THE TERROR OF THE TONGS. (1961) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

THE TERROR OF THE TONGS. (1961) A HAMMER FILM PRODUCTION DIRECTED BY ANTHONY BUSHELL. WRITTEN BY JIMMY SANGSTER.

STARRING CHRISTOPHER LEE, YVONNE MONLAUR, MARNE MAITLAND AND GEOFFREY TOONE.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

‘Have you ever had your bones scraped, Captain Sale?’

This film provided Christopher Lee with his first ever top billing, despite the fact that he had already acted in three of Hammer’s most famous films: THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1957) as the Creature; DRACULA (1958) as the titular Count; and THE MUMMY (1959) as Kharis/The Mummy.

And his role as Dracula became the one with which he remained most identified, right up to his death in 2015 at the tender age of only ninety-three. Well, I was convinced he’d make it all the way to a hundred and even beyond, but sadly, it wasn’t to be.

And, just regarding his lack of top billing in these films, it was said of Hammer at the time that Peter Cushing was its star; Christopher Lee merely its monster. Well, never mind; he certainly came into his own in the end.

Having said that, action-adventure movie THE TERROR OF THE TONGS, despite its lush settings and gorgeously sumptuous costumes, is not my favourite Hammer film, nor yet is Chung King my favourite leading role of Christopher Lee’s.

I much prefer him as Dracula, as that sexy midnight lover from the coldness of the crypt who died, yet lived; as that sexually magnetic and dominant lover who makes real women out of Melissa Stribling’s Mina and Carol Marsh’s Lucy in the original Hammer DRACULA film of 1958.

In THE TERROR OF THE TONGS, he plays Chung King, the undoubtedly dominant and austere but at the same time oddly sexless leader of a terrorist organisation of organised criminals known as the Tongs, a name to strike horror into the hearts of Hong Kong dwellers in the early twentieth century. They’re the Chinese triads, the Japanese yakuza and the Italian-American mafia all rolled into one, they’re so feared and abhorred and, dare I say it, opium-raddled.

Chung King, while undeniably a dominant and cruel leader, just as you’d expect from the head of such an organisation, is sort of strangely asexual, with sadly not much going on behind the voluminous folds of his black kimono.

Why doesn’t he get to have sex, even implied, with any of the beautiful women who attend at his court? Or even with Yvonne Monlaur as Lee, the stunning sexbomb heroine of the film? Christopher Lee as Fu Manchu, in another series of films, not made by Hammer, doesn’t get any sexual action either.

Once the make-up people slap the old ‘epicanthic fold,’ apparently his least favourite of all the prosthetic enhancements, over his eyes to give him an Oriental look, they might as well be de-sexing him, it seems.

Makers of both THE TERROR OF THE TONGS and the FU MANCHU films both gravely under-used the sensuality and sexuality of their handsome heart-throb of a star, methinks. The films could have been so much more memorable if they’d only allowed him to be the man we know he could be in them.

Anyway, the plot of THE TERROR OF THE TONGS is relatively straightforward. Set in British-occupied Hong Kong in 1910, it sees Geoffrey Toone as maritime Captain Jackson Sale revenging the murder of his teenage daughter by the terror organisation known as the Tongs.

They didn’t kill her willy-nilly; they did it to protect their identities from becoming known, but Captain Sale is beside himself with grief nonetheless. He won’t rest until he tracks down the head of this brutal organisation and cuts it off at its source, so to speak.

The head is Chung King; he won’t react well to being tracked down and killed…! He might even despatch one of his infamous ‘hatchet men’ to treat Sale (Sale/Sail- geddit???) to the solemn splendour of a so-called ‘ceremonial killing.’

Don’t be worrying on Sale’s behalf, though. The hatchet men announce their presence well in advance. They holler at you from across a crowded street once they clap eyes on you, then they wave their hatchets in the air and advance upon you slowly across that crowded street.

This gives you plenty of time to assess the situation, light a cigarette, chat with a friend, escape into a waiting rickshaw or even kill your would-be assailant as he approaches.

Even if, by some miracle, he actually manages to wound or even kill you, you’ll have plenty of time to put your affairs in order while waiting impatiently for your would-be assassin.

Maybe, just maybe, if the Tongs had concentrated more on the killing element and less on the ceremony element involved, they may have lasted longer as an organisation of terror. It’s just a thought, that’s all. Make of it what you will.

Man: ‘Oh look, that hatchet-wielding Tong over there is hollering menacingly at me. Looks like my number must be up, so. Have I time to get that haircut at all? Oh yes, that looks much better. Brings out my eyes, you say? Why, thank you! Still coming over here waving his little thing, is he, that Tong fellow?

‘Oh well, in that case, I might just try to fit in that show I’ve been dying to see. Is there time for a bit of dinner too? Oh, time for dinner and a few pre-show cocktails, how spiffing! God, I’m tired now after all that smashing grub and booze. I think I’ll just have a nice little lie-down while I’m waiting…’ And so on. You get the picture.

Anyway, Sale has two allies in his desperate mission. Ally One is Marne Maitland (he plays the mysterious Malay in one of Hammer’s most magnificent films, THE REPTILE, 1965) as the Beggar, who is in reality the leader of a resistance movement against the Tongs.

Ally Two is Yvonne Monlaur as Lee, the former enslaved mistress of a Tong debt collector, who now has decided she loves Captain Jackson Sale, because he has accidentally freed her from her bondage by seeing off her captor-owner.

Yvonne Monlaur could just be the most beautiful of all the Hammer women. Her face, her voice, her body! She’s perfect in every possible way. Her performance as Marianne Danielle in Hammer’s THE BRIDES OF DRACULA (1960), in which she plays a young finishing school teacher breaking her journey to the school at the sinister, vampire-ridden Chateau Meinster, is an absolute joy to behold.

How her dresser must have enjoyed putting her in those fabulous gowns and dressing her gorgeous chestnutty hair for THE BRIDES OF DRACULA. Am I in love with Yvonne Monlaur? A little, yes, what of it? Do you blame me? What a beauty! She wears some stunning Chinese dresses with matching shoes in THE TERROR OF THE TONGS.

She’s pictured with Christopher Lee in some publicity shots for the movie, but they don’t have a joint love story in the film, more’s the pity. They could have made her Chung King’s unwilling mistress who falls in love with the dashing and much less cruel British maritime captain, Jackson Sale.

Two of the best-looking people on the planet having an on-screen romance or even some hot and steamy rumpy-pumpy? Phwoar. Ah well. Probably not in 1961. Think of the kerfuffle down at the Censor’s office…! And anyway, who am I to tell Hammer what they should or shouldn’t have done? It is what it is. Enjoy.

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.

