HALLOWEEN: RESURRECTION. (2002) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

HALLOWEEN: RESURRECTION. (2002) BASED ON CHARACTERS CREATED BY JOHN CARPENTER AND DEBRA HILL. DIRECTED BY RICK ROSENTHAL. STARRING JAMIE LEE CURTIS, BRAD LOREE, BUSTA RHYMES AND TYRA BANKS.
REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

This film is great craic, as we say here in Ireland. (That means fun, by the way, not hard drugs…!) It’s the eighth instalment in the superb series of HALLOWEEN horror films, and this one was directed by the chap who directed HALLOWEEN 2 back in 1981, which I think is kind of cool. And I know cool when I see it, haha. Ask anyone who knows me…

It’s got a very ‘Nineties feel to it, and it’s kind of like two films in one, really. The first segment of the film sees Jamie Lee Curtis, once more playing Laurie Strode, facing off against her deranged brother Michael Myers again.

This time around, the setting is the psychiatric hospital in which Laurie has been incarcerated since she decapitated a paramedic three years ago, mistakenly believing him to be her brother. It’s an easy mistake to make. Shure, I remember one time when I… On the other hand, no-one really needs to hear that story now. On with the review…

Does pure evil prevail when the siblings come face-to-mask once more? I can’t tell you, even if you try to tickle it out of me, because that would be a pretty big spoiler, and I don’t roll that way. I can, however, tell you that this bit is excellent, even though the overall film itself got poor reviews, and is easily as good, as tense and as dramatic as any of the other Laurie-Michael bits throughout the rest of the franchise.

During the part of the film that follows, you’d almost be forgiven for thinking that you’d tuned into a different movie. It’s still good, though. This time around, we’re back in the old Myers house in Michael’s and Laurie’s home town of Haddonfield, Illinois.

The house is in a terrible state of disrepair by now, which makes it the perfect location for an Internet reality show in which six young people hole up inside it over Halloween and try to figure out what drove Michael Myers to kill. Well, okay, if they think that they can succeed where the police and the psychiatrists failed, who are we to argue? Let ’em knock themselves out, that’s what I say.

The students are so uniformly horrible and annoying that I doubt if any of the viewers are too upset when Michael Myers, star of the show once more, shows up and starts to murder them one by one in increasingly imaginative ways. One of these ways is so unpleasant that it gives me the willies to even think about it, so you’ll forgive me if I don’t write about it here.

Busta Rhymes is a good laugh as Freddie Harris, the mastermind behind the reality show. And the language out of him! ‘Tis shocking altogether. It’s mother-effing this and mother-effing that. You’ve never heard the like of it. He needs his mouth washed out with soap, that’s what he needs.

He’s great fun, though, and totally kick-ass when his back is to the wall. Also, Michael better beware ‘cause Freddie knows kung fu. Supermodel Tyra Banks (AMERICA’S NEXT TOP MODEL) doesn’t contribute a whole lot, unless you count getting herself killed off fairly early on as a contribution.

I love the bit in the underground part of the old Myers’ house where it transpires that Michael has been living for the last three years, since the time that Laurie thought she’d killed him but it turned out that she killed a paramedic due to Michael’s sneaky sleight-of-hand. He’s been eating rats and probably drinking the water that drips off the walls, no doubt dreaming of the day when he can go after Laurie again with his trusty old kitchen knife.

One of the three girls is a Brittany Murphy look-alike, one’s a dead ringer for actress Julianne Moore and the lead girl is actually pretty mopey, until being pursued by a murder-minded Michael Myers forces her to show a bit of spunk/chutzpah/true grit for once. The three blokes are pretty much uniformly awful. Michael’s welcome to ‘em.

An interesting twist is that the show taking place in Michael Myers’ old house is being streamed live on the Internet, and so, when the murders start happening, people in the online world think it’s all part of the act. This makes them slow to reach for the phone and call 911. Luckily, however, there’s still one little girl out there who still believes in Santa Claus. Wait, wrong movie, but right sentiment. Carry on killing, dear Michael. Carry on killing…

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

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

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

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

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

PET SEMATARY. (2019) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

PET SEMATARY. (2019) BASED ON THE 1983 BOOK BY STEPHEN KING.
DIRECTED BY KEVIN KOLSCH AND DAVID WIDMYER.
STARRING JOHN LITHGOW, JASON CLARKE AND AMY SEIMETZ.
REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

‘Sometimes, dead is better…’

I didn’t much care for this re-make of the 1989 film adaptation of Stephen King’s book of the same name. This book is probably one of the most beloved of all of the horror maestro’s weighty tomes, along with CARRIE, THE SHINING, SALEM’S LOT and MISERY. Although, in fairness, Stephen King wrote a lot of books and they all have their fans.

The ones I mentioned are some of my own favourites, lol, along with CUJO, DOLORES CLAIBORNE, CHRISTINE, THE TOMMY-KNOCKERS and a fantastic book of short stories entitled NIGHT SHIFT.

Again though, he’s penned a load of brilliant short stories and novellas as well as full-length books, and so many of them have already been made into films. He’s an amazing writer, with a glittering back catalogue. So jealous…! Long live the King.

