feature, one that is welcomed with positively blood-thirsty glee by the punters of early twentieth century New York. It now features a Chamber Of Horrors, something Jarrod always maintained he wanted no truck with. The juicy crimes and sensational recent events that the public crave can now be seen here, recreated painstakingly in waxen sculptures.

The Chamber Of Horrors even carries, strangely enough, a waxwork likeness of Jarrod’s former business partner, Matthew Burke, who apparently committed suicide, or did he…? Was Burke actually murdered by a mysterious cloaked and disfigured man who then made his death look like a suicide…? I’ll never tell.

And I certainly won’t tell you that Burke’s gold-digging fianceé, Cathy (played by Carolyn Jones, once wed to television producer Aaron Spelling and who starred as Morticia Addams in the original black-and-white television series of THE ADDAMS FAMILY), was murdered soon afterwards and then her body disappeared from the morgue.

Tsk, tsk. If I tell you that, then I might as well tell you that Cathy’s friend, Sue Allen, who herself has been pursued by the same cloaked and disfigured man we mentioned earlier, visits the Wax Museum and is deeply disturbed to observe that Jarrod’s Joan Of Arc bears more than a passing resemblance to her dead friend, Cathy…

This film is great fun. The sets and costumes are all spot-on and Charles Bronson is terrific- and dangerously sexy- as Jarrod’s new right-hand-man, Igor. You might recognise the stiff-upper-lipped Paul Cavanagh, who plays art critic and Egyptologist Sidney Wallace, as having acted in three of the Basil Rathbone/Nigel Bruce Sherlock Holmes films, made between 1939 and 1945.

Also, you’ll surely know the actor portraying the energetic sergeant Jim Shane from having also played the Reverend Alden in LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE for years in the 1970s. He and Dr. Baker were the mainstays of the town of Walnut Creek, along with storekeeper Nels Oleson and upstanding local citizen, Charles ‘Pa’ Ingalls.

A great musical score by David Buttolph adds to the creepy atmosphere and Vincent Price was born to play the creator of the Wax Museum who is driven insane by the unfortunate circumstances in which he finds himself.

The film got bad reviews at the time, but for the life of me I don’t know why. It’s a much better film than the original early talkie on which it’s based, MYSTERY OF THE WAX MUSEUM from 1933. This movie features some excellent screaming from Fay Wray of KING KONG fame, but sadly not much else. I didn’t like it half as much as the 1953 re-make, and that’s the truth.

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:

WHEN A STRANGER CALLS. (1979) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

WHEN A STRANGER CALLS. (1979) DIRECTED BY FRED WALTON. STARRING CHARLES DURNING, CAROL KANE, COLLEEN DEWHURST, RUTANYA ALDA, CARMEN ARGENZIANO AND TONY BECKLEY.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

‘The calls are coming from inside the house…’

The first twenty minutes or so of this film make for pure, perfect cinematic horror. Pretty American babysitter Jill Johnson has no more on her mind when she goes to babysit for a doctor and his wife than whether or not her crush, some guy named Bobby, will give her a tinkle on the old dog and bone. That’s cockney rhyming slang for phone, me old china plate. That’s slang for mate, by the way. Oh, never mind. Let’s get to the film.

Jill does get a call while she’s babysitting, as it happens. In fact, she gets several, but none of them are from Bobby. They’re from a sick and twisted psychopathic killer who phones every few minutes to ask Jill:

‘Have you checked the children…?’

Jill is such a bad babysitter, however, that not once in the whole time she’s there has she so much as peeped in on the two little cherubs. They could’ve gone off clubbing for all she knows. I wouldn’t hire her to watch my precious rugrats, that’s for sure.

Any-hoo, while Jill has been creeping nervously around the darkened house- the best darned darkened house I’ve ever seen on film, by the way- the killer has been doing away with the doctor’s two little sproglets in a particularly gruesome way which we don’t need to go into here.

