HAMMER HORROR’S KISS OF THE VAMPIRE. (1963) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

kiss of the vampire showdownKISS OF THE VAMPIRE aka KISS OF EVIL (when shown on American television). (1963) HAMMER FILM PRODUCTIONS. DIRECTED BY DON SHARP. PRODUCED BY ANTHONY HINDS. WRITTEN BY ANTHONY HINDS UNDER THE NAME ‘JOHN ELDER.’ STARRING EDWARD DE SOUZA, JENNIFER DANIEL, CLIFFORD EVANS, NOEL WILLMAN, BARRY WARREN, JACQUIE WALLIS, PETER MADDEN AND VERA COOK. REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

This is another fantastic entry in the Hammer Horror canon of DRACULA-slash-vampire films. It comes five years after Christopher Lee first donned the cloak and fangs to play Bram Stoker’s timeless horror creation Count Dracula for Hammer Film Productions, and a mere two years before Sir Christopher reprised his role again in Hammer’s DRACULA: PRINCE OF DARKNESS.

Neither Christopher Lee as the Count nor Peter Cushing as Van Helsing the vampire-hunter appear in KISS OF THE VAMPIRE, my only gripe with an otherwise perfect vampire film. Let’s take a look at the plot, shall we, film buffs…?

A young just-married couple, Gerald and Marianne Harcourt, are honeymooning in Bavaria, definitely a gorgeous spot for honeymooning. Except for the cult of bloodsucking vampires that occupy the castle overlooking the village where the Harcourts are obliged to spend several days due to motor-car trouble. See what you get for trusting so-called modern technology? You’d never have had that trouble with a coach and horses…!

The little inn where the young couple are staying over, rather ambitiously monikered the ‘Grand Hotel,’ is a quaint and charming wee place. The landlady, Anna, nurses a terrible un-named sadness, however, and her lovely old hubby Bruno, while suffering too, is just trying to get on with things. You know the way men are, haha.

An invitation for the young English couple to dine at the aforementioned castle, the property of a Dr. Ravna, is the source of much excitement at the little inn. Gerald and Marianne, in particular Marianne, are positively captivated by the charming doctor and his attractive and accomplished grown-up children, Carl and Sabena.

A party invite comes hot on the heels of the dinner invitation for the Harcourts. It’s a sexy masked ball and the booze is flowing, especially for the not-exactly-used-to-it Gerald, who wakes from a drunken-and-drugged stupor to find his wife missing. What’s more, the Ravnas are closing ranks and claiming that they know nothing at all about any so-called wife of his…

A friend of mine has remarked in the past that Dr. Ravna looks like Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing mashed together. Sometimes I see it, sometimes I don’t. I do think, however, that the rather wooden Marianne, she of the fixed expression and unmoving hairstyle, resembles no-one so much as Doris Mann, the blonde woman from the marvellous spoof horror film CARRY ON SCREAMING who gets turned into a mannequin. Even being turned into a vampire-hussy doesn’t cause her expression to change or her hair to move at all…!

I love Clifford Evans as the alcoholic Professor Zimmer, who has good reason to be hitting the booze so hard and so often. Under his sternly-bearded exterior, he shares a joint pain with Anna and Bruno, the inn-keepers. He might also be the only person who can help a shell-shocked Gerald to free his missus from the cult of the vampires.

I don’t know if I’d bother if I were Gerald. I’m sure that Marianne could be easily replaced at any good department store where mannequins adorn the window displays. Sorry, sorry. I love the film, but Blondie surely could have used some serious loosening up…!

The film is as gorgeously filmed and coloured as you might expect from any Hammer production, with stunningly beautiful costumes, scenery, settings and interiors. I don’t like KISS OF THE VAMPIRE as much as, say, BRIDES OF DRACULA or any of the Christopher Lee Dracula films, but it’s still a super-worthy addition to the Hammer canon of brilliant vampire films.

Stakes through the heart, black magic, a bloodstained chest (though not the kind you’re thinking of!) and a thoroughly unusual ending make for an extremely enjoyable watch all round. Vampirism is here depicted as a sort of social disease that mostly afflicts those enjoying a decadent lifestyle. Another reason to keep buying those Lotto tickets, so…!

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger 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

RITES OF SPRING/THE EXORCISM OF EMILY ROSE: A DOUBLE BILL OF HORROR FILM REVIEWS BY SANDRA HARRIS.

emily-roseRITES OF SPRING/THE EXORCISM OF EMILY ROSE: A TERRIFYING DOUBLE BILL OF SUPERNATURAL HORROR FILM REVIEWS BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

RITES OF SPRING. (2011) DIRECTED BY PADRAIG REYNOLDS. STARRING A.J. BOWEN, KATHERINE RANDOLPH, ANESSA RAMSEY, MARCO ST. JOHN AND JEFF NATIONS.

