THE DEEP HOUSE. (2021) A NETFLIX HORROR FILM REVIEWED BY SANDRA HARRIS.

THE DEEP HOUSE. 2021 DIRECTED AND CO-WRITTEN BY ALEXANDRE BUSTILLO AND JULIEN MAURY. PRODUCTION COMPANY: BLUMHOUSE PRODUCTIONS.

STARRING JAMES JAGGER, CAMILLE ROWE AND ERIC SAVIN.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

I’ve seen this seventy-five-minute horror film twice now. The first time, I was alone, it was night-time and I’ll admit I was thoroughly spooked by it. Then I watched it with my two (adult) kids over our Saturday night takeaway because I wanted them to see and enjoy it too.

They thought it was rubbish. Garbage. A load of old bollocks. My son even made some rude toilet noises to express his disapproval. I was gutted. I just wanted them to like it too, even though there’s a lot wrong with it. It just rubbed me up the right way at the right time, I guess. That can happen sometimes.

The story has two main characters, Ben and Tina. They’re a You-Tubing, engaged American couple, New York to be precise, who film cool, out-of-the-way or haunted locations in the hope of one day making it to a million views.

Ben is the driving force behind the relationship. What Ben says goes. Sure, Tina will whinge and whine about it and call him mean and a dick, but ultimately Ben’s will triumphs over Tina’s every time, because he is strong-willed and she is weak-willed. See?

Their latest project has had a whopping half a million views, but greedy Ben isn’t happy with that. He wants a million views, and, to ensure that the beautiful but insecure Tina has an incentive to work even harder on his goal, he teases her about them getting married once their website has hit those all-important million views. I think that’s a pretty crappy thing to do, taking advantage of Tina’s vulnerability and insecurities, but a lot of guys are like this, sadly. Some women too, no doubt.

They travel to the South of France to seek out a sanatarium that’s submerged under an artificial lake. The place is mobbed with tourists, however, and Ben has a massive sulk over the thwarting of his lovely plan. No amount of consoling from Tina will help.

Enter Pierre, a mysterious French local who’s the image of Roger Taylor from QUEEN as he is now, and his cunning plan to take the couple miles off the beaten track to see an even more submerged wonder… an old family home, perfectly preserved, at the bottom of another lake, only they have to drive quite far and then hike on foot for a couple of miles to get to it. Are they perchance interested? Ben nearly wets himself, he’s so eager to do this thang.

So it’s on with the diving gear and into the lake, while Pierre ‘minds’ their stuff for them. Oh, he’ll ‘mind’ their stuff for them all right. I’m sure it’ll all be very well taken care of, when Ben-Tina have died horribly at the clawed hands of the haunted house and Pierre gets to keep their stupid drone and expensive camera equipment and other cool You-Tuber gadgets and gizmos.

You’d swear Ben-Tina had never watched a single horror fillum in their whole lives. That’s the only reason, surely, for their trusting acceptance of Eric and his offer to provide them with an ‘alternative’ adventure.

They are as stupid as the stupidest people in horror films ever. No-one knows where they are. No-one knows where they’ve gone. They’re completely at the mercy of this dodgy Pierre fella, who, at the very least, might nick all their cameras and electronic goods. At worst, he might be planning their gory deaths.

Tina doesn’t really even want to go diving in the stupid scary lake, as she’s not sure her diving skills are up to it, but Ben overrules her completely as usual. Down they go, down, down, down to the house under the lake…

When the submerged house looms large in front of them like the wreck of the TITANIC, Ben decides they should ‘split up’ to try and find a way in. Sure, no problem, trills Tina, immediately setting off in the opposite direction to Ben. I don’t believe for a second that that would happen. It’s more likely that she’d be so petrified with fear that she’d refuse to leave his side for a second. Still, it’s a movie. Suspend disbelief and all that.

The house is quite creepy, especially as it’s under water. Under water, sometimes things aren’t what they appear to be. Unexplained noises, lights, shadows, silhouettes and floating dolls all put the willies up our intrepid pair.

I’d have been out of there by the time the first scary doll went floating past my head, but Ben-Tina are determined to unlock the house’s secrets for themselves. Are a few thousand views on You-Tube really worth dying for…? I wouldn’t have thought so but, then, that’s just me. The young ones of today might think differently…

I’m actually not going to tell you any more. What Ben-Tina discover in the house is between themselves and you, if you ever decide to watch this for yourself. I like the film, despite its flaws, and I hope you do too. By the way, if you like bubbles and chains that misbehave for some reason, boy, are you in for a treat…!

THE DISAPPEARED. (2008) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS.

THE DISAPPEARED. (2008) DIRECTED, CO-WRITTEN AND CO-PRODUCED BY JOHNNY KEVORKIAN.
STARRING HARRY TREADAWAY, GREG WISE, TOM FELTON, ROS LEEMING, ALEX JENNINGS AND NIKKI AMUKA-BIRD.
REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

I absolutely loved this low-budget British horror film set largely in council flats in a deprived part of England. There’s something very eerie about council flats when they’re in any way rundown, dilapidated or even deserted. Who knows what might lurk behind those closed doors along with the peeling paint, the black mould conditions and the lonely drip-drip-drip of the kitchen tap…?

This film is more of a haunting by a person of a person, rather than the flat itself being haunted, but it’s still good. If you want to watch a phenomenal low-budget British horror film about a haunted block of deserted council flats which are slated for demolition, please, please, please watch Christopher Frampton’s 2014 masterclass in spookiness, THE FORGOTTEN.

It’s terrifically scary and atmospheric, with the broken-down flat complex becoming a character in itself, filled with menace, threat and dread. Like in THE DISAPPEARED, it also features a troubled adolescent boy living with a deadbeat father because there’s no mother in the picture, and, as always, the lead character, the person being haunted, has to decide whether he’s losing his mind or if there actually is someone, or something, out there in the supernatural realm with a message they need him to hear…

Anyway, in THE DISAPPEARED, Matthew Ryan is a young man fresh out of a psychiatric hospital after the abduction one night of his little brother Tom, who is still missing. Matthew suffers terrible, terrible guilt about Tom, because he was celebrating his own birthday with his pals instead of looking after Tom, who wandered off- at night-time- and was taken, just one of a number of kids who’ve gone missing from the local area in recent years.

But if Tom was abducted and is most likely dead, then how come Matthew hears his voice in his ear night and day, and actually sees Tom too in physical form, looking exactly as he did in life, as robust and corporeal as ever he was…? Until Matthew tries to catch hold of him, of course, and then he’s gone like a light being snuffed out.

Matthew’s dad Jake, played by Emma Thompson’s hubby Greg Wise, can barely stand to look at his one remaining son, blaming Matthew as he does for Tom’s disappearance. Life in their council flat is fraught with unresolved tension and unspoken blame. Local thugs beat up Matthew because he’s that ‘weird kid’ with the missing brother. It’s not very nice being Matthew Ryan just now…

Poor Matthew, depressed, guilt-ridden and shadowed by ghosts, is not without support in his grief and confusion. A beautiful young girl called Amy moves into the flat next door and they become fast friends. She points him in the direction of a psychic mum-of-one in a nearby block of flats who might be able to make sense of the visions he’s having of Tom.

Matthew also has his best friend Simon, played by Tom Felton who was posh boy Draco Malfoy in the Harry Potter films, and local priest Adrian Ballan, one of those do-gooder types who take an interest in the fate of local youths. You know the type.

Encouraging the lads to stay in school, to not do drugs and to not knock up Emma from Fourth Year because that’s their future good and fucked then. I shouldn’t think it’d be all that great for poor Emma from Fourth Year either…

Things take an even more sinister turn when Simon’s twelve-year-old sister Sophie goes missing. A tip-off from ‘the other side’ sends Matthew hurtling to the place where he thinks he’ll find both the abductor-killer and possibly some of the victims, maybe even live ones? The final showdown scenes are good ‘n’ gripping.

The atmosphere was lovely and gloomy throughout the film, helped by some gorgeous scenes of old high-rise flats and deliciously ancient-looking churches, crypts and woodland. The director even managed to make some of his shots look like they came from much earlier times, to wit, the ‘Seventies, which I personally appreciated a great deal.

I might have called the movie something else, perhaps, to avoid confusion with the group of people collectively known as ‘the Disappeared’ who went missing, believed murdered by the IRA, in Northern Ireland during the period called ‘the Troubles.’

Even a quick google search of that movie I mentioned earlier, THE FORGOTTEN, yields only a slew of items about a Julianne Moore Hollywood movie from 2004. So, we need some original, snappy and difficult-to-confuse-with-something-else titles here, peeps. THE HAUNTING OF MATTHEW RYAN, perhaps? I like that. We’ll call it that, lol. And top marks to all concerned for making a really smashing horror film.       

THE SHINING. (1980) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

THE SHINING. (1980) BASED ON THE NOVEL BY STEPHEN KING. PRODUCED AND DIRECTED BY STANLEY KUBRICK. SCREENPLAY BY STANLEY KUBRICK AND DIANE JOHNSON.

STARRING JACK NICHOLSON, SHELLEY DUVALL, SCATMAN CROTHERS AND DANNY LLOYD.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

This is a good ‘un. Some Stephen King novels- not all of them, admittedly- make for fantastic films. CARRIE is one of these. Ditto MISERY, THE MIST, MAXIMUM OVERDRIVE, SALEM’S LOT, BAG OF BONES, GERALD’S GAME and DOLORES CLAIBORNE. THE SHINING is definitely another. To be honest, it’s probably the best Stephen King book-to-movie adaptation ever made to date. The plot is a real corker. Let’s have a brief overview.

Jack Torrance is clearly not one of life’s winners. He’s a sarcastic, bad-tempered recovering alcoholic and aspiring writer, a terrible combination. He also desperately needs work, any work, so he takes a job as seasonal caretaker at the isolated Overlook Hotel. He and his wife Wendy and young son Danny will live by themselves in the hotel all winter and keep things ticking over until the staff and guests return in the summer.

Sounds like a cushy number, but there are downsides. One of these is the sheer isolation of the hotel’s location. There won’t be a soul for miles around, added to which they’ll definitely be snowed in at some point as well, unable to get to even the nearest town, Sidewinder. No TV and no beer make Homer go something something…

More importantly, though, is the fact that a previous caretaker went cuckoo-bananas during the long cold winter at the Overlook Hotel and ran amok with an axe, killing his wife and twin daughters. It’s just a trifling matter, you know. It shouldn’t be an issue. Will Jack be able to handle the job, his new employers ask him? Sure thing, he tells them. No problem. When do I start…?

The Torrance family move into the hotel, lock, stock and barrel. Straight-away we observe that Jack, brilliantly played by Jack Nicholson, is a little below par as a husband and father, maybe even verging on the abusive. As if we didn’t know this already. A month at the Overlook does nothing to improve his foul temper.

Jack sits around the place pretending to write his version of the great American novel, all the while growing weirder and less and less communicative and civil towards his long-suffering wife. Writing is hard, and there’s nothing worse than a bad bout of Writer’s Blockage. Even a hefty dose of Syrup of Figs can’t shift that.

Then one day cute little Danny, who has the ability to read minds and predict the future (the shining), encounters a ‘crazy lady’ in the bathtub of one of the supposedly empty bedrooms, and what’s more, he has the scars to prove it. What the hell are Momma and Poppy gonna do now…?

THE SHINING is a masterclass in tension-building. Not only do we already know that something horrible has already happened in this accursed hotel, but at every turn we’re confronted with hints and indications that something just as bad, or maybe even worse, is fast coming down the track.

Jack Nicholson gives a faultless performance as the man who is growing crazier with each passing day. In fairness though, I think Jack Torrance may have been a little unhinged to begin with. He gives every indication of being a man on the edge, even before he’s cocooned at the hotel.

He’s absolutely foul to his downtrodden wife. Today, we’d call him a domestic abuser and cancel his sorry ass before you could say get my wife’s name out your mother-fucking mouth in front of an audience of millions at a glittering awards ceremony, lol. Sorry, couldn’t resist that.

Shelley Duvall is equally convincing as the wife who has to face the fact that her husband, the man who’s supposed to love and protect her and little Danny, is quite possibly the biggest threat to her and her little boy’s safety. Nowadays, she’d be calling a helpline to assist her and her young son to get as far away as they could from Jacky Boy, who’s possibly the worst and most abusive husband in cinema history.

Scatman Crothers is superb as Dick Halloran, the old chef at the Overlook Hotel who shares little Danny’s ability to ‘shine.’ He proves to be Danny’s only real ally, besides his mother, against the terrible evil that haunts the hotel.

Lisa and Louise Burns truly ‘shine’ too as the Grady twins (‘Come play with us Danny!’), and Danny Lloyd himself is fantastic as Danny ‘Doc’ Torrance, and he was only eight at the time, which is amazing. The hotel guests are all deliciously twisted and great fun. Watch out for the classic scene with Jack Torrance at the supposedly closed bar in the supposedly closed hotel…
 
The colours and patterns used in the hotel’s decor- the burnt orange, brown and yellow swirls and checks so popular in the ‘Seventies- add to the claustrophobic feel of this supposedly spacious location. What little Danny’s doing on his wee trike along the corridors of the hotel actually looks like tremendous fun. Giz a go of yer trike, Danny…!

Throw in a great script, great direction and a catalogue of ever-increasing shocks and you’ve got yourself a masterpiece. I don’t think there’s any more that I can add, really. If you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to go take my bath now. I’ll leave the door open though, if you fancy joining me. You can help me scrub the mould and algae off my back. It’s Room 237, by the way. Come on up when you’re ready. I’ll be waiting…

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

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

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

Her new book, THIRTEEN STOPS EARLIER, is out now from Poolbeg Books:

Her debut romantic fiction novel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books:

The sequel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS LATER,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Thirteen-Stops-Later-Book-ebook/dp/B091J75WNB/

THE FOG. (1980) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

JOHN CARPENTER’S THE FOG. (1980) DIRECTED BY JOHN CARPENTER. WRITTEN BY JOHN CARPENTER AND DEBRA HILL. ORIGINAL MUSIC BY JOHN CARPENTER.
STARRING ADRIENNE BARBEAU, JAMIE LEE CURTIS, JANET LEIGH, TOMMY ATKINS, JOHN HOUSEMAN, NANCY LOOMIS AND HAL HOLBROOK.
REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

‘Who is that…?’

‘Did you see his eyes…?’

‘Blake, I have your gold…!’

‘We’re honouring murderers…’

‘Why not six, Blake? Why not six…?’

‘Something came out of the fog tonight…’
 
The picturesque little Californian seaside town of Antonio Bay is in serious trouble in this fantastic film by horror icon John Carpenter. The inhabitants of the town are all getting ready to celebrate their centenary, with scream queen Janet PSYCHO Leigh roped in to organise the festivities. She plays Kathy Williams, council-woman and wife of a local fisherman, and she looks smashing in her knee-length red leather boots with her blonde coiffure.

She’s being assisted in her worthy endeavours, by the way, by Nancy Loomis, the woman who played Annie, the annoying teenage babysitter from HALLOWEEN. ‘Sandy, you have a way of saying yes, ma’am that sounds exactly like screw you…!’ To which Sandy immediately replies, ‘Yes, ma’am…!’

But, anyway, a strange glowing fog is rolling in from the sea, and it’s no normal fog, as you might have guessed by the word ‘glowing.’ Fog doesn’t normally glow, does it? Darn tootin’ it doesn’t. Something tells us that the centenary celebrations and the glorification of the town’s founding fathers may not pass off without incident…

Even worse than the fog itself, which is quite disturbing enough on its own, is what it contains. The ghosts of long-dead mariners are in it, see? And they’re coming back to Antonio Bay after a hundred years of being deceased to wreak a deadly revenge on the townspeople for wrongs committed against them by the town’s founding fathers. Well, I nevah…!

They’re being reasonable enough in their quest for a terrible vengeance, though, these spectres. They’re not going on a murderous rampage willy-nilly. They’ll only be slaughtering six people, because that’s how many people dissed ’em a hundred years ago tonight. Aw. It’s nice when ghosts can count. It should encourage any young folks watching the film to stick with their math…

Seriously, though, I had a horrible dream recently about a plague ship or a leper ship that desperately tried to reach land, reach some country where there would be people who could help the sick, suffering and dying people on board. But when they did eventually reach what they called ‘civilisation,’ the so-called ‘civilised’ people were so appalled at the thought of being in close proximity to lepers or plague victims that they chose to burn the ship’s still-living inhabitants to death and then scuttle the ship rather than risk their own skins. I woke up frozen in fear.

What does this all have to do with Antonio Bay? Well, I won’t give the whole plot away, but what happened to poor Blake and his men is just horrible. I don’t blame them for wanting revenge, although it’s awfully hard on people like poor Mrs. Kobritz and little Andy Wayne, the three mariners aboard the Sea Grass and the poor old weatherman who are, one would imagine, completely innocent of any wrongdoing themselves.

From the moment the town starts going all MAXIMUM OVERDRIVE at the start of the movie because of the proximity of the mariners, you know you’re going to be watching something special. The atmosphere is positively electric with a terrifying anticipation right from the get-go.

We know that something evil and dangerous is coming and the tension never lets up the whole way through. I think it’s honestly the most fun I’ve ever had being scared in my whole life. I was breathless with excitement while watching it and, even though I was spooked out of my mind, I wouldn’t have turned my face away for anything in the world. Mind you, when I watched it first at about age sixteen, it scared me so much I actually wet my bed that night…!

The cuddly Hal Holbrook, with a fine head of hair on him and a luxuriant moustache to match, does a top job of playing Father Malone. As a direct descendant of one of The Guilty Six, he seems to be the townsperson with the most to fear from the deadly fog. An alcoholic he may be, but he’s grimly determined to make reparations to Blake and his crew if he can at all.

It’s so nice to see Janet Leigh and her daughter, Jamie Lee Curtis, acting in the same film, even though they don’t have much to do with each other in it. Certainly Ms. Leigh doesn’t put her naughty hitch-hiker of a daughter over her knee and paddle her behind raw for sleeping with a strange guy who gives her a lift in his truck, and the horny pair don’t even ask each others’ names till after all the sex…!

Tsk, tsk. Jamie Lee, you brazen hussy…! A good spanking is most definitely in order, I fear. The strange guy in question, Nick Castle, is played by actor Tom Atkins, and he gets his kit off in HALLOWEEN 3 as well, the big horny stud.
 
The heroine of the film is, of course, the tousle-haired, husky-voiced Adrienne Barbeau, who plays the sultry but feisty disc jockey Stevie Wayne. Up in her lonely lighthouse studio she warns the townspeople about the approach of the fog and keeps ’em up to date as to its whereabouts.

Even though she knows that her own little boy Andy and his babysitter, the elderly Mrs. Kobritz, are directly in the line of fire of the fog, she won’t leave her post in the lighthouse because of the urgent need to warn everyone in town about the killer fog.

It’s kind of hard not to giggle when she’s telling everyone that the fog is heading up this street and down that avenue and up this hill and over that bridge, etc. One can almost imagine the fog stopping at various pedestrian lights and waiting impatiently for the lights to change before continuing on its rampage, like something out of THE SIMPSONS. Anyway, this lady Stevie Wayne has guts and balls to spare, and the town of Antonio Bay has a lot to thank her for. ‘Look for the fog…’

The loud banging on the various doors is terrifying. So too is the scene on the SEA GRASS when the lads look up and see the sails of a boat from a century ago literally towering over them. A ghost story that has its roots in the sea is scarier, in a way, than some land-based ones.

This film has so much atmosphere and authenticity, it puts some of the more modern stuff to shame. And it’s so simple too, in the sense that it’s not complicated by needless side-plots or trickery or other such nonsense. It relies on the story itself and the superb musical score to keep the audience hooked.

The music, written by the legendary horror director himself, is fantastic. When the fog is heading for the showdown in the old church, the pounding soundtrack ratchets up the fear factor something fierce. And at other times, the music is beautifully eerie and reminds us that John Carpenter also wrote the theme music for his other famous horror film, HALLOWEEN.

Of all the horror films I’ve ever seen in my life, I think THE FOG has to be the one that uses music the most effectively to create a feeling of ever-mounting terror and dread. The whole movie gets a ten out of ten in every possible way.

I think it might even be John Carpenter’s best film, but no doubt fans of his other movies like THE THING and the afore-mentioned HALLOWEEN might fight me on that one. One thing I’m sure we’re all agreed on. John Carpenter is the king of horror directing. All hail the King…!     

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

CANDYMAN. (1992) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©


CANDYMAN. (1992) DIRECTED BY BERNARD ROSE. SCREENPLAY BY BERNARD ROSE. BASED ON ‘THE FORBIDDEN,’ A SHORT STORY BY CLIVE BARKER. MUSIC BY PHILIP GLASS.
STARRING VIRGINIA MADSEN, TONY TODD, XANDER BERKELEY AND KASI LEMMONS.
REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

‘Remove your underwear…’

‘It was always you, Helen…’

I was confused but also intrigued by this rather strange and iconic horror film. The main thing I loved about it was that, every time something happens in the film that’s so gruesome or awful you just automatically assume that the character is having a nightmare, they’re actually not, and the awful or gruesome thing was perfectly real and did happen. It’s an extremely gory film and not, as they say, for the faint-hearted, so don’t stick the kids in front of it while you nip to Tesco for a loaf of bread, lol.

Anyway, the beautiful Virginia Madsen, sister of actor Michael Madsen, plays the main character, Helen Lyle, in this supernatural slasher movie. She is a graduate student living in Chicago with her cheating and rather weedy-looking university professor husband, Trevor. Helen is studying urban legends and local folklore for her thesis, which she is co-writing with her friend Bernadette.

They decide to focus their thesis on the legends surrounding the Candyman, the evil spirit of a black man called Daniel Robitaille who was born the son of a slave in the late 1800s. He was killed in horrific circumstances by white men after becoming a painter of some repute and impregnating a white woman with whom he was in love.

The ghost has a hook for a hand (I know what you did last summer, by the way!) and a great big hulking chip on his shoulder. If you say his name in the mirror five times, the ghost, now known as the Candyman for some reason that’s not explained, is supposed to appear to you. No-one tells you what’s supposed to happen once he appears, but one would imagine it’s something fairly negative, as he’s a vengeful ghost and not, say, Father Christmas…

Instead of revenging himself on white men, as you might imagine, so far the spectre seems to have killed mainly black people living in notoriously poor housing projects. Helen and Bernadette, armed with cameras and notebooks, head straight to Cabrini Green, one such housing project, where the Candyman is supposed to have murdered a black woman after gaining access to her apartment through the medicine cabinet in the bathroom.

Cabrini Green is a terrifying place, even without the lurking presence of the Candyman, whose name seems to be on everyone’s lips. The apartment blocks are disgracefully neglected by whichever local authority authorised their construction. They are filthy, probably overcrowded, daubed in graffiti and faeces, patrolled by gangs of aggressive black males and the lifts don’t work.

Sounds delightful, right? But Helen, our intrepid investigator, can’t seem to stay away from the bloody place, or from the mystery of the Candyman, even after she gets a terrible hiding from some of the local males who don’t take too kindly to posh ‘whites’ like Helen sniffing around their patch. Incidentally, did you see the state of those public toilets…?

But Helen is personally involved now, after a meeting she’s definitely not expecting in a deserted underground car-park. (This dame just can’t stop courting trouble, right? All she needs now is to hang round the tunnel under the old disused bridge at midnight on a bloody full moon…!)

Her discovery that the Candyman is all too real is just the beginning of a nightmare ride for the pretty graduate student with the lying, cheating bastard of a husband. She finds herself accused of the bloodiest, most horrific murders, murders that we know she didn’t commit. Her life changes out of all proportion, if by ‘changes’ you mean ‘fucked up beyond all recognition,’ or even FUBAR, lol.  

But the Candyman, a suave and decidedly sexy, sharp-dressing black ghost with a deep, delicious voice, refuses to relinquish his stranglehold on Helen. Might her resemblance to a woman in a certain portrait possibly hold the key to his obsession…?

The murders are gory and grim and the special effects excellent, but you might not sleep easy for a while after viewing this supernatural slasher flick, especially if, like me, you have a medicine cabinet in your bathroom…!

I loved the social commentary in the film. You could make a whole other film just about Cabrini Green and the people who live there, or in other forgotten housing projects like it. I especially liked the character of Anne-Marie McCoy, the young black single mum who works to take care of her baby, Anthony, whom she obviously adores.

It’s not all drugs and gangs, she tells Helen defensively. It’s not all like you whites read in the newspapers. Some good decent folks live here too. That is undoubtedly true. It must be very hard to live there as a woman on her own, trying to raise a little boy who, as he’s growing up, is going to see crime and gang activity everywhere he looks.

That’s the real horror of CANDYMAN, if you ask me, but, hey, there’s a pretty darned good murderous ghost in the mix too, so enjoy your film. There are two sequels: CANDYMAN 2: FAREWELL TO THE FLESH (1995) and CANDYMAN 3: DAY OF THE DEAD (1999). And watch out for the 2021 direct sequel, CANDYMAN, in your local cinema right about now. Now, all together: Candyman! Candyman! Candyman! Candyman! I just can’t say it a fifth time, lol. Too scared the legend might be true…

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 HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE: THE 2018 NETFLIX TV SERIES. ©

THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE: THE TELEVISION SERIES. (2018) CREATED AND WRITTEN BY MIKE FLANAGAN. BASED ON THE BOOK BY SHIRLEY JACKSON.

STARRING CARLA GUGINO, TIMOTHY HUTTON, MICHIEL HUISMAN, ELIZABETH ANN REASER, OLIVER JACKSON-COHEN, KATE SIEGEL, VICTORIA PEDRETTI AND ANNABETH GISH.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

‘Whatever walked there, walked alone…’

Wow. This ten-part series makes for excellent television drama, but I suppose we’d better start by saying that it’s not as good as the original film of Shirley Jackson’s superb horror novel; how could it be? But it’s pretty damn good television viewing, even though it wasn’t as scary as I’d been led to believe and there’s an awful lot of talking and repetition in it.

It’s a ghost story, told in a non-linear fashion, so a bit you see in one episode might not make sense at all until another episode repeats the thing and explains it to you. Yes, that might be annoying for some, but the plot is really well written and complex and, even though it seems to have a million things to keep track of and an equal number of loose ends to tie up, it doesn’t do a bad job at all of tying everything up in a nice big bow at the end.

Okay, so it’s the summer of 1992 and the Crain family- the parents, Hugh and Olivia, and their five sprogs Stephen, Shirley, Theodora and twins Luke and Nell, come to live in the titular Hill House to do to it what the Americans call ‘flipping,’ that is, they’re going to do it up a bit and sell it on to make a fortune. That’s the plan, anyway.

But Hill House is haunted to buggery, as we all very well know, and it isn’t long before the house begins to exert its evil supernatural pull over the family Crain. Little Luke has an ‘imaginary’ friend called Abigail, who comes out of the nearby woods to play with him.

He is also haunted by a terrifyingly tall man with a walking stick, who floats a good twelve inches above the ground. His twin, Nell, is tormented by visitations from a scary-sounding someone she calls ‘the Bent-Neck Lady.

Theodora learns that she has a ‘psychic’ touch: if she touches something or someone, she can derive psychic information from it. She takes to wearing gloves every day, however, to prevent this from happening. Well, not everything she learns is necessarily welcome information, so you can’t really blame her, can you?

Dad is severely disturbed by the sounds of scraping, banging and tapping he hears in the basement he’s trying to de-mould, and as for Mom…! Mom probably has a sign tattooed across her forehead that only ghosts can see, a sign saying: ‘Haunt me, please!’

She’s a drippy, hippy-dippy spiritual type to begin with, gliding through the rooms in a succession of fabulous long nighties and robes, with her long dark hair streaming out behind her, but when the house starts to impact on her already fragile-seeming emotional state, she becomes a million times flightier.

She sees dead people and chats away to them as if they’re real, and she’s extremely susceptible to the ghosts’ warped mind games, being highly suggestible when they plant ideas of evil-doing in her increasingly damaged mind.

Something happens in the house in 1992 that sees the family (well, nearly all the family) fleeing for their lives, like the family in THE AMITYVILLE HORROR. The story moves back-and-forth over the ten episodes between the past and the present, and it won’t be until the very last few frames in the very last episode that we discover just what happened in that cursed house that fateful summer.

The Crain siblings are very messed-up adults. It’s pretty obvious that their stay in Hill House has impacted upon them big-time in different ways. One is a funeral director and a control freak. One is a heroin addict. Another is a child psychologist, responsible for working out if children have been sexually or otherwise abused. Her job makes her miserable. It’s a good group so far, isn’t it?

Another of the siblings is a flaky mess whom everyone in the family feels is a suicide waiting to happen, and yet another writes books about hauntings in general and Hill House in particular, books that get their entire family’s back up. I told you it was a good group…!

The siblings haven’t had any answers from their parents, in particular from their father, regarding what exactly happened in Hill House to tear the family apart that summer. Now, their lives are so messed-up and mixed-up that they’re going to need some answers, whether their parents want to give them these answers or not. Why not start by asking what was behind the locked door of the Red Room, for which they never had a key when they lived there…?

There are definitely references in the series to the original book by Shirley Jackson. Two of the sisters are called Theodora and Nell, there’s writing on the wall and banging on the doors, and the weird caretaker couple, the Dudleys, won’t stay on in the house in the night, in the dark, when it’s night, after dark, lol.

Some of the scares are extremely effective; others less so. I’d definitely recommend this Netflix series. It’s good writing and good acting; it’s a bit annoying and confusing in places, full of dreams and fantasies and with all the females in it sporting identical hairstyles, but it’s mostly good scary fun that puts me very much in mind of Stephen King’s THE SHINING.

I believe that Stephen King, master of horror and a huge fan of Shirley Jackson’s book, gives THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE, the series, his seal of approval. It has mine too, for what it’s worth, so go forth and watch it and enjoy it, and just make sure the Bent-Neck Lady doesn’t find you alone in the house, in the night, in the dark…

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.

R-POINT. (2004) A SUPERB KOREAN HORROR FILM REVIEWED BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

r-point bed

R-POINT: A TARTAN ASIA EXTREME KOREAN HORROR FILM. (2004) STARRING KAM WOO-SUNG AND SON BYONG-HO. DIRECTED BY KONG SU-CHANG.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

‘Come in, Butterfly, this is Donkey 30, come in, Butterfly!’

I’ve watched this superb Korean horror film three times in the last week since first discovering it, that’s how good it is. Set against the backdrop of the tail end of the Vietnam War, it’s the story of a bunch of Korean soldiers (they fought in the Vietnam War alongside the Americans, possibly as a thank-you to the Americans for their assistance in the Korean War a decade earlier) sent to Romeo-Point, an island somewhat south of Ho Chi Minh City, to try to find out what’s become of a unit of Korean soldiers who went missing there six months previously.

Distress calls from men in the missing unit have been received at the men’s former base, and the calls are chilling beyond belief. The soldiers sending the distress calls believe that they’re all going to die horribly at R-Point, and it’s frightening to listen to.

The soldiers in this search and rescue unit, led by the handsome Lieutenant Choi and the hard-ass Vietnam veteran Sergeant Jin, are all very young and have been recruited mainly from a local syphilis hospital, seduced into volunteering for this mission by the promise of a ticket straight home to Korea in ten days’ time.

It’s dreadful, really, to think that men so young, some little more than boys, have had to experience the horrors of war and killing their fellow men before they’ve even turned twenty. The hilarious way in which they squabble like kids with each other proves their immaturity.

They should be at home with their wives and children (they’re too young even for marriage, really!) or in college or working at their jobs, not here in the midst of a horrible war they didn’t even start and probably don’t even understand.

This last isn’t at all outside the bounds of possibility. Remember how the guys fighting each other in World War I, the English and the Germans, mostly didn’t really have a clue why they were there? But never mind, eh? Ours is not to question why, ours is just to do and die, and all that, eh what?

The little battalion of men are terrified of R-Point, anyway, a remote uninhabited island lush with green vegetation, trees and grasses and dotted about with the graves of murdered men and the remains of ruined stone temples.

It has an evil supernatural atmosphere right from the get-go, as the first man to get left behind because he needs to pee will tell you. The scene he walks into as he’s searching desperately for his buddies in the unit is as beautifully choreographed as any ballet, and so chilling it’s now one of my Top Three scary scenes of all time. I can’t wait for you guys to see it too and agree with me, lol.

The men bed down in a ruined mansion that looks like it’s come straight out of one of those ‘TEN MOST HAUNTED PLACES IN THE WORLD’ posts on Facebook. They’re all on edge anyway, but once the supernatural occurrences start happening in earnest, they have trouble holding onto their sanity. The whole island is imbued with a terrible evil, and once it gets a hold of a man, it doesn’t tend to let go.

The incident in the cave with ‘Donkey 30’ is a real frightener. Ditto what happens with the French soldiers Jacques and Paul, who say they’re ‘stationed somewhere near here,’ and also with the American soldiers who stop off at the mansion while on business of their own.

The film has been described by Front Magazine as ‘BLAIR WITCH MEETS FULL METAL JACKET,’ but I’d add in John Carpenter’s THE FOG and also THE THING as well, for reasons you’ll get if you’ve seen the film.

The lads have seven days to complete their mission and find out what’s happened to the missing soldiers. At the end of that time, transport will be arriving to take them off the island and then home. If anyone’s left alive, that is.

The American soldiers are already placing bets that the Korean guys won’t survive a week at R-Point, because ‘nuthin’ lives in R-Point.’ Nonetheless, the transport home will come. Whether there will be anyone left alive at R-Point to transport home, remains to be seen. The goddess of evil must have her sacrifices…

This is the best and spookiest horror film I’ve seen all year. I urge you to watch it if you get the chance. You won’t regret it.

‘Come in, Butterfly, this is Mole 3! Come in, Butterfly!’

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 DEAD SUMMER: BY HELEN MOORHOUSE. (2012) A BOOK REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

dead summer

THE DEAD SUMMER: A NOVEL BY HELEN MOORHOUSE. PUBLISHED BY POOLBEG IN 2012.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

‘If you’re a fan of Susan Hill’s THE WOMAN IN BLACK, you’ll love this…!’

This book, written by an Irish woman and set in the English countryside, is a really unusual blend of chick-lit mixed with a top-notch ghost story. I write in both genres myself, mixing ’em both up together big-time, and I love it when other writers do it too. I especially love it when they do it well, as happens here.

Martha Armstrong is a young woman with a baby girl called Ruby. She’s split up from her husband Dan because he’s a big cheating bastard, and now she’s planning to leave her London home and, by extension, the rat-race, to go and live with Rubes in a ramshackle cottage somewhere in the English countryside. She wants to write the children’s story, about a unicorn, that she thinks has been fermenting inside her for years. Eeuw, it sounds right nasty, does that. Surely ‘t doctor can give her summat for ‘t…?

Hawthorn Cottage, or, to give it its other name, Eyrie Farm, seems lovely at first. Martha moves in in the summertime and gets into a routine fairly quickly. In the mornings, she drops Rubes off at the local crèche, run by a woman named Mary Stockwell, then she goes home and faffs about for several hours pretending to write. 

Lady, I can tell you this for nothing. Ain’t nobody gon’ want to read y’all’s daft story about unicorns. The children’s book market is saturated with so many wanna-bees that there’s barely any room for even one more sad hopeful to squish in there.

If I were Martha, I’d find a nice little day-job, on a make-up counter maybe, or behind the till at Tesco, and spend any free time riding Rob, the local landlord, rich property developer and Man Mountain. PS, why am I discouraging another writer, even a fictional one, from writing when I’m clearly a writer myself?

Well, there’s too much bleedin’ competition out there, that’s why. As a writer who’s hoping to bring out her first traditionally published novel next year (the first part of a trilogy, I might add), I know this all too well. I like to commit a little, shall we say, sabotage, every now and then…! Remember, every scribe you can discourage from writing is one less annoying, pushy bastard grabbing for your brass ring, lol. Ah, I’m only joking. Or am I…?

Anyway, up at Hawthorn Cottage, things are starting to get a little hairy for Martha. On her very first night in the cottage, she hears a growling sound on the baby monitor that would have had me reaching for the suitcases there and then. Lights switch themselves on and off too and the temperature in a room can dip to freezing at the drop of a pair of knickers with dodgy elastic.

There’s a terrible scratching and scrabbling sound coming from behind the chimney breast in Ruby’s room, and the sound occasionally also of a baby crying, but when Martha runs in to comfort Ruby, the child is fast asleep.

A black shape is seen lurking by the bathroom door and a spoon is slapped right out of Martha’s hand when she’s playing ‘here comes the aeroplane, and will you please eat your bloody dinner, you aggravating child!’ with an unimpressed Ruby.

Martha’s experiences at Eyrie Farm (Hawthorn Cottage my arse, she thinks; this place is as haunted as all-get-out!) are told alongside our reading of a number of letters penned by a woman who actually lived in Eyrie Farm in the 1950s.

Poor Lily Flynn’s life is ruined forever when her sister Marion gets pregnant out of wedlock in 1950s Ireland, a mortal sin in those terrible, not-so-far-off days. Marion gets shunted off to England to have her baby away from the prying eyes of the neighbours, and Lily is forced to accompany her as her maid, her minder, her cook, her cleaner and her whipping boy. Marion has the temper of a devil and she gives poor Lily a dog’s life that includes terrible physical violence, to the point where Lily begins to think that Marion is actually insane.

It won’t take you too long to figure out who the ghosts are and why they’re haunting Hawthorn Cottage, of all places, but the execution of the ghost story is really well done. If this book were filmed, it would have all the jump-scares and black-mouthed screaming demons in it of THE WOMAN IN BLACK or James Wan’s more recent THE NUN.

It’s clear from the book that this author likes her horror books or films, as I spotted references in it to THE WICKER MAN, THE SHINING, and Alfred Hitchcock’s PSYCHO, THE BIRDS and STRANGERS ON A TRAIN. It’s always gratifying when that happens to a horror reader. It makes us feel like we’re not alone, lol.

And the romance isn’t neglected either, readers, never fear. It’s where Will, the handsome young parapsychologist from Scotland, comes in, with his scruffier, bolshier mate Gabriel in tow.

Gabriel has a hotline direct to the spirit world; will he be able to cleanse Hawthorn Cottage of the evil that stalks it, and even more importantly, can he save Baby Ruby from the clutches of another Woman In Black (who may not love her but it would give her great satisfaction to be able to kill the child and take it away from its mother)…?

THE DEAD SUMMER is a cracking little horror story anyway, but it also does a terrific job of recounting the culture of shame that surrounded unmarried sex and pregnancy in mid-twentieth century Ireland. I like the way that the bit of very important social commentary goes hand-in-hand with the ghost story, and I’m really looking forward to reading more from this smashing debut author, Helen Moorhouse.

(PS, that was back in 2012 and Helen Moorhouse has written several other books since then, go check them 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 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

DEATH SHIP. (1980) A GHOSTLY HORROR FILM REVIEWED BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

death-ship

DEATH SHIP. (1980) DIRECTED BY ALVIN RAKOFF. STARRING GEORGE KENNEDY, RICHARD CRENNA, SALLY ANN HOWES, NICK MANCUSO, VICTORIA BURGOYNE AND SAUL RUBINEK.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

Wow. This ghostly horror film completely blew me away. I’d been You-Tube-ing ‘ghost ships’ and related stuff, on account of having read some really scary true-life stories about same in John Robert Colombo’s TRUE CANADIAN GHOST STORIES, an excellent book I read over Halloween. Then a clued-in FB friend recommended DEATH SHIP, and I was intrigued enough to give it a go.

It stars George Kennedy as the main character, a Captain Ashland, the captain of a cruise ship who’s on his last cruise before handing charge of the ship over to Richard Crenna’s Trevor Marshall. I love George Kennedy.

He was one of those very masculine old-school actors like Paul Newman or Steve McQueen, although I’m not sure if he was ever treated as romantic lead material. Very unfair, as I’ve personally always fancied him, this big giant bear of a man with his gruff deep voice and commanding demeanour. My ideal man, in fact, lol.

He was terrific in DALLAS as JR Ewing’s enemy, Carter McKay. I also loved him in the Western movie BANDOLERO! as July Johnson, the straight-down-the-line sheriff who pursues a couple of criminals (played by James Stewart and Dean Martin) into Mexican bandit territory because they’ve brought with them as a hostage the woman that he, July, loves. Alas, the woman, played by the stunning Raquel Welch, prefers bad boy Dean Martin to good guy George Kennedy, and in the end no-one really gets what they want. Sigh. Such is life.

Anyway, Captain Ashland is a grumpy bastard who maintains he went to sea to captain a ship and sail the seven seas, not to pander to the gushing socialites who all want to be able to say that they’ve sat at the captain’s table for dinner while they were cruising. I see his point, but on the other hand I see theirs too. No point going on a poxy cruise unless you can say you’ve chowed down at’t’ captain’s table, lol.

His pandering to vacuous socialites gets cut brutally short on this, his last trip, however. The cruise ship is scuppered by another vessel that comes at them out of nowhere and blows the whole lot of ’em out of the water in a POSEIDON ADVENTURE-style maritime catastrophe. This other vessel is the titular DEATH SHIP. Climb aboard at your peril…

The survivors, cast adrift in a lifeboat, have no choice but to board the ghostly vessel. The survivors are, neatly and coincidentally, Captain Ashland; his successor-to-be Trevor Marshall and Marshall’s wife and two cute kids, Robin (a girl) and Ben, who are allowed the full run of the ghost ship in a highly irresponsible manner that would earn their parents a rap on the knuckles today; a sexy young couple called Nick and Lori who were having sex when the iceberg, sorry, the ghost ship, struck (that’s the way I’d like to go, by the way, lol); the ship’s comic (bet he doesn’t find his new gig too bloody funny!) and a random old lady passenger, who are the ghost ship’s first two disposable casualties. Oh yes, the ghost ship wants to kill them all, didn’t I say? Cue evil snigger.

The ‘death ship’ is magnificent in its rusty, cobwebby state of dereliction and decay. We don’t know if it’s a ghost ship as such or what those in the maritime business would call a ‘derelict’ ship, a real ship that somehow lost its crew and passengers and now sails the seven seas rudderless, a navigational hazard if it should happen across another vessel in its path.

What we do know is that the ship is a relic from Nazi Germany, a so-called ‘interrogation ship’ where ‘enemies of the state’ were taken and tortured horribly for what bits of information they possessed. Out at sea, miles from anywhere, who was there to hear you scream? We also know that ghostly, unseen hands operate the rusty, dusty machinery and direct it towards hurting, maiming or even killing the passengers now in its evil clutches.

I love the way that they only show you the bare minimum of ghostliness in the film, and the way that Nazi Germany and the ‘Forties, the time when this ship was peopled with real-life seamen (titter, seamen!), are revealed to us in little bite-sized snatches, rather than in huge chunks of flashback.

There are the bunks with the pin-ups of Betty Grable and stars of ‘Forties German cinema plastered around them; the ‘Forties music on the record player and the home cinema with film footage of Hitler and his minions playing on a loop; the German voice issuing orders through the speakers in the radio room; a mere glimpse of the German naval captain on his bridge.

Then there is the ‘interrogation room’ itself, no more than a brutal torture chamber, and the Freezer Room, possibly the saddest place on the whole entire God-forsaken ship. And God doesn’t seem to have ever had a place on this carrion ship of death and decay and hopelessness, and it’s certainly not God who’s steering its eerie, lonely course now.

The ship of doom is having a very unhealthy effect on Captain Ashland. I love the bit where the sensible, Daddy-ish, woollen jumper-clad Trevor Marshall comes to his wife and says: ‘The ship has caused Captain Ashland to take on the persona of a German naval captain, it’s like it’s possessing him in some way!’ Or words to that effect, anyway.

It’s the funniest bit of the film, which is definitely not a comedy. It’s like something out of THE SIMPSONS, that line is. You half expect to hear Lisa Simpson, the voice of reason, saying: ‘Well, d’uh! Everyone’s already worked that out, Dad…!’

So now, Captain-to-be Marshall has to save his wife (played by Sally Ann Howes, or Truly Scrumptious from CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG) and unruly children and the sexy young couple (who just can’t seem to keep their kit on!) from the gruesome machinations of Captain Ashland, who has a definite kind of ‘The Shining’ thing going on with the ship of death.

And he- Captain Ashland- now resents Trevor Marshall as well, thinking it’s Marshall’s fault he’s losing his captaincy, and not his own complete and utter ability to be a ‘people person.’ He’s out for Marshall’s blood, and, as long as he’s being evil, the ship of death is determined to help him…

The ship itself is terrifyingly creepy, from the untenanted radio room, where a crackly long-dead German-speaking voice issues its instructions through the speakers, to the long echoey corridors where the sound of loudly clanging doors can be heard, unnervingly, from up ahead. It’s kind of like the Overlook Hotel from THE SHINING, peopled by ghosts and the bad energies from the awful deeds that took place there, but on sea instead of on land.

The Death Ship sailed the seven seas (Are there really seven? Can someone actually count them for me, please?) long before there was a Captain Ashland or a Trevor Marshall, and it will sail them long after those two men have returned to the dust from which they came. I can’t recommend this superbly spooky British-Canadian horror film heartily enough. It’s captured my imagination in a way that nothing else this year has. Full steam ahead for frights and frolics…

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

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

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

You can contact Sandra at:

sandrasandraharris@gmail.com

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

https://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com

http://sexysandieblog.wordpress.com

http://serenaharker.wordpress.com

https://twitter.com/SandraAuthor

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

honeymoon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

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

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

You can contact Sandra at:

sandrasandraharris@gmail.com

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

https://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com