HALLOWEEN 3: SEASON OF THE WITCH. (1982) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

HALLOWEEN 3… SEASON OF THE WITCH. (1982) WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY TOMMY LEE WALLACE. PRODUCED BY JOHN CARPENTER AND DEBRA HILL. MUSIC BY JOHN CARPENTER AND ALAN HOWARTH.
STARRING TOM ATKINS, STACEY NELKIN AND DAN O’HERLIHY.
REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

I love this film. It’s my absolute favourite of all the non-Michael-Myers films in John Carpenter’s HALLOWEEN series of films. Haha, okay, it’s the only non-Michael-Myers film in this particular series of films, I know that.

I also know that some critics think it’s not a worthy addition to the HALLOWEEN franchise because it doesn’t have Michael Myers in it, he of the latex mask and decidedly stabby tendencies, but I still think it’s a brilliant movie.

Yes, it’s true that I miss the silent-as-the-grave Michael Myers and his messed-up mind, but HALLOWEEN 3 is a little cinematic gem. It reminds me of WESTWORLD and THE STEPFORD WIVES, two of my favourite flicks, because of the über-creepy robots and even creepier musical score. The plot is actually pretty ingenious as well.

Handsome, well-spoken Irish actor Dan O’Herlihy (g’wan, the Irish!) plays the film’s expensively suited and booted villain, Conal Cochran. He is the megalomaniac founder of Silver Shamrock Novelties, based in the sleepy American town of Santa Mira, which has sort of become the company’s town, if you get me.

Mr. Cochran, unbeknownst to the world at large, has allowed his immense wealth and power to go to his immaculately-coiffed silver head. He’s going all-out for Halloween this year. He intends to revive the ancient Celtic rites of the night known as ‘All Hallows Eve,’ but not in a good way. Oh no, not in a good way at all, dear reader.

He wants to return the night to its original witch-cult beginnings. He intends that there will be mass sacrifices on this coming Halloween night, as there would have been on Halloweens-of-yore, and not just of adults, either. That’s practically the worst part of this fiendish plan.

Half the kids in the country have bought Cochran’s fabulous Silver Shamrock novelty masks- pumpkin, skull or witch- for the fast-approaching Halloween. But when they put the masks over their heads at nine o’clock on Halloween night while watching a ‘special give-away broadcast’ on the television horrorthon, they’ll get a little more than they bargained for… Well, okay, a lot more than they bargained for, but I’m not going to tell you what that is so don’t ask me, lol.

Only two people stand in the way of crazy old Mr. Cochran’s fiendishly evil plan: the divorced alcoholic, Dr. Daniel Challis, who’s witnessed the aftermath of a toy salesman’s horrific death at the hands of one of Cochran’s robotic goons, and the murdered salesman’s daughter, Ellie Grimbridge. The pair find themselves thrown together in the hunt for the truth about what happened to poor old Harry Grimbridge.

Together the two travel to the quiet little American town that houses the Silver Shamrock factory, engaging, incidentally, in some sexy shenanigans when they find themselves sharing a Santa Mira motel room.

Tsk, tsk, how shocking of them, especially as the womanising Challis is twice Ellie’s age if he’s a day. This seduction scene comes as no surprise to fans of John Carpenter’s superb horror movie, THE FOG, of two years’ earlier, however.

In THE FOG, Tom Atkins portrays Nick Castle, a middle-aged man who picks up and sleeps with a practically teenaged Jamie Lee Curtis, whose character, Elizabeth Solley, is engaging in the highly dangerous activity known as hitch-hiking. They go straight to bed, despite the whopping age gap. Castle even allows himself to be paid for his ‘services’ with one of Elizabeth’s drawings, the scoundrel. If anything, he should be paying her…!

Sure, Castle lets Lizzie hang out with him for the duration of the movie, but you can bet your ass that, as soon as the last ancient mariner has slithered back into the deep from whence it came, he’ll be giving her the bum’s rush with the words, see you next fog, baby…! The dastard.    

Anyway, there are no flies about shrewd businessman Conal Cochran’s person, as you might expect, and he figures out in a heartbeat that ‘Mr. and Mrs. Smith,’ as the saucy pair of illicit lovers are calling themselves, are onto his little game.

He captures the twosome, though separately, and tells Challis that he will share the fate of the poor unsuspecting children of America, after first giving him a gruesome demonstration of the masks’ power.

Then he slaps an ‘infected’ mask on Challis, and leaves him alone to reflect on the hopelessness of his position until it’s time for the ‘Big Giveaway’ at nine pm. Oh yes, did I mention that it’s now Halloween Night…?

ATTENTION: WHOPPING GREAT SPOILERS AHOY, ME HEARTIES, BIGGER THAN THAT FUCKIN’ ICEBERG, Y’ARRR…!

Challis manages to escape the megalomaniac’s factory of death, staffed entirely by evil robots, though not until he’s managed to screw up Cochran’s machinery of terror, which actually includes a bloody great rock nicked from Stonehenge, if you can believe that…!

Challis then grabs Ellie and starts hightailing it back to his home-town where his own kids, in the care of his estranged wife, are looking forward to putting on their Silver Shamrock masks at nine o’clock in front of the ‘special give-away broadcast.’ Before Challis can make it back to town, however, he is attacked by Ellie, who is no longer human but an evil robot… Eeeek!

Challis eventually makes it back to town, but more important even than reaching his own endangered kids is his effort to get the different television stations not to run the Silver Shamrock ‘special broadcast.’

If he fails at this, the kids watching the broadcast will get one heck of a nasty surprise. One by one, the stations agree. There’s still one more station to persuade before nine o’clock, though. Will Challis get through to them on time? You’ll have to watch the movie and see for yourself, lads…

ATTENTION: WE’RE SAFELY PAST THOSE PESKY SPOILERS, Y’ARRR AGAIN…!  

Apparently, in making this movie that has neither Michael Myers, Laurie Strode nor Samuel Loomis in it, the creators of HALLOWEEN- John Carpenter and Debra Hill- had it in mind to create a sort of anthology series of horror stories that all take place at Halloween.

Personally, I think that that’s a cracking idea but disappointing box-office takings dictated otherwise and the idea was scrapped. The rest of the HALLOWEEN films all featured the strong, silent Masked Slasher known to us as Michael Myers.

That was no bad thing either, of course, as Mikey M. is an unforgettable horror icon. He’s up there with Hannibal Lecter, Norman Bates, Freddie Kreuger, Jason Voorhees, Jigsaw and Leatherface. Still, a separate horror anthology might have been quite cool, too.

