‘Michael Armstrong is creating history by being the first film-maker to publish his entire screenwriting output. With the original uncut screenplays in print for the first time ever and peppered with a mixture of wildly entertaining anecdotes, astounding behind-the-scenes revelations, creative and educational insights and brutal ‘no holds barred’ honesty, these books are guaranteed to provide a completely new kind of reading experience while offering a unique insight into the movie industry. Starting from his first professional screenplay written in 1960 when he was only fifteen and which he subsequently directed in 1968, the books will ultimately encompass a career that has spanned over fifty years. The books will include not only those screenplays which made it onto a cinema screen but, for the first time ever, all those that didn’t- and the reasons why…’






Wow. This film is surely a forgotten or overlooked gem. It’s the deeply gripping and compelling story of ex-military man Donald Neilson’s bizarre and excessively violent crime spree, that took place between the years of 1972 and 1975 in England.

It was characterised by a lot of idiotic bungling, not to mention impulsive actions and poor judgement on the part of Neilson. The police were baffled for a while by the messy and seemingly poorly-planned crimes committed by the man the press dubbed ‘the Black Panther’ because he always wore a black hood and was quick and light on his feet, this last being pretty much his only redeeming feature as a criminal. Other than that, one would be obliged to say, I fear, that he greatly sucked at committing crimes, lol.

He starts off in the film robbing a load of country post offices with his shotgun while wearing his ‘Black Panther’ disguise. He usually ends up botching the job, however, like the time he accidentally sprays an ammonia solution intended for his victim into his own eyes.

How bizarre it must have been for the poor post-master in his pyjamas, to open his door and then find the would-be robber falling all over the place, screaming and pawing frantically at his temporarily blinded eyes! I call that poetic justice.

Neilson invariably wakes up the people he’s trying to rob and then, of course, the whole operation goes tits-up and he ends up running for his life, having shot someone fatally and escaped with only a few bags of coins for his trouble.

Even the way he’s trained himself to run with rocks in his backpack and stones in his clothing so that he can carry away coins from a burglary just shows us what a pitifully small-time crook he is. He’s even then only thinking in terms of pennies and tuppences.

He gives his wife and daughter a miserable life, with his monosyllabic bullying, shouting and domineering. ‘Dirty! Clean it better! Clean it again!’ He treats them both like raw recruits under the rule of a prickly sergeant-major.

He disappears for weeks on end, telling his wife he’s ‘looking for work,’ so why does he never have any money? Because his money-making schemes and plans never come to anything, that’s why. Why doesn’t he just work a normal job for his money? He mightn’t be rich, but at least he wouldn’t be in constant danger of being picked up by the cops for burglary and murder.

It’s clear that the happiest days of Neilson’s life were spent in the army. He spends hours dressing up in his old kit, poring over old photos of him and his army buddies doing army things.

He should never have left the army, as he’s only comfortable there; he’s probably perfectly happy with the rules, regulations, strict timetable and structure, regular meals and bed-times and showers and changes of linen, etc. He clearly loved the company of other men, the camaraderie of living and working side-by-side with them.

He’s never been happy or comfortable in or with civilian life. He probably got married and had a child because it was expected of him. Now three people are miserable because of it, and Neilson treats his family like underlings in his own private army. No wonder they can’t wait to see the back of him when he goes off on his ‘jaunts.’

It was said of mass murderer Ed Gein that he enjoyed prison immensely- the regularity of things, the company of living people- because it was far preferable to the way he was living outside on his own.

I imagine that Neilson would have loved prison nearly as much as he’d loved the army. It’s much the same deal. Three hots and a cot, things happen at the same time every day, you keep your mouth shut and follow orders and you’re surrounded by other men like you who aren’t going anywhere either for a while.

Neilson is also a highly dangerous man, however, probably a sociopath, one who throws tantrums like a child when he doesn’t get his own way and who blames others for his own failings. We see this with our own eyes in the film. For the safety of the public, he needs to be kept away from society forever.

He decides to up his game for what I presume he doesn’t know is to be his last ever ‘job,’ the abduction for ransom of sixteen-year-old Lesley Whittle, the heiress to a motor coach transport company. Neilson plans the kidnapping down to the nth degree, but he complicates things as usual and, as usual, it comes off disastrously for all parties concerned. 

He spends countless hours in preparation, making lists in his notebook, checking his plans, his outfit, his travel routes and his ammunition, guns and equipment before he goes out on the ‘job,’ but it still all goes haywire. Why?

