THE BUNKER. (1981) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

THE BUNKER. (1981) BASED ON THE BOOK BY JAMES P. O’DONNELL. STARRING ANTHONY HOPKINS, SUSAN BLAKELY, CLIFF GORMAN AND PIPER LAURIE.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

‘The war is lost.’

‘We are surrounded by corpses.’

‘What might have been, Speer…’

‘The Third Reich is about to collapse.’

‘All of the children are going to die…!’

‘If the enemy wishes to destroy us, why help them?’

‘We have chosen death, to remove the threat of removal or surrender.’

‘No-one has the right to tie the fate of the German nation to his own personal destiny.’

‘The war is not lost. The war is not lost! The war will never be lost! I will defeat them all. I will defeat the entire world!’

This is a long one now, as the actress said to the Bishop, so be warned. I loved this made-for-television film adaptation of Hitler’s last weeks and days in the Bunker, the little underground kingdom in the nearly ruined gardens of the Reich Chancellery in Berlin where the doomed German dictator ended his life and reign of terror simultaneously.

Anthony Hopkins was brilliant as Hitler, as you might expect, because Anthony Hopkins doesn’t do anything by half-measures, but what really fascinated me here was the timing of the gradual emptying out of the bunker as the Russians came ever closer to taking Berlin and ending the Second World War, the worst war in the history of the world.

At first, when Hitler first descends in January 1945 to its murky depths, life in the Bunker is relatively civilised. Hitler takes tea at four every day with his secretaries, Gerda Christian and Traudl Junge, and Constance Manziarly (played here by Pam St. Clement, aka Pat Butcher from EastEnders!), his treasured cook.

He loves her because she is able to create both the bland vegetarian diet he prefers but also the home-made cakes for which he has a weakness. O-ho, so somebody likes cakes, eh…? Lol.

Constance is unswervingly loyal to the Fuhrer. ‘No matter what happens, Adolf Hitler will never die,’ she says in the film, and also: ‘The Fuhrer’s birthday in this place! How did we ever come to this? How did we ever come to this place?’

Hitler (in real life but not in this film) treats his captive female audience to the long boring monologues for which he is notorious, speeches about dogs (his dog Blondi has puppies while in the Bunker), his vegetarianism (which caused him to suffer excessive flatulence, and I’m sure the ladies would have noticed!) and the evils of smoking.

Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s Minister for Propaganda and head toady and boot-licker, is present full-time in the bunker at this stage. So too is Martin Bormann, one of Hitler’s top men, Otto Gunsche, Hitler’s personal adjutant, Rochus Misch, the guy who works the all-important switchboard, getting messages in and out of the Bunker, and Hitler’s personal doctor, Dr. Theodor Morell. He pops in and out frequently, administering the highly unorthodox injections and (allegedly!) the cocaine eyedrops that keep the dictator going.

The situation conferences around the big table to discuss the progress of the war take place daily, and Hitler’s generals, Guderian, Keitel, Jodl & Co. are either issued with wholly impractical orders or bawled out publicly for not having carried out the last batch of wholly impractical orders.

Hitler in the last days of the war is moving armies around on his little maps that no longer exist, because they’ve been wiped out by the Russians, but he keeps up his outward insistence that the tide could still turn in Germany’s favour.

These situation conferences become more and more stressful for all concerned. Towards the end, when time has lost all meaning and no-one in the Bunker any longer keeps to a schedule, they could start at 1am and go on till morning.

Hitler frequently loses his temper with his generals, whose failure to win the war for him feels like a betrayal, and his screaming fits are legendary. You can’t have a Hitler film without the little guy with the funny moustache and the queer hairstyle throwing a good old screaming fit in it.

In the last few weeks and days of April 1945, when even Hitler knows that the war is lost, things become incredibly tense and gripping to watch. Hitler’s staff beg him to leave the Bunker and flee to the relative safety of his mountain retreat in Berchtesgaden, in Bavaria. He’s adamant that he won’t leave Berlin, however.

His long-term mistress Eva Braun has joined him in the Bunker by this stage, and even her forced air of desperate oh-look-how-frightfully-gay-we-all-are has had the shine well and truly worn off of it. She won’t leave Berlin either, however, or her Fuhrer. Whatever fate is mapped out for her Adolf, she will share it, even unto Death.

She gives an expensive fur stole of hers to one of the secretaries. ‘Think of me when you wear it,’ she trills gaily. Hmmm. Even for the secretaries, who survive the war, there won’t be any opportunities to wear that fur stole for a while.

Albert Speer, Hitler’s pet architect and the Minister for Armaments, features heavily in the film. Knowing now that their dreams of rebuilding Germany together after the war are as dust in the wind, Hitler puts Speer in charge of his despicable ‘scorched earth’ policy: destroying what’s left of Germany so the Russians won’t get their hands on it. Not just bridges and military installations, but houses and shops and farms and factories. This is what Hitler says: ‘Believe me, when we take our leave, the earth will tremble. The planet will go up in flames.’

The German people will have nothing left to live on when this detestable policy has been carried out. That was probably partly what Hitler wanted all along, to take everything with him when he himself went out in a blaze of glory, like in Wagner’s Twilight of the Gods or the Götterdämmerung he’d always admired and wanted for himself and Germany. 

Also, the German people had let him down, hadn’t they, by not going all out to help him win the war, so maybe they didn’t deserve to live on after he did. What a mindset. I’m fucked so all you lot are fucked as well. It seems like a pretty typical Hitlerian mentality to me.

Luckily for the German people, Speer, who claims in the film, somewhat dubiously, that he’d planned to kill Hitler himself at one point in order to stop the dictator from implementing his scorched earth scheme, in the end only pretends to Hitler that he’s been carrying out this disastrous policy.