Anyway, watch HALLOWEEN 3. Ah, go on. It’s bloody brilliant. You’ll love it. And don’t forget. EIGHT MORE DAYS TILL HALLOWEEN, HALLOWEEN, HALLOWEEN! EIGHT MORE DAYS TILL HALLOWEEN, SILVER SHAMROCK…! EE-OO, EE-OO, EE-OO, EE-OO, EE-OO, EE-OO, EE-OO, EE-OO, EE-OO, EE-OO, EE-OO, EE-OO…!

And I most certainly will not go and eff myself, thank you very much. I happen to think that this is a highly enjoyable and entertaining jingle that absolutely does not make me want to claw off my own ears with a garden rake every time I hear it, so there. Put that in your pipe and smoke 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:

THE OPEN HOUSE. (2018) A NETFLIX HORROR FILM REVIEWED BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©


THE OPEN HOUSE. (2018) DIRECTED, WRITTEN AND CO-PRODUCED BY MATT ANGEL AND SUZANNE COOTE.
STARRING DYLAN MINNETTE, PIERCEY DALTON, PATRICIA BETHUNE, SHARIF ATKINS AND AARON ABRAMS.
REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

This horror film had a predictable beginning, a very exciting middley-bit and a disappointing, unsatisfactory ending. The blurb said that a mother and son have a terrifying experience when they move somewhere new, so I guessed straightaway that the dad of the family was for the chop. And he was. Whoever would have thought that nipping out to buy a half-dozen eggs was fraught with so much peril? I’ll think twice in the future before demanding a chucky egg and soldiers for my brekkie…
 
So, anyway, after Dad pops his clogs, downtrodden Mum Naomi Wallace and her touchy teenaged son Logan, an aspiring runner, leave their house and their debts behind to go and spend some time in Naomi’s rich sister Alison’s holiday home in the mountains. Alison, by the way, comes to the funeral of her brother-in-law (the egg guy) dressed as if she should be wrapping herself around a stripper’s pole, but she’s rich so she can do whatever the fupp she likes.

It’s miles from anywhere, this fancy holiday home that Naomi and Logan are bound for, and if anything happens to their car or the phone service, they’d be basically screwed, being so far away from civilisation, but it’s rent-free and they can’t seem to think of anything else to do in the wake of dad’s demise, so off they go…

The one snag is that the sister is trying to sell the house, so the Wallaces can’t stay there indefinitely. Also, they have to vacate the premises every Sunday between ten and five, so that strangers can nose around the property, re-arrange any carefully-shelved items, cast aspersions on the linoleum in the hall and disparage the fittings in the bog. This phenomenon is known as an ‘Open House,’ and it sounds horribly intrusive and like an invasion of the tenants’ privacy. But the Wallaces are poor now, see, and beggars can’t be choosers…

Any-hoo, after the first Open House has been inflicted on Naomi and Logan, Logan in particular gets the feeling that there’s someone else in the house with them. When they search the place, however, there’s no-one to be seen. But they’re getting hang-up phone calls, their stuff is being moved around like crazy and the hot water in the shower keeps being switched to cold.

Mom spends a lot of the movie in the shower in the nip, then going down to the darkened basement to re-light the pilot light which keeps switching itself off. I’m not sure if we’re meant to infer that the intruder, whom by now we know to be a big man in heavy boots, is hiding out in said basement, but Mom sure does spend a lot of time down there, barely wrapped in her towel while attending to the troublesome water heater

There are quite a few plot-holes in the film, clues that seem to lead nowhere and one or two red herrings in the form of a senile, widowed neighbour, who might or might not have a living husband, and an attractive, would-be suitor of Mom’s. Or, are they red herrings…?

Once the action gets going and the intruder theory starts to really gather momentum, there are some very scary moments, especially when Mom sifts through the newly-developed photographs she’s taken recently in an attempt to re-kindle an old interest…

The violence against the poor defenceless mother is horrific and possibly even gratuitous, likewise what happens to Logan. I’ve already mentioned that I was disappointed with the ending, so I won’t say any more for fear of the dreaded spoilers. You can make up your own mind regarding whether the film is a hit or a miss.

It’s by no means a bad film as such. I’ll just reiterate what I said at the start. THE OPEN HOUSE has a predictable beginning, a very exciting middley-bit and a disappointing, unsatisfactory ending. But that’s only my opinion. You can check out the film yourselves on Netflix and you might even end up thinking that my verdict on it is as suspect as the one in the O.J. Simpson trial, lol. Have fun deciding…

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

WHEN A STRANGER CALLS. (2006) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©


WHEN A STRANGER CALLS- THE RE-MAKE. 2006. DIRECTED BY SIMON WEST. STARRING CAMILLA BELLE, TOMMY FLANAGAN, LANCE HENRIKSEN, KATY CASSIDY, DEREK DE LINT AND KATE JENNINGS GRANT.
REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

‘The calls are coming from inside the house…’

The original film of WHEN A STRANGER CALLS (1979), directed by Fred Walton, has one of the best opening sequences of any horror film I’ve ever seen. The first twenty minutes, with the babysitter alone in the house getting increasingly frightening phone calls from an anonymous psychopath, is pure cinematic perfection. The rest of the film is good too, but it’s those first twenty minutes that really grab you by the throat and scare you witless.

I was surprised to find out that such a great film had been re-made. But hey, unnecessary remakes of brilliant films are seemingly where it’s at these days. This time round, Camilla Belle- what a pretty name!- plays Jill Johnson, the high school student who has to babysit for the super-rich doctor and his wife as punishment for running up a massive bill on her cellphone gabbing to her boyfriend.

Jill isn’t too keen on the prospect as all her friends are at the school bonfire party and she would much rather be with them. She’s also fed-up because her so-called boyfriend has recently been caught snogging her bezzie mate, the slutty blonde alcoholic Tiffany. Ouch. Dontcha just hate it when that happens…!

Her dad drives her to the doctor’s fantastic big house, with a lake and tons of polished decking and a little forest and a posh guesthouse and everything. He drops her off without even checking that it’s the right house. He could have been dropping her off at the Manson compound or Ted Bundy’s gaff for all the attention he pays, the self-involved git. It’s not like he was even keen to get to that chamber music concert his wife’s making him go to, haha.