Anyway, why didn’t I like this particular adaptation of the famous book? Well, I love the book and the 1989 film, both of which had heart, soul and good, authentic scares. Also, the 1989 film had the adorable Fred Gwynne, aka Herman Munster, as a staunchly believable Jud Crandall. In the re-make, though respected actor John Lithgow undoubtedly does his very best, it’s just not the same.

They’ve tweaked the plot a bit too, which I wasn’t happy about as I loved the book and the original film so much. We still have the Creeds, though, a doctor’s family, moving from Boston to a town in Maine and discovering that they have, of all things, a burial ground for pets somewhere towards the back of their property. They don’t seem to have researched their own property too much this time around!

Dad of the family, Louis Creed, gets to explore a bit of the Pet Sematary by night courtesy of the spirit of Victor Pascow, a student at the university hospital where Louis works. Victor dies horribly near the start of the film, and his spirit seems to have a message it wants to pass on to Dr. Creed. What’s that you say, Victor? The ground out by the Pet Sematary is sour? No shit, Sherlock, lol. I wouldn’t bury any moggy of mine there, I’ll tell you that for nothing…

Anyway, when little Ellie Creed’s beloved pet cat Churchill gets run over on the dangerous road beside their house and dies, kindly old next-door neighbour Jud Crandall lets Louis in on a devastating secret about the Pet Sematary.

To cut a long story short, Church comes back from the dead. But he’s not himself. And that’s not all. Did you know that you can bury more than just pets in the Pet Sematary…? You shouldn’t, but you still can…

They’ve changed the Zelda scenes in this film a little bit, but I think it’s still safe to say that good old Zelda will give you nightmares once more. Rachel, the mom, is severely traumatised from her childhood experiences with her sick sister, and she’ll never be able to cope and move on unless she gets some serious therapy. That bit is really highlighted in this re-make. Mrs. Creed is super, super-screwed up, more than we even knew.

One part where they got it absolutely spot-on is the bit where Ellie ‘comes back’ but she’s ‘not quite right.’ I got genuine shivers at the scene where the dad is bathing the little girl and her hair is tangly and he sees the Frankenstein-like stitches in the back of her head that were put in by the funeral home… Then, when the child just turns plain evil and starts trashing the place, they lose me again. Ah well. It was good while it lasted…!

There was an opportunity for some good folk horror with the kids wearing the animal masks walking in a solemn procession to the Pet Sematary; maybe they could have done a bit more with that and had the whole town in on the gruesome secret of the pet graveyard or something like that, but maybe they felt they had enough on their hands with the Creed family, I don’t know.

The film also raises the issue of how to talk to children about the delicate topic of death. I don’t mean How to Break the News of a Death; the Christmas episode of FATHER TED has that covered.

Priest Number One: Your husband’s gone, and he’s not coming back, get used to it!

Priest Number Two: Remember how your husband used to love a good laugh…?

No, I mean the whole thing of where do you tell the kids their deceased loved ones or pets have gone to when they’ve died? The mum and dad in the film have differing views on the subject, so it might have been useful if they’d had a chat about the whole thing and gotten their metaphysical ducks in a row before their young ‘uns experienced the demise of a pet for the first time. It’s just a thought…!

I’d never advise a Stephen King fan not to watch a certain film or adaptation. This isn’t a bad film per se; I just didn’t dig it personally, and I found it rather lacking in good spooky atmosphere, which the original film had in spades. Maybe it looked good on the big screen and felt a bit more atmospheric then than just me watching it on Netflix did.

Make up your own minds, anyway. A Stephen King adaptation is a Stephen King adaptation, after all, and better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick any day, as we say here in Ireland. Enjoy it, and, listen, before I forget, don’t bother trying to use the dumbwaiter for the moment, will you? I think it’s broken…  

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

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

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

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

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

WHEN A STRANGER CALLS. (1979) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

WHEN A STRANGER CALLS. (1979) DIRECTED BY FRED WALTON. STARRING CHARLES DURNING, CAROL KANE, COLLEEN DEWHURST, RUTANYA ALDA, CARMEN ARGENZIANO AND TONY BECKLEY.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

‘The calls are coming from inside the house…’

The first twenty minutes or so of this film make for pure, perfect cinematic horror. Pretty American babysitter Jill Johnson has no more on her mind when she goes to babysit for a doctor and his wife than whether or not her crush, some guy named Bobby, will give her a tinkle on the old dog and bone. That’s cockney rhyming slang for phone, me old china plate. That’s slang for mate, by the way. Oh, never mind. Let’s get to the film.

Jill does get a call while she’s babysitting, as it happens. In fact, she gets several, but none of them are from Bobby. They’re from a sick and twisted psychopathic killer who phones every few minutes to ask Jill:

‘Have you checked the children…?’

Jill is such a bad babysitter, however, that not once in the whole time she’s there has she so much as peeped in on the two little cherubs. They could’ve gone off clubbing for all she knows. I wouldn’t hire her to watch my precious rugrats, that’s for sure.

Any-hoo, while Jill has been creeping nervously around the darkened house- the best darned darkened house I’ve ever seen on film, by the way- the killer has been doing away with the doctor’s two little sproglets in a particularly gruesome way which we don’t need to go into here.