Well, I’m sorry to say that he just looks and sounds like one of life’s failures, a nobody who thinks small and is going nowhere. Why doesn’t he do a regular job and make money that way, as I said earlier? He’s handy enough. I wonder why it never occurs to him to pursue a life outside of crime?

It’s a very hard film to watch, because of all the innocent people in it who are hurt almost randomly by Neilson. Contrary to claims levelled at it at the time of release, however, it most definitely is not a sensationalistic piece of exploitation film-making designed to titillate and arouse the viewer.

Certainly not. It treats the painful subject matter delicately and responsibly, and the lasting impression of the film is one of deep sorrow for the victims of Donald Neilson, a petty little man who obviously thought he was bigger and vastly more important than he was.

The script-book, from which the film is of course made, is beautifully and tightly written. There’s not a single extraneous word in there, not one word there that does not sing most eloquently for its supper. The film, therefore, is not bogged down by endless monologues and verbiage. It moves along at a cracking pace.

And, yes, it shocks us, but not gratuitously. There are no scantily-clad busty blondes in it, shrieking at the presence of the hooded man pressing a gun into an expanse of soft white breast before he throws the woman down on the bed and brutally rapes her. Sorry if that’s what you were expecting…!

Those of you who know me and my writing will know that I’ve been reviewing Michael’s screenplay books for the last few years. The book of THE BLACK PANTHER (1976) makes for absolutely compelling reading. It, or any of Michael’s glossy and luxurious film script books, would make the perfect Christmas present for the film fan in your life. Or you could buy it for yourself, and to hell with them…!

You can buy this book and all of Michael’s other books as well at the following links:

Happy shopping!





I’ve always loved this strange, disturbing film, and it’s only today, as I’m researching it, that I’m finding out that, A, it’s a re-make of a much more popular 1988 film of the same name, and, B, it’s considered to be one of the worst re-makes ever made.

Well, that sure told me, didn’t it? George Sluizer, a Dutch-Jewish film-maker, now deceased, made both films, although why he made the second one only five years after the original, I’m not sure, unless it was to have both the Dutch and English versions out there. Elementary, my dear Watson…

I’ll concentrate on the later version here, as it’s the only one I’ve seen. Kiefer Sutherland and Sandra Bullock play attractive young American couple, Jeff and Diane (A little ditty, ‘bout Jeff and Diane, two ‘Merican kids doing the best they can…!). Okay, yes, I know that it’s meant to be a song ‘bout Jack and Diane, and not Jeff and Diane, I just had a brief moment of levity, is all. So sue me, John Cougar Mellencamp, lol.

Anyway, Jeff and Diane are really annoying together. Jeff is a bit of an insensitive prick, and Diane the kind of woman who has a panic attack if Jeff leaves her alone for two minutes to go to the bathroom.

She’s clingy and emotionally controlling, making Jeff give her endless promises and reassurances that he’ll never leave her. Well, of course we know men just love that kind of thing. They can’t get enough of extreme neediness in a bird. How Jeff doesn’t leave her ass in the tunnel where their car breaks down is some kind of miracle.

Jeff and Diane are on their way back home from a less-than-successful driving holiday when Diane vanishes into thin air after paying a quick visit to a gas station convenience store. For three long years, Jeff obsesses about the disappearance night and day, posting fliers featuring Diane’s mugshot all over the place and appearing on television and talk radio shows.

He even acquires a new girlfriend, Rita the waitress (freshen your drink, sugar…?), she of the fabulous curly hair-do and the determination to make Jeff, a complete stranger who wanders randomly into the diner where she works, into the Perfect Boyfriend for herself.

Perfect in every way, except, of course, for the all-consuming obsession with his missing girlfriend. But there’s no underestimating the ruthlessness of a diner waitress in the matter of love. She’s onto a good thing here, is Rita.

Living with would-be writer Jeff beats the hell out of serving hash browns and eggs over-easy to auld lads who think her body comes with the price of the check. (Pandering by using ‘Merican spelling.) Rita won’t give up on Jeff. But will Jeff give up on Diane? Not bloody likely.

I don’t even think that it’s a matter of Jeff’s being in love with Diane any more, like poor Nancy fears. After all, he’s now got Nancy to tickle his fancy, innit? I honestly think it’s more the case that his male pride is hurt by having had his girlfriend swiped from him, right out from under his nose, and now he just wants to find out for certain what happened to Diane.