The filthy-rich doctor and his glamorous missus toddle off to their swanky soirée and Jill is left all alone in the huge, remote house in the middle of nowhere. Then the phone starts ringing and the anonymous caller starts asking:
‘Have you checked the children…?’

They’ve done a few things differently this time round. They’ve added a live-in maid, a son who may conceivably return from school at any time to the guesthouse where he lodges, and a completely implausible visit from a schoolfriend, incidentally the one who got off with Jill’s boyfriend.

I mean, this chum (the slutty blonde alcoholic Tiffany) is apparently able to find this out-of-the-way house in the arse-end of nowhere in the dark without any difficulty and get herself inside the doctor’s posh fortress of a house without setting off the alarm. A bit far-fetched, if you ask me. They’ve also gotten the children up and about and running around the place like mad things, something which didn’t happen in the original film.

Mind you, in this re-make the killer isn’t remotely interested in the children, thanks be to God. They’ve changed him into your average sex-killer this time round. Young women are his focus and he’s concentrating his energies on tormenting, terrifying and tracking down the vulnerable Jill with a view to doing (presumably) you-know-what to her when he gets her in his clutches.

God love her, though. She’s a nice enough girl but she’s sooooo dumb. She says every stupid wrong thing imaginable to the anonymous phone-caller.

‘Who are you? How do you know my name? Why are you doing this to me? Are you trying to scare me? Can you see me? How do you know I’m here? Why won’t you leave me alone?’ And of course, the classic ‘victim’ line:
‘Why are you doing this to me…?’ And so on and so forth.

That’s right, love. Keep saying the stuff he wants to hear. Keep reacting to him and feeding his ego and letting him know how scared you are. That way, he’s bound to stop. He’ll probably be all contrite and all like:

‘Oh, I’m sorry, I totally didn’t know I was scaring you! I am sooooo sorry, I’ll just toddle off right away to the nearest cop-shop and turn myself in. Goodnight now and, once again, a thousand apologies for the misunderstanding…!’

That reminds me of that funny post that’s doing the rounds on Facebook at the moment. You hear an intruder in the darkened house at night (or whenever) and you call out:
‘Who’s there? Who is it?’
The joke is, of course, that the killer or intruder is hardly like to call back:
‘Oh hi, it’s only me, I’m just in the kitchen making a sandwich! Would you like me to fix you one…?’

The film-makers basically expanded the first twenty minutes of the original film and made an entire movie out of it, which I suppose is good because after all those were the best twenty minutes of the whole thing. There’s plenty of scope for a good horror flick in a scenario like that. You could come up with probably a million variations on ‘The calls are coming from inside the house’ and some of them could actually be quite effective. Remember the horror movie BLACK CHRISTMAS? Such a good film.

They’ve left out the killer’s back story, though, and the bit where Jill’s a grown woman with kids of her own and a husband. They’ve also left out the sub-plot which sees the detective searching for the killer on the orders of the bereaved Dr. Mandrakis. They’ve literally just concentrated on the babysitter’s night of horror alone in the house with the killer and the sleeping children. Fair enough, I suppose.

The ending is good and the atmosphere throughout is actually pretty spooky, thanks to the amazing house with all its creepy little nooks and crannies, so this is by no means a bad re-make. It’s really more a question, I feel, of whether the re-make was strictly necessary in the first place. Some might say it wasn’t. Others probably feel that anything that’s out there is fair game for a re-make.

And me…? I love ’em both, but the original edges it for me every time because of the era in which it was made. That was a great era for horror. You can make up your own minds, though. There’s a lot to be said for both films. Let me know what you think.

Don’t phone me, though. For the love of God don’t phone me. I’ve been scared off phones for life thanks to these two films. Send me an e-mail instead. Or write me a letter. No harm ever came from reading a letter, did it? Did 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:

THE CRAFT. (1996) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

THE CRAFT. (1996) DIRECTED BY ANDREW FLEMING AND CO-WRITTEN BY ANDREW FLEMING AND PETER FILARDI.

STARRING ROBIN TUNNEY, FAIRUZA BALK, NEVE CAMPBELL, RACHEL TRUE AND SKEET ULRICH.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

Bus driver- Watch out for weirdos, ladies!

Nancy- We ARE the weirdos, mister…

Light as a feather, stiff as a board…

This is a terrific, highly entertaining cult horror film from the ‘Nineties. It gave me such a huge nostalgia buzz to re-visit it this weekend. It’s a supernatural horror-drama set in and around a private, mixed-sex high school run by nuns.

The ‘popular’ girls who attend the school are absolute bitches and the ‘popular’ boys, the good-looking lads hoping to get into college on a football scholarship because they’re usually too thick to get in on intellect alone, are utter jerks. If one of these boys and one of these girls sleep together, the girl is a slut and the boy is a massive stud who’ll shout his triumphs and conquests all over school.

Moving to a new area and a new high school is bad enough, but having to move to a bitchy American high school (those are the bitchiest!) must be tough. Sarah Bailey has just relocated with her father and stepmother from San Francisco to Los Angeles and has to do the new school thing, and she’s not exactly happy about it.

Sarah is beautiful but slightly unusual in that she has psychic powers. At school, she is immediately drawn to three other girls of similar inclinations.

These are Nancy, who’s fed up with living in a crappy trailer with her alcoholic mum and abusive step-father; Bonnie, whose body has been horribly scarred by fire; and Rochelle, a black girl who is subjected to racist taunts by one of the pretty and popular white girls at school, Laura Lizzie.

These three school outcasts have been secretly worshipping a Satan-like god they call ‘Manon.’ It’s not until they combine their powers with Sarah’s that Manon finally starts kicking ass for them, and the quartet of would-be witches realise that their greatest desires might just be only a magic spell away…

Nancy, the mouthy one with the bad attitude, wishes not to be white trash any more. Bonnie wants to be rid of her scars and be ‘beautiful outside as well as in.’ Rochelle wants to be free of her tormentors, and Sarah works a love spell on Chris, a guy from school whom she fancies but who was a total douchebag to her and about her in front of his awful friends.

Remember these lines from WILLY WONKA AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY?

Willy Wonka to Charlie Bucket: Did you hear what happened to the boy who suddenly got everything he ever wanted?

Charlie, spellbound: No, what?

Willy Wonka: He lived happily ever after…

Well, that doesn’t happen in THE CRAFT, thank heavens, or the movie would only be about half its length. Things seem to be going along swimmingly at first, with the girls getting their wishes granted and more by the mighty and powerful Oz, sorry, Manon, but then everything just seems to turn to crap, with a dangerously love-struck Chris trying to rape Sarah on a deserted beach one night.

