Set your faces to stunned admiration, people, because this is the best piece of television I’ve seen all year, and it’s been a good year for television. It’s the Jeffrey Dahmer story in series form, and it’s a terrific achievement on the part of Ryan everything he touches turns to gold Murphy and his screen-writing team.

The acting is superb, the story-telling is the right mix of the gruesome and the sympathetic, the era of the early ‘Nineties is perfectly re-created and Evan Peters as the serial killer is just so good as the murderer with the adorably cute grin and occasional quirky sense of black humour.

This is the only Netflix series I’ve seen so far that I’ve been seriously tempted to re-watch again from the beginning as soon as it ended. I’m actually sad that I’m not watching it any more, that’s how compelling it is.

Ready for some plot now? ‘Course you are, lol. The past is expertly blended in with the present as we see Jeffrey Dahmer growing up as a shy, awkward, somewhat weird lonely kid from Milwaukee who doesn’t really care about school or making friends or getting a head start in life.

His home-life is what one might delicately refer to as a shit-show. His mother Joyce doesn’t seem to want to be married with children; she pops pills, threatens suicide constantly and does everything in her power to be mentally if not physically absent from her husband and Jeff.

She screams and throws things and brandishes a knife at her husband in front of a traumatised Jeffrey, and she finally walks out on her family, taking her other child with her, when Jeff is about eighteen. Jeff misses her, crazy and out-of-control as she is, and takes to drinking heavily and mooning round the house, aimless and depressed, in her absence.

Richard Jenkins as the father, Lionel Dahmer, is superb. He’s the person who inadvertently sparks off Jeff’s interest in dissecting body parts. In Jeff’s youth, his father shows him how to cut up the roadkill they find on their car journeys together. If he had the slightest idea where that was going to lead to, he might have thought twice about involving his son in such a gory activity.

Lionel’s marriage to Joyce is in a terrible state. He walks out on Joyce a lot during Jeff’s childhood because of Joyce’s erratic behaviour, and is already married to the kindly and supportive Shari (played by the marvellous Molly Ringwald) by the time Joyce walks out on the Dahmer family for good.

Dad really, really loves his gormless-acting son, the golden-haired Jeffrey, and is genuinely concerned about the adult Jeff’s burgeoning alcoholism, his almost complete lack of a work ethic and seeming inability to get on with people and make friends.

He pushes Jeff into a community college and then, when that fails, into the army. When that fails too, it’s a case of ‘You’re moving with your auntie and uncle in Bel Air!’ For auntie and uncle, read Grandma; he moves in with his grandma, Lionel’s elderly mum, in West Allis, Wisconsin, after college and the US Army have both bombed, and terrorizes her with his strange behaviour.

Grandma is a quiet, God-fearing Church-going woman, and Jeffrey’s behaviour quickly becomes unacceptable to her. His alcoholism, compulsive lying and swearing, his occasional outbursts of violence, and, worst of all, the constant parade of young black or Latino men he brings back home with him at night to do God-knows-what-with. She’s deeply uncomfortable about what this last thing might say about her beloved grandson’s sexuality.

When Grandma interferes with what he’s trying to do with these men (drug, kill, dissect and even preserve bits of them), Jeffrey gets angry and there’s a moment there when I genuinely fear for Grandma’s life. You’ll literally never believe who plays her; Michael Learned, who once upon a time used to portray the mother in a little-known American television programme called THE WALTONS

Between 1978 and 1991, Jeffrey Dahmer kills and dismembers seventeen mostly black young men and boys. He commits necrophilia and cannibalism and preserves a number of body parts for his own amusements.

He seems to prefer to have sex with dead or incapacitated males, as he doesn’t like his sexual partners to move around too much or take the initiative. He gets a bad reputation around the gay bathhouses for being a man who drugs and rapes his partners.

Niecy WHEN THEY SEE US Nash is fabulous as Glenda Cleveland, the black single mother living next door to Jeffrey Dahmer in the Oxford Apartments, his last address before his imprisonment. Can you imagine living next door to him? He’s the original Neighbour from Hell.

Through the vent that connects their two apartments, she hears the fighting and shouting as Dahmer subdues his victims, and the sawing and hammering noises he makes as he cuts them up. She also smells the foul odours of the decomposing bodies.

The police don’t come out smelling of roses in this case. Glenda calls them numerous times to report the highly suspicious noises and stench coming from Jeff’s apartment, but Jeff just trots out the old ‘Oh, I left out some meat and it went bad’ excuse and the cops just thank him and apologise for disturbing his evening…!