He doesn’t believe that the fate of Germany should be tied inextricably to that of one sick and twisted individual, and, in that at least, ‘the Nazi who said sorry’ is right. He confesses to Hitler what he’s done as he’s leaving the Bunker and saying goodbye to his former Fuhrer forever, but Hitler is too far gone to give a shit by then.

Speer, by the way, seems to have had a well-developed sense of self-preservation. ‘Speaking for myself,’ he says at one point, ‘I intend to outlive the Third Reich.’ And he did, by a whopping thirty-six years, even if twenty of those were spent in Spandau Prison.

Poor Hitler. His health is wrecked, his friends- look at Goering and how he’s betrayed his former friend and leader!- are deserting him right and left, his bezzy mate Himmler has actually crawled into bed with the Allies, his trademark glossy black locks are as grey as a badger’s arse now and his lovely dream of the Thousand Year Reich is in ruins.

Oh, and Eva Braun’s pregnant sister Gretl’s husband, Hermann Fegelein, has been caught trying to scarper without permission and is now paying for his crime by being left to dangle on a meathook. (Other film versions have Fegelein being shot.) What’s to live for now?

The Bunker inmates can be divided into those, like Speer, who choose to leg it while Hitler is still alive, and those who hang on till the bitter end. These include Eva Braun, Hitler’s adjutant Gunsche, his toady Joseph Goebbels and his wife Magda and their six children. These are all living in the Bunker by this stage, as is Rochus Misch the transmissions technician, Constance Manziarly the cook (who was never seen or heard from again after the war) and the secretaries.

On the night before their joint suicide, Hitler marries Eva Braun. The next day, they say goodbye formally to their remaining acolytes, and then they retire forever to bite into cyanide capsules (previously tested on Hitler’s beloved dog, Blondi), and Hitler also shoots himself in the head for good measure.

He won’t let himself be captured and hung upside-down and naked in the town square, which is what has happened to his crony Mussolini, the Italian dictator, and Mussolini’s missus. ‘They (the Russians) are not going to cage me and exhibit me in a zoo!’

Otto Gunsche carries the bodies outside, then sets them on fire as per Hitler’s wishes. Magda Goebbels poisons her six children with cyanide capsules, then allows her husband to shoot her dead outside in the garden before in turn shooting himself.

With the bigwigs gone, it’s every man for himself. It’s the moment when the musicians playing ‘Nearer My God To Thee’ on the Titanic pack up their instruments, wish each other well in a gentlemanly fashion and then scramble desperately for a place on a lifeboat.

The Bunker descends into chaos as Gunsche, the secretaries, Martin Bormann and assorted others pack up and try to make it through the Russian lines to the British armies, who don’t seem to be as terrifying to the Germans as their Russian counterparts.

The secretaries paint lipstick spots on their faces to give themselves the appearance of smallpox. ‘Do you want to be raped (by the Russians)?’ one says to the other. Her terrified friend promptly yanks the lippy out of her hands…!

When even the loyal and dutiful Rochus Misch eventually leaves his post and the final transmissions squawk their contents to the empty air, there’s a definite feeling in the Bunker that the fat lady has well and truly warbled her last note. Johannes Hentschel, the mechanic, is the last man in the film to leave the underground tomb.

The Bunker is empty, the Fuhrer is dead, Berlin is in ruins, the war is lost and the Russians are knocking- none too politely- on the doors of the Reich Chancellery. Years and even decades in Russian prison camps await some of those fleeing from the Bunker.

What ghosts would haunt the eerily silent corridors of the Bunker today, if it still existed, which of course it does not? Hitler is supposed to have told an underling, a young man, that his spirit would remain on duty within its walls for all eternity, keeping an eye out for those pesky Russians.  

A pretty pathetic story, probably not true, but I still wouldn’t have ever wanted to be down there alone in those days after the war ended when the Bunker was dark, waterlogged and filled with the flotsam and jetsam of all those disappeared lives.

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 REMAINS OF THE DAY. (1993) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

THE REMAINS OF THE DAY. (1993) A MERCHANT-IVORY PRODUCTION. DIRECTED BY JAMES IVORY. BASED ON THE NOVEL BY KAZUO ISHIGURO. SCREENPLAY BY RUTH PRAWER JHABVALA.

STARRING ANTHONY HOPKINS, EMMA THOMPSON, JAMES FOX, HUGH GRANT, CHRISTOPHER REEVE, PETER VAUGHAN, PIP TORRENS, JOHN SAVIDENT, LENA HEADEY AND BEN CHAPLIN.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

This is an utterly gorgeous film, visually and in just about every way you can think of. It’s beautifully-scripted and acted and the shots of the sumptuous and luxurious Darlington Hall are breath-taking, though, interestingly enough, five or so English country houses were used in the filming of the magnificent hall.

The film is based on the best-selling novel by Kazuo Ishiguro. I have the loveliest memories of watching the film in the dying light of a sunny November day several winters in a row and I’ll probably always associate it with that time of year.

Anthony Hopkins turns in a masterful performance as Mr. James Stevens, butler to Lord Darlington of Darlington Hall in the England of the 1930s and 1940s. Stevens is the perfect butler. The consummate professional. Discreet, efficient, born to serve and, most importantly, putting his job above all else.

A real-life butler was consulted in the making of the film and apparently Anthony Hopkins asked him if he had any ‘tips’ on buttling. When a butler is in a room, the consultant advised, it must seem emptier than before. You could certainly say that of Mr. Stevens, the most unobtrusive butler imaginable.

His main goal in life seems to be to ease Lord Darlington’s passage through his life, to the point where he is willing to sacrifice his own chances of love and a family and a personal life of his own.

