I recently discovered this little illustrated gem of a book on my son’s bookshelf, and remembered then having bought it for him when he was younger in an attempt to encourage him to read independently.

Now I’ve had a proper read of it, I’m making an executive decision and totally commandeering it for myself. It’s far too good to waste on the young, lol, and can only properly be appreciated by persons of mature(ish!) age such as myself.

It tells what I call the real Dracula story, as in the one Bram Stoker wrote, with little or no variations, which I like. I like the pure unadulterated story myself, and I tend to get heart attacks when people mess with it, such as in the 2020 New Year BBC television Dracula. Although I could forgive a hunky Dracula such as Claes Bang anything, especially if he’s going to do those delicious nudie scenes…

Anyway, the book starts, as it should, with real estate clerk John Harker making what is possibly the longest fictional journey ever to set the seal on a property deal. He travels to darkest Transylvania in Romania to meet with the mysterious and rich Count Dracula, who wishes to purchase a house near to where John lives in jolly old England.

I think it’s safe to say that the artist who did the fabulous illustrations in the book was a fan of the 1931 UNIVERSAL film version of Dracula, starring Bela Lugosi. He’s created a village very similar to the UNIVERSAL one, which I love because I adore those old movies.

It’s got winding streets, worried villagers clad in sort of Tyrolean dress like they are in the old fillums, and there’s even a barefoot busty blonde maiden crossing the street with her basket of produce who wouldn’t be out of place in a Hammer film.

Hammer Films, of course, had their Dracula-slash-vampire canon which we horror fans will know intimately by now. Christopher Lee was their Count in seven movies made between 1958 and 1972, but they made several other excellent vampire films as well, such as BRIDES OF DRACULA, KISS OF THE VAMPIRE and VAMPIRE CIRCUS.

Anyway, above the village on its very own mountain towers Castle Dracula, and when the villagers in the local inn find out that John actually intends travelling up there to meet the Count, they all have collective heart attacks. The portly, pint-pulling innkeeper and the two busty Hammer-esque barmaids are particularly well drawn in the pub scene.

John, as we know, has come all this way to do a job, so he supposes he’d better do it, and he makes his way up to the infamous Borgo Pass- try getting a taxi up there at night and you’ll see what I mean!- where a mysterious coachman with four super-spooky skeletal horses picks him up and takes him to where he needs to go… Castle Dracula…

The Count is waiting. His ramshackle castle looks just like Bela Lugosi’s in the 1931 film and is beyond cool. A crumbling staircase, bats, ancient candelabra, high windows; it’s everything you could wish for in a Dracula’s Castle-type situation. Except maybe for an armadillo or two…!

John has his meal and pricks his finger, making it bleed. Dracula’s strange reaction, and the presence in the castle of the three busty, sexy, negligee-clad corpse brides of Dracula complete with fangs and a raging blood-lust combine to convince poor John that maybe the villagers were right all along. Maybe Dracula is an evil, blood-sucking vampire and he should never have come up here…

By the time John realises this, of course, it’s too late. He’s a prisoner in Castle Dracula and the Count himself is hastening to England, and John’s hot fiancée, Mina. John has only the sex-crazed wives to keep him company, although, as this is a child’s book, the sex is only implied, lol.

Do you know the rest of the story? Dracula, installed in Carfax Abbey; Mina losing more and more of her strength- and blood- every night thanks to his nocturnal visits; the doctors baffled, unable to help her; then the calling in of the eccentric Doctor Van Helsing to accurately diagnose the situation and suggest a solution.

The drawings of the Count’s Carfax Abbey cellar, complete with coffins and his deranged (only deranged BECAUSE of Dracula), bug-eating assistant, Renfield, are so bloody good that they make you feel you’re really there.

Will John be in time to save Mina, and also for the inevitable showdown between Van Helsing and the evil, power-crazed Count Dracula, who wants to suck the blood of everyone in England?

How would that work, anyway? Would it be like waiting for a vaccine, with portals and cohorts and online registration and all that? For something bad, they’d probably (ironically) get it organised super-quick, lol.

None of this old I’ve been waiting six whole weeks to get my blood-sucking and four of my neighbours, who are all younger than me with no underlying health conditions, have gotten theirs first and I’m spitting with rage bullshit. Can’t you just see it?

Wouldn’t that be funny, though? A frazzled Dracula would be on the news and all the talk shows, saying: I am doing my best to get around to everybody as quickly as I can, but I am only one man, for the love of God…! Until the government allocate sufficient numbers of flies and bugs for me to entice my helpers with, a good many more people will continue to walk around well and healthy and there will be nothing I can do about it…! Lol, lol, lollity lol.

Anyway, this is the best children’s book on the subject of Dracula I’ve ever come across. The story is simply and accurately told, with none of that nonsense of changing up the details and putting Dracula into the future and seeing how he copes with washing-machines and fridges and stuff.