Sarah, realising that things have gone too far, wants out of the coven. But there’s a price to pay for leaving the coven, and, for Sarah, it might just be more- way more- than she’s prepared to pay. Strap yourself in and get ready for the witchy face-off to end all witchy face-offs…

You’ll recognise Neve Campbell (Bonnie) and Skeet Ulrich (Chris) from the SCREAM movie franchise (1996-present). And if the doctor who operates on Bonnie’s scars looks familiar, it’s because she used to play Mary Alice Young, a character but also the narrator, in the comedy-drama soap opera series, DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES.

The film has a memorable soundtrack, with songs on it that were written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, Harry Nilsson, Johnny Marr from the Smiths, Peter Gabriel from Genesis, Ric Ocasek from the Cars, Marianne Faithfull and Justine Frischmann from Britpop bands Suede and Elastica. The only thing I can ever remember about Justine Frischmann is that she dated your man from Blur for a while, Damon Albarn.

Father Damo to Father Dougal in ‘Nineties clerical sitcom FATHER TED: ‘Here, who’d’you prefer, Oasis or Blur?’

Father Dougal: ‘Erm, Blur…?’

Father Damo, roaring: ‘Wha’?’

Father Dougal, placatingly: ‘I mean, Oasis, Oasis…!’

THE CRAFT is still a popular film years later, with a cult following of its very own. There are some really good spooky scenes in it, and its moral of not tampering with things that are bigger and more powerful than you is pretty clear.

Our four little witches thought they could employ witchcraft to summon up this fella Manon and use him for their own ends. But, once they start abusing this power, Manon, like any self-respecting Satan-like god dealie, has to step in and take it back. There’ll be tears before bedtime for sure…

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.

LAST GIRL STANDING. (2015) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS.©

Last-Girl-Standing_600 (1)

LAST GIRL STANDING. (2015) DIRECTED BY BENJAMIN R. MOODY. STARRING AKASHA VILLALOBOS, DANIELLE EVON PLOEGER AND BRIAN VILLALOBOS.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

‘What happens AFTER the horror movie?’

This isn’t exactly the greatest horror movie ever made, but it whiled away a June Bank Holiday Friday night during coronavirus lockdown nicely enough, and it’s definitely worth one watch and one evening of your time.

The idea of the ‘last girl standing’ is a ready-made horror trope all of its own already. (It’s always a girl, by the way; maybe because the aesthetics of a trim young woman running in a slim vest top and hotpants, with unfettered boobies bouncing freely and with long hair streaming out behind her, are more pleasing to the eye than if we just have, say, a heavy-set bearded bloke in sweatpants pounding along, struggling to breathe ’cause its years since he attempted anything approximating physical exercise.)

We’re all familiar with the image of the last girl in a horror movie to survive a massacre by the serial killer. We’ve all seen her running frantically through the woods in the dark, her white vest top stained with the blood of the friends she’s seen murdered by the villain and her long hair matted with blood and twigs. (From the trees and bushes, see?)

We’ve seen her trip and stumble to the forest floor just inches ahead of the pursuing killer. We’ve seen her flag down the one car on the otherwise deserted motorway, only to find that the car is being driven by the killer or one of his local accomplices, say, a corrupt sheriff or something. In other films, the car’s occupants are genuine and the Last Girl Standing is whisked away to the safety of the nearest hospital or police station.

In this film, Camryn (the world’s worst spelling of Cameron, a lovely name) is the titular Last Girl Standing. She saw her friends butchered in the woods in a pagan ritual, by a serial killer wearing a deer mask complete with antlers known as ‘the Hunter.’ Camryn went one further than most victims, however, and actually killed the man who was looking to add her name to his list of kills.

So, now, it’s a few years later and Camryn’s life is, to be totally honest about it, a bit shit. Her apartment looks like no-one lives in it, so reluctant has she been to personalise it or put her own stamp on it.

Her hair is limp and lank-looking, she dresses in the drabbest of drab shapeless hoodies and tops, she’s become almost terminally shy and jumpy and she barely talks to anyone at the dry cleaners-cum-launderette where she works. Even Nick, the cute new guy, has trouble getting a smile or a friendly word out of her.

Camryn has terrible survivors’ guilt. Why did she live, when none of her friends did? Plus, she lost all her closest friends in one fell swoop; all murdered by ‘the Hunter.’ That’s plenty to be depressed about as it is, but now, as well, since Nick joined the staff, coincidentally enough, Camryn has the feeling she’s being stalked.

Is the Hunter not dead after all? Has he come back to finish the job he left unfinished before? Or is Camryn merely losing the plot after all this time? You’ll have great fun trying to figure out which it is.

Camryn’s new friends- they’re Nick’s mates really- certainly think that Camryn is as mad as a box of frogs, out in their garden in the dead of night searching high and low for skinned and bleeding rabbits, and digging up dead serial killers in the middle of nowhere, also in the dead of night, just to make sure they’re still dead.

Is she cuckoo, or is she right? Is the Hunter back to finish her off, or maybe one of his friends or relatives is seeking to avenge the killer? It could go any way, especially as Camryn has such a tenuous grip on reality at the moment. Have fun figuring it out. It’s a good, serviceable little horror film and you’ll enjoy watching it, as I said earlier, at least once.

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

DEAD END. (2003) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

DeadEndFeat

DEAD END. (2003) WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY JEAN-BAPTISTE AND FABRICE CANEPA. STARRING LIN SHAYE, RAY WISE, ALEXANDRA HOLDEN, AMBER SMITH, MICK CAINE AND BILLY ASHER.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

This is a really excellent horror film starring the lovely Lin Shaye from the INSIDIOUS movies. She’s so cuddly and mumsy in this one, as the Harrington family travel in the dark one Christmas Eve to Grandma’s house. Lin Shaye plays the mum Laura, and Ray Wise (TWIN PEAKS, JEEPERS CREEPERS 2) is the grumpy dad, Frank.

Mom is clutching the Christmas pie that she traditionally bakes every year to bring to Grandma’s house. The presents for Mom’s family are all neatly wrapped and stored in the boot of the car. One of them is going to come in handy, very handy indeed, in fact, for the ordeal ahead.

