DEMONS OF THE MIND. (1972) A SEXY HAMMER CLASSIC REVIEWED BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

DEMONS OF THE MIND. (1972) A HAMMER FILM PRODUCTION DIRECTED BY PETER SYKES. BASED ON A STORY BY FRANK GODWIN.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

‘Blood will have blood…’

This Hammer classic is such a frilly film. It’s a gorgeously dark, gothically atmospheric foray into madness, sex, blood-red murder, incest and sicknesses of the mind, that was rated 18s, and no wonder. It’s filthy, but so beautiful to look at!

It stars Robert Hardy (ALL CREATURES GREAT AND SMALL) as a wealthy widower called Zorn, who lives a secluded and troubled life, largely of his own making.

His family background has mental illness and suicide in it, as a result of which Zorn keeps his two adult children imprisoned in his grand old mansion, just in case they end up going the same way.

He thinks they already show signs of wanting to mate with each other, for one, but I think that ship has already sailed, lol. They spend the whole film trying to get at each other, shure. They’re mad for each other, but not necessarily made for each other, as they only enable each other’s madness and self-destructive ways.

Shane Briant, a man who was surely born to wear the frilly blouse and tight trews of a handsome young fop from Ye Olden Times, plays the tall, blonde brother Emil, the older of the two ill-starred siblings. Gillian Hills, once tipped by Roger Vadim to be the next Brigitte Bardot, portrays the dewy-eyed, moist-lipped sister, Elizabeth.

She’s a dozy, night-gowned wench who can only speak one word, apparently, her brother’s name, ‘Emil,’ and Emil in his turn seems only capable of uttering the lines, ‘Let me see her! Elizabeth, come back!,’ which is really quite hilarious to watch.

The incestuous pair are literally kept under lock and key by their father, Zorn, who at times appear to be encouraging their madness, and their father’s big bald bodyguard, Klaus.

The young peoples’ Aunt Hilda, who believes in their terrible inheritance of madness even more than her brother does, engages in such old-fashioned medical practices as blood-letting on her two charges, which appear utterly barbaric to our modern minds.

Patrick Magee plays the sinister Dr. Falkenberg, the medic of dubious reputation employed by Zorn to oversee the ‘treatment’ and ‘cure’ of the two young ‘uns, when all they really need is to be separated from each other and brought up as normal people in a healthier and more wholesome atmosphere than Castle Zorn, which, let’s face it, wouldn’t be too hard to find. The very walls of the mansion ooze death, decay and insanity.

Meanwhile, down in the village, beautiful busty women are going missing and turning up dead in the lake or on the forest floor, artistically sprinkled with blood-red rose petals.

This component gives the film the juicy, sexy feel of a good old Hammer vampire/Dracula movie, and is always welcome. I mean, what’s a Hammer flick without a few slaughtered glamour models with their throats torn out and bodices ripped to buggery, lol…?

Shakespearean actor Michael Hordern turns up as a Bible-thumping cleric ready to cast out the village’s demons, which the villagers themselves are already suspecting might be witchcraft, and Paul Jones as Carl Richter, a young medical student who is in love with Elizabeth and is determined to save her (but not Emil, heh-heh-heh) from the ghastly ministrations of Dr. Falkenberg and Aunt Yvonne.

My favourite scene is probably the one where the village woman is drafted in up at Chateau Zorn to portray Elizabeth in a ‘sort of play,’ and it drives Emil over the edge. It doesn’t turn out too clever for the poor unfortunate village woman, either. And after all the fun she had choosing dresses for ages in the nip, as well…!

It’s such a sexy, gothic film, a kind of sick love story that has disease and sickly-sweet rotteness at its core, like a perfect-to-look-at-on-the-outside peach that would corrode your insides if you took a bite. I love it. It’s what Hammer horror does best. If you haven’t seen it yet, do it soon. You’ll love it too.

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.

BOUQUET OF BARBED WIRE. (1976) THE CONTROVERSIAL SEXY TV SERIES REVIEWED BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

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BOUQUET OF BARBED WIRE. (1976) WRITTEN BY ANDREA NEWMAN. DIRECTED AND PRODUCED BY TONY WHARMBY AND JOHN FRANKAU. MADE BY LONDON WEEKEND TELEVISION.