The cops really mess up when a young Laotian boy, Konerak Sinthasomphone, Dahmer’s youngest victim, is trying desperately to escape Jeff’s clutches and very nearly makes it. Jeff turns up and is so convincing in his assertions that Konerak is his ‘boyfriend’ that the police actually return the young man to Dahmer’s custody, leaving a horrified Glenda looking on, barely able to believe their stupidity, and also their willingness to accept the word of a white man over that of anyone black or Asian or Hispanic.

This is such a good television series; I honestly can’t commend it enough. Well done to Ryan Murphy and his team. I can’t wait to see who they’re giving the ‘magic treatment’ to next…!

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:
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:



Wow. I binge-watched this drama series in one night on Netflix, as it was so good there was no question of my leaving any of it unwatched till the following night. It’s the story of a group of young people, four or five gay men and a woman, sharing a house and a life in London from 1981 to 1991.

It’s the era that encompasses the beginning of the AIDS epidemic in Britain, and the series shows us how the five young people are affected by the epidemic and how they cope with it when it affects them, either directly or indirectly, either personally or through a friend.

Olly Alexander from the band Years and Years plays Ritchie Tozer, who leaves his painfully traditional upbringing on the Isle of Wight behind him to be a flamboyant, fun-loving and optimistic drama student in London.

His friend and housemate, Roscoe Babatunde, is a black man who works in a bar, having narrowly missed out on being forcibly dragged back to Nigeria by his male relatives to have the ‘gayness’ exorcised- or excised- from his body. Just how they were planning to do that, well, we don’t know, but his sister reckons it might have involved a small bit of Death…

Ash Mukherjee is a handsome young Indian man whom all the lads love. Jill Baxter, the only woman in the group, is kind, fiercely and steadfastly loyal and compassionate and kind of acts like a mother to the group of lads. Her particular best friend is Ritchie, and Ash also favours the popular Ritchie, but as a boyfriend.

Colin Morris-Jones is a young Welsh laddie who comes to the metropolis to seek work and finds it in a posh gentlemen’s outfitters. Gregory Finch, a Scottish bus conductor, is sort of on the periphery of the group, and floats in and out of it when he has the time.

I’m not going to spoil this excellent drama series for you, but I can tell you that at least two of the people in this solid little group of BFF’s will go on to contract the ‘plague,’ as it was also known at the time. By their reactions shall ye know them…

This was the era when a lot of information was coming out of the United States about the so-called ‘gay cancer’ that was decimating the gay communities of America from the early ‘Eighties. Gay cancer, the plague, ‘that’ disease, the one that made your parents disown you and your employer give you the elbow.

First it seems like a disease that infects gay males only. But then the haemophiliacs, drug addicts and those who receive contaminated blood by means of a transfusion become apparent victims too. When it turns out that heterosexual people can get HIV also, and that mothers can pass it on to their babies in utero, AIDS is suddenly a horrible disease that pretty much anyone can catch.

Information, and mis-information, filters over to the UK from the USA. Ritchie, our charismatic drama student, who hasn’t come out yet to his parents and family, practises what can only be described as a promiscuous lifestyle with multiple sex partners and little or no protection being used.

There’s no such thing as AIDS, Ritchie insists to his friends. It’s all a ploy by the drug manufacturers to sell their pills and things to the gay population of the world. He’s an AIDS denier, who doesn’t like using condoms because they reduce the sensations he feels during sex.

Let’s just all keep partying, urges Ritchie, and use poppers to increase stimulation and booze it up till we puke, because life is short and we need to fit in so much living before we check out. Oh, the irony, the tragic irony of it all…!

It all happens quite gradually. A friend falls ill and needs hospitalising. Another friend gets hauled permanently home by his mother when he gets a mysterious sickness. Someone suddenly gets unexplained purple splotches on their body or face, another someone gets a cough they can’t quite shake off.

Words like Kaposi’s Sarcoma, pneumocystis, dementia and progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy are introduced into interested parties’ day to day vocabulary.

Suddenly there’s a proliferation of funerals, all young gay men, and sometimes the dead man’s family won’t let the dead man’s lover or even his gay friends come anywhere near the funeral, because they and the ‘gayness’ are what caused this person to die in the first place.

Misinformation abounds, such as, drinking battery acid cures you of your AIDS(!!!). There’s a lot of scare-mongering about too, like, oh, you can get AIDS from simply touching an infected person, or, AIDS victims are bad people and they brought this terrible judgement down upon themselves by behaving so promiscuously.

People are going for AIDS tests under assumed names and men are scared to death that their employers, families or even landlords will find out about their HIV status and give them the push.