THE EXORCISM OF EMILY ROSE. (2006) DIRECTED BY SCOTT DERRICKSON. STARRING LAURA LINNEY, TOM WILKINSON AND JENNIFER CARPENTER.

This is a pairing of horror films which I always associate with each other because I first watched them at around the same time. They’re both top-notch horror films which I re-visit every year, and always one after the other, usually RITES OF SPRING followed by EMILY ROSE.

Let’s take a closer look at them, starting, appropriately enough, with RITES OF SPRING. Although you wouldn’t think it with the cold, the wind and the sleet, it is in fact Spring, a time for snowdrops and daffodils, green shoots and… the most hideous of human sacrifices…

There are two storylines running concurrently in this American horror movie directed by an Irishman, RITES OF SPRING. Firstly, we have a small group of criminals who are planning to kidnap a rich man’s little daughter in order to ransom her for the pay-off of a lifetime.

The kidnapping goes to plan up to a point, but blood is shed during the home invasion and the kidnappers are forced to bring along an extra hostage they hadn’t bargained on. They bring both their hostages to an old abandoned school miles from anywhere and wait for the pay-off to arrive…

The other storyline is bloody terrifying. Two attractive young women are abducted by a strange old man. They wake up to find themselves suspended from hooks in an old dump of a shed out in the countryside somewhere.

The old man keeps popping in to cut them with knives or cut their clothing off their trembling bodies. He keeps asking them if they’re ‘clean’ but, just in case they’re not, he’s got a bucket of water and a bristly sponge handy. Eeeep…!

As if that wasn’t scary enough, the viewers get the distinct impression that a human sacrifice of some kind is just around the corner. And who- or what- is the old man keeping prisoner underneath the locked trapdoor? And what does the man need the girls’ blood for?

When the two storylines spectacularly collide, a chase begins that always puts me in mind of THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE and SWITCHBLADE ROMANCE, among others. The folk horror element will probably remind you somewhat of THE WICKER MAN.

The chase in the second half of the film is tense with some truly shocking moments. Even the cover of the DVD box is super-sexy, picturing a naked woman suspended from a rope and silhouetted against the night sky while in the background looms a dilapidated old barn.

THE EXORCISM OF EMILY ROSE is based on true events which, when I researched ’em briefly online, scared the living daylights out of me. The film is part courtroom drama and part horror, the horror being told in terrifying flashbacks. Though it’s naturally not a patch on William Friedkin’s THE EXORCIST, the Mammy and Daddy of exorcism films, it’s still a brilliant and really watchable horror story.

Laura Linney plays Erin Bruner, a high-flying barrister whose job it is to defend a priest called Father Richard Moore, who’s played by wonderful English actor Tom Wilkinson (THE FULL MONTY, IN THE BEDROOM).

He’s accused of bringing about the death through negligence of a beautiful young woman with everything to live for called Emily Rose. How, you might ask, did he do this? As we’re told in flash-backs, he performed an exorcism on the girl with the full consent of her worried parents because she’d exhibited signs of demonic possession. These included contortions of her body, speaking in strange languages and seeing horrible visions of demonic faces, among other things.

The lawyers prosecuting poor old Father Moore are maintaining that the girl was anorexic and that she had epilepsy coupled with psychosis. These conditions, they claim, neatly cover all of Emily’s symptoms. Erin Bruner, on the other hand, attempts to convince the sceptical court of the existence of demonic possession, because that’s what Father Moore and Emily’s devastated parents truly believe was the root of Emily’s terrifying experiences.

The scenes in which Emily first notices the demonic influences around her are really scary. So are the ones in which Father Moore and Erin Bruner both feel the demonic presence close by in the dead of night (at 3am, to be precise, the REAL witching hour) and the ones where the priest bravely attempts to rid the girl of the evil spirits that plague her.

Emily’s bodily contortions are super-freaky and all real and not computerised, from what I can make out. They’ll put the willies up you big-time. I could have done without the gold initialled locket in the snow and maybe even the stigmata as well, but otherwise, this is a really scary film that you shouldn’t watch just before going to bed because it’ll give you the worst nightmares you’ve ever had.

But do watch it if you can. Even if you think that exorcisms and demonic possession are just a load of old hogwash from the movies, there are plenty of people who don’t agree. Even if you’re determined to remain a hardened sceptic, at least try to keep an open mind. After all, there are more things in Heaven and Earth and so on, aren’t there…?

