SWEENEY TODD: THE DEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET. (2007) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

SWEENEY TODD: THE DEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET. (2007) DIRECTED BY TIM BURTON.
BASED ON SWEENEY TODD: THE DEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET, THE MUSICAL, BY STEPHEN SONDHEIM AND HUGH WHEELER.
STARRING JOHHNY DEPP, HELENA BONHAM CARTER, ALAN RICKMAN, TIMOTHY SPALL AND SACHA BARON COHEN.
REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

I only saw this film for the first time recently, and was blown away by it, even though I’d been expecting to find it annoying after hearing that there was singing in it, lol. But the singing is fantastic, and so is pretty much everything else about this film based on a musical that in turn was based on a Victorian legend.

It’s the legend of the titular Sweeney Todd, the barber of old London who slits his customers’ throats and trapdoor-s the corpses deep down below into his girlfriend’s pie shop, where the flesh is baked into some of the ‘worst pies in London.’ Quite a neat little scam, though how they expected to get away with such a bold scheme indefinitely is a mystery to me.

Johnny Depp as Sweeney Todd, formerly the barber Benjamin Barker, returns to London in 1846, after spending fifteen long years in exile in Australia, even though he’d committed no crime. The evil Judge Turpin, played by Alan Rickman, had him sent there on a pretext, purely so that he could put the moves on Sweeney Todd’s beautiful wife, Lucy…

Now Lucy is dead, and her and Sweeney Todd’s daughter Johanna is Turpin’s captive. He’s basically waiting till she’s old enough to take her as his wife, then she’ll be lost to her father, Sweeney Todd, forever…

Sweeney Todd, played bitterly and broodingly by the great Johnny Depp, teams up with Helena Bonham Carter as his literal soulmate, his perfect other half, the missing piece of the puzzle, one Mrs. Lovett who runs the pie shop. Helena Bonham Carter, by the way, was born to dress this way and play this kind of role. She’s practically perfick for it.

As the film is very faithful to the source material, Sweeney Todd and Mrs. Lovett do exactly what I mentioned in an earlier paragraph: he slashes his customers ‘froats,’ as they say in London, then she bakes their nice juicy flesh into her pies in the bakehouse below.

They are assisted in this grisly work by local urchin, the highly Dickensian Tobias Ragge. He’s the former employee of one of Sweeney’s rival barbers, the faux-Italian Adolfo Pirelli. Wonderfully played by comic actor Sacha Baron Cohen, Pirelli finds out what it means to incur the wrath of Sweeney Todd and end up in a trunk with yer froat cut and yer features re-arranged by forty whacks with a boiling kettle…

Business for both the barber and the pie shop goes really well for a time, and it’s not long before Sweeney gets a crack at swiping a cut-throat razor across the manly jaw and chin of the hanging Judge, the whipping Judge, the nefarious Judge Turpin, and also that of the Judges’ toady and yes-man, the rat-faced Beadle Bamford, marvellously played by Timothy Spall.

There’s also a lovesick young man looking to rescue Johanna, Sweeney Todd’s daughter, from the clutches of Judge Turpin, who has placed his beloved ward in an insane asylum for refusing to marry him. But we won’t worry too much about that.

It’s much more interesting to watch the dead-inside Sweeney Todd interact with Mrs. Lovett, who’s pining away with unrequited love for him. Does she deserve her truly awful fate…? The movie’s not an 18s for nuffink, folks…

A suitably dark, brooding and heavy atmosphere hangs over London town the whole time. I also have a question, and this never occurred to me before: Did the female inmates of the insane asylums have their hair butchered against their will by the orderlies and sold to the wig-makers, to whom real, natural hair is always a boon and a bonus…? Just one of many violations of their human rights, I reckon.

The song lyrics are so funny and well-written, even razor-sharp if you’ll excuse the pun, and Depp and Bonham Carter can’t half sing! The costumes and grim settings are fabulous too, and, as is evidenced in nearly every attempt to film the Victorian era, the class differences between the rich and poor stand out a mile.

As a poor person, you can get hung for stealing a loaf of bread, or sent to Australia, branded a convict and a wrong ‘un forever, just because some high-faluting Judge has the hots for your wife. Well, I suppose, as in the case of Sweeney Todd, you can always come back and get revenge. Even revenge set to music. All together now: ‘It’s a hard knock life… for us…’

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

DIE HARD. (1988) A VERY CHRISTMASSY, MERRY CHRISTMASSY MOVIE REVIEWED BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

DIE HARD. (1988) DIRECTED BY JOHN MCTIERNAN. BASED ON THE NOVEL ‘NOTHING LASTS FOREVER’ BY RODERICK THORP.
STARRING BRUCE WILLIS, BONNIE BEDELIA, ALAN RICKMAN, ALEXANDER GODUNOV AND REGINALD VELJOHNSON.
REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

I can’t believe there are some people out there who still maintain that DIE HARD is not a Christmas movie, just because it’s also an action thriller film, a heist movie and a one-man-succeeding-against-all-the-odds movie. My God, it’s nearly as Christmassy as Scrooge and his CHRISTMAS CAROL!

Bruce Willis’s character, John McClane, is a New York cop who travels to Los Angeles on CHRISTMAS EVE to reconcile with his wife, who’s called HOLLY, and he’s coming FOR CHRISTMAS, TO SPEND CHRISTMAS WITH HIS FAMILY, THAT MOST CHRISTMASSY OF ALL CHRISTMAS PURSUITS.

