CRAWL. (2019) A TERRIFIC CREATURE FEATURE REVIEWED BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

CRAWL. (2019) DIRECTED BY ALEXANDRE AJA. WRITTEN BY MICHAEL RASMUSSEN AND SHAWN RASMUSSEN. CO-PRODUCED BY SAM ‘THE EVIL DEAD TRILOGY’ RAIMI.

STARRING KAYA SCODELARIO AND BARRY PEPPER.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

Wow. Note to self. Never, ever go to Florida, for any reason. Florida has two things I can well do without in my life: Category 5 hurricanes and giant alligators. The movie CRAWL contains both these elements. It’s a film about a young woman called Hayley Keller, her injured father Dave and their adorable bow-wow, Sugar, who are all trapped in the crawl space of their house during a hurricane.

Thanks to the hurricane, their town’s levees have burst their banks and the town is flooded. Ergo, the crawl space in question is rapidly filling up with water. They might have known this would happen; their town is rather tellingly called ‘Coral Lake.’ Coral Lake, people? Lake equals water equals flooding in a hurricane equals, well, drowning.

What makes Hayley and Dave’s situation even worse- trust me, it can get worse- is the fact that their crawl space is also rather swiftly filling up with giant alligators, nature’s most amphibious predators.

I mean, sharks are scary but you’re not likely to meet one in the Walmart car-park, are you, whereas alligators… You see what I mean? Stay the hell out of the water and JAWS won’t get you. (Yes, I call the shark Jaws, lol; do your worst, JAWS purists!) But alligators are a double threat.

Things Hayley and Dave have going against them: the hurricane, the flooding, the giant alligators, Dave’s injury, the fact that the giant ‘gators have broken Hayley’s phone, the little blighters, and eaten the one person who might actually have helped/saved them. The peril/danger/tension has been ratcheted up to the highest level, pretty much.

Things in Hayley and Dave’s favour: Hayley is a superb swimmer, the ‘apex predator,’ whatever that is, of the school swim team. Also, Hayley is courageous to the max and as resourceful as MacGyver trapped in a pressure cooker with only a woman’s brassiere and a stick of gum about his person to help him find a way out of his predicament.

Hayley is gritty and determined. She’s going to get her old man out of the crawl space and away from the giant ‘gators if it costs her every limb on her body and, judging by the way the ‘gators are snapping and chomping on her like she’s the piece de resistance at the buffet table, it just might come to that.

Also, she and Daddy have been somewhat estranged since Daddy broke up with Mummy- it’s not really either of their faults; sometimes this shit just happens- and she’s not going to let him die before she’s had a chance to properly thrash out her unresolved feelings of guilt and anger towards him. Can she save both her father and their troubled relationship…?  

The alligator action is superb and consistent. Unlike in JAWS, where you only catch glimpses of the shark before the grand finale, there’s no shortage of toothsome action, which I like.

CRAWL will deservedly take its place amongst other terrific croc-and-shark creature features such as ROGUE (2007), BLACK WATER (2007), 47 METERS DOWN (2017) and BAIT (2012), DINO CROC AND SUPER GATOR (2010), THE REEF (2010), OPEN WATER (2003) and OPEN WATER 2: ADRIFT (2006).

The addition of dozey looters Marv, Stan and Lee (geddit???) is a nice touch and, of course, the movie is co-produced by Sam ‘EVIL DEAD’ Raimi. Kaya Scodelario is an excellent actress and she has no trouble at all carrying off her leading role with grit and panache.

It’s been suggested by some that the climate change element of the film is more troubling than the alligator storyline. Given what’s happening in Europe at the moment with the flash floods that have actually destroyed homes and taken lives, and the unaccustomed heat here in Dublin, Ireland that has me confined to the chaise-longue all day, one could well believe it. But, credit where credit’s due, the giant ‘gators steal the day.  

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:

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

THE RITUAL. (2017) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS.©

 

ritual effigy

THE RITUAL. (2017) BASED ON THE NOVEL OF THE SAME NAME BY ADAM NEVILL. DIRECTED BY DAVID BRUCKNER. STARRING RAFE SPALL, ARSHER ALI, ROBERT JAMES-COLLIER AND SAM TROUGHTON.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

I loved this one, a genuinely spooky folk horror set in rural Sweden but filmed in Romania. It’s kind of like THE BLAIR WITCH, but with adult males instead of excitable and impressionable teenagers.