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger 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

DER GOLEM. (1920) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

der-golemTHE GOLEM: HOW HE CAME INTO THE WORLD or DER GOLEM, WIE ER IN DIE WELT KAM. (1920) DIRECTED BY PAUL WEGENER. WRITTEN BY PAUL WEGENER AND HENRIK GALEEN. CINEMATOGRAPHY BY KARL FREUND AND GUIDO SEEBER. COUNTRY: WEIMAR REPUBLIC.

STARRING PAUL WEGENER, ALBERT STEINRÜCK, ERNST DEUTSCH, LOTHAR MÜTHEL, LYDA SALMONOVA AND LONI NEST. REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

This magnificent classic of German Expressionist Cinema, based apparently on an old Jewish folk-tale from the sixteenth century, has a 100% rating on film review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes and is so old that its country of origin doesn’t even exist any more.

The now defunct Weimar Republic was also home to that other marvel of German Expressionist Cinema, THE CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI, and it lives now only in the history books. I find that fact endlessly fascinating. Talk about shrouding a movie in the mysterious mists of time…!

It’s a strange enough story, too. It’s about an olde-timey Rabbi who creates a monster out of clay to protect the endangered Jews and then the monster runs amok, as monsters tend to do, and the townspeople end up needing protection from it. I surely hope that the irony isn’t lost on them…

The Rabbi is called Loew. He resides in a Jewish ghetto in medieval Prague, the ghetto sets having been designed by an actual architect and positively astonishing to behold. One day this Rabbi Loew predicts disaster for his people in the stars, and sure enough the next day the Jews are all ordered to leave the city forever by order of the Holy Roman Emperor.

This decree is hand-delivered by the Knight Florian, as gay a chap as you’ll ever meet with a spring in his step and a jaunty flower in his cap, who promptly falls in love with Rabbi Loew’s daughter Miriam. She’s a real silent movie beauty played by Lyda Salmonova, and Knight Florian is by no means the only man around who wants to wuther her heights, as it were.

Rabbi Loew’s assistant, who’s never named as far as I know, is also warm for Miriam’s form. But for sheer style, panache and vigour and vim (Vim? Wtf?), Knight Florian wins out every time over the rather drab but attractive assistant whom Miriam’s probably used to seeing every day by now. There’s a love triangle developing there that’ll bear keeping an eye on.

Meanwhile, however, the good Rabbi is bringing to life his extraordinary creation, The Golem, and sending it down the road to the olde-timey equivalent of Tesco to get the bread and milk. I kid you not, he actually uses the towering and imposing creature as a servant for a bit, before bringing him to the Emperor’s palace to perform his real party piece.

The downside to creating a monster, however, is that occasionally, they turn on their creators. ‘You can’t create a monster,’ says Lisa Simpson in that very funny episode of THE SIMPSONS about ‘the all-new, improved KIDZ NEWZ,’ ‘and then whine when he stomps on a few buildings.’

Indeed you cannot, Lil’ Lisa Slurry. The Golem doesn’t have any buildings in mind for stomping on, as such, but there’s one local lady who’s going to find her Rapunzel plaits being used for a purpose she surely never intended…

Speaking of THE SIMPSONS, there’s an hilarious TREEHOUSE OF HORROR episode in which Bart uses a Golem to do his bidding by posting scrolls into its mouth. At the end of the episode, a female Golem is created to keep the male one company, but he’s none too happy as his mate for life is voiced by the annoying Fran Drescher from sitcom THE NANNY. OH. MY. GAAAAAAWD…!

The Golem was one of the cinema’s earliest monsters, but I’ve never seen him as an evil creature. I actually quite like his reassuringly solid build and impassive features. The scene where he’s being gentle and docile with the little girl from the town is eerily reminiscent of the one from Universal’s FRANKENSTEIN over a decade later, where the monster created in the scientist’s laboratory meets an innocent young chum playing by the lakeside.

You know what else is eerily prophetic? The banishment of the Jews from the city totally brings to mind what happened to the Jews in real life as little as thirteen years later or even less. In 1933, Hitler and the Nazi Party came to power and the Jews were hunted and hounded into ghettos like the one in Warsaw, before being ultimately routed out of the ghettos once again and put on trains for their so-called ‘re-settlement in the East.’

We know now, of course, that that was only a euphemism for ‘the Final Solution’ to ‘the Jewish Question,’ or transportation to the death camps. It’s hard not to think about all that when the film ends on a shot of a glowing Star of David.

This silent horror film will just blow you away, with its amazingly intricate sets and the sheer aura of decades-old magic in every frame. It’s as mystical and awe-inspiring as its contemporary, THE CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI, and if you haven’t seen it yet you should make it your business to. It’s the bees’ knees and no foolin.’