QUATERMASS AND THE PIT. (1967) A HAMMER CLASSIC REVIEWED BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

QUATERMASS AND THE PIT. (1967) HAMMER FILM PRODUCTIONS. DIRECTED BY ROY WARD BAKER. PRODUCED BY ANTHONY NELSON KEYS. WRITTEN BY NIGEL KNEALE.

STARRING BARBARA SHELLEY, JAMES DONALD, JULIAN GLOVER, DUNCAN LAMONT AND ANDREW KEIR.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

QUATERMASS AND THE PIT is a sequel to earlier HAMMER films THE QUATERMASS XPERIMENT and QUATERMASS 2. It’s a terrific blend of horror and science fiction with absolutely top-notch acting from some great English actors thrown in for good measure.

Basically, what happens in it is that the London Underground is being dug up for the purposes of extending it. Tell me about it. A few years back, Dublin was all dug up to actual buggery as our LUAS lines were extended, slowly and painfully, across the city. The LUAS is kind of like our London Underground, except that it’s above ground. It’s the Dublin Overground, lol.

Anyway, the difference between our LUAS works and the excavations in the film is that, in the film, an ancient Martian spacecraft is discovered amongst the rubble, along with the remains of early human ancestors in excess of five million years old. That’s quite the archaeological find, naturally, or it would be if there wasn’t a dreadful sense of evil emanating from the discoveries in waves.

Professor Bernard Quatermass (Andrew Keir: Hammer’s BLOOD FROM THE MUMMY’S TOMB and DRACULA: PRINCE OF DARKNESS), who has uncovered a disturbing connection between the remains and pagan beliefs in the devil as related to the mythology of London, clashes with the military’s Colonel Breen on the matter.

Breen, an obnoxious autocratic snobbish type, refuses to believe that the spacecraft is anything but a Nazi missile left over from World War Two. Typical toff. Always bloomin’ thinking they know what’s best for everyone.

His narrow mind simply cannot conceive of anything as outlandish as an attempt by the Martians to colonise Earth millions of years ago. But war with the Nazis is something he knows and understands.

It’s tangible and can be quantified, calculated and put on a chart, followed and understood. Therefore, the spacecraft and ancient remains must have something to with those pesky Nazis.

Julian Glover, who plays Colonel Breen, and who also portrays the ill-fated Nazi officer Hermann Fegelein (Eva Braun’s brother-in-law) in the Alec Guinness film, HITLER: THE LAST TEN DAYS (1973), remarked of his role as Breen that he was ‘the obligatory asshole…!’

Barbara Shelley is wonderful as Dr. Roney’s assistant, Barbara Judd, the woman who has a kind of ‘shining’ thing going on with the spacecraft and the Martian remains. She’s a Hammer sex symbol for the thinking or discerning man, I always think, a class act, a real lady.

Okay, so her clothes don’t fall off her in every second scene like some of her fellow Hammer babes, but she’s drop-dead sexy nonetheless, even in a plain sweater and sensible knee-length skirt as she goes about her business here in QUATERMASS AND THE PIT.

However, if you do want to see her all sexed up and panting like a young one on her wedding night, then check out her performance in DRACULA: PRINCE OF DARKNESS after she’s been vampirised by no less a personage than the Count himself.

Or even her portrayal of Sonia in Hammer’s RASPUTIN: THE MAD MONK, in which she plays a woman driven to the brink of insanity by her love for the manipulative but desperately charismatic Rasputin, played by Hammer leading man Christopher Lee. She’s top totty, like Joanna Lumley. A piece of classy crumpet, lol.

The scene in which Barbara Judd and Sladden, the drill operator, get caught up in a terrifying windstorm emanating from the newly-unearthed missile is probably the best and most nail-bitingly exciting one in the whole film, and that’s really saying something.

Poor old Sladden (Duncan Lamont: Hammer’s THE WITCHES and FRANKENSTEIN CREATED WOMAN) is just an ordinary workman. He just wants to collect his tool bag and go home to bangers and mash with the missus. He doesn’t ask to be so heavily influenced by the waves of malignity that wash off the old spaceship that he nearly loses his mind.

First he’s being blown out of the Underground and across the street, then whooshed unceremoniously down the road, through the old churchyard and into a chair in front of the local vicar, who is deeply alarmed by the workman’s demented ramblings about an alien race of insects, of all things…!

The scene where the good old British bobby gets freaked-out by the obviously nearby presence of evil in Hob’s End always gives me a chill too. ‘Hob used to be an old name for the Devil…!’ If those old tenements can put the willies up a solid, stolid, soundly chin-strapped British copper, then you won’t find me poking about them, that’s for sure.

Other great scenes include poor Dr. Roney’s ultimate act of heroism and bravery (oh, his poor little grim determined face as he moves closer, inexorably closer to his nemesis and a certain doom! He should get a medal for what he does.) and also the removal of the huge oozing grasshopper thingies from the spaceship for closer scrutiny in Dr. Roney’s laboaratory.

I watched this film on the big screen in 2016 in the Irish Film Institute, by the way, as part of a much-welcome folk horror film festival they were hosting that summer. Remember when we used to be able to do stuff like that without even thinking about it…? God be with the days. Truly, we didn’t know what we had till we lost it. Let’s just hope we bloody well get it back at some stage.

The film was introduced in person by novelist and film critic Kim Newman, whom some of you might recognise as having written for EMPIRE magazine. He’s always being asked to comment on different movies for the extra features you find on your DVD. He’s good-humoured, funny, a snappy dresser (love the weskits and the ponytail!) and is super-knowledgeable on the subject of films and cinema history.

Anyway, he turned up in the sweltering heat wearing a big wide-brimmed hat which would have been useful for keeping the sun off his bonce. I think we might have been having our summer that day…!

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.

CAPTAIN KRONOS- VAMPIRE HUNTER. (1974) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

CAPTAIN KRONOS: VAMPIRE HUNTER. (1974) WRITTEN, DIRECTED AND CO-PRODUCED BY BRIAN CLEMENS. STARRING HORST JANSON, JOHN CATER, CAROLINE MUNRO, JOHN CARSON, SHANE BRIANT, LOIS DAINE, WANDA VENTHAM, WILLIAM HOBBS AND IAN HENDRY.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

Carla: ‘I’m staying, if you’ll have me.’

Captain Kronos: ‘Oh, I’ll have you…’

‘It’s time to make a move, my friend. It’s time to kill a vampire.’

The only man alive feared by the living dead…

This Hammer film is a sexy blend of supernatural horror, ie, vampires, but also swashbuckling, because there’s some swordfighting in it too. Not too much, I’m happy to say, as I much prefer the neck-biting. Not that there’s much of that here.

This nineteenth century English village is being plagued by a terrifying hooded vampire who bites its victim’s mouth, and then drains from the victim all their youth and vitality, leaving them a dessicated and horribly ancient corpse. That’s not the kind of thing you want to see happen to the bosomy young women of your neighbourhood, is it?

It’s very reminiscent of Hammer’s film, COUNTESS DRACULA, in which the ravishing Ingrid Pitt as the titular Countess bathes in the blood of murdered young women in order to preserve her youthful good looks.

When she discovers that the effects can, and do, wear off, the Countess begins to get careless and less fussy regarding whom she kills and, of course, it all goes pear-shaped for her in the fullness of time.

Anyway, this village’s local medic, Doctor Marcus (John Carson, THE PLAGUE OF THE ZOMBIES), is concerned enough about the deaths to call in an old army chum of his, to solve the gruesome mystery.

The chum is a handsome blonde Adonis called Kronos, with flowing blonde locks to rival Shane Briant’s rather bouffant tresses, and delicious Scandinavian cheekbones, although he’s not Scandinavian at all: rather, he’s played by a German actor and his voice had to be dubbed. Kronos is a swordsman extraordinaire, and he’s great in bed too, lol.

His entourage includes the hunch-backed Professor Hieronymus Grost, an elderly academic with whom he has one of those genuine and lovely ‘man friendships,’ and Caroline Munro as Carla, a beautiful peasant girl whom Kronos has freed from the stocks. Why was she in the stocks, I hear you ask? Why, sir, I were dancing on the Sabbath, I were…! The cheeky hussy, lol again.

She’s so grateful to him for freeing her that she rewards him by getting naked and having hot steamy sex with him every time he turns around. Oh, he’s happy to have all the sex and all the fun and that, but you can tell he doesn’t love her, because as soon as he and Grost (‘We’re professional vampire hunters, my dear!’) get a lead on who the hooded killer might be, they use Carla as bait, and send her overnight into the very den of the lions themselves.

She’s a typical silly girl, however, and is only too happy to make a doormat of herself for Kronos to wipe his feet, or any other part of his anatomy, on. He doesn’t even care enough about her to so much as buy her a new dress, so she’s forced to spend the film in the same rags she wore while being pelted with rotten tomatoes in the stocks. When he leaves her, and guys like this always leave, she’ll be alone again and probably knocked up to boot. What? It’s the way it goes.

The aristocratic Durward family, consisting of a deceased paterfamilias, a grieving and reclusive materfamilias, an autocratic uppity son who’s definitely up to something (Shane Briant as Paul Durward), and his sister, who is almost certainly in on the shenanigans as well, is an extremely interesting family from the point of view of the murders and will bear careful watching.

John Carson is great (and surprisingly sexy with the longer hair!) as Dr. Marcus, Kronos’s old mucker, and Ian Hendry (CHILDREN OF THE DAMNED) is smashing as a psychotically cruel bar-room thug called Kerro.

Kerro’s employed by the Durward coachman, no less, to kill Kronos and the professor and put a halt to their vampire-hunting gallop, but Kronos makes mincemeat out of Kerro and his bully-boy cronies in a very funny scene.

It’s like something Clint Eastwood would do in one of his films. Like, where he’d shoot a room full of men with his eyes closed. And one hand tied behind his back. And his other hand wouldn’t move at all. And he wouldn’t even be in the room. Or the film. Who are we talking about, again? As the fella says in BLAZING SADDLES, don’t just stand there, grasping yo’ hands in pain. Let’s hear it for the Waco kid…!

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.

SHE. (1965) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

SHE. (1965) A HAMMER FILM PRODUCTION DIRECTED BY ROBERT DAY AND BASED ON THE 1887 NOVEL BY H. RIDER HAGGARD.

STARRING BOND GIRL URSULA ANDRESS, PETER CUSHING, JOHN RICHARDSON, BERNARD CRIBBINS, ANDRE MORELL, ROSENDA MONTEROS AND CHRISTOPHER LEE.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

Hammer was going crazy at one point for the fem-dom ‘dominant female’ films, films like this one and THE VENGEANCE OF SHE, PREHISTORIC WOMEN, THE VIKING QUEEN and even BLOOD FROM THE MUMMY’S TOMB.

I’ve never been mad about these ones, with the exception of the superb BLOOD FROM THE MUMMY’S TOMB, which I’m only including here because Valerie Leon comes across as quite dominant in her dual portrayal of Margaret Fuchs and the Egyptian Queen Tera, and which isn’t really part of the series.

I much prefer the Hammer films in which the male is dominant, for example, the Dracula films starring Christopher Lee. I was quite uncomfortable watching Christopher Lee in SHE grovelling around at Ursula Andress’s feet, referring to her as She Who Must Be Obeyed and scarcely daring to lift his eyes to her for fear of offending her and incurring her all-encompassing wrath.

Anyway, the film. Guy meets a girl in a bar on foreign shores, then the very next day he’s on a mad quest across the desert with his ex-army chums to rediscover an ancient lost city and get with another, even hotter girl. That’s about the gist of it, but let’s examine the particulars, shall we?

The guy is the blonde, handsome Leo Vincey, played by a pre-ONE MILLION YEARS B.C. John Richardson, before he grew so much facial hair he was virtually unrecognisable as himself.

The foreign shores are Palestine’s, immediately after the first world war, and the first hot girl, the one from the bar, is a dusky beauty called Ustane, who is used as a decoy initially, but who falls hard and heavy for ‘her Leo’ from the off.

The chums are Peter Cushing as Professor Holly and Bernard Cribbins as Job, orderly/batman to his two commissioned gentlemen, Holly and Vincey, who are free to pursue this wild goose chase now that the war is over.

The ancient lost city is Kuma, in a previously unexplored region of North-East Africa. It is ruled by the stunningly beautiful immortal queen and high priestess Ayesha, aka She Who Waits or She Who Must Be Obeyed. What exactly is she waiting for? Well, therein hangs a tale…

Several thousand years ago, this jealous beauty murdered her lover, Kallikrates, for betraying her with another woman. All these years, she’s waited for Kallikrates to return to her, and now, with the arrival in her kingdom of Leo, Kallikrates’ exact double, she thinks her years of waiting have come to an end.

But the beautiful Ayesha is a cruel and vengeful queen, who by her own admission, rules through fear and terror. Her treatment of the black slaves in her kingdom (very non-politically correct; you couldn’t do it nowadays) is appalling.

There’s an absolutely horrific scene in which fifteen innocent young black males are forced to a terrible death just so that Ayesha can be seen to be a tough ruler whom none dare disobey. She’s a proper little madam, is what she is.

Christopher Lee as her gimpy high priest Billali would be doing her more of a service by putting her over his knee for a blistering spanking, rather than by grovelling at her feet in the dust wearing ridiculously unflattering headgear while saying yes ma’am no ma’am on repeat till the cows come home.

Anyway, will Ayesha succeed in getting Leo to walk through the flame of immortality with her, to rule serenely by her side forever, or will her jealous and diva-like behaviour only result in pushing Kallikrates away from her for another several millenia? Knowing Ayesha’s capricious nature, nothing is guaranteed…

I love Andre Morell (Hammer’s THE PLAGUE OF THE ZOMBIES) as Ustane’s lovely Pops, Haumeid, who rules the army of Ayesha’s slaves, the Amahagger, and also Bernard Cribbins as Job, the gentlemens’ gentleman.

He’d be the kind of devoted orderly/valet (like Reginald Jeeves) who would die of shame if either of his gentlemen went out of an evening incorrectly dressed. That would reflect on him, it would, him and his poor valeting, and he’d rather die than be known as a poor valet.

You know who could really use some good valeting? Poor Billali (who at the end makes an ill-starred grab for the power previously denied him) and his dreadful beehive head-dress. We all know how Jeeves dealt with any ill-advised novelty items of costume or headgear favoured by his master, Bertie Wooster. Job, be a darling and see what you can do, will you…?

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, women’s fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

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

THE VIKING QUEEN. (1967) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS.

THE VIKING QUEEN. (1971) A HAMMER FILM PRODUCTION DIRECTED BY DON CHAFFEY. STARRING CARITA JÄRVINEN AND DON MURRAY.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

I’m not crazy about this Hammer historical adventure film, even though it counts a number of excellent actors and actresses among its cast members. It’s set in the times of yore, when the Romans came over to England to conquer it like it had conquered so many other countries at the time. The Romans were the Nazi Germany of their era, lol.

Used to the balmier climate of Italy, however, the Romans were less than impressed with Old Britain and the rain and the cold and the wind and the mud. ‘Filthy bloody country!’ would therefore have been a frequently voiced insult of the time.

The CARRY ON film franchise referenced this period also, in their marvellous movie CARRY ON CLEO, in which Kenneth Connor and Jim Dale as Hengist Pod and Horsa respectively are British peasants.

They are living crudely in caves and mud huts and attempting to invent the wheel and other such prehistoric pursuits, when they are captured by the Romans and brought over to Rome to live as slaves. Hilarity obviously ensues, in what some critics deem to be the best film in the whole series. It’s certainly a most superior historical comedy.

THE VIKING QUEEN confuses the issue somewhat with its title, as there aren’t any Vikings as we know them (huge blonde bearded fearsome beasts from the Scandinavian countries who raped and pillaged wherever their extensive travels took them) in the film.

The titular Queen, however, Queen Salina, is said to be loosely based on Boadicea, the warrior queen (might this perhaps have been a better title for the film?) of the British Celtic Iceni tribe (a tribe of Ancient Britons; the history is quite complicated) who died nobly while fighting the invading Romans and thereby passed, splendidly and unhampered, into British folk legend.

Queen Salina, played by the gorgeous blonde Finnish fashion model Carita, who apparently twice turned down the chance to be a Bond girl, becomes the ruler of such a tribe of Ancient Britons when her beloved Pops, the King, pops his clogs. Her Pops pops his clogs, lol. Very amusing stuff, very amusing indeed.

At first, she attempts to rule side-by-side with the local conquering Roman forces, an arrangement which I would imagine was positively fraught with difficulties and conflicts of interest.

She even goes so far as to fall in love with the local Roman leader, the domineering and handsome Justinian. (PS, to ‘Roman’ up your name, simply add the suffix ‘ian’ to your own name; eg., Darrenian, Wayneian, Billian, Timothyian, Paulian, Garyian, Martinian, Jackian, etc.)

The Druids, who are used to dictating terms to the Ancient Britons, a deeply superstitious people, are not happy with the union, and neither are some of Justinian’s Romans, in particular Ocatavian, played by Hammer regular Andrew Keir (BLOOD FROM THE MUMMY’S TOMB, DRACULA: PRINCE OF DARKNESS, QUATERMASS AND THE PIT).

It’s not too long before the Ancient Britons, led by the brave and courageous (and bosomy) Queen Salina, and the Romans, headed by Justinian, Salina’s chisel-jawed lover, are at each others’ throats, both metaphorically and actually. The wet, muddy God-forsaken land both parties occupy will run red with the blood of both sides…

There are some terrific character actors in the film whose faces will be familiar to you, including Patrick Troughton (DR. WHO, SCARS OF DRACULA), Niall MacGinnis (NIGHT OF THE DEMON, ISLAND OF TERROR; remember the silicates???) and Percy Herbert (CARRY ON JACK, CARRY ON CLEO, CARRY ON COWBOY, ONE MILLION YEARS B.C.).

WeIl-known Irish character actress Anna Manahan (Roman Polanski’s MACBETH, unsuccessful Irish sitcom LEAVE IT TO MRS. O’BRIEN) has a small part in the film as a wailing villager terribly ill-used by the Romans.

As well as the acts of violence to exert their domination over the natives, the Romans taxed the bejeesus out of the poor folks as well. When they complained and said they couldn’t pay, the Romans just said, well, look at all the lovely roads we’re building for ye! To which one villager in the film replies, well, as I’ve lived in this shit-hole my whole life and I never go anywhere, your roads don’t exactly thrill me to my core. I like this guy, he tells it like it is!

I love Adrienne Corri (VAMPIRE CIRCUS, MADHOUSE starring Vincent Price) and the stunning, moist-lipped and doe-eyed Nicola Pagett (UPSTAIRS DOWNSTAIRS) as Queen Salina’s older sister Beatrice and younger sibling Talia respectively.

Talia, in fact, seems to be the victim of an implied rape by naughty Andrew Keir as the rather vicious Octavian, in a scene that culminates with the sexy, bare-breasted public whipping of Queen Salina. (The bare breasts are implied, but it’s still good.) For shame, Octavian, and, erm, keep up the good work, there’s a good fellow…!

There’s plenty of long blonde hair, side-boob and back-boob, chariot-fighting and lovely skimpy dresses on display, if not a huge amount of actual history, but who cares when you have side-boob? Enjoy the movie, Hammer fans. It’s good, mucky fun.

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.

PREHISTORIC WOMEN. (1967) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

PREHISTORIC WOMEN (AKA SLAVE GIRLS). (1967) A HAMMER FILM WRITTEN, PRODUCED AND DIRECTED BY MICHAEL CARRERAS.

STARRING MARTINE BESWICK, EDINA RONAY AND MICHAEL LATIMER.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

This prehistoric romp is not my favourite Hammer film, but it’s still good, implausible fun and is held together by a strong, sexy performance by Hammer and James Bond actress, Martine Beswick. She is an exotic beauty with the sharpest, most fabulously defined cheekbones, gorgeous long dark hair and a great body.

In the film, she plays Kari, the cruel Queen of a lost tribe of brunette women in the African jungle. It’s a tribe that is accidentally stumbled upon in Victorian times by Michael Latimer as David Marchant, a handsome British explorer, when he wanders away from his safari in pursuit of an injured leopard whose suffering he wants to end.

Imagine his surprise when he discovers himself at the mercy of this strange, forgotten tribe of sexy brunette females, who worship the extinct white rhino and rule mercilessly over a group of blonde female slaves. Brunettes versus blondes, it’s hilarious!

Not only that, but any men still in existence in the area are held captive by the brunettes in a horrible cave, and they all resemble Moses after he came down from the mountain and had a ten-foot-beard. Not a looker in the bunch, in other words. It’s all deeply implausible, as well, but I guess you must suspend disbelief to properly enjoy the film.

Kari, as Queen of the brunettes, naturally has first dibs on lucky old David, the one attractive male to enter the place in donkeys’ years, but he is repulsed by her cruel behaviour towards the dopey blonde girl slaves. He rebuffs her, and she throws him in the old man cave to teach him some manners.

There’s something very Nazi-ish about the film to me, but that’s probably because I have such a vivid imagination, lol. Firstly, all the blonde-haired women are somewhat reminiscent of the Aryan image revered so much by the funny little man with the moustache who shouted a lot in those old black-and-white newsreels.

Then, there’s the fact that the scantily-clad blonde slave girls are made to sing and dance for the amusement of their brunette overlords, just like when the inmates of various concentration camps during the war were forced to sing as they marched to and from their back-breaking labours in the quarries or wherever else. Some camps (Buchenwald is coming to mind, for some reason) even had their own camp song, as ludicrous as that sounds.

Last but not least, there’s the ‘ceremony of selection’ announced so gleefully by Queen Kari, in which the ‘Devils’ who live in the surrounding jungle (it’s just some African men in rhino masks) get to every so often choose a blonde girl to be their forest bride. The women who are taken are never seen again.

The lovely blonde girls file past the bushes one by one while an African gentlemen ogles them and picks the one he likes the most, just like in the infamous ‘selections’ in the camps, where being sent to the left could mean a few guaranteed days, weeks or even months more of life, but being sent to the right meant a one-way ticket to the gas chambers.

Sorry to bring the mood down in a review of a film which is probably just intended as a bit of light-hearted, sexy fun, but that’s the way my mind works, lol. Intended as a follow-up to Hammer’s worldwide smash hit film starring the beauteous Raquel Welch, ONE MILLION YEARS B.C., and using some of the same sets, this one didn’t quite reach the dizzying heights of its predeccessor, but then, Raquel Welch in her furry bikini was always going to take some beating…

By the way, just as a matter of interest, Michael Latimer’s blonde-haired love interest in the film, Saria, one of the slave girls, is played by the ravishing Edina Ronay, daughter of the famous food guide guy, Egon Ronay.

The film is probably beloved of every guy who’s ever fantasised about being dominated by a ferocious and beautiful woman like Kari. That’s just about every guy ever, I’d say, given the popularity of the whole world of fem-dom thing. Does Kari get her man in the end, by the way? Well, she certainly gets the horn, I’ll say that for her, but I don’t know about the other…!

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.

BLOOD FROM THE MUMMY’S TOMB. (1971) A BUSTY HAMMER CLASSIC REVIEWED BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

BLOOD FROM THE MUMMY’S TOMB. (1971) BASED ON THE 1903 NOVEL, JEWEL OF THE SEVEN STARS, BY BRAM STOKER. A HAMMER FILM PRODUCTION DIRECTED BY SETH HOLT AND MICHAEL CARRERAS.

STARRING VALERIE LEON, ANDREW KEIR, JAMES VILLIERS, JAMES COSSINS AND AUBREY MORRIS.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

Talk about a yummy mummy. This excellent Hammer romp has two big things in its favour; namely, lead actress Valerie Leon’s left boob, and lead actress Valerie Leon’s right boob, lol.

These are without a doubt the most magnificent breasts ever featured in a Hammer film, and Hammer films, as we know, featured many great boobies. But these knockers are in a class of their own, and should really have been given their own line in the credits.

Ms. Leon’s fabulous hair and eyes are not to be sneezed at, either. Her gorgeous chestnut tresses are so windblown and lovely and natural that I refuse to believe she was wearing a wig in this film, even though she admits to it herself.

And those beautiful, mysterious eyes! She really was the perfect choice to play both the evil Egyptian Queen Tera, as well as Tera’s modern day alter ego, Margaret Fuchs (pronounced Fookes), the daughter of a fervent Egyptologist.

Andrew Keir (Father Sandor in Hammer’s DRACULA: PRINCE OF DARKNESS and Professor Bernard Quatermass in Hammer’s QUATERMASS AND THE PIT) plays Margaret’s father, Julian Fuchs, the lucky bastard who gets to tuck that hot tamale into bed at night.

He’s obsessed with the aforementioned Queen Tera, to the point that he’s brought her perfectly preserved body and sarcophagus back from Egypt with him to his house, where he’s recreated her tomb in his basement. What a weirdo, right…?

Margaret, his own precious daughter, is the living image of Tera, and, when Daddy gives Margaret Tera’s old ring for her birthday, Tera’s evil powers begin to reach out across the chasm of centuries to take possession of Margaret.

Daddy Fuchs is not a very good Daddy. He wants to revive Tera, not realising that reviving Tera will mean his own daughter’s death. Margaret is so seduced by the power of the long-dead queen that she wants to revive Tera too, and so does Daddy’s old colleague (now his deadly rival), a plummy-voiced toff by the name of Corbeck.

The smarmy Corbeck has his own reasons for wanting to commit such a destructive act, and, when people have their own reasons for wanting to do things, it’s hard to dissuade them…

Together they set out to retrieve Tera’s ancient evil relics from the various members of the original expedition, because they need the relics to resurrect the old queen. Are they biting off more than they can chew? And will there be deadly consequences? Most assuredly, dear reader. Most assuredly…

There are some marvellous shots of Ms. Leon (in her time a Bond Girl and a Carry On hottie as well as a Hammer beauty) in a slinky negligée, with a wind machine blowing her hair artistically around her perfect boat-race.

Ms. Leon as Tera is pictured lying down with some kind of heavy gold necklet resting on her otherwise bare bosoms. She steals every scene she’s in with her stunning, matchless beauty.

I also love the inclusion in the cast of brilliant character actors James Cossins (FAWLTY TOWERS, SOME MOTHERS DO ‘AVE ‘EM, Hammer’s THE ANNIVERSARY and Hammer’s THE HORROR OF FRANKENSTEIN) and Aubrey Morris, the gravedigger-gardener from THE WICKER MAN (1973).

A word about the craze for Egyptology and Egyptomania that existed when Bram Stoker wrote the little-known book on which the film was based, JEWEL OF THE SEVEN STARS.

Britain occupied Egypt in 1882, and the Victorians were fascinated by Egypt and all things Egyptian. As was Bram Stoker, who possessed quite a decent collection of books and writings on Egypt.

The British occupation of Egypt made it easier for them (the British) to bring the artifacts and sarcophagi they uncovered in that mystic land back to Blighty with them. (Whether or not it was entirely ethical for them to do so is another matter.)

Mummies and other paraphernalia frequented ended up in private homes as well as public museums, and there was a huge rise in the popularity of ‘mummy fiction.’

Mummy’s curses were frequently the topic of these stories and novels, that is, curses on the people who raped (let’s call a spade a spade here) and desecrated the splendour and grandeur of these ancient tombs and took their spoils home with them to other countries for profit and personal fame.

Female mummies in Victorian mummy-lit were usually sex objects and the male mummies autocratic princes or pharaohs. Some of the greatest films of all time are ‘mummy’ movies; for example, Boris Karloff’s UNIVERSAL triumph of 1932, THE MUMMY, and Hammer’s THE MUMMY of 1959, which starred the superb Christopher Lee in the title role.

Two facts about BLOOD FROM THE MUMMY’S TOMB you may not have known. Firstly, dear old Peter Cushing was initially cast as Busty St. Clair’s Daddio, but sadly had to withdraw after only one day’s filming due to his wife’s illness. And secondly, the scene where Hooters is eating that banana is indeed a metaphor for oral sex. D’uh, lol.

Anyway, BLOOD FROM THE MUMMY’S TOMB, featuring a rather cheeky disembodied hand, is a dark, moody atmospheric slice of Gothic film horror and could even be one of their bestest films. And never forget the two factors chiefly responsible for its success… Valerie Leon’s magnificent right boob, and Valerie Leon’s magnificent left boob…

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.

FRANKENSTEIN MUST BE DESTROYED. (1969) A GORY HAMMER FILM REVIEWED BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

veronica carlson fr must be dyd

FRANKENSTEIN MUST BE DESTROYED. (1969)

DIRECTED BY TERENCE FISHER. MUSIC BY JAMES BERNARD.

STARRING PETER CUSHING, VERONICA CARLSON, SIMON WARD, THORLEY WALTERS, WINDSOR DAVIES, MAXINE AUDLEY AND FREDDIE JONES.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

‘He’s a better doctor than he is a painter…!’

Wow, this is a really dark addition to the Hammer-Frankenstein canon. Peter Cushing as the evil Baron Frankenstein actually rapes Veronica Carlson’s character in it, and I’ve never seen the gentlemanly Peter Cushing committing anything stronger than a little murder or grave-robbing as the old Baron Franky. At ninety-seven minutes, it’s longer than some other Hammer-Frankenstein outings too, and the plot gets quite complicated at times.

Let’s begin by saying that it’s a dark day for beautiful blonde landlady Anna Spengler (Veronica Carlson) when Peter Cushing’s Baron Frankenstein checks into her boarding-house, under the thinly veiled disguise of a Mr. Fenner.

He’s actually the notorious Baron Frankenstein who, several years ago, caused a scandal with another medic, a Dr. Brandt, for having the mad idea of transplanting one man’s brain into another man’s body. Wacky, huh?

It’s a change, anyway, from cobbling together a living being from the body parts of cadavers he’s dug up from graveyards or cut down from the gallows. Colin Clive as Henry Frankenstein did this in James Whale’s two brilliant old horror movies, FRANKENSTEIN (1931) and BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1935), and indeed Peter Cushing as Baron Frankenstein has done this himself before as well in various other Hammer-Frankenstein outings.

Baron Franky is determined to continue his gory researches and, what’s more, to complete the unfinished project this time. He’s very driven and nothing and no-one will stop him. He needs to get to Dr. Brandt, his old co-conspirator, because Dr. Brandt has a formula that Frankie desperately needs, in order to go all the way with his brain transplantation ideas. But Dr. Brandt is in the local mental asylum, his mind, to all intents and purposes, ruined. What’s poor Franky supposed to do?

Well, let me tell you exactly what he’s fixing to do. He blackmails the gorgeous Anna’s handsome young doctor fiancé Karl Holst, who rather conveniently works at the asylum, into helping him to kidnap Dr. Brandt and take him to the cellar at Anna’s house. Here, Baron Franky has rigged up a makeshift operating theatre. The only thing is, just who- or what- will he be operating on…?

Dr. Brandt is very close to death after a surprise heart attack. Franky proposes to whip out his brain, his lovely big juicy brain with the secret formula in it, and pop it all nice and fresh into the living body of… someone else.

That basically means that ‘someone else’ will have to be chosen, secretly abducted and operated on to have his brain removed, leaving his head all nice and empty for Dr. Brandt’s delicious, formula-filled brain.

Then, Dr. Brandt’s brain, by the way, will have to be cured of its insanity before it can be coaxed into giving up any of its scientific secrets. It’s Baron Frankenstein’s most ambitious, most complicated and undoubtedly most diabolical scheme yet. Have we any volunteers for the role of living accommodation for the brain of one Dr. Brandt? Come on now, folks, don’t all rush at once…!

Baron Frankenstein refers to these transplants as the next logical branch of surgery. People back then would have been superstitious about this kind of thing, calling it witchcraft and sorcery and the devil’s work and all that, but the Baron was actually quite right. Nowadays, we do transplant operations as almost a matter of routine, but I don’t know if we can just swap around brains willy-nilly quite yet…!

The décor and costumes in this one are just stunning. The blonde, angel-faced Anna Spengler (Veronica Carlson: Hammer’s DRACULA HAS RISEN FROM THE GRAVE, THE HORROR OF FRANKENSTEIN) is especially decorative in her pale pinks and blues and other pastel colours, and her dresses are really flattering.

I like that she’s not a stick insect either, but a really beautiful fuller-figured woman. Her boobs look utterly spectacular in the long pink nightie she’s wearing when the randy Baron Franky comes into her bedroom and rapes her, while her boyfriend Karl is off doing something else.

It’s really quite shocking to see perenially nice guy Peter Cushing in the role of a sexual aggressor, but he’s quite convincing in it too, let me tell you. He’s dripping with olde-worlde courtesy, sure, but he’s got grit and determination too and he lets nothing stand in the way of what he wants, whether that’s Anna Spengler’s watery coffee or her luscious body under that flimsy, diaphanous pink nightie…

Thorley Walters, as much a part of the Hammer scenery as Michael Ripper, plays a policeman here, the copper on the trail of the nefarious Baron Frankenstein. He’s played a Burgermeister in the Hammer films before (VAMPIRE CIRCUS), an acolyte of Dracula’s (DRACULA: PRINCE OF DARKNESS) and assistant to Peter Cushing’s Baron Franky (AND FRANKENSTEIN CREATED WOMAN), and he’s often seen as a kind of buffoon or rather comical character. His role in FRANKENSTEIN MUST BE DESTROYED doesn’t alter that status in any way, lol.

The scene in the back garden of Anna’s house with the burst water main is terrifically ghoulish. The shocking finale in the Brandt family mansion is superb too. And you needn’t think that Dr. Brandt is just going to roll over and play dead when he realises what Baron Franky has in ‘mind’ for his brain, pun definitely intended. There’s gonna be a helluva fight for the last piece of pudding, to quote Gemma Craven as author Polly Clarke in the FATHER TED episode entitled And God Created Woman.

FRANKENSTEIN MUST BE DESTROYED is an excellent example of Hammer-Frankenstein madness and mischief, and I strongly advise you lads and lassies to watch it. And if you run an olde-worlde boarding-house along the lines of Anna Spengler’s, beware of courteous gentlemen carrying doctor’s bags applying as potential boarders. It’s just not worth the hassle, and the back yard will never be the same again. Come on, guys, it’s not brain surgery…!

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

HAMMER’S ‘DRACULA HAS RISEN FROM THE GRAVE.’ (1968) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS.

drac risen zena

DRACULA HAS RISEN FROM THE GRAVE. (1968) BASED ON CHARACTERS CREATED BY BRAM STOKER. DIRECTED BY FREDDIE FRANCIS. PRODUCED BY AIDA YOUNG. SCREENPLAY BY JOHN ELDER.

STARRING CHRISTOPHER LEE, RUPERT DAVIES, MARION MATHIE, GEORGE A. COOPER, MICHAEL RIPPER, BARRY ANDREWS, EWAN HOOPER, NORMAN BACON, BARBARA EWING AND VERONICA CARLSON.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

This is a stunning addition to the Hammer Dracula canon. It’s the third in the series to feature Christopher Lee as the Count, coming after DRACULA (1958) and DRACULA: PRINCE OF DARKNESS (1965). Christopher Lee is in excellent form as the titular Dracula, or ‘the fanged undead,’ as he’s rather pithily described in the promotional material.

Very fine form indeed, especially considering he’s supposed to have spent the last several years frozen under the icy-cold waters that flow near his castle in the mountains. Still looking very good too, just waiting for a clumsy man of the cloth to lose his footing, crack the ice, under which Dracula slumbers uneasily, with his bonce and bleed his blood on to the sleeping vampire’s lips.

The first half hour is truly magnificent and super-exciting. A little village in the Hammer-created ‘Mitt-Europe’ that Hammer do so well has had its church horribly desecrated by Dracula. The Prince of Darkness has chosen to ravish and murder a beautiful and busty young woman in its little bell-tower, leading to one of the most spectacular ‘reveals’ of a victim’s blood-drained cadaver in the studio’s history.

A visiting Monsignor, name of Ernest Mueller, responsible for all the churches in the area, is distressed to see that a shadow cast by the vampire’s castle, even though the vampire himself is supposed to be dead, is preventing the superstitious locals from attending church services. Any excuse not to go to Mass, eh?

The Monsignor decides to climb up to the castle himself, reluctantly accompanied by the parish priest who will soon be enslaved by Dracula and forced to work as his lackey, and exorcise the damned place once and for all.

Dracula, however, accidentally revived by the terrified parish priest, is more than pissed off to discover that his home has been befouled by the Monsignor and his shimmering golden cross.

He determines to seek revenge against the poor old Monsignor, for which purpose the action moves to the Monsignor’s sweet little home village of Keinenberg, a picturesque wee place surrounded by the mountains.

The Monsignor lives very comfortably indeed there with his brother’s widow, a fine figure of a woman called Anna who does everything for him except warm his bed, and her beautiful daughter Maria, the Monsignor’s niece.

A less worthy man than the Monsignor might be tempted to take advantage and enjoy a little mother-daughter action, but the Monsignor’s motives are as pure as the driven snow. Even while his buxom sister-in-law is kneeling at his feet putting on his slippers when he arrives home after a hard day’s exorcising, not once, seemingly, does he feel the urge to say: ‘Um, while you’re down there, Anna…!’

Played by Hammer’s latest discovery of the time, the ravishing blonde-haired Veronica Carlson, Maria first bounces charmingly on to the screen dressed in a gorgeous dusky pink dress complete with Little Red Riding Hood cloak.

She’s looking for her boyfriend Paul, a college student, so she can bring him to dinner to meet her mother and uncle, the Monsignor. And where else would she look for him but in Max’s public-house, where he pulls pints and is training to be a pastry chef under the not-so-watchful eye of the endlessly good-humoured Max?

Max is played by Hammer stalwart Michael Ripper, who surely, more than anyone else living or dead, was born to pull pints in a Hammer-created ‘Mitt-European’ alehouse, Gawd bless ‘is little ‘eart.

The getting-to-know-you dinner at the Monsignor’s house goes tits-up, and Paul is ordered out of the house on the grounds that he has the audacity to admit to his girlfriend’s uncle that he’s an atheist, goddammit, but never mind all that for now.

The Monsignor and his family have bigger problems than the curly-headed, happy-go-lucky Paul, who actively encourages his goody-two-shoes girlfriend to visit him at night via the surprisingly dizzy rooftops of Keinenberg, if you can believe that. No true gentleman would ever permit his girlfriend to do such a dangerous thing, especially when she’s lacking in, shall we say, a little blood…? What an ungallant cad he is.

Anyway, Dracula has found the perfect way to get back at the Monsignor, and that’s through his lovely niece Maria. Maria’s seduction by the Count is not as knee-tremblingly sexy as Melissa Stribling’s in the 1958 DRACULA, but it’s a nice little scene nonetheless.

It involves open bedroom windows, pleasant terraces overlooking the mountains and another mesmerised woman walking hesitantly backwards towards her bed, while gazing up the whole time into red bloodshot eyes, like a rabbit fascinated by the snake that’s poised to pounce on it.

Dracula’s other girlfriend here, Max’s busty brunette barmaid Zena, has a bit more chutzpah and oomph, if you get me, than the rather prissy Maria, but Dracula treats poor Zena appallingly. Which only makes women like me fancy him all the more, heh-heh-heh. Women in these Dracula films are here for two reasons only, to be used and abused, and to damn well be the eye candy while they’re doing it, lol. Ah well, it’s nice, at least, to know where you stand.

Poor Maria gets dragged from pillar to post as well by the Count, in her bare feet and white nightie to boot, but at least Dracula doesn’t try to bury her alive like he does Melissa Stribling in the 1958 film.

It’s up to Paul, the not-very-swotty college student and would-be pastry chef, to save not only Maria from the evil clutches of Dracula, but the village of Keinenberg as well. Is the curly-headed one up to the task…?

In this film, a neat little addition to the folklore surrounding the fanged undead is included, in the form of a caveat that decrees that you can’t just stake Dracula through the heart and he’ll obligingly die. You’ve got to mumble Latin words from the Bible over him as well, or he won’t croak. Now I wonder where on God’s green earth we can find a padre to do the necessary at this hour of the night…?

I love the scene where Zena is being chased through the forest at night, by the mysterious black coach with the four black horses with the black plumes on their heads. Such a fearsome carriage could only belong to one man. The poor horses seem to get whipped a lot by the Count in this film, but I’m fairly certain that it’s only pretend-whipping, lol. I love George A. Cooper as the landlord of the tavern in the village with the cursed church, by the way. He’s a terrific actor.

This is a gorgeous-looking film. The forty-six-year-old Christopher Lee is still very much engaged in the series, and it really shows. (He was at his sexiest in his forties and fifties, and even his sixties, if you ask me.) Some people say that he zoned out a bit towards the end but I don’t know. Down in the murky, leaky basement of Max’s tavern (it’s a good job that Max never seems to go down there!), the centre of operations where his black coffin rests imposingly on blocks of wood, he’s very much the master of all he surveys.

He’s magnificent here as the Count, and his two chosen concubines, Zena and Maria, are très easy on the eye as well. Michael Ripper is behind the bar in the tavern, dispensing homespun wisdom along with the ale and sausage rolls and meat pies. God’s in his heaven, and all’s well with the world of Hammer.

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:

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

https://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com

http://sexysandieblog.wordpress.com

http://serenaharker.wordpress.com

sandrasandraharris@gmail.com

https://twitter.com/SandraAuthor

CAPTAIN CLEGG. (1962) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

captain clegg

CAPTAIN CLEGG. (1962) A HAMMER FILM PRODUCTION. DIRECTED BY PETER GRAHAM SCOTT. PRODUCED BY JOHN TEMPLE SMITH. SCREENPLAY BY JOHN ELDER (AKA ANTHONY HINDS).

STARRING PETER CUSHING, MICHAEL RIPPER, PATRICK ALLEN, MARTIN BENSON, DAPHNE ANDERSON, MILTON REID, SYDNEY BROMLEY, JACK MACGOWRAN, DEREK FRANCIS, OLIVER REED AND YVONNE ROMAIN.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

‘Their oath was… Terror! Their cry… Blood!’

This isn’t one of my favourite Hammer movies, as I tend to prefer the ones with Christopher Lee as Dracula in them, heh-heh-heh, or beautiful lesbian lady vampires bursting at the seams with bounteous bosoms, but it’s still a most enjoyable swashbuckling romp.

Patrick Allen stars as Captain Collier, the leader of his little band of rowdy sailors or ‘King’s men.’ They come to the picturesque little English coastal village of Dymchurch in the late 1700s to investigate various rumours that have been circulating about the place.

Firstly, that a marauding band of ‘Marsh Phantoms’ have been seen riding out and terrorising the countryside by night and secondly, the slightly more Earth-bound rumour that illegal smuggling activities have been taking place there. What Captain Collier finds at Dymchurch, situated on the edge of the Romney Marshes, looks like this.

He finds Peter Cushing in splendiferous form as the aptly-named Dr. Blyss, a happy chappie who occupies the role of village Parson and who delights in delivering lengthy sermons to his long-suffering parishioners. Dr. Blyss thinks nothing of making these lazy parishioners sing the various hymns again if he feels that they were lacking in gusto first time round, lol. The sadist…!

The Parson passive-aggressively makes it known to the King’s men, in the sweetest way possible, that there is no room at the Inn for the sailors. And of course the villagers have every reason not to want the King’s investigators sniffing around the darling little village of Dymchurch, because they’re up to their very tonsils in the aforementioned illegal smuggling activities.

They’re running quite a nice profitable little bootlegging operation out of Dymchurch, keeping their illicit booze from France in coffins supplied by Michael Ripper as Mr. Mipps, the local undertaker.

Dear me, most ingenious, most ingenious indeed. The Parson is in on it, the surly local inkeeper Mr. Rash is in on it, the local Squire Cobtree’s son Harry (Oliver Reed) is in on it, the whole damn village is in on it.

Captain Collier will have the devil’s own time proving it, however, especially as a local scarecrow has been conscripted into keeping watch for the smugglers and sightings of the ‘Marsh Phantoms’ are keeping Collier and his drunken sailors busy running round the countryside in the middle of the night on wild goose chases.

There’s a romance underway in Dymchurch as well, between Squire Cobtree’s handsome, dark-haired womanising son Harry and the local barmaid Imogene. I don’t believe for one second that Harry has the remotest intention of making an honest woman out of Imogene like he’s promised her.

He’s coming up with the lamest-sounding excuses for putting off their nuptials and intended running-away-from-the-village-to-start-a-new-life-together-where-nobody-knows-them. Does his constant delaying of their plans have anything to do with Imogene’s mystery-shrouded origins?

Imogene, the ward of the disagreeable Mr. Rash, who’s simply ‘itching’ to get his hands on her splendidly ample goodies (geddit? Itching? Rash?), does not seem to be correctly informed as to her parentage. And who is the almost mythical figure whose mouldering bones have supposedly been taking up space in the quiet little village churchyard for some time now? Since around 1792, to be precise?

Could these bones be a clue to the busty Imogene’s identity…? And why does the man known as ‘the mulatto’ react so violently when he sees a certain man of the cloth? The village of Dymchurch is certainly awash with mysteries.

The increasingly exasperated Captain Collier will have his work cut out for him attempting to solve them, especially as the cunning villagers are determined to put obstacles in his path whichever way he turns.

I personally would have put a few more bosomy beauties and a few more sexy rolls-in- the-hay into this production, but that’s just me. As usual, the scenery and settings and costumes are spot-on and Peter Cushing is magnificent as the pleasantly-spoken bootlegging Parson, with a hidden agenda he doesn’t wish to come to light.

It reminds me of the Prohibition episode of THE SIMPSONS, where booze has been banned in the town of Springfield because ten-year-old Bart Simpson gets drunk on Saint Patrick’s Day and shames his family on national television.

Homer Simpson duly becomes the ‘Beer Baron’ or the person responsible for ‘jerking suds on the side.’ He manufactures the hooch down in his basement and smuggles it into Moe’s Bar via the use of bowling balls. Dear me, most ingenious, most ingenious indeed…!

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