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

death-ship

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

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

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

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

You can contact Sandra at:

sandrasandraharris@gmail.com

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

https://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com

http://sexysandieblog.wordpress.com

http://serenaharker.wordpress.com

https://twitter.com/SandraAuthor

DAUGHTER OF DARKNESS. (1990) A HORROR FILM REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

daughter trio

DAUGHTER OF DARKNESS. (1990) DIRECTED BY STUART GORDON. STARRING ANTHONY PERKINS, MIA SARA, ROBERT REYNOLDS AND JACK COLEMAN.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

‘They don’t have fangs; they have a thing with their tongue…!’

This is definitely a made-for-television movie because you can see where the breaks slot in, lol. It’s a strange little film but it had its attractions for me, in the form of Anthony Perkins from PSYCHO (1960) and a Romanian backdrop, which will always draw me in. (That whole little-known Transylvania-Dracula connection, don’t you know?)

Mia Sara plays the lead role of Catherine here. She looks very similar to the actress Alyssa Milano (WHO’S THE BOSS?, CASUALTIES OF LOVE: THE ‘LONG ISLAND LOLITA’ STORY), and for much of the movie I forgot that she wasn’t, if you get me. Catherine is an American teacher who comes to Romania in search of the father she never knew, a chap called Paul Alexandre.

She feels able to do it now because her mother has just died, and she’s been having strange- and strangely gothic- dreams about her father and what she thinks might have happened to him. All her dreams seem to be urging her to go to Romania and find out the truth about him.

Paul impregnated Catherine’s mother twenty or so years ago, then disappeared without a trace. I see nothing unusual about this behaviour. Irish guys do this literally all the time, which is why Ireland has such a high percentage of single-parent families on their books. Yes, I know. Miaow…! Catherine, however, clearly has a higher opinion of human nature than I do and she thinks it means that her Pops became a victim of foul play in a police state, God bless her innocence.

So she comes to Nikolae Ceausescu’s Romania, a dictatorship where the Secret Police run the show and everyone who comes into the country can be suspected of spying. Catherine is looking for a man who disappeared without a trace donkeys’ years ago, and all she has to assist her in her search are an old faded photograph of him and a fancy pendant of a gold dragon set in a cross, which her father gave to her mother. So the sperm wasn’t his only legacy then, lol.

Catherine is a friendly, personable and beautiful young woman, so it’s not long before she has enlisted some human resources as well, in the form of madcap Romanian taxi driver Max and an attractive young diplomat from the American Embassy called Jack Devlin who, despite his single-minded devotion to career advancement, just can’t resist the pretty face of this particular damsel in distress.

Devlin is played by Jack Coleman and, if you think you know him from somewhere, you do. He played Steven Carrington on soap opera DYNASTY from 1982-1988, his character being one of the earliest gay characters in mainstream American television. DYNASTY, THE COLBYS, DALLAS and FALCON CREST were HUMONGOUS here in Ireland in the ’80s. They brought us the glamour, the back-stabbing and the bed-hopping our own shows were sadly lacking at this time, lol.

It’s a good thing that Catherine is amassing a little team of supporters around her. She’ll need it when she unwittingly comes in contact with the handsome Romanian man Grigore and his little team of vampires (yes, this is a vampire film!), who are currently waging a war against their leader because he won’t do things the way they want him to. Have you guessed who the lead vampire could possibly be yet…? Heh-heh-heh.

Grigore’s sexy ’80s vampires, with their fabulous big dyed blonde ’80s hair and ’80s leather and denim-style outfits- and that’s just the blokes!- all live underground in an abandoned church-type structure, with a nightclub at street level as their cover. Their cult is dying out because the men who hunt them down can pick them off easily while they are sleeping during the day, which of course, as vampires, they are obliged to do. To their enemies, therefore, they are no more than sitting ducks.

If only the vampires didn’t have to fear daylight and could strut coolly about in it like the Bee Gees in that great video for ‘Staying Alive,’ they could overcome their attackers and rule the world. Grigore thinks that if he could only mate with Catherine and have a child with her, that half-human, half-vampire offspring could save the endangered race of vampires known as the Cyprians.