He meets her at her office’s CHRISTMAS PARTY, for Dickens’ sake, and there are CHRISTMAS TREES, CHRISTMAS PRESENTS, CHRISTMAS MUSIC, CHRISTMAS CHEER and very definite signs of FESTIVE FORNICATION AND WASSAILING around the building. John is bringing a giant teddy bear home to his two little daughters as a CHRISTMAS PRESENT. SANTA CLAUS is very visibly present in ornamental form.

How much more Christmassy do you non-believers need? Lol. Not to mention that the film was voted BEST CHRISTMAS FILM by the readers of British film magazine, EMPIRE, in 2015.

Seriously, anyone who doesn’t believe that DIE HARD is a Crimbo movie after all that deserves to be boiled with their own pudding and buried with a stake of holly through their heart, and let that be the end of it. Still don’t believe, eh? Then watch out for the first spirit when the clock strikes one…

I normally hate action thrillers, but I was drawn to this one both because of the CHRISTMAS ELEMENT to it, and the fact that I’d had a soft spot for Bruce Willis after watching him flirt with Cybill Shepherd in a little ‘Eighties detective series called MOONLIGHTING, which ran from 1985 to 1989.

The very genuine-seeming sexual tension between David Addison (Willis) and Maddie Hayes (Shepherd), employee and boss of the Blue Moon detective agency respectively, and the will they-won’t they get together element was just off the chart.

Willis’s witty one-liners, his flirty double entendres and that little quiet sexy smirk thing he does turned him into a total heart-throb, plus he looked equally divine in a tux or in a sweaty vest with pronounced bed-head.

DIE HARD made Willis into leading man-action hero material, but it was probably MOONLIGHTING that first got him noticed. The show had a terrific theme tune as well, performed by jazz icon Al Jarreau.

MOONLIGHTING was one of the earliest successful examples of comedy-dramas or ‘dramedy,’ and some of us have never forgotten the antics of the little ‘family’ at the Blue Moon Detective Agency. Take a letter, Miss DiPesto…

Anyway, back to DIE HARD. The aforementioned John McClane meets up with his estranged wife, Holly, at her office Christmas party on Christmas Eve, high up in the Los Angeles skyscraper that houses the Nakatomi company.

John gets there just before a group of deadly European thieves, posing as terrorists, gain unlawful access to the building in order to relieve the Nakatomi company of the $640 million of untraceable bearer bonds locked in the building’s vault.

The people at the office Christmas party become the hostages of the robbers, but believe me when I say that this particular group of Eurotrash are no babysitters and have no qualms about killing anyone who gets in their way.

It’s up to solitary cop John McClane and his trusty, standard-issue cop gun to thwart the terrorists and save Christmas, by which I mean everyone at the party and, of course, his terrified but still cool-thinking wife, Holly.

If anything happens to Holly, and his two little girls lose their mother, John will never forgive himself. But John knows now for sure that he loves Holly and wants to make their marriage work, so, for John, the stakes have literally never been higher…

A ridiculously young-looking Alan Rickman plays Hans Gruber, the lead robber/terrorist, and he’s very slick in the role. I must say I prefer him, though, a few pounds heavier, a few years older and with his hair longer and dyed jet-black to play the role of Severus Snape in the HARRY POTTER franchise, haha. There’s just something about him in that role that melts my butter…

I love the long-haired, oh-so-‘Eighties robbers, who stride around the building with their seriously scary machine guns and long flowing locks shouting in German, in particular the devastatingly attractive former ballet dancer Alexander Godunov as Karl, Gruber’s second-in-command. Karl has a personal reason to bring down John McClane, after John kills his brother, another one of the terrorists, so watch out for their showdown.

I love the friendship that develops between a tired and bloody John, up near the roof of the skyscraper, and the cuddly cop-on-the-ground, Al Powell, via their walkie-talkies. Those two are going to be firm friends forever, you just know it, and their kids too. A shout-out also to De’voreaux White as Argyle, the exceedingly accommodating limo driver who drives John from the airport to the Nakatomi building.

I also love that Bruce Willis was chosen for the role of John over, say, Arnold Schwarzenegger or Sylvester Stallone, the movie industry’s muscle-bound hunks. John McClane is much more empathetic as an ordinary bloke and not an action hero who routinely eats terrorists and bad guys for breakfast.

John, in his torn, bloodstained vest and his poor cut-up and bleeding bare feet, is vulnerable and breakable. He’s mortal, he can be hurt or killed, and he’s scared stiff of anything happening to the wife he now knows for sure he loves and doesn’t want to lose. He’s just a regular Joe Soap who just wants to get home to his family, whom he misses like crazy, for Christmas. Hear that? CHRISTMAS, lol.

Of course, we also know that John is resourceful, quick-thinking, nimble enough on his pins and courageous, especially when it comes to protecting those he loves. If anyone can defeat these yobbos single-handedly, John McClane can. God bless that sexually attractive and beguilingly tousle-haired man.

I thought the scriptwriters missed an opportunity to have him say something like, ‘it’s time to take out the (Euro)trash…,’ but we’ve still got ‘yippie ki-yay, motherfuckers,’ from the Roy-Rogers-loving New York cop. So yippie-ki-yay in turn to all my readers, and enjoy this unmistakably Christmas movie, at whatever time of year you choose to view 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 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:

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