STARRING FRANK FINLAY, SHEILA ALLEN, SUSAN PENHALIGON, JAMES AUBREY, DEBORAH GRANT, ROLAND CURRAM, ROGER REES, ANN BEACH AND CAROL DRINKWATER.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

Wow. I watched this vintage British television series over the May Bank Holiday this year and it practically fogged up the screen with the smouldering sexuality. I believe it was the critic Clive James who said of it that, by the end, everyone in it except for the baby had slept with everyone else, a pretty accurate assessment, if you ask me.

Not that you see any nudity or actual sex happening on screen, but you see the before bits and the after bits and it all leaves you with the distinct impression that you’ve actually seen the middley bits too, if you know what I mean.

It’s a family saga with lust, physical violence and forbidden desires simmering away under the surface, with a generous dollop of guilt, remorse and consequences thrown in for good measure, just in case any of the characters should be seen to be enjoying the deliciously illicit sex too much…!

Frank Finlay does a phenomenal job as grey-haired paterfamilias Peter Eliot Manson, a wealthy publisher with the ‘perfect’ family: Cassie, his lovely wife, who’s devoted the best years of her life to supporting Peter and bringing up her family (but she has her secrets too); their twin sons of about ten whom we hardly ever see, because they’re ‘away at school;’ and a beautiful, spoiled adult daughter called Prue…

The series was mired in controversy on its release because of the overtones (never mind the undertones!) of incestuous desire between Peter and his daughter. They’ve never actually slept together, as far as we know, but Peter is head over heels in love with the flirty, mischievous, shit-stirring Prue who, all her life, has always gotten exactly what she wanted from both parents. Now she’s as manipulative and dangerous as any other spoiled child to whom no-one’s ever said the word ‘no…’

Peter is sick with jealousy that Prue, a university student (for all the work we ever see her do…!), has met and married an attractive but independent-minded fellow student, an American chap called Gavin Sorenson.

Gavin’s had the exact opposite upbringing to Prue and therefore has no problem in calling her out when she’s out of line. Prue is having Gavin’s baby now too, and Peter wants to kill Gavin for sullying the virginal body of his beautiful perfect daughter. It’s all very uncomfortable, albeit thrilling, to watch…

Into Peter’s complicated life (and office) then comes his new secretary, Sarah Francis. Sarah is one of those independent working girls who shares a house with other girls, the kind where there are always knickers and tights hanging in the bathroom to dry. Her house-mate Annabel is rich and a walking bitch, just thought I’d mention it!

Anyway, Sarah doesn’t come from a rich, privileged family. In fact, she hails from quite a dysfunctional one and she’s never been able to depend on them for anything. She has to fight for her place in the world. She has two lovers, the impoverished artist Simon and the handsome son of a rich businessman, Geoff, and she can’t decide between either of them. (Geoff would be my choice, lol.) In fact, Sarah never seems to really know what she wants in life and this could spell trouble for her down the line.

Sarah has a delicate beauty and an air almost of damaged fragility that draws her restrained, prim and proper cold fish of a boss Peter to her in his hour of need. He feels betrayed by his precious daughter, he hates Gavin’s guts and he and his wife are barely communicating.

Sarah is like a soothing balm to Peter’s many wounds. Knowing the risks, but nonetheless supremely confident that they can be the first two people in the world ever to have an affair where absolutely no-one gets hurt, not even themselves, they embark on a secret relationship. No-one gets hurt, right, because no-one ever needs to find out? Talk about famous last words…

The series was also famously controversial for its dark themes of sadomasochism, a shady subject that probably had never been openly portrayed on the screen before. Prue Manson-Sorenson has a powerful need to be knocked about by her husband Gavin, and she manipulates him into doing it by pushing him to his limits.

He needn’t respond, of course. He could of course just walk away with his hands in his pockets, but he’s such a hothead that he can’t resist getting into it with her every time. They need to be very careful, these two, especially with Prue’s being pregnant and everything. This is a dangerous game they’re playing and, if they’re not prue-dent, excuse the pun, the consequences could be deadly…

The Manson family is a hotbed of secrets, lies, terrible betrayals, sex, violence, resentment and, buried deeply somewhere underneath all that, love. The aristocratic Frank Finlay at fifty, with his cut-glass accent and meticulous dress, would put one in mind of Christopher Lee, who was only four years older.

Both men would attract you in the same way, with their same aura of stern austerity and regal command. I’m getting weak at the knees now at the thought of it all, lol. I hope to be back to you all in a few days’ time with my review of ANOTHER BOUQUET, the follow-up to the original BOUQUET, so until then, stay safe and we’ll talk again soon.

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