One man is determined to save Catherine from this awful fate, or two men, if you count the diplomat, Jack Devlin. Now, I’d happily have vampire sex with Grigore myself, as he’s bleedin’ gorgeous, but Catherine is pure and innocent and goody-goody and anyway, she’s repulsed by the idea and begs Grigore repeatedly not to rape her.

Can the one person who’s supposed to protect and help Catherine in her hour of need come through for her, even if he has to be roasted half to death while still alive first? Or will the handsome ’80s rock star lookalike Grigore get to her first and fertilise her eggs with his little toy soldiers…? I’d take either option myself, as I’ve already mentioned, but I think Catherine might be saving her eggs for someone special, so I guess we’d better hope that they- the eggs!- make it out of Romania unfertilised, lol.

Anthony A boy’s best friend is his mother Perkins is marvellously tragic and sinister here at the same time. He still looks so good, nearly thirty years after he played Norman Bates in Alfred Hitchcock’s game-changing horror movie PSYCHO. He hasn’t put on any weight or lost his hair and he still looks handsome.

I’ve always quite fancied him, but I could never have married him or slept with him or anything like that. You know that old Rita Hayworth quote about the men she met going to bed with Gilda, her famous screen character, and waking up with her, Rita, and being disappointed about it, the ingrates?

Well, I still think that that’s a pretty good deal, but, applying the quote to Anthony Perkins, I’d be much too scared of going to bed with Norman and waking up with Mother. That film scared the Christ outta me when I was a young ‘un and it’s never lost its power to scare me. Donkeys’ years later, Anthony Perkins’s performance as both characters is as effective as it ever was. Given a choice, I’d take my chances with the vampires, ta…!

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

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

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

You can contact Sandra at:

sandrasandraharris@gmail.com

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

https://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com

http://sexysandieblog.wordpress.com

http://serenaharker.wordpress.com

https://twitter.com/SandraAuthor

AND SOON THE DARKNESS. (1970) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

and soon the darkness

AND SOON THE DARKNESS. (1970) SCREENPLAY BY BRIAN CLEMENS. DIRECTED BY ROBERT FUEST. STARRING PAMELA FRANKLIN, MICHELE DOTRICE, JOHN NETTLETON AND SANDOR ELES.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

This is exactly the kind of super-atmospheric 1970s British chiller I adore. It reminds me very much of ASSAULT (1971), aka IN THE DEVIL’S GARDEN, starring James Laurenson and featuring Lesley-Anne Down in her debut role. In it, a serial killer-slash-rapist terrorises the students of a girls’ college situated near a creepy forest.

In AND SOON THE DARKNESS, two pretty little English nurses from Nottingham taking a cycling holiday in northern France are terrorised in a similar fashion by an unknown assailant, and the film becomes a bit of a who-dunnit in that we have at least four plump, juicy, positively succulent suspects to choose from.

The two girls are Jane, played by Pamela Franklin (from THE INNOCENTS (1961) with Deborah Kerr), who actually looks as French as French can be with her chic bobbed brown hair and the little blue scarf knotted jauntily about her neck, and Cathy Mercer.

Cathy, a luscious blonde with long hair and a delectable figure, is portrayed superbly by none other than Michele Dotrice. Michele went on to experience television immortality for playing Betty Spencer, the long-suffering wife of the accident-prone Frank Spencer (Michael Crawford) in the hugely successful sitcom, SOME MOTHERS DO ‘AVE ‘EM.

Jane and Cathy are, as I said, cycling through northern France on their holidays. Jane seems to be enjoying the fresh air and the scenery, but Cathy is bored to death with the empty roads, the wide-open spaces and the lack of hot night-spots. Or night hot-spots, if you prefer.

They are being followed at a distance by a strikingly attractive dark-haired French male on a moped, and having a good time with this stranger, to whom she’s never addressed so much as a word, would be much more the flirtatious Cathy’s idea of fun than endlessly cycling along these deserted French roads till her butt grows numb.