Victims of the disease feel fear, paranoia, isolation and rejection and sometimes even experience poverty and homelessness as well. The aura of shame surrounding the whole epidemic is nearly touchable.

There’s a horrible stigma attached to being diagnosed as HIV positive or with full-blown AIDS. The actors, in particular Olly Alexander, do a superb job of communicating their sheer terror and feelings of marginalisation and stigmatisation once the threat of AIDS becomes more than just a mere threat.

Stephen Fry has a small but memorable role as a closeted Tory MP who, in his own words, ‘likes to stick his face in the shit every now and then.’ What a dirty boy. Nanny will have to spank him, clearly. Tracey Ann Oberman, who played Chrissie Watts in EASTENDERS back in the day, turns up briefly also as Ritchie’s acting agent.

Keeley Hawes is brilliant as Ritchie Tozer’s sexually repressed mother who has tremendous difficulty acknowledging that her son is gay, has AIDS and is now dying. Stunned parents often had to learn those three facts all at once, which, in fairness, is a lot to take in.

Ruth Sheen, an actress I think I’ve seen before but I’m not sure, only has a small part in the drama, as another AIDS mum, but her words to Mrs. Tozer in the kitchen of the hospital’s AIDS unit are magnificently delivered. Shaun Dooley as Ritchie’s dad, with his casual everyday racism and homophobia, tells a dying Ritchie that ‘he’ll scour the AIDS out of him.’ It’s powerful, frightening stuff.

The ‘Eighties soundtrack is terrific. Took me right back, did that. Also, it was good to observe the progress of the deadly epidemic from a British point of view, as the AIDS films I’ve seen to date have been mostly American.

This drama series is moving, beautifully acted and super-powerful, and should be seen by pretty much everyone over eighteen. Given that thirty seven million people worldwide are currently living with HIV, the message is as valid and urgent today as it was then.

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



I loved this mini-series, despite the fact that it’s been described by Chris Scott of the Observer as ‘relentlessly bleak, mean, and downright sadistic at nearly every turn.’ It is pretty grim, but I still loved it, though it could have done with some fat-trimming at times.

Released a full decade after Frank Darabont’s film adaptation of THE MIST, Stephen King’s famous novella, it tells the story of a mysterious mist that comes one day without any explanation to the fictional (I think?) town of Bridgeville in Stephen King’s beloved Maine.

The Copeland family is the main on-screen family in the series. Kevin, the dad, is famous for writing one well-known children’s picture book about owls, if you please. Now he thinks he’s da bomb, lol. Hoot, hoot…! It’s his tall, lanky wife, Eve, a high school teacher whom everyone in Bridgeville refers to as the town slut, who wears the trousers in that house, and make no mistake about it.

Eve is beyond furious with the curly-haired Kevin when he unwisely allows their teenage daughter Alex to attend a party, at which she is supposedly date-raped by Jay Heisel, the handsome quarterback of the high school footy team and son of the town’s sheriff.

I say ‘supposedly,’ because there’s a question mark throughout the show as to whether or not Jay really ‘did it.’ He certainly denies it vehemently, but then, he would, wouldn’t he…? Alex’s best pal, the wimpy little goth boy, Adrian, comforts her while steadfastly maintaining that it was definitely Jay who committed the rape.

When the mist comes, Eve and Alex become trapped in the local mall with Jay and a load of other townspeople (Alex shell-shocks her mum by becoming friendly and even romantic with Jay, her alleged rapist), while Kevin the dad and Adrian the goth boy end up hopping between the police station and the hospital in their efforts to get back to the two women.

Kevin and Adrian pick up a couple of waifs and strays on their travels, namely, Mia, a good-looking but intense drug addict with a murky past, and Bryan Hunt, an amnesiac soldier who comes running into town at the start of the first episode (ten episodes in all) to warn everyone about the encroaching mist. He doesn’t have a clue how he knows that the mist is evil, except that he’s aware it killed his poor doggy.

Meanwhile, police chief Connor Heisel, Jay’s dad, is stuck in the church, mediating between the dodgy Fr. Romanov and Nathalie Raven, an old hippy lady whose hubby Benedict was killed by the mist.

Fr. Romanov thinks the mist is caused by the ‘traditional’ God we read about in the Bible, whilst crazy old Nathalie thinks it’s the doing of an angry Mother Nature, hell-bent on reclaiming some of her planet for herself. She refers to the current apocalyptic situation rather ominously as ‘the Black Spring.’

They decide to have a sort of highly risky ‘face-off’ between their respective ‘gods.’ They could each stand to learn some harsh lessons. Fr. Romanov, that you don’t send a boy to do your dirty work for you, and Mrs. Raven, that you really shouldn’t believe your own hype.

The Mist will separate the wheat from the chaff, the men from the boys. Or will it only make things more unclear…? The mist, which seems to personalise and tailor a person’s end to the life they lived and the actions they performed in life, is hardly to be trusted, after all.

(The mist in the 2007 film was filled with horrible monsters, stomach-churning gigantic insects and tentacled beasts. The mist here seems to be more sophisticated, comprising metaphors and appropriate individual torments!)

My favourite part of this extremely violent mini-series was the bit in the mall where everyone has to sort of club together to form a society in order to survive. They have rules and regulations, enforced by Gus Bradley, the mall director (I call him Paul Blart, Mall Cop!), such as if you endanger your fellow mall-dwellers, you’ll be booted out of the mall and expected to take your chances in the mist.

Eve Copeland kindly tells everyone about the ‘nine meals from anarchy’ theory, which only puts the willies up the survivors even more. Some of them might be secretly hoarding food, which is strictly against the rules of this new mall society.

As their position in the mall becomes ever more hopeless, with grub running short, tempers even shorter and no sign either of help coming or the insidious mist dissipating and going away, anarchy in fact looms ever closer.

If the series had gone on for any longer, the mall-dwellers would have been drawing lots as to whom they would have to cannibalise first. Interesting the way, the longer these things go on, the more it’s every man for himself and the less people give a shit about others.

It’s probably an ingrained thing that we can’t help, but it’s kind of grim nonetheless, isn’t it? Even the most complex of societies will break down in a crisis such as this one. And the presence of the crisis, and the mist, seems to give people permission to do things they wouldn’t dream of doing in peacetime, wicked, murderous shameful things. I hope what happens in the mist stays in the mist…

I love the suggestion that the army might somehow be involved with the mist, in a bad way, and I even love the ‘draw your own conclusions’ ending and the way things look open to a sequel at the end. I’m just sad that there probably won’t ever be a sequel to the series, as viewing figures apparently weren’t impressive enough beyond the pilot episode.

Great viewing, anyway, if a little depressing, with little or no levity to lighten the gloom. The series also explores the theme of homophobia, with the character of Adrian, the little goth boy, experiencing severe abuse for his sexuality, both from his father and from his fellow high school student, Tyler. Good work in highlighting this kind of abuse. Good work overall. Over and out.

A telephone rings somewhere.

‘Good morning, this is the Mist speaking, how may I help you today?’

‘Um, hi, I’m Sandra Harris, I’m just phoning to book a Mist-related death, please?’

‘Certainly, Ms. Harris. May I ask if you’ve lived a good life and tried to help others wherever you could?’

‘Oh yes, absolutely, your Worship!’

‘Very good. Have you ever caused harm to anyone through your writings?’

‘Not that I know of, your Eminence.’

‘Very good, very good. Any weaknesses?’

‘Only bad boys and chocolate, if it please your Honour.’

‘Excellent. I’ll schedule you in to be battered to death by giant rubber penises and drowned in a hail of miniature Snickers Bars.’

‘Could I have it the other way around, please, your Grace? Miniature rubber penises and giant Snickers Bars?’

‘You’ll have to pay extra.’

‘That’s okay, I don’t mind. Can I keep any leftover bars?’

A sigh. ‘If you must, though most people don’t. It’s not like you’ll be alive to enjoy them.Can I interest you in a theme tune while you die? Thus Spoke Zarathustra, perhaps, or the music from the ROCKY movies?’

‘Nah, I’m good, thanks, your Highness. Just the standard death is all. ‘Bye then.’

‘Good day, thank you for calling the Mist, your one-stop-shop for all Apocalyptic deaths.’

Dial tone, then silence.


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:

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

The sequel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS LATER,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books:



I normally steer clear of mainstream movies but I watched these two based-on-real-life films in the run-up to the New Year, and they both completely blew me away, especially the QUEEN one, as I’ve been a fan of their music since the ‘Eighties. Both films follow quite similar trajectories.

Freddie Mercury, born Farrokh Bulsara in Zanzibar to Parsi-Indian parents, was obsessed with music from a young age and the start of the movie sees him talking his way to being the front man of QUEEN after one of their gigs as their earliest incarnation, SMILE.

The other members are a bit bemused by his posh accent and quirky dress sense, but there’s no denying his musical genius, the confident personality that seems to both attract and demand good things to happen and his fabulous singing voice.

Rami Malek gives an Oscar-winning performance as the QUEEN front man, and he’s so like him physically it’s hard to believe you’re not watching the actual Freddie Mercury.