He clearly gets this devotion to duty from his stiff-upper-lipped elderly father, Mr. William Stevens, who ‘buttled’ his butt off his entire life and who, in fact, will die ‘buttling.’ Ooops. Spoiler alert, haha. Mr. Stevens the Elder is exquisitely played by the wonderful Peter Vaughan of PORRIDGE and A GHOST STORY AT CHRISTMAS fame.

There are two main storylines in the film. Stevens falls gradually in love with Emma Thompson’s younger housekeeper, the lively and spirited Miss Sarah ‘Sally’ Kenton, who is as good at her job as Stevens is. She doesn’t live for her job, however. She is quite amenable to the idea of love and all that goes with it.

Stevens, though, is so buttoned-up and used to keeping his feelings under strict control that he is unable to respond to her advances. She gives him chance after chance after chance to declare that he has feelings for her, but time out of number he fails the test. And he knows he’s failing, which is worse, but, despite the pain he’s causing to them both, he still can’t open up to her.

She eventually throws in the towel, and who could blame her, after he comes across her bawling her eyes out over him on the floor of her parlour. Unable to offer her so much as a crumb of comfort, unwilling even to help the sobbing woman to her feet, he makes some inconsequential remark about the maid’s failure to dust a certain alcove.

‘I knew you would wish to be informed about it,’ he says stiffly.

‘I’ll see to it, Mr. Stevens,’ she sniffles, heartbroken.

Mr. Stevens’s last chance for love flies up the parlour chimney and is gone forever…

The other- grimmer- storyline concerns Lord Darlington’s alleged ‘Nazi-sympathising’ and commitment to helping Germany re-arm and strengthen herself after her crushing defeat in World War One. The situation for England grows more and more serious as the war which seems inevitable to some draws nearer.

Lord Darlington’s watchwords are words like ‘fair play’ and ‘honour’ and doing right by the other fellow. He feels guilty, and almost personally responsible, for the Versailles Treaty that followed on after the First World War.

The Treaty crippled Germany and made her pay heavily, financially and otherwise, for her part in causing the war which killed so many people. She lost lands and monies and the right to re-armament.

She had to pay huge sums in reparations and her peoples were pretty bloody depressed for a long time afterwards. Lord Darlington foolishly wants to make this all up to Germany in the interests of so-called fair play.

Lord Darlington’s journalist godson, ably played by Hugh Grant, accuses Stevens of turning a blind eye to the well-meaning but misguided Lord Darlington’s turning the house into a base for Nazi operations in England. Stevens, however, would never dream of presuming to question his master’s actions. Talk about ‘ours not to reason why, ours but to do and die…’

It is only later in the film, when we see Stevens off on a motoring holiday en route to rectify past mistakes after the war, that we discover he may not have been entirely comfortable after all with what went on at Darlington Hall. At the very least, he sees it as something to keep quiet about.

There are so many highlights and key scenes in the film. Poor old Mr. Stevens Sr. falling with the heavy tray and Coronation Street’s Fred Elliott attending him as his doctor. Miss Kenton trying to wrestle Steven’s ‘dirty’ book out of his hands. Hugh Grant as Lord Darlington’s godson getting the birds and the bees talk from a mortified Stevens. ‘I always enjoy our little chats about nature,’ says Hugh Grant to a bemused butler.

 The opulence of Darlington Hall during the ill-fated international conference of 1936, and the major preparations below stairs for said conference. (The film really shows us how these fantastic old country houses were run behind the scenes. The image of the swan gliding along the water serenely while underneath the surface the feet paddle furiously comes to mind.) The heart-breaking scene at the bus-stop in the bucketing rain at the end. Oh God. Just thinking about it is causing me to tear up. Say no more…

This film is a thing of understated beauty, subtlety and delicacy. It is one of Anthony Hopkins’s and, indeed, of Emma Thompson’s finest ever performances, in my ever-so-humble-opinion, and that’s saying something. Together, they pack one hell of an emotional punch.

I must warn you before you watch it, you’ll need hankies. Lots of hankies. And fancy chocolates too and maybe a nice glass of white wine. Chilled to perfection and served the way Mr. Stevens himself would do it. It’s the kind of classy film that deserves a bit of effort being put into watching it. Any trouble you take over it will most certainly be worth 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.

BRAM STOKER’S DRACULA. (1992) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

BRAM STOKER’S DRACULA. (1992) BASED ON THE BOOK BY BRAM STOKER. DIRECTED BY FRANCIS FORD COPPOLA.

STARRING GARY OLDMAN, ANTHONY HOPKINS, WINONA RYDER, KEANU REEVES, CARY ELWES, RICHARD E. GRANT, TOM WAITS AND SADIE FROST.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

I’ve had quite the love-hate relationship with this film. The first time I saw it, I hated it, much to the disgust of the friend and massive Gary Oldman fan with whom I was watching it. (‘But he’s Sirius Black!” she kept saying. ‘Sirius Blaaack…!’) Sirius Black from HARRY POTTER or not, it made no odds to me. I just didn’t get his whole deal.

The thing about me is that I like a nice sexy Dracula. Christopher Lee, Bela Lugosi, even Klaus Kinski as Nosferatu in Werner Herzog’s beautiful, dreamy film; these are all my boys.

I’ll also accept a terrifyingly scary head vampire in lieu of a sexy one. For example, Max Schreck as Nosferatu in Murnau’s ground-breaking 1922 masterpiece, or the wonderful Reggie Nalder as Kurt Barlow in the 1979 TV miniseries adaptation of Stephen King’s SALEM’S LOT.