He needs to know. He needs closure. He needs the answer to the question, what happened to her, almost as much as he needs air to breathe, and not even the feisty Nancy can change his stubborn mind. Enter the villain of the piece, Jeff Bridges as the weird and shambling University chemistry professor, Barney Cousins…

This is the only film of Jeff Bridges’ in which I don’t fancy him. I loved him in films like JAGGED EDGE and THE FABULOUS BAKER BOYS. Here, he has a horribly unflattering hairstyle and a funny accent, which I’ve only just worked out is probably meant to be Dutch, given the earlier version of the film and the Dutch director George Sluizer.

Barney is creepy. The scenes where he’s in his car, rehearsing how to abduct a defenceless female, would certainly give you the willies. Barney is super-intellectual and detached and curious about things. You could imagine him staring impassively, with scientific objectivity and no compassion, at an animal or a human being in pain or distress.

Jeff, on the other hand, is impetuous, hot-headed and inclined to punch first, ask questions later. Who will win in their battle of wits? Will intellect win out over stubbornness and tenacity, or will a bunch of fives annihilate intellect every time…? You’ll have to watch the movie to find out, folks.

I love the scenes where the feisty Nancy squares up to the evil Barney, and also the fact that her co-waitress and partner-in-crime is played by Park Overall, who once co-starred in a great old ‘Eighties sitcom called EMPTY NEST with Dinah Manoff, Kristy McNichol and David Leisure. She herself portrayed a nurse called Laverne. Her heavy Southern accent and no-nonsense personality is kind of her trademark.

Enjoy the movie anyway, folks, whichever version you see. And steer clear of anyone called Barney, as they are clearly bonkers. Exceptions include the big purple dinosaur on kiddies’ TV, the character from THE FLINTSTONES and Barney, the resident drunk in THE SIMPSONS.

This list is subject to change, just as soon as I can think of any more Barneys. Hey, wasn’t there a posh New York department store called BARNEYS in FRIENDS where Jennifer Aniston’s character Rachel Greene used to shop? I’ll look into it. Over and out…


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:

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:




Wow. This based-on-a-true-story Italian language film set in the mid-Seventies is a really grim watch. For the first hour and a quarter, say, it’s just a mish-mash of a story about the most awful privileged rich white boys you could ever have the misfortune to meet, and how they practically get away with murder in their exclusive Catholic school for rich boys, which is located in Rome.

The sense of privilege and entitlement just radiates off these late-teenage boys like the stink of rotten fish, with heartfelt apologies to the poor fish, who can’t help it. These boys treat women like possessions, to be used, abused and then tossed aside like so much rubbish. It’s horrible to watch.

Then, when they get in any trouble, Mummy and Daddy, who are filthy rich, bale them out and there are never any consequences for their wrongdoings, unless you count the odd slap from a rich father when he loses patience with the little scut he calls sonny boy.

We are told by the narrator, Edoardo Albinati, that consequences for misbehaviour were so randomly applied that the boys chose to go ahead and do exactly what they wanted to do and just take their come-uppance if- and when- it ever arrived.

These rich boys have sex willy-nilly with their friends’ mothers and sisters, all of whom are inter-changeable gorgeous European women with the long dark hair and terrific bone structure. The boys are brought up thinking that the world and everything in it, including the women, is theirs for the taking. Sort of like a bunch of mini-Scarfaces. If no-one ever tells them any different, how are they meant to know right from wrong? The parents and the titular Catholic school are jointly at fault here.

The film is confusing as hell, jumping between the points of view of various boys who all look the same, and it’s divided up into equally confusing ‘time chapters’ such as ‘six months earlier’ to ‘130 hours earlier.’ I mean, what the hell…? It was difficult to make out, not only which boy was which, but which female they were f**king was which. Was it someone’s mum, someone’s sister or someone’s bloody granny? Who knows?

Anyway, the last half hour of the film sees the crime happening, the true-life crime from 1975 to which the whole movie is leading up, the crime that became known as the Circeo Massacre. In September of that year, two beautiful unsuspecting young Italian students, Donatella and Rosaria, are lured to a fabulous seaside villa by two of the boys from the school.