When you hear those familiar million-selling songs issue from his lips while he’s at the piano or bursting out of the giant speakers when QUEEN is in concert, you’ll get chills down your spine every time, not to mention a quickening of the heartbeat in time to the music.

The movie shows us how Kenny Everett’s radio show prevented the magnificently theatrical, six-minute-long rock opera ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ from being just a footnote in musical history. Thank Christ for that. What a loss to music that would have been!

We also get to see QUEEN’s signing with John Reid, Elton John’s manager, Freddie’s destructive relationship with his gaslighting day-to-day organiser, Paul Prenter, and his relationship with girlfriend and best friend Mary Austin, who seems to have guessed that Freddie was fully gay before Freddie himself seems to have come around to the notion.

Reporters constantly badgered Freddie about his sexuality. They seemed to have been quite unscrupulous and callous about it as well, not caring whom they hurt as long as they got their story.

Freddie was left alone, except for his casual lovers and one-night-stands, while the other members of QUEEN married, had children and grew roots. He was deeply conscious of the gap between them in this respect, and it feels like he was desperately lonely, just as Mary had sadly predicted, a lot of the time.

Freddie’s relationship with the toxic Paul and his split from the band to embark on a solo career for a bit soured relations with the other members of QUEEN, who all look in the film exactly how they looked in real life. In the film, they reconcile for the charity event Live Aid, before which Freddie reveals to his fellow band members that he has contracted HIV, the forerunner to AIDS, the so-called ‘gay plague.’

Poor Freddie. He was so lonely. When he puts his hand over boyfriend Jim Hutton’s hand in his parents’ home on the day of Live Aid and says, his voice breaking, ‘Jim’s my friend,’ I bawled like a baby. I don’t care two hoots that the film is meant to be chock-a-block with historical inaccuracies. The emotional depth of Rami Malek’s stunning performance will remain with me till the day I die, it’s that good.

I wasn’t expecting ROCKETMAN to be anywhere near as good, but it came pretty close. Taron Egerton turns in an excellent performance as Elton John, born Reginald Dwight in Pinner, Middlesex, to Stanley and Sheila in 1947. He was brought up mainly by his mum and grandmother.

We see him in the film being extremely upset by his father, who seemed to be incapable of showing his son any love or affection, despite having handed down to him some of his own musical ability and inclinations.

The film covers his meeting with his lifelong song-writing partner, Bernie Taupin, and the absolutely toxic relationship he had with his manager and lover, John Reid, the same John Reid who managed QUEEN.

Elton was tortured, like Freddie, by horribly negative feelings about his homosexuality and fear of peoples’ reactions to his being gay. When he confesses his sexual inclinations to his mum in a heart-breaking scene, she coldly tells him that she’s known he was gay for years, but it means that he’ll never ‘be properly loved,’ a harsh pronouncement that leaves her son devastated, reeling from the pain and shock of his mother’s indifference.

Though he becomes an international superstar with songs such as CANDLE IN THE WIND, YOUR SONG, GOODBYE YELLOW BRICK ROAD and the eponymous ROCKETMAN, in his own words in the film, he’d fucked everything that moved, he’d taken every drug and pill known to man, and he’d even attempted suicide, in a dramatic swimming-pool scene covered by the film.

I personally think that, here, when he was trying to kill himself, he was just trying to be heard. He was sick and tired of being an endless meal ticket for the leeches and hangers-on whom celebrities routinely attract, and I don’t bloody blame him.

That scene where his mother, played by an unrecognisable Bryce Dallas Howard (M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN’s THE VILLAGE, JURASSIC WORLD), his nan (Gemma Jones from BRIDGET JONES’S DIARY) and some of their neighbours are flown in to his LA home for a few days or weeks of living entirely at Elton’s expense made me feel sick to my stomach. Feck the bloody Andersons’…! They don’t even look grateful for the immense privilege!

Elton was in a hell of his own and others’ making. In the end, he saves his own life by booking himself into a rehab and sticking it out. According to the end credits, he’s been sober and clean- and hopefully happy, with his husband David Furnish and their two sons- ever since.

It’s a powerhouse of a performance from Taron Egerton, although of the two films I prefer BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY because of the music and because of how it made me cry and want to cuddle poor Freddie and make things better for him. I love a nice cry, me.

It’d be great to see a film biopic of this nature made about David Bowie, say, or Prince or Madonna or Debbie Harry or any other of those great stars that we just don’t seem to grow any more. (STARMAN, PURPLE RAIN, MATERIAL GIRL and HEART OF GLASS, anyone?)

The more we do to remember and immortalise them now, the better it will be for our future generations of music lovers. Can you imagine a world in which none of these icons had ever existed? That’s right. Me neither.

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