TWILIGHT 4&5: BREAKING DAWN 1(2011) AND BREAKING DAWN 2 (2012). REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS.

TWILIGHT 4&5: BREAKING DAWN 1 (2011) AND BREAKING DAWN 2 (2012).
BOTH DIRECTED BY BILL CONDON AND BOTH SCREENPLAYS BY MELISSA ROSENBERG.
STARRING KRISTEN STEWART, ROBERT PATTINSON, TAYLOR LAUTNER, PETER FACINELLI AND BILLY BURKE.
BASED ON THE BOOKS BY STEPHENIE MEYER.
REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

I thoroughly enjoyed both of these instalments of the TWILIGHT movie franchise. Who doesn’t love a comically mismatched wedding (a human female and a vampire male), an hilarious honeymoon where sex with the groom nearly cripples the bride, a pregnancy that makes itself known after just two weeks and a baby that’s practically walking and talking unaided by the time the loved-up couple exit the plane at the end of the honeymoon? And I’m only exaggerating, like, a teensy tiny little bit, you’ll see.

So, to elaborate a tad, Bella Swan, human female of Forks, Washington, recently graduated from high school, is marrying Edward Cullen, local vampire, nicknamed Sparkles by me for What He Does In The Sunlight, the big wuss, lol.

Their families and friends are out in full force to support them, even though Bella’s lovely kind father Charlie, the Sheriff of Forks, has his misgivings, and he doesn’t even know yet that the Cullens are bleedin’ vampires to a man…!

The wedding is a fairy-tale one, with rose petals everywhere and Bella in a beautiful white dress, because she really is still a virgin. The honeymoon is on a gorgeous paradise island which they’ll have to themselves, except for the caretakers. Edward and Bella finally do on the island what they’ve been threatening to do all franchise… have sex…

It seems to go well, but next morning their bedroom is completely trashed and there are big bruises all over Bella, because she’s still only a puny human and Edward is a powerful vampire who, believe it or not, was holding back when he made love to Bella so that he didn’t crush her to death in his manly kung-fu grip or something.

Two weeks later, Bella and Edward have had to dash home because Bella is seemingly pregnant, which all the vampires seem to be shocked at for some reason. Can’t vampires get human females pregnant if they have sex? It’s what seems to have happened, nonetheless, and the Cullen family now have to deal with it.

Giving birth to a vampire’s baby when you’re still a human is a dangerous business and it very nearly kills Bella. Her father Charlie is terrified for her health in general, though he doesn’t know about the baby yet, and her other true love, part-time werewolf Jacob Black- the wolves are the mortal enemies of the vampires- wants to murder Edward for putting the love of both their lives in such mortal danger.

Sparkles has caused this entire ridiculous hoo-ha with his big sparkly willy. Yep, willies- sparkly or not- will do that. Ah, willies, is it? (Read in the style of a grizzly old frontiers-man!) Came across a-couple of ‘em in mah time, up there on Bear Mountain. Mostly bears up there most of the year, don’t usually get no willies no-how, but that one summer, oh, how I seen ‘em…! So many darn willies. The one that got away, even bigger that the two I catched…!

The CGI and special effects around Bella’s physical deterioration are actually superb, although it’s uncomfortable to see her looking like a concentration camp victim. The baby is taking all of Bella’s nutrition- yep, they’ll do that!- and it looks like Bella might genuinely die of starvation when Carlisle, the Cullen family paterfamilias and a doctor of medicine, steps in and feeds Bella a load of human blood just to stop her from dying of hunger.

A sort of Uma-Thurman-in-PULP FICTION situation occurs very dramatically, however, and Edward Cullen’s instantaneous John Travolta-style reaction results in the one thing that Bella has wanted all along, apart from her precious baby… Bella becomes a vampire, and, boy, is there going to be a lot of explaining to do in the Christmas newsletter this year…!

BREAKING DAWN 2 sees the Cullens and the Blacks getting acclimatised to having the new baby around. Bella has named the little girl ‘Renesmee’ in honour of both their mothers. Jacob Black, the part werewolf, has ‘imprinted’ on the baby, which means that he is honour-bound to protect her from all harm for the rest of both their lives. I think it also means that he has to marry her when she’s of an age, which is quite creepy…!

The baby has grown at an unnatural rate, and is practically getting ready to go off to college when word comes that the vampire police, the Volturi, are coming from Italy to kill the baby, as they believe her to be an ‘Immortal’ baby, one that could be a threat to them. She’s not what they think, however, so the Cullens go about amassing ‘witnesses,’ ie, other vampires, to put in a good word for them. For all the good it might do…

The battle itself is great fun. Dakota Fanning as the bitchy Jane, Volturi Queen of Pain, gets knocked on her ass, as does Michael Sheen as Aro, the highly camp leader of this very camp conglomeration of vampires. Bella, the newborn vampire, acquits herself well in her first skirmish and is a fiercely loving and loyal mother to Renesmee.

Rami Malek, who stars as Freddie Mercury in the superb BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY (2018), weighs in on the side of the Cullens, as do the werewolves, while Jacob Black heroically guards Renesmee. But, when the dust settles, where will Bella, Edward and Renesmee stand?

I assume the Cullens will continue to stand where they always have, in their beautiful glasshouse in the forest, in a straight line as usual, fully dressed at all times in smart-casual designer clobber. They’re never caught short or taken by surprise or doing anything when Alice has one of her ‘visions,’ which always require immediate action.

No-one’s ever in the toilet, or fiddling around with the fuseboard or doing a Sudoku or anything. I really think they must stand around in a state of suspended animation until Alice comes in and tersely delivers one of her pronouncements, which are never good news. They all look like dolls, action figures that have to be moved into position by the child who owns them. Maybe a child does own them! It would explain a lot.

The entire cast get a shout-out in the end credits while the viewers are free to bawl their eyes out from the very opening bars of Christina Perri’s song, A Thousand Years, which even I, a relative newbie to the franchise, will always now associate with the TWILIGHT movies.

I’ve put the cart before the horse a bit, I know, by watching the films first, but I now intend to read the books as well. I don’t do owt by halves, me. Does that make me a Twilight mom, albeit ten years too late? If it does, it does. Sparkle on, Twilight fans. Sparkle on…  

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

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

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

Her new book, THIRTEEN STOPS EARLIER, is out now from Poolbeg Books:

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

The sequel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS LATER,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books:

TWILIGHT 3: ECLIPSE. (2010) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS.

TWILIGHT 3: ECLIPSE. (2010) DIRECTED BY DAVID SLADE. BASED ON THE BOOKS BY STEPHENIE MEYER.
STARRING KIRSTEN STEWART, ROBERT PATTINSON, TAYLOR LAUTNER, BILLY BURKE, BRYCE DALLAS HOWARD, DAKOTA FANNING, GIL BIRMINGHAM AND PETER FACINELLI.
REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

I didn’t enjoy watching this third instalment of the vampire romance saga as much as I did the first two films, because there are a whole load of new vampire enemies in it that I just can’t bring myself to give a shit about, if you know what I mean, and I can promise you that I won’t be writing too much about this aspect of the film. I can even break the plot of this third film down into numbered parts for ease of reading, if you like, so clear-cut is it.

1.      Bella Swan, human schoolgirl, adores Edward Cullen, a vampire over a century old who sparkles in the sunlight, goddamn it. ‘Tain’t natural, it just ain’t natural. They are having one of those deathly intense relationships only teenagers can have where they talk about the negatives ad nauseam and only break it up to do a little kissing and necking.

2.      Bella desperately wants Sparkles to ‘turn’ her into a vampire, because, you know, what a great life they lead in the shadows and all that jazz. Sparkles is reluctant to ruin her life by so doing, fair play to him, but, if he must, then he insists on their being properly married first. Old-fashioned, but, I suppose, vaguely commendable.

3.      Bella has to be awkward, of course. She refuses his proposal initially, saying that marriage is only a piece of paper, which doesn’t really fit with what we know of her devotion to Edward and her unwillingness to allow him to continue on life’s journey alone without her. On the other hand, her parents’ marriage has been a bit of a disaster, so maybe that’s what’s influencing her strange decision.

4.      Bella eventually caves in to the idea of marriage. So, now their plan is marriage, sex, then the ‘turning.’ As opposed to sex, the ‘turning’ and no marriage. And the ‘turning,’ followed by ‘let’s see how it goes.’ It’s getting confusing now though, so let’s hope they don’t change the running order of things too many more times…!

5.      Bella has the hots big-time for part-time werewolf, full-time beefcake Jacob Black, played by Taylor Lautner. He doesn’t wear a shirt once in this film, and his exceptional abdominals give even Edward the heebie-jeebies. ‘Doesn’t that guy own a shirt…?’ he asks Bella in a bitchy little girl voice. Threatened, much? Snigger.

6.      Bella also loves Jacob, but she loves Edward more. Both men, including poor Jacob who would do anything for her, are seemingly content to put up with this bullshit. They spend much of this film snickering at each other over who loves her more, or which one would be best for her in the long run.

7.      That would be Jacob, of course. She could marry Jacob and still remain a human girl who can do all of the things a human girl can, and she won’t have to say goodbye forever to her parents or any other loved ones, which she will have to do if she chooses Edward. When. When she chooses Edward, because there’s no question in her mind about it.

8.      There’s one hilarious scene on a snowy mountain-top where Jacob has to save a freezing Bella with his body warmth, something Old Frozen Dick can’t do for her no-how. You know, she should really be naked for this to work, says Jacob slyly, just to rile up the Pale One. And he’s accurate about that as well, it’s medically proven, so yah boo sucks to you, Sparkles! He just has to suck it up, lol.

9.      The movie ends with a long boring battle between the Cullen vampires and a bunch of stupid ‘newborn’ vampires from out-of-town, with the magnificent werewolves of Jacob’s pack weighing in on the side of the Cullens for Bella’s sake.

10.  Bryce Dallas Howard (Aunt Claire from JURASSIC WORLD; the blind girl from THE VILLAGE by M. Night Shomom- Shymom- Shomomolon- by the guy who made SIGNS) stars in this film as the red-headed Victoria, leader of the enemy clan of vampires. Her mate James- mate as in lover, not me old mucker- was killed by Edward in an earlier film, hence her beef with the Cullens.

11.      Dakota Fanning also stars as the bitchy Jane, the Queen of Pain, a member of the Volturi or Vampire Police. Vampire Police, can you imagine? ‘Licence and registration, please, sir,’ and ‘I’m gonna need you to blow into this bag for me, sir…!’

12.      Also, just to mention that the movie touches on the back stories of both Rosalie and Jasper Hale, both mopey Cullens, in this film, but I don’t care enough about either minor character to recount their various histories here. What? They’re boring AF, lol.

13.  The best- and funniest-part of this film is the love rivalry between Jacob and Edward, and the way in which Bella openly encourages this for all she’s worth, the dirty minx!

14.  Stay tuned for my review of the next two films, BREAKING DAWN: PARTS ONE AND TWO, because we’ll be talking about the marriage and the wedding night and the losing, at long last, of Bella’s virginity; one movie-critiquing wag christened ECLIPSE ‘the ongoing saga of the unbroken duck.’ Hilarious. Be there or be, well, somewhere else. But don’t be somewhere else, please. Here’s where the long-awaited deflowering will be discussed in all its bloody glory…

 AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.
 
Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. She has studied Creative Writing and Vampirology. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, women’s fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:
http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO
Her new book, THIRTEEN STOPS EARLIER, is out now from Poolbeg Books:
https://amzn.to/3ulKWkv
Her debut romantic fiction novel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books:
https://www.amazon.com/Thirteen-Stops-Sandra-Harris-ebook/dp/B089DJMH64
The sequel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS LATER,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books:
 https://www.amazon.co.uk/Thirteen-Stops-Later-Book-ebook/dp/B091J75WNB/
  

TWILIGHT 2: NEW MOON. (2009) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS.

THE TWILIGHT SAGA 2: NEW MOON. (2009) DIRECTED BY CHRIS WEITZ. BASED ON THE BOOKS BY STEPHENIE MEYER.
STARRING KRISTEN STEWART, ROBERT PATTINSON, TAYLOR LAUTNER, BILLY BURKE AND PETER FACINELLI.
REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

Well, here we are again. The second instalment of the TWILIGHT saga, that had teenage girls all over the world sobbing uncontrollably at the doomed romance element of it all and longing for their very own sparkly handsome vampire to fly in through their bedroom window and whisk them away to a glamorous new life beyond the clouds, or wherever.

Here we see the intensely miserable and introspective Edward Cullen actually leaving Bella for her own good, and moving somewhere far away from Forks with his vampire family. Not so far that they can’t return en masse at a second’s notice, however, as we see later in the film.

After seeing his wimpy relative Jasper Cullen try to maul Bella for her delicious blood when she gets a paper cut (a paper cut, how lame-o is that!), Edward decides he must leave Bella for her own safety, even though Bella is adamant to the point of downright rudeness that she wants him to stay. And not just stay, but turn her into a vampire as well, so that they can be together forever.

She has an unhealthy level of dependence on him, which the ‘woke’ attitudes of today would frown on. Also, Edward’s not super-keen on the idea of ‘turning’ his little human girlfriend into a vampire.

He says it’s because he wouldn’t wish that kind of soulless existence upon her, but I reckon he just doesn’t want her hanging out of him morning, noon and night, which she certainly would do if she were a vampire like him and could do vampire magic and stuff.

The state of Bella after Edward’s done his runner reminds me of every bad break-up I’ve ever been through, and one bad one in particular. She walks alone in the dangerous, isolated woods where ‘they’ used to walk, no doubt replaying every word he’s ever said to her in her mind. She mopes in her bedroom and stares out her window, literally watching the seasons pass her by, much to her father Charlie’s consternation.

She ignores her school friends and turns herself into a loner. She reminds me of Mrs. Doyle from FATHER TED when she’s being told how much less miserable her tea-making experience can be if she accepts the Tea-Master machine into her life. She doesn’t even need to think about her answer. ‘Maybe I like the misery…!’

When Edward returns to her briefly in order to save her from a dangerous situation, Bella gets a brainwave. So, he’ll come back if she’s in danger, eh? Well then, she’ll put herself in as much danger as she can, then! The stuff she does is highly inadvisable for anyone to copy or try at home.

Not content with accepting a helmet-less ride on the back of a total stranger’s motorbike, she brings some busted-up old motorbikes over to the home of her childhood friend, Jacob Black, and suggests they ‘fix them up together as a project.’

She completely uses Jacob, whom she knows perfectly well is in love with her. When the bikes are ride-able at last, she takes one for a spin, falls off and wallops her unprotected noggin off a rock. I felt sick to my stomach when that happened. All this for a guy, who doesn’t care enough about her to bring him with her when he leaves town! Is he worth dying for then, Bella? Oh wait… yeah, lol.

And the way she strings that poor Jacob Black along is disgraceful. She definitely gets a thrill from his wet shirtlessness, and is delighted to have a handsome black-haired half-naked Native American and part-time werewolf dancing attendance on her now Edward’s fecked off.

However, she has no intention of letting the poor besotted Jacob get past that big sparkly chastity belt round her nether regions, the one that clicked into place without her knowing it and which will only come off when Edward himself removes it.

Naturally, women and girls will approve of Jacob and his half-nekkid gang of lads who run together in a pack and can turn into werewolves at will. I call them ‘The Men who Run Without Shirts.’ Their abdominals are certainly criminally well-defined.

Still, the target audience for the film is teenage girls; it’s only their boyfriends who’ll consider the wolf pack to be as gay as feck. A load of nudie men cavorting in the forest in the rain? Seems kinda gay to me, lol. But Taylor Lautner as Jacob sure is buff; he and the Sparkly One will no doubt exchange a few shots across each other’s bows in due course as rivals for Bella, and won’t she just love that?  

My main takeaway from this film is the worry I feel that any real-life girls or women would be tempted to be as stupidly reckless as Bella is in this movie. She even jumps off an actual effing cliff in the wild hope that Edward’s ghost will jump in and save her.

Moping, ugly-crying, writing bad love poetry and sending endless texts to the errant boyfriend is all perfectly permissible and, indeed, expected, when you break up with your first love, but putting yourself in actual danger for no good reason is a big fat no-no.

I wonder if you could make a film like that today, or would the ‘woke’ brigade put the kybosh on it. I don’t think I need to worry, really. Women and girls today are much too sensible to lose their heads over a few glue-on sparkles and a handful of glitter. Aren’t they…?

PS, this one ends on a big sparkly cliffhanger, but there’s no way on earth that mopey, possessive Bella is going to say no to this. There’ll surely be a big fat sparkler on her ring finger before long…

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.
 
Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. She has studied Creative Writing and Vampirology. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, women’s fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:
http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO
Her new book, THIRTEEN STOPS EARLIER, is out now from Poolbeg Books:
https://amzn.to/3ulKWkv
Her debut romantic fiction novel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books:
https://www.amazon.com/Thirteen-Stops-Sandra-Harris-ebook/dp/B089DJMH64
The sequel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS LATER,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books:
 https://www.amazon.co.uk/Thirteen-Stops-Later-Book-ebook/dp/B091J75WNB/
  

TWILIGHT. (2008) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

TWILIGHT. (2008) DIRECTED BY CATHERINE HARDWICKE. BASED ON THE BOOK BY STEPHENIE MEYER.

STARRING KRISTEN STEWART, ROBERT PATTINSON, BILLY BURKE, TAYLOR LAUTNER AND PETER FACINELLI.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

All right, all right, settle down now, class. We’ve all seen the memes. Real vampires don’t sparkle, right? Real vampires are Kiefer Sutherland and the Lost Boys, they’re Catherine Deneuve and David Bowie in THE HUNGER. I could go on.

Now that we’ve gotten that out of our collective systems, today I’d like to address the class on the subject of TWILIGHT, the biggest franchise since Harry Potter and without which there would be no FIFTY SHADES OF GREY franchise, because the FIFTY SHADES books started out as TWILIGHT fan fiction. See?

I for one thoroughly welcomed both TWILIGHT, the films and books they said were for teenage girls, and FIFTY SHADES, the ‘mummy porn’ that middle-aged women could supposedly binge-read in perfect privacy on their kindles, like a bunch of sex-hungry, well, mummies. It was about bloody time the film and book industries did something for the female sex!

TWILIGHT (2008) is the first film in the TWILIGHT saga. It features Kristen Stewart as Bella Swan, a seventeen-year-old schoolgirl who got in one little fight and her mom got scared and now she’s moving with her auntie and uncle in Bel-Air.

No, wait, that was totally Will Smith as the Fresh Prince of Bel Air. Bella Swan is actually moving in with her sheriff dad Charlie in Forks, a small photogenic town in Washington, after living with her flighty mom in Phoenix, Arizona. Forks has the most fabulous rainy woods, rivers and mountains and is gorgeous to look at, but Bella, shy and not too ugly herself, isn’t looking at the scenery.

She’s way too busy falling head-over-heels in love with a boy-man at her school, Edward Cullen, a member of the mysterious and pale-faced Cullen family. It takes Bella a little while to work out what we all kind of suspected, back in the day. He’s deathly pale and his skin feels freezing cold to the touch. She’s never seen him eat, and he’s unnaturally fast and strong, even saving Bella’s life in a car accident once with his pure-quick-wittedness and the strength of ten men.

So, what else could he be but… a fortune-telling raccoon with a musical ear and the power to see into the future. . .? No, no and no. He’s a deeply introspective vampire, ‘turned’ by his foster father Carlisle Cullen during the Spanish Influenza Outbreak of 1918. Now he lives with his rich immortal father, just mentioned here, and his rich immortal family in their fabulous glass house high up in the drenched and dripping woods of Forks.

Bella is willing to do anything to get Edward to stay with her forever. Edward isn’t so sure. He gets all mealy-mouthed and says things like, But, I’d only hurt you! And Bella just gets all carried away, saying to the shocked Edward, oh, but I’d really love that, bring it on! And Edward says, well, you must be crazy, missus, but if that’s what you really want, who am I to argue?

So they become the school’s hottest new couple, much to the concern of Edward’s family. They’ve survived this long only by keeping their deadly secret from the humans amongst whom they live and mix daily. If Bella leaks this secret, she will not only endanger all of them but she will be the biggest blabbermouth since Kat Slater from EastEnders. She knows what she did. (‘I’m your muvver, Zoe…!’)

Anyway, Bella goes to the home of the Cullens at Edward’s request and is welcomed by them as cordially as if she were a vegetarian hot dog on a stick. Yes, the Cullens are ‘veggie’ vampires, only drinking the blood of animals, as opposed to whatever’s been murdering and mutilating random people in the town of Forks.

It wouldn’t be the three weirdos who’ve just crashed the Cullens’ lame-o baseball game, could it? And, if they do happen to like the taste of human blood and flesh, has Edward just put the still human Bella in the greatest danger since a bunch of toffee-nosed English chaps decided amongst themselves that that nasty little commoner Hitler was in fact ‘all talk’…?

Now, for homework, class, please discuss the following, giving arguments for and against:

  1. Does Edward Cullen exercise the kind of coercive control over schoolgirl Bella Swan that has recently put Welsh footballer Ryan Giggs in a court of law fighting for his reputation…?
  2. Why do you think Bella Swan is so willing to give up everything for the love of this sparkly teenage boy? Is she suffering from extremely low self-esteem, and from where might she have obtained the notion that she, Bella, is a sack of shit, whereas Edward is a total prize…?
  3. Why did I completely forget to mention Taylor Lautner, who plays Jacob Black, Bella’s forgettable old friend whom even Bella has trouble remembering?

One more thing before you go. Jackson Rathbone, who plays the vampire Jasper, is in fact distantly related to British acting legend, Basil SHERLOCK HOLMES Rathbone. There’s the bell, make sure you bring in NEW MOON, the second book in the TWILIGHT saga, with you tomorrow. If we’ve literally nothing else to do, we might have a browse through it. Good afternoon to you all now. No running in the corridor, Matthews, you little shit! Christ, where did I leave my fags?

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

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

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

Her new book, THIRTEEN STOPS EARLIER, is out now from Poolbeg Books:

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

The sequel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS LATER,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Thirteen-Stops-Later-Book-ebook/dp/B091J75WNB/

INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE. (1994) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE. (1994) BASED ON THE BOOK OF THE SAME NAME BY ANNE RICE. SCREENPLAY BY ANNE RICE.

DIRECTED BY NEIL JORDAN. PRODUCED BY DAVID GEFFEN AND STEVEN WOOLLEY.

STARRING TOM CRUISE, BRAD PITT, CHRISTIAN SLATER, KIRSTEN DUNST, ANTONIO BANDERAS AND STEPHEN REA.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

This is possibly the most sumptuous, luxurious and gorgeous-looking vampire film ever made, probably because producer David Geffen was able to pour vast amounts of money into it.

Whereas, as we know, a lot of other vampire films have quite low budgets and they have to film in the director’s back garden because it’s a total wilderness and makes a great cemetery when you add a few cardboard gravestones and stuffed ravens to it, caw caw.

And how many independently-made vampire flicks are able to cast Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt, the handsomest stars in the universe and probably still the highest-paid Hollywood stars in the world today, as their leading men? Exactly.

I’m halfway through reading Anne Rice’s fabulous book INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE: BOOK ONE IN THE VAMPIRE CHRONICLES at the moment, so it seemed like an excellent time to re-visit the film, which I hadn’t seen in years. Of course, I should probably have waited to finish the book before I went reminding myself about the ending, but oh well. It’s sexy vampires; who could wait…?

One of the most important things to remember about this film is that Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt are bloody big rides in it and always will be, world without end, Amen. I’m not a big fan of Brad Pitt’s films, but I can allow that he has a certain physical and sexual appeal, ahem.

I’ve been in love with Tom Cruise since seeing him in VANILLA SKY in 2002, however. It’s one of my favourite films of all times. I went to see it six or seven weeks in a row back in those days when films stayed in the cinema for longer than five days.

It helped take my mind off an horrific break-up I was going through at the time, and I loved the soundtrack so much that I even contemplated buying two copies of the soundtrack in case anything ever happened to the original. That’s never happened to me before or since. I can’t even imagine that it ever might again.

The second thing to bear in mind is their hair in INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE, oh my God, their hair! It’s truly lovely. Brad Pitt’s in particular is so thick and swishy and luxuriant and full that it’s enough to make his ex-squeeze Jennifer Aniston, herself famed for her swinging locks, pea-green with envy.

I’m not crazy about Tom Cruise’s blonde-coloured hair in it, but here is a guy who couldn’t be ugly or unattractive if he tried, so it’s all good. I love his million-dollar smile and his instantly recognisable Tom Cruise laugh, too. Oh, who am I kidding? Clearly, I just worship the ground he walks on, full stop.

Okay. Now that we’ve discussed the stuff that really matters, let’s get on with reviewing the movie. I enjoyed it immensely. Brad Pitt’s Louis de Pointe du Lac is a rich young plantation owner, and a man who is tired of life- life in late eighteenth-century New Orleans, that is- after the deaths of his wife and baby in childbirth.

This makes him the perfect victim in the eyes of Lestat de Lioncourt, Tom Cruise’s wildly charismatic vampire, who swoops in opportunistically and turns Louis into a creature of the night like himself.

The two male vampires live together in Louis’ lush plantation and terrorise the slaves with their weird habits, ungodly hours, unbridled womanising and the fact that they don’t eat people food or drink people drinks. They just drink… blood.

Lestat drinks human blood, naturellement, like any normal self-respecting vampire of this or any other era. Louis, however, refuses to chow down on the blood of humans, believing that it’s wrong- well, strictly speaking, it is– and will only kill assorted vermin and poultry (much to Lestat’s amusement) in order to keep himself alive. Ooops, I mean un-dead. Ah, you know what I mean.

Until he meets Kirsten Dunst’s Claudia, that is, a beautiful orphaned ten-year-old child (in the book, she’s only five) whom he is encouraged by Lestat to bring over to the dark side with them.

Why encouraged? Well, because Lestat fears losing Louis as his companion for the eternities to come, as Louis is not as enamoured or, a better word, accepting, of the vampire lifestyle as Lestat is. Louis doesn’t make the best of it and has a sour puss on him virtually the whole way through the movie.

Lestat, therefore, thinks that the arrival of their pretty little ‘daughter’ Claudia into their eccentric little household will help to cement their relationship. Just like an ordinary human woman- or man- might think that a baby will paper over the cracks in her/his marriage. Aw, it’s so sweet, the way that the un-dead think they’re people…

Anyway, this turns out to be, shall we say, not the best idea Lestat’s ever had. Though the three of them rub along perfectly happily together for years (just look at the cute way she cuddles up to Brad Pitt in his coffin), Claudia ultimately resents the way that she had no choice or say in the whole being turned into a vampire thing and she eventually begins to harbour murderous thoughts towards Lestat, the ‘maker’ of both her and poor gormless Louis. It’s okay, though. You can’t kill the un-dead. Or can you…?

Just to add that the European trip reveals a sick decadence even beyond the way in which life in eighteenth-century New Orleans is decadent, and has catastrophic results for all concerned.

I like Antonio Banderas as Armand, with his Cher wig and whispery voice, and Stephen Rea as Santiago is positively cruel and evil and makes Joel Grey as the M.C. in CABARET look like harmless old Uncle Gaybo hosting the Late Late Show. He’s so evil, he gives you the chills.

The functional framing device of the film sees Brad Pitt as Louis telling his story to Christian Slater’s reporter in modern times. He really opens up to the journalist, giving a warts-and-all portrayal of his life since being turned into a vampire by Lestat in 1791.

Kirsten Dunst turns in a phenomenal performance as the pretty, ringleted Claudia, given that she was only about twelve years old at the time of filming. If children are supposed to take after their ‘parents,’ then she embodies a mash-up of the love of knowledge and all things cultural bestowed upon her by her beloved Daddy Louis, undoubtedly her favourite parent, and the cold, detached cruelty and carelessness of human life given her by her Daddy Lestat.

The film has whores and boobies and the plague and cemeteries in it as well. And, while I still prefer my Eastern European vampires and the ‘mitt-Europe’ locations favoured by Hammer horror films, there’s a lot to be said for the vampires of eighteenth-century New Orleans as well, for whom swamps and alligators could prove either a blessing or a curse.

It’s sultry and steamy there. You can feel the heat hanging over the Louisiana Bayou and the call of the night is strong and pulsating, like the initial heartbeat of a healthy victim. Answer it if you dare…

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.

WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS. (2014) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS. (2014) WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY JEMAINE CLEMENT AND TAIKA WAITITI. STARRING JEMAINE CLEMENT, TAIKA WAITITI, JONATHAN BRUGH, BEN FRANSHAM AND JACKIE VAN BEEK.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

I always wince a bit when someone comes at me with a ‘horror comedy,’ as usually I prefer my horror straight, and scary. I was pleasantly surprised, however, when, being made to watch this one with the assurances that it was very funny, I did indeed find it to be very funny, but also warm, witty, and a loving tribute to the vampire genre by a bunch of guys who obviously loved and respected their subject.

It’s a ‘mockumentary,’ along the lines of SPINAL TAP (which parodies the rock music business) and BEST IN SHOW (a spoof on American dog shows), and features four vampires from modern-day Wellington (the capital of New Zealand), sharing a house and being followed around by a camera crew so that viewers can get a sense of the vampires’ lives, or states of un-death, if that’s a better description of their existence.

Viago, a sort of dandy vampire dressed in the extravagantly frilly, flouncy style of INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE, is probably the most conscientious of the four ‘house-mates’ and, in fact, he opens the film by calling a house meeting on the subject of Who Hasn’t Been Pulling Their Weight Around The Flat.

Transgressions include leaving a load of dirty, blood-soaked washing-up in the sink, not putting down newspaper to collect blood splashes when killing and eating a victim on the house couch, and generally just leaving a bloody mess everywhere around the place for other house-mates to clean up.

Deacon, a sexy-cool (as he likes to think), rather gypsyish-looking younger vampire, who likes to knit and to perform ‘erotic’ dances for the amusement of his fellow house-mates, is generally found to be the main offender when it comes to the washing-up. With muttered claims that this is all nothing but ‘bullshit,’ he grudgingly gets to work with the old Fairy Liquid and the rubber gloves.

Vladislav the Poker (clearly a riff on Vlad the Impaler) is a flamboyant, passionate and powerful vampire who was once a tyrant in his earlier life. He is obsessed by a former opponent of terrifying proportions he calls ‘the Beast,’ the only opponent to have ever bested him.

The actor who plays Vlad (Jemaine Clement, one half of successful comedy duo Flight of the Conchords) says he based his performance on Gary Oldman’s portrayal of Dracula, even down to the two weird lumps of hair…

Petyr, the fourth house-mate, is a non-talking, ferocious-looking 8,000-year-old vampire who lives, Nosferatu-style, in the dark, damp basement of the shared house.

In appearance, he’s a cross between Murnau’s Count Orlok and Reggie Nalder’s stunningly scary Kurt Barlow in the television adaptation of Stephen King’s most frightening book, SALEM’S LOT.

Nick is a young man who joins the group and whom Petyr bites and vampirises, and there’s great fun then as Nick goes around telling all and sundry that he’s a vampire now and has cool powers, such as being able to fly and turn into a bat, and such.

The group have grave misgivings about Nick’s tendency to be a big-mouth and flap his gums. It might attract the attentions of a vampire-hunter, for one thing, which could have grave ramifications for the health and safety of the group as a whole.

The scene in which Viago, Vladislav and Deacon tell Nick that he’s banned from the house ‘indefinitely,’ but that his mild-mannered-to-the-point-of-deadpan computer geek friend Stu is still welcome to drop by any time, is very funny indeed.

We follow the lads around as they try to get ‘invited’ into Wellington’s various night-spots in order to trawl for possible victims (a vampire can’t go anywhere he’s not invited, remember?), and exchange insults with the local band of werewolves, before later becoming more pally with them.

They hypnotise the police into not seeing the corpses and signs of human carnage clearly dotted round their place of residence when a neighbour complains of the constant screaming coming from their house, and they also get invited to this year’s Unholy Masquerade of vampires, zombies and witches, at which the guest of honour is to be Vladislav’s Number One enemy and nemesis, the Beast. Stand by for scenes of bloody confrontation and recrimination…

Vampire films/television shows referenced or quoted directly in the movie include Gary Oldman’s DRACULA, BLADE, TWILIGHT, BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER, THE LOST BOYS and INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE. I think THE HUNGER was in there a little bit too, in Nick’s ‘turning’ and Vlad’s David Bowie-style ageing when he becomes unwell while thinking too much about the Beast.

I could be mistaken, but I don’t think I caught any references to Hammer Horror in the mockumentary, and Christopher Lee’s portrayal of Dracula in seven films for the Hammer film production company.

Did the lads behind the film not catch any repeats of these fantastic films when they were growing up? Oh well. Maybe the omission was a pure accident, but I would love to have seen some reference to Hammer’s Dracula in there somewhere.

Anyway, this is overall a pretty funny film which you’ll certainly enjoy watching even once. The characters are all immensely likeable, especially when they’re being dozey twats, and you get kind of a nice, warm fuzzy feeling when you’re watching it, stemming from the obvious affection in which the writer-actors hold the genre they’re parodying. Enjoy it. It’s good, clean bloody 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.

THE HUNGER. (1983) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

hunger catherine

THE HUNGER. 1983. BASED ON THE BOOK ‘THE HUNGER’ BY WHITLEY STRIEBER. DIRECTED BY TONY SCOTT. CINEMATOGRAPHY BY STEPHEN GOLDBLATT.

STARRING CATHERINE DENEUVE, DAVID BOWIE, CLIFF DE YOUNG, SUSAN SARANDON, BETH EHLERS, DAN HEDAYA, WILLEM DAFOE AND BAUHAUS.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

(First published here in 2016.)

I took this film out of the library recently (yes, there are still those of us who do that, like cave-people who’ve never heard of Netflix…!) and the librarian laughed as he checked it out and remarked that the director really had ‘a thing for billowing curtains.’

I had to laugh too. There certainly are a lot of billowing curtains in this visually beautiful and arty erotic vampire film, along with classical music and classical statuary and paintings. The director was definitely trying to create something artistically eye-catching and in this he’s succeeded, but the film’s not without its problems or, indeed, its stern critics.

Despite its being obviously sexy and stylish, film critic Roger Ebert described the film as ‘an agonisingly bad vampire movie.’ That’s one way of looking at it, I suppose, but it’s found itself a cult following amongst the goth subculture so the news isn’t all bad.

Me personally, I love this film and think it’s one of the best non-Dracula vampire movies ever made, along with INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE and SALEM’S LOT, based on the internationally bestselling books by Anne Rice and Stephen King respectively.

Now to the plot. Miriam Blaylock, played by well-preserved French actress Catherine BELLE DE JOUR Deneuve, is one hot momma. In one way. In another, she’s a stone-cold bitch who also just so happens to be a vampire. That’s right, she’s an ageless and beautiful vampire who is hundreds, maybe thousands of years old.

She lives in Manhattan in a fantastic old house filled with the aforementioned priceless objets d’art. She doesn’t need to go out to work because she’s as rich as Croesus, although she poses as a teacher of classical music along with her handsome younger husband. By the way, did I forget to mention that this classy lassy with the bottomless bank account is married in the film to the Thin White Duke…?

Yep, her hubby John, an eighteenth-century cellist, is played by musician-actor David Bowie, who sadly passed away earlier this year and- as some people maintain!- unintentionally sparked off a chain of celebrity deaths that had us reeling and railing against the Grim Reaper till midsummer at least. It’s been a bad year for celebrity deaths.

He’s a vampire too like his missus but he’s a very tragic figure in this film. When we come in, he’s unfortunately started to age at the rate of knots, even though Miriam, that lying, manipulative bitch, had promised him eternal life and also eternal youth when they first got together back in the eighteenth century.

She may have been telling porkies about the eternal youth thing, but it seems that she was telling the brutal truth about his living forever, which is extremely bad news for her hubby John who’s now so ancient in his appearance that he makes Grampa Simpson from THE SIMPSONS look young…!

Before long, Miriam is callously locking him away in a coffin in a room at the top of the house where, incidentally, she keeps the rotting corpses of her other lovers. She’s pledged eternal love to all of them but we quickly learn that ‘eternity’ for Miriam can end in a heartbeat the minute she tires of you or you can no longer satisfy her. The corpses are doomed to lie there, awake and aware, for all eternity because she’s too goddamn selfish to let them die. That bitch. I told you guys she was cold…!

Things start to get really gruesome after poor, poor old David Bowie has been put in his ‘forever’ box in a heartbreaking scene that would make you feel very angry with Miriam on behalf of John and the other boxed lovers.

The sexually insatiable but horrifically selfish Miriam then turns her attentions to Dr. Sarah Roberts, the author of a dreary but terribly worthy tome called SLEEP AND LONGEVITY who carries out ageing experiments on monkeys, of all things.

Dr. Roberts, a gerontologist consulted by an agonised David Bowie before his incarceration in Miriam’s attic, is played by a freakishly young-looking Susan Sarandon with a painfully ‘Eighties hairstyle. Poor David Bowie thought that maybe she could slow down or even stop altogether his dreadful ageing process but it was no dice, sadly. Science hasn’t advanced that far yet, if it ever does.

Sarah can’t help being mesmerised by Miriam, who is quite simply the last word in feminine allure. The two have lesbian sex in Miriam’s gaff. (Well, what other kind could they have…?) Yes, you do see boobs; Sarah’s, but not Miriam’s…!

The sex is all very artistically-shot and stylish, and by the end of it, Miriam has co-mingled their respective bloods, in a disgustingly non-consensual act of what we’d today probably refer to as rape, and Sarah is on her way to becoming a fully-fledged vampire.

Sarah gets as sick as a dog as her body comes to terms with its new situation. I love the scene in which Miriam tells her new lover that she’ll sleep for six hours out of every twenty-four and she’ll need to ‘feed’ once a week. Just give the girl the instructive pamphlets entitled SO YOU’RE A VAMPIRE NOW or VAMPIRES 101 or VAMPIRES FOR DUMMIES or even SO YOU’VE RUINED YOUR LIFE and let her figure it all out for herself, lol. 

Sarah becomes so desperate for blood when ‘the hunger,’ as Miriam puts it, is upon her, that she kills her own scientist lover when he comes looking for her at Miriam’s place, and she joins in the gory fun when Miriam rips a young male pick-up limb from limb.

Sarah’s scientist friends are alarmed when they examine her blood medically and discover that her bloodstream has actually been invaded by a foreign, non-human blood strain, which is winning the battle for dominance over Sarah’s own normal blood.

It’s extremely frightening for Sarah (‘What have you done to me…?’), and it’s also almost impossible not to think of the way in which the AIDS virus is transmitted. This was, after all, the time when AIDS was rearing its ugly head for the first time. The passing of the vampire gene resembles the transmission of a blood infection. Christopher Lee never had this issue, lol.

In fact, when I first used to watch the devastatingly handsome and sexually dominant Christopher Lee as Dracula in the HAMMER HORROR films, I wanted nothing more than to be a vampire too.

I’d live with him in his crumbling Transylvanian castle and drink blood from a jewel-encrusted goblet brought to me nightly by my new husband’s naked, full-bosomed handmaidens. It was going to be sweet. This film put me off the idea of being a vampire for good.

All that sweating and being sick and looking as if you’re dying with the ‘flu while your body craves human blood changed my mind about it, along with the decidedly unsavoury sight of Susan Sarandon in her yucky grey sweat-socks sweating buckets through her old grey T-shirt.

I only ever wanted the glamour and the sex with Dracula, anyway, not so much the other stuff. I certainly never wanted to do my own killing, and I’d only ever be pushed about immortality if I had someone decent to share it with. But, when it comes down to it, isn’t that what Miriam wants for herself…?

So anyway, do Miriam and Sarah live happily ever after for all eternity, or is eternity just too long a time even for a vampire…? There’s a neat little twist at the end that I can’t tell you about, but I thought it was a strange ending to an already strange film. Apparently, some members of the cast were disappointed in the ending but some viewers will think it’s only right and proper.

There are some plotholes in the film, which is so painfully ‘Eighties it looks a bit dated now, but the plotholes, I suppose, are of secondary importance compared to the look of the thing. Willem Dafoe makes a brief cameo as a man who wants to use the pay-phone after Susan Sarandon’s finished with it and the violin-playing kid is really, really annoying. ‘Eighties band BAUHAUS make an appearance and the monkey experiments stuff gets quite confusing after a while. I didn’t enjoy that bit too much.

The first half-hour drags a bit and things don’t really get going until David Bowie is locked away in his coffin, but the hour or so after that is required viewing for fans of the vampire genre. Based on the novel by Whitley Strieber, there’s not one mention of the ‘v’ word in the film, however, which is interesting. Watch this if you enjoy vampire flicks. If you can overlook the flaws, it’s a real little cracker, I promise 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

You can contact Sandra at:

sandrasandraharris@gmail.com

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

https://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com

http://sexysandieblog.wordpress.com

http://serenaharker.wordpress.com

https://twitter.com/SandraAuthor

THE RETURN OF DRACULA. (1958) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

return-of-dracula-1958-rachel-tim-norma-eberhardt-ray-stricklyn-review

THE RETURN OF DRACULA. (1958) DIRECTED BY PAUL LANDRES. STARRING FRANCIS LEDERER AND NORMA EBERHARDT.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

‘Jenny, I’ve come to wake you!’

‘The world shall spin and they all shall die, but not us.’

‘I’ve got to close the window! He’ll hear us, he’s outside!’

‘I had the strangest dream last night, only I can’t seem to remember it.’

‘You’re already balanced between two worlds. Eternity awaits you now.’

‘I can free your soul, Jenny. I can take you from the blackness into the light.’

Any film that starts with a group of men pursuing a vampire through a graveyard and right into his crypt with the intention of driving a stake through his heart is okay in my books. This is a little black-and-white curiosity I discovered on YouTube while searching for Dracula stuff. The Jack-Palance-as-Dracula film wouldn’t start for me so here we are, lol.

THE RETURN OF DRACULA is quite similar in storyline to Alfred Hitchcock’s 1943 movie, SHADOW OF A DOUBT, in which a mysterious uncle (Joseph Cotten) returns to the bosom of his small-town American-as-apple-pie family, only to spread a putrid fear, dread and uncertainty through its ranks.

The pretty young daughter of the family, played by Teresa Wright, is a romantic at heart who yearns for a better life than she thinks she’ll have in her small-town existence. She is hugely attracted to the mystery and glamour that emanates from the newcomer, but the best thing she can do, for herself and her family, is to stay as far away from him as she can. As is the way in films though, she doesn’t discover this fact until it’s nearly too late. Where would be the fun otherwise?

In THE RETURN OF DRACULA, a mysterious, middle-aged Eastern European man who claims to be a Mrs. Cora Mayberry’s long-lost cousin, Bellac Gordal, turns up in the American small town of Carleton. They’ve been expecting him and they’re very excited about the homecoming. Cora, her teenage daughter Rachel, her young son Mickey and Rachel’s boyfriend Tim (he drives a convertible!) all make the tall, dark speaks-with-an-accent stranger as welcome as they know how.

Is being a vampire compatible with family life? (Ah, come on, you already know he’s a vampire! How is that a spoiler?) Not really, no. Cousin Bellac keeps the most irregular hours, doesn’t sleep in the bed provided for him but in a mist-filled coffin in a nearby abandoned mine and can’t abide mirrors or crucifixes. He’s not too keen on the family moggy, Nugget, either, but then in another way, he’s a little too keen on him, if you take my meaning.

Cousin Bellac is supposed to be a talented artist, but he seems to have only painted one picture during his stay with the Mayberrys, and that one painting is deeply disturbing. No-one knows where he goes on his so-called ‘painting trips’ or what he does on them. He plays his cards tight to his chest and doesn’t encourage familiarity, except from Rachel, for whom he has great things in mind. I’m sure you can guess what things.

Rachel, the blonde All-American daughter, is an aspiring fashion designer and she is instantly attracted to the suave, sophisticated Eastern European artist, who makes her boyfriend Tim seem like a crude, inexperienced callow youth by comparison. She even goes off Tim for a bit, much to Tim’s mystification, while Cousin Bellac is around.

Rachel introduces Cousin Bellac to her friend Jenny. She more or less hands him Jenny on a plate. ‘Oh, Jenny’s blind and bedridden and helpless and you can do whatever you like to her, and she’s ever so sweet and she’s just DYING to meet you, I’ve told her all about you!’ Well, congratulations, Rachel, old girl. You’ve just given the vampire his first victim, all trussed up like a turkey, and you’ve even made the dressing and all the trimmings yourself as well.

There are some spooky scenes when the Immigration officer looking into Cousin Bellac’s papers and his legal right to be in America comes a cropper. A pitiful voice calls for help by the railway track, and a few gruelling seconds later, Mr. Immigration Officer is a blood-soaked corpse. And, of course, there’s no-one around. No-one saw or heard anything…

I love the bit where the white-shrouded woman skips lightly back to her coffin in the super-cool Receiving Vaults before the first light of day breaks over the horizon. She’s very obviously the Lucy character from the Bram Stoker Dracula novel, who gets some of the creepiest and most electrifying scenes in the whole book and also in any film or television dramatisation.

There’s one splash of bright-red blood, very reminiscent of Hammer Horror across the pond, in this black-and-white film, but I won’t tell you whose it is. 1958, of course, was the year when Hammer Film Studios released their own DRACULA (THE HORROR OF DRACULA in the United States), with horror legend Christopher Lee in the title role. Several more DRACULA films followed in the next decade and a half, and they make up a fine body of work in total.

Did it hurt the Dracula legend, bringing the Fanged One to small-town America, rather than keeping him amongst the crumbling abbeys of England or, even better, the castles of his native Transylvania? No, I think it worked well enough.

After all, SON OF DRACULA starring Lon Chaney Jr. brought Count Dracula to the swamps and plantations of the Deep South of America, and that was a terrific, if terribly gloomy, film. Not much in the way of comic relief there. ‘I see you living in a grave, married to a corpse.’ See what I mean…?

Why is this film called THE RETURN OF DRACULA? I honestly don’t know. Was there a previous film? Again, I don’t know. I’m guessing too that this film isn’t very well known. It’s still worth at least one watch, though, as it has a certain small-town charm and, as I said at the start, it’s a real little curiosity. At eighty minutes long as well, it won’t take up too much of your time. Go for 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

You can contact Sandra at:

sandrasandraharris@gmail.com

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

https://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com

http://sexysandieblog.wordpress.com

http://serenaharker.wordpress.com

https://twitter.com/SandraAuthor

NOSFERATU THE VAMPYRE. (1979) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

nosferatu 1979 jonathan castle

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. ©

Dedicated to Bruno Ganz, who passed away last week.

‘The master is coming.’

‘The hold is teeming with rats.’

‘Will you come to me, and be my ally?’

‘Mother Superior, stop the black coffins…!’

‘The cause must be gone into with scientific thoroughness.’

‘We are delivering this man, who appears to belong to this house.’

‘Go now, to Riga. The army of rats and the Black Death go with you.’

‘In the evening, the mate who had the watch disappeared without trace.’

‘Though the vampire is an unnatural being, he must obey some natural laws.’

‘If a woman who is pure of heart can make the vampire forget the cry of the cock…’

‘Join us, please. We have all caught the plague, and must enjoy each day that is left.’

‘I know who you are from Jonathan’s diary. Since he has been with you, he is ruined.’

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 women’s clothing, and neither does it have a well-spoken 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.

This is Herzog’s best film, in my own personal opinion, and Klaus Kinski’s best as well. (Although I loved him also in Sergio Leone’s dusty, gritty and sweaty spaghetti Western, FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE.) 

Bruno Ganz, Switzerland’s most lauded actor who sadly passed away a few days ago, is superb in NOSFERATU THE VAMPYRE and my personal favourite of all the screen Jonathan Harkers. This and DOWNFALL or DER UNTERGANG (2004), in which he plays a certain Adolf Hitler in his last days in the bunker, are his two best performances, again in my own humble opinion.

When people think of Nosferatu, their minds frequently conjure up an image of Max Schreck 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.