Once there, they are horribly raped, beaten, bullied, humiliated, taunted and tortured by the two boys, who are later joined by another guy whose father apparently owns the villa they’re using to commit their nasty crimes in. The third guy is supposed to be just out of prison as well. Such nice company they keep, right?

Angelo Izzo, Andrea Ghira and Gianni Guido are the mens’ names, though I use the word ‘men’ ironically. They’re not men. They’re cowardly little bully boys who use their superior physical strength to intimidate and frighten defenceless women. Real men don’t seem to feel the need to prove to themselves and their friends that they’re tougher than women or even other men.

I don’t know how any of them expected to get away with it. It’s probably that awful confidence they have in them that makes them feel that there is no price to pay when you’re a rich handsome young guy and your dad can buy off the police. And the school.

One of the girls will be dead after their torturous ordeal, the other as good as. And all because a bunch of lads developed toxic masculinity in the environment that more or less demanded it of its young men. Violence is what is expected of the boys in this environment, the narrator tells us. To be a man is to be violent.

And was justice done, in the end? Sadly, only partially. One of the perpetrators went on to kill two more women after he was released from prison for his part in the Circeo Massacre. As good a candidate for Throwing Away the Key as I’ve ever come across.

Apparently the Italian carabinieri were not exactly ruthless in pursuit of justice for these two lovely young women. Were palms greased, as they undoubtedly had been at the school? I don’t know. One good thing came out of this whole convoluted mess, and that was that Italian law finally allowed that rape was a crime against the person, and not just an outrage against public morality.

Public morality? One wonders how the Italians had been used to prosecuting rape cases in the past. Did a ton of perpetrators walk free? Don’t tell Donatella Colasanti that rape is not a crime against the person. That’s exactly what it is; a crime against the person, and the person’s body, mind and spirit, a crime against the person’s very soul and psyche. Never mind your public morality.

Is this a good film? I don’t even know. Turn to Netflix and see for yourself, but be warned: as I said at the start, it’s a grim watch.


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:

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:



I thoroughly enjoyed this German thriller film based on a famous crime fiction novel by a German writer, inasmuch as anyone could enjoy a film about a pair of paedophile murderers and rapists. It’s beautifully shot with gorgeous scenery, it’s not overloaded with useless dialogue and it grips like a giant squid all the way through from start to finish.

The story begins in the summer of 1986. Do you remember what you were doing back then? It’s a long time ago. In the summer of 1986 in a small provincial German town, two men meet by chance in a children’s playground.

Shortly afterwards, an eleven-year-old girl called Pia is cycling happily through a cornfield when she is raped and murdered by a fully-fledged paedophile who may have killed other children before now.

He is watched from his car by his new young ‘friend,’ a fledgling paedophile horrified by what he sees the older, more experienced man do to the child. The younger man helps with the body disposal, as he feels he has no choice, but then he walks away from the older man, who is actually greatly saddened at the loss of his new ‘buddy.’

I suppose that when your interests revolve around looking at things and doing things that the rest of society would vomit to witness, you don’t have too many people around you whom you can call friends.

This is a daring film indeed if it’s making us examine the relationship between two paedophiles, one older and desperately lonely, who knows the ropes and probably accepts himself as he is by now, the other one younger, inexperienced, and crippled with guilt and shame about where his mind is taking him.

Twenty-three years pass in the little village. The mother of the murdered girl, Elena Lange, still lives in the village, as does Pia’s still-undiscovered murderer. When another little girl is suddenly found to be missing after visiting a local fun fair, in identical circumstances to Pia’s murder-abduction, the townspeople start to get a serious feeling of déjà vu. Everyone immediately assumes she’s dead too, like Pia, and all that remains is to find her waterlogged corpse in a ditch somewhere.

The older paedophile, Peer, has been the caretaker for the same building complex for thirty years. The younger man, Timo, has moved away, changed his own surname to his wife’s and had a family with her.

We don’t know if Timo has committed any child sex abuse crimes in the last twenty-three years, but we would have little difficulty in believing that Peer has certainly ‘dabbled.’ Not that he seems evil, exactly, just ‘competent,’ if you get me. More competent than Timo, at least, which wouldn’t be hard.

Has Peer killed this new missing child, Sinikka? And, if so, is the older man sending a message to his younger ‘friend’ across the deafening ‘silence’ of twenty-three long years? A message that says, maybe, I miss you, friend! Come back, we can have fun together and do stuff like this together all the time…?