I guess I just don’t like Gary Oldman as Dracula, and I didn’t dig him either as Old Dracula, with his ridiculous ‘two loaves of bread’ hairstyle; as Young Dracula with those dreadful dark blue eye-glasses he sports; or even as ‘Bye-dear-I’m-off-to-war-Dracula, in which persona his suit of armour and long unkempt hair/facial hair makes him look like a cross between an armadillo and the Cowardly Lion from THE WIZARD OF OZ.  

The second time I saw the film, about a year later, I totally got it and had a whale of a time. I still don’t like Gary Oldman’s portrayal of Dracula, a fictional character very close to my heart, but I guess sometimes you have to give something a little distance before you realise that you love it…

So, what is the actual deal here? Well, this is a rather superior re-telling of Bram Stoker’s supernatural- and super!- literary classic, DRACULA. Gary Oldman, as if you didn’t know, lol, plays the aristocratic vampire Count from Transylvania who has waited centuries to be reunited with the love of his life, Elisabeta, who took her own life due to the cruel lies of others.

The poor tormented Dracula, who really is a most sympathetic character, finds his Elisabeta again in nineteenth-century England. In a nineteenth-century Englishwoman and prim, proper little schoolmarm, to be precise.

While in his alternate guise of a young(ish) nobleman, he quickly gets under the skin of Winona Ryder’s Mina, the reincarnation of Elisabeta, and wins her unswerving allegiance. Not too surprising, considering Mina’s romantic alternative is lowly estate agent’s clerk Jonathan Harker, woodenly played by the hilariously uncharismatic Keanu Reeves.

Winona Ryder, an actress I don’t normally like, is actually quite acceptable as Wilhelmina Murray, who wants to be faithful to her beloved Jonathan, but just can’t help falling for the lonely charms of Dracula, even while the dopey Jonathan is still trapped in Dracula’s castle in Transylvania, being sexed up nightly by Dracula’s three hot, sex-starved wives. And complaining his scrawny arse off about it too, if you can believe that!

Dracula, of course, is simultaneously leeching the life out of Mina’s bezzie mate, the slutty Lucy Westenra, played by Sadie Frost. The scenes of seduction between Lucy and Dracula in the guise of a hideous wild animal manage to be both sexy and mind-blowingly wild. Red-haired Lucy also has a loyal little band of male followers surrounding her who gladly provide her with their blood when Dracula takes hers.

Cary Elwes plays Lucy’s fiancé, Arthur Holmwood. Richard E. Grant, another actor for whom I’ve never much cared, plays suitor Dr. Jack Seward, whose insane asylum needs to be brought seriously up to code, as it still uses the power-hose as a means of subduing hysterical inmates. Billy Campbell plays the third suitor, the rich American Quincey P. Morris.

Ultimately though, even the clever ministrations of Anthony Hopkins’s wonderfully dramatic and over-the-top Professor Van Helsing (actually, lads, is he drunk?) fail to save Lucy. She succumbs to Dracula’s blood-sucking ways, as we know from reading the book (so don’t be saying I’m dealing out spoilers here, it’s a one-hundred-and-twenty-three-year-old book!), then comes back as a vampire and is put to death appropriately in some brilliant scenes in a gloomy crypt by Van Helsing and Arthur Holmwood.

Good old Gary Oldman as Dracula then swaps haemoglobin with the not unwilling Mina in some surprisingly sexy and even tender scenes. Meanwhile, Van Helsing and Arthur Holmwood and the rest of Mina’s suitors, Jack Seward and Quincy P. Morris, are running around like headless chickens trying to destroy and/or render useless the boxes of earth from his native Transylvania without which Dracula is unable to travel. They eventually burst in on the loved-up couple, but are they in time or is it much, much too late to save Mina from a fate worse than death…?

The scenery, costumes and special effects are excellent. Lavish and visually stunning, as we might expect from director Francis Ford Coppola. I have no beef with these. This is not a low-budget affair.

The Vampire Chicks are absolute knock-outs, but even they can’t coax a life-like performance out of Keanu Reeves. Is it because they’re un-Dead, or is he just a bit crap…? I’ll leave you guys to make up your own minds.

I guess the reason I sometimes feel less than tender myself towards this film is that its cast is not the cast I would have personally chosen. But don’t worry, folks, the film’s done quite spectacularly well over the years even without my personal seal of approval, lol, and I’m sure it’ll continue to do so. Over and out.  

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 BUNKER. (1981) DEFINITELY NOT A FILM ABOUT GOLF!!! REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

bunker film

THE BUNKER. (1981) BASED ON THE BOOK BY JAMES P. O’DONNELL. STARRING ANTHONY HOPKINS, SUSAN BLAKELY, CLIFF GORMAN AND PIPER LAURIE.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

I loved this made-for-television film rendition of Hitler’s last weeks and days in the Bunker, the little underground kingdom in the nearly ruined gardens of the Reich Chancellery in Berlin where the doomed German dictator ended his life and reign of terror simultaneously.

Anthony Hopkins was brilliant as Hitler, as you might expect, because Anthony Hopkins doesn’t do anything by half-measures, but what really fascinated me here was the timing of the gradual emptying out of the bunker as the Russians came ever closer to taking Berlin and ending the Second World War, the worst war in the history of the world.

At first, when Hitler first descends in January 1945 to its murky depths, life in the Bunker is relatively civilised. Hitler takes tea at four every day with his secretaries, Gerda Christian and Traudl Junge, and Constance Manziarly (played here by Pam St. Clement, aka Pat Butcher from EastEnders!), his treasured cook, who is able to create both the bland vegetarian diet he preferred but also the home-made cakes for which he has a weakness. O-ho, so somebody likes cakes, eh…? Lol.

