THE TERROR OF THE TONGS. (1961) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

THE TERROR OF THE TONGS. (1961) A HAMMER FILM PRODUCTION DIRECTED BY ANTHONY BUSHELL. WRITTEN BY JIMMY SANGSTER.

STARRING CHRISTOPHER LEE, YVONNE MONLAUR, MARNE MAITLAND AND GEOFFREY TOONE.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

‘Have you ever had your bones scraped, Captain Sale?’

This film provided Christopher Lee with his first ever top billing, despite the fact that he had already acted in three of Hammer’s most famous films: THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1957) as the Creature; DRACULA (1958) as the titular Count; and THE MUMMY (1959) as Kharis/The Mummy.

And his role as Dracula became the one with which he remained most identified, right up to his death in 2015 at the tender age of only ninety-three. Well, I was convinced he’d make it all the way to a hundred and even beyond, but sadly, it wasn’t to be.

And, just regarding his lack of top billing in these films, it was said of Hammer at the time that Peter Cushing was its star; Christopher Lee merely its monster. Well, never mind; he certainly came into his own in the end.

Having said that, action-adventure movie THE TERROR OF THE TONGS, despite its lush settings and gorgeously sumptuous costumes, is not my favourite Hammer film, nor yet is Chung King my favourite leading role of Christopher Lee’s.

I much prefer him as Dracula, as that sexy midnight lover from the coldness of the crypt who died, yet lived; as that sexually magnetic and dominant lover who makes real women out of Melissa Stribling’s Mina and Carol Marsh’s Lucy in the original Hammer DRACULA film of 1958.

In THE TERROR OF THE TONGS, he plays Chung King, the undoubtedly dominant and austere but at the same time oddly sexless leader of a terrorist organisation of organised criminals known as the Tongs, a name to strike horror into the hearts of Hong Kong dwellers in the early twentieth century. They’re the Chinese triads, the Japanese yakuza and the Italian-American mafia all rolled into one, they’re so feared and abhorred and, dare I say it, opium-raddled.

Chung King, while undeniably a dominant and cruel leader, just as you’d expect from the head of such an organisation, is sort of strangely asexual, with sadly not much going on behind the voluminous folds of his black kimono.

Why doesn’t he get to have sex, even implied, with any of the beautiful women who attend at his court? Or even with Yvonne Monlaur as Lee, the stunning sexbomb heroine of the film? Christopher Lee as Fu Manchu, in another series of films, not made by Hammer, doesn’t get any sexual action either.

Once the make-up people slap the old ‘epicanthic fold,’ apparently his least favourite of all the prosthetic enhancements, over his eyes to give him an Oriental look, they might as well be de-sexing him, it seems.

Makers of both THE TERROR OF THE TONGS and the FU MANCHU films both gravely under-used the sensuality and sexuality of their handsome heart-throb of a star, methinks. The films could have been so much more memorable if they’d only allowed him to be the man we know he could be in them.

Anyway, the plot of THE TERROR OF THE TONGS is relatively straightforward. Set in British-occupied Hong Kong in 1910, it sees Geoffrey Toone as maritime Captain Jackson Sale revenging the murder of his teenage daughter by the terror organisation known as the Tongs.

They didn’t kill her willy-nilly; they did it to protect their identities from becoming known, but Captain Sale is beside himself with grief nonetheless. He won’t rest until he tracks down the head of this brutal organisation and cuts it off at its source, so to speak.

The head is Chung King; he won’t react well to being tracked down and killed…! He might even despatch one of his infamous ‘hatchet men’ to treat Sale (Sale/Sail- geddit???) to the solemn splendour of a so-called ‘ceremonial killing.’

Don’t be worrying on Sale’s behalf, though. The hatchet men announce their presence well in advance. They holler at you from across a crowded street once they clap eyes on you, then they wave their hatchets in the air and advance upon you slowly across that crowded street.

This gives you plenty of time to assess the situation, light a cigarette, chat with a friend, escape into a waiting rickshaw or even kill your would-be assailant as he approaches.

Even if, by some miracle, he actually manages to wound or even kill you, you’ll have plenty of time to put your affairs in order while waiting impatiently for your would-be assassin.

Maybe, just maybe, if the Tongs had concentrated more on the killing element and less on the ceremony element involved, they may have lasted longer as an organisation of terror. It’s just a thought, that’s all. Make of it what you will.

Man: ‘Oh look, that hatchet-wielding Tong over there is hollering menacingly at me. Looks like my number must be up, so. Have I time to get that haircut at all? Oh yes, that looks much better. Brings out my eyes, you say? Why, thank you! Still coming over here waving his little thing, is he, that Tong fellow?

‘Oh well, in that case, I might just try to fit in that show I’ve been dying to see. Is there time for a bit of dinner too? Oh, time for dinner and a few pre-show cocktails, how spiffing! God, I’m tired now after all that smashing grub and booze. I think I’ll just have a nice little lie-down while I’m waiting…’ And so on. You get the picture.

Anyway, Sale has two allies in his desperate mission. Ally One is Marne Maitland (he plays the mysterious Malay in one of Hammer’s most magnificent films, THE REPTILE, 1965) as the Beggar, who is in reality the leader of a resistance movement against the Tongs.

Ally Two is Yvonne Monlaur as Lee, the former enslaved mistress of a Tong debt collector, who now has decided she loves Captain Jackson Sale, because he has accidentally freed her from her bondage by seeing off her captor-owner.

Yvonne Monlaur could just be the most beautiful of all the Hammer women. Her face, her voice, her body! She’s perfect in every possible way. Her performance as Marianne Danielle in Hammer’s THE BRIDES OF DRACULA (1960), in which she plays a young finishing school teacher breaking her journey to the school at the sinister, vampire-ridden Chateau Meinster, is an absolute joy to behold.

How her dresser must have enjoyed putting her in those fabulous gowns and dressing her gorgeous chestnutty hair for THE BRIDES OF DRACULA. Am I in love with Yvonne Monlaur? A little, yes, what of it? Do you blame me? What a beauty! She wears some stunning Chinese dresses with matching shoes in THE TERROR OF THE TONGS.

She’s pictured with Christopher Lee in some publicity shots for the movie, but they don’t have a joint love story in the film, more’s the pity. They could have made her Chung King’s unwilling mistress who falls in love with the dashing and much less cruel British maritime captain, Jackson Sale.

Two of the best-looking people on the planet having an on-screen romance or even some hot and steamy rumpy-pumpy? Phwoar. Ah well. Probably not in 1961. Think of the kerfuffle down at the Censor’s office…! And anyway, who am I to tell Hammer what they should or shouldn’t have done? It is what it is. Enjoy.

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.

QUATERMASS AND THE PIT. (1967) A HAMMER CLASSIC REVIEWED BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

QUATERMASS AND THE PIT. (1967) HAMMER FILM PRODUCTIONS. DIRECTED BY ROY WARD BAKER. PRODUCED BY ANTHONY NELSON KEYS. WRITTEN BY NIGEL KNEALE.

STARRING BARBARA SHELLEY, JAMES DONALD, JULIAN GLOVER, DUNCAN LAMONT AND ANDREW KEIR.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

QUATERMASS AND THE PIT is a sequel to earlier HAMMER films THE QUATERMASS XPERIMENT and QUATERMASS 2. It’s a terrific blend of horror and science fiction with absolutely top-notch acting from some great English actors thrown in for good measure.

Basically, what happens in it is that the London Underground is being dug up for the purposes of extending it. Tell me about it. A few years back, Dublin was all dug up to actual buggery as our LUAS lines were extended, slowly and painfully, across the city. The LUAS is kind of like our London Underground, except that it’s above ground. It’s the Dublin Overground, lol.

Anyway, the difference between our LUAS works and the excavations in the film is that, in the film, an ancient Martian spacecraft is discovered amongst the rubble, along with the remains of early human ancestors in excess of five million years old. That’s quite the archaeological find, naturally, or it would be if there wasn’t a dreadful sense of evil emanating from the discoveries in waves.

Professor Bernard Quatermass (Andrew Keir: Hammer’s BLOOD FROM THE MUMMY’S TOMB and DRACULA: PRINCE OF DARKNESS), who has uncovered a disturbing connection between the remains and pagan beliefs in the devil as related to the mythology of London, clashes with the military’s Colonel Breen on the matter.

Breen, an obnoxious autocratic snobbish type, refuses to believe that the spacecraft is anything but a Nazi missile left over from World War Two. Typical toff. Always bloomin’ thinking they know what’s best for everyone.

His narrow mind simply cannot conceive of anything as outlandish as an attempt by the Martians to colonise Earth millions of years ago. But war with the Nazis is something he knows and understands.

It’s tangible and can be quantified, calculated and put on a chart, followed and understood. Therefore, the spacecraft and ancient remains must have something to with those pesky Nazis.

Julian Glover, who plays Colonel Breen, and who also portrays the ill-fated Nazi officer Hermann Fegelein (Eva Braun’s brother-in-law) in the Alec Guinness film, HITLER: THE LAST TEN DAYS (1973), remarked of his role as Breen that he was ‘the obligatory asshole…!’

Barbara Shelley is wonderful as Dr. Roney’s assistant, Barbara Judd, the woman who has a kind of ‘shining’ thing going on with the spacecraft and the Martian remains. She’s a Hammer sex symbol for the thinking or discerning man, I always think, a class act, a real lady.

Okay, so her clothes don’t fall off her in every second scene like some of her fellow Hammer babes, but she’s drop-dead sexy nonetheless, even in a plain sweater and sensible knee-length skirt as she goes about her business here in QUATERMASS AND THE PIT.

However, if you do want to see her all sexed up and panting like a young one on her wedding night, then check out her performance in DRACULA: PRINCE OF DARKNESS after she’s been vampirised by no less a personage than the Count himself.

Or even her portrayal of Sonia in Hammer’s RASPUTIN: THE MAD MONK, in which she plays a woman driven to the brink of insanity by her love for the manipulative but desperately charismatic Rasputin, played by Hammer leading man Christopher Lee. She’s top totty, like Joanna Lumley. A piece of classy crumpet, lol.

The scene in which Barbara Judd and Sladden, the drill operator, get caught up in a terrifying windstorm emanating from the newly-unearthed missile is probably the best and most nail-bitingly exciting one in the whole film, and that’s really saying something.

Poor old Sladden (Duncan Lamont: Hammer’s THE WITCHES and FRANKENSTEIN CREATED WOMAN) is just an ordinary workman. He just wants to collect his tool bag and go home to bangers and mash with the missus. He doesn’t ask to be so heavily influenced by the waves of malignity that wash off the old spaceship that he nearly loses his mind.

First he’s being blown out of the Underground and across the street, then whooshed unceremoniously down the road, through the old churchyard and into a chair in front of the local vicar, who is deeply alarmed by the workman’s demented ramblings about an alien race of insects, of all things…!

The scene where the good old British bobby gets freaked-out by the obviously nearby presence of evil in Hob’s End always gives me a chill too. ‘Hob used to be an old name for the Devil…!’ If those old tenements can put the willies up a solid, stolid, soundly chin-strapped British copper, then you won’t find me poking about them, that’s for sure.

Other great scenes include poor Dr. Roney’s ultimate act of heroism and bravery (oh, his poor little grim determined face as he moves closer, inexorably closer to his nemesis and a certain doom! He should get a medal for what he does.) and also the removal of the huge oozing grasshopper thingies from the spaceship for closer scrutiny in Dr. Roney’s laboaratory.

I watched this film on the big screen in 2016 in the Irish Film Institute, by the way, as part of a much-welcome folk horror film festival they were hosting that summer. Remember when we used to be able to do stuff like that without even thinking about it…? God be with the days. Truly, we didn’t know what we had till we lost it. Let’s just hope we bloody well get it back at some stage.

The film was introduced in person by novelist and film critic Kim Newman, whom some of you might recognise as having written for EMPIRE magazine. He’s always being asked to comment on different movies for the extra features you find on your DVD. He’s good-humoured, funny, a snappy dresser (love the weskits and the ponytail!) and is super-knowledgeable on the subject of films and cinema history.

Anyway, he turned up in the sweltering heat wearing a big wide-brimmed hat which would have been useful for keeping the sun off his bonce. I think we might have been having our summer that day…!

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.

CAPTAIN KRONOS- VAMPIRE HUNTER. (1974) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

CAPTAIN KRONOS: VAMPIRE HUNTER. (1974) WRITTEN, DIRECTED AND CO-PRODUCED BY BRIAN CLEMENS. STARRING HORST JANSON, JOHN CATER, CAROLINE MUNRO, JOHN CARSON, SHANE BRIANT, LOIS DAINE, WANDA VENTHAM, WILLIAM HOBBS AND IAN HENDRY.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

Carla: ‘I’m staying, if you’ll have me.’

Captain Kronos: ‘Oh, I’ll have you…’

‘It’s time to make a move, my friend. It’s time to kill a vampire.’

The only man alive feared by the living dead…

This Hammer film is a sexy blend of supernatural horror, ie, vampires, but also swashbuckling, because there’s some swordfighting in it too. Not too much, I’m happy to say, as I much prefer the neck-biting. Not that there’s much of that here.

This nineteenth century English village is being plagued by a terrifying hooded vampire who bites its victim’s mouth, and then drains from the victim all their youth and vitality, leaving them a dessicated and horribly ancient corpse. That’s not the kind of thing you want to see happen to the bosomy young women of your neighbourhood, is it?

It’s very reminiscent of Hammer’s film, COUNTESS DRACULA, in which the ravishing Ingrid Pitt as the titular Countess bathes in the blood of murdered young women in order to preserve her youthful good looks.

When she discovers that the effects can, and do, wear off, the Countess begins to get careless and less fussy regarding whom she kills and, of course, it all goes pear-shaped for her in the fullness of time.

Anyway, this village’s local medic, Doctor Marcus (John Carson, THE PLAGUE OF THE ZOMBIES), is concerned enough about the deaths to call in an old army chum of his, to solve the gruesome mystery.

The chum is a handsome blonde Adonis called Kronos, with flowing blonde locks to rival Shane Briant’s rather bouffant tresses, and delicious Scandinavian cheekbones, although he’s not Scandinavian at all: rather, he’s played by a German actor and his voice had to be dubbed. Kronos is a swordsman extraordinaire, and he’s great in bed too, lol.

His entourage includes the hunch-backed Professor Hieronymus Grost, an elderly academic with whom he has one of those genuine and lovely ‘man friendships,’ and Caroline Munro as Carla, a beautiful peasant girl whom Kronos has freed from the stocks. Why was she in the stocks, I hear you ask? Why, sir, I were dancing on the Sabbath, I were…! The cheeky hussy, lol again.

She’s so grateful to him for freeing her that she rewards him by getting naked and having hot steamy sex with him every time he turns around. Oh, he’s happy to have all the sex and all the fun and that, but you can tell he doesn’t love her, because as soon as he and Grost (‘We’re professional vampire hunters, my dear!’) get a lead on who the hooded killer might be, they use Carla as bait, and send her overnight into the very den of the lions themselves.

She’s a typical silly girl, however, and is only too happy to make a doormat of herself for Kronos to wipe his feet, or any other part of his anatomy, on. He doesn’t even care enough about her to so much as buy her a new dress, so she’s forced to spend the film in the same rags she wore while being pelted with rotten tomatoes in the stocks. When he leaves her, and guys like this always leave, she’ll be alone again and probably knocked up to boot. What? It’s the way it goes.

The aristocratic Durward family, consisting of a deceased paterfamilias, a grieving and reclusive materfamilias, an autocratic uppity son who’s definitely up to something (Shane Briant as Paul Durward), and his sister, who is almost certainly in on the shenanigans as well, is an extremely interesting family from the point of view of the murders and will bear careful watching.

John Carson is great (and surprisingly sexy with the longer hair!) as Dr. Marcus, Kronos’s old mucker, and Ian Hendry (CHILDREN OF THE DAMNED) is smashing as a psychotically cruel bar-room thug called Kerro.

Kerro’s employed by the Durward coachman, no less, to kill Kronos and the professor and put a halt to their vampire-hunting gallop, but Kronos makes mincemeat out of Kerro and his bully-boy cronies in a very funny scene.

It’s like something Clint Eastwood would do in one of his films. Like, where he’d shoot a room full of men with his eyes closed. And one hand tied behind his back. And his other hand wouldn’t move at all. And he wouldn’t even be in the room. Or the film. Who are we talking about, again? As the fella says in BLAZING SADDLES, don’t just stand there, grasping yo’ hands in pain. Let’s hear it for the Waco kid…!

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.

THE VENGEANCE OF SHE. (1968) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

THE VENGEANCE OF SHE. (1968) A HAMMER FILMS-SEVEN ARTS PRODUCTION BASED ON CHARACTERS CREATED BY H. RIDER HAGGARD. DIRECTED BY CLIFF OWEN. STARRING OLINKA BEROVA, EDWARD JUDD, JOHN RICHARDSON, DEREK GODFREY AND ANDRE MORELL.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

This fantasy adventure film is a sequel to the 1965 Hammer film, SHE, starring Bond Girl Ursula Andress in the titular role. The original SHE ends with Ayesha, the immortal queen-goddess of the ancient lost city of Kuma, accidentally and horribly dying in the immortal flame after waiting several thousand years to be re-united with the love of her life, the blond stud known as Kallikrates. Now, ain’t that a kick in the head…?

Now, Kallikrates is the One Who Waits, and in this instance it’s Ayesha he’s waiting for. In a parallel universe somewhere, in modern day Europe, the most beautiful girl alive, an unknown quantity called Carol, wanders through the countryside looking for something, but she doesn’t know what it is or how to find it.

She’s the image of Ayesha, though, the ancient goddess-queen, and strange voices and faces in her dreams are constantly trying to pull Carol back to Kuma, where Kallikrates waits impatiently for her.

It’s enough to drive a girl insane, so it is, but don’t worry. She has her very own personal shrinky-dink, in the form of beefcake Edward Judd’s character, Philip. He’s completely besotted with Carol, and he’s prepared to follow her anywhere, even all the way back to ancient Kuma, if necessary.

Here, however, only pain and sadness awaits Philip if Carol gets with Kallikrates, believing her to be his love, Ayesha, even though she’s just a lookalike found for Kallikrates by his crooked minister, Men-hari, for some reason. Men-hari is after immortality himself, so it’s probably something to do with that. If I don’t know, it’s because the plot is confusing and a tad nonsensical, lol.

Watching Carol on her travels is a lot like following Barbie on a round-the-world journey. First we have Barbie Fleeing in Terror From A Potential Rapist in the European countryside, next here’s Barbie on a yacht in the Mediterranean, and then here’s Captive Barbie In The Desert, being pulled along behind a camel without so much as a change of expression.

Next, there’s Bath-time Fun Barbie, then we have immortal goddess-queen Barbie in her Ursula Andress-as-She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed get-up. Now, here’s Kissing Barbie, now we have Barbie Runs Away From Collapsing Civilisation, and that’s about it. Olinka Berova is better-looking than Ursula Andress, in my humble opinion, and I can’t believe she didn’t become a household name like Andress or Raquel Welch.

There’s a lot of stuff in the movie involving plotting ministers and enchanted spells and ceremonies, but it was all so boring I didn’t really follow it all. Familiar Hammer faces co-star, like cuddly Andre Morell (THE PLAGUE OF THE ZOMBIES) and lovely Irish actor Noel Willman (THE REPTILE, KISS OF THE VAMPIRE).

But Barbie steals the show here, for what it’s worth, and she’ll probably be the main thing I remember about this rather dodgy film, which, by the way, for a movie called THE VENGEANCE OF SHE surprisingly doesn’t involve anyone of that name exacting revenge upon anyone for any reason. They should probably have called the film BARBIE DOES KUMA and been done with 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 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.

SHE. (1965) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

SHE. (1965) A HAMMER FILM PRODUCTION DIRECTED BY ROBERT DAY AND BASED ON THE 1887 NOVEL BY H. RIDER HAGGARD.

STARRING BOND GIRL URSULA ANDRESS, PETER CUSHING, JOHN RICHARDSON, BERNARD CRIBBINS, ANDRE MORELL, ROSENDA MONTEROS AND CHRISTOPHER LEE.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

Hammer was going crazy at one point for the fem-dom ‘dominant female’ films, films like this one and THE VENGEANCE OF SHE, PREHISTORIC WOMEN, THE VIKING QUEEN and even BLOOD FROM THE MUMMY’S TOMB.

I’ve never been mad about these ones, with the exception of the superb BLOOD FROM THE MUMMY’S TOMB, which I’m only including here because Valerie Leon comes across as quite dominant in her dual portrayal of Margaret Fuchs and the Egyptian Queen Tera, and which isn’t really part of the series.

I much prefer the Hammer films in which the male is dominant, for example, the Dracula films starring Christopher Lee. I was quite uncomfortable watching Christopher Lee in SHE grovelling around at Ursula Andress’s feet, referring to her as She Who Must Be Obeyed and scarcely daring to lift his eyes to her for fear of offending her and incurring her all-encompassing wrath.

Anyway, the film. Guy meets a girl in a bar on foreign shores, then the very next day he’s on a mad quest across the desert with his ex-army chums to rediscover an ancient lost city and get with another, even hotter girl. That’s about the gist of it, but let’s examine the particulars, shall we?

The guy is the blonde, handsome Leo Vincey, played by a pre-ONE MILLION YEARS B.C. John Richardson, before he grew so much facial hair he was virtually unrecognisable as himself.

The foreign shores are Palestine’s, immediately after the first world war, and the first hot girl, the one from the bar, is a dusky beauty called Ustane, who is used as a decoy initially, but who falls hard and heavy for ‘her Leo’ from the off.

The chums are Peter Cushing as Professor Holly and Bernard Cribbins as Job, orderly/batman to his two commissioned gentlemen, Holly and Vincey, who are free to pursue this wild goose chase now that the war is over.

The ancient lost city is Kuma, in a previously unexplored region of North-East Africa. It is ruled by the stunningly beautiful immortal queen and high priestess Ayesha, aka She Who Waits or She Who Must Be Obeyed. What exactly is she waiting for? Well, therein hangs a tale…

Several thousand years ago, this jealous beauty murdered her lover, Kallikrates, for betraying her with another woman. All these years, she’s waited for Kallikrates to return to her, and now, with the arrival in her kingdom of Leo, Kallikrates’ exact double, she thinks her years of waiting have come to an end.

But the beautiful Ayesha is a cruel and vengeful queen, who by her own admission, rules through fear and terror. Her treatment of the black slaves in her kingdom (very non-politically correct; you couldn’t do it nowadays) is appalling.

There’s an absolutely horrific scene in which fifteen innocent young black males are forced to a terrible death just so that Ayesha can be seen to be a tough ruler whom none dare disobey. She’s a proper little madam, is what she is.

Christopher Lee as her gimpy high priest Billali would be doing her more of a service by putting her over his knee for a blistering spanking, rather than by grovelling at her feet in the dust wearing ridiculously unflattering headgear while saying yes ma’am no ma’am on repeat till the cows come home.

Anyway, will Ayesha succeed in getting Leo to walk through the flame of immortality with her, to rule serenely by her side forever, or will her jealous and diva-like behaviour only result in pushing Kallikrates away from her for another several millenia? Knowing Ayesha’s capricious nature, nothing is guaranteed…

I love Andre Morell (Hammer’s THE PLAGUE OF THE ZOMBIES) as Ustane’s lovely Pops, Haumeid, who rules the army of Ayesha’s slaves, the Amahagger, and also Bernard Cribbins as Job, the gentlemens’ gentleman.

He’d be the kind of devoted orderly/valet (like Reginald Jeeves) who would die of shame if either of his gentlemen went out of an evening incorrectly dressed. That would reflect on him, it would, him and his poor valeting, and he’d rather die than be known as a poor valet.

You know who could really use some good valeting? Poor Billali (who at the end makes an ill-starred grab for the power previously denied him) and his dreadful beehive head-dress. We all know how Jeeves dealt with any ill-advised novelty items of costume or headgear favoured by his master, Bertie Wooster. Job, be a darling and see what you can do, will you…?

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.

THE VIKING QUEEN. (1967) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS.

THE VIKING QUEEN. (1971) A HAMMER FILM PRODUCTION DIRECTED BY DON CHAFFEY. STARRING CARITA JÄRVINEN AND DON MURRAY.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

I’m not crazy about this Hammer historical adventure film, even though it counts a number of excellent actors and actresses among its cast members. It’s set in the times of yore, when the Romans came over to England to conquer it like it had conquered so many other countries at the time. The Romans were the Nazi Germany of their era, lol.

Used to the balmier climate of Italy, however, the Romans were less than impressed with Old Britain and the rain and the cold and the wind and the mud. ‘Filthy bloody country!’ would therefore have been a frequently voiced insult of the time.

The CARRY ON film franchise referenced this period also, in their marvellous movie CARRY ON CLEO, in which Kenneth Connor and Jim Dale as Hengist Pod and Horsa respectively are British peasants.

They are living crudely in caves and mud huts and attempting to invent the wheel and other such prehistoric pursuits, when they are captured by the Romans and brought over to Rome to live as slaves. Hilarity obviously ensues, in what some critics deem to be the best film in the whole series. It’s certainly a most superior historical comedy.

THE VIKING QUEEN confuses the issue somewhat with its title, as there aren’t any Vikings as we know them (huge blonde bearded fearsome beasts from the Scandinavian countries who raped and pillaged wherever their extensive travels took them) in the film.

The titular Queen, however, Queen Salina, is said to be loosely based on Boadicea, the warrior queen (might this perhaps have been a better title for the film?) of the British Celtic Iceni tribe (a tribe of Ancient Britons; the history is quite complicated) who died nobly while fighting the invading Romans and thereby passed, splendidly and unhampered, into British folk legend.

Queen Salina, played by the gorgeous blonde Finnish fashion model Carita, who apparently twice turned down the chance to be a Bond girl, becomes the ruler of such a tribe of Ancient Britons when her beloved Pops, the King, pops his clogs. Her Pops pops his clogs, lol. Very amusing stuff, very amusing indeed.

At first, she attempts to rule side-by-side with the local conquering Roman forces, an arrangement which I would imagine was positively fraught with difficulties and conflicts of interest.

She even goes so far as to fall in love with the local Roman leader, the domineering and handsome Justinian. (PS, to ‘Roman’ up your name, simply add the suffix ‘ian’ to your own name; eg., Darrenian, Wayneian, Billian, Timothyian, Paulian, Garyian, Martinian, Jackian, etc.)

The Druids, who are used to dictating terms to the Ancient Britons, a deeply superstitious people, are not happy with the union, and neither are some of Justinian’s Romans, in particular Ocatavian, played by Hammer regular Andrew Keir (BLOOD FROM THE MUMMY’S TOMB, DRACULA: PRINCE OF DARKNESS, QUATERMASS AND THE PIT).

It’s not too long before the Ancient Britons, led by the brave and courageous (and bosomy) Queen Salina, and the Romans, headed by Justinian, Salina’s chisel-jawed lover, are at each others’ throats, both metaphorically and actually. The wet, muddy God-forsaken land both parties occupy will run red with the blood of both sides…

There are some terrific character actors in the film whose faces will be familiar to you, including Patrick Troughton (DR. WHO, SCARS OF DRACULA), Niall MacGinnis (NIGHT OF THE DEMON, ISLAND OF TERROR; remember the silicates???) and Percy Herbert (CARRY ON JACK, CARRY ON CLEO, CARRY ON COWBOY, ONE MILLION YEARS B.C.).

WeIl-known Irish character actress Anna Manahan (Roman Polanski’s MACBETH, unsuccessful Irish sitcom LEAVE IT TO MRS. O’BRIEN) has a small part in the film as a wailing villager terribly ill-used by the Romans.

As well as the acts of violence to exert their domination over the natives, the Romans taxed the bejeesus out of the poor folks as well. When they complained and said they couldn’t pay, the Romans just said, well, look at all the lovely roads we’re building for ye! To which one villager in the film replies, well, as I’ve lived in this shit-hole my whole life and I never go anywhere, your roads don’t exactly thrill me to my core. I like this guy, he tells it like it is!

I love Adrienne Corri (VAMPIRE CIRCUS, MADHOUSE starring Vincent Price) and the stunning, moist-lipped and doe-eyed Nicola Pagett (UPSTAIRS DOWNSTAIRS) as Queen Salina’s older sister Beatrice and younger sibling Talia respectively.

Talia, in fact, seems to be the victim of an implied rape by naughty Andrew Keir as the rather vicious Octavian, in a scene that culminates with the sexy, bare-breasted public whipping of Queen Salina. (The bare breasts are implied, but it’s still good.) For shame, Octavian, and, erm, keep up the good work, there’s a good fellow…!

There’s plenty of long blonde hair, side-boob and back-boob, chariot-fighting and lovely skimpy dresses on display, if not a huge amount of actual history, but who cares when you have side-boob? Enjoy the movie, Hammer fans. It’s good, mucky fun.

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.

PREHISTORIC WOMEN. (1967) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

PREHISTORIC WOMEN (AKA SLAVE GIRLS). (1967) A HAMMER FILM WRITTEN, PRODUCED AND DIRECTED BY MICHAEL CARRERAS.

STARRING MARTINE BESWICK, EDINA RONAY AND MICHAEL LATIMER.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

This prehistoric romp is not my favourite Hammer film, but it’s still good, implausible fun and is held together by a strong, sexy performance by Hammer and James Bond actress, Martine Beswick. She is an exotic beauty with the sharpest, most fabulously defined cheekbones, gorgeous long dark hair and a great body.

In the film, she plays Kari, the cruel Queen of a lost tribe of brunette women in the African jungle. It’s a tribe that is accidentally stumbled upon in Victorian times by Michael Latimer as David Marchant, a handsome British explorer, when he wanders away from his safari in pursuit of an injured leopard whose suffering he wants to end.

Imagine his surprise when he discovers himself at the mercy of this strange, forgotten tribe of sexy brunette females, who worship the extinct white rhino and rule mercilessly over a group of blonde female slaves. Brunettes versus blondes, it’s hilarious!

Not only that, but any men still in existence in the area are held captive by the brunettes in a horrible cave, and they all resemble Moses after he came down from the mountain and had a ten-foot-beard. Not a looker in the bunch, in other words. It’s all deeply implausible, as well, but I guess you must suspend disbelief to properly enjoy the film.

Kari, as Queen of the brunettes, naturally has first dibs on lucky old David, the one attractive male to enter the place in donkeys’ years, but he is repulsed by her cruel behaviour towards the dopey blonde girl slaves. He rebuffs her, and she throws him in the old man cave to teach him some manners.

There’s something very Nazi-ish about the film to me, but that’s probably because I have such a vivid imagination, lol. Firstly, all the blonde-haired women are somewhat reminiscent of the Aryan image revered so much by the funny little man with the moustache who shouted a lot in those old black-and-white newsreels.

Then, there’s the fact that the scantily-clad blonde slave girls are made to sing and dance for the amusement of their brunette overlords, just like when the inmates of various concentration camps during the war were forced to sing as they marched to and from their back-breaking labours in the quarries or wherever else. Some camps (Buchenwald is coming to mind, for some reason) even had their own camp song, as ludicrous as that sounds.

Last but not least, there’s the ‘ceremony of selection’ announced so gleefully by Queen Kari, in which the ‘Devils’ who live in the surrounding jungle (it’s just some African men in rhino masks) get to every so often choose a blonde girl to be their forest bride. The women who are taken are never seen again.

The lovely blonde girls file past the bushes one by one while an African gentlemen ogles them and picks the one he likes the most, just like in the infamous ‘selections’ in the camps, where being sent to the left could mean a few guaranteed days, weeks or even months more of life, but being sent to the right meant a one-way ticket to the gas chambers.

Sorry to bring the mood down in a review of a film which is probably just intended as a bit of light-hearted, sexy fun, but that’s the way my mind works, lol. Intended as a follow-up to Hammer’s worldwide smash hit film starring the beauteous Raquel Welch, ONE MILLION YEARS B.C., and using some of the same sets, this one didn’t quite reach the dizzying heights of its predeccessor, but then, Raquel Welch in her furry bikini was always going to take some beating…

By the way, just as a matter of interest, Michael Latimer’s blonde-haired love interest in the film, Saria, one of the slave girls, is played by the ravishing Edina Ronay, daughter of the famous food guide guy, Egon Ronay.

The film is probably beloved of every guy who’s ever fantasised about being dominated by a ferocious and beautiful woman like Kari. That’s just about every guy ever, I’d say, given the popularity of the whole world of fem-dom thing. Does Kari get her man in the end, by the way? Well, she certainly gets the horn, I’ll say that for her, but I don’t know about the other…!

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.

FRANKENSTEIN CREATED WOMAN. (1967) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

FRANKENSTEIN CREATED WOMAN. (1967) BASED ON THE BOOK BY MARY SHELLEY. DIRECTED BY TERENCE FISHER. PRODUCED BY ANTHONY NELSON KEYS. WRITTEN BY JOHN ELDER (ANTHONY HINDS).

STARRING PETER CUSHING, THORLEY WALTERS, SUSAN DENBERG, ROBERT MORRIS, DUNCAN LAMONT, PETER BLYTHE, DEREK FOWLDS, BARRY WARREN, PETER MADDEN AND COLIN JEAVONS.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

O-ho. The cunning and self-serving, though undoubtedly charming-when-he-wants-to-be, Baron Frankenstein is up to his old tricks again, this time in the little village of Karlsbad in the Hammer-created ‘mitt-Europe’ that often features people in traditional Tyrolean dress and has stunning mountain ranges and forestry as its backdrop.

This time, the ambitious Baron, always greedy for still more knowledge and scientific advancement, has managed to capture the soul of an executed man and transplant it into the body of a woman who, before her suicide, suffered from terrible distortion and paralysis of the body and extensive scarring and disfigurement of the face.

The young man in question is Hans, the attractive, well-built but also decent and compassionate assistant to Baron Frankenstein and Dr. Hertz, the village doctor, who work together. When Hans was a child, he saw his father executed by the village guillotine, which stands on a little hillock on the way out of town.

Despite his criminal antecedents, Hans grows up as the kind of man who knows right from wrong and who will stand up for what’s right if he sees people around him acting the maggot.

Because he’s poor, though, and his father was a known executed criminal, the villagers tend to look down on him and not defend him when his own neck is on the line after a terrible crime has been committed in the village. Poor Hans is an easy target. Talk about round up the usual suspects.

The young woman is Christina Kleve, daughter of the local innkeeper. Because of her facial deformities and physical handicaps, she runs afoul of three local fops, Anton, Karl and Johann, who mock her afflictions mercilessly in the cruellest way imaginable. They’ve even composed a horrible personalised song to taunt her with, if you can believe that. Fops can be so cruel…!

Not only is Christina devastated by their mockery, but her lover (yes, she has a lover!) is aroused to ire on her behalf also. When the new and improved Christina emerges from her Baron Frankenstein-imposed chrysalis in the Baron’s house, under the ‘care’ of said Baron and the doddery but well-meaning Dr. Hertz (Thorley Walters), a campaign of murderous revenge is entered into by a mysterious and unknown killer that appals and frightens the villagers in general and the fops in particular. They can’t say they didn’t have it coming…

Peter Cushing is ice-cool, calm and collected once more as the Baron, and Susan Denberg is a beautiful addition to the range of stunning actresses known collectively as Hammer Glamour.

The ‘science’ in this one is very dodgy, far-fetched and tenuous indeed, perhaps more so than in any other Hammer film featuring the rather dubious experiments of Baron Frankenstein. I daresay it wouldn’t stand up to too much scrutiny.

But then, we don’t watch Hammer horror for the accuracy of its scientific knowledge, do we? We watch it for the blood-lust, the boobs, the costumes and the settings, innit? We watch it for the high production values and everything else the Hammer brand stands for.

But FRANKENSTEIN CREATED WOMAN‘s metaphysical elements and all the talk of ‘capturing the soul’ put me very much in mind of a 1972 British horror film called ‘The Asphyx,’ starring Robert Powell and Jane Lapotaire, in which a Victorian gentleman scientist attempts the same feat with no less disastrous consequences. Check it out if you haven’t seen it. It’s an eccentric little gem of a film.

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.

DEMONS OF THE MIND. (1972) A SEXY HAMMER CLASSIC REVIEWED BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

DEMONS OF THE MIND. (1972) A HAMMER FILM PRODUCTION DIRECTED BY PETER SYKES. BASED ON A STORY BY FRANK GODWIN.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

‘Blood will have blood…’

This Hammer classic is such a frilly film. It’s a gorgeously dark, gothically atmospheric foray into madness, sex, blood-red murder, incest and sicknesses of the mind, that was rated 18s, and no wonder. It’s filthy, but so beautiful to look at!

It stars Robert Hardy (ALL CREATURES GREAT AND SMALL) as a wealthy widower called Zorn, who lives a secluded and troubled life, largely of his own making.

His family background has mental illness and suicide in it, as a result of which Zorn keeps his two adult children imprisoned in his grand old mansion, just in case they end up going the same way.

He thinks they already show signs of wanting to mate with each other, for one, but I think that ship has already sailed, lol. They spend the whole film trying to get at each other, shure. They’re mad for each other, but not necessarily made for each other, as they only enable each other’s madness and self-destructive ways.

Shane Briant, a man who was surely born to wear the frilly blouse and tight trews of a handsome young fop from Ye Olden Times, plays the tall, blonde brother Emil, the older of the two ill-starred siblings. Gillian Hills, once tipped by Roger Vadim to be the next Brigitte Bardot, portrays the dewy-eyed, moist-lipped sister, Elizabeth.

She’s a dozy, night-gowned wench who can only speak one word, apparently, her brother’s name, ‘Emil,’ and Emil in his turn seems only capable of uttering the lines, ‘Let me see her! Elizabeth, come back!,’ which is really quite hilarious to watch.

The incestuous pair are literally kept under lock and key by their father, Zorn, who at times appear to be encouraging their madness, and their father’s big bald bodyguard, Klaus.

The young peoples’ Aunt Hilda, who believes in their terrible inheritance of madness even more than her brother does, engages in such old-fashioned medical practices as blood-letting on her two charges, which appear utterly barbaric to our modern minds.

Patrick Magee plays the sinister Dr. Falkenberg, the medic of dubious reputation employed by Zorn to oversee the ‘treatment’ and ‘cure’ of the two young ‘uns, when all they really need is to be separated from each other and brought up as normal people in a healthier and more wholesome atmosphere than Castle Zorn, which, let’s face it, wouldn’t be too hard to find. The very walls of the mansion ooze death, decay and insanity.

Meanwhile, down in the village, beautiful busty women are going missing and turning up dead in the lake or on the forest floor, artistically sprinkled with blood-red rose petals.

This component gives the film the juicy, sexy feel of a good old Hammer vampire/Dracula movie, and is always welcome. I mean, what’s a Hammer flick without a few slaughtered glamour models with their throats torn out and bodices ripped to buggery, lol…?

Shakespearean actor Michael Hordern turns up as a Bible-thumping cleric ready to cast out the village’s demons, which the villagers themselves are already suspecting might be witchcraft, and Paul Jones as Carl Richter, a young medical student who is in love with Elizabeth and is determined to save her (but not Emil, heh-heh-heh) from the ghastly ministrations of Dr. Falkenberg and Aunt Yvonne.

My favourite scene is probably the one where the village woman is drafted in up at Chateau Zorn to portray Elizabeth in a ‘sort of play,’ and it drives Emil over the edge. It doesn’t turn out too clever for the poor unfortunate village woman, either. And after all the fun she had choosing dresses for ages in the nip, as well…!

It’s such a sexy, gothic film, a kind of sick love story that has disease and sickly-sweet rotteness at its core, like a perfect-to-look-at-on-the-outside peach that would corrode your insides if you took a bite. I love it. It’s what Hammer horror does best. If you haven’t seen it yet, do it soon. You’ll love it too.

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. She has studied Creative Writing and 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.

THE WITCHES. (1966) A HAMMER FOLK HORROR REVIEWED BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

THE WITCHES. (1966) A HAMMER FILM PRODUCTION. ADAPTED BY NIGEL KNEALE FROM NORAH LOFTS’ BOOK, ‘THE DEVIL’S OWN.’ DIRECTED BY CYRIL FRANKEL.

STARRING JOAN FONTAINE, ALEC MCCOWEN, KAY WALSH, MICHELE DOTRICE, GWEN FFRANGCON-DAVIES, INGRID BRETT AND LEONARD ROSSITER.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

This is not my favourite Hammer horror film, as it’s a little short on sex, Hammer glamour and ginormous boobies, but it’s still a really decent, unsettling folk horror movie, which is one of my favourite sub-genres of horror.

Set in a little English village in modern times (well, the ‘Sixties), it stars Hollywood Golden Age actress Joan Fontaine (REBECCA, SUSPICION, JANE EYRE) in the lead role of Gwen Mayfield.

Joan is the sister of the Little Johnny Live-A-Lot also known as Hollywood Golden Age actress Olivia de Havilland, who died over the summer (yes, this summer!) at the staggering age of 104. What great longevity some of these old Hollywood broads had! Their male contemporaries rarely lived this long.

Anyway, Gwen Mayfield is a school teacher who takes up a post in a tiny rural English village called Heddaby. Her last post before this was in Africa, where her run-in with the witchcraft practised by the natives caused her to have a breakdown.

Her new employer is the strange and rather monosyllabic Reverend Alan Bax, played by Alec McCowen, who might be best known for his wonderful portrayal of a homicide detective, Chief Inspector Oxford, driven culinarily demented by a wife who’s been doing a gourmet cookery course, in Alfred Hitchcock’s FRENZY (1972).

God Almighty, all the poor chap wants is a decent dinner after a hard day’s detecting, but the weird and sometimes inedible fare his wife serves up is barely enough to feed one of the poor quails who sadly died and found its way on to her menu.

Anyway, as for the Reverend Alan Bax, well, there’s a mystery there all right, but it will be a while before Miss Mayfield is able to determine whether he’s a friend or a foe in the strange situation in which she finds herself enmeshed in Heddaby.

Odd things happen in her new locale that makes Gwen wonder if perhaps her parish of superstitious villagers back in Africa isn’t too different from the quaint little backward-thinking village of Heddaby after all, where the locals favour healing with herbs over calling in a medically-trained doctor.

A teenage boy falls ill and is spirited away by his mother, just as a headless boy doll is found in a tree with a bunch of voodoo pins stuck all over him. The boy’s father is found drowned. A teenage girl is allegedly being abused by the grandmother she lives with and then the girl goes missing. There’s a very WICKER MAN vibe about the whole thing.

If Gwen hadn’t actively come up against witchcraft in her little African village, she might not now be so quick to come to the conclusion that the villagers of Heddaby are practising the black arts.

But come to it she does, and not only that. She also comes to another conclusion, that a young girl’s life is in danger (think Rowan Morrison), and that no-one’s efforts but her own can save the girl now…

I love Leonard Rossiter (RISING DAMP, THE FALL AND RISE OF REGINALD PERRIN) as Dr. Wallis, and Michele Dotrice (Betty Spencer, Frank’s long-suffering wife, in sitcom SOME MOTHERS DO ‘AVE ‘EM) as Miss Mayfield’s sort of maid-cum-cleaning lady.

Michele Dotrice, a terrific actress, and not just in comedy roles, also appears in two other fabulous horror films, BLOOD ON SATAN’S CLAW, which is very definitely a folk horror, and also AND SOON THE DARKNESS, a murder mystery which is very folky in its setting, in my humble whatsit.

I also love Kay Walsh, once married to film director David Lean, as Alan Bax’s bossy middle-aged sister Stephanie, a magazine writer and the type of woman who’ll wear wellies to walk the dogs and who tells people what they ought to do in any given situation without having been asked for her advice even slightly.

I would have loved it if, instead of magazine articles, she’d been an Agatha Christie-style writer of crime novels or murder mysteries, like Auriol Lee as Isobel Sedbusk in Alfred Hitchcock’s SUSPICION (1941), for her role in which superb suspense thriller Joan Fontaine actually won a Best Actress Oscar, incidentally.

Anyway, THE WITCHES is a tiny bit hokey but it looks gorgeous, and Joan Fontaine, sporting the most bouffant of bouffant hairstyles, is absolutely brilliant at looking shocked, surprised and frightened in it. Joanie channels her best Tippi Hedren (THE BIRDS) here, in her olive-green ensemble, and Kay Walsh is a dead ringer for dear old Bette Davis in her horror cossie.

There’s a smart cat called Vesper in it, and also a sort of wild, fruit-based orgy amongst the natives in which you’ll probably be praying, like me, for the participants to please keep their clothes on. You’ll enjoy watching this horror classic, I promise you. It’s great fun.

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.