Jill is saved by a cop named John Clifford and the killer, Curt Duncan, who’s a dead ringer for Hugh Cornwell from The Stranglers, is incarcerated in a mental asylum. I wonder if Hugh Cornwell has seen this film and, if so, what he thinks about being a doppelganger for a murderer in a ‘Seventies horror film…! Anyway, that’s the end of that chapter. Or is it…?

Well, no, it’s not, because we’re only twenty minutes into the film at that point. It’s these opening twenty minutes that have garnered this superb film its cult following, by the way. Also, these same twenty minutes are considered by many horror fans to contain some of the scariest, most nerve-wracking scenes ever to be committed to celluloid. I absolutely agree. There’s no ghost, but then there doesn’t need to be.

What could be more frightening than the thought that there’s someone in your house, an alien being, someone who’s not supposed to be there? Even if you’re only the babysitter and it’s not your own house, that doesn’t make the idea any less chilling. If anything, maybe it’s even more scary to have this happen to you in a strange gaff.

Some years later, the evil Duncan escapes from the mental asylum in which he’d been incarcerated after his grisly deeds. The lovely cuddly John Clifford, now retired from the police force and working as a private detective, is hired to recapture him by the doctor whose kids were killed by Duncan.

John Clifford, by the way, is played by Charles Durning who a few short years later fell heavily for Dustin Hoffman dressed as a middle-aged feminist in the comedy movie TOOTSIE. Boy, was he red-faced when he found out what that feisty little ‘popsy’ was packing in her pantyhose…!

We get to follow Duncan around for a bit then as he kips in hostels for homeless men and tries to pick up embittered, lonely, middle-aged women in bars. Well, one middle-aged woman in particular, anyway.

I love the scenes in which he’s following the afore-mentioned lonely single woman home through deserted streets and tunnels and into her crappy apartment in the dead of night. They’re just so seedy. This part of the film is really quite sleazy and even sad. There are a lot of lonely, dysfunctional people out there, and that’s one of the saddest facts of life there are.

We catch up with Jill the babysitter then who, in the seven years since the murder of the children in her care, has gotten married and acquired two sproglets of her own and also quite a decent life for herself. Nice posh house, charity work and prospects of advancement in her hubby’s job. Huh. Well, let’s just hope she takes better care of her own kids than she did of the doctor’s. Snigger.

Anyway, all-grown-up Jill and her husband Steven go out to dinner in a fancy restaurant to celebrate Steven’s getting a raise at work. I got the most terrible feeling of déja vu when they headed off in their fancy duds leaving the teenaged babysitter in charge of their napping nippers…

You guessed it. Duncan’s tracked Jill down through a newspaper cutting and so poor hysterical Jill gets a call at the posh restaurant from a male caller who says: ‘Have you checked the children…?‘ Well, as you can imagine, the s**t really hits the fan then.

I won’t tell you the ending so as not to spoil it for you, but I will say that there are plenty of shocks and tension along the way and lots of lovely shots of the interior of Jill’s darkened house.

This director does bloody brilliant shots of darkened houses at night. I honestly think that they’re among the best I’ve ever seen and I’ve seen… well, a few, anyway. However, I did keep wanting to scream at the screen: ‘Why don’t you turn on some feckin’ lights, you brainless bimbo…?’

I enjoyed every second of this horror film, especially the legendary first twenty minutes. It was a great ninety-minute romp through some of the best horror movie tropes ever. The babysitter being scared half to death by the anonymous caller. The calls are coming from inside the house.

The retired cop who could never quite get that one horrible murder- and murderer- out of his mind and who won’t retire easily until he’s settled old scores and avenged the innocent. You should watch it. Alone. In the dark. While babysitting. Oh, hang on, listen, is that the phone…? Can you get that? I’ve just done my nails…

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:

ROSEMARY’S BABY. (1968) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS.


ROSEMARY’S BABY. (1968) BASED ON THE NOVEL BY IRA LEVIN.
DIRECTED BY ROMAN POLANSKI.
STARRING MIA FARROW, JOHN CASSEVETES, RUTH GORDON, SIDNEY BLACKMER, MAURICE EVANS, RALPH BELLAMY AND CHARLES GRODIN.
REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©
 
This brilliant and iconic horror film reaches out and grabs you by the throat from the get-go. The first thing I noticed about it is the following. The music in THE SIMPSONS when Homer exercises poor judgement and takes the kids to a horror flick that’s totally unsuitable for young ‘uns is actually a clever homage to the ‘la-la-la-la’ music at the start of ROSEMARY’S BABY. I love finding out stuff like that!

When a terrified Bart and Lisa, traumatised beyond belief from being made to watch THE RE-DEADENING, hear the ‘la-la-la-la’ music at the dinner table and howl in fear, Homer casually remarks: ‘Oh yeah, I bought the soundtrack…!’ Good old Homer. Marge, on hearing where Homer’s taken the kids, actually remarks: ‘Homer, that’s a rare lapse in judgement for you!’ or words to that effect. Yes, rare indeed…

Anyway, ROSEMARY’S BABY tells the story of a young couple, Guy and Rosemary Woodhouse, who in 1965 move into one of those gorgeous, huge old New York apartment buildings that are always being featured in films.

SINGLE WHITE FEMALE has one of ’em. You know the kind I mean. They’ve got lifts and doormen and laundry rooms down in the big scary basement and tons and tons of storage space and I’ve always wanted to live in one except I think I’d be too scared.

The building’s not entirely dissimilar to the infamous Cecil Hotel in downtown Los Angeles, which recently featured in a Netflix series entitled: CRIME SCENE: THE VANISHING AT THE CECIL HOTEL. The specific ‘vanishing’ to which it refers is that of Canadian student Elisa Lam (1991-2013), who booked into the Cecil Hotel, only a stone’s throw from Skid Row, in January 2013.

Sadly, she went missing while staying there and her body was eventually found in a water tank on the roof of the building. Her death was found to be accidental. Huge Internet interest was aroused by the disappearance and, particularly, by some hotel footage of Elisa in a hotel elevator on the last day she was ever seen alive, in which she is seen to be behaving strangely.

Anyway, Guy and Rosemary’s building is called the Bramford and, according to their pal Hutch, its history is sinister and inextricably bound up with the occult. This doesn’t deter the young marrieds, though.

Rosemary in particular loves all the closet space and, let’s face it, as a dutiful little ‘Sixties housewife, she has plenty of time to line them all with nice stripy shelf paper while hubby Guy is out trying to earn a crust as an actor.

The most interesting thing about the Bramford is the Woodhouse’s new neighbours, a hugely eccentric old couple called the Castevets. Ruth Gordon won an Oscar for her portrayal of Minnie Castevet, the garishly-dressed, extremely nosy and pushy auld one who insinuates herself into Rosemary’s business right from the off. Rosemary, a total doormat, is much too weak and wimpy to tell the bossy old biddy to bog off.

After initial reluctance, Guy becomes chummy with the couple and presumably talks to them in private about how hard he’s finding it to make it as an actor. Then one day, he suddenly tells Rosemary he’s willing to try for the baby she’s always wanted.

Coincidence much? He’s even worked out on a chart when the optimum times for conception are, if you can believe that. Is any man alive that keen to knock up the missus…? Well, maybe some guys are, haha.

Dozey Rosie doesn’t suspect a thing. Not even when one night she gets ‘tipsy’ (with Guy’s encouragement) and has a horribly life-like ‘dream’ in which she is raped by a demonic figure in the presence of Guy and the Castevets and a load of their elderly pals from the Bramford. ‘Dream,’ my Aunt Fanny. As if the whole thing wasn’t arranged by Guy and the Castevets together. For shame…!

Rosemary wakes up the next day covered in claw marks and scrapes and scratches. Guy tries to make out like he had sex with her while she was out for the count so as not to miss out on conception time. He says it was nice, in a necrophiliac kind of way…! What a nice guy. We have a name for that kind of thing nowadays, boyo.

Anyway, as you’ve undoubtedly guessed, Rosemary ends up preggers by Satan after that one night, because apparently His Infernal Majesty always hits the mark on the first time. No faffing about for the Dark Lord. No bullshitting with Beelzebub. No half-assed endeavours for Lucifer. He uses his whole ass when he undertakes something. Oh, and Guy is suddenly on his way to becoming a famous actor. Coincidence, my butt. 

What happens to Rosemary after her unwitting conception of Old Nick’s kid has the quality of a nightmare for the boyishly-coiffed young mum-to-be. Does she get through it unscathed? Does Satan Junior? Does Guy get any kind of come-uppance?

Can the Devil be prevailed upon to pay child support and take his infant to MacDonald’s and a movie at the weekend like every other normal deadbeat dad? And above all, can anything be done about Rosemary’s hair? ‘Tis shocking bad. These and other questions can (mostly) be answered by watching the film.

The book by Ira Levin on which the film is based is one of the few books that I read right through without stopping. JAWS by Peter Benchley was another one, William Peter Blatty’s THE EXORCIST another. It’s in pretty good company, as you can see.

ROSEMARY’S BABY, incidentally, is one of the films that made it on to the American National Film Registry, which means that the Library Of Congress deemed it ‘culturally, historically or aesthetically significant,’ which is a pretty big honour for any film that makes the cut.

The acting is sublime, the scripting tight and the ending fantastic. The only thing that puzzles me is the bit about Satan’s apparently being such a rough and inconsiderate lover that he leaves his consort covered in savage claw marks.

That’s not the Satan I know. Why, the time he and I… Ooops. I’ve said too much. Never mind. Forget that I said that. We’ll end on a pun based on the movie. ‘Anyone for tannis…?’ Yes, I said tannis, haha. Watch the film. You’ll find out.

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 CRAFT. (1996) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

THE CRAFT. (1996) DIRECTED BY ANDREW FLEMING AND CO-WRITTEN BY ANDREW FLEMING AND PETER FILARDI.

STARRING ROBIN TUNNEY, FAIRUZA BALK, NEVE CAMPBELL, RACHEL TRUE AND SKEET ULRICH.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

Bus driver- Watch out for weirdos, ladies!

Nancy- We ARE the weirdos, mister…

Light as a feather, stiff as a board…

This is a terrific, highly entertaining cult horror film from the ‘Nineties. It gave me such a huge nostalgia buzz to re-visit it this weekend. It’s a supernatural horror-drama set in and around a private, mixed-sex high school run by nuns.

The ‘popular’ girls who attend the school are absolute bitches and the ‘popular’ boys, the good-looking lads hoping to get into college on a football scholarship because they’re usually too thick to get in on intellect alone, are utter jerks. If one of these boys and one of these girls sleep together, the girl is a slut and the boy is a massive stud who’ll shout his triumphs and conquests all over school.

Moving to a new area and a new high school is bad enough, but having to move to a bitchy American high school (those are the bitchiest!) must be tough. Sarah Bailey has just relocated with her father and stepmother from San Francisco to Los Angeles and has to do the new school thing, and she’s not exactly happy about it.

Sarah is beautiful but slightly unusual in that she has psychic powers. At school, she is immediately drawn to three other girls of similar inclinations.

These are Nancy, who’s fed up with living in a crappy trailer with her alcoholic mum and abusive step-father; Bonnie, whose body has been horribly scarred by fire; and Rochelle, a black girl who is subjected to racist taunts by one of the pretty and popular white girls at school, Laura Lizzie.

These three school outcasts have been secretly worshipping a Satan-like god they call ‘Manon.’ It’s not until they combine their powers with Sarah’s that Manon finally starts kicking ass for them, and the quartet of would-be witches realise that their greatest desires might just be only a magic spell away…

Nancy, the mouthy one with the bad attitude, wishes not to be white trash any more. Bonnie wants to be rid of her scars and be ‘beautiful outside as well as in.’ Rochelle wants to be free of her tormentors, and Sarah works a love spell on Chris, a guy from school whom she fancies but who was a total douchebag to her and about her in front of his awful friends.

Remember these lines from WILLY WONKA AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY?

Willy Wonka to Charlie Bucket: Did you hear what happened to the boy who suddenly got everything he ever wanted?

Charlie, spellbound: No, what?

Willy Wonka: He lived happily ever after…

Well, that doesn’t happen in THE CRAFT, thank heavens, or the movie would only be about half its length. Things seem to be going along swimmingly at first, with the girls getting their wishes granted and more by the mighty and powerful Oz, sorry, Manon, but then everything just seems to turn to crap, with a dangerously love-struck Chris trying to rape Sarah on a deserted beach one night.

Sarah, realising that things have gone too far, wants out of the coven. But there’s a price to pay for leaving the coven, and, for Sarah, it might just be more- way more- than she’s prepared to pay. Strap yourself in and get ready for the witchy face-off to end all witchy face-offs…

You’ll recognise Neve Campbell (Bonnie) and Skeet Ulrich (Chris) from the SCREAM movie franchise (1996-present). And if the doctor who operates on Bonnie’s scars looks familiar, it’s because she used to play Mary Alice Young, a character but also the narrator, in the comedy-drama soap opera series, DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES.

The film has a memorable soundtrack, with songs on it that were written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, Harry Nilsson, Johnny Marr from the Smiths, Peter Gabriel from Genesis, Ric Ocasek from the Cars, Marianne Faithfull and Justine Frischmann from Britpop bands Suede and Elastica. The only thing I can ever remember about Justine Frischmann is that she dated your man from Blur for a while, Damon Albarn.

Father Damo to Father Dougal in ‘Nineties clerical sitcom FATHER TED: ‘Here, who’d’you prefer, Oasis or Blur?’

Father Dougal: ‘Erm, Blur…?’

Father Damo, roaring: ‘Wha’?’

Father Dougal, placatingly: ‘I mean, Oasis, Oasis…!’

THE CRAFT is still a popular film years later, with a cult following of its very own. There are some really good spooky scenes in it, and its moral of not tampering with things that are bigger and more powerful than you is pretty clear.

Our four little witches thought they could employ witchcraft to summon up this fella Manon and use him for their own ends. But, once they start abusing this power, Manon, like any self-respecting Satan-like god dealie, has to step in and take it back. There’ll be tears before bedtime for sure…

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, women’s fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

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

47 METERS DOWN: UNCAGED. (2019) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

47 METERS DOWN: UNCAGED. (2019) DIRECTED BY JOHANNES ROBERTS. STARRING SOPHIE NÉLISSE, CORINNE FOXX (DAUGHTER OF JAMIE FOXX), SISTINE STALLONE (DAUGHTER OF SYLVESTER STALLONE), BRIANNE TJU AND JOHN CORBETT.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

I really enjoyed this shark attack horror film, and would definitely love to watch the original film, this one being a sequel. There’s tons of shark action and the sharks look really real as well, and not all like CGI monsters.

It was partially filmed in England, believe it or not, in the Underwater Studio in Basildon in Essex (why am I only hearing about this now? It sounds so cool!!!) and good old Pinewood Studios in Iver Heath in Buckinghamshire, a mere twenty miles west of Central London. Shure you’d drive that in no time. The rest was filmed in the Dominican Republic, and the film is set in Mexico.

The spelling of ‘metres’ as ‘meters’ is very much an Americanism, but I can live with it and not resent it, because the film is surprisingly good, and makes me wonder what I’m missing out on by not having seen (or even heard of till today) the original movie.

Stupidity, negligence and carelessness on the part of the characters is often a feature of horror movies, and the reason why these characters frequently just walk themselves voluntarily into all kinds of terrible trouble and peril. Such stupidity, and wilful disobedience, I might add, is very much present in 47 METERS DOWN. It’s the main reason the four lead girls find themselves in such a desperate situation. Here’s the 411.

Step-sisters from a new, recently ‘blended family,’ Mia and Sasha, are supposed to be taking a trip together on a glass-bottomed boat to see great white sharks doing great white shark things.

The trip is a sort of consolation prize for their dad not being able to ‘hang’ with them as promised at the weekend. He has a very cool job, as Chief Excavator (or something like that, anyway) of an ancient underwater Mayan city off the coast of Mexico, where they’ve apparently just moved to, and he’s got to work this weekend.

Instead of taking the planned trip, however, Mia and Sasha allow Sasha’s school friends, Alexa and Nicole, to distract them with the promise of doing something much ‘cooler’ than seeing silly old great white sharks splashing about in the water.

What the feckin’ hell could possibly be cooler than seeing great white sharks in their natural habitat? Those girls must be nuts. Alexa and Nicole drive an excited Mia and Sasha to a beautiful secret lagoon that leads to the submerged city that Mia’s dad (Sasha’s step-dad) is currently working on with a couple of assistants.

The girls are stripped down to their bikinis in less time than it takes to say ‘underage skanks in shark attack horror,’ diving into the lagoon and then swimming into the system of underwater caves that surrounds the Mayan city, led by Alexa, because she’s briefly been shown the entrance to the caves once, by one of Mia’s dad’s helpers, who was clearly on a promise.

Well, she obviously has the knowledge, expertise and technical know-how to conduct a safe and non-perilous expedition in to the unknown territory that is these caves, I don’t think…

It’s exactly like in JAWS 2, the first of three sequels to the Ultimate Shark Movie in the entire history of Ultimate Shark Movies, JAWS. It’s like when Chief Martin Brody strongly suspects that another shark is stalking the waters round Amity Island, and he forbids his teenage son Mike from sticking so much as one little piggy in the water, setting him to do a boring but safe painting job instead.

Of course, as we know, naughty Mikey disobeys his craggy-featured Pops and goes sailing for the day with his mates and a girl he likes behind his father’s back. What’s worse, however, is the fact that Mikey’s been blackmailed into bringing his little brother Sean along with him for the ride.

Later in the day, when Ma and Pa Brody, played by Lorraine Gary and Roy Scheider respectively, find out that their two precious sons are out at sea in the same waters as the killer shark, the shit hits the fan in a big way…

Anyway, in 47 METERS DOWN, the girls are blissfully unaware, as they swim blithely into the underwater caves, that they are sharing their space with, not one, but two, great white sharks nearly as ancient as the submerged city itself.

The sharks are terrific, as I said, and they’re blind as well, as a direct result of living in these underwater caves for God knows how many years, which means that their other senses will be heightened. As if sharks weren’t deadly enough without having their senses heightened…! God help us all.

The caves are full of dead ends and could be prone to rockfalls, if the girls kick up enough of a disturbance. This in turn could lead to the visibility levels in the caves being greatly impaired by all the dislodged silt. Added to this is the fact that the girls’ air-tanks will soon be out of oxygen.

Methinks these rich and privileged high school princesses will live to regret the day they skipped out of that tour on the glass-bottomed boat to (safely!!!) see great white sharks doing great white shark things…

The statues and steps and sacrificial altar in the Mayan city are brilliant as well, and the girls nearly die numerous times in numerous different horrific ways before their nightmarish experience draws to a close.

I recommend this film for the great shark action, the tight script and the unusual setting, and, if you’re the parents of unruly teenagers, I beg of you to ask yourself this question at every available opportunity: ‘Do you know where your kids are…?’

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, women’s fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

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

LAST GIRL STANDING. (2015) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS.©

Last-Girl-Standing_600 (1)

LAST GIRL STANDING. (2015) DIRECTED BY BENJAMIN R. MOODY. STARRING AKASHA VILLALOBOS, DANIELLE EVON PLOEGER AND BRIAN VILLALOBOS.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

‘What happens AFTER the horror movie?’

This isn’t exactly the greatest horror movie ever made, but it whiled away a June Bank Holiday Friday night during coronavirus lockdown nicely enough, and it’s definitely worth one watch and one evening of your time.

The idea of the ‘last girl standing’ is a ready-made horror trope all of its own already. (It’s always a girl, by the way; maybe because the aesthetics of a trim young woman running in a slim vest top and hotpants, with unfettered boobies bouncing freely and with long hair streaming out behind her, are more pleasing to the eye than if we just have, say, a heavy-set bearded bloke in sweatpants pounding along, struggling to breathe ’cause its years since he attempted anything approximating physical exercise.)

We’re all familiar with the image of the last girl in a horror movie to survive a massacre by the serial killer. We’ve all seen her running frantically through the woods in the dark, her white vest top stained with the blood of the friends she’s seen murdered by the villain and her long hair matted with blood and twigs. (From the trees and bushes, see?)

We’ve seen her trip and stumble to the forest floor just inches ahead of the pursuing killer. We’ve seen her flag down the one car on the otherwise deserted motorway, only to find that the car is being driven by the killer or one of his local accomplices, say, a corrupt sheriff or something. In other films, the car’s occupants are genuine and the Last Girl Standing is whisked away to the safety of the nearest hospital or police station.

In this film, Camryn (the world’s worst spelling of Cameron, a lovely name) is the titular Last Girl Standing. She saw her friends butchered in the woods in a pagan ritual, by a serial killer wearing a deer mask complete with antlers known as ‘the Hunter.’ Camryn went one further than most victims, however, and actually killed the man who was looking to add her name to his list of kills.

So, now, it’s a few years later and Camryn’s life is, to be totally honest about it, a bit shit. Her apartment looks like no-one lives in it, so reluctant has she been to personalise it or put her own stamp on it.

Her hair is limp and lank-looking, she dresses in the drabbest of drab shapeless hoodies and tops, she’s become almost terminally shy and jumpy and she barely talks to anyone at the dry cleaners-cum-launderette where she works. Even Nick, the cute new guy, has trouble getting a smile or a friendly word out of her.

Camryn has terrible survivors’ guilt. Why did she live, when none of her friends did? Plus, she lost all her closest friends in one fell swoop; all murdered by ‘the Hunter.’ That’s plenty to be depressed about as it is, but now, as well, since Nick joined the staff, coincidentally enough, Camryn has the feeling she’s being stalked.

Is the Hunter not dead after all? Has he come back to finish the job he left unfinished before? Or is Camryn merely losing the plot after all this time? You’ll have great fun trying to figure out which it is.

Camryn’s new friends- they’re Nick’s mates really- certainly think that Camryn is as mad as a box of frogs, out in their garden in the dead of night searching high and low for skinned and bleeding rabbits, and digging up dead serial killers in the middle of nowhere, also in the dead of night, just to make sure they’re still dead.

Is she cuckoo, or is she right? Is the Hunter back to finish her off, or maybe one of his friends or relatives is seeking to avenge the killer? It could go any way, especially as Camryn has such a tenuous grip on reality at the moment. Have fun figuring it out. It’s a good, serviceable little horror film and you’ll enjoy watching it, as I said earlier, at least once.

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, women’s fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

You can contact Sandra at:

sandrasandraharris@gmail.com

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

https://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com