KWAIDAN. (1965) A STUNNING JAPANESE ANTHOLOGY HORROR FILM REVIEWED BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

kwaidan

KWAIDAN. (1965) BASED ON THE STORIES OF PATRICK LAFCADIO HEARN. DIRECTED BY MASAKI KOBAYASHI.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

This is a magnificently-coloured supernatural fantasy anthology film, beautifully photographed entirely on handpainted sets. Based on the ghost stories/Japanese folk tales of Lafcadio Hearn, an Irish-Greek American writer who adored Japan and who settled there permanently in 1889, the four stories feature ghosts who were once human beings, wraiths, phantasms, demons (who were never human to begin with) and the terrified Earth-folks on which they preyed.

THE BLACK HAIR tells the story of a bloke who’s married to the most beautiful, loving, faithful hard-working woman he could ever hope to meet, and yet, because they’re poor and the whole village in which they live is poor, he allows his greed and ambition to get the better of him. He leaves his wife in search of richer pickings.

He gets his wish, anyway. He finds a rich wife and a fancier lifestyle in another town, but his new young wife is spoilt and selfish, and the man finds himself yearning for the loving good nature and undying devotion of his first wife. He decides to go back to her. He makes the long trek back to his village, only to find things not quite as he left them. ‘Undying’ is right…

THE WOMAN OF THE SNOW sees a young man witnessing the strange murder of a friend one freezing cold, snowy night in winter. The murderer lets him go free, probably because he’s young and handsome, on the strict proviso that he never, ever breathes a word of what he’s seen to another living soul. Fair enough. The guy goes forth to live his life.

Ten years later, he has a good living making shoes, he has three happy children and a beautiful, loving wife who never seems to age, no matter how many children they have or how hard they have to work. One night while she’s trying on some rather snazzy sandals he’s made for her, he catches a sudden, shocking glimpse of someone he thought never to see again…

HOICHI THE EARLESS is the longest and probably the saddest and most gorgeously-photographed of all the vignettes. It begins with a terrific battle between two clans of ancient Japan, the Heike and the Genji. The Heike lose the battle, and huge numbers of the clan are drowned or commit suicide in the sea that runs red with their blood.

The sea where the tragic battle was fought and so many Heike perished has been haunted ever since. Ships that sailed that sea afterwards and swimmers who sought recreation in it were pulled to their deaths by the vengeful spirits, who clearly want everyone they come across to be as miserable and restless as they are themselves.

To appease the spirits, a Buddhist temple was established near the beach, and a cemetery also, containing monuments inscribed with the names of the drowned infant emperor and his many dead vassals.

Time passes, and a gentle, blind young man called Hoichi comes to live at the Buddhist temple, under the care of the monks. He is extremely skilled at playing a stringed instrument called the biwa, and he is particularly masterful at reciting stories and poems about the great battle between the Heike and the Genji.

So much so that, one misty night, the ghost of a long-dead Samurai comes to visit Hoichi at the temple and tells him that his masters require the presence of the blind biwa-player at their palace.

They are keen to hear his wonderful recitations of the epic battle story and all the songs and poems that go with it. Hoichi, as always anxious to please, agrees immediately and goes with the Samurai willingly…

IN A CUP OF TEA is a rather strange story about a man who finds that it is not always prudent to try to fight a man whose image you first encounter… you guessed it… in a cup of tea!

This last one feels somewhat unfinished, and is probably the weakest link in an anthology that still remains one of the most breath-takingly beautiful things to come out of Japan. And that’s saying something, considering how many weird and wonderful things have come out of Japan since the dawn of time.

I hope you get to watch this film, which, by the way, clocks in at a whopping three hours and three minutes long, and which contains one brief flash of bare boobs. In fact, now that we’re in lockdown and have, supposedly, all the time in the world in which to amuse ourselves, this might be the ideal time to do it. Enjoy it, and stay safe, y’all!

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

WHISTLE AND I’LL COME TO YOU. (THE 1968 & 2010 VERSIONS FROM THE BBC.) REVIEWS BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

whistle michael hordern

WHISTLE AND I’LL COME TO YOU: THE 1968 & 2010 VERSIONS. BASED ON THE SHORT STORY ‘OH, WHISTLE AND I’LL COME TO YOU, MY LAD’ BY MONTAGUE RHODES JAMES. STARRING MICHAEL HORDERN AND JOHN HURT.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

M.R. James on his ghost story-writing technique:

‘Let us, then, be introduced to the actors in a placid way; let us see them going about their ordinary business, undisturbed by forebodings, pleased with their surroundings; and into this calm environment, let the ominous thing put out its head, unobtrusively at first, and then more insistently, until it holds the stage.’

The 1968 version of Whistle And I’ll Come To You is probably my favourite of all the M.R. James ghost story adaptations by the BBC. Shakespearean actor Michael Hordern is superb as the doddery Professor Parkins, the Cambridge don positively steeped in dusty academia who comes to stay at an East Anglian guest-house for a holiday, during the early years of the nineteenth century. This sensible fellow doesn’t believe in ghosts, nor does he believe that ‘there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy.’

He goes for long bracing walks over the empty heaths and deserted beaches, with his little packed lunch in his knapsack. He doesn’t at all mind his own company, as it’s what he’s most used to.

One wonders what would happen if an actual human female crossed his path; Cambridge dons positively steeped in dusty academia aren’t generally required to interact with too many of these, beyond the woman who ‘does’ for them and brings the meals…!

While on one of his solitary jaunts, clad in tweedy knickerbockers and cap and carrying a stout walking stick, he discovers a filthy old bronze whistle with the following words engraved on it: Qui Est Iste Qui Venit? or Who Is This Who Is Coming?

You’d think that a scholar such as himself, who presumably would have had the old Latin drummed into him in school as a lad, would hesitate to blow on such a spooky artefact of uncertain provenance but, oh no, as soon as he’s given it a bit of an old rub with a clean hanky, he toots on it with gusto. From that moment on, like the poor amateur archaeologist in James’s other superb story, A Warning To The Curious, he’s never alone any more…

It’s a genuinely frightening story. We know that Parkins has brought something sinister back with him from his excursion to the lonely beaches. Are the dreadful things he sees and experiences afterwards real supernatural phenomena, or merely the signs of a mind closed to everything but narrow academic principles disintegrating under the weight of something he’s witnessed but can’t understand? Either way, this piece of vintage television puts the heart crossways in me anew every time I watch it.

Hammer actor George Woodbridge has a wonderful cameo here as the hotel proprietor, who’s even mumblier and more incoherent than old Parkins himself. It’s a joy to watch. I love Ambrose Coghill too, as Parkins’s fellow guest, the Colonel, who engages in intellectual conversations with the Professor over the breakfast kippers. (What is it with the English and their kippers, lol…?)

The 2010 version of Whistle And I’ll Come To You takes a different approach to the story. John The Elephant Man Hurt plays James Parkin, who comes to the deserted seaside guest-house because he and his wife, whom he’s just had to leave in a nursing-home, used to go there in their youth. He has a notion that he wants to re-visit some of their ‘old haunts,’ never knowing how prophetic the phrase will turn out to be.

His wife, Alice, played by Gemma Bridget Jones’s Diary Jones, has dementia. He feels terribly guilty about parking her in the nursing-home, but he also doesn’t feel like he has much choice at this point. Her ruined mind now occupies ‘a body that has outlasted the personality, more horrifying than any spook or ghoul.’

The rows of silent women sitting in identical night-dresses and slippers in the nursing-home are indeed like something out of a nightmare. Lesley Sharp as the nursing-home manager plays her role very strangely too, with a sort of robotic Stepford wife-type voice that churns out comforting words and stock phrases meant to console, but they’re spoken so softly and mechanically that we can’t quite believe she’s real. It’s a bit of a red herring here, us thinking that the nursing-home manager is evil, but in another film, perhaps, her sinister tones might mean something quite different…

I love the empty boarding-house where Parkin goes to stay, and Sophie Thompson as Carol, the harassed single mum proprietress who presumably depends on the guest-house for her and her children’s livelihood.

Parkin is a bit of a complainer, saying that the scratching and rattling he hears in his room must be a rat, and making out that another guest was trying to break into his room, when Carol is equally adamant that he, Parkin, is currently the only guest in the hotel…

It’s pretty clear in this film that Parkin’s overwhelming guilt and sorrow about his wife is manifesting itself as supernatural apparitions. He does actually find an ancient artefact on the beach, however (this time it’s a ring instead of a whistle, perhaps suggesting the joining of two people for life in holy matrimony), and, from the moment he finds it and brings it away with him, the hauntings begin, just as they do with our friend Parkins in the 1968 version.

The horror is more visible than suggested in the more modern version. Some may argue that this harms the film, but I still was pretty scared watching this one, especially when we discover that John Hurt has unwittingly spent a night alone in a completely empty hotel, empty even of the proprietress. The sheeted outline on the beach may at first appear as a sort of comic figure, but I still wouldn’t want to have one of those things following me down an otherwise empty beach, would you…?

The 1968 version of the story is undoubtedly the superior one (less is more, some people think: sometimes what the imagination can conjure up is more horrific than anything the screen can put in front of us), but the 2010 one has its merits too. It’s an interesting take on James’s original story, and another suitably fitting tribute to the great writer, who famously read some of his creepiest stories aloud in his college rooms as a Christmas present to his peers. Here’s what one of them said about these sessions:

‘Monty (James) disappeared into his bedroom. We sat and waited in the candlelight. Perhaps someone played a few bars on the piano, and desisted, for good reason… Monty emerged from the bedroom, manuscript in hand, at last, and blew out all the candles but one, by which he seated himself. He then began to read, with more confidence than anyone else could have mustered, his well-nigh illegible script in the dim light…’

Wizard, eh…?

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

THE STALLS OF BARCHESTER (1971) and A WARNING TO THE CURIOUS (1972): TWO GHOSTLY TV ADAPTATIONS REVIEWED BY SANDRA HARRIS.©

warning to curious

GHOST STORIES: CLASSIC ADAPTATIONS FROM THE BBC: THE STALLS OF BARCHESTER (1971) AND A WARNING TO THE CURIOUS (1972). BASED ON STORIES BY MONTAGUE RHODES JAMES. PRODUCED AND DIRECTED BY LAWRENCE GORDON CLARK.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

‘No diggin’ ‘ere…!’

British film and television in the late ’60s and early ’70s is the best in the world. You can’t beat it. These two offerings are so exquisitely atmospheric and of their time that I literally feel like I’m walking through a door to the past when I watch them. I’m not always happy about stepping back into the present either, when the credits start rolling…!

A mere review couldn’t hope to capture or encapsulate their ghostly essence in a thousand words, but I can certainly try to transit some of my enthusiasm for these two immaculate adaptations of some of the spookiest stories in literature.

In THE STALLS OF BARCHESTER, the marvellous Clive Swift (the long-suffering Richard Bucket from sitcom KEEPING UP APPEARANCES, about a snobbish, upwardly mobile social climbing housewife) plays a tweed-suited academic called Dr. Black. He has come to Barchester Cathedral in the 1930s to catalogue the library there. He finds it a dreadfully dreary task on the whole, until fate puts in his way a locked box of papers…

The box contains the private papers and diary of the now-deceased Archdeacon Haynes, who was the head cleric at the cathedral in the 1870s. This fellow Haynes, brilliantly played by an almost unrecognisably young Robert Hardy (Siegfried Farnon from ALL CREATURES GREAT AND SMALL), has waited an aggravatingly long time to attain his cherished position of Archdeacon.

The previous incumbent, a Dr. Pulteney, insisted on living pretty much as long as Methuselah, and doubtless would be living still had not a sudden shocking accident catapulted the good doctor into heaven and this chap Haynes into his place.

Haynes, a joyless, austere and rather pompous fellow not untypical of his Victorian contemporaries, takes up residence in the house where his ancient predecessor recently died a violent death.

When his sister Letitia, played by Thelma Barlow (Mavis Wilton from Rita’s newsagents in CORONATION STREET), joins him in the Archdeacon’s residence in the summer months, his stay in the creepy old house that comes with the job is bearable enough. But when Letitia decamps to warmer climes in the winter and Haynes is left alone with the shadows and strange sounds that surround him nightly in the old house, he becomes slowly unhinged…

He hears people around him constantly, voices and comings and goings, especially on the stairs or in the hall outside his study, but when he steels himself to look, there is nothing to be either seen or heard in the darkness without.

He also senses the presence of a large cat, but his manservant assures him that no such animal resides in the house. Who or what is trying to drive the sombre Archdeacon Haynes out of his mind, and, perhaps more interesting a thought, why…? What has he done to deserve it?

The strangely obscene carvings in the magnificent old cathedral have their part to play in this very gothic mystery, as does their creator, John Austin, dubbed ‘The Twice-Born’ by the superstitious natives, and also a stretch of visually beautiful woodland containing the stump of what was once known locally as ‘the hanging tree.’

There’s some rather gorgeous choir-singing in the cathedral, and a few genuinely scary moments in the house that relies on candles for its light, as electricity hasn’t yet been invented. Can Dr. Black get to the bottom of the mystery of Archdeacon Haynes, and will it be fit for publication in the cathedral library’s catalogue, even if he does…?

A WARNING TO THE CURIOUS is, if possible, even more beautiful to look at and atmospheric than THE STALLS OF BARCHESTER. Peter Vaughan (VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED, STRAW DOGS, PORRIDGE, THE REMAINS OF THE DAY) plays a disillusioned, middle-aged amateur archaeologist called Paxton, who has recently been made redundant from his job as a clerk. With nothing to lose, he travels in the winter-time to the fictional seaside town of Seaburgh on the coast of Suffolk, to do a little independent sleuthing into a matter that interests him greatly.

Local legend in the place where he has come to has it that, long ago, three Anglo-Saxon crowns were buried in different locations along the East Anglian coast to keep foreign marauders from invading Britain. Only one crown remains unfound, and the natives believe that it is still guarded by the last member of the family that has always guarded the buried treasure, one William Ager.

The fact that William Ager, a ‘solitary’ who died years ago of the consumption appears to be no impediment to his carrying out of his sworn duty … guarding the crown and, thereby, defending the realm, England’s green and pleasant land.

When Paxton finds the third crown after a telling conversation with a beautiful woman in a wild and ramshackle country garden, he feels from the moment he uncovers it that he is ‘never alone, not for a minute.’

Who stalks the unfortunate amateur archaeologist with evil intent, and who accompanies him wherever he goes, though no companion is ever visible to his own eyes or those of others? The feeling of dread is palpable all the way through this marvellously atmospheric piece of television.

Haunting flute solos throughout and the discordant scraping of violins towards the end of the piece contribute greatly to the atmospherics. Ditto the fabulous sweeping shots of a bleak coastline in winter, deserted beaches and silent woods. Clive Swift plays another Dr. Black here, this time a knickerbockered academic who comes to the desolate windswept seaside town to paint and escape his wife.

There’s a stunning scene in the village cemetery in which the local vicar points out to Paxton the resting place of the consumptive William Ager. Steam train aficionados will delight in the sight of the valiant machines used by kind permission of the North Norfolk Railway Company, and the twist in the tale will leave you reeling.

This and THE STALLS OF BARCHESTER both became highly popular Christmas viewing in the early ‘Seventies, sparking off a series of similar ghostly festive pieces. A ghost story for Christmas, what could be more perfect? Take a trip back in time and enjoy these two gems. And thank your spooky stars for the spectral imagination of M.R. James…

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

MARY SHELLEY’S ‘FRANKENSTEIN’- THE BOOK. (1816) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

mary shelley frankie

MARY SHELLEY’S ‘FRANKENSTEIN.’ (1816) BOOK REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

2018, a full two centuries after Mary Shelley wrote her first and most celebrated novel, was what I now refer to as my Frankenstein year. In April, I got to see James Whale’s fabulous horror movie FRANKENSTEIN (1931) and its sequel, THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1935), on the big screen as part of a one-day James Whale festival, which was fantastic as I’d loved those two films for such a long time.

Then, in October, as part of the Irish Film Institute’s annual Halloween Horrorthon, I saw Hammer Horror’s FRANKENSTEIN AND THE MONSTER FROM HELL (1974) on the big screen also. This was preceded by a brilliant ninety-minute lecture on FRANKENSTEIN, THE FIRST 200 YEARS by film historian and well-known FRANKENSTEIN expert Sir Christopher Frayling, whose book of the same name I purchased on the break and got him to sign for me.

He wrote the words ‘It’s alive…!’ under his signature! I felt so special. I later found out that he’d signed everyone’s books with the same phrase but whatever, it was all good, lol. I read the book and enjoyed every page, then I went and found the 1910 Thomas Edison film version of FRANKENSTEIN on Youtube and watched this too. It’s less than a quarter of an hour long but it’s freakishly memorable, with a pretty terrifying-looking Monster.

Anyway, after this wonderful experience I had no choice but to read the book behind all the films for the first time ever. I started reading it on November the nineteenth and I finished it on December the first.

I’d been told that it was difficult to read and even boring at times, but I didn’t find it so, except when the Creature went on for nearly fifty pages about how marvellous and saintly and sweet his precious cottagers were. Personally, I could take ’em or leave ’em, these irritating paragons of woodland virtue and candidates for the bloody sainthood…!

I shall attempt now to synopsise the plot for y’all in as simple and easy-to-remember a fashion as possible, as much for my own benefit as for anyone else’s. Having gone to the trouble finally of reading the book, I don’t want to ever forget it. It’s literally too good to be forgotten. This is to be my written record of this most exceptional year and this most exceptional Gothic novel.

The framing story involves an Englishman called Robert Walton writing to his married sister back in England of his expeditions to the polar ice-caps of the world. Whilst up there in the cold and snow, he and his crew rescue an exhausted solitary male who’s about to expire out on the ice.

The traumatised and lonely poor man is one Victor Frankenstein from Geneva in Switzerland, who is pursuing to the ends of the Earth a Creature of whom Robert Walton and his crew realise that they may already have caught a glimpse, out on the ice all alone just like his pursuer, Victor Frankenstein. This is Victor Frankenstein’s story.

After a positively charmed and privileged early life (‘No human being could have passed a happier childhood than myself.’), Victor goes off to college after the death of his beloved Mother and resolves to make the best of these important years. He’s a whizz at Science and Chemistry and whatnot and very quickly impresses his tutors with his hard work and willingness to apply himself. He quickly works out where his real interests lie.

‘It was the secrets of heaven and earth that I desired to learn; and whether it was the outward substance of things, or the inner spirit of nature and the mysterious soul of man that occupied me, still my inquiries were directed to the metaphysical, or, in its highest sense, the physical secrets of the world.’

Long story short, he discovers that he has a burning urge to create life himself from the no-longer-living bits and pieces of cadavers. He gets the idea from all the ‘natural philiosophers’ he’s been reading up on and now sees as his idols.

For two whole years he works day and night on his personal project (‘I became myself capable of bestowing animation upon lifeless matter.’), pretty much to the exclusion of all else. Finally, he is successful. ‘On a dreary night of November… I saw the dull yellow eye of the Creature open.’

The awful thing about all this exhaustive labour is that, when Victor beholds the hideousness of the thing he has created, he’s so horrified that he runs away in terror and leaves the poor just-birthed Creature to fend for itself in the wilds for several long months. In this respect, Victor, I feel, has only got himself to blame for the nightmare which ensues.

Victor eventually travels home to Geneva, where he learns that his younger brother William has been brutally murdered by a stranger. A servant and friend of the house, a sweet and kind-hearted young lady called Justine, is to be executed for his murder.

Victor’s widowed father and Victor’s Cousin Elizabeth, in reality an adopted daughter of the family and Victor’s betrothed and, indeed, beloved, are utterly distraught. Justine could not be capable of such a monstrous, cold-blooded act of hatred and disdain, they feel sure of this.

Victor learns the truth of the matter from his recently-turned-up-again Creature but, alas, it’s too late to save Justine from the gallows. From this point on, if he didn’t already feel this way, Victor is living in a nightmare from which he can’t wake up. There is no waking up. He feels like he murdered William and Justine, ‘the first hapless victims to my unhallowed arts,’ with his own hands.

The Creature tells Victor what he’s been up to this past couple of years, but it’s not an amiable catch-up between friends in a Starbucks over a skinny latte and a poppyseed muffin. The Creature Victor deliberately imbued with life has lived a miserable existence thus far. He’s been hiding out, lonely, cold, hungry and isolated from everything that is good in life.

After telling Victor how he was forcibly rejected by the sickly-sweet-and-saccharine cottagers to whose life he’s been an outside observer for some time, he informs his maker in no uncertain terms (and he’s right!) that it’s his, Victor’s, fault that he’s so wretched, alone and miserable.

‘Everywhere I see bliss, from which I alone am irrevocably excluded. I was benevolent and good; misery made me a fiend. Make me happy, and I shall again be virtuous.’ The poor wee Creature!

I don’t know about you guys, but I blame Victor entirely for the miserable life in which the Creature finds himself trapped. How dare Victor give him life and then abandon him to a horrible fate just because he’s ugly?

Surely it’s Victor’s responsibility to put things right? That’s certainly what the Creature thinks, anyway. Finally Victor comes round to this way of thinking. ‘For the first time, also, I felt what the duties of a creator towards his creature were, and that I ought to render him happy before I complained of his wickedness.’ Darn tootin.’ Quite honestly, it’s about bloody time he honoured his responsibilities to the Creature he himself created.

So what is it exactly that the Creature wants? Well, he jolly well wants a girlfriend, a girlfriend like himself, made in the same mould as himself. ‘I am alone, and miserable; man will not associate with me; but one as deformed and horrible as myself would not deny herself to me. My companion must be of the same species, and have the same defects. This being you must create.’ Sounds perfectly fair to me.

Victor reluctantly agrees to make the Creature a hot girlfriend, lol. The Creature warns him that he’ll be keeping an eye on the proceedings from a discreet distance so Victor isn’t even to dream of welching on the deal. ‘I shall be with you on your wedding night,’ he famously- and ominously- threatens his maker.

So off Victor goes to an isolated spot in England to start work on a lady friend for his Monster. ‘To England, therefore, I was bound, and it was understood that my union with Elizabeth should take place immediately on my return.’ Then:

‘I now also began to collect the materials necessary for my new creation, and this was to me like the torture of single drops of water continually falling on the head.’

Halfway through the sickening, grisly operation, however, he decides he can’t possibly risk bringing another dangerous, malevolent and mankind-hating Creature into the world (‘To create another like the fiend I had first made would be an act of the basest and most atrocious selfishness.’) and he downs tools, in plain sight of the Monster whose murderous rage will now know no bounds.

The horror just keeps on being ratcheted up. The murders of Victor’s best mate Henry Clerval and of the beautiful bride Elizabeth Lavenza on her wedding night to Victor, just like the Creature foretold, and then the death of Victor’s father, probably from stress and worry, now take place. (‘He could not live under the horrors that were accumulated around him: the springs of existence suddenly gave way.’) These dreadful killings extinguish for all time the last rays of light and goodness and happiness from Victor’s life.

‘The cup of life was poisoned forever; and although the sun shone upon me as upon the happy and gay of heart, I saw around me nothing but a dense and frightful darkness, penetrated by no light but the glimmer of two eyes that glared upon me.’

He resolves now to chase his foul Creature to the ends of the Earth, if needs be, and there kill him and avenge his beloved dead. Only then can Victor, exhausted and heartbroken, find peace in death himself.

After a long and arduous chase, fraught with terrible perils that leave Victor clinging onto life by only the most tenuous of threads, he meets Robert Walton’s ship in the very midst of the polar ice-caps.

There he tells the spellbound sea-captain the story of his life, his life’s work and his life’s miseries before he expires, his revenge mission unsatisfied. So much for: ‘But revenge kept me alive; I dared not die and leave my adversary in being.’

A conversation between Robert Walton and the Creature over Victor’s death-bed (‘Never did I behold a vision so horrible as his face, of such loathsome and appalling hideousness.’) apprises us of the Monster’s lonely and heart-rending final intentions.

He regrets what he has done to Victor (‘But now crime has degraded me beneath the merest animal.’) and now he’s going off alone to die in the ice-caps. ‘I shall ascend my funeral pile triumphantly, and exult in the agony of the torturing flames.’ Then finally: ‘He was soon borne away by the waves and lost in darkness and distance.’ It’s a truly heart-breaking ending.

I’m thrilled that I’ve finally read the horror story written by Mary Shelley (Godwin as was) during that fateful wet summer of 1816, when she stayed in the Villa Diodati with her husband-to-be Percy Shelley, their friend Lord Byron and Mary’s half-sister Jane ‘Claire’ Clairmont, one of Byron’s groupies who was already pregnant with his child when she arrived at the Villa. Byron’s personal physician, Dr. John Polidori, whose story ‘THE VAMPYRE’ can still be read today, was also present at the Villa Diodati.

What a summer. What a back-story. What a personal triumph for the eighteen-year-old Mary, to write something so powerful that had such amazing longevity! I really hope that, wherever she is today, she knows how successful and popular her little horror novel turned out to be. It probably wouldn’t make up for all the personal tragedies she suffered in her short enough lifetime, but it might help to ease the pain a little.

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