 Who would ever have thought that paedophiles could have such tender feelings? I’m deliberately using the word ‘paedophile’ in nearly every sentence just so I don’t start to feel sorry for these particular two men, which would be easier than you might think.

Peer is a quiet, mild-mannered man, a good citizen and a conscientious caretaker. Timo is a good husband and father. On the outside, they both present as perfectly normal, nice quiet men, good people. And Timo doesn’t welcome or accept his paedophile tendencies; rather, he tries to reject them and fight them off, and, when he can’t, he’s disgusted and sickened by himself. He literally can’t stomach himself. Peer, on the other hand, has had longer to get used to it all than Timo, and, although we can’t know this for a fact, has probably given up trying to fight it.
The town is understandably in upheaval with this new horrific event. Sinikka’s parents are at each other’s throats, each blaming the other for their difficult relationship with their teenage daughter. They torture themselves by listening over and over to her last telephone message to them both, saying she was sorry they’d fought but she loves them anyway.

The retired detective who unsuccessfully investigated Pia’s murder years ago is now sleeping with Pia’s mother because they’re both so goddamned lonely, and the two detectives in charge of Sinikka’s sinister disappearance are at odds with each other over the possible number of perpetrators and the motivation for this new monstrous crime.

It’s undoubtedly a difficult subject, but if you think you can stomach it, this is an excellent police procedural mixed with domestic thriller. It will make you think outrageously unpopular thoughts, such as, are paedophiles people too, but, if you don’t care to give headroom to such things, you can always do what I did and bonk them on the head with a metaphorical hammer until they’re good and flat.

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:
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:





‘I’m not your friend, Fred.’

‘Can I just ask if the appropriate adult’s all right…?’

‘Heather’s not under the patio. She’s in Bahrain, working as a mule for a drugs cartel. Now, whether you believe that or not is entirely up to you.’

I love this made for television crime drama, first shown in two parts on ITV. It’s considered to be the third part in a trilogy of made for television films about Britain’s most notorious murders from the second half of the twentieth century: THIS IS PERSONAL: THE HUNT FOR THE YORKSHIRE RIPPER from 1999 is one of the best true crime movies I’ve ever seen in my life. SEE NO EVIL: THE MOORS MURDERS (2006) is almost equally good.

APPROPRIATE ADULT is not the story of the horrific abductions, rapes and murders of innocent young women carried out by the loathsome serial killers Fred and Rose West in Gloucestershire between 1967 and 1987, although they did very much commit these crimes with which they were charged and of which they were found guilty. (Fred, of course, committed suicide before he could stand trial, but there was never any doubt as to his guilt.)

Rather, it is the extraordinary story of the ordinary woman training to be a social worker- Emily Watson playing Janet Leach- who had put her name down on a list of volunteers to be the ‘appropriate adult’ for when the police have charged someone of limited mental capacity or with learning difficulties, who might have trouble understanding the charges against them.

The appropriate adult would then sit in on the interview sessions between the police and the person charged with the offences and make sure that the person is okay to go on with the sessions and that they have everything they need, etc. It’s kind of like baby-sitting but with more serious implications…!

Janet Leach, thirty-eight, is a divorced mum-of-five with all the usual worries about money, kids and career. Her current partner is bipolar and needs to be hospitalised when he is going through one of his manic phases. So, as we see, this lady is not without her share of problems even before she encounters one of the twentieth century’s worst ever serial murderers.  

This case is Janet Leach’s first time to be chosen as an ‘appropriate adult.’ When she realises that it’s not only a murder case, but a multiple murder case in which heads have been cut off as casually as chopping up a lettuce for a salad and bodies stuffed into suitcases before being buried in the back garden or cellar, you can tell that she’s been knocked for six a bit.

Dominic West (no relation, I’m sure!) does a cracking job of portraying the evil but oddly genial Fred, a labourer for whom no job was too small, too big or too dirty and who liked to present an obliging, pleasantly hail-fellow-well-met face to the world at all times. He gives the impression that there’s nothing he wouldn’t do for you if you asked him, he’s so congenial.

Janet is obviously repelled by Fred when she meets him first and hears his dreadful stories of lust murders and the sado-masochistic torture of victims before they were murdered. But Fred takes an immediate liking to his ‘appropriate adult’ and it’s not long before Janet, too, falls under his so-called ‘spell.’

Here’s the thing about Fred, and this is my own personal opinion now. He loves all women, but especially the woman he’s with at any given time. He’d probably love D.C. Hazel Savage, who’s conducting the interviewing, except he’s sneaky and he instinctively knows she’s too smart to fall for his bullshit.

But Janet Leach is a tiny, timid little bird of a thing whose shyness and vulnerability Fred probably sniffs out immediately. Here’s a woman he can manipulate, a woman who’ll believe his lies.

He’s the most complete picture of a pathological liar you’ll ever see; if he told you it was raining, you’d be well advised to stick your own head out the window just to check for yourself.

Janet is probably exactly the kind of easily manipulated little mouse of a woman Fred would have gone for in real life. And now, here she is, in his life every day for a while, hanging on to his every word and giving him her undivided attention, which is all Fred ever wanted from a woman.

How does he manipulate her fragile emotions, then? He tells her she’s special, that she understands him in a way no-one else, not even his precious Rose, does. He implies he can’t do any of this without her, and that there’s a special bond between the pair of them that no-one else, outside of their little protective circle, can possibly ever hope to understand.

Janet is probably immensely flattered. What woman wouldn’t be? Has anyone else ever needed her so thoroughly, she’s probably wondering, has anyone else every placed so much trust in her? God Almighty, she’s probably honoured that she was the chosen one.

When he starts comparing her physical appearance to that of the so-called ‘love of his life,’ poor murdered Anna McFall, she’s more than likely half in love with him already. She starts to help the semi-literate Fred with his ‘autobiography,’ ‘I was Loved by an Angle.’ (Yes, yes, he means to write ‘angel!’)

She continues to visit him in prison, bringing him clothes and offering her support, long after her role as appropriate adult has officially ceased to be a thing. When Fred does what he does over the New Year of 1995, Janet Leach has a very curious reaction which I’m not going to tell you about here for fear of the dreaded spoiler. You’ll have to watch the film yourself to find out…!

I’m not saying that Fred was happy about being caught, but, Lord, he must have been in his element, his absolute element, during those long police interviews with the ever-attentive Janet Leach by his side!

Talking, talking, talking to his heart’s content, always with a captive audience and with a new woman now to ‘woo,’ congratulating himself inwardly on being smarter than the police and sending them on a wild goose-chase or leading them- quite literally- up the garden path as they desperately try to wriggle it out of him where he’s buried his own daughter’s remains. Did he believe his own wild stories? I guess we’ll never know.

A word about Rose, the wife. Here, she’s wonderfully portrayed by Monica Dolan exactly as I imagine she was in real life: a liar, vulgar, loud, aggressive, foul-mouthed, threatening violence, making enemies right left and centre. She won’t be free any time soon, if ever. I would say that’s for the best.


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:

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


dracula reborn 2015



Wow. Except for a couple of highlights, this movie really sucks. I mean, there are some Dracula films with which Bram Stoker himself would be proud to be associated, namely: Murnau’s 1922 NOSFERATU; Bela Lugosi in the 1931 DRACULA; Werner Herzog’s NOSFERATU THE VAMPYRE; and any of the Hammer Dracula films starring horror heart-throb Christopher Lee. And then there are other examples where you’d wonder how the film-makers can justify stealing the name of Dracula and slapping it on their finished oeuvres, lol.

Let’s rush through the ‘plot.’ What do you mean, I’m bitchy today? I thought I was bitchy every day, haha. A blonde journalist called Hanna from Vancouver, who has definitely had some work done on her face, I’m just saying, travels to Paris and Transylvania in order to pick up information about a deadly cult of modern day Draculas.

They’ve already abducted and murdered some people, all nosey journalists, I think, and Hanna and her little crew of phone-and-computer-obsessed newshounds have stumbled across some rather gruesome Internet footage.

It’s footage of a young woman bleeding to death while being bitten all over and savaged by a bald-headed, elderly gent with a cloak and some brutal-looking gnashers. He’s much more Max Schreck than Christopher Lee, unfortunately for me. I’m a big fan of Mr. Lee’s.

Anyway, Hanna and her gang are, of course, putting themselves in great danger by persisting in their investigation of the vampire cult. One by one, they are bumped off by a cloaked male figure- not our friend Baldy- who charges at them out of nowhere and starts viciously chomping on their necks and wrists, anywhere there’s a nice juicy vein he can tap into. It’s not clear whether Baldy is Dracula or Cloakey is. It’s just one of the many mystifying things about this film.

It’s so funny that, when Hanna is pretty much the last of the intrepid little crew of journalists left alive, her stupid phone gives her away to the vampires. She’s stuck alone in the wilds of Transylvania in the middle of the night, watching through a window as the cult prepare to tuck into some fresh meat and then suddenly… diddle-oo-do, diddle-oo-do, diddle-oo-do-do…!

That’s meant to be the Nokia ringtone, by the way folks, lol. Note to stupid person in film: when you’re just about to catch the cult you’ve pursued across continents in a breath-taking act of murder and bloodthirsty cannibalism, put your bleedin’ phone on silent, will you? I can just imagine Dracula going berserk about the intrusiveness of the ever-present phone. Dracula hate mobile phones, kill everyone on social media…!

I love the scenes shot in Transylvania, especially the night-time snowscapes. These were very atmospheric. However, the best scene in the whole film doesn’t even have anything to do with the main plot. You could lift it right out and it would make no difference to the plot, but the film would be a little poorer for it, in my humble opinion.

I think it’s in Paris where this happens. We’re on a darkened, deserted street late at night. A very good-looking guy, tall, dark and handsome, is taking a woman home to his flat for sex. She’s an attractive brunette who might or might not be a prostitute. Although the film is in English, there were no subtitles and the film could really have used them, as the actors mumbled their way through their lines and the sound was terrible.

Anyway, we cut to the guy’s flat, where the very good-looking guy is now blissfully shirtless and wearing only low-slung jeans. His flat is discreetly lit, he’s put on some make-out music, he’s got a cigarette and a drink in his hand and he’s seated on the couch, one bare foot casually crossed over the other denim-clad leg while he watches the woman stripping.

He’s got a kind of cat-who’s-got-the-cream grin on his handsome face, the grin of a guy who knows he’s going to be having sex in a very few minutes, but for now he’s happy to be enjoying a nice bit of sexy foreplay.

The woman strips off her tight black outfit to reveal that she’s wearing red underwear. A red bra, red thong panties and, best of all, high-heeled red shoes. She strips in time to the sultry music, shaking her long dark hair out, wiggling her hips and butt and showing her soon-to-be lover (nearly) everything she’s got to offer.

Meanwhile, the handsome guy on the couch is ogling this striptease with the biggest grin on his face when… bam! It happens. What happens? Oh, I can’t tell you that, dear reader. That would be a spoiler, lol. You’ll just have to watch DRACULA REBORE- did I type REBORE, I swear to God I thought I was writing REBORN!- for yourselves and find out. Worth watching for this scene alone.


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:

You can contact Sandra at:


corpse vanishes



‘Oh, Professor, do you also make a habit of collecting coffins?’

Patricia Hunter.

‘Why, yes, in a manner of speaking, I find a coffin much more comfortable than a bed.’

Dr. Lorenz.

I love these old low-budget Bela Lugosi horror movies. He made a fair few of ’em, God bless him, after his success in Universal’s DRACULA (1931), the unexpected smash hit (I don’t know why it was so unexpected; it was Bram Stoker’s masterpiece, after all!) that single-handedly launched the horror cinema genre into the stratosphere and made Universal Studios its home.

In many of these films, the tall, handsome Hungarian actor often plays a criminal mastermind, a mad scientist or some deranged professor engaged in a crazy experiment that will surely endanger the world if it’s successful. THE CORPSE VANISHES is, of course, no exception. It’s actually got quite an ingenious plot.

The American public is utterly bewildered by a spate of bride abductions, that is to say, pretty young blushing brides all over the place are swooning at the altar, being pronounced dead by puzzled medics and strapped into mortuary vans which are then waylaid en route to the morgue by a gang of unknown villains. Clever, eh? The police are left scratching their noodles in puzzlement.

The only thing these society brides have in common, apart from the fact that they are spoiled little rich girls marrying into even more money and a nice cushy lifestyle, is that they’ve all worn orchids on their persons that were mysteriously delivered to them just before the marriage ceremony. Could there be a connection between the orchids and the sudden ‘deaths’ of the brides…?

Miss Patricia Hunter, Girl Reporter Extraordinaire, certainly seems to thinks so. Tired of reporting bland nonsense for the Society pages- who wore what where; who was seen talking to whom when everyone knows his wife’s left him and she’s seeking a divorce on the grounds of unreasonable behaviour, that type of thing- she’s thrilled when her grumpy male boss (is there any other kind…?) says she can investigate the possible orchid connection if she wants. She’s out of that office and investigating her tight little caboose off before you can say ‘glass ceiling,’ lol.

She heads straight up-state for the home of the mysterious recluse scientist, Dr. Lorenz (Bela Lugosi), who just so happens to be an expert on the particular type of orchid delivered to the unfortunate society brides on their wedding day and purporting to be from their husbands-to-be. I told you earlier that the plot was ingenious, didn’t I? Who wouldn’t wear an orchid on their wedding dress that had supposedly been sent to them by their loving fiancés? Depending on what’s up with these orchids, it’s kind of like the perfect ruse, isn’t it?

He’s a charming and cordial man, this Dr. Lorenz, and, although he refuses to help her on the orchids question, citing lack of time as an excuse, he invites Patricia to stay the night at his huge palatial home in the hills while a terrible storm is raging outside. Patricia reluctantly agrees, deciding she has no choice. You’d think that, as a journalist, she’d be glad of a chance to snoop around the place, wouldn’t you?

Dr. Lorenz’s wife, an older woman known as the Countess, is mighty displeased to have such a pretty young woman on the premises for however short a time, but her husband Dr. Lorenz tells her, with a giant grin splitting his face, that she could be very useful to the Countess, whereupon the Countess, taking her husband’s meaning, relents graciously.

Also staying the night Chez Lorenz due to the inclement weather is a Dr. Foster, a colleague of Dr. Lorenz’s but definitely not his partner-in-crime. (Dr. Foster is played by a Tristram Coffin; how cool a name is that for a horror actor? Seems to be his real name as well.) There’s an instant attraction between the rather wooden, stilted Dr. Foster and the feisty, much livelier Patricia Hunter. The pair could end up enjoying nuptial bliss themselves when the Mystery of the Missing Brides is solved.

Patricia could end up having the honour of bringing Dr. Foster his pipe and slippers at the end of the working day (his, not hers; she’ll have to give up her career, naturally, to have all the babies) and stoically taking the odd punch in the kisser when Hubby’s in one of his moods.

Oh, what a wonderful thing it was, to be a blushing bride in ‘Forties America, lol. Those women with careers who pretended to eschew marriage were really just waiting on tenterhooks for some guy to ride in on his white charger, scoop them up and take them away from nasty work for ever. Everyone knows that. Those women who seemed genuinely to enjoy their careers were definitely looked upon a bit suspiciously. They couldn’t really prefer forging a name for themselves in their chosen field to washing shitty diapers and chopping the vegetables for tonight’s casserole, could they…?

Anyway, Patricia has a nightmarish experience in the massive basement of Dr. Lorenz’s rambling mansion on the night she stays over, an experience Dr. Lorenz tries to dismiss as merely a bad dream but Patricia knows better. It’s connected to the Mystery of the Missing Brides and Patricia could swear to it, no matter how much the charming Dr. Lorenz tries to convince her that it was all just a dream and she should put it out of her mind like a good little girl.

Dopey Dr. Foster is of no help to her whatsoever in the matter of Patricia’s so-called ‘bad dream,’ but never mind. Once she’s married to him, she’ll no longer be required to use her fluttery little bird-brain for anything more complicated than deciding what spices to keep on her rack. But for now, she still has a mind of her own and she comes up with a brilliant idea for catching the ‘killer’ and abductor of all these unsuspecting society brides. Phoney wedding, anyone?

The scene in the ‘mausoleum’ at night is genuinely creepy. The man called Angel, the idiot son of Dr. Lorenz’s creepy old maid Fagah, comes across as the sort of gibbering sex-pest who might enjoy a nice bit of rape if it came his way. Patricia would do well not to run into him in the cellars at night. The music in the mausoleum scene is excellent and très atmospheric. I like the cheeky dwarf butler Toby, too, he’s cute.

THE CORPSE VANISHES is a good little black-and-white horror mystery, and Bela is on top form in it. His whipping arm is still in good nick anyway. He’s always whipping the poor unfortunate inbreds who end up working for him, isn’t he, lol?

He’s still able to pick up women bodily too and carry ’em off, and even horror legend Christopher Lee needed a little bit of help with that from stunt double Eddie Powell at the end. Good old Chris and Bela, the kings of Hammer and Universal horror respectively. Wonder if they’re neighbours now…?


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:

You can contact Sandra at: