THE ROBE and DEMETRIUS AND THE GLADIATORS: A DUO OF BIBLICAL MOVIE REVIEWS BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

robeTHE ROBE and DEMETRIUS AND THE GLADIATORS: A DUO OF BIBLICAL MOVIE REVIEWS BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

THE ROBE. (1953) BASED ON THE NOVEL BY LLOYD C. DOUGLAS. DIRECTED BY HENRY KOSTER. STARRING RICHARD BURTON, JEAN SIMMONS, VICTOR MATURE, MICHAEL RENNIE AND JAY ROBINSON AS CALIGULA.

DEMETRIUS AND THE GLADIATORS. (1954) BASED ON CHARACTERS CREATED BY LLOYD C. DOUGLAS IN HIS NOVEL ‘THE ROBE.’ DIRECTED BY DELMER DAVES. STARRING VICTOR MATURE, SUSAN HAYWOOD, MICHAEL RENNIE, DEBRA PAGET, ERNEST BORGNINE AND JAY ROBINSON AS CALIGULA.

‘Were you… out there…?’

I know Easter was about a month ago but I’m still cheerfully riding that wave of great old Biblical epics, haha. THE ROBE and its sequel DEMETRIUS AND THE GLADIATORS have always been two of my all-time favourites, along with BEN-HUR, KING OF KINGS, THE TEN COMMANDMENTS, SPARTACUS and THE GREATEST STORY EVER TOLD, to mention but a few. Well, I think those are the main ones!

It was said of some guy once, I don’t know who, that ‘he killed more men than Cecil B. De Mille,’ referring of course to the number of extras used in this type of film. They all had a cast of thousands all right, along with camels and rolling hills and raucous open markets in which you could buy a nice living-room carpet and a pair of comely slave twins to go with your watermelon and jugs of wine. They’re all marvellous old films and you just don’t see their like anymore.

THE ROBE is the story of Tribune Marcellus Gallio, brilliantly played by screen heart-throb and two-time hubby of Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton. He plays a rich Roman soldier from a good family, a boozer and a womaniser who falls afoul of the Emperor Caligula and gets stationed in the back end of nowhere, otherwise known as Jerusalem, as a sort of pay-back.

While he’s there, he’s put in charge of the unit that’s responsible for crucifying a local troublemaker of note known as Jesus Christ. Yep, that Jesus Christ…! Not unnaturally, the crucifixion has a profoundly unsettling effect on Tribune Gallio.

Believing himself bewitched by Jesus’s robe, which he shamefully won in a card game, Marcellus sets out to find it and destroy it. Yeah, he obviously lost it again after he won it, haha. He nearly loses his mind with the strain of it all before miraculously converting to Christianity, much to the surprise- but not displeasure- of his childhood sweetheart Diana, played by the lovely Jean Simmons. (Mrs. Spartacus, remember?)

Demetrius, played by the beefy and burly Victor Mature, is Tribune Gallio’s slave and the star of the sequel movie, DEMETRIUS AND THE GLADIATORS. Demetrius, a handsome Greek, becomes a devoted follower of Jesus after witnessing the shocking events of the crucifixion alongside his master, Marcellus.

Poor Demetrius is captured and tortured by the Emperor Caligula, who is more than a little disturbed at rumours of an underground cult, ie, Christianity, that places another god above himself. Caligula’s ego is insanely over-developed and any suggestion that he’s not the one true God himself is like a red rag to a bull.

The actor portraying Caligula in both films, Jay Robinson, was only twenty-three and then twenty-four respectively when he starred in them. This is incredible to imagine as he is absolutely magnificent as the spoilt brat of an Emperor, who quite literally throws screaming tantrums when he doesn’t get what he wants.

‘I want Tribune Gallio! Bring me Tribune Gallio before morning or I’ll have you all killed!’ What did I tell you? Completely and utterly spoilt…

In DEMETRIUS AND THE GLADIATORS, our freed slave Demetrius finds himself in a school for gladiators run by Ernest Borgnine’s tough nut, Strabo. Demetrius attains such success in the arena that he attracts the attention of Messalina, the wife of Caligula’s doddery old uncle, Claudius.

Messalina, played by Susan Hayward, is a saucy temptress who has forced her aged hubby to wear the cuckold’s horns so many times that they’ve worn an actual groove across his bald pate. When a fatal incident in the gladiators’ recreation room causes Demetrius to reject his Christian faith, the horny little hussy has no trouble at all in luring the hunky gladiator to her bed.

Caligula takes an interest in the robe in this film, mistakenly believing that it imbues the wearer with powers of immortality. Huh. It’s not a flippin’ cloak of invisibilty or anything. It’s not a magic cloak or anything like that. Or is it…?

Anyway, he orders Demetrius away from his carousing and merry-making in Messalina’s love-dungeon and tells him to find the robe and bring it to him. Demetrius finds the robe, but he finds something else as well, something which will hopefully jerk him back to his senses in a big way. And after several months spent lying between Messalina’s alabaster thighs (nice legs, what time do they open…?), the randy sod’s gonna need some serious deprogramming…!

These old films are so special. They’re not just for Easter, either. Any Saturday or Sunday afternoon during the year would do for a good long viewing of a nice swords-and-sandals epic. Now bring me a mojita this minute.

That’s right, bring me a mojita right now or I’ll feed you all to the lions! Haha, I’m only joking, of course. I simply wouldn’t dream of channelling my inner Caligula (Caligulady, geddit?) around you guys. As if I’d feed you guys to the lions. But a mojito would be nice…

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. 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, womens’ 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:

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

https://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com

http://sexysandieblog.wordpress.com

http://serenaharker.wordpress.com

sandrasandraharris@gmail.com

https://twitter.com/SandraAuthor

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SINISTER HOUSE/HAUNTING OF CRESTVIEW ACADEMY: A GRISLY DOUBLE BILL OF HORROR FILM REVIEWS BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

 crestview academySINISTER HOUSE/HAUNTING OF CRESTVIEW HIGH: A DOUBLE BILL OF GRISLY HORROR FILM REVIEWS BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

SINISTER HOUSE aka HOUSE OF BAD. (2013) WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY JIM TOWNS. STARRING HEATHER L. TYLER, SADIE KATZ AND CHERYL SANDS.

HAUNTING OF CRESTVIEW ACADEMY aka BAD KIDS GO TO HELL. (2012) WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY MATTHEW SPRADLIN. STARRING CAMERON DEANE STEWART, ALI FAULKNER, AUGIE DUKE, AMANDA ALCH, ROGER EDWARDS, MARC DONATO AND JUDD NELSON (FROM ‘THE BREAKFAST CLUB’).

Both of these horror films deal with small groups of people who, for one reason or another, are being confined to barracks, as it were, for certain periods of time. They’re each good gruesome fun to watch, although I’m more inclined to favour SINISTER HOUSE, otherwise known as HOUSE OF BAD.

That’s where we’ll start, with the film that ‘GRABS YOU AND DOESN’T LET YOU GO!,’ according to one of its other reviews. I couldn’t agree more, as it happens. I was glued to this one from start to finish. Let me see if I can explain to you guys exactly why…

Three attractive American sisters, Teig, Sirah and Lily, all hole up in the abandoned old childhood home of Teig and Sirah for a month, or at least that’s the plan, anyway. They’ve stolen a massive stash of drugs from Sirah’s boyfriend Tommy, a drug dealer and pimp. Hence the need for a complete getaway.

They’re going to lay low for a month and then sell the drugs off to a contact of Teig’s. What’s that quote from Robbie Burns? ‘The best-laid plans of mice and men gang oft a-gley…?’ Yeah, what he said. You’d better believe that the sisters’ plans will be ganging a-gley all over the bleedin’ shop.

The idea is that the money from the sale of the drugs will be enough to set the sisters up in a new life, something that each of the women desperately need. Sirah’s abusive boyfriend Tommy has had her dancing topless in the clubs.

Teig, the eldest- and toughest- sister, is an ex-con who trusts no-one, not even her own sisters. Lily, their young step-sister from their father’s bit-on-the-side, is an absolute stunner looks-wise but she just can’t keep her pretty little snout out of the heroin trough. And she’s going to be holed up for a month with a suitcase stuffed full of drugs? Good luck with that…!

There are problems right from the start. Lily’s got to go cold turkey, for one thing. As it’s a film and not real life, we don’t really see her going through the horrible traumas that a person coming off the ‘junk’ for realsies would be forced to endure.

Sirah, the weakest of the three sisters, actually misses her abusive pimp and can’t keep her busy fingers from texting him on the phone she solemnly promised her sisters not to use. The seriously on-edge Teig will kill her if she finds out.  She’ll go through her for a feckin’ short-cut, as we say here in Oireland.

It’s not just the physical stuff that’s a problem, either. Their old childhood home is filled with bad memories and evil spirits, dating back to the time when something terrible happened between Teig and Sirah’s constantly warring parents back when the two girls were kids.

Teig and Sirah are still afraid to go upstairs and down into the cellar. Lily demands to know why. The other two sisters think she’s better off not knowing. If you’ve seen this excellent horror movie, you’ll probably