He is desperately lonely and would nearly welcome death at this stage, as an alternative to spending yet more centuries in terrible isolation, craving company but scaring away anyone with whom he comes in contact. You actually feel sorry for the vampire in this film because Kinski plays him so subtly nuanced and so much more of a tragic figure than previously portrayed.

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, lol. 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 think that anyone but Herzog himself has made a better or more visually stunning 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. What am I saying? They could all be paintings.

The film begins with Jonathan Harker, a clerk in a real estate company, 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 in Germany.

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:

‘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. I never met a man yet who’d say no to the chance of a few weeks without the old trouble-and-strife, the wife.

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 real 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…

As Jonathan nears the castle, he is warned by the locals to turn back and go home before he loses his life 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 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 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 all eleven thousand of the little beggars while they’re on location, would you? Can you imagine the breakfast orders?

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. It’s a traditional Georgian folk song called ‘Tsintskaro’ and it’s the most beautiful piece of music ever used in a film.

Lucy tries to tell the town physician, Dr. Van Helsing, that Nosferatu is the reason for all the death and destruction in the town of Wismar 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, he’s kind of the opposite of his namesake in every other DRACULA movie, in which Van Helsing is actually the vampire-hunter, not the sceptic.

When Lucy’s closest friend and neighbour, Mina, is murdered by Count Dracula, 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, legging it into a taxi-cab with an overnight bag and an airplane ticket.

Lucy is dressed all in white, her bedclothes are white and delicate flowers in shades of pastel sit on the night-stand and litter the bed. 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 herself.

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 laced around his 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, poet and book-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

VAMPYR. (1932) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

Vampyr leone

CARL THEODOR DREYER’S ‘VAMPYR.’ (1932) BASED ON JOSEPH SHERIDAN LE FANU’S WRITINGS, ‘IN A GLASS DARKLY.’ DIRECTED BY CARL THEODOR DREYER.

STARRING JULIAN WEST (BARON NICOLAS DE GUNZBURG), MAURICE SCHUTZ, RENA MANDEL, SYBILLE SCHMITZ, JAN HIERONIMKO, HENRIETTE GERARD AND ALBERT BRAS.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

‘This is the phantasy-experience of young Allan Gray, who engulfed himself in studies of demonology and vampire-lore. Preoccupation with the crazed ideas of past centuries turned him into a dreamer and a fantasist, lost at the border between fantasy and the supernatural.’

This surreal, fog-wreathed German-French early talkie, with so few words of dialogue that it could nearly pass for a silent movie, is the most gorgeous, ethereal and dream-like old vampire film I think I’ve ever seen.

It doesn’t have a linear storyline, in which, say, a Jonathan Harker is ordered by his employer to travel to Transylvania, there to meet with a Count Dracula to discuss a property the Count is desirous of purchasing in England, and then everything that happens after that follows a straight enough course to the climax.

Rather, it’s non-linear and dreamlike, and the lines between fantasy and reality are very much blurred. Also, some of it makes little or no sense but it looks so good ‘n’ spooky that it doesn’t matter in the slightest.

It has a sub-title of THE STRANGE ADVENTURES OF ALLAN GRAY, Allan Gray being played by the handsome young aristocrat, Baron Nicolas De Gunzburg, who put up the money for the production in return for being allowed to play the lead role. Well, if it’s your money, then I guess you can ask for that privilege…!

Allan Gray is first seen travelling to an inn close to the village of Courtempierre with his fishing tackle slung over his shoulder. He locks his bedroom door at night because of very uneasy feelings he has about the place, but the sanctity and safety of his chamber is nonetheless breached later that night by a terrified old man.

‘She mustn’t die, do you hear?’ he says cryptically before depositing a wrapped parcel on Allan’s nightstand. ‘TO BE OPENED UPON MY DEATH,’ the old man has written rather ominously on it. It is an ancient book on vampire lore, and the man is the owner of the local chateau, who is at his wits’ end because he and his two adult daughters are under siege by vampires.

Next day, Allan finds this fabulous, rather run-down old chateau, but the master, his nocturnal visitor from last night, has just died in mysterious circumstances. Was he already dead when he came to Allan in the night, begging Allan’s aid for his two daughters? According to the book of ancient vampire lore, much, much stranger things have happened. Allan is involved now, and the fate of the chateau-dwellers is now to be his fate too.

The master’s daughter Leone is confined to bed, her life-blood being drained away from her bit by bit by the local vampire. Two marks like the bite of a rat can be seen on her neck. The scariest sequence in the whole film is when she rises from her sickbed and her eyes follow the progress of an unseen entity around her sickroom, even on the ceiling, while a manic, evil grin adorns her face. Her horrified sister Gisele, played by a beautiful young woman who worked as a Paris photographer’s nude model in real life, looks on helplessly.

Gisele is glad to have Allan’s help with her dreadful problem. The local doctor, played by a Polish poet who’s a dead ringer for Nobel prize-winning scientist Albert Einstein, is in league with the vampire so he’s deliberately not being much help at this terrible time.

The old servant at the chateau is really the hero of the hour. He reads the old book of vampire facts and thus learns what must be done if the chateau, and even the village, is to be saved from this demonic plague of creatures of the night.

He spearheads the operation of tracking the vampire down to an old grave in the churchyard and staking it through the heart with the help of Allan in a scene that bothered the censors greatly back in 1932. He even has a nasty surprise in store for the evil doctor in another scene that drew the censors’ wrath down on the film back in the day.

While Allan is sitting on a bench in the cemetery waiting for the trusty family retainer to bring the staking instruments, he drifts off into two Allans and has an horrific nightmare. He is in his coffin now, not dead but merely paralysed by nefarious means, and he is fully conscious while watching a man above him apply the turnscrew to the coffin nails and lock him away inside his forever-box.

The vampire also looks triumphantly down on him as his coffin screws are nailed down. Then the paralysed Allan sees the sky and the trees above him for the last time as his coffin is carried in a solemn procession to the cemetery. It’s a terrifying scene and one that could easily have inspired film legend Roger Corman when he made THE PREMATURE BURIAL for American International Pictures a few short decades later.

A few random facts about the film now, if you will. No sets were used, the whole thing was shot on location in a real inn, a real but marvellously derelict chateau, a real disused ice-factory (there’s nothing spookier than an abandoned factory, unless it’s an abandoned hospital or mental asylum) and a fully-operational plaster works for the grand finale.

The chateau looks truly magnificent in the film. I especially love the room randomly discovered by Allan in his wanderings (it’s not in the chateau, I think) which contains the old dusty books, the skull and what looks like a child’s skeleton standing intact upon a window-sill. If that’s not a room where you can practise your black magic or study the occult and the dark arts, then I don’t know what is. The whole film is stunning to look at. Catch it if you can at all, that’s my advice to you.

‘Imagine that we are sitting in an ordinary room. Suddenly we are told that there is a corpse behind the door. In an instant, the room we are sitting in is completely altered; everything in it has taken on another look; the light, the atmosphere have changed, though they are physically the same. This is because WE have changed and the objects ARE as we conceive them. That is the effect I want to get in my film.’

Carl Theodor Dreyer on describing to his crew the kind of film he wanted to make.

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger, poet and book-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