The illustrations are superb, and evoke both the UNIVERSAL and Hammer-era films, which is amazing for fans of the old films like myself. Pick it up and have a read if you ever come across it; it captures the spirit and essence of the Bram Stoker book perfectly.


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

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

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


duel dennis weaver



This fantastic little thriller is every bit as much a horror movie as the famous director’s later blockbuster film, JAWS, in which a monstrous killer shark is literally stalking the waters off the island of Amity, a popular tourist destination, and its destruction is left to one man.

If you’ve seen photos of a ridiculously young and handsome Steven Spielberg during the making of DUEL, you’ll have seen that he looks like a moody director of French New Wave movies in which marriages fail and complex relationships become ever more entwined, lol. So moody, so handsome, and all before he’d filmed so much as a single reel of film featuring a velociraptor with a mind of its own. (‘Clever girl…!’)

DUEL, Steven Spielberg’s debut film, is the deceptively simple story of an ordinary man, anonymously called Dave Mann, a salesman who is travelling down the highway in his car one sunny day to meet with a prospective client before the client jumps in a plane and flies away out of reach.

We see Mann driving out of his garage, we hear the mindless chatter of the chat shows on the car radio as he drives along and we see the city traffic thinning out as Mann reaches those long stretches of isolated out-of-town American highway where the long arm of the law seems conspicuous by its absence, and where, therefore, all kinds of lawlessness can be tolerated.

It happens slowly at first. A monster truck, like one of the trucks from Stephen King’s MAXIMUM OVERDRIVE, gradually intrudes itself on Mann’s consciousness. First it’s behind him, tailgating him to the point of being uncomfortable, then it’s ahead of him but moving aggravatingly slowly. ‘I’ve given you the highway, Jack, why don’t you take it…?’

Mann eventually realises that the anonymous truck driver, of whom we only see glimpses- an arm out the window, usually, or a sighting of a pair of cowboy boots- has actual harmful intentions towards him. The driver waves him on ahead at one point, to Mann’s relief, and Mann takes him up on his offer, only to drive straight out into the path of an oncoming vehicle. From this point onwards, a state of war exists between Mann and the truck driver.

Mann’s emotions range from triumphant elation when he wins a schoolboyish victory over the truck driver to absolute blind terror when he sees that the truck driver wants him dead, and seemingly has no problem with destroying other people’s property or maybe even lives in order to do it.

The psychological tension is ramped ever upwards as Mann desperately tries to explain his predicament to the few people he meets on the highway, but no-one believes him. They all think he’s the crazy one; for example, when the truck driver actually helps the broken-down school bus, whereas Mann just comes across to the school bus driver as someone who has a bit of a screw loose. It’s so unfair, but poor Mann just can’t seem to catch a break.

I love the scene at the diner, where we’re absolutely convinced that we’ve met the real truck driver having his lunch, but then it turns out not to be him. The scene at the roadside petrol station and snake farm after the truck driver has cut a murderous swathe through it all is chaotically spellbinding. Poor Mr. Mann with a tarantula on his trouser leg…! Talk about things can always get worse…

The viewers know by now that they are witnessing a fight to the death. Even Mann probably knows this by now, just like Chief Brody in JAWS is more than likely aware too that either he’s going to kill that massive, man-eating shark or the shark is going to kill him. There can be no other in-betweeny endings. Kill or be killed, that’s how primeval and elemental these two life-or-death struggles are. Mann is Brody and Brody is Mann. God help that truck-driving shark, that’s all I can say…


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:

You can contact Sandra at:




‘Come out, Morgan…!’

(It’s September 2019 and I’ve just finished reading Richard Matheson’s superb short horror novel ‘I AM LEGEND,’ the kind of book I still haven’t given up hope on writing myself one day. Not necessarily about a vampiric apocalypse, but on any horror topic that grabs me.

Books like PSYCHO, ROSEMARY’S BABY, THE EXORCIST, JAWS, A KISS BEFORE DYING, THE BOYS FROM BRAZIL, CARRIE, PICNIC AT HANGING ROCK, DAY OF THE TRIFFIDS and THE MIDWICH CUCKOOS provide huge, huge inspiration. A book like that that lives on after you die, that people never get tired of reading or watching in film format, is probably most horror writer’s ultimate goal.

Anyway, the book I AM LEGEND was adapted so faithfully by the film THE LAST MAN ON EARTH that I felt there would be no need to bother you good people with two reviews, one for the book and one for the film. Instead, I’m choosing to share again the review I wrote for THE LAST MAN ON EARTH back in 2016, the year I discovered it for the first time.

I’ll go out on a limb here and say that I think this might actually be the best film that horror icon Vincent Price ever made, even though his numerous horror movies for Roger Corman in their Edgar Allan Poe cycle were all beyond fantastic.

It’s just such a grimly bleak and realistic performance he gives in THE LAST MAN ON EARTH that you get to see his ability to really act, as well as his undoubted talent for hamming it up in a doublet and tights, lol. So here we go, anyway, and I hope you enjoy it. ‘Come out, Neville…!’)

