THE RAVEN, STARRING VINCENT PRICE AND BORIS KARLOFF. (1963) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

raven boysTHE RAVEN. (1963) AN AMERICAN INTERNATIONAL PICTURE. BASED ON THE POEM BY EDGAR ALLAN POE. PRODUCED AND DIRECTED BY ROGER CORMAN. SCREENPLAY BY RICHARD MATHESON. MUSIC BY LES BAXTER. EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS: JAMES H. NICHOLSON AND SAMUEL Z. ARKOFF.

STARRING VINCENT PRICE, PETER LORRE, BORIS KARLOFF, HAZEL COURT, OLIVE STURGESS AND JACK NICHOLSON.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

This quaintly charming horror film is a marvellous example of the work that Roger Corman and Vincent Price did together for AMERICAN INTERNATIONAL PICTURES. With a little help, of course, from a certain sombre-faced writer who went by the name of Edgar Allan Poe, haha.

THE RAVEN begins- and ends- with beloved horror icon Vincent Price actually reciting Poe’s famous poem of the same name and he really does the grim but beautiful words justice. In fact, if you’re going to get someone to read Poe’s words, you really couldn’t do better than have Vincent Price do the job in his deliciously distinctive spooky voice.

My wee son does an impression of the late Vincent Price’s voice that’s so like him it’s uncanny. I really must record him doing it one day for posterity…!

Anyway, in the film THE RAVEN, a rather splendidly-dressing-gowned Vincent Price, playing the magician Erasmus Craven, is sitting about at home when an actual raven comes tap-tap-tapping upon his chamber door, believe it or not. In point of fact, the bird comes to the window but I don’t think that there’s any mention of that in the poem, haha.

The wise-cracking bird turns out to be none other than Peter Lorre under a spell or ‘enchantment,’ put there by an evil wizard called Dr. Scarabus. Some highly hilarious rooting about for ingredients from his dead scientist father’s old laboratory leads to Craven being able to release the Raven, aka Peter Lorre as a boozy second-rate magician called Bedlo, from the spell. The insanity does not, of course, end there…

Bedlo stirs the pot big-time by informing a shocked Craven that he’s seen Craven’s dead wife’s spirit hanging around this Dr. Scarabus’s gaff. Now, Craven still loves the deceased Lenore with every fibre of his being and he’s hell-bent on charging around to Dr. Scarabus’s place to see if what Bedlo says is true.

Also, Bedlo wants his magic-kit back from Scarabus’s house where Scarabus is apparently holding it hostage. The pair high-tail it there in a carriage, accompanied by Craven’s beautiful daughter Estelle and Bedlo’s handsome but rather clown-ish son Rexford, played by a really young Jack Nicholson, long before ever he flew over the cuckoo’s nest to land head-first in THE SHINING…

Horror legend Boris Karloff is magnificent as the aforementioned Dr. Scarabus, a wizard with powers far superior to Bedlo’s but about equal with Craven’s. He greets the deputation with a fake hospitality, feigning polite surprise at their various complaints.

A little display of Dr. Scarabus’s powers over dinner puts Bedlo firmly back in his box. Craven will not be so easy to outwit. But Craven is horribly distracted by the shocking return to life of someone he was sure was dead…

The duel between the two wizards is superbly done and hilariously funny. Vincent Price can be awfully mischievous when he wants to be. The fun and games are wonderful to witness, although the outcome of the duel is never really in doubt. Or is it…?

Hazel Court is fantastic (and delightfully booby-licious!) as the lady whose name we won’t mention for fear of spoilers. Suffice it to say that she also plays a beautiful but duplicitous wife in the excellent horror movie PREMATURE BURIAL starring Ray Milland, a story also based on a work by Mr. Poe. He surely wrote a lot of grim stuff, didn’t he…?

It probably goes without saying that the three leads, Messrs Price, Lorre and Karloff, more than justify their places at the top of the horror tree by turning in warm, passionate and deeply humorous performances. Vincent Price in particular is just marvellous to watch. He’s just having so much fun with it and you can really tell.

As always with AMERICAN INTERNATIONAL PICTURES, the settings, furnishings and costumes are lavishly-gorgeous and rich and gloriously-coloured, with the lovely russets, reds and orangey-browns coming to the forefront as always.

Dr. Scarabus’s castle exterior takes the form of a stunning-looking painting and the shots of the sea are just beautiful. The film is quite similar to another horror film about the spirit of naughty deceased wives called THE TERROR, also starring Boris Karloff and a young Jack Nicholson. If you haven’t already seen this one, it’s well worth checking out.

THE RAVEN is a terrific watch, anyway. You should put it on one dark windy night when you’re all on your own in the darkened house. That way, when something sinister comes tap-tap-tapping upon your chamber door, it’ll turn the blood in your veins to ice just to hear it, and isn’t it just delightful to be scared stiff…?

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.
Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. 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, womens’ 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:

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

https://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com

http://sexysandieblog.wordpress.com

http://serenaharker.wordpress.com

sandrasandraharris@gmail.com

https://twitter.com/SandraAuthor

SINISTER 2 AND INSIDIOUS 3: TWO BRILLIANT HORROR MOVIE SEQUELS REVIEWED BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

Insidious-Chapter-3-1

SINISTER 2 and INSIDIOUS CHAPTER 3: TWO HORROR MOVIE SEQUELS REVIEWED BY SANDRA HARRIS.

SINISTER 2. (2015) DIRECTED BY CIARAN FOY. PRODUCED BY JASON BLUM, SCOTT DERRICKSON AND BRIAN KAVANAUGH-JONES. STARRING JAMES RANSONE, SHANNYN SOSSAMON AND LEA COCO.

INSIDIOUS CHAPTER 3. (2015) WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY LEIGH WHANNELL. PRODUCED BY JAMES WAN, JASON BLUM AND OREN PELI. STARRING LIN SHAYE, LEIGH WHANNELL, ANGUS SAMPSON, DERMOT MULRONEY, JAMES WAN AND STEFANIE SCOTT.

These two horror films from 2015 have a lot in common. They’re each co-produced by hotshot horror movie producer Jason Blum and they each belong to two of the biggest horror film franchises in recent years, SINISTER and INSIDIOUS.

I’d already seen the original SINISTER movie, starring Ethan Hawke as true crime writer Ellison Oswalt, and loved it, but I was coming to INSIDIOUS 3 completely blind, having seen neither of the first two INSIDIOUS films. Chapter 3 blew me away, so I now absolutely cannot wait to get my mitts on the first two instalments.

SINISTER 2 sees Deputy So-And-So from the first SINISTER movie desperately trying to keep a beautiful young mother called Courtney and her two small sons Zach and Dylan from the clutches of two villains.

The first of these is Courtney’s abusive husband, who has discovered his wife’s remote hiding-place for herself and her two boys. This violent hot-head wants his family back, but they don’t want to come back. This is where Deputy-So-And-So, who’s completely smitten with Courtney, comes in. Can he be her knight in shining armour…?

The other villain is, of course, Bughuul, the freaky-ass supernatural child-snatcher from the original movie. Both of Courtney’s kids are seeing dead children all over the creepy house in which they’re hiding out with their terrified mother who’s fleeing from her nasty husband, but Bughuul seems to have his evil eye on one of the boys in particular to do his vile bidding. Can Deputy-So-And-So stop this possessed kid from destroying his whole family…?

Bughuul is once more adding to his collection of freakishly sick home movies in this film, by the way. As a huge fan of crocodiles, I loved the home movie in which they featured. The rat thing, while being imaginative and inventive, made me sick to someone else’s stomach, haha. Very Marquis de Sade-esque, I’m sure.

As for the rest of the home movies, it was all just like, fire again, seriously? Still, there’s some pretty nasty stuff in there. Damn you, Bughuul, you sick f**k, will you ever get yours…? I await any future developments with intense interest.

INSIDIOUS CHAPTER 3 sees a pretty young student called Quinn Brenner battling with the evil demon that has unfairly attached itself to her. All she wanted to do was to contact her dead mother (clearly she’s never seen any of those ouija board movies, the dozy mare!), but instead she finds herself in great physical danger as the demon of someone who died a long time ago tries to drag her down into the Underworld with him.

Yes, it’s a guy. Remember the nearly-dead guy in the bed in the movie SEVEN (1995), starring Brad Pitt? First-time director and a close friend of James Wan, who directed the first two INSIDIOUS movies, Leigh Whannell, wanted his demon to look like the guy from SEVEN. The demon is actually played by the guy from SEVEN…! He’s equally terrifying in both films and he’s the reason why I will never, ever watch the movie SEVEN again. So there, haha.

Quinn enlists the help of psychic Elise Rainier to help her fight the demon. Elise, brilliantly played by Lin Shaye, apparently featured in the other two INSIDIOUS movies, along with ghost-hunters Tucker and Specs, played by Angus Sampson and Leigh Whannell himself.

The scenes in which Elise goes into the otherworldly zone known as ‘The Further’ are freaking terrifying. Parker Crane, or the ‘Bride In Black,’ whose origin story I’m unaware of because I haven’t yet seen the first two films, scared the living daylights out of me. I definitely want to find out more about such a hideous and malevolent creature.

The scene where Elise follows the demon known as ‘The Man Who Can’t Breathe’ (because he’s wearing a gas-mask, see?) down into the dark depths of her Reading Room nearly spooked me half to death as well. The film is full of jump scares, which some horror fans tend to look down on, but when they’re well done, as they are here, they can be super-effective.

Heart-throb Dermot Mulroney (YOUNG GUNS, COPYCAT, MY BEST FRIEND’S WEDDING) plays the rather ineffective Dad here who keeps leaving his crippled daughter to fight the demon on her own. Lin Shaye totally steals the show for me though. She kicks ass all through the movie, especially against the ‘Bride In Black.’ I wish she was my Nan, haha.

Anyway, these are two terrific sequels from franchises which I know you horror fans will all know as well as you know your own names. Both are well worth watching and, as for INSIDUOUS Chapters One and Two, I cannot wait to get my hands on them.

There’s a lot of top-notch, high quality horror flicks being made nowadays, despite some folks’ assertions that all the best horror movies were made thirty or forty years ago. It gives one a lot of hope for the future. It surely does.

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. 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, womens’ 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:

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

https://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com

http://sexysandieblog.wordpress.com

http://serenaharker.wordpress.com

sandrasandraharris@gmail.com

https://twitter.com/SandraAuthor

SINISTER HOUSE/HAUNTING OF CRESTVIEW ACADEMY: A GRISLY DOUBLE BILL OF HORROR FILM REVIEWS BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

 crestview academySINISTER HOUSE/HAUNTING OF CRESTVIEW HIGH: A DOUBLE BILL OF GRISLY HORROR FILM REVIEWS BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

SINISTER HOUSE aka HOUSE OF BAD. (2013) WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY JIM TOWNS. STARRING HEATHER L. TYLER, SADIE KATZ AND CHERYL SANDS.

HAUNTING OF CRESTVIEW ACADEMY aka BAD KIDS GO TO HELL. (2012) WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY MATTHEW SPRADLIN. STARRING CAMERON DEANE STEWART, ALI FAULKNER, AUGIE DUKE, AMANDA ALCH, ROGER EDWARDS, MARC DONATO AND JUDD NELSON (FROM ‘THE BREAKFAST CLUB’).

Both of these horror films deal with small groups of people who, for one reason or another, are being confined to barracks, as it were, for certain periods of time. They’re each good gruesome fun to watch, although I’m more inclined to favour SINISTER HOUSE, otherwise known as HOUSE OF BAD.

That’s where we’ll start, with the film that ‘GRABS YOU AND DOESN’T LET YOU GO!,’ according to one of its other reviews. I couldn’t agree more, as it happens. I was glued to this one from start to finish. Let me see if I can explain to you guys exactly why…

Three attractive American sisters, Teig, Sirah and Lily, all hole up in the abandoned old childhood home of Teig and Sirah for a month, or at least that’s the plan, anyway. They’ve stolen a massive stash of drugs from Sirah’s boyfriend Tommy, a drug dealer and pimp. Hence the need for a complete getaway.

They’re going to lay low for a month and then sell the drugs off to a contact of Teig’s. What’s that quote from Robbie Burns? ‘The best-laid plans of mice and men gang oft a-gley…?’ Yeah, what he said. You’d better believe that the sisters’ plans will be ganging a-gley all over the bleedin’ shop.

The idea is that the money from the sale of the drugs will be enough to set the sisters up in a new life, something that each of the women desperately need. Sirah’s abusive boyfriend Tommy has had her dancing topless in the clubs.

Teig, the eldest- and toughest- sister, is an ex-con who trusts no-one, not even her own sisters. Lily, their young step-sister from their father’s bit-on-the-side, is an absolute stunner looks-wise but she just can’t keep her pretty little snout out of the heroin trough. And she’s going to be holed up for a month with a suitcase stuffed full of drugs? Good luck with that…!

There are problems right from the start. Lily’s got to go cold turkey, for one thing. As it’s a film and not real life, we don’t really see her going through the horrible traumas that a person coming off the ‘junk’ for realsies would be forced to endure.

Sirah, the weakest of the three sisters, actually misses her abusive pimp and can’t keep her busy fingers from texting him on the phone she solemnly promised her sisters not to use. The seriously on-edge Teig will kill her if she finds out.  She’ll go through her for a feckin’ short-cut, as we say here in Oireland.

It’s not just the physical stuff that’s a problem, either. Their old childhood home is filled with bad memories and evil spirits, dating back to the time when something terrible happened between Teig and Sirah’s constantly warring parents back when the two girls were kids.

Teig and Sirah are still afraid to go upstairs and down into the cellar. Lily demands to know why. The other two sisters think she’s better off not knowing. If you’ve seen this excellent horror movie, you’ll probably think the same. Oh, and there are lovely bare boobies on show here too, and that’s always a big plus…!

HAUNTING OF CRESTVIEW HIGH is a terrible film really, but as I watched it with a friend, we had great fun with it together. If I’d been watching it alone with no-one to have a laugh with, I’d have been bored rigid and bitterly disappointed with the lack of any real scares.

It’s about a bunch of really awful American high school kids in their last year of school, a school for mostly super-rich snobs like the children of politicians or lawyers.

A bunch of six of these privileged little horrors all find themselves in an eight-hour detention one day. Their teacher falls mysteriously ill and goes off, locking the posh brats into the school library for the whole day.  The Health and Safety people will have a f**king heart attack when they hear about this gross act of negligence on the teacher’s part.

It’s a loving homage to the hit ‘Eighties movie THE BREAKFAST CLUB, and Judd Nelson actually plays the headmaster in this snobby upper-class school, which will delight any fans of the old movie. There’s actually another film doing the rounds called ‘DETENTION,’ which has the super-cool tagline ‘THE BREAKFAST CLUB MEETS THE GRUDGE…!,’ so I must check that out if I get the chance.

Anyway, the six brats involved in this all-day incarceration are mostly the kids of rich parents who’ve committed foul play against an old native American chap called Jacob Rainwater. They’ve shoved him off his land in order to build the school a huge fancy library.

In return, the school will guarantee that their snotty, ill-bred brats will all graduate on time and with the honours they need to get into their big fancy colleges. It’s well for some…

The spirits aren’t happy, however, even if the kids’ parents are. Some strange paranormal-type happenings in the library on Detention Day have the snotty little poshos running scared. And the situation is not without its element of human conspiracy, either, but I ain’t telling. Let it be a surprise-slash-reward for anyone who actually sits through the whole cringingly bad film…!

So there you have it, guys. Another two-for-the-price-of-one horror film review from your friendly neighbourhood movie critic. The first film is terrific and utterly watchable. It’d be a great story even without the horror, if you know what I mean.

The second film, well, still watch it by all means if it comes your way. Just don’t expect too much from it, that’s all. Except boobies. There are boobies in it so you can expect those. Boobies (like diamonds in the ‘Going to Africa’ episode of THE SIMPSONS!) will make everything all right. Boobies…! Boobies…! Boobies…!

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. 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, womens’ 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:

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

https://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com

http://sexysandieblog.wordpress.com

http://serenaharker.wordpress.com

sandrasandraharris@gmail.com

https://twitter.com/SandraAuthor

THE LAST EXORCISM/THE HAUNTING OF BATES HOTEL: A DOUBLE BILL OF GRISLY HORROR FILM REVIEWS BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

LastExorcismInterviewLeadTHE LAST EXORCISM and THE HAUNTING OF BATES HOTEL: A DOUBLE BILL OF GRISLY HORROR FILM REVIEWS BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

THE LAST EXORCISM. (2010) DIRECTED BY DANIEL STAMM. PRODUCED BY ELI ROTH. STARRING PATRICK FABIAN, ASHLEY BELL, CALEB LANDRY JONES AND LOUIS HERTHUM.

THE HAUNTING OF BATES HOTEL. (2012) DIRECTED BY BYRON TURK. STARRING JEAN LOUISE O’SULLIVAN, DANTE ZUCCA AND ZACHARY FLETCHER.

I bought both of these films to watch over the recent Saint Patrick’s Day holiday weekend here in Oireland, hence the double review today. While I always enjoy watching horror that’s new to me, however ropey, I must confess that I found one of these films to be possibly the worst horror film I’ve ever seen, while the other one baffled me at first but grew to be a strong finisher. Want to know which one is which? Stay tuned and I promise to tell all…!

Well, here I am telling all as promised, haha. I’ll start with THE HAUNTING OF BATES HOTEL. Being as I am a lifelong fan of Alfred Hitchcock’s legendary horror film PSYCHO  (1960) and the book by Robert Bloch from which it derived, I admit I bought this film for the PSYCHO connection and also for the cover of the DVD box.

The cover features a building not unlike the home that Norman Bates shared with his ‘Mother.’ In an upstairs window, a woman is clearly silhouetted holding a knife. To my eternal disgust, THE HAUNTING OF BATES MOTEL has about as much to do with PSYCHO as GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS has to do with crocheting and needlework. I was deeply, deeply disappointed.

The film is set in an existing real-life horror attraction called the Bates Motel and Haunted Hayride. It’s situated in rural Pennsylvania on a place called Arasapha Farm and television star Bam Margera is seen advertising the Halloween attraction for real at the film’s outset.

In the film, a beautiful young woman called Agnes Rickover goes to work at this attraction to try to recover from a trauma she experienced there a year ago, namely the death of her best friend Lily (an employee of the attraction’s) who burned horribly on the Haunted Hayride.

People start dying ‘mysteriously’ around the Park pretty much on Agnes’s first shift. She determines to get to the bottom of both Lily’s death and the deaths of the other Park employees also. She enlists the aid of her cute but relectant writer friend Clyde to do this. I don’t want to give too much of the lame ‘plot’ away so I’ll just say this. The ‘who’ is pretty obvious. The ‘why’ is never revealed. I want my tenner back.

THE LAST EXORCISM is much more promising and worthwhile although, again, the DVD box features a scene that’s not even in the movie. Sigh. That always annoys me, even though it happens fairly frequently. At least the film inside was worth the ninety or so minutes of my life.

The Reverend Cotton Marcus, hailing from Baton Rouge, Louisiana and as smug and self-satisfied a character as you’ll find in any film, has been performing exorcisms since he was knee-high to a grasshopper. In this ‘found footage’ supernatural horror film, he admits freely to the public, through a documentary he’s allowing to be filmed about him, that he no longer believes in demons.

Say what? That’s right, folks. A medical issue caused him to lose his faith, but he still continues to perform fake exorcisms as a sort of placebo for the people who think they’re possessed by the devil. In other words, if they think he’s curing ’em, he really is curing ’em, if you follow me, It’s purely the placebo effect but, if it works, isn’t he doing them a favour rather than a disservice…?

Anyway, in this ‘documentary,’ he reveals all the tricks of his trade, such as phoney demon noises and making objects move and fall over by using wires. If this was a real documentary, it’d be hard not to be utterly sickened and disgusted by the tricks being played upon individuals who genuinely believe that they’re possessed by the devil. Still, it’s just a film. Isn’t it…?

Cotton’s camera crew follow him to the Sweetzer farm, where the Dad of the family tells them that he thinks his sixteen-year-old daughter Nell is possessed by a demon. Against the wishes of Nell’s brother Caleb, Cotton, filmed by his crew of Iris and Danny, duly performs a phoney exorcism on the pleasant and obliging young girl.

A few phoney demon noises later and Bob’s your Uncle, or so Cotton thinks. Imagine his shock when he’s confronted by evidence of a genuine possesion taking place inside the body and soul of the home-schooled young lady. Things take a distinctly creepy turn as Cotton and his crew discover that they’ve bitten off way more than they can chew with Cotton’s so-called ‘LAST EXORCISM…’

I was scared once or twice by this film, which is a good sign, although of course by now I know what to expect from exorcism films. Projectile vomiting or spewing, heads and bodies twisting to unnatural angles and girls with long dark hair and white nightdresses scuttling up walls and speaking in tongues.

It’s always the same, isn’t it, and this film is no different, although it’s still good. Show me a possession film where the possessed person is a balding, middle-aged businessman with a paunch and a wart on his face and I’ll show you a possession film with a difference. Don’t think it’s gonna happen, though. Not while girls with long dark hair and white nighties are still selling horror flicks.

A rather Dennis Wheatley-esque ending, which I quite enjoyed, completes the picture. I’d definitely recommend giving this one a watch. Not so, sadly, in the case of THE HAUNTING OF BATES MOTEL. Use it to prop up a wonky table, by all means, but that’s about all it’s good for. I just hope and pray that Alfred Hitchcock hasn’t seen it on the flatscreen television in the elegant and comfortable lounge of the afterlife. He’d certainly be turning in his grave.

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. 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, womens’ 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:

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

https://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com

http://sexysandieblog.wordpress.com

http://serenaharker.wordpress.com

sandrasandraharris@gmail.com

https://twitter.com/SandraAuthor

RITES OF SPRING/THE EXORCISM OF EMILY ROSE: A DOUBLE BILL OF HORROR FILM REVIEWS BY SANDRA HARRIS.

emily-roseRITES OF SPRING/THE EXORCISM OF EMILY ROSE: A TERRIFYING DOUBLE BILL OF SUPERNATURAL HORROR FILM REVIEWS BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

RITES OF SPRING. (2011) DIRECTED BY PADRAIG REYNOLDS. STARRING A.J. BOWEN, KATHERINE RANDOLPH, ANESSA RAMSEY, MARCO ST. JOHN AND JEFF NATIONS.

THE EXORCISM OF EMILY ROSE. (2006) DIRECTED BY SCOTT DERRICKSON. STARRING LAURA LINNEY, TOM WILKINSON AND JENNIFER CARPENTER.

This is a pairing of horror films which I always associate with each other because I first watched them at around the same time. They’re both top-notch horror films which I re-visit every year, and always one after the other, usually RITES OF SPRING followed by EMILY ROSE.

Let’s take a closer look at them, starting, appropriately enough, with RITES OF SPRING. Although you wouldn’t think it with the cold, the wind and the sleet, it is in fact Spring, a time for snowdrops and daffodils, green shoots and… the most hideous of human sacrifices…

There are two storylines running concurrently in this American horror movie directed by an Irishman, RITES OF SPRING. Firstly, we have a small group of criminals who are planning to kidnap a rich man’s little daughter in order to ransom her for the pay-off of a lifetime.

The kidnapping goes to plan up to a point, but blood is shed during the home invasion and the kidnappers are forced to bring along an extra hostage they hadn’t bargained on. They bring both their hostages to an old abandoned school miles from anywhere and wait for the pay-off to arrive…

The other storyline is bloody terrifying. Two attractive young women are abducted by a strange old man. They wake up to find themselves suspended from hooks in an old dump of a shed out in the countryside somewhere.

The old man keeps popping in to cut them with knives or cut their clothing off their trembling bodies. He keeps asking them if they’re ‘clean’ but, just in case they’re not, he’s got a bucket of water and a bristly sponge handy. Eeeep…!

As if that wasn’t scary enough, the viewers get the distinct impression that a human sacrifice of some kind is just around the corner. And who- or what- is the old man keeping prisoner underneath the locked trapdoor? And what does the man need the girls’ blood for?

When the two storylines spectacularly collide, a chase begins that always puts me in mind of THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE and SWITCHBLADE ROMANCE, among others. The folk horror element will probably remind you somewhat of THE WICKER MAN.

The chase in the second half of the film is tense with some truly shocking moments. Even the cover of the DVD box is super-sexy, picturing a naked woman suspended from a rope and silhouetted against the night sky while in the background looms a dilapidated old barn.

THE EXORCISM OF EMILY ROSE is based on true events which, when I researched ’em briefly online, scared the living daylights out of me. The film is part courtroom drama and part horror, the horror being told in terrifying flashbacks. Though it’s naturally not a patch on William Friedkin’s THE EXORCIST, the Mammy and Daddy of exorcism films, it’s still a brilliant and really watchable horror story.

Laura Linney plays Erin Bruner, a high-flying barrister whose job it is to defend a priest called Father Richard Moore, who’s played by wonderful English actor Tom Wilkinson (THE FULL MONTY, IN THE BEDROOM).

He’s accused of bringing about the death through negligence of a beautiful young woman with everything to live for called Emily Rose. How, you might ask, did he do this? As we’re told in flash-backs, he performed an exorcism on the girl with the full consent of her worried parents because she’d exhibited signs of demonic possession. These included contortions of her body, speaking in strange languages and seeing horrible visions of demonic faces, among other things.

The lawyers prosecuting poor old Father Moore are maintaining that the girl was anorexic and that she had epilepsy coupled with psychosis. These conditions, they claim, neatly cover all of Emily’s symptoms. Erin Bruner, on the other hand, attempts to convince the sceptical court of the existence of demonic possession, because that’s what Father Moore and Emily’s devastated parents truly believe was the root of Emily’s terrifying experiences.

The scenes in which Emily first notices the demonic influences around her are really scary. So are the ones in which Father Moore and Erin Bruner both feel the demonic presence close by in the dead of night (at 3am, to be precise, the REAL witching hour) and the ones where the priest bravely attempts to rid the girl of the evil spirits that plague her.

Emily’s bodily contortions are super-freaky and all real and not computerised, from what I can make out. They’ll put the willies up you big-time. I could have done without the gold initialled locket in the snow and maybe even the stigmata as well, but otherwise, this is a really scary film that you shouldn’t watch just before going to bed because it’ll give you the worst nightmares you’ve ever had.

But do watch it if you can. Even if you think that exorcisms and demonic possession are just a load of old hogwash from the movies, there are plenty of people who don’t agree. Even if you’re determined to remain a hardened sceptic, at least try to keep an open mind. After all, there are more things in Heaven and Earth and so on, aren’t there…?

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. 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, womens’ 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:

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

https://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com

http://sexysandieblog.wordpress.com

http://serenaharker.wordpress.com

sandrasandraharris@gmail.com

https://twitter.com/SandraAuthor

AN AMERICAN HAUNTING/THE HAUNTING IN CONNECTICUT: A DOUBLE BILL OF GRISLY HORROR FILM REVIEWS BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

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AN AMERICAN HAUNTING/THE HAUNTING IN CONNECTICUT: A DOUBLE BILL OF GRISLY HORROR FILM REVIEWS BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

AN AMERICAN HAUNTING. (2005) BASED ON THE BOOK ‘THE BELL WITCH: AN AMERICAN HAUNTING’ BY BRENT MONAHAN. DIRECTED/PRODUCED/SCREENPLAY BY COURTNEY SOLOMON. STARRING DONALD SUTHERLAND, SISSY SPACEK, JAMES D’ARCY AND RACHEL HURD-WOOD.

THE HAUNTING IN CONNECTICUT. (2009) DIRECTED BY PETER CORNWELL. STARRING VIRGINIA MADSEN, MARTIN DONOVAN, KYLE GALLNER, AMANDA CREW AND ELIAS KOTEAS.

I’m lumping these two supernatural horror films in together for a couple of reasons. One, I bought ’em on the same day and watched ’em back-to-back so they’re always linked in my mind. Two, I think they actually have quite a lot in common. Each loosely based on true events (Are there any words more thrilling to the horror film viewer than ‘Based on a true story…?’), they both tell of families in crisis being plagued by supernatural forces they can neither see nor understand.

In ‘THE HAUNTING IN CONNECTICUT,’ it’s not hard for the viewer to see where the paranormal problem is oozing from. It’s 1987 and the Campbell family have just moved into a magnificent old country house that used to be a funeral home. What’s more, necromancy and maybe even necrophilia went on in the basement room where the corpses were stored and where the oldest son of the Campbell household is now sleeping. Zoiks, Scoob…!

The hard-done-by and mistreated corpses are restless. They pick on the teenaged boy of the family, Matt, because he’s sick with cancer and is closer to ‘the other side’ than the rest of the family. Matt is terrorised with frightening visions of the ghostly corpses, to the point where he calls in a friend from the cancer ward, a priest, who just so happens to be skilled in the art of exorcism.

What they find out about the hostile spirits in the house scares the living daylights out of both man and boy, but they’ve gotta man up and face these spirits down if they want to stay alive. The scares are mostly of the ‘jump’ variety and there’s a lack of any real horror atmosphere but I still always enjoy the film when I see it.

Virginia Madsen, the beautiful blonde sister of Michael (FREE WILLY and RESERVOIR DOGS), is brilliant as the Mum who’ll do anything to keep her son alive. I love the scene where the drunken Dad angrily removes all the lightbulbs in the house, blissfully unaware that the gaff is haunted to buggery. The cancer scenes involving Matt are hard to watch and were probably the thing I liked least about this otherwise interesting foray into the supernatural.

In AN AMERICAN HAUNTING, which I actually think I like a bit better, we’re back in Ye Oldey Times, early nineteenth century ‘Murica to be exact. John and Lucy Bell’s daughter Betsy, a bewitching little enchantress if ever there was one, is being beleaguered (What a smasher of a word!) by an unseen force that targets only her, Betsy. Why Betsy? Why Betsy, indeed…

John, her father, thinks that the problem is Kate Batts, a woman he’s offended and who just so happens to have a reputation for indulging in the odd bout of witchcraft, but not everyone’s as certain as John is. The episodes of haunting are quite chilling to witness, as Betsy is slapped, dragged around the place, flung into walls and basically physically and emotionally tortured by the unseen force. If only you could, like, hire one of these spiteful entities to bully the bejeesus out of your enemies, haha.

Donald Sutherland and Sissy Spacek are, of course, horror royalty, having starred in Nicolas Roeg’s DON’T LOOK NOW and Stephen King’s CARRIE (the original one) respectively. I couldn’t fault either of ’em in anything they star in.

The daughter Betsy is the spitting image of Rosie Webster from CORONATION STREET, which is funny because that tarty little trollop had an affair with her teacher as well, just like Betsy whose much older teacher is madly in love with her, the filthy pervert…! Still, it was Ye Olden Days. Anything went back then, apparently…

There’s a twist at the end of this movie which I love. As I said, it’s probably the film I prefer out of the two. They’re both well worth watching, though, maybe in a kind of marathon situation. Don’t watch it down in the basement though. Not under any circumstances. I know what your house used to be before you moved in…

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. 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, womens’ 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:

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

https://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com

http://sexysandieblog.wordpress.com

http://serenaharker.wordpress.com

sandrasandraharris@gmail.com

https://twitter.com/SandraAuthor

FRIDAY THE 13TH- 2009. REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

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FRIDAY THE 13TH. (2009) BASED ON CHARACTERS CREATED BY VICTOR MILLER. CO-PRODUCED BY MICHAEL BAY. DIRECTED BY MARCUS NISPEL.

STARRING JARED PADALECKI, AMANDA RIGHETTI, TRAVIS VAN WINKLE, DANIELLE PANABAKER, AARON YOO, DEREK MEARS AND NANA VISITOR.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

This isn’t so much a re-make as a re-boot of the FRIDAY THE 13TH film series, which kicked off in 1980 with one of the best and most atmospheric slasher movies ever made. The bits at the end with Mrs. Voorhees in ’em still give me the creeps to this day.

This modern re-imagining is the twelfth instalment in the franchise and one of the most commercially successful, which must have been surprising to those uppity film critics who gave it negative reviews…! Though naturally it’s not a patch on the original movie, I liked this film version.

It’s not an exact re-telling of the original story but it has horny teens being horribly butchered in it, so what’s not to like? In actual fact, the story, which starts with a flashback to Mrs. Voorhees’ death by decapitation, takes place in the woods around the old site of Camp Crystal Lake.

The woods are still very much haunted by the ghost of Jason Voorhees many years after he drowned in the lake due to the negligence of camp counsellors who- you guessed it- were having sex instead of doing their job. Damned horny teens, always having sex…!

Anyway, in this instance we have a bunch of horny, weed-smoking teens coming to Jason’s woods for the primo weed they expect to find growing there. Jason does what Jason does best and gives ’em what for, then a few weeks later the brother of one of the missing-presumed-gruesomely-murdered girls turns up at Crystal Lake searching for his sister.

The brother, a handsome, strong-jawed type called Clay, finds an unexpected ally in Jenna, the pretty girlfriend of a real jerk-off called Trent, who’s invited a bunch of his friends (all horny teens) to his family’s summer cabin on the shores of Crystal Lake. Big mistake, boyo.

Jason obviously doesn’t like Trent and his awful druggie friends any more than we do because he lays into them with a bloody vengeance, and I do mean with a vengeance. Terrible things start to happen to the horny teens while they’re trying to smoke weed and have sex with other girls’ boyfriends (Bree, you dirty slut!) and just generally have a high old time, pun intended, on the shores of good old Crystal Lake.

I won’t describe any of the killings here because you deserve to see them for yourself but some of them are actually delightfully innovative and good gory fun to watch. Jason is a good boy, like his contemporary Michael Myers, and always shows his work.

The display he puts on around Crystal Lake of murdered teens is worthy of an A+, in my humble opinion, if not extra credit, and he most certainly should proceed to the next grade. I’ve now used up every fact I know about the American school system, so that’s the end of that train of thought, haha.

There are plenty of fake bare titties on show and a couple of hilarious sex scenes that are so obviously fake and lacking in sensuality that they wouldn’t turn on even the most sex-starved of individuals. They wouldn’t even arouse the limp wiener of The Man In The Iron Mask, and he’s spent, like, twenty or so years locked up with only rats and hairy turn-keys for company sexually.

That girl rubbing oil on dem big fake purdy titties to arouse her druggie boyfriend was so unsexy it actually made me laugh out loud, so at least it managed to achieve something, haha.

Those horror movie girls are like annoying clones of each other. All with long hair and denim cut-offs that show way too much butt-cheek for decency, all tanned and waxed to within an inch of their lives and always bitching about not getting any signal on their stupid cellphones.

Goddammit, bitches, can you not go two f***ing days without posting your every f***ing move on social media? No-one will die if you don’t post a picture of the goddamn salad you had for lunch on your Twitter or Facebook pages. Losers, heh-heh-heh.

I loved the scenes in Jason’s creepy, derelict old shack and his shrine to Mommie Dearest, my favourite female character in a horror movie ever, is just brilliant.

If you accept that no re-make, re-boot, re-imagining or re-anything-else will ever equal the original movies because they’re just that good, then you’ll enjoy this film for what it is: a good, solid (and stabby!) contribution to the franchise. And surely any extra helping of Jason Voorhees is better than no more extra helpings at all ever? ‘Nuff said.

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. 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, womens’ 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:

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

https://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com

http://sexysandieblog.wordpress.com

http://serenaharker.wordpress.com

sandrasandraharris@gmail.com

https://twitter.com/SandraAuthor