THE CRUSH. (1993) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

THE CRUSH. (1993) WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY ALAN SHAPIRO. STARRING CARY ELWES, KURTWOOD SMITH, GWYNYTH WALSH, JENNIFER RUBIN AND ALICIA SILVERSTONE.
REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

It’s a bit disturbing to read that the writer and director of this ‘90s erotic thriller based his movie on a real-life experience of his own with a girl who later sued him for using her real name in the film. One wonders what the ‘woke’ battalion and the #metoo movement would make of it all.

Cary Elwes’s character in the film, a journalist called Nick Eliot, finds himself in a whole heap of trouble when he rents a rich couple’s guest-house and falls afoul of their beautiful young teenage daughter, as prime a piece of jail-bait as Nick has ever seen. Her name is Adrian Forrester, although she’d be better named Lolita…

I hope I’m not doing Alicia Silverstone (known for starring in CLUELESS, and in those three famous Aerosmith music videos from the early ‘90s, CRYIN’, AMAZING and CRAZY), who plays the fourteen-year-old Adrian, any disservice here by saying that she’s perfect for this role, her movie debut. Sexually precocious, flirtatious, seductive, fully aware of the effect she has on men and determined to get what she wants, by fair means or foul.

Nick is undeniably attracted to the gorgeous teenager, who’s apparently a child prodigy in various subjects as well as a smouldering Bardot-esque-type beauty. She reads WUTHERING HEIGHTS and Jane Austen, by choice, she’s a mini-Mozart on the ivories, she’s a keen entomologist, that is, an expert on insects, and a champion horse-rider and a talented writer to boot. Talk about the girl who has it all…! Just think about what she could achieve if she got her mind off men for a minute…

 Adrian makes it clear from the start that she’s smitten with the handsome twenty-eight-year-old reporter, and Nick is flattered, not altogether surprisingly. It’s not until the pair actually kiss, on the night of her parents’ party, that the scales seem to fall from Nick’s eyes and he finally realises what trouble he could be in if he pursues a sexual relationship with Adrian. Beautiful and sexually aware she may be, but she’s still only a child, and the adult in the situation must be the one to do the right thing.

Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, however, and Adrian turns extremely nasty when Nick tells her they can’t be together the way she wants. He’ll always be her friend, though, he promises her, and she can always count on him to be there for her if she needs him. One wonders if he would be so free with his avowals of undying friendship if she’d been acne-scarred and wearing braces on her teeth…

It’s not Nick’s friendship that Adrian wants, however. Now that she’s been rejected, everything of value in Nick’s life is under severe threat. His glittering new career at PIQUE magazine, his difficult boss’s high opinion of him, his (adult!) girlfriend Amy, a photographer from the same magazine, his beloved vintage car, which he’s lovingly restoring, and his own good reputation as a man who doesn’t rape and beat little girls. Yeah, things get really black there for Nick for a while. Will he ever see the light at the end of the tunnel again…?

It’s a bit far-fetched that Adrian manages to do all the things she does in the film without anyone suspecting her. She’s only a teenage girl, after all, and not Superman, but it’s an entertaining and gripping film, so we can probably excuse a few- well, a whole truckload of- loopholes.

The two leads are extremely good-looking, as I’m sure they both know (Carey Elwes is known for his roles in THE PRINCESS BRIDE and the SAW franchise), and the premise of the film is infinitely believable. Just look at FATAL ATTRACTION, SWIMFAN or PLAY MISTY FOR ME,  each of which have similar themes of rejection and a terrible revenge for same.

There’s a lotta trouble out there a guy can get himself into, if he messes with the feelings of the wrong woman. You’d think that would make men more careful, wouldn’t you, but no. Guys never learn, seemingly, and they will never stop being attracted to nubile underage females with unblemished bodies. One can’t blame them for that, for basic human biology; it’s what they choose to do about it that matters…

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 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.com/dp/1781994234


 

POSSESSED. (1947) A FANTASTIC FILM NOIR REVIEWED BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

POSSESSED. (1947) BASED ON A STORY BY RITA WEIMAN. DIRECTED BY CURTIS BERNHARDT. STARRING JOAN CRAWFORD, VAN HEFLIN, RAYMOND MASSEY AND GERALDINE BROOKS.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

I love Joan Crawford, she of the fur coats with the wide shoulders and the imposing eyebrows. She’s every bit as good an actress as Bette Davis, her one-time screen rival and her co-star in one of the best psychological horror films of all time, WHATEVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE? (1962).