Jill is saved by a cop named John Clifford and the killer, Curt Duncan, who’s a dead ringer for Hugh Cornwell from The Stranglers, is incarcerated in a mental asylum. I wonder if Hugh Cornwell has seen this film and, if so, what he thinks about being a doppelganger for a murderer in a ‘Seventies horror film…! Anyway, that’s the end of that chapter. Or is it…?

Well, no, it’s not, because we’re only twenty minutes into the film at that point. It’s these opening twenty minutes that have garnered this superb film its cult following, by the way. Also, these same twenty minutes are considered by many horror fans to contain some of the scariest, most nerve-wracking scenes ever to be committed to celluloid. I absolutely agree. There’s no ghost, but then there doesn’t need to be.

What could be more frightening than the thought that there’s someone in your house, an alien being, someone who’s not supposed to be there? Even if you’re only the babysitter and it’s not your own house, that doesn’t make the idea any less chilling. If anything, maybe it’s even more scary to have this happen to you in a strange gaff.

Some years later, the evil Duncan escapes from the mental asylum in which he’d been incarcerated after his grisly deeds. The lovely cuddly John Clifford, now retired from the police force and working as a private detective, is hired to recapture him by the doctor whose kids were killed by Duncan.

John Clifford, by the way, is played by Charles Durning who a few short years later fell heavily for Dustin Hoffman dressed as a middle-aged feminist in the comedy movie TOOTSIE. Boy, was he red-faced when he found out what that feisty little ‘popsy’ was packing in her pantyhose…!

We get to follow Duncan around for a bit then as he kips in hostels for homeless men and tries to pick up embittered, lonely, middle-aged women in bars. Well, one middle-aged woman in particular, anyway.

I love the scenes in which he’s following the afore-mentioned lonely single woman home through deserted streets and tunnels and into her crappy apartment in the dead of night. They’re just so seedy. This part of the film is really quite sleazy and even sad. There are a lot of lonely, dysfunctional people out there, and that’s one of the saddest facts of life there are.

We catch up with Jill the babysitter then who, in the seven years since the murder of the children in her care, has gotten married and acquired two sproglets of her own and also quite a decent life for herself. Nice posh house, charity work and prospects of advancement in her hubby’s job. Huh. Well, let’s just hope she takes better care of her own kids than she did of the doctor’s. Snigger.

Anyway, all-grown-up Jill and her husband Steven go out to dinner in a fancy restaurant to celebrate Steven’s getting a raise at work. I got the most terrible feeling of déja vu when they headed off in their fancy duds leaving the teenaged babysitter in charge of their napping nippers…

You guessed it. Duncan’s tracked Jill down through a newspaper cutting and so poor hysterical Jill gets a call at the posh restaurant from a male caller who says: ‘Have you checked the children…?‘ Well, as you can imagine, the s**t really hits the fan then.

I won’t tell you the ending so as not to spoil it for you, but I will say that there are plenty of shocks and tension along the way and lots of lovely shots of the interior of Jill’s darkened house.

This director does bloody brilliant shots of darkened houses at night. I honestly think that they’re among the best I’ve ever seen and I’ve seen… well, a few, anyway. However, I did keep wanting to scream at the screen: ‘Why don’t you turn on some feckin’ lights, you brainless bimbo…?’

I enjoyed every second of this horror film, especially the legendary first twenty minutes. It was a great ninety-minute romp through some of the best horror movie tropes ever. The babysitter being scared half to death by the anonymous caller. The calls are coming from inside the house.

The retired cop who could never quite get that one horrible murder- and murderer- out of his mind and who won’t retire easily until he’s settled old scores and avenged the innocent. You should watch it. Alone. In the dark. While babysitting. Oh, hang on, listen, is that the phone…? Can you get that? I’ve just done my nails…

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

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

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

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

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

#ALIVE. (2020) A NETFLIX KOREAN ZOMBIE MOVIE REVIEWED BY SANDRA HARRIS.

#ALIVE. (2020) BASED ON ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY, #ALONE, BY HOLLYWOOD SCREENWRITER MATT NAYLOR. DIRECTED BY CHO IL-HYUNG. STARRING YOO AH-IN AND PARK SHIN-HYE.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

I’ll probably be fed to the lions for saying this, given that this is a very popular film that’s currently getting good reviews, but I was bored brainless by this Netflix Korean zombie apocalypse movie, and I normally love Korean horror. It’s a bit like TRAIN TO BUSAN, but set in one guy’s apartment as he tries to withstand the aforementioned zombie apocalypse all on his lonesome.

Joon-Woo is the main character. He’s a young male with bleached blonde hair, living in an apartment in Seoul with his parents and sister. He is a video game live streamer. I looked this up. It means that he plays video games while watched online by a live audience. Surely the only thing worse than playing a video game yourself is watching someone else play one.

And I’m not entirely sure about this bit, but I think that the whole notion of people ‘subscribing’ to your ‘Youtube channel’ means that they actually pay you for the privilege of watching you play your long boring game for as long as it takes. This seems strange and alien to me. The people who do this must be nuts.

Also, do you earn enough money to live on doing this? Can you stay home in your apartment every day, making enough moolah from this live streaming malarkey to ensure that you don’t have to go to work in a shop, office or factory every day? I’m clearly in the wrong business…

Certainly, our so-called ‘hero’ Joon-Woo doesn’t look like the kind of guy who works for a living in the traditional sense, what with all the time he spends asleep on the couch, only shifting his carcass to eat, drink or go online.