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger 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

THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA (1925) /THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA (1943): REVIEWS BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

phantomoftheoperaposterTHE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA (1925)/THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA (1943): A DOUBLE BILL OF GRUESOME, GRISLY AND GROTESQUE ‘UNIVERSAL PICTURES’ HORROR FILM REVIEWS BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA. (1925) BASED ON THE NOVEL BY GASTON LEROUX. DIRECTED BY RUPERT JULIAN. PRODUCED BY CARL LAEMMLE.

STARRING LON CHANEY, MARY PHILBIN, NORMAN KERRY, ARTHUR EDMUND CAREWE AND CARLA LAEMMLE.

THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA. (1943) BASED ON THE NOVEL BY GASTON LEROUX. DIRECTED BY ARTHUR LUBIN. PRODUCED BY GEORGE WAGGNER.

STARRING CLAUDE RAINS, NELSON EDDY, SUSANNA FOSTER, EDGAR BARRIER AND MILES MANDER.

The 1925 film version of this creepy tale by Gaston Leroux is the first time the story was committed to celluloid and it’s widely regarded as one of the best horror films ever made, and certainly the best of the silent era. There’s something about a silent film that has the power to make a scary story even more frightening for the viewer, I always think.

THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA is the story of a horribly deformed and disfigured man, whom it must be said the world has used most cruelly, who lives a solitary existence in the caverns deep down below the Paris Opera House in the early years of the twentieth century.

He covers his ugliness with a mask and, although no-one is supposed to know that he is there, the theatre staff are all uncomfortably conscious of an illicit presence in the opera house whom they have termed ‘the opera ghost.’

This ‘ghost’ falls in love with a beautiful and talented young opera singer called Christine, whose talent he wants to nurture and whose beauty he wishes to possess. He kidnaps this lovely but understandably terrified lady and takes her to his underground lair to live with him forever.

To say that she doesn’t exactly respond with: ‘Eeeeh, this is crackin,’ love, ‘ave you got a drawer where I can keep me smalls?’ is something of an understatement…

Above ground, Christine’s rather proactive lovers (Raoul the nobleman in the 1925 version and Anatole the baritone and Raoul the policeman in the 1943 film) have no intention of letting such an attractive and charming prize slip through their fingers.

The Phantom’s underground hidey-hole is about to become inconveniently overrun by irate beaux and, where there are irate beaux, can an angry, torch-wielding mob be far behind? Unfortunately for old Mask-Face, I very much fear that they cannot…

Lon Chaney (1883-1930) does a job of unparalleled excellence as Erik the Phantom in the 1925 silent movie. Everyone knows by now that he did his own make-up for the film, and it’s generally regarded even to this day to be one of the finest make-up jobs in film history.

Rumours abound about how much physical pain he put himself through to look the part but, regardless which bits are true and which are merely legends passed down by word of mouth, the fact remains that he did a wonderful job.

The ‘reveal’ of his hideously disfigured face is one of the scariest and most iconic scenes ever to be seen in any horror film ever. I can well imagine the women in the cinema audiences that year screaming, swooning and reaching for the smelling salts when his plug-ugly boat-race is uncovered by the dopey Christine who, let’s face it, had had about a million stern warnings not to, as it were, go there…!

The film as a whole is utterly magnificent. Everything, from the crashing of the massive opera chandelier to our first sighting of Erik’s underground lake and the coffin he sleeps in (yes, sleeps in!), to the wonderfully scary organ music he plays in the shadowy apartments in which he is doing little more than living in his own tomb, all combine to both unsettle the viewer and blow his/her mind with the stunning effects and scenery he/she is witnessing.

When Erik spectacularly appears at the Masked Ball as the Red Death, I defy you not to feel icy shivers from beyond the grave running up and down your spine…

There’s nothing negative I can say about this film. The first time I ever watched it was very late on a Saturday night/Sunday morning after a few glasses of wine and it was the most brilliantly surreal viewing experience I can ever remember having.

I’ve tried many times to recreate that experience but, even though the film will easily stand up to a million subsequent viewings, it would appear that that first time was a mind-blowing one-time offer…!

The 1943 film version is equally wonderful, but in a different way. It’s not remotely scary, it has to be said, plus it’s a musical version, if you please, which may annoy some people, but it’s still a terrific story well told.

The full-colour sets and scenery and costumes are absolutely fabulous, darlings, and the songs sung by Nelson Eddy are a joy to listen to. He’s extremely handsome as well, by the way, in his role as Christine’s would-be lover, Anatole.

There’s a running gag in the film involving Christine’s lovers. Anatole clashes, frequently and hilariously, with Raoul, the copper investigating the sinister Phantom-related goings-on in the Paris Opera House, over which of them is going to be Christine’s beau.

