ANACONDA. (1997) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©


ANACONDA. (1997) DIRECTED BY LUIS LLOSA. STARRING JENNIFER LOPEZ, JON VOIGHT, ICE CUBE, ERIC STOLTZ, OWEN WILSON, DANNY TREJO AND JONATHAN HYDE.
REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

I love a good creature feature, especially if the creature is out-sized like, say, King Kong or Godzilla, but this film is pretty awful. I remember liking it years ago when I saw it first, but I must have been easier to please back then, lol. Or maybe, as is more likely, I had a skewered sense of size because of all the guys who tried to persuade me that, yes, six inches really did look like what they said it did. Say no more…

So, anyway, Jennifer Lopez plays Terri Flores, who hopes to earn her big break as a documentary film-maker doing a film on one of the lost indigenous tribes of the Amazon Jungle, the Shirishamas. She gathers together her crew and duly heads down the biggest river in the world, the river that ‘can kill you in a thousand different ways,’ as one of the characters later remarks.

Terri and her motley crew soon come upon a stranded Paraguayan snake hunter called Paul Serone (Jon Voight) and offer to give him a ride on their boat. In return, Serone promises to lead them straight to the land of the Shirishamas, the so-called ‘people of the mist,’ which is handy, right?

What Terri and her crew don’t know, however, is that the ‘stranding’ was all a big hoax and Serone is a professional snake hunter, who is using them to help him locate and capture the giant green anaconda which he is convinced will net him a million dollars and more. He steers Terri & Co. inexorably in the direction of the lair of the biggest snake on the whole planet…

Terri’s sound guy, Gary, played by Owen Wilson, is seduced by the promise of fame and fortune and goes over to Serone’s side, but J-Lo and her cameraman and childhood friend Danny (Ice Cube) are furious and try various ruses to incapacitate the sinister and greed-motivated Serone. Well, they try one ruse, anyway, but it doesn’t entirely work. C’est la vie, huh?

Then, of course, there’s the giant snake, who, as I said earlier, impressed me once with his great size but not this time. And I think he’s actually computerised and looks it, which is kind of disappointing. Still, he eats everyone you’d expect him to eat, except for J-Lo, her injured boyfriend Professor Steven Cale (Eric Stoltz) and- surprise of surprises!- the black guy, Danny.

I fully expected the black guy to bite the dust first, as per the film ethos of the time, but, no, not only does he not get killed but he’s afforded the same level of protection as J-Lo, the beautiful leading lady, and survives to the end. If this very ‘meh’ film does nothing else, it does that…!

You will recognise Jonathan Hyde as the crew’s posh English narrator, and cool guy Danny Trejo as the guy who’s killed at the start by the snake. There’s not really a whole lot else to say about this movie. It will kill ninety minutes for you, if that’s what you’d like, but if you remember it for longer than that after watching it, I’ll be very surprised.

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

BLACK WATER: ABYSS. (2020) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

BLACK WATER: ABYSS. (2020) DIRECTED BY ANDREW TRAUCKI. STARRING JESSICA MCNAMEE, LUKE MITCHELL, AMALI GOLDEN, BENJAMIN HOETJES AND ANTHONY. J. SHARPE.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

This Australian creature feature was made by the guy who did the excellent 2007 ‘big croc’ film, BLACK WATER, but, in my humble opinion, this movie isn’t as good. The crocodile is hardly ever on-screen and, when he is, he’s disappointingly small. I like my crocs the way I like my sharks. Massive, lol.

Plus the characters don’t feel particularly likeable, either, although the situation in which they find themselves is certainly about as perilous as it gets.

The film reminds me of another one I saw earlier this year, 47 METRES DOWN: UNCAGED, in which four bikini-clad schoolgirls go exploring an underwater cave that only the father of one of them knows about, as he’s some kind of biologist or researcher or something.

Anyway, the petrified kids encounter a shark that has been down there in the dark waters for so many years he’s actually evolved somehow into having no eyes, because he doesn’t need them where he is. That doesn’t make his bite any less deadly, though. The youngsters have a hell of a time trying to navigate their way out of the underground cave system without being, ahem, eaten, nom nom nom.

In BLACK WATER: ABYSS, five young people in their late twenties/early thirties decide to do one of the maddest things I’ve ever come across, which is, to willingly lower themselves into a hole in the ground out in the back of beyond in Northern Australia, with the intention of doing a spot of spelunking, ie, exploring the caves beneath.

They do this, despite the fact that some Japanese tourists have recently gone missing in the exact same spot. What’s even madder is that two of them shouldn’t really be there at all, as they don’t really have the stomach for this type of thing and are just tagging along to be with their respective other halves.

Jen suspects the obnoxious, full-of-himself alpha male he-man Luke of cheating. She accompanies him on this mad trip presumably to try to strengthen their wobbly relationship, or maybe just to keep her eye on him. We already know she doesn’t entirely trust him because we’ve seen her going through his phone behind his back. Never a good sign, that.

Victor, an asthmatic who can’t travel without his inhaler, is in remission from a recent brush with cancer and doesn’t seem strong enough for this kind of venture. Yolanda, his bird, is knocked up and shouldn’t be going anywhere near an underground cave she has to abseil down a rope to get to, but she’s as gung-ho about the trip as Luke. Alarm bells ringing yet?

Cash is Luke’s tour-guide friend who found the caves, and he’s on the trip too. If this recce of the caves turns out okay, Luke and his aptly-named friend Cash could have a proper little money-making scheme on their hands.

Whilst they’re all down in the admittedly cool underground caves, a storm above ground causes rising flood waters where the five friends are. Oh, and there’s a crocodile down there too, which might just explain what happens to our Japanese tourists…!

The rest of the movie just sees the five young folks trying to get out of the caves and back on to terra firma without been drowned in the flood waters or eaten by the killer croc. Their various relationship difficulties come to the fore as well while they’re undertaking this perilous journey back to the world above ground. If you like to watch heads bobbing above water while nothing really happens for ages, then, boy, is this the film for you!

The croc is a very discerning animal, as he knows exactly which characters to pick off and which to leave, which characters are dispensable and which must be allowed to live till the end. The bad get their come-uppance, the good and the innocent are spared, and then, bam, a plot twist at the last minute.

BLACK WATER: ABYSS, despite being nowhere near as scary as I would have liked, certainly makes you think about some of the worst, most claustrophobia-inducing ways to die, for example, up to your eyes in cold water in a tight space that’s just suffered a rockfall, while a giant (well, biggish) reptile throwback from the dinosaur era nibbles at your ankles.

It’s a film definitely worth watching once, but, to be honest, I won’t watch this one again. As the two movie-obsessed young lads from superb comedy series THE LEAGUE OF GENTLEMEN might say: Seen, seen, seen…

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.

THE POOL. (2018) A FANTASTIC CREATURE FEATURE REVIEWED BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

THE POOL. (2018) DIRECTED AND WRITTEN BY PING LUMPRAPLOENG. STARRING THEERADEJ WONGPUAPAN AND RATNAMON RATCHIRATHAM.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

I’ve been reading a large number of instructional blog posts lately on the subject of narrative, and What Makes A Good Story. As a fiction writer myself (when I’m not penning movie reviews!), it’s vitally important that, when I tell a story, I make it a good one worth reading. It’s equally important to be able to recognise a good story written by someone else when I see one. THE POOL is more than just a good story; it’s a sensational one.

One of the blog posts I read (I forget who wrote this) outlined a simple but effective metaphor that you can use to tell/write a good story. You, as the writer, should do three things. 1. Stick your lead character up a tree. 2. Throw rocks at him/her for a bit. 3. Let him/her down from the tree again, but not too quickly, and certainly not unscathed. I love this metaphor. I’m going to adopt it for every single piece of fiction I write from now on.

As a superb piece of narrative storytelling, THE POOL already knows all these things. The premise is simple but shocking. An attractive young Thai man called Day is trapped in a drained, outdoor Olympic-sized swimming pool with a man-eating crocodile. There’s your ‘tree,’ and the hero is most definitely stuck up in its lofty branches. Now to chuck rocks at him, lol, and boy, does this director chuck rocks at him…!

Various things are added into the mix to ramp up the tension, which never lets up for a minute. These include Day’s beloved doggie, Lucky, a dead ringer for the shaggy mutt in the Dulux paint ads; Day’s pregnant and possibly brain-damaged girlfriend Koy (he doesn’t want the baby, because he’s not in the right set of circumstances or headspace to be a dad, he reckons, but she vehemently disagrees); a rope of barbed wire; a ladder that’s there one minute and gone the next; and a tunnel beneath the pool ‘plug-hole’ that comes out God knows where.

You can add in hunger, thirst/dehydration and the lashing rain, and the fact that the pool is no longer in use and the protagonists won’t be missed for at least another three months; oh, and the crocodile is pregnant, too, by the way, and, as a nesting mother, she’s a hundred times more dangerous.

Also, her precious baby eggs are the only source of food available to the ravenous Day and his woman. Oh, oh, oh, and Day is diabetic, and his insulin (like his phone) is tantalisingly out of reach. How’s that for an obstacle course, then…?

Day, an ordinary, everyday bloke who’s probably never encountered a set of exceptional circumstances in his life before now, has to battle everything the director fires at him if he wants to survive this horrible and highly unusual ordeal.

His little victories and crushing disappointments are shared by the appalled viewer, who can’t believe how tough the director is making life for this one unlucky character. The pace and tension are maintained throughout, and the action never flags. The shocks, thrills and spills come thick and fast.

The dog is a furry legend and the crocodile, supposedly computerised, looks as real as everything else in this animal attack film. I nearly died when I found out it was animated.

I didn’t see the crocodile as the villain of the piece either. She didn’t ask to be put in this lousy situation any more than Day did, and, at the end of the day, all she’s really interested in is keeping her eggs (and babies) safe. (Just like Day and Preggers, lol.)

Then suddenly, she’s thrust into a scenario where man is her enemy and she is his. A crocodile can only do what she’s been programmed by Mother Nature for millions of years to do. I’m not taking the croc’s side over Day’s, but I can see the situation from both sides.

Day is extremely good-looking and the shots of his muscular arms and chest are very much appreciated. A sex scene between man and woman to affirm their humanity whilst in the jaws of certain death would have gone down nicely, as would a few shots of the lead actor’s no-doubt delicious naked butt have done, but sadly it wasn’t to be.

Ah well. You can’t have everything, and THE POOL pretty much delivers everything as it is, including pizza…! As we said earlier, as an examply of How to Tell A Good Story, it’s top-notch stuff, and required viewing for any would-be storyteller, regardless of their chosen medium. Do not miss out on watching this creature feature/battle for survival movie. It’s got teeth and claws, and it’s, quite simply, unmissable.

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.

ISLAND OF TERROR. (1966) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

island of terror

ISLAND OF TERROR. (1966) PLANET FILM DISTRIBUTORS LTD. DIRECTED BY TERENCE FISHER. STARRING PETER CUSHING, EDWARD JUDD, NIALL MACGINNIS AND CAROLE GRAY.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

THE FURY OF A LIVING CELL- A NEW EXPERIENCE IN DEVOURING HORROR…!

HOW COULD THEY STOP THE DEVOURING DEATH… THAT LIVED BY SUCKING ON LIVING HUMAN BONES…!

This 1960s horror-slash-creature-feature is a proper little curiosity. It stars Peter Cushing as the eminent Dr. Brian Stanley, a medical man who’s called in to help when an isolated little island off the coast of Oireland, of all places (I’m from there, lol!), is experiencing a problem of, shall we say, monster proportions.

It seems that the equally eminent but reclusive Dr. Phillips, who lives in a fabulous mansion on Petrie Island dubbed ‘Wuthering Heights’ by the droll Dr. Stanley, has been trying to find a cure for cancer in his industrial-strength laboratory.

Unfortunately, one of the steps he’s taken has gone horribly wrong and, instead of saving lives, he’s accidentally created a little army of creatures called ‘silicates’ who feed by literally sucking out the bones from their victims’ bodies through puncture holes they inflict themselves. Sounds yummy, right? They leave their prey looking the way Imhotep’s victims do in the brilliant Stephen Sommers’ THE MUMMY movies; all dried up and dessicated, with expressions of sheer horror on their faces. Yuk, lol.

On Dr. Stanley’s team is the dreamy pathologist Dr. David West, who is hopelessly embroiled with spoilt brat Toni Merrill, a millionaire’s daughter who apparently wrapped her Maserati round a tree and broke her leg just to get to meet David. (‘Oh, David darling, I’m so frightened, save me, darling, don’t leave me alone!’ She’s a proper whinger an’ all.)

Well, as he’s a pathologist and deals in death, she could have actually gotten more than she bargained for with her little piece of high jinx and ended up on a slab in his mortuary. The grave’s a fine and private place, but none, I think, do there embrace…!

I’ve been keen as mustard to meet certain blokes at times in my life as well, but I’ve never gone that far. Toni’s like Tippi Hedren’s character Melanie Daniels in THE BIRDS, another millionaire’s daughter who has nothing better to do with her day than motor on up to Bodega Bay with a pair of lovebirds in the boot for her crush’s little sister, just to get on her crush’s good side. Sad in the extreme, lol.

Anyway, the race is on to kill the pesky silicates before they destroy everyone on the island. Their appearance is rather vacuum-cleaner-like; they even have a long wavy tentacle protruding from their body’s one, erm, hole, that retracts just like the hoover wire and plug when you press the rewind button! Their method is hoover-like also, in that they literally vacuum out the bones through the aforementioned punctures or perforations.

Niall MacGinnis, a magnificent actor and the star of one of the best British horror films ever made, NIGHT OF THE DEMON (1957), plays Mr. Campbell, the ‘head of the island,’ the way that Christopher Lee as the charismatic Lord Summerisle is head of the island of Summerisle in that other contender for the title of best British horror film ever made, the superb THE WICKER MAN (1973).

Irish actor Niall MacGinnis is terrific as Mr. Campbell. He’s dressed exactly like a rich Irish landowner in Aran sweater, faded brown corduroy trousers, hat and sheepskin coat, and he’d remind you of one of those millionaire lads whose horses win the Grand National every year. Where there’s muck, there’s brass, mind. A gal could do a lot worse.

I like the character of Peter Argyle too, the gentle, duffle-coated proprietor of the local shop who looks a lot like a young Daniel O’Donnell, the Irish crooner who inspired the character of Eoin McLove in the clerical sitcom FATHER TED. He looks like the kind of chap who’d let a woman come first, if you know what I mean, and who’d say sorry a dozen times when he went to put it in, lol.

The real star of the show for me, apart from the silicates themselves, is Peter Cushing’s immaculate-as-always acting. Just look at his face when the silicates have hold of his wrist. The look of pure terror on his face is testament to his amazing acting skills.

I should probably mention Carole Gray’s fabulous blow-job lips and enormous eyes as well. That scene where she’s looking up at the roof of the car in horror when she hears the eerie, electronic outer-spacey sound of the silicates certainly showcases them to perfection, anyway. I really hope you get to see this film. It’s a proper old gem, so it is. Oh, and the silicates have just reminded me; I need to hoover the gaff before Christmas…!

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