This is a brilliant sci-fi horror film from the era that brought us loads of equally great sci-fi horror films. Yep, it sure was a good era for the old sci-fi horror…! I came across it on a box-set I bought back in 2013 for only a tenner called 100 GREATEST HORROR CLASSICS. One hundred old horror movies for only ten quid? Hell, yeah…!

Other films on the set include THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA and THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME, both starring Lon Chaney Sr., George A. Romero’s zombie classic NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, Fritz Lang’s METROPOLIS and Alfred Hitchcock’s first ever movie, THE LODGER, starring Ivor Novello. Yes, I think it’s that Ivor Novello; who else could it be…?

Anyway, THE LAST MAN ON EARTH manages to be both brilliant and extremely grim at the same time. Horror icon Vincent Price plays Dr. Robert Morgan, a man who has survived a terrible wind-borne plague that’s killed off nearly everyone on earth, except for those whom it turned into bloodthirsty vampiric mutations. These monstrosities become active at night. During the day, they sleep…

Poor old Robert spends the daylight hours tracking down the mutants and staking them through the heart before chucking ’em in a giant pit of fire. Well, I guess he just wants to be sure they’re really dead. Fair enough, lol.

At night, he holes himself up in his gaff while the pathetically weak vampires, including his former work colleague Ben Cortman, bang on his door and beg him feebly to come out so that they can kill him and drink his blood. Naturally, Robert declines this delightful offer. Maybe he likes his blood where it is. I’d be the same myself…!

In any case, his existence as literally the last man on earth is so bleak that the viewer wonders why he doesn’t just end his own life and be done with it. Maybe he’s afraid that he’ll become one of the Walking Un-Dead like the monstrous mutations he grapples with every day and night. Also, we mustn’t forget that the instinct for survival is very strong. There’s always the chance/hope that things might, one day, return to normal. That’s what keeps us going when times are tough.

One miraculous day, however, while out doing his ’rounds,’ Dr. Morgan spies a sight that he never expected to see again; a human female! Is she real? Is she infected with the plague that turned the mutants into the bloodsucking demons they’ve become? And, most importantly, how will this seemingly chance encounter impact upon the already stressed-out Dr. Morgan…?

I think that this film works so well because it taps into those fears we all secretly have. You know, the ones about being one of the sole survivors of some kind of apocalyptic disaster that leaves us on our own battling against zombies and mutants? I’ve always had that fear at the back of my own mind, anyway.

There’s this horrible scenario I think about sometimes where I’m alone in my house in just such a post-apocalyptic situation as we’ve discussed and a mis-shapen shadow suddenly falls across my window. Then I hear a scrabbling at the door. I stay perfectly still but the noise continues. Then there’s the unmistakable sound of someone breaking in… It’s all very ZOMBIE FLESH-EATERS (Lucio Fulci), isn’t it?

Another thing that scares people is the thought of a plague or pandemic that wipes out half the world’s population. We’ve had worrisome thoughts like that about different epidemics over the decades: AIDS, swine flu, avian flu and the Ebola virus, to name a few. I’ve literally just read online, actually, about something called the ‘Zika virus.’

It’s not outside the bounds of possibility that something like a plague/pandemic could happen. That’s why films like OUTBREAK, QUARANTINE and RIGHT AT YOUR DOOR are so popular. It’s because, one day, it might just happen here…

I think THE LAST MAN ON EARTH must have been the inspiration for that TREEHOUSE OF HORROR episode of THE SIMPSONS in which Homer Simpson becomes ‘the last man on earth’ after a nuclear bomb wipes out most of the rest of the world. He isn’t remotely bothered by being surrounded by rotting corpses. He actually enjoys having the world to himself for a bit, haha. Until he finds himself being chased by freakish skin-eating mutants, that is…!

Vincent Price puts his heart and soul into his performance as the poor beleaguered Dr. Robert. Did I mention that I met his daughter Victoria Price in November 2015, by the way? I do try to mention that quite regularly, lol. She was having a meet-and-greet at the Irish Film Institute here in Dublin to promote the cookery book her dear old dad co-wrote with her mum and she was absolutely lovely and down-to-earth.

I chose to buy her biography of her dad, though, rather than the cookery book. It was a real whopper of a coffee-table book and it cost an even more whopping sixty quid…! Quite honestly, I’m not much of a Nigella Lawson, anyway. I prefer to spend as little time in the kitchen as I can get away with.

The flashback scenes in THE LAST MAN ON EARTH are excellent and the scenes with the puppy are just heartbreaking. The fact that the film is in black-and-white highlights the starkness of Dr. Robert’s awful situation. If you want to see how he copes with things, watch the film. It’s superb. And don’t answer the door after dark under any circumstances. It might be the mutants…


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:

You can contact Sandra at: