THE OMEN. (1976) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

damienTHE OMEN. (1976) DIRECTED BY RICHARD DONNER. WRITTEN BY DAVID SELTZER. MUSIC BY JERRY GOLDSMITH.

STARRING GREGORY PECK, LEE REMICK, BILLIE WHITELAW, DAVID WARNER, PATRICK TROUGHTON, HARVEY SPENCER STEPHENS, LEO MCKERN, JOHN STRIDE AND BRUCE BOA.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

I’ve always thought that supernatural horror movie THE OMEN is one of the best films ever made in any genre, period, let alone just best horror. It’s superbly-made, scripted, casted and acted from start to finish, and I’ve always felt like there was this pervading sense of evil coming off of it that would seem to tie in exactly with the claims from the crew that one disaster after another befell them while they were making it.

‘It felt like someone- or something- didn’t want this film to be made,’ they said. Sometimes I think I believe them.

Gregory Peck (MOBY DICK, TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, THE BOYS FROM BRAZIL, etc.) plays Robert Thorn, the handsome and distinguished American Ambassador to England who does an extraordinarily foolish, if well-intentioned, thing.

When his wife Kathy gives birth to a stillborn child, in order to spare her pain and suffering, he allows himself to be talked into substituting a live baby boy for the one they’ve lost. This turns out to be a bigger ‘Oooopsie!’ than he could ever possibly have imagined in his worst nightmares.

And ‘nightmare’ is exactly the word for it. Their new son Damien is in fact the unholy spawn of Satan. Dontcha just hate it when that happens? Can’t even illegally adopt a child in a foreign flippin’ country without its turning out to be Beelzebub’s snotty brat. Well, you gets what you pays for, I always say…!

Seriously, though, as Damien grows older, his parents can’t help but notice that people have a tendency to die horrible deaths when their son is around. Patrick Troughton, a terrific Hammer actor whom I always particularly remember from THE SCARS OF DRACULA, plays the priest who desperately tries to impress upon the sceptical Ambassador that their son is, well, who he is, and that he must be stopped before he brings about the end of the world. Which, you’ll admit, would be hellishly inconvenient for all concerned, no pun intended.

The padre even gives Robert the name of a man who can possibly put a stop to the Satanic little tyke’s nonsense. It’s always handy when you can get the name of a man that will fix your problem. Funny noise coming from the engine, leaky radiators, slow and sluggish sperm, Napoleonic delusions, your son being the Antichrist. Robert will be glad of that name before too much more time has elapsed…

There are some truly horrific and memorable deaths in the film, and any number of scenes that could quite easily make it onto a 100 SCARIEST MOMENTS list. Without giving too much away (I hope!), here are my favourites:

The nanny at the birthday party, of course. The priest in the deserted churchyard in the middle of the strange and sudden gale-force wind. The dark and isolated graveyard in a foreign place with the dogs. Any scene with big black dogs in it, in fact. Mrs. Baylock’s last stand. I’m getting chills just thinking about these nerve-shredding scenes.

Billie Whitelaw is magnificent and terrifying as the nanny who comes out of nowhere to take care of wee Damien. She scares me so much in this, even more than she did when she played Mammy Kray to Ronnie and Reggie from SPANDAU BALLET in that marvellous crime biopic.

David Warner is superb also as Keith Jennings, the journalist who tries to help Robert figure out the exact origins of his God-forsaken nipper. You might recognise him from STRAW DOGS (1971), in which he did a tremendous job of playing mentally defective local sex offender Henry Niles.

There are a few other faces amongst the cast whom you might recognise. John Stride as Kathy’s psychiatrist was great in Roman Polanski’s MACBETH. RUMPOLE OF THE BAILEY, aka Leo McKern, plays ‘the man on the Essex Road’ who can discover the source of the funny noise coming from under the bonnet of the Ambassador’s car.

That’s a bit of an obscure joke, referencing both comedienne Jo Brand and early ‘Noughties romantic comedy ABOUT A BOY starring Hugh Grant. I’ll leave it in though, just in case…!

Bruce Boa as one of the Ambassador’s aides is the American tourist who so rudely demands something called a ‘Waldorf salad’ from John Cleese’s Basil Fawlty in ever-popular British sitcom, FAWLTY TOWERS. I think it consisted of ‘walnuts, apples, celery, grapes in a mayonnaise sauce,’ which sounds kind of gross but, you know, whatever floats your boat.

And rest in peace, by the way, to poor Andrew Sachs who played Manuel the Spanish waiter in the show. His comic genius will never be forgotten. Now bring me my Waldorf salad before I whack you upside-the-head with my wife’s copy of Harold Robbins’ latest rubbishy offering…!

Now, back briefly to THE OMEN. It’s naturally won a ton of awards but my favourite of these is the Oscar for Jerry Goldsmith’s original song for the movie, AVE SATANI. It’s magnificent. And bone-chillingly frightening as well. The Latin chanting and the scary choral bits and the words which mean: ‘We drink the blood, we eat the flesh, raise the body of Satan…!’ F***ing hell. Literally…

The film spawned many great sequels, by the way, including one in which Damien is a girl(!) and the best one sees Sam Neill playing the grown-up Damien who has apparently developed a taste for backdoor shenanigans, otherwise known as anal sex. The dirty little dickens…!

I’ll finish by saying this. I believe in the Devil. Okay, so he may not have a pitchfork and a long tail and horns and eat at McDonalds but there must be some source of all the evil in the world, some reason for it. This film scares me more than any other horror movie because it could be real. Who are we to say it’s not? There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamed of in (y)our philiosophy, after all.

And then there’s that pervading sense of evil that seems to emanate from it like a stinking miasma. Maybe it’s just my imagination working overtime. Maybe it’s the brilliant film-making involved. Who knows what it is? But it’s there, and to me it feels real. Make what you will of that, dear readers. Make what you will…

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

NOSFERATU. (1979) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

MCDNOPH FE005

NOSFERATU: PHANTOM DER NACHT, Isabelle Adjani (front), Klaus Kinski, 1979, TM & Copyright © 20th Century Fox Film Corp

NOSFERATU THE VAMPYRE (NOSFERATU: PHANTOM DER NACHT/NOSFERATU: PHANTOM OF THE NIGHT.) 1979. BASED ON BRAM STOKER’S ‘DRACULA.’

DIRECTED AND CO-PRODUCED BY WERNER HERZOG. SCREENPLAY BY WERNER HERZOG.

MUSIC BY POPOL VUH. CINEMATOGRAPHY BY JŐRG SCHMIDT-REITWEIN. RATS TRAINED BY MAARTEN’T HART.

STARRING KLAUS KINSKI, ISABELLE ADJANI, ROLAND TOPOR, WALTER LADENGAST AND BRUNO GANZ.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

This film doesn’t have a silent psychopath in a mask stalking half-dressed women and unsuspecting men with his enormous butcher knife. It doesn’t have a Mother-fixated madman stabbing people to death in the shower while dressed in womens’ clothing, and neither does it have a well-spoken intellectual of a maniac who likes to eat people’s internal organs with some fava beans and a nice Chianti.

In this sense, maybe, it’s not what some people think of when they think of horror movies. What the film does have, however, is a lead character of such subtlety, cruelty and even human-like frailty that he surely deserves his standing as one of the creepiest and most notable horror icons of all time: Nosferatu The Vampyre.

This film is possibly my favourite horror film of all time, jostling for the coveted first place alongside Anthony Schaffer’s THE WICKER MAN (1973) and Alfred Hitchcock’s PSYCHO (1960). These would be my Top Three Desert Island films, although there are days when I’d genuinely considering just bringing three copies of Herzog’s NOSFERATU, just to be on the safe side…!

The film was written, produced and directed by Werner Herzog, a German film-maker who made his first movie in 1961 at the age of nineteen and who now has more than sixty feature and documentary films to his name.

It is one of five movies he made with German actor Klaus Kinski, with whom he enjoyed a well-documented relationship that was both productive and wildly tempestuous, given the intensity and passionate nature of each of the protagonists.

When people think of Nosferatu, their minds frequently conjure up an image of Max Shreck who played him so brilliantly in the silent production of nearly a century ago, and fair play to old Maxie, he did a cracking job but for me, Kinski is Nosferatu.

He is the bald-headed, sunken-eyed, strangely melancholy creature of the night who resides in his crumbling castle in the Carpathian mountains and feeds off the blood of any humans unfortunate enough to cross his path.

It’s well-known enough at this stage that Werner Herzog, a very clever man indeed, thought that F.W. Murnau’s 1922 film NOSFERATU was the best thing to come out of Germany since Oktoberfest, haha. This was the version of Bram Stoker’s DRACULA that Herzog had in mind when he made his own film version.

It’s as magnificent a tribute as has ever been made. Though I’ve always loved the HAMMER HORROR DRACULA movies starring the iconic and handsome Christopher Lee, I don’t really think that anyone but Murnau himself has made a better film of Bram Stoker’s legendary vampire novel. Every shot is a work of art. Some of them are so beautiful they could even be paintings.

The film begins with Jonathan Harker being told by his employer, the decidedly odd and giggly Mr. Renfield, that he must cross the Carpathian mountains to bring legal papers to the rich and reclusive Count Dracula. The Count, you see, has decided to buy a house in their area, the pretty and picturesque town of Wismar.

Jonathan’s wife, Lucy, played by the stunningly beautiful Isabelle Adjani, begs him not to go as she has had premonitions of the most profound evil but Jonathan disregards her fears and sets off blithely on his journey. I love the way he more or less says to his wife:

‘Right, I’m off now, dear, off to the land of wolves and robbers and phantoms and spirits for several weeks, possibly forever. Well, cheerio, then…!’

The thoughtless git. It certainly seems as if no man, however bang-tidy his missus is, is going to turn down the chance of a business trip that gets him out of the house for a bit…!

Anyway, the film is worth watching solely for the shots of the glorious but lonely countryside through which he passes on his way to Count Dracula’s castle and also for the superb musical score by German electronic band Popol Vuh.

Check out the opening credits as well, by the way, in which the deliciously spooky music plays while the long line of genuine mummified bodies (which will creep the living daylights out of you because they’re the real deal!) are put on display for our delectation and edification. That music is repeated throughout the film and I can assure you that it will haunt you for the rest of your days. If you have a soul at all, that is, haha.

As Jonathan nears the castle, he is warned by the locals to turn back and go home before he loses his life, among other things, but he has come too far to turn back now. Disquieted and edgy, he continues on his way.

The fantastic music reaches a crescendo as he finally enters the courtyard of Count Dracula, then it fades away as the giant castle doors creak open to reveal… Nosferatu himself, standing at the top of the steps with a smile of quiet welcome on his colourless face.

For Jonathan, events take on a surreal appearance from this point onwards. Nosferatu begins to feed on his blood from the first night of his arrival. While poor Lucy frets and works herself up into a right old state about her absent spouse back in Wismar, Jonathan is trapped in Nosferatu’s castle of mould-stained, whitewashed walls and silent, dusty rooms. He is powerless to prevent the vampire from feasting on him and gradually sapping his strength and will.

There are some moments of genuine heartstopping horror in this part of the film, which incidentally is my favourite part. Check out the moment during Jonathan’s first meal at the castle when he realises that his host is a monster. Talk about awkward. What’s the etiquette for this situation, for crying out loud…?

I dare the viewer not to jump when Nosferatu appears soundlessly in Jonathan’s bedroom in the dead of night, his claws expanding as he moves in for the kill, or when Jonathan pushes back the slab of rock in the dungeon to reveal a sleeping Nosferatu, claws folded and eyes wide open, staring at nothing. Jonathan does some pretty good backing away in this situation, check it out…!

The latter half of the film sees Nosferatu travelling to Wismar by sea with his black coffins and his charming plague of rats. The scene where the ship of death sails silently up the canals of Wismar while the unwitting inhabitants of the town slumber peacefully in their beds sends a shiver down my spine every time I see it. In no time at all the town is overrun with rats and the plague.