Anyway, Joon-Woo wakes up one morning to find his family out, going about their usual business, and a horrible viral infection taking hold of the population of Seoul.

Marauding hordes of ‘infected’ zombies are running amok, trying to bite and eat the uninfected. He can see all this happening quite clearly from his window, and the advice from the News is to ‘stay home to stay safe.’ Remind you of anything, lol?

The film is strangely prophetic, in a way, foreshadowing the coronavirus pandemic and the Lockdown the way it does. If we’ve had one message drilled into us this year, it’s to ‘stay home to stay safe,’ and avoid the deadly virus that lurks menacingly outside our doors and is just waiting for a chance to permeate our strongholds and fortresses and make us sick.

Joon-Woo is short of food, water and Internet and phone access, the basics of life, although he does manage to post a message asking for help on social media, a message which will ultimately prove to be of the utmost importance.

With the help of Yoo-Bin, a really boring but ballsy girl his own age who lives in the apartment block opposite his and with whom he makes a connection, Joon-Woo battles the zombies which threaten his and his new friend’s existence.

I just found the zombie bits so mindlessly boring. When I was watching the infected creatures do their crazy, foaming-at-the-mouth thang, I wasn’t seeing them as real zombies (as I would have if I’d been watching George Romero or Sam Raimi) but as movie extras who’d had to sit in a chair for hours getting their scary slap trowelled on by a make-up artist.

I even found myself wondering if they had the make-up removed before they finished up for the day, or if they rode the subway home to their spouses and kids with the blood and guts still on their shirt-fronts and all around their mouths and in their teeth. I lost interest in the film completely, wondering about the daily lives of the extras, lol.

Also, the film is way too technology-heavy, a big no-no for me, and the guy’s bleached blonde buzzcut never grew out during the month or so he was in ‘Lockdown.’

And he should have been in the early stages of starvation as well, seeing as the script sees him more or less foodless at the start of the zombie outbreak, but the film shows no unpleasant realities of this kind, just the marauding mindless zombies, mindlessly marauding away all through the ninety minutes.

The most extraordinary thing for me about the film was learning that people will actually let other people pay them to watch them play a video game, and that the other people will willingly hand over the cash for this, even though no-one’s forcing them or holding a gun to their head. (That’s the only way they could get me to do this, I’m telling you that for nothing.)

My kids tell me that this is what young ‘uns do with their lives now; just stay home all day and be YouTubers or live streamers. When I was a young ‘un, streamers were something you threw around the place at a party or a parade.

The world we live in now is a strange and scary place. Some of the developments in modern technology I quite enjoy, such as being able to ‘catch up’ on a TV show I missed by using something called the ‘player,’ but that’s about as far as I’ve gone, technology-wise. Sorry to end on a massive downer, guys, but I genuinely fear for all of our futures.

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

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

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

THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM. (1961) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM. (1961) BASED ON THE WRITINGS OF EDGAR ALLAN POE. PRODUCED AND DIRECTED BY ROGER CORMAN. SCREENPLAY BY RICHARD MATHESON. STARRING VINCENT PRICE AND BARBARA STEELE.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

This is a really gorgeous and sumptuous film version of Edgar Allan Poe’s creepy story, and one of the cycle of film adaptations of Poe’s works undertaken by legendary director, Roger Corman.

The magnificent horror legend Vincent Price plays Nicholas Medina, a wealthy nobleman living in (almost) solitary grandeur in his cliff-top Spanish castle by the sea in the middle of the sixteenth century. It’s 1546, to be precise. Nearly time to be getting the dinner on, so…!

Nicholas doesn’t receive many visitors, as a rule, but, as the film starts, a man called Francis Barnard comes to his castle door, demanding to be let in and to be given the details of his sister, Elizabeth’s, recent demise. Nicholas’s sister, Catherine, feels that they have no choice but to let the man in and try to endure his pointed, suspicious questions about his sister Elizabeth’s death.

Elizabeth, by the way, was Nicholas’s beloved wife, who passed away recently under rather mysterious circumstances. Nicholas is still distraught and absolutely bereft at her passing. He loved her with all the intensity and possessiveness of his autocratic heart, and now he almost wishes that he were in the grave alongside her.

We see flashbacks of Nicholas’s perfectly idyllic life with Elizabeth (Barbara Steele), in which they dined, chatted eagerly and played music together, Elizabeth’s speciality being the harpsichord. Their life together might seem a little dull to outsiders, but Nicholas certainly seems to be having a ball with his ravishing young wifey in the flashback clips, and so does Elizabeth, to be fair.

But now Elizabeth is dead, under circumstances that her brother Francis finds highly dubious. Not only that, but harpsichord music is now being heard all over the castle, when everyone knows that the harpsichord was Elizabeth’s favourite instrument and that she was the only person in the house who ever played it.

The maid is claiming to hear her dead mistress’s voice in her bedroom and, then, when Nicholas hears it too, a grisly decision is taken. There is nothing for it but to go down to the crypt in the castle’s cellars and exhume the corpse of Elizabeth Medina. Just to check that she’s really dead, and not wandering around the draughty castle in her flimsy burial shroud saying ‘boo!’ to people when she pops out from behind the drapes to give ’em a heart attack.