The two girls argue about this very subject. Cathy decides to mutiny and she downs tools- ie, her bicycle- and proceeds to lie down to sunbathe in a little clearing by some woods at the side of the road. You might as well bugger off, she tells Jane, if you’re so eager to keep cycling all bloody day. Me, I’m stoppin’ ‘ere! Ooooooh Betty…! You never made a worse decision.

Jane gets the hump and cycles off, stopping for a drink outside a really crappy café down the road a bit. After a while, she grows uneasy and decides to go back for her friend. But Cathy is gone. So is her bicycle, her backpack and the knickers she draped over the bushes so that they could dry in the sunlight. Jane doesn’t know what to think.

Thanks to a British woman who lives in the area and works as a teacher, she knows that a young tourist girl was murdered hereabouts only two or three years ago. More than just murdered, the British woman tells her with a snooty, disapproving face that can only mean that the girl was raped as well. It was a sex murder. But it was the girl’s own fault, of course, the woman is quick to point out, for being ‘alone on the road…’ Well, Jane is ‘alone on the road’ now. And so was her missing friend, Cathy…

Jane is starting to dread that something awful, something unthinkable, has happened to Cathy. The feeling of dread, for me, begins building up in this film right from the start, when you first see the two girls, cycling two abreast (cycling to a breast, tee-hee-hee) on a foreign country road.

Nothing but miles of open road and open sky. There is as much capacity for horror in wide-open spaces as there is in cramped basements and dusty attics, and this film portrays that really, really well. I mean, when there’s nobody around for miles and miles it can be nice and peaceful, sure, but it also means that there’s no-one around to come to your assistance if you get into trouble. The suspense and tension here just keep on being ratcheted up, until our jangling nerves are in shreds and we want to screech, tell us who it is already!

It’s one of those films that portrays not only sexy, half-dressed young women (come on, just LOOK at those short shorts!) in peril but also the holiday-maker in distress. Jane is careering around madly, looking for someone to help her find her friend, and she keeps coming up against both the language barrier (her French is barely functional) and also the difficulties inherent in trying to impress upon bored policemen who don’t speak your language that there really is a missing girl. Pamela Franklin’s face, like that of Michele Dotrice, is just so incredibly expressive. I’d give ’em both Oscars just for their brilliant facial expressions alone.

Hungarian actor Sandor Eles as the smoulderingly sexy Paul Salmont is just fantastic. Is he evil or does he really just want to help out Jane, a damsel in some very obvious distress? Frankly, I wouldn’t care how evil he was, he’s so devastatingly good-looking, and so super-cool too in his sunglasses and with his little moped tightly clamped between his brown-trousered thighs, lol. Hold me, he commands Jane. Phwoar! He wouldn’t have to ask me twice.

Locations of note? The little clearing by the woods at the side of the road where Cathy decides to have her nice lie-down, and the derelict caravan park. It’s not exactly Tom and Pippa’s homely, wholesome family-run caravan park from Antipodean soap opera HOME AND AWAY, is it? What horrors will we find there? God alone knows.

The scene at the edge of the woods reminds me of the five minutes at the beginning of another superb old British horror film called THE APPOINTMENT (1981). A schoolgirl called Sandie is making her way home from school by way of… you guessed it… a short-cut through the woods. It’s the last thing she ever does. It’s terrifically spooky.

Woods can be perilous, as well we know. As can going abroad on holiday to a place where you don’t speak the language, and the three inhabitants of the one village you pass all seem so inbred as to make the guys in that fine example of French extremity cinema, THE ORDEAL, look like models of deportment and sanity. The moral of the story? Forget your foreign holidays and bloody well stop at home. End of.