The effect of this was to make the film’s concept even more scary, I thought, because when adult males are fleeing in terror from something, then you damn well better flee too, lol, ’cause it means that something bad is coming.

So, we’ve got our four lads anyway, Luke (Rafe Spall), Hutch, Phil and Dom, all proper English blokes who’ve been mates since college and who still try to keep up with each other and with their heavy laddish boozing, even though they all seem to have wives and kids at home.

They’re planning a lads’ holiday when we first meet them. They’re even mentioning Ibiza as a possible destination, which is a bit ridiculous as the kids who go to Ibiza would all regard these four lads as pipe-and-slippers-category auld fellas. Go home to your cocoa, Grandad, type of thing.

In the end, the lads go to Sweden on a very out-of-character outdoorsy hiking holiday, to honour one of their original five who has died a horrible death in an off-licence hold-up.

Luke, who was involved in the same hold-up, is suffering from terrible survivors’ guilt, and he’s also guilty because his own instinct to survive saw him not coming to the aid of his chum. The remaining lads seem also to be harbouring a grudge against Luke for not saving their mate, so some of these resentments may come vomiting out of them later.

They leave a touching memorial to their fallen comrade on a rain-washed Swedish hillside, then they promptly get lost in the forest, miles from civilisation, because they think that cutting through the woods for a short-cut on the way to the lodge they’ve booked into is a good idea.

Come again? A short-cut through the deserted woods in the middle of nowhere, in the middle of a storm, in the middle of the night, a good idea…? That’s bound to turn out well, eh, fellow horror fans…? Jesus H. Christ, lol. Are these men or weak-witted morons?

The abandoned ‘cabin in the woods’ in which they spend their first night of being lost makes the Blair Witch house look welcoming. It makes it look like your granny’s house when you went there on holiday as a kid and you knew she was baking up a storm to prepare for your arrival.

Or your own little bed after a night on the lash fuelled by cider and onion rings that’s ended in disgrace as you puke in the taxi and arrive home wasted and without your knickers. I’ve never done that myself, of course, but it just seems like the kind of awful thing that might happen to people. Other people, naturally. Not to me. Never to me. Ahem. Let’s move on…

The cabin is dark, damp, cold, gloomy, sinister, deserted, unliveable-in, and that’s just the downstairs. Upstairs is a hideous humanoid effigy with no head and antlers for hands, but which self-respecting cabin in the woods hasn’t got one of these, especially in Nordic climes? You can get them from IKEA and assemble them yourself, shure…!

The effigy has a very strange, very unsettling effect on the four lads. After a night spent in its malevolent company, they’re all having nightmares or experiencing nightmarish flashbacks to terrible events, eg, it gets into Luke’s head and so poor Luke is being constantly dragged back to that awful night in the off-licence where his mate Rob was brutally slaughtered. They need to get out of the cabin, and out of the woods which stretch for literally miles around, as soon as is humanly possible.

It’s when they’re fleeing through the woods that they discover that whatever was affecting them in the cabin is still with them. (‘Yes Bart, I never left you…!’ Hugo to Bart, THE THING AND I, THE SIMPSONS’ TREEHOUSE OF HORROR, Episode 7) Only it seems bigger, much bigger now, and it makes rustling noises in the trees (which, incidentally, are carved all over in mysterious, runic-looking symbols) as it approaches and it seems like very much a real and physical thing that the lads need to run from. Before it catches them, and kills them…

I was a tiny bit disappointed with the ending but otherwise, this is a perfectly acceptable horror film with some really spooky moments in it. The Swedish scenery and those miles and miles of isolated forestry are all staggeringly beautiful to look at, until you come to the credits and see that it says there: Filmed in Romania.

So, is this Romanian scenery we’ve been admiring then, or is it Swedish scenery? Never having been to either country, I haven’t a clue, but it’s a gorgeous-looking film either way, and one you should check out if you get the chance. Tell ’em Loki sentcha…

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