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

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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

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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

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

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

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