Hitler treats his captive female audience to the long boring monologues for which he is notorious, speeches about dogs (his dog Blondi has puppies while in the Bunker), his vegetarianism (which caused him to suffer excessive flatulence, and I’m sure the ladies would have noticed!) and the evils of smoking.

Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s Minister for Propaganda and head toady and boot-licker, is present full-time in the bunker at this stage. So too is Martin Bormann, one of Hitler’s top men, Otto Gunsche, Hitler’s personal adjutant, Rochus Misch, the guy who works the all-important switchboard, getting messages in and out of the Bunker, and Hitler’s personal doctor, Dr. Theodor Morell, pops in and out, administering the highly unorthodox injections and (allegedly!) the cocaine eyedrops that keep the dictator going.

The situation conferences around the big table to discuss the progress of the war take place daily, and Hitler’s generals, like Guderian, Keitel, Jodl & Co. are either issued with wholly impractical orders or bawled out publicly for not having carried out the last batch. Of wholly impractical orders, lol.

Hitler in the last days of the war is moving armies around on his little maps that no longer exist, because they’ve been wiped out by the Russians, but he keeps up his outward insistence that the tide could still turn in Germany’s favour.

These situation conferences become more and more stressful for all concerned. Towards the end, when time has lost all meaning and no-one in the Bunker any longer keeps to a schedule, they could start at 1am and go on till daylight.

Hitler frequently loses his temper with his generals, whose failure to win the war for him feels like a betrayal, and his screaming fits are legendary. You can’t have a Hitler film without the little guy with the funny moustache and the queer hairstyle throwing a good old screaming fit in it.

In the last few weeks and days of April 1945, when even Hitler knows that the war is lost, things become incredibly tense and gripping to watch. Hitler’s staff beg him to leave the Bunker and flee to the relative safety of his mountain retreat in Berchtesgaden, in Bavaria. He’s adamant that he won’t leave Berlin, however.

His long-term mistress Eva Braun has joined him in the Bunker by this stage, and even her forced air of desperate oh-look-how-frightfully-gay-we-all-are has had the shine well and truly worn off of it.

She won’t leave Berlin either, however, or her Fuhrer. Whatever fate is mapped out for her Adolf, she will share it, even unto Death. She gives an expensive fur stole of hers to one of the secretaries. ‘Think of me when you wear it,’ she trills gaily. Hmmm. Even for the secretaries, who survive the war, there won’t be any opportunities to wear that fur stole for a while.

Albert Speer, Hitler’s pet architect and the Minister for Armaments, features heavily in the film. Knowing now that their dreams of rebuilding Germany together after the war are as dust in the wind, Hitler puts Speer in charge of his despicable ‘scorched earth’ policy: destroying what’s left of Germany so the Russians won’t get their hands on it. Not just bridges and military installations, but houses and shops and farms and factories as well.

The German people will have nothing left to live on when this policy has been carried out. That was probably partly what Hitler wanted all along, to take everything with him when he himself went out in a blaze of glory, like in Wagner’s Twilight of the Gods or the Götterdämmerung he’d always admired and wanted for himself and Germany.

Also, the German people had let him down, hadn’t they, by not going all out to help him win the war, so maybe they didn’t deserve to live on after he did. What a mindset. I’m fucked so all you lot are fucked as well. It seems like a pretty typical Hitlerian mentality.

Luckily for the German people, Speer in the end only pretends to Hitler that he’s been carrying out this disastrous policy. He doesn’t believe that the fate of Germany should be tied inextricably to that of one sick and twisted individual, and he’s right. He confesses to Hitler what he’s done as he’s leaving the Bunker and saying goodbye to his former Fuhrer forever, but Hitler is too far gone to give a shit by then.

Poor Hitler. His health is wrecked, his friends are deserting him right and left, his bezzy mate Himmler has actually crawled into bed with the Allies, his trademark glossy black locks are as grey as a badger’s arse now and his lovely dream of the Thousand Year Reich is in ruins.

Oh, and Eva Braun’s pregnant sister Gretl’s husband, Hermann Fegelein, has been caught trying to scarper without permission and is now paying for his crime by being left to dangle on a meathook. (Other film versions have Fegelein being shot.) What’s to live for now?

The Bunker inmates can be divided into those, like Speer, who choose to leg it while Hitler is still alive, and those who hang on till the bitter end. These include Eva Braun, Gunsche, Goebbels and his wife Magda and their six children, who are all living in the Bunker by this stage, Misch the transmissions technician, Constance Manziarly the cook (who was never seen or heard from again after the war) and the secretaries.

On the night before their joint suicide, Hitler marries Eva Braun. The next day, they say goodbye formally to their remaining acolytes, and then they retire forever to bite into cyanide capsules (previously tested on Hitler’s beloved dog, Blondi), and Hitler also shoots himself in the head for good measure. He won’t let himself be captured and hung upside-down and naked in the town square, which is what has happened to his crony Mussolini, the Italian dictator, and Mussolini’s missus.

Otto Gunsche carries the bodies outside, then sets them on fire as per Hitler’s wishes. Magda Goebbels poisons her six children with cyanide capsules, then allows her husband to shoot her dead outside in the garden before in turn shooting himself.

With the bigwigs gone, it’s every man for himself. It’s the moment when the musicians playing ‘Nearer My God To Thee’ on the Titanic pack up their instruments, wish each other well in a gentlemanly fashion and then scramble desperately for a place on a lifeboat.

The Bunker descends into chaos as Gunsche, the secretaries, Martin Bormann and assorted others pack up and try to make it through the Russian lines to the British armies, who don’t seem to be as terrifying to the Germans as their Russian counterparts.

The secretaries paint lipstick spots on their faces to give themselves the appearance of smallpox. ‘Do you want to be raped (by the Russians)?’ one says to the other. Her terrified friend promptly yanks the lippy out of her hands…!

When even the loyal and dutiful Rochus Misch eventually leaves his post and the final transmissions squawk their contents to the empty air, there’s a definite feeling in the Bunker that the fat lady has well and truly warbled her last note.

The Bunker is empty, the Fuhrer is dead, Berlin is in ruins, the war is lost and the Russians are knocking- none too politely- on the doors of the Reich Chancellery. Years and even decades in Russian prison camps await some of those fleeing from the Bunker.

What ghosts would haunt the silent corridors of the Bunker today, if it still existed, which of course it does not? Hitler is supposed to have told an underling, a young man, that his spirit would remain on duty within its walls for all eternity, keeping an eye out for those pesky Russians.

A pretty pathetic story, probably not true, but I still wouldn’t have ever wanted to be down there alone in those days after the war ended when the Bunker was dark, waterlogged and filled with the flotsam and jetsam of all those disappeared lives.

It must have been a bit like being alone on the wreck of the aforementioned Titanic. This film captures that eerie feeling perfectly, which is why I loved it. Historians are fascinated by the events that took place in the Bunker. Watch this film and you’ll get a fair idea why this is.

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

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

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

You can contact Sandra at:

sandrasandraharris@gmail.com

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

https://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com

http://sexysandieblog.wordpress.com

http://serenaharker.wordpress.com

https://twitter.com/SandraAuthor

THE BOUNTY. (1984) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

bounty girl

THE BOUNTY. (1984) BASED ON THE BOOK ‘CAPTAIN BLIGH AND MR. CHRISTIAN’ (1972) BY RICHARD HOUGH. EXECUTIVE PRODUCER: DINO DE LAURENTIIS. DIRECTED BY ROGER DONALDSON. ORIGINAL MUSIC BY VANGELIS.

STARRING MEL GIBSON, ANTHONY HOPKINS, LIAM NEESON, DANIEL DAY-LEWIS, PHILIP DAVIS, NEIL MORRISSEY, BERNARD HILL, EDWARD FOX AND LAURENCE OLIVIER.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

I will probably always prefer the Marlon Brando-Trevor Howard version of this story to any other. It has that hilarious scene in it where Marlon Brando, hand tucked regally Nelson-style into his naval officer’s jacket, sails off from his anchored ship to the island of Tahiti to have sex, for King and country, of course, with the Tahitian king’s beautiful daughter. Talk about it’s a dirty job but someone’s gotta do it…! That’s a great version of this gripping story, but the Mel Gibson-Anthony Hopkins pairing isn’t half-bad either.

It’s late in the eighteenth century or early in the nineteenth, and a committee of really high-up naval officers, the main two played by Laurence Olivier and Edward Fox, are meeting to decide the fate of one Captain Bligh, who had his ship, the HMS BOUNTY, taken from him forcibly during a mutiny by some of his crew members. Bligh tells them the story of what happened aboard that fateful ship. Here is his story, in my words, if you get me.

It’s a few years earlier now, and the good ship HMS BOUNTY is sailing from jolly old England to Tahiti, where the crew will pick up a cargo of bread-fruit plants to bring back home with them for some reason. I forget what they’re going to be using them for. Like, are they food or what? Are they bread or are they fruit?

Anthony Hannibal Lecter Hopkins is the captain of this happy ship, Captain Bligh, and he can count Mel Gibson and Daniel Day-Lewis amongst his officers. He’s not aristocratic like them though, see, which rankles a bit with old Bligh. He can’t do the talking-with-a-mouthful-of-plums thing like they can or the easy aristocratic confidence that comes naturally to real toffs like them.

A ridiculously young-looking Bernard Hill (BOYS FROM THE BLACKSTUFF, King Theodan of Rohan in THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE TWO TOWERS) is the man who whips people when Captain Bligh tells him to, and excuse me if I think that he seems to enjoy his job. He certainly never shirks it, at any rate.

Liam Neeson, the Liam Neeson, and a very young Neil Morrissey (MEN BEHAVING BADLY and some other stuff) are two trouble-making and rebellious young crew-members. Personally, I think they’re just lazy.

They don’t like having to attend Captain Bligh’s on-board compulsory dance classes (‘We’re sailors, not dancers!’), which proves my point. If they could get away with it, they’d spend their years at sea swilling down grog and telling dirty stories about women, but there’ll be none of that nonsense on Captain Bligh’s watch. He runs a tight ship.

Captain Bligh is actually quite reasonable in this version, I feel, until they get to Tahiti, or Big Titty Island if you prefer, because the women here are all fetchingly topless as well as dusky and uniformly beautiful with long glossy dark hair. The sex-starved men of the HMS BOUNTY go nuts for the titty and the totty.

What’s really surprising is that the native males of Big Titty Island don’t seem to mind one bit that their women are being bonked senseless and even impregnated by these English sailors.

In fact, they even seem to encourage it, and the king of Big Titty Island even sends one of his many wives over to the ship to have sex with Captain Bligh who, in a very witty little scene, spurns her attentions.

This is because Captain Bligh is quite uptight and strait-laced in matters of the flesh. Also, he might even feel guilty about it because he’s got a wife and kids at home. A moral man? Mein Gott. Do those even exist…?

The real problems for Captain Bligh arise when he and his crew are obliged to drop anchor at Big Titty Island for several months, in order to wait for the bread-fruits to grow and flourish.

His crew have pretty much said goodbye to naval discipline and hello to sexual excesses, lazing around smoking and drinking in the sunshine and getting native tattoos on their scarcely-clad, sun-bronzed bodies. Captain Bligh is sickened by their animalistic behaviour.

They’re meant to be restrained, reserved and stiff-upper-lipped Englishmen who most certainly do not copulate with native women on the sand in full view of anyone who might be looking. Goddammit, they’re English, aren’t they?

Bligh seems to have a problem with Mel Gibson’s Fletcher Christian, his supposed good friend from way back, most of all. Fletcher has found love (it looks like sex to me, but whatever) on the island with the king’s beautiful daughter, and he wants nothing more than to lie in her arms on the beach forever, making love until the tide comes in and wraps their naked, writhing bodies in its foamy caresses. Told you it was just sex, didn’t I…?

Bligh orders Fletcher back to the ship and away from his girlfriend, and makes him cover his new and still very painful tattoo with his uncomfortably hot and heavy naval jacket, in the sweltering heat of the cabin where the officers’ have dinner on the dot of six every night. Bligh is determined to impose rigid discipline upon his raggle-taggle crew, who have grown soft and sloppy after several months on Big Titty Island.

After three deserters are caught (Liam Neeson amongst them, the little rascal) and severely lashed by the whipping arm of an enthusiastic Bernard Hill, morale is dreadfully low amongst the crew, who all miss their- probably- pregnant girlfriends back on the Island.

Fletcher Christian has already been informed by the king that he’s impregnated the king’s daughter, so there will be a lot of mixed-race babies born before the year is out. The weird thing is that the king, along with all the men on Big Titty Island, are totally fine about these little ‘ooopsies.’ I guess people in different places do things differently.

When Bligh informs his crew that he’s taking an extremely dangerous short-cut home to England, and that a crew-member who objects is to be lashed on the morrow (that’s just an olde-timey way of saying tomorrow, lol), Fletcher and the lads have had enough of his brutal tyranny. They take the ship away from him in an act of mutiny that will remain a blot on their characters, not to mention their naval copybooks, till the end of time…

Anthony Hopkins is such a good actor that he can totally take these younger actors to school, and he certainly does this here. He’s just brilliant as the so-called despot who has a wife and two children at home and who’s just trying to do his job and get his ship from A to B and then back to A again without damaging too many of the precious bloody bread-fruits.

Yes, he’s too heavy-handed with the lash and he’s even a bit petty-minded at times as well but, overall, I think he’s less despotic than Trevor Howard was as Captain Bligh in the Marlon Brando version of the film.

Bligh’s obsessive quest for personal glory- all that ‘going around the Horn’ and trying to ‘circumnavigate the globe in x amount of time’ stuff is bang out of order once it starts affecting the men, but apart from that, I think he’s a genuinely decent guy who’s just trying to get home to the wife and kids in the fastest way possible. And if he happens to get into the Guinness Book Of Records for doing it in the quickest time ever achieved, well then, so much the better.

Mel Gibson as Fletcher Christian (‘I. AM. IN. HELL…!’) has astonishingly lovely eyes, and he has other nice things as well but, unfortunately, you don’t get to see much of them in this film. Booooooooo!

It’s a great little maritime movie, though, with some gorgeous scenery and views of the horizon. Christmas is a terrific time for watching this kind of epic swashbuckley film, so check it out if you can. And take a jacket if you ever find yourself on Big Titty Island. It can get a bit nippy…

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

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

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

You can contact Sandra at:

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

https://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com

http://sexysandieblog.wordpress.com

http://serenaharker.wordpress.com

sandrasandraharris@gmail.com

https://twitter.com/SandraAuthor

DERANGED. (1974) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

deranged mary table

DERANGED… THE CONFESSIONS OF A NECROPHILE. (1974) AN AMERICAN INTERNATIONAL FILM. DIRECTED BY JEFF GILLEN AND ALAN ORMSBY. WRITTEN BY ALAN ORMSBY. PRODUCED BY TOM KARR. SPECIAL EFFECTS BY TOM SAVINI.

STARRING ROBERTS BLOSSOM, COSETTE LEE, LESLIE CARLSON, MARIAN WALDMAN, MICKI MOORE, ROBERT WARNER, MARCIA DIAMOND, BRIAN SMEAGLE AND PAT ORR.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

‘The wages of sin are gonorrhea, syphilis and death. Remember that, boy!’

Amanda Cobb, Ezra’s Mother.

This film is loosely based on the story of real-life American boogeyman and murderer Ed Gein (1906-1984), although in this film he’s called Ezra Cobb for some reason. Maybe because the real Ed Gein was still alive at this time, I don’t know what the deal is with that.

Ed Gein, known as the Butcher of Plainfield, was the Wisconsin farmer-cum-handyman who achieved permanent notoriety when he was found to have peopled his house with the mutilated corpses of women, and mostly elderly women at that, after his mother’s death in 1945 at the age of sixty-seven.

He was the inspiration for Robert Bloch’s horror novel PSYCHO, which in turn went on to become Alfred Hitchcock’s most famous movie PSYCHO in 1960. Iconic weirdo Norman Bates (‘A boy’s best friend is his mother’) was probably the first cinema character to portray what might happen when a fatherless boy with an uber-domineering mother who gives him some very messed-up ideas about women and sex is abandoned in death by that mother. Unable to cope with her very significant loss, his mind gives way and he devises a method that ensures that he can hold onto her forever. If a few other women are sacrificed along the way, well sure, what harm?

The bonkers Ed Gein was also the inspiration behind the character Leatherface in THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE (1974) and the character Buffalo Bill in the 1991 smash hit movie THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, which introduced the character of Hannibal ‘the Cannibal’ Lecter to the world, played so immaculately and memorably by Anthony Hopkins.

The Ezra Cobb in DERANGED is heavily emotionally attached to his own extremely domineering, deeply religious mother, Amanda Cobb. She’s bedridden and about to die when we meet her, but her venomous mouth has lost none of its power to shock and scare the child of her loins.

With her last breath, she’s telling her virgin son Ezra, who’s fifty if he’s a day, to watch out for the filthy, disease-ridden gold-digging whores who will flock to him now he’s such an eligible bachelor, with his own farm and a house to go with it and no doubt a few bucks in the bank as well. She’s filled Ezra so full of misogynistic poison that it’s a wonder he’s not scared off women for life.

He misses his mother so much that, one night, he imagines that he hears her calling to him from the grave. ‘Bring me home, boy! It’s cold and dark down here! Bring me home, I tell you!’ It’s his own voice mouthing the words but he thinks it’s his mother talking to him. Off he drives to the cemetery to dig her up, as happy as Larry once he gets her home and back in her own nice warm bed.

Over the coming weeks and months, he tries to patch her up with bits and pieces of animal skin, but it’s not long before he realises that human skin would work so much better for this purpose. What to do, what to do…?

When he hears about the recent death of his old Sunday-School teacher Mrs. Johnson, he digs her up, decapitates her gruesomely and uses her ancient facial skin to patch up his old Ma’s disintegrating kisser. The results, hideous beyond belief to the viewer, are mighty pleasing to Ezra Cobb, whom we can already see is completely and utterly mad.

His meeting with the equally bonkers Maureen Selby- is this what it sounds like when doves cry…?- leads to death and horror for poor lonely Maureen. And in front of her Herbert’s lovely photo, too! What in the wide world are things coming to?

The fate of attractive barmaid Mary Ransom is much more frightening. Ezra meets her in a bar and begins immediately to fixate on her. He cunningly slashes Mary’s tyres in secret one night so that she’s obliged to take a lift home with him.

This proves that his abduction of Mary is no spur-of-the-moment action but very much a premeditated one. What it proves legally I don’t know, but the educationally backwards and even mentally retarded Ezra can be as sly as a fox when pursuing his own twisted ends.

When the stunning Mary, described unflatteringly by the narrative voice-over as ‘thirty-four and already over the hill,’ follows Ezra into his isolated farmhouse and sees the little gathering of ‘women’ waiting to receive her in the parlour, it’s like the scene in THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE where the screaming girl meets Leatherface’s ‘family.’ It’s just horrible. Poor Mary, initially brought here to be Ezra’s ‘bride’ rather than just another ‘companion’ for Ma Cobb, goes into shock. 

Major spoiler alert here now, folks. If she’d known as she clocked in for work at the bar that night that, before the night was over, she’d be beaten to death with a human thigh-bone that she’d earlier seen being used as a drum stick by a transvestite freak wearing a titty-vest made of human skin and real titties, she might well have called in sick.

It’s funny when Ezra admits openly to his one friend, Harlan Kootz, that he’s got all the missing women up at his place. Harlan, who’s known Ezra since they were schoolboys together and who regards him as a harmless simpleton who does a bit of work around his- Harlan’s- place, just laughs and then berates Ezra for telling fairy stories. Well, he can’t say he wasn’t forewarned.

What happens to pretty little Sally-Mae, the high school girlfriend of Harlan’s son Brad, mirrors closely the fate of the real-life victim of Ed Gein’s, poor old Beatrice Wordern, whose naked body was found hanging upside-down in the Gein barn, gutted like a deer. Jesus wept.

It’s apparently the closest the film gets to reflecting the real-life murderous career of Ed Gein, who’s today known as a serial killer and serial defiler of the dead. Ezra doesn’t have sex with any of the corpses in DERANGED although Ed Gein is very much known as a man who liked a nice bit of necrophilia.

Still, we must remember that the word ‘necrophilia’ can have two meanings. Yes, it means having sex with corpses (Ted Bundy definitely did this, until the corpses became too discomposed for comfort), but it can also mean someone who is obsessed with death, corpses and cemeteries. Both Ed Gein and Ezra Cobb fit this bill.

Apparently, Ed Gein denied having sex with any of his corpses but only because they ‘smelled too bad.’ Would he have had sex with them then if they’d smelled as fragrant as a lily-of-the-valley Christmas bath-set? Is that what he’s saying?

I read in a biography of Ed Gein’s that he was as happy as a sandboy to be carted off to a state mental institution for the remainder of his life for his crimes. He never gave the authorities there a lick of trouble. I can kind of understand why.

He had company there and people who spoke kindly to him, it was clean and presumably warm and he would have been given three square meals a day. A far cry from the cold, dirty, cluttered isolated charnel-house where he lived alone with his ‘Mother’ and her ‘friends.’ I can’t say I really blame him. Anything’s better than that, even for a man like Ed Gein.

What a kick in the knickers Ed must have been for the Plainfield Tourist Board all the same. They can have as much good hunting (for shame!) and lovely picturesque snow there as they please, but will Plainfield ever be known for anything but being the home of the man who, by digging up his dead mother and preserving her corpse, simultaneously dug his way right into the annals of crime history and also into the very pysche of the American people?

You know what, I bet there are mothers in Plainfield today who still use old Ed as the boogeyman to fractious children. ‘Hush up now and get to sleep, you pesky young’uns, or Ed Gein will come and cart you away and make a lampshade out of you!’ Aw. It’s good to know he’s useful for something.

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

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

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

You can contact Sandra at:

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

https://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com

http://sexysandieblog.wordpress.com

http://serenaharker.wordpress.com

sandrasandraharris@gmail.com

https://twitter.com/SandraAuthor