Christine, a sweet and pretty vision of loveliness in her beautiful dresses with her golden hair in saucy ringlets, is a naughty little minx who plays ’em both off against each other and greatly encourages their joint woo-ing of her. The little hussy…! A good spanking, applied by either or even both beaux-in-waiting, might not have gone amiss under the circumstances.

It’s the marvellous Claude Rains as the Phantom, however, who steals the show. He plays Erique Claudin, a violinist at the Opera House who loses his job and a valued concerto he’s written (and pretty much his lodgings as well) all in the same short space of time.

Add to this a tray of acid in the kisser and an enforced move to the underground caverns beneath the Opera House and you just might have yourself the worst run of luck since Adam and Eve decided that their diet was lacking fruit, haha. After that, Erique’s free to devote himself to stalking Christine full-time, but he’s got a lotta competition. Christine’s a popular lady…

Claude Rains had already become part of the UNIVERSAL PICTURE family of monsters when he’d starred in THE INVISIBLE MAN about a decade earlier. His excellent performance as the Phantom in this Oscar-winning, commercially successful version of Gaston Leroux’s tale guaranteed him a second and well-deserved place in that particular Hall of Fame.

There’s one thing I always found funny, not to mention a tad incongruous, about the Lon Chaney version. Whose idea was it to bring a horse down to the underground caverns? It’s not like the Phantom, poor guy, ever really went anywhere. Why did he need transport?

Even when the horse carries his beloved Christine to the tomb that Erik intends to be her home for the rest of her life, all that the horse is really doing is getting her there slightly earlier. They’ve literally got the rest of their lives to hang out in the cave. Seems to me like walking there under their own steam might have killed a bit of time for the pair, who no doubt have a lot of boring times ahead of them in the bowels of the Opera House:

Erik: ‘What shall we do today, dear? Shall we take a walk around the cave after dinner?’

Christine: ‘We did that yesterday, why don’t you ever take me out on the lake any more?’

Erik, protesting: ‘We did that the other week, dear, when your mother came, remember?’

Christine, bursting into tears: ‘And that’s another thing. You’ve never liked my mother…!’

Erik, punching the wall of the cave in frustration: ‘Well, maybe if she didn’t keep calling me fucking Quasimodo every time she fucking lays eyes on me…!’

Oh, happy days, folks. Happy days indeed…

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger 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

THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON/THE INVISIBLE MAN: A DOUBLE BILL OF HALLOWEEN HORROR FILM REVIEWS BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

creature-from-the-black-lagoon1THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON/THE INVISIBLE MAN: A BONE-CHILLING DOUBLE HORROR FILM REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON. (1954) DIRECTED BY JACK ARNOLD FOR UNIVERSAL STUDIOS. STARRING JULIE ADAMS, RICHARD CARLSON, RICHARD DENNING, ANTONIO MORENO, BEN CHAPMAN AND RICOU BROWNING.

THE INVISIBLE MAN. (1933) BASED ON ‘THE INVISIBLE MAN’ BY H.G. WELLS. DIRECTED BY JAMES WHALE FOR UNIVERSAL STUDIOS. PRODUCED BY CARL LAEMMLE JR.

STARRING CLAUDE RAINS, GLORIA STUART, WILLIAM HARRIGAN, UNA O’CONNOR, DUDLEY DIGGES AND E.E. CLIVE.

Now this is the stuff. This is the real thing. This is what I call horror. Ladies and gentlemen, here we have two superb examples of classic UNIVERSAL horror/sci-fi films that will stand the test of time even if the earth and the film industry survive for another millenium.

Do I sound emphatic? Damn straight! You won’t find better examples of the classic monster/sci-fi/horror genre if you search for the rest of your lives. You don’t have to search at all, though. You don’t have to look any farther than these two wonderful movies. Let’s take a closer look. We’re going deep underwater now so goggles on, people…!

THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON is the story of a sort of half-man, half-fish creature whose quiet existence in his Amazonian lagoon is shattered when a bunch of nosy marine biologists and geologists show up looking to capture him, dead or alive.

These fancy-pants scientists are a disgrace. Tossing cigarette butts into the beautiful lagoon, strutting around half-naked on their boat THE RITA in their pristine ‘Fifties bathing suits and terrorising the Creature, who doesn’t seem to have really killed or hurt anyone until the scientists showed up.

Yes, I’m totally on the side of the Creature. He just wants to be left alone, or to maybe kidnap a beautiful woman with pert ‘Fifties bosoms and spirit her away to his underwater lair to possibly attempt some sort of fishy sexual congress with her. That’s not too much to ask. How dare those pushy scientists come to the Creature’s home and start shoving him around? It’s simply not on.

Mark and David, the two male leads, both look like they’re auditioning fot the part of Sean Connery in the role of James Bond. With their broad hairy chests, muscular hairy thighs and snug-fitting briefs encasing their pert ‘Fifties buttocks, they’re pure ‘Fifties beefcake, each of them struggling to be the Alpha Male in the situation.

And if they’re the beefcake, Julie Adams (playing Kay) in that marvellous white one-piece swimming cossie is surely the cheesecake. The scene in which the smitten Creature swims directly underneath Kay, looking up in wonder at her while she pirouettes and undulates gracefully in the water, blissfully unaware of his presence, is definitely my favourite one.

Kay also spends much of the film turning round suddenly and shrieking her lungs out when she spots the Creature looming towards her. The poor Creature must have been half-deafened by the end of the film.

The Creature, or the Gill-Man, is now as iconic a UNIVERSAL HORROR monster as Frankenstein’s Monster or the Wolf-Man. He’s a miracle of modern costume-making. I sincerely hope that his wonderful body-suit is hanging in a museum of cinematic memorabilia somewhere, preserved for all eternity. (Like the cane from CITIZEN KANE…!)

I love the Creature. The film’s ending is too, too sad. Damn you, sexy ‘Fifties science-type persons…! I hate you all so much.

THE INVISIBLE MAN couldn’t make a more impressive entrance if he tried for a month of Sundays. Wandering through the tiny Sussex village of Iping in the middle of a snowstorm with his head swathed in bandages and dark glasses, he cuts an unforgettable figure as he enters the Lion’s Head Inn and demands food and shelter.

Of course, the good people of the Lion’s Head haven’t a clue that Dr. Jack Griffin is a (literally) mad scientist who has discovered how to make himself invisible through the use of certain dangerous drugs.

Now, unkowingly driven insane by these drugs, he plans a ‘reign of terror’ over an unsuspecting world. He wants his fellow scientist Dr. Arthur Kemp to help him kill, steal and generally wreak havoc undetected purely, it would seem, for the sheer hell of it but the good doctor sensibly doesn’t want anything to do with such an insane plan.

Dr. Kemp calls the cops and reports The Invisible Man for, well, being The Invisible Man. As Griffin already has a rap sheet, as they call it, for killing a copper, the bobbies come on the run.

There ain’t no bobby like an English bobby. The good solid old-fashioned English bobby, with his helmet and his chinstrap and his thick luxuriant moustache that simply screams reliability, is a staple of these old classic horror films and, truly, the films wouldn’t be the same without him.

The coppers in THE INVISIBLE MAN are an absolute joy to watch as they set about questioning the villagers and trying to capture The Invisible Man. The Invisible Man, meantime, is dancing down country roads maniacally singing ‘Here We Go Gathering Nuts In May’ while his own- nuts, that is- are clad only in a pair of trousers…

Yes, there are some terrifically funny (and technically astonishing and ground-breaking) scenes as The Invisible Man, who can only be seen when clothed, takes pleasure in freaking out everyone he meets by partially appearing and then disappearing altogether while moving various objects around the place willy-nilly just for kicks.

He’s mischievous, malicious and hell-bent on mayhem while under cover of his veil of invisibility. The bobbies have their work cut out for them trying to bring this nudie Invisible Man to justice. Even if they do catch him, they’d better be careful which body part they grab hold of. Maybe they should be wary of anything that’s sticking out…

Second only to The Invisible Man for sheer entertainment value is Una O’Connor playing Jenny Hall, the hysterical landlady of The Lion’s Head. She gives a magnificent performance, conveying mostly in shrieks her displeasure at the continuing presence in her respectable establishment of the decidely un-respectable Invisible Man. Gawd love her, she’s a decent woman, she is. She don’t need no Invisible Men cluttering up the place and giving it a bad reputation. Lawks-a-mussy and all that…!

Claude Rains, in his first American screen appearance, excels as the Naughty, Nudie Invisible Man. Gloria Stuart is on duty as the dreamy-eyed ‘Thirties beauty who has zero luck in trying to convince Jack Griffin to renounce his evil ways. This film is wickedly funny, whereas I personally find THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON very moving and sad.

Have I convinced you to watch (or re-watch) these marvellous films from a bygone age? If I have, great. If not, I might just set the Creature or his buddy The Invisible Man on you. You’ll never see ’em coming…

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger 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

STEPHEN KING’S ‘SLEEPWALKERS.’ (1992) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

sleepwalkersSTEPHEN KING’S ‘SLEEPWALKERS.’ (1992) BASED ON AN ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY BY STEPHEN KING. DIRECTED BY MICK GARRIS. MUSIC BY NICHOLAS PIKE. CINEMATOGRAPHY BY RODNEY CHARTERS.

STARRING BRIAN KRAUSE, ALICE KRIGE AND MÄDCHEN AMICK.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

There are times when I just really need to watch me a nice bit of Stephen King, if you know what I mean. This one was a bit of silly, enjoyable fun, and just what I needed to help me switch off mentally at the end of a long tiresome day.

SLEEPWALKERS is not in the same category as Stephen King’s really brilliant film adaptations of his books. These would obviously include THE SHINING, MISERY, DOLORES CLAIBORNE, IT, CARRIE, CUJO, MAXIMUM OVERDRIVE, SALEM’S LOT and PET SEMATARY, to name but a few. What a fantastic author to have so many great book-to-film adaptations to his name. So jealous, grumble grumble grumble…!

On the other hand, neither is it as bad a film as, say, DREAMCATCHER, which sadly was one of the worst, most distasteful movies I’d ever seen, period. SLEEPWALKERS is a bit silly and nonsensical and unbelievable with more than a few loopholes to its name but, for whatever reason, I still enjoyed it. Maybe I was just in the right frame of mind to appreciate it or something.

Anyway, let’s have a look at the plot. High school student Charles Brady and his mother Mary are the titular ‘Sleepwalkers.’ This apparently makes them ‘nomadic, shapeshifting energy vampires who feed off the life forces of young virgin females.’ Good luck with finding virgins in today’s permissive selfie-taking society, anyway…! Good job this was made in the ‘Nineties when there might at least have been a few of ’em still knocking around.

I’m not an expert on shapeshifters as it’s not really my preferred area of horror, I’ll admit to that straight off the bat. I don’t even know that much about them, to tell you the honest-to-God’s truth. They have the power to change their physical appearance, obviously, and they also seemingly have telekinetic powers and the ability to make themselves invisible or ‘dim,’ when the need arises. That could certainly be a handy power at times, like when you see a friend across the street you’d prefer to avoid. Just invisibilise yourself quickly and Bob’s your Uncle.

This mother-and-son shapeshifting combo also have full-on sex with each other as well, which is as bizarre, gross and yucky as you’d expect it to be, haha. They’ve come to this small sleepy town in Indiana after they made their last place too hot to hold ’em when they killed a young one and drained her of her life force. As they’re not traditional vampires, they don’t suck your blood, they just drain your life force out through your mouth. O-kaaaaay…!

Charles is handsome and charming and quickly gets a pretty local girl, Tanya Robertson, to fall in love with him when he surprises her at the cinema where she works. She’s attempting sexual intercourse with a carpet cleaner at the time, or such is my interpretation of the scene.

Anyway, Tanya is the perfect candidate for having her life force drained so that it can feed Charles and his starving mother, who’s obviously worked up quite an appetite from having all that illegal sex with her son. Charles arranges to take her on a date to the local cemetery to take grave rubbings. Big spender, this Charles, eh…?

The look of sheer bewilderment and horror on sappy good girl Tanya’s face when she realises that the blonde and angelic-looking Charles is not what he pretends to be is worth the price of admission alone. Let the gory fun and games commence…!

I really like Deputy Sheriff Andy Simpson, who drives his patrol car around the area with his big fat kitty-kat, Clovis, dozing in the passenger seat beside him.  Clovis is obviously the Deputy Pussy, haha.

There are about a million cats in the film, by the way, because cats are the only creatures who can, literally, ‘see through’ the shapeshifters and can do them lasting harm. The cats are all adorable and do their job really well. Better than some of the human actors…!

My friend and I nearly died laughing at the bit where Crazy Incest Mom was saying to a horrified Tanya: ‘Dance with my son, dance with him…!’ while the lad was dying and rotting in front of their eyes. Yeah, who doesn’t want to cut a rug with a walking corpse…?

Actually, my friend also made an interesting observation on the film as well. She said the film reminded her of arty vampire flick, THE HUNGER, in which the head vampire, a beautiful woman, is the last of her kind and can only generate ‘company’ for herself by turning other people into vampires too.

Charles and Mary (don’t they sound like an old Irish couple?), the Shapeshifters, don’t seem to go around turning other folks into clones of themselves but there’s certainly a strong sense that there aren’t too many of them left in the world. The Mom is hopeful of meeting others of their kind but the son is convinced that there are no more left. It sounds like a horribly lonely existence. I surely wouldn’t want it for myself.

Way to keep a low profile, Bradys, by the way! For a family that’s supposed to be keeping its collective head down, they sure do seem to be going out of their way to attract the maximum attention to themselves. Good job the neighbours all seem to be hard of hearing and don’t notice Mom single-handedly wrecking their town…

Stephen King, the man himself, has a wonderfully funny cameo in the film as the fella whose job it is to keep the cemetery, ‘HOMELAND,’ all safely locked up and everything. It sure as heck isn’t his fault if dirty horny pervert teens sneak in and start using the place for their sinful dirty purposes, dagnammit…!

And, believe it or not, horror legends Clive Barker and Tobe Hooper have tiny cameos too so those are well worth looking out for, especially if you’re a fan of these guys.

Enjoy the film anyway. It’s definitely worth at least one watch. Someone send the strict Sheriff with a hankering for spankering young women round to my house immediately, by the way. His services are urgently required here! And if you get scared during the movie, make sure you keep your pussy (sorry, I couldn’t resist it!) handy for stroking. That’ll keep those pesky boogeymen and boogeywomen away for sure…

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger 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

DRAINIAC. (2000) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

drainiac1DRAINIAC. (2000) WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY BRETT PIPER. STARRING GEORGIA HATZIS, ALEXANDRA BOYLAN, SAMARA DOUCETTE, ETHAN KRASNOO, ROB GORDEN, STEPHEN BORNSTEIN, PHILIP BARBOUR AND LESLIE CULTON.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

I quite liked this low-budget horror movie, although it must be said that it’s not exactly THE EXORCIST in terms of well-made scariness. It’s the story of a pretty brunette high-school student called Julie, whose home life is not exactly a bed of roses.

Her Mom committed suicide a year ago and her Dad is such a prize a**hole to her that at first I thought he must be, like, a wicked Step-Dad or something but no, he’s her real Dad and he really seems to hate his daughter. She’s actually a lovely decent girl, so God knows what his problem is.

Anyway, Julie’s Dad is in the habit of buying houses that are real fixer-uppers and selling them on for a few quid. The bad news for Julie is that she seems to be the one who gets landed with the job of cleaning these dumps while Dad buggers off down the pub for a few beers and a moan to his mates about how tough it is to be the parent of an ungrateful offspring…

The house Julie has to clean this time round is a real doozy. It’s big and old, surrounded by trees, and it hasn’t felt the flick of a duster since Jesus was a lad. Her friends, a typically whiny teenage trio called Lisa, Tanya and Jake, drive round to the house to visit her and she ropes them into helping her to clean up.

Naturally, they’re not impressed at having to spend their precious Saturday playing at being Mrs. Mopp. No doubt they’d rather be drinking milkshakes at the mall or texting on their cellphones, or whatever it is that American teens like to do in their free time.

It’s hard to describe where the horror comes in exactly. The house, which we the viewers know has already killed a homeless man when he touched some unidentified slime down in the basement, is not haunted by a ghost in the traditional sense but there’s something evil in the water-slash-plumbing, something that seems to want to kill selected people with whom it comes in contact but not, apparently, others. It’s a discerning evil, see?

The scariest scene is probably when Wade, a local bully who’s followed the teens to the house, jumps out at Julie in the bedroom wearing a genuinely freaky monster mask that looks like the undead villain in THE HOUSE BY THE CEMETERY.

That picture of Wayne on the back of the DVD box made me think that this was a good old-fashioned mutant/monster film, so yes, I was disappointed when I found out that all we were dealing with was a few gallons of possessed water. To quote the teens of today, I was all like, so what, you know, whatever…!

Julie has various nightmares that are spooky enough and there’s a totally gratuitous nude bathing scene involving the leading lady that should keep any male viewers interested. There’s also some tickling and some very mild spanking in the film and a near-rape scenario when Wade the Bully Boy makes a play for Tanya, Julie’s whingy blonde friend.

Tanya, by the way, with her curly blonde hair and permanently pouty, sulky expression, is a dead ringer for Nellie Oleson from sappy (but brilliant!) drama serial LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE. I often used to wonder what it would be like to get a spanking from Pa Ingalls, who was always firm but fair…!

I digress, haha. The exorcism scene at the end of DRAINIAC is pretty cool, with all the weird little creatures and everything, and shows a love of horror on the director’s part that goes a long way towards redeeming the film. Don’t you just love it, incidentally, when a fully-equipped exorcist turns up at your house just when you’ve decided that the place is probably haunted…? Wouldn’t you say that that was just marvellous timing…? Yes, haha, I’m being sarcastic.

I loved the nudie dancing scene that accompanied the end credits. I always watch end credits for that exact reason, to see if the director’s put in any little surprises or extras or whatever. I’ve been last out of the cinema on many occasions, braving the wrath of the popcorn-picker-uppers just to see if there’s ‘a funny bit at the end,’ as we call it in my house.

I’m off now to refresh myself with a nice cool glass of water. Oh wait, on second thoughts, maybe I’d better just have a Coke…

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger 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