What is it, I hear you ask me eagerly? A pair of hand-knitted socks for Mom’s brother? A shawl for Grandma? A box of bath salts or a year’s subscription to THE NEW YORKER? Could you beat an unseen killer to death with any of the above? Och, I’ll never tell…!

Dad would prefer to be anywhere other than where he is right now, but guess what? Tough titty. It’s Christmas Eve, lol, and Christmas Eve is for driving your wife and kids to your wife’s mother’s house, whether you damned well want to or not. Suck it up, Frankie baby, suck it up,

In the car also are their attractive psychiatry student daughter Marion and her boyfriend, Brad Miller, and also their teenage son Richard. Richard has a typically bad teenage attitude.

He listens to Marilyn Manson, smokes pot, masturbates to nudie girlie porn, has a foul mouth on him and a real grudge against his family. There is nothing strange about any one of these qualities. It’s merely the teenage condition. With any luck, he’ll grow out of it, lol. Just give him a few years. Say twenty, twenty-five, tops…!

Marion’s boyfriend Brad is planning on popping the question to Marion when they get to Grandma’s house. But Marion is planning to dump the poor guy, even though she’s hugging a very important secret to herself, the kind that would normally bring a couple closer together. But it’s Marion’s decision, and anyway, the guy is a long streak of misery who clearly isn’t bringing her happiness. Bin him, I say. Bin that man. She can do better.

Mom and Dad definitely have their problems, issues and secrets too, which all come out during the night as they take the journey from hell to Grandma’s place. While the family have all nodded off in the car, Dad unwisely chooses to take a mad ‘short cut’ through the dense, dark forest instead of the respectable Inter-state road they’ve taken to Grandma’s house for donkey’s years. It’s the worst decision he’ll ever make. The nagging alone he’ll come in for just isn’t even worth it.

As they motor on through the terrifyingly dark scary woods, they don’t meet a single other car going in any direction. They do, however, stop to pick up a beautiful young blonde woman dressed in white and clutching a baby, and this proves to be the second worst idea Dad’s ever had, after choosing to take the ‘short cut’ in the first place. The woman is the harbinger of death, and everything she touches turns to cold, clammy death.

The black funeral car that accompanies her spooky appearances puts me in mind of two excellent films from 1975 and 1980 respectively, BURNT OFFERINGS and THE HEARSE.

Lin Shaye as the mom is by turns brilliant and hilariously funny as shock forces long-buried secrets out of her and she acquires the frightening ability, seemingly, to ‘see dead people.’

Her star turns with the pie and her drawing of her dead son are oozing with the blackest of black humour, just like the pie itself is oozing with some kind of black gooey stuff. She really is a remarkable actress, as suited to family drama as to grim horror.

It’s also so funny the way she blabs Dad’s dirty little secrets too, and not just her own. This journey from hell is clearly bringing out the worst in the members of the Harrington family. The death toll mounts and the shocks just keep coming as the so-called ‘short cut through the forest’ never takes the family one iota closer to their destination.

I’m not quite sure about the ending. I’ve watched it a few times now and it still jars a little bit, even though I can tell that it’s actually quite clever. See what you think yourselves, anyway. This Christmas horror film is still a terrifically tense, wickedly funny nail-biting watch. Make sure you catch 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

DAUGHTER OF DARKNESS. (1990) A HORROR FILM REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

daughter trio

DAUGHTER OF DARKNESS. (1990) DIRECTED BY STUART GORDON. STARRING ANTHONY PERKINS, MIA SARA, ROBERT REYNOLDS AND JACK COLEMAN.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

‘They don’t have fangs; they have a thing with their tongue…!’

This is definitely a made-for-television movie because you can see where the breaks slot in, lol. It’s a strange little film but it had its attractions for me, in the form of Anthony Perkins from PSYCHO (1960) and a Romanian backdrop, which will always draw me in. (That whole little-known Transylvania-Dracula connection, don’t you know?)

Mia Sara plays the lead role of Catherine here. She looks very similar to the actress Alyssa Milano (WHO’S THE BOSS?, CASUALTIES OF LOVE: THE ‘LONG ISLAND LOLITA’ STORY), and for much of the movie I forgot that she wasn’t, if you get me. Catherine is an American teacher who comes to Romania in search of the father she never knew, a chap called Paul Alexandre.

She feels able to do it now because her mother has just died, and she’s been having strange- and strangely gothic- dreams about her father and what she thinks might have happened to him. All her dreams seem to be urging her to go to Romania and find out the truth about him.

Paul impregnated Catherine’s mother twenty or so years ago, then disappeared without a trace. I see nothing unusual about this behaviour. Irish guys do this literally all the time, which is why Ireland has such a high percentage of single-parent families on their books. Yes, I know. Miaow…! Catherine, however, clearly has a higher opinion of human nature than I do and she thinks it means that her Pops became a victim of foul play in a police state, God bless her innocence.

So she comes to Nikolae Ceausescu’s Romania, a dictatorship where the Secret Police run the show and everyone who comes into the country can be suspected of spying. Catherine is looking for a man who disappeared without a trace donkeys’ years ago, and all she has to assist her in her search are an old faded photograph of him and a fancy pendant of a gold dragon set in a cross, which her father gave to her mother. So the sperm wasn’t his only legacy then, lol.

Catherine is a friendly, personable and beautiful young woman, so it’s not long before she has enlisted some human resources as well, in the form of madcap Romanian taxi driver Max and an attractive young diplomat from the American Embassy called Jack Devlin who, despite his single-minded devotion to career advancement, just can’t resist the pretty face of this particular damsel in distress.

Devlin is played by Jack Coleman and, if you think you know him from somewhere, you do. He played Steven Carrington on soap opera DYNASTY from 1982-1988, his character being one of the earliest gay characters in mainstream American television. DYNASTY, THE COLBYS, DALLAS and FALCON CREST were HUMONGOUS here in Ireland in the ’80s. They brought us the glamour, the back-stabbing and the bed-hopping our own shows were sadly lacking at this time, lol.

It’s a good thing that Catherine is amassing a little team of supporters around her. She’ll need it when she unwittingly comes in contact with the handsome Romanian man Grigore and his little team of vampires (yes, this is a vampire film!), who are currently waging a war against their leader because he won’t do things the way they want him to. Have you guessed who the lead vampire could possibly be yet…? Heh-heh-heh.