Nicholas’s mental state is hanging by a thread at this stage (he physically swoons in virtually every second scene), but down they go, he, Catherine, Dr. Leon (who pronounced Elizabeth dead at the time of her demise) and Francis, Elizabeth’s brother. Down, down, down they go into the dusty, cobwebby bowels of the Medina castle…

Vincent Price is superb at playing widowers-in-mourning. He’s just terrific at it, and also at wearing the doublets and hose and long luxurious dressing-gowns and velvet slippers of Ye Olden Times.

Barbara Steele is the most beautiful and fascinating actress to ever don a wasp-waisted gown in which to play the ghost of herself, and the sets are gloriously-coloured and the torture chamber splendidly, if ghoulishly, equipped. Still, you’d expect that from a torture chamber, wouldn’t you?

Adding the Spanish Inquisition to the plot and the torture chamber as well was an inspired piece of writing, and the possession of Nicholas Medina by his father’s evil ghost a fiendishly delicious twist in its tail. The whole film is truly a feast for the eyes, and there are plenty of twists and turns to keep the viewer’s interest.

The only thing I found puzzling was that the film-makers hired three very similar-looking men to play Dr. Leon, Francis Barnard and Nicholas’s man-servant, Maximilian, who saves the day at the end of the movie.

All three men have short dark hair and similar nondescript faces and are pretty much of identical height and build. Why would the film-makers do that? The men look like three fraternal triplets. I just found the whole thing kind of confusing. It doesn’t detract from the movie in any way; it’s just weird that they didn’t hire actors between whom it was easy to tell the bleedin’ difference…!

You’ll love THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM. It does credit to Poe’s work, and it’s one of the many jewels in both Roger Corman’s and Vincent Price’s crowns. And scream queen Barbara Steele’s majestic presence is truly the icing on an already fabulous cake.

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

ANNABELLE COMES HOME. (2019) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

annabelle comes home

ANNABELLE COMES HOME. (2019) STARRING VERA FARMIGA AND PATRICK WILSON. DIRECTED BY GARY DAUBERMAN. REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

I love all the other movies in The Conjuring universe and in the Annabelle franchise, but I wasn’t crazy about this one. It starts off promisingly enough, when the cutest couple in the acting world, Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson playing real-life demonologists Lorraine and Ed Warren, offer to take the evil doll Annabelle off the hands of the current owners, who are being plagued by the pesky thing.

They soon realise on the journey home with Annabelle that the doll is ‘a beacon for other spirits,’ and attracts them the way a sugar daddy with an open wallet will draw hos, skanks and gold-diggers, pardon my French. Like I said, a really promising start to this hotly-anticipated addition to the Annabelle canon, but things do go kind of downhill from there.

For the rest of the movie, the gorgeous, loved-up Warrens (they are sooooo cute!) are absent, away on some kind of a trip while their mopey pre-teen daughter Judy is ‘cared for,’ and I use the term loosely, by two truly dopey teenage girls, Mary Ellen and Daniela.

Mary Ellen is the soft-pink-sweater-wearing, blonde, fluffy dim cheerleader type, but not slutty with it; in fact, she’s positively coy and vapid around her would-be boyfriend, the ‘hilariously’ named ‘Bob’s-got-Balls.’

Daniela is the troublesome one, the precocious little brat who routinely sticks her nose into things that don’t concern her. She blames herself for her part in her father’s premature death in a car accident (guess who was driving?), and unwisely thinks that she can use the absent Warrens’ haunted artefacts’ room as a way of summoning her ‘darling dad’ back from the dead so she can apologise to him.

The rest of the movie is basically the three girls and Bob’s-got-Balls being chased around the house by artefacts from the haunted room, the keys to which the Warrens have left lying around carelessly, tsk tsk. And Daniela seems to have  brought the artefacts to life, which seems ridiculously easy to do. Just say, c’mon, I’ll be your friend if you come alive, stuff like that, and they say, why not, yeah, let’s do it. Stuff like that.

The ghosts include the murderous bride who likes to go stabby-stabby, the Japanese samurai dude in battle dress, the accordion-playing monkey, a sort of horned green goat man who slightly resembles Jim Carrey’s character in The Mask and, last but not least, some kind of a giant hell-hound who can be subdued, fear not, by an old beat-up guitar. Oh, and, of course, Annabelle the doll herself keeps popping up around the house in various positions and places. In the bed, under the couch, sitting in the rocking chair, etc. Meh.

The film is more of a Goosebumps/Jumanji/Scooby Doo-style kids’ adventure film than anything else. It that’s what you’re after, well, fair enough, but it was scary adult horror I was after myself, and I’m pretty sick of the way kids are taking over the horror genre. It’s the Warrens themselves I want to see, not their boring, dull-as-dishwater offspring who ‘sees’ priests who aren’t really there, and her ditzy bloody babysitters.

The most interesting thing about this movie is that someone on the film-making team has used it to showcase the superb music of Badfinger, a pop rock band from the late ‘Sixties (when they were known as the Iveys) and the early ‘Seventies, whom a lot of people figured were going to be the next Beatles.

In fact, as they’d been signed to the Beatles’ Apple record label and their Number One hit Come And Get It had been penned by Paul McCartney and given to them to use, they had a lot of quite close ties to the famous band and, when Badfinger toured America, a lot of people even thought they were the Beatles in disguise . . . !