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

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

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

You can contact Sandra at:

sandrasandraharris@gmail.com

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

https://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com

http://sexysandieblog.wordpress.com

http://serenaharker.wordpress.com

https://twitter.com/SandraAuthor

 

DRACULA REBORN. (2015) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

dracula reborn 2015

DRACULA REBORN. (2015) PREVIOUSLY KNOWN AS ‘DRAKULA XO.’ DIRECTED BY ATTILA LUCA. STARRING TINA BALTHAZAR.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

Wow. Except for a couple of highlights, this movie really sucks. I mean, there are some Dracula films with which Bram Stoker himself would be proud to be associated, namely: Murnau’s 1922 NOSFERATU; Bela Lugosi in the 1931 DRACULA; Werner Herzog’s NOSFERATU THE VAMPYRE; and any of the Hammer Dracula films starring horror heart-throb Christopher Lee. And then there are other examples where you’d wonder how the film-makers can justify stealing the name of Dracula and slapping it on their finished oeuvres, lol.

Let’s rush through the ‘plot.’ What do you mean, I’m bitchy today? I thought I was bitchy every day, haha. A blonde journalist called Hanna from Vancouver, who has definitely had some work done on her face, I’m just saying, travels to Paris and Transylvania in order to pick up information about a deadly cult of modern day Draculas.

They’ve already abducted and murdered some people, all nosey journalists, I think, and Hanna and her little crew of phone-and-computer-obsessed newshounds have stumbled across some rather gruesome Internet footage.

It’s footage of a young woman bleeding to death while being bitten all over and savaged by a bald-headed, elderly gent with a cloak and some brutal-looking gnashers. He’s much more Max Schreck than Christopher Lee, unfortunately for me. I’m a big fan of Mr. Lee’s.

Anyway, Hanna and her gang are, of course, putting themselves in great danger by persisting in their investigation of the vampire cult. One by one, they are bumped off by a cloaked male figure- not our friend Baldy- who charges at them out of nowhere and starts viciously chomping on their necks and wrists, anywhere there’s a nice juicy vein he can tap into. It’s not clear whether Baldy is Dracula or Cloakey is. It’s just one of the many mystifying things about this film.

It’s so funny that, when Hanna is pretty much the last of the intrepid little crew of journalists left alive, her stupid phone gives her away to the vampires. She’s stuck alone in the wilds of Transylvania in the middle of the night, watching through a window as the cult prepare to tuck into some fresh meat and then suddenly… diddle-oo-do, diddle-oo-do, diddle-oo-do-do…!

That’s meant to be the Nokia ringtone, by the way folks, lol. Note to stupid person in film: when you’re just about to catch the cult you’ve pursued across continents in a breath-taking act of murder and bloodthirsty cannibalism, put your bleedin’ phone on silent, will you? I can just imagine Dracula going berserk about the intrusiveness of the ever-present phone. Dracula hate mobile phones, kill everyone on social media…!

I love the scenes shot in Transylvania, especially the night-time snowscapes. These were very atmospheric. However, the best scene in the whole film doesn’t even have anything to do with the main plot. You could lift it right out and it would make no difference to the plot, but the film would be a little poorer for it, in my humble opinion.

I think it’s in Paris where this happens. We’re on a darkened, deserted street late at night. A very good-looking guy, tall, dark and handsome, is taking a woman home to his flat for sex. She’s an attractive brunette who might or might not be a prostitute. Although the film is in English, there were no subtitles and the film could really have used them, as the actors mumbled their way through their lines and the sound was terrible.

Anyway, we cut to the guy’s flat, where the very good-looking guy is now blissfully shirtless and wearing only low-slung jeans. His flat is discreetly lit, he’s put on some make-out music, he’s got a cigarette and a drink in his hand and he’s seated on the couch, one bare foot casually crossed over the other denim-clad leg while he watches the woman stripping.

He’s got a kind of cat-who’s-got-the-cream grin on his handsome face, the grin of a guy who knows he’s going to be having sex in a very few minutes, but for now he’s happy to be enjoying a nice bit of sexy foreplay.

The woman strips off her tight black outfit to reveal that she’s wearing red underwear. A red bra, red thong panties and, best of all, high-heeled red shoes. She strips in time to the sultry music, shaking her long dark hair out, wiggling her hips and butt and showing her soon-to-be lover (nearly) everything she’s got to offer.

Meanwhile, the handsome guy on the couch is ogling this striptease with the biggest grin on his face when… bam! It happens. What happens? Oh, I can’t tell you that, dear reader. That would be a spoiler, lol. You’ll just have to watch DRACULA REBORE- did I type REBORE, I swear to God I thought I was writing REBORN!- for yourselves and find out. Worth watching for this scene alone.

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

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

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

You can contact Sandra at:

sandrasandraharris@gmail.com

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

https://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com

http://sexysandieblog.wordpress.com

http://serenaharker.wordpress.com

https://twitter.com/SandraAuthor

DARIO ARGENTO’S DRACULA. (2012) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

tania argento

DARIO ARGENTO’S DRACULA… THE LEGEND RISES. BASED ON THE BOOK BY BRAM STOKER. DIRECTED BY DARIO ARGENTO.

STARRING THOMAS KRETSCHMANN, MARTA GASTINI, ASIA ARGENTO, UNAX UGALDE, MIRIAM GIOVANELLI AND RUTGER HAUER.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

I loved this beautifully lavish re-telling of the Dracula story. Okay, so some of the effects may have been a little cheesy, and nowhere have I ever read that Dracula has the power to transform himself into Grasshopperus, but I still loved every minute of it, especially the first eight minutes.

We’re in a small Transylvanian village. A busty young red-haired lass called Tania is urged by her nervous mother Jarmilla to be sure and put up the shutters as it’s… Yeah, yeah, sure, it’s Walpurgis Night, replies the daughter with the distinct air of someone who thinks that her ma is an old fusspot who flaps about too much.

Tania feels differently later that night, as she makes her way alone, after dark, through the decidedly scary woods to a rendezvous with her married lover on the other side of the village. They make love (in the nip!) in an old barn, and afterwards Tania gets an attack of the heebie-jeebies and begs her lover Milos to walk her home back through the creepy woods.

You came here alone, he counters, so why can’t you go back alone? Ah sure, you’ll be grand, you’ve got the cross I gave you, haven’t you? So Tania gets angry and comes back with: Take your mouldy cross back, you lazy bastard! You’re never getting the ride off me again, so how’d you like them apples? Or words to that effect…

Tania therefore walks home alone through the haunted woods, where she is attacked by Dracula in the form of an owl. She screams and screeches with fear initially, then an expression of the most sublime sexual bliss spreads across her face as Dracula vampirises her. He brings her back to his castle to live with him then as his concubine. Lucky Tania…

The story proper starts then. Jonathan Harker is a dark-haired fop who comes to the village seeking Count Dracula, the village’s patron and richest, most important resident. Jonathan’s wife Mina’s friend Lucy has managed to wangle a job for him as the Count’s librarian. The library is a magnificent room in the castle filled with lovely old books, enough for a lifetime, and the Count himself seems like a charming host.

Jonathan is even more taken by Titty Tania, the busty young one who lives at the castle now. When she tries to bite him, she is savagely thrown aside by Dracula, who fiercely exclaims as he grabs Jonathan and chomps down on his neck: ‘He’s MINE…!’ It’s a great atmospheric scene reminiscent of Valerie Gaunt, John Van Eyssen (who also plays a librarian) and Christopher Lee doing the same scene in the first ever Hammer Dracula film back in 1958.

Jonathan’s wife Mina arrives in the village then. She stays with her cousin Lucy, played by Asia Argenta, the movie director’s daughter. Lucy’s not in the best of health though, as, unbeknownst to Mina, she’s been receiving nocturnal visits from none other than the Prince of Darkness himself.

He’s been depleting her of her lovely blood and drawing it out from a place where it won’t be noticed, ie, the back of her left leg. What are those strange marks? Mina wants to know when she’s giving Lucy a nudie bath. Ah, sure, they’re only insect bites, replies Lucy flippantly. They’re nothing at all.

It’s only when Lucy dies that Mina realises there’s something dreadfully wrong in the little village. Luckily by then, cool guy Rutger Hauer has turned up in the village as Abraham Van Helsing, the vampire hunter, just in time to put the screws on the by then Undead Lucy. Van Helsing is looking to stamp out the reign of terror of the Fanged One.

When Lucy goes to the castle, only to find that Dracula is a handsome, charming and cultivated man (quietly spoken; a bit lacklustre for me personally) who actually thinks that she is the reincarnation of his dead wife, Lucy doesn’t need Van Helsing to tell her that she’s in a whole heap of trouble. The scene in the forest around the dead wife’s crypt is beautiful to look at, as is nearly everything in the film. It certainly all looks Transylvanian, anyway!

I loved the scene where the villagers, ie, the innkeeper, the local sergeant, the local drinkers, etc., all conspire around the table in the inn to wipe out Dracula, even though he’s built them their school and other amenities and he’s pretty much their bread and butter, so to speak. Don’t bite the hand that feeds you, you ingrates, lol.

They have a symbiotic sort of relationship with each other. The Count is generous with his wealth, in return for the townspeople turning a blind eye to the occasional busty village maid going missing while making her way through the forest. Just like Titty Tania, yes!

I loved the way that Dracula then turns up at the meeting out of the blue, because he knows when people are talking about him, and he says solemnly: O-ho, gentlemen, so which one-a youse is trying to break our bleedin’ pact then?

He knows full well it was all of them, with the exception of one gigantic villager, a chap called Zoran, who sometimes does the Count’s dirty work for him. The way the  Count handles those sneaky villagers is top-notch entertainment. There’s a Renfield-type character in the film too who is devoted to Tits-Out Tania, and also to the Master for freeing him from prison.

The film has everything you could desire, really, in a Dracula adaptation. Illicit sex in a barn; nice tits (Tania’s and Lucy’s, but not Mina’s, her’s a goody-two shoes! PS, how can Asia Argenta let her actual father film her in the nip…?); plenty of blood and gore and good strong violence, a Dracula pining over his wife who’s been dead for over four hundred years; loads of howling wolves (‘The children of the night; what music they make!’); a swarm of flies; and Mina giving a starkers Asia Argento a bath, in a scene reminiscent of one in Hammer’s THE VAMPIRE LOVERS (1970), in which a nudie Ingrid Pitt cavorts merrily with a half-nudie Madeline Smith after she leisurely uncurls herself from her hip bath. Seriously? Come on, guys. Never mind the critics. This is the stuff. I rest my case.

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

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

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

You can contact Sandra at:

sandrasandraharris@gmail.com

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

https://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com

http://sexysandieblog.wordpress.com

http://serenaharker.wordpress.com

https://twitter.com/SandraAuthor

INSIDE. (2007) A GORY FRENCH EXTREMITY HORROR FILM REVIEWED BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

inside bathroom

INSIDE. (2007) A FILM BY JULIEN MAURY AND ALEXANDRE BUSTILLO. STARRING BEATRICE DALLE AND ALYSSON PARADIS.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

Ralph: Do you like French cinema at all, Ted?

Ted: I wouldn’t know about that now, surr.

Ted and Ralph, The Fast Show.

This is a very pointy, stabby film in the genre known as ‘French extremity.’ Well, it’s both these things all right, French and extreme, and I don’t mind telling you right away that it’s much too extreme for me. It’s nothing but stabbing and blood, blood, blood. I don’t mind a bit of blood but this film is all blood. And stabbing. With big sharp scissors mostly, but also with anything that you can make a pointy shiv out of and stab with.

‘Extreme’ in this case just seems to mean lashings, and I do mean lashings, of body horror, gore, blood and, occasionally, guts. It’s the most blood-soaked film I think I’ve ever watched, and I once watched a film on giving birth in my pre-natal classes. Put me right off giving birth, it did, but by that stage it was too late to reverse the process that was already well under way in my uterus.

I like a nice psychological or supernatural horror, for example, where a family moves into a lovely new house and then they find out they’re sharing it with the Amityville Horror. Stuff like that, or where a woman is pregnant but then she discovers that she was unknowingly raped by Satan on a night out where she can’t remember a smidgeon of what happened, and the baby she’s carrying is actually slated to be the next Anti-Christ, stuff like that. That’s what I like.

Some of my favourite horror films, like BURNT OFFERINGS or THE CHANGELING, both about haunted houses, don’t have any blood in them at all and no-one gets stabbed. That’s what I prefer. I think what happened with INSIDE is that the film-makers decided that they were going to make the film as ‘extreme’ as they could to garner good reviews and plenty of attention, but the only way they could think to do that was to put a ton of blood and gore in it. Gore to me equals bore.

This home invasion film actually did get a load of positive reviews, probably from people who thought, oh wow, there’s so much blood and stabbing in this film that it must be great! Hmmm. I’m not saying the film isn’t well-written and executed (no pun intended), in fact it’s extremely well-scripted and acted, but I still didn’t like it because of all the gratuitous stabby, shooty killings.

Here’s the plot, anyway. A sulky, mopey French photographer woman called Sarah is due to give birth and, on Christmas Eve of all nights, her home is invaded by a mysterious madwoman about whom we know nothing, except that she’s beautiful in an odd, off-kilter way, she’s come impractically dressed for stabbing in an over-long black, trippy-uppy dress and her weapon of choice is a big scary pair of scissors.

She’s come, not so much for Sarah, but for the package Sarah is due to deliver any time now… the baby. The home becomes a place of terror (and the film’s title takes on a sinister double meaning) as this un-named madwoman rampages through the house trying to catch a petrified Sarah who, mopey or not, is not about to give up her bambino without one hell of a fight. That’s the maternal instinct right there, fighting for survival.

The cops come (all big, burly and extremely attractive), and a random criminal called Abdul, who all have to be dealt with by the mysterious crazy lady. The bodies pile up and the blood flows freely as Sarah’s baby, of whom we’re given distressing little 3-D snapshots from time to time, comes ever closer to being born.

Sarah, incidentally, if you like a little bit of showbiz gossip, is played by the younger sister of Vanessa Paradis, the French actress and one-time child pop star (Remember Joe Le Taxi?) who has two children by her ex-partner Johnny Depp. These are all very, very good-looking people we’re talking about here. Showbiz good-looking, I mean, not just regular good-looking. We peasants are not fit to grace their radars, even as temporary blips. Remember that, peasants. Lol. 

It’s a really good plot, the plot of INSIDE, well acted and everything, but the amount of gore in the film means that it’s just not for me, not my cup of tea. Each to their own, though. Someone else might love it, depending on their tolerance for blood and stabbings. Check it out, anyway, see what you think. Me, personally, I won’t be going anywhere near this one again. Did I mention it has way too much blood…?

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

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

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

You can contact Sandra at:

sandrasandraharris@gmail.com

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

https://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com

http://sexysandieblog.wordpress.com

http://serenaharker.wordpress.com

https://twitter.com/SandraAuthor

 

DIARY OF A MADMAN. (1963) A VINCENT PRICE HORROR FILM REVIEWED BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

vincent diary odette

DIARY OF A MADMAN. (1963) DIRECTED BY REGINALD LE BORG. BASED ON STORIES BY GUY DE MAUPASSANT. STARRING VINCENT PRICE, NANCY KOVACK AND IAN WOLFE.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

This isn’t one of the Roger Corman-Edgar Allan Poe adaptations that horror legend Vincent Price made for American International Pictures, but it’s every bit as mysterious, atmospheric and luxurious as those gorgeous films, even if it doesn’t have a crumbling old mist-wreathed castle by the sea for a setting.

Vincent Price stars as Simon Cordier, a rich, well-respected French magistrate living in Paris. He has all the trappings of wealth, but the pain of the death twelve years ago of his wife and baby is his constant bedfellow. Which just goes to show us that money can’t always bring you happiness, even if it can bring you all the snazzy new material stuff you could ever wish for. (Which, of course, is nice…!)

Simon visits a condemned prisoner called Louis Girot in prison on the eve of his execution. Girot, who has requested the meeting, has apparently murdered several people without motive, for which he’s going to get an all-expenses paid trip to Madame La Guillotine. He’s hoping to convince the magistrate of his innocence, by explaining how he wasn’t at all in his right mind when he carried out the killings. He wasn’t really even himself, if you get me.

He tells a sceptical Simon that he was possessed by an evil spirit when he did the murders, a spirit that can order him to kill at any time. When Simon leaves the man’s cell, this murderous curse no longer inhabits Girot’s doomed carcass, but Simon’s vibrant living one…

To soothe his troubled mind, which by the way has started imagining things and hearing voices, Simon takes up sculpting, a subject in which he has always had an interest. He meets a stunning young(ish) artist’s model called Odette Mallotte who, unknown to Simon, is married to a struggling artist called Paul Duclasse and is desperate to claw her way out of the poverty trap in which she is currently enmeshed.

The unscrupulous, materialistic Odette sees Simon as her meal ticket out of the slums. While he is sculpting her perfect head and shoulders, he falls in love with her sunny demeanour and her ability to laugh at life and all its follies. Which was precisely what she was hoping would happen and what she was trying to manipulate into happening…

To Odette’s delight, Simon, who is blissfully unaware of her marital status, proposes marriage. She’s not going to let a little thing like her living husband, Paul Duclasse, stand in the way of her advancement. Surely he can be easily brushed aside?

In the meantime, poor Simon is convinced that he is possessed by the evil spirit that transferred itself to him from the convicted prisoner Louis Girot. The spirit is an invisible entity called the Horla, who speaks to Simon when he is alone.

It has telekinetic powers and can move furniture about and throw things and smash things just like a poltergeist can. Poor Simon can’t decide whether he’s going mad or whether there really is a race of evil spirits known as the Horla, who can inhabit the bodies of men while manipulating their minds into committing the most heinous murders. When the Horla orders him to carry out a killing so dreadful it makes his blood run cold to think of it, he finds out first-hand what’s real and what’s not…

The titular diary is the journal kept by Simon Cordier from the moment he suspects he is going insane. He leaves it ‘to be opened in the event of my death’ and, in it, he hopes to convince the reader- and, by extension, the world- of the existence of the heretofore unknown Horla, and of the very real menace they represent to mankind.

You’ll know if you’ve been possessed by the Horla because a greenish glowing rectangle will appear across both your eyes and you’ll get a sudden uncontrollable urge to go all Norman Bates on someone with a fair-sized carving knife. There’s a definite PSYCHO moment in DIARY OF A MADMAN, complete with metaphorical shower curtains breaking free of their loopy things one by one as a desperate victim clutches at them for support. Very enjoyable stuff, lol.

Ian Wolfe you might recognise. Here, he plays Pierre, Simon Cordier’s devoted old retainer. He’s appeared in a few of the Basil Rathbone/Nigel Bruce Sherlock Holmes movies of the ‘Forties, in at least one case playing- you guessed it!- a faithful old retainer, this time to the cold fish of a toff whose wife was found in the deserted church ringing feebly on the bell to attract attention. To the fact that she’d had her throat torn out by the same fiend who’d torn out the throats of various poor sheep in the area… Anyway, it’s lovely to see Ian Wolfe here in this gorgeous, sumptuously-coloured gothic horror movie. Any friend of Holmes’s is a friend of ours, right?

DIARY OF A MADMAN is as good a horror film as any of Vincent Price’s other works. Nancy Kovack is deliciously seductive as she takes the pins out of her hat and settles herself down on the model’s stool to loosen her long dark hair and pull down the front of her dress to bare her shoulders for Simon’s sculpting chisel to get to work on.

Remember her as Medea, the sexy, dark-haired priestess of the temple at Colchis whom Jason fishes out of the sea in JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS? Covered in gold paint and nearly nude, the foxy wench does her frenzied dance with pure abandon in the temple, much to the delight of the watching males. She’s a real hottie, but dames like that ain’t nuthin’ but trouble. Just ask Simon Cordier…

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

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

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

You can contact Sandra at:

sandrasandraharris@gmail.com

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

https://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com

http://sexysandieblog.wordpress.com

http://serenaharker.wordpress.com

https://twitter.com/SandraAuthor