Check out the scene where one of the rats (I believe eleven thousand were used in all) appears to be making a grab for personal glory by standing up as tall as he can make himself and appearing to sing his heart out, X FACTOR-style. So darling, but I still wouldn’t want to have to accommodate the little beggars while they’re on location, would you…?

Any-hoo, crazy old Mr. Renfield, who is revealed to be Count Dracula’s loyal servant, is beside himself with happiness at the arrival in the town of the ‘Master.’ These are trying times indeed for Lucy Harker, however. Jonathan has found his way home but he no longer recognises her and sits in his chair all day giggling and chattering nonsense, his mind and body destroyed by Dracula.

The love-starved and lonely Nosferatu comes to Lucy in her bedroom and begs her to be his concubine and companion down through the centuries to come, but Lucy holds fast to her love for Jonathan and sends the Count away empty-handed.

It’s a good offer, given that she’s more or less down one husband now. I think she should have taken it, personally. It’s tough being a single woman in the time of the plague…!

Now we come to the climax of this gorgeously-shot film. I’d better warn you, there will be spoilers, but I’m guessing that most horror movie fans know the DRACULA story inside-out and upside-down by now anyway.

The town of Wismar has been devastated by Nosferatu and his delightful plague of rats. The scene where some of the townspeople gather for a grotesque parody of a ‘last supper’ in the town square while the rats climb all over them is a chilling one. The music here is truly awe-inspiring. I get chills every time I listen to the hauntingly beautiful song that’s playing.

Lucy tries to tell the town physician, Dr. Van Helsing, that Nosferatu is the reason for all the death and destruction but the good doctor is a man of science and refuses to believe in the existence of such supernatural creatures as vampires. In this sense, the film is kind of the opposite of every other DRACULA movie, in which Van Helsing is actually the vampire-hunter, not the sceptic.

When Lucy’s closest friend, Mina, is murdered by the Count, Lucy does the only thing left to her to do. She offers herself to Nosferatu, in the hope that she can keep him occupied throughout the night and make him ‘forget the cry of the cock’ in the morning, thereby causing him to be killed by the first rays of the morning sun. He was clearly listening too hard to the cry of his own cock, heh-heh-heh.

The scene where Nosferatu comes to Lucy in her bedroom and finally feeds on her delicious blood is erotic in the extreme. It always brings back my ‘horny,’ last spotted around the time of the break-up of my last relationship.

Lucy is dressed all in white, her bedclothes are white and delicate flowers in shades of pastel sit on the night-stand. The Vampyre gently pulls back her clothing to look at her body (who says vampires only dig blood?), then he rests his claw on one full rounded breast as he lowers his head to her neck and begins to suck.

They remain locked together in a beautiful and moving sexual congress all night, and when the first rays of the sun begin to filter into Lucy’s bedroom the following morning, she pulls Nosferatu back down to her once more.

The besotted Vampyre thus ‘forgets the cry of the cock’ and dies. Awfully tough luck, old boy. Lucy listens to his death agonies with a smile on her face and then, knowing that she has saved the town of Wismar from the horror of Count Dracula, she closes her eyes and dies…

There’s a great little twist at the end which I won’t tell you about here. You’ll just have to go and watch the film for yourself, which I hope you will anyway. (Yeah, I know I’ve told you guys nearly everything else but we’ve gotta draw the line somewhere…!)

Personally speaking, as I may have hinted earlier, if I had to choose only one film to watch for the rest of my life, it would be this one. I want to be buried with it.

In the absence of Nosferatu himself coming to me in person in my flower-strewn bedroom and bending his head to my newly-washed neck, then I want to be buried clutching my copy of the film, the coffin lid closing on the sight of my fingers tightly laced around Nozzie’s deathly-white face on the front of the DVD box. And when you watch this film, I can pretty much promise you that you will too.

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

DAUGHTERS OF SATAN. (1972) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

daughters of satanDAUGHTERS OF SATAN. (1972) DIRECTED BY HOLLINGSWORTH MORSE. MUSIC BY RICHARD LASALLE. CINEMATOGRAPHY BY NONONG RASCA.

STARRING TOM SELLECK, BARRA GRANT, TANI GUTHRIE, PARALUMAN AND VIC SILAYAN. REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

Any film that begins with naked whipping is usually fine by me, and this brilliant old ‘Seventies erotic horror movie is no exception. It has the added bonus of starring Tom ‘MAGNUM P.I.’ Selleck, whose thick luxuriant moustache and hairy-chested manliness has provided fantasy fodder for many a horny housewife over the decades.

My favourite role of his wasn’t, in fact, the Hawaiian-shirted detective but the time when he played Monica Geller’s much older boyfriend Richard in ‘Nineties sitcom FRIENDS. It was so sad when they split up because Monica wanted babies and Richard didn’t, as he’d already been there and done that with his first wife. All together now: ‘Awwwww…!’

Anyway, I loved the scene after they’d split up and Monica was curled up on the couch miserably smoking one of Richard’s yucky cigars with one of his old beloved American Civil War tapes in the VCR, just to feel close to him. Well, we can all relate to that, I guess.

She’s asleep by the time her Dad, played by the wonderful Elliott Gould, comes over to see how she is. The look of pure bliss on Dad’s face once he’s commandeered the smouldering cigar and the Civil War documentary for himself is just priceless.

Tom Selleck is terrific in DAUGHTERS OF SATAN too. He plays a moustached, hairy-chested handsome man (no change there, so!) called Jim Robertson who lives in a gorgeous house in the Philippines with his beautiful wife Christina.

She’s an empty-headed harmless little thing who looks fabulous in an array of typically early ‘Seventies dresses, but she’s seeing a psychiatrist and one suspects that the lift, in her case, doesn’t quite reach all the way to the top, haha. I’m not saying she’s wacko or anything, but she’s definitely impressionable and easily influenced and that’s what makes her perfect for the horror that unfolds.

Any-hoo, one day art buff Jim buys a rather macabre painting of three witches being burned at the stake (with a big black dog being burned with them) because the middle witch is a dead ringer for the lovely Chris.

Chris is understandably baffled as to why he’d bring such a hideous and upsetting thing home with him. I mean, a picture of her being burned at the stake, for crying out loud…! Some husbands have no common sense at all.

The advent of the painting brings some strange changes into the Robertson household. A big black devil-dog appears out of nowhere, who’s devoted to Chris but tries to take off one of Jim’s legs every time they cross paths.

A surly disobliging maid called Juana (a bit like Consuela from FAMILY GUY!) joins the household too. Again, she’s all up in Chris’s business but she’s nothing short of downright rude to Jim.

The arrival of the strange close-mouthed domestic servant at the same time as the devil-dog reminded me strongly of one of the most famous Satanic movies of all time, DAMIEN: THE OMEN, which came along just a few short years later. The indomitable Billie Whitelaw played the sinister Mrs. Baylock to perfection. I don’t know who played the mutt. I really must watch that film again later.

Gradually, anyway, Jim realises that weird stuff is happening to his painting that appears to be mirroring real life. The third witch in the picture bears a strong resemblance to Juana the maid, for example, and the painting of the dog keeps fading in and out to beat the band. Weird…!

When he discovers another painting in the series in which he himself features as the man who’s condemned the three witches to death, it becomes clear that his own life might be in danger as the three reincarnated witches, his own innocent wife included, seek revenge for their grisly ends all the way back in 1592… Eeep!

Barra Grant, a real looker, is excellent as the dreamy, dopey Christina. Tani Guthrie plays a blinder too as the sex-mad head witch who really enjoys whipping half-naked females. You do see tits in this, by the way, and jolly nice tits they are too. And not surgically-enhanced, either, unless I miss my mark.

You’ll also hear some great early ‘Seventies horror movie music and you’ll discover a novel use for ice in both the killing of a husband and also the establishing of an alibi so you don’t get done for the aforementioned. Nice…!

You’ll see some gorgeous cinematography and ‘Seventies costumes and interiors and whatnot too. This is a really enjoyable film, with tits and whipping and even some titty-whipping into the bargain. Seriously, what more could anyone possibly want from a horror movie…?

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