The band consisted of Pete Ham (vocalist, guitar, piano) and Mike Gibbons (drums) from Wales and Tommy Evans (vocals, bass) and Joey Molland (vocals, guitar) from Liverpool. They had started to make it very, very big when the shit hit the fan.

Unscrupulous management saw the band benefit very little from all the work they’d done and, in 1975, lead singer Pete Ham took his own life, unable to live any longer with the stress of what mis-management had done to them.

It was an absolutely tragic waste of a life and a huge talent. Pete’s death devastated his friends and family. His girlfriend was pregnant at the time and would eventually give birth to a daughter who never knew her father.

Pete’s closest friend and band-mate Tommy Evans, both of whom co-wrote the best and biggest love song of all time, Without You, taken to the top of the charts at different times by Harry Nilsson and Mariah Carey, never recovered from the loss of his mate and writing buddy. He, too, took his own life, a few years later in 1983.

Joey Molland is the only member of the band alive today. As far as I know, he’s still writing and performing music and touring it. In the film Annabelle Comes Home, the Badfinger Hits Day After Day and Baby Blue are heard towards the start of the movie and there’s a copy of one of the band’s albums on the coffee table too; you can clearly see the band’s faces. All good-looking lads they were, too.

If there were any justice in the world, they’d be around today, still playing and performing their startlingly pure and honest blend of pop rock that was right on the verge of hitting it big when disaster struck. If this film leads to a new and excited audience for Badfinger, brilliant. But, as a horror movie, whether you view it as a stand-alone film or as part of the wider franchise, it’s kind of a disappointment. Sorry.

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

ISLAND OF TERROR. (1966) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

island of terror

ISLAND OF TERROR. (1966) PLANET FILM DISTRIBUTORS LTD. DIRECTED BY TERENCE FISHER. STARRING PETER CUSHING, EDWARD JUDD, NIALL MACGINNIS AND CAROLE GRAY.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

THE FURY OF A LIVING CELL- A NEW EXPERIENCE IN DEVOURING HORROR…!

HOW COULD THEY STOP THE DEVOURING DEATH… THAT LIVED BY SUCKING ON LIVING HUMAN BONES…!

This 1960s horror-slash-creature-feature is a proper little curiosity. It stars Peter Cushing as the eminent Dr. Brian Stanley, a medical man who’s called in to help when an isolated little island off the coast of Oireland, of all places (I’m from there, lol!), is experiencing a problem of, shall we say, monster proportions.

It seems that the equally eminent but reclusive Dr. Phillips, who lives in a fabulous mansion on Petrie Island dubbed ‘Wuthering Heights’ by the droll Dr. Stanley, has been trying to find a cure for cancer in his industrial-strength laboratory.

Unfortunately, one of the steps he’s taken has gone horribly wrong and, instead of saving lives, he’s accidentally created a little army of creatures called ‘silicates’ who feed by literally sucking out the bones from their victims’ bodies through puncture holes they inflict themselves. Sounds yummy, right? They leave their prey looking the way Imhotep’s victims do in the brilliant Stephen Sommers’ THE MUMMY movies; all dried up and dessicated, with expressions of sheer horror on their faces. Yuk, lol.

On Dr. Stanley’s team is the dreamy pathologist Dr. David West, who is hopelessly embroiled with spoilt brat Toni Merrill, a millionaire’s daughter who apparently wrapped her Maserati round a tree and broke her leg just to get to meet David. (‘Oh, David darling, I’m so frightened, save me, darling, don’t leave me alone!’ She’s a proper whinger an’ all.)

Well, as he’s a pathologist and deals in death, she could have actually gotten more than she bargained for with her little piece of high jinx and ended up on a slab in his mortuary. The grave’s a fine and private place, but none, I think, do there embrace…!

I’ve been keen as mustard to meet certain blokes at times in my life as well, but I’ve never gone that far. Toni’s like Tippi Hedren’s character Melanie Daniels in THE BIRDS, another millionaire’s daughter who has nothing better to do with her day than motor on up to Bodega Bay with a pair of lovebirds in the boot for her crush’s little sister, just to get on her crush’s good side. Sad in the extreme, lol.

Anyway, the race is on to kill the pesky silicates before they destroy everyone on the island. Their appearance is rather vacuum-cleaner-like; they even have a long wavy tentacle protruding from their body’s one, erm, hole, that retracts just like the hoover wire and plug when you press the rewind button! Their method is hoover-like also, in that they literally vacuum out the bones through the aforementioned punctures or perforations.

Niall MacGinnis, a magnificent actor and the star of one of the best British horror films ever made, NIGHT OF THE DEMON (1957), plays Mr. Campbell, the ‘head of the island,’ the way that Christopher Lee as the charismatic Lord Summerisle is head of the island of Summerisle in that other contender for the title of best British horror film ever made, the superb THE WICKER MAN (1973).

Irish actor Niall MacGinnis is terrific as Mr. Campbell. He’s dressed exactly like a rich Irish landowner in Aran sweater, faded brown corduroy trousers, hat and sheepskin coat, and he’d remind you of one of those millionaire lads whose horses win the Grand National every year. Where there’s muck, there’s brass, mind. A gal could do a lot worse.

I like the character of Peter Argyle too, the gentle, duffle-coated proprietor of the local shop who looks a lot like a young Daniel O’Donnell, the Irish crooner who inspired the character of Eoin McLove in the clerical sitcom FATHER TED. He looks like the kind of chap who’d let a woman come first, if you know what I mean, and who’d say sorry a dozen times when he went to put it in, lol.

The real star of the show for me, apart from the silicates themselves, is Peter Cushing’s immaculate-as-always acting. Just look at his face when the silicates have hold of his wrist. The look of pure terror on his face is testament to his amazing acting skills.

I should probably mention Carole Gray’s fabulous blow-job lips and enormous eyes as well. That scene where she’s looking up at the roof of the car in horror when she hears the eerie, electronic outer-spacey sound of the silicates certainly showcases them to perfection, anyway. I really hope you get to see this film. It’s a proper old gem, so it is. Oh, and the silicates have just reminded me; I need to hoover the gaff before Christmas…!

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

ZOLTAN: HOUND OF DRACULA. (1977) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

reggie nalder face

ZOLTAN: HOUND OF DRACULA. (1977) BASED ON THE NOVEL ‘HOUNDS OF DRACULA’ BY KEN JOHNSON. DIRECTED BY ALBERT BAND. STARRING MICHAEL PATAKI, REGGIE NALDER AND JOSE FERRER.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

This is a very strange film; I’m not honestly sure if I’ve ever seen a stranger. I’m reviewing it, though, because of two things. One, it’s referred to on the DVD box as ‘the infamous midnight movie gem, ZOLTAN: HOUND OF DRACULA,’ which harks back to an earlier, possibly much cooler and more exciting era of cinema-going.

And two, because it co-stars Reggie Nalder, who, a year or two later, went on to star as Mr. Kurt Barlow, in other words the vampire, in the television dramatisation of Stephen King’s superb SALEM’S LOT, one of the best vampire books ever written. It’s right up there with DRACULA itself, Anne Rice’s INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE and Whitley Strieber’s THE HUNGER. Mr. Barlow is an extremely sinister character, maybe one of the scariest ever screen vampires.

ZOLTAN: HOUND OF DRACULA starts in modern times, with a bunch of soldiers back in ‘the old country,’ i.e., Romania, blasting open a tomb that contains the coffins of dozens of dead members of the Dracula family. That’d be quite the find for us vampire lovers, wouldn’t it?

The dopey soldier ordered to guard the tombs overnight thinks it might be a good idea to pull the stake out of the body of one Dracula family member. It’s the last bright idea he ever has, poor lad.

The corpse he’s unwittingly re-animated is that of Zoltan, Count Dracula’s faithful big black hound, a Doberman Pinscher, and Zoltan’s first task in his new life is to kill the dopey soldier who unintentionally gave him that life again. That’s gratitude for you, eh?

The clever doggie then pulls the stake out of his beloved master, not Count Dracula himself but a part-vampire called Veidt Schmidt (Reggie Nalder), a servant of the Count’s like himself. Together, Zoltan and Schmidt served the Count faithfully back in the day, but now all the Draculas have expired and there’s no-one left for the pair to work for. Or is there…?

The last of the long line of Draculas was apparently smuggled out of Romania years ago for his own safety. Name of Michael Drake, he now lives in California, America, and apparently has no idea he’s a vampire. Schmidt and Zoltan travel to California to find Michael, pursued hotly by an Inspector Branco from ‘the old country,’ whose job it is to stop them.

In the meantime, Michael, a typically American middle-aged married man with a family, has piled his wife and two kids, their two German Shepherd dogs and a box of adorable newborn puppies into their gigantic Winnebago camper van for a holiday by an isolated lake. How long will it be before Veidt and Zoltan, and then Inspector Branco, catch up with them there?

What I didn’t really get about the movie is this: if Veidt and Zoltan want to find Michael to beg him to be their master again, why are all their overtures towards him murderous? Why are they constantly trying to kill him, then?

Some of the scenes featuring dog attacks are very vicious, especially the one where Zoltan is attacking a lonely hitchhiker, and another one where several dogs are keeping Branco and Michael, now fighting fiercely together to defeat the representatives of the house of Dracula, under siege in a fishermen’s cottage.

The dog attacks look so real, and by this stage Zoltan has recruited some local doggies to his cause as well, including Michael’s big mutts Annie and Ramsey. We even see the adorable missing black puppy being vampirised and turned into a puppy of the Un-dead. It’s too cute and weird, but then I mentioned that it was a strange movie, didn’t I?

It’s a very odd little film indeed, but worth at least one watch for Reggie Nalder’s tremendously creepy made-for-horror face and also for all the doggie action, both cute and spooky. Bow-wow, Zoltan old friend, bow-wow. The Meaty Chunks are under the sink.

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

FRIGHT. (1971) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS.©

fright

FRIGHT. (1971) A BRITISH LION FILM. WRITTEN BY TUDOR GATES. DIRECTED BY PETER COLLINSON. STARRING SUSAN GEORGE, HONOR BLACKMAN, GEORGE COLE, DENNIS WATERMAN, JOHN GREGSON, TARA COLLINSON AND IAN BANNEN.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

This is a terrific horror-thriller movie in the sub-genre of what we would call ‘babysitter horror.’ Remember the original version of WHEN A STRANGER CALLS (Carol Kane), the first twenty minutes of which are pure unadulterated perfect horror? Damn right. ‘Have you checked the children?’

There’s also HOUSE OF THE DEVIL (Jocelin Donahue), in which a young American college student desperate for rent money is lured out into the sticks on the pretext of a babysitting job, but when she gets to the creepy old house in the country, she discovers two things. One, the baby she’s been called out to sit for isn’t a baby at all, but an elderly lady; and two, that the entire family are up to their tits in a devil cult. Lol. Dontcha just hate it when that happens?

And then, of course, there’s the original babysitter horror itself, HALLOWEEN, with Jamie Lee Curtis’s Laurie Strode doing duty as the babysitter and the masked escaped criminal Michael Myers providing the chuckles, I mean, the murders.

FRIGHT stars the delectable Susan STRAW DOGS George as Amanda, the young babysitter and child welfare student who comes to the isolated house of Mr. and Mrs. Lloyd to watch their son Tara, while they go out to the Plover Inn in the village a few miles away and celebrate ‘a sort of anniversary.’

The real star of the film is Susan George’s infinitely expressive, mobile face, with the huge eyes, the lush trembling lips and the slightly gammy but still charming teeth. This woman can really show fear in her face. Her long blonde hair and perfect, petite little body all go to complete the package.

The camera loves her, and her face can be shot endlessly in close-ups and you’d never get tired of it. Also, she’s rather smashing at portraying women who are being pushed around and abused by men. You can see this here, and also in STRAW DOGS which she made later in the year for Sam Peckinpah.

Anyway, as Amanda, she shows up at the Lloyds’ house in her fab little woolly pinky-purple mini-dress with the kinky black knee-boots, all set to babysit their little blond cherub of a son, Tara. By the way, in Ireland, Tara is a girl’s name. Just sayin.’

The Lloyds are played by George Cole (MINDER, THE VAMPIRE LOVERS) as Jim and the super-posh and classy Honor Blackman (GOLDFINGER, THE AVENGERS, TO THE DEVIL A DAUGHTER) as Helen. They are an uneasy pair.

Helen is obviously on edge, and doesn’t really want to leave the house, or her baby son, at all, but she’s going to go out to dinner for her husband’s sake and for the sake of living life as normal. Even though they clearly have a secret, one that might possibly place Amanda and the baby in danger if things pan out the way Helen clearly fears they’re going to.

The Lloyd house is big and old and creaky. Amanda gets a few scares initially that turn out to be no more than taps dripping or washing-lines tapping off the branches of trees. But when she sees a distorted man’s face through a ground floor window-pane, she can’t pass this off as a mere commonplace event.

She gets really scared and is glad when her male friend Chris (Dennis Waterman; MINDER, THE SCARS OF DRACULA) pops round to try and get in her knickers. She resists him at first, then gives in part of the way, then throws him out on his ear. Women, eh? Talk about moody and inconsistent. Men are like children. They need consistency in a woman. No means no and all that. Chris leaves, angry, confused and in a danger he’s unaware of…

In the meantime, there’s someone in the Lloyd house who shouldn’t be there and poor little Amanda, in her skimpy mini-dress that opens at the front to show her brassière and her perfect little boobies, is about to be subjected to a nightmare that will only be topped when Susan George films STRAW DOGS later in the year for Sam Peckinpah, the Daddy of Movie Violence. Will Amanda make it out alive? Will Tara? And what is the secret that’s eating Helen Lloyd up from the inside out…?

I love the shots of Helen and Jim boogey-ing on the dance floor in the Plover Inn, and also the fact that Amanda is watching Hammer’s PLAGUE OF THE ZOMBIES on the Lloyds’ ancient telly. FRIGHT could so easily pass for a Hammer film itself. 

I also love the confident, ginger-moustached cop who’s clearly in charge of the station’s one gun, and the way the desk sergeant won’t tell the Inspector a single solitary dicky-bird until he’s painstakingly made out a handwritten report.

‘Oh, you’ve been shot in the ‘ead there, ‘ave you, sir? Well, just hang on out here, sir, will you, while I go and fetch a pen and paper and write all this down for the Inspector, sir. Now where did I put that darned pen? It were ‘ere a minute or two ago. ‘Ere, you, Davies, ‘ave you had me pen? Blue it is, with a chewed cap where I chewed it myself. Oh, you’ve given up and died, ‘ave you, sir? Right on the floor down there? Fair enough, sir, I can’t say I blame you, but just hang on a minute, will you, while I make a note of it for the Inspector? Oh yes, that’s right, I’ve lost me pen, ‘aven’t I…?’

Cracking stuff. Watch FRIGHT. It’s a good atmospheric watch with loads of shocks and scares along the way. Out now from STUDIOCANAL, it features interviews with Susan George (she’s still alive and looking very well) and good-humoured cinema critic and snappy dresser Kim Newman. I saw him give a talk once, but unfortunately didn’t get close enough to him afterwards to ask for an autograph. You snooze, you lose.

But please don’t snooze while you’re on your own in a strange house, with their telly and your refrigerator privileges. That could be the very chance a boogeyman needs to gain access. And, once he’s in, he can be very hard to get rid 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

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