Maybe more people have a soft spot for Bette Davis than they do for Joan Crawford, though, and I suppose the film MOMMIE DEAREST (1981), about Joan’s alleged mistreatment of her children and especially her daughter Christina, didn’t do the lady any favours. I still love her work though. She really was an incredible actress, a true star in an era when that word truly meant something.

POSSESSED is my favourite Joanie film ever, after BABY JANE. Maybe it shouldn’t be, lol, because it reminds me painfully of every instance in which I ever tried to cling on to a guy who was just looking for no-strings-attached fun ‘n’ games and not a commitment for life, but it’s just such an excellent film noir that I can’t help loving it.

Still, I think we women like to watch films in which other women make the same cringeworthy mistakes we’ve already made a million times over in our own lives. It makes us feel better about ourselves, heh-heh-heh. I love watching FATAL ATTRACTION and feeling as virtuous as hell because I never went as far as boiling some guy’s bunny to pay him back for his nonsense…!

Joan’s character Louise Howell makes a lot of mistakes in this film. She’s completely obsessed with Van Heflin’s character, talented engineer David Sutton, even though David’s had his fun and now he wants to move on. The bastard…! Ooops, sorry. I promised myself I’d keep calm while writing this review and not get annoyed all over again at the cavalier ways of the male sex.

David is Louise’s lover initially, though we’re not sure for how long they’ve been together. But she says the maddest things to him, the kind of things guaranteed to send a man running for the hills. Things like, Oh, I never truly felt any emotions in life until I met you, David, and Don’t ever leave me, David, I can’t go back to being on the outside of other people’s lives, looking in!

No wonder David is a bit iffy about the whole thing. She dumps all the responsibility for her own happiness squarely on his shoulders, because she doesn’t realise that she’s actually responsible for her own happiness, and not David. It’s a hard lesson for anyone to have to learn, and sometimes we go through life without ever learning it properly.

Is David really as much a villain as he appears? He enjoys the fun and games of the relationship at first, but when Louise becomes too clingy, he tells her honestly that he doesn’t want it and he can’t handle it and he’s bailing out.

It’s hard to hear and it hurts like hell, but at least he’s being straight with her. It’s his right to bow out of the relationship if he wants to, even if it breaks Louise’s heart. It’s only when Louise refuses to let him go that he turns into the wise-cracking, heart-breaking bastard we see later on in the film.

The story moves on, and Louise, a private nurse, has married her rich employer, Dean Graham, whose deceased invalid wife was Louise’s patient. At their wedding, David meets Dean’s beautiful college-age daughter, Carol, and there’s a mutual attraction between them. Not surprisingly, as Carol, played by the actress Geraldine Brooks, resembles no-one so much as a baby Gilda, the role made famous by the stunning Rita Hayworth.

David, in this instance, should probably walk away, knowing that his affair with Carol is bound to cause Louise pain. But he doesn’t, and it does cause Louise, the second Mrs. Graham, the most terrible emotional pain imaginable.

Louise goes through agonies of jealousy and rage, and she even starts to hallucinate that her husband’s dead wife, her former patient, Pauline, is talking to her and urging her to kill herself. There are some fantastically spooky, very dark and shadowy scenes cast almost in the German Expressionism mould in which Louise hangs on to her sanity by the merest thread.

Shades of Alfred Hitchcock’s REBECCA (1940) abound here, as in the dead first wife in the water, the inquest held in an informal local setting rather than in a grand courtroom somewhere, and the rich man’s wife going under a false name to see a doctor who’s not her usual physician, because she wishes to keep her visit, and possible condition, a secret from her husband.

Raymond Massey (THE OLD DARK HOUSE, A MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH) does a brilliant job, by the way, as Louise’s rich husband. It heartens the soul to see how much he loves her and is prepared to side with her, especially at the end.

Anyway, Louise’s steadfast inability to relinquish her hold on David causes nothing but agonies for Louise herself and the people around her. She winds up in a hospital bed miles from home in a strange city, telling her tragic story to a bunch of medics, medics who, by the way, make some pretty alarming snap diagnoses for conditions that I’m sure would require a battery of complicated tests today, but hey, it was the ‘Forties and it was a movie. There’s probably no point in my being too nit-picky…!

This is a truly marvellous film, as I said earlier. Women will certainly love it and even guys will too, if they love classic movies from the days of the big studios when a film was called a ‘picture’ and a real star made some of the so-called ‘celebrities’ of today look like total nobodies. Miaow…! Sorry about that, lol.

Women in particular should watch POSSESSED if they’ve ever felt inclined to do a Glenn Close on some guy’s beloved Mr. Floppy Ears or Fluffy Tail. It’s a cautionary tale that (hopefully) should keep you well away from the bunny- hutch…

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.