Grigore’s sexy ’80s vampires, with their fabulous big dyed blonde ’80s hair and ’80s leather and denim-style outfits- and that’s just the blokes!- all live underground in an abandoned church-type structure, with a nightclub at street level as their cover. Their cult is dying out because the men who hunt them down can pick them off easily while they are sleeping during the day, which of course, as vampires, they are obliged to do. To their enemies, therefore, they are no more than sitting ducks.

If only the vampires didn’t have to fear daylight and could strut coolly about in it like the Bee Gees in that great video for ‘Staying Alive,’ they could overcome their attackers and rule the world. Grigore thinks that if he could only mate with Catherine and have a child with her, that half-human, half-vampire offspring could save the endangered race of vampires known as the Cyprians.

One man is determined to save Catherine from this awful fate, or two men, if you count the diplomat, Jack Devlin. Now, I’d happily have vampire sex with Grigore myself, as he’s bleedin’ gorgeous, but Catherine is pure and innocent and goody-goody and anyway, she’s repulsed by the idea and begs Grigore repeatedly not to rape her.

Can the one person who’s supposed to protect and help Catherine in her hour of need come through for her, even if he has to be roasted half to death while still alive first? Or will the handsome ’80s rock star lookalike Grigore get to her first and fertilise her eggs with his little toy soldiers…? I’d take either option myself, as I’ve already mentioned, but I think Catherine might be saving her eggs for someone special, so I guess we’d better hope that they- the eggs!- make it out of Romania unfertilised, lol.

Anthony A boy’s best friend is his mother Perkins is marvellously tragic and sinister here at the same time. He still looks so good, nearly thirty years after he played Norman Bates in Alfred Hitchcock’s game-changing horror movie PSYCHO. He hasn’t put on any weight or lost his hair and he still looks handsome.

I’ve always quite fancied him, but I could never have married him or slept with him or anything like that. You know that old Rita Hayworth quote about the men she met going to bed with Gilda, her famous screen character, and waking up with her, Rita, and being disappointed about it, the ingrates?

Well, I still think that that’s a pretty good deal, but, applying the quote to Anthony Perkins, I’d be much too scared of going to bed with Norman and waking up with Mother. That film scared the Christ outta me when I was a young ‘un and it’s never lost its power to scare me. Donkeys’ years later, Anthony Perkins’s performance as both characters is as effective as it ever was. Given a choice, I’d take my chances with the vampires, ta…!

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

GODDESS OF LOVE. (2015) A SEXY-AS-HELL HORROR FILM REVIEWED BY SANDRA HARRIS.©

goddess of love venus

GODDESS OF LOVE. (2015) WRITTEN AND PRODUCED BY ALEXIS KENDRA AND JON KNAUTZ. DIRECTED BY JON KNAUTZ. STARRING ALEXIS KENDRA, WOODY NAISMITH AND ELIZABETH SANDY.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

I absolutely loved, loved, loved this one, a kind of FATAL ATTRACTION or PLAY MISTY FOR ME for the modern era, with its themes of love, obsession and bloody revenge and the intriguing tagline of: Her Love Will Never Die. I only bought it by accident, too, which is what makes it all the more amazing.

A sweet old dear in a charity shop pointed out to me, when I was buying a DVD from their Halloween movie section, that for one extra euro I could get another DVD. So back I dutifully trot to the DVDs and I pick out GODDESS OF LOVE, only half expecting it to be any good. When it turned out to be one of my films of the year, I was thrilled with myself.

It was written and produced by the lead actress, and the reason it’s so good is that She. Knows. Women. She has clearly been through bad break-ups in her time (haven’t we all, lol) and known other women who have too, and she’s drawn on her knowledge and life experiences to make a devastatingly true-to-life film that most women will identify with.

Venus (hence the title) is an American stripper. That’s her real name in the film, by the way, even though her clients might doubt it. She’s a beautiful young woman who can make a fair few bob a night with her pole-dancing, her stripping and her lap-dancing, and she has a gorgeous flat with a balcony view but, as is probably the case with a lot of women who work in the sex industry, she isn’t a happy camper underneath the sexy exterior.

She drinks too much, she takes drugs and she also sees things. She has full-on visions, hallucinations of things that aren’t happening or aren’t there. Whether this is as a result of the drugs or a full-blown mental illness, we don’t know.

And there could be other underlying reasons why this happens. Sexual or other kinds of abuse in childhood, maybe. There could be many reasons why poor Venus is as messed-up as she is.

A lot of women who are abused in childhood end up working in the sex industry. To them, sex maybe equals love, and if they can get love this way, well, then, they will. And who could blame them, or judge them? Very few of us are morally fit to throw that first stone.

Anyway, one night at work Venus meets a punter called Brian, the guy whom all of us women are secretly dying to nab for ourselves. He’s tall, dark, bearded, handsome, rich, he drives a huge glossy SUV, he’s a successful photographer and… get this… he’s a widow to boot! His wife committed suicide and he’s very messed-up because of it. He’s hurt, grieving, wounded, sad… and gagging for sex. The perfect man, lol.

Venus, who can’t believe her luck, takes him home and makes love to him. They start a relationship, in which Venus immediately pulls out all the stops in order to make Brian’s life sweet, easy, loving and meaningful again. She completely forgets about her own life, needs and personality in order to make Brian’s life better and whole again.

I’ve done this many times myself in the past so I know how she feels and why she’s doing it. I got exhausted watching her do all the things I used to do with certain guys. Concentrating on her appearance to the point where she’s worn out, never able to just relax in her pyjamas in case he calls over for sex.

Cooking for him, keeping her flat exhaustively clean and tidy for him, dressing up in her hooker clothes to have sex with him, working hard to keep him amused, satisfied and interested in the bedroom and forgetting her own needs entirely.

There’s one really uncomfortable scene in which she’s all strippered up, doing a lap-dance for a bored and snoozy Brian, who says all he wants to do is sleep. How is it nice and relaxing for her to have sex with him, when she feels obliged to treat him like a punter who must always get his money’s worth? She feels like she has to put on a performance, a great big spectacular show, for him every time. It’s awful to watch, but it’s her own fault.

Clearly, like many of us, she feels like her own looks and personality aren’t enough to keep him. She has to become a complete and utter doormat for him as well. It’s so sad to watch, and yet we women do this for men all the time.

The only reason I’m not doing it myself for some guy right this very minute is because I took my frozen heart out of circulation for a bit so that I’d have time to write my romantic fiction novel, which I did. At least I did that. Maybe it was something of a self-protection thing too.

I pride myself on having learned from my previous mistakes, but probably all it’d take for me to be back living for some bloke twenty-four-seven would be for ‘some bloke’ to crawl out of the woodwork claiming he loved me too. That’s how easy it is to steal away a woman’s heart.

Anyway, even more embarrassing to watch is when Venus presents Brian with a beautifully wrapped package containing a statuette of the famous Venus De Milo after which Venus was named, the Goddess of Love with the arms lopped off at the elbows.

Not only does Brian, supposedly a photographer and connoisseur of beauty, not know who this iconic creature is, but he hasn’t a clue why Venus is giving him such a thoughtfully chosen gift. The cretinous philistine. Who doesn’t know who the Venus De Milo is, and what kind of photographer worth his salt hasn’t heard of it?

The work in the relationship is all being done by Venus. She sends the little loving ‘miss you’ texts, she arranges all the dates and the nights out, she puts her own life completely and utterly on hold while she waits for Brian to phone.

She even spies on him, sitting on the cold damp ground by the trees across from his fabulous gaff, for hours on end in the dark, to see if he’s doing what he said he’d be doing on nights when he can’t see her, ie, working away quietly at home by himself.

She has good reason to believe that he might be seeing another woman, a stunning-looking antiques shop owner called Christine LeGrande. Christine was his deceased wife’s best friend, she’s posed nude for his photography sessions and they had a ‘brief fling’ when Brian’s wife killed herself, because they each knew the kind of pain the other was going through.

I’d be 99.99% certain that Christine’s ‘pain’ on losing her friend was 100% assuaged by gaining the friend’s husband, whom I’ve already stated is the kind of man most women would kill for. And what an irony that is, given what happens in the second half of the film when poor, poor Venus goes round to Brian’s house one night and discovers the real truth about her snivelling, gutless and faithless so-called boyfriend…

I won’t tell you how the film ends because it’s just too good to spoil, but Venus’s descent into what the DVD box calls ‘the dark side of psycho-sexual insanity’ is fantastic to watch but we feel awful for Venus at the same time.

And the sad thing about it is that guys watching this film will just dismiss Venus as another mental-as-f*ck bunny-boiler, because doing that means that they won’t ever have to look at their own possibly faulty, irresponsible behaviour towards women. Guys never learn, and women continue to suffer.

That’s not to say that Venus is entirely blameless and put-upon in this whole mess. She doesn’t derive her self-esteem from herself (the clue’s in the name, apparently!), but has grown used to deriving it from the men in her life. As someone who’s done this their whole life, I can’t help but relate to this. At least I have the awareness about this now, but having the awareness is only half the battle, sadly. Lol…! Why can’t it ever be the whole battle?

Venus only feels good about herself when her relationships are going well; when they begin to unravel, so do her good feelings about herself. And then the downward spiral into drink, drugs and feeling shit about herself will begin to bubble over, and it’s never that far from the surface at any time anyway. Alexis Kendra is a film-maker whose work I’d love to see more of. I’ve said it earlier and I’ll finish on it. She knows women, and she knows the struggle too.

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

 

ZOLTAN: HOUND OF DRACULA. (1977) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

reggie nalder face

ZOLTAN: HOUND OF DRACULA. (1977) BASED ON THE NOVEL ‘HOUNDS OF DRACULA’ BY KEN JOHNSON. DIRECTED BY ALBERT BAND. STARRING MICHAEL PATAKI, REGGIE NALDER AND JOSE FERRER.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

This is a very strange film; I’m not honestly sure if I’ve ever seen a stranger. I’m reviewing it, though, because of two things. One, it’s referred to on the DVD box as ‘the infamous midnight movie gem, ZOLTAN: HOUND OF DRACULA,’ which harks back to an earlier, possibly much cooler and more exciting era of cinema-going.

And two, because it co-stars Reggie Nalder, who, a year or two later, went on to star as Mr. Kurt Barlow, in other words the vampire, in the television dramatisation of Stephen King’s superb SALEM’S LOT, one of the best vampire books ever written. It’s right up there with DRACULA itself, Anne Rice’s INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE and Whitley Strieber’s THE HUNGER. Mr. Barlow is an extremely sinister character, maybe one of the scariest ever screen vampires.

ZOLTAN: HOUND OF DRACULA starts in modern times, with a bunch of soldiers back in ‘the old country,’ i.e., Romania, blasting open a tomb that contains the coffins of dozens of dead members of the Dracula family. That’d be quite the find for us vampire lovers, wouldn’t it?

The dopey soldier ordered to guard the tombs overnight thinks it might be a good idea to pull the stake out of the body of one Dracula family member. It’s the last bright idea he ever has, poor lad.

The corpse he’s unwittingly re-animated is that of Zoltan, Count Dracula’s faithful big black hound, a Doberman Pinscher, and Zoltan’s first task in his new life is to kill the dopey soldier who unintentionally gave him that life again. That’s gratitude for you, eh?

The clever doggie then pulls the stake out of his beloved master, not Count Dracula himself but a part-vampire called Veidt Schmidt (Reggie Nalder), a servant of the Count’s like himself. Together, Zoltan and Schmidt served the Count faithfully back in the day, but now all the Draculas have expired and there’s no-one left for the pair to work for. Or is there…?

The last of the long line of Draculas was apparently smuggled out of Romania years ago for his own safety. Name of Michael Drake, he now lives in California, America, and apparently has no idea he’s a vampire. Schmidt and Zoltan travel to California to find Michael, pursued hotly by an Inspector Branco from ‘the old country,’ whose job it is to stop them.

In the meantime, Michael, a typically American middle-aged married man with a family, has piled his wife and two kids, their two German Shepherd dogs and a box of adorable newborn puppies into their gigantic Winnebago camper van for a holiday by an isolated lake. How long will it be before Veidt and Zoltan, and then Inspector Branco, catch up with them there?

What I didn’t really get about the movie is this: if Veidt and Zoltan want to find Michael to beg him to be their master again, why are all their overtures towards him murderous? Why are they constantly trying to kill him, then?

Some of the scenes featuring dog attacks are very vicious, especially the one where Zoltan is attacking a lonely hitchhiker, and another one where several dogs are keeping Branco and Michael, now fighting fiercely together to defeat the representatives of the house of Dracula, under siege in a fishermen’s cottage.

The dog attacks look so real, and by this stage Zoltan has recruited some local doggies to his cause as well, including Michael’s big mutts Annie and Ramsey. We even see the adorable missing black puppy being vampirised and turned into a puppy of the Un-dead. It’s too cute and weird, but then I mentioned that it was a strange movie, didn’t I?

It’s a very odd little film indeed, but worth at least one watch for Reggie Nalder’s tremendously creepy made-for-horror face and also for all the doggie action, both cute and spooky. Bow-wow, Zoltan old friend, bow-wow. The Meaty Chunks are under the sink.

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

LAST SHIFT, A HAUNTING AT SILVER FALLS and HONEYMOON: A TRIPLE-DECKER HORROR FILM REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

honeymoon

LAST SHIFT (2014), A HAUNTING AT SILVER FALLS (2013) AND HONEYMOON (2014): A TRIPLE-DECKER SANDWICH OF JUICY HORROR FILM REVIEWS FOR HALLOWEEN BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

Watching these three American supernatural horror flicks back-to-back was a very pleasurable use of my time this weekend. HONEYMOON was particularly good, but we’ll leave that one till last and begin with LAST SHIFT, which was pretty decent itself too.

It concerns a beautiful young rookie policewoman called Jessica Loren, whose very first shift ever as a copper is the titular ‘last shift’ for an old and rundown police station. A newer, bigger and more modern cop-shop has just opened up down the road a bit, and all the police business has been transferred up there and all the emergency calls in the area re-routed there too.

But the old cop-shop has to stay open for just one more night, just one more shift, so that the hazardous materials people can come and collect some old dirty evidence that needs taking away. Jessie draws the short straw, though God knows why they would put a lone woman in charge of a haunted police station when they could easily have picked a big burly man to do the job. Sexist but true.

And yes, by the way, the place is haunted to buggery, lol. No sooner has Jessie parked her butt than the phone starts ringing and a girl called Monica begins sobbing and begging for help, saying she’s been captured and, wherever she is, there are other girls there too and she thinks they’re all dead.

Jessie reports the distress call to the new cop-shop and waits for the frightened girl to ring back. There’s plenty to occupy her time while she waits. An incontinent homeless man takes root in the station and refuses to leave, furniture moves around seemingly all by itself and eerie figures start popping up all over the deserted cop-shop, which will put you nicely in mind of some other films you may have seen involving abandoned lunatic asylums, schools, hospitals, etc. Are the staff merely hazing their newest recruit, or is there a more sinister explanation for the freak- and freaky- occurrences…?

I loved all the Manson Family stuff in the film, especially as I’ve only just finished reading HELTER SKELTER, prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi’s excellent book on the murders, the trial and the aftermath. I’ve also watched the 2004 film of the same name and an absolutely trippy documentary from 1973 called, simply, MANSON.

I think the makers of LAST SHIFT had studied the Manson Family murders carefully and definitely had Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel, Leslie Van Houten and Charles Manson himself in mind when they created their disturbing boogeymen… and women…!

A HAUNTING AT SILVER FALLS was the weakest of the three films. A recently orphaned teenage girl called Jordan is sent to live with her sexy Auntie Anne and Anne’s beefcake of a husband, Kevin, in the titular town of Silver Falls. Anne and Kevin are a little fruity.

I think we first discover this when they lock Jordan in the bathroom with a slice of bread when they go on their ‘Date Night.’ Admittedly, Jordan is inclined to be a tad rebellious and has been running around with local nerd Larry Parrish, but still, ‘imprisoning’ her in the john (so she can go potty when necessary, one assumes) is taking the in loco parentis bit a little too far, dontcha think?

Anyway, it’s Larry who first lets it slip to Jordan that Silver Falls is haunted. Haunted? That’s right, by the spirits of two young girls who were apparently murdered by their father, who is on Death Row right now for the crime.

When Jordan puts on a ring she finds in the forest, some weird stuff starts happening and she starts getting ‘visitations’ from the little ghost girls, who need nothing so much as a good scrub and brush-up. Scruffy little ghost girls! Smarten yourselves up and get jobs, the pair of ye. Contribute something to society, besides a few ghostly wails and spooky faces.

Can Jordan and Larry work out what the shabby little ghost girls are trying to tell them before it’s too late? By which I mean, before Larry’s father Dr. Parrish, the world’s meanest psychiatrist, can have Jordan sedated and committed like he’s clearly dying to do, and before the real killer of the two dead girls can have a pop at her too…?

HONEYMOON was super-entertaining from beginning to end. A seriously loved-up couple called Bea and Paul head to Bea’s childhood vacation cottage in the woods for a private honeymoon. (The Irish for ‘honeymoon’ is ‘mí na meala,’ which literally means ‘the month of honey.’ After it’s all over, that’s when things turn to shit, right? Lol.) 

At first, things between the couple are positively idyllic. They have nothing to do but go boating on the lake, walking in the woods and making hot, passionate love all the hours God sends. Nice work, eh…?

The only fly in the ointment initially is when Bea discovers that her childhood mate (possibly sweetheart; she’s not saying!) Will is still living in the district. Now he has a wife, a strange, frightened little thing whom Paul, anyway, thinks might be getting abused by Will. Bea also teases Paul about being less ‘alpha’ than Will. Clearly she doesn’t know the first thing about Men And How To Handle Them, as that is something you never, ever do. Ever.

Anyway, one night Paul, woken up by an unnaturally bright light permeating their holiday home, finds Bea missing from their marital bed. After an unnerving search of the cabin and then the woods, he eventually finds her… in the woods, naked, cold and disorientated. That can’t be good, right…?

Paul takes her back to the cabin and tries to be happy with her rather lame explanation of sleepwalking, but it isn’t too long before he begins to wish that sleepwalking was all his little Honey Bea was up to in the creepy dark woods…

This film actually caused me a sleepless night last night, the Sunday night. Thanks to a household mishap a few years back (let’s just say that someone who ought to have known better was playing at being Tarzan), my bedroom curtains don’t close properly all the way across like they’re supposed to. Every light on the street, therefore, car lights, street lights, police and ambulance lights, traffic lights, etc., penetrates my street-facing bedroom at some point or another throughout the night.

Every time I opened my eyes last night, it was to the kind of hi-viz searchlight beam the FBI might use when sussing out a crime den. And every stick of furniture in my bedroom very kindly took on the shape of a tall, sinister man-being, at no extra charge. I was utterly frazzled, convinced I’d been probed and inseminated in every trembling orifice, by the time the dawn broke. Thanks a bunch, HONEYMOON! Do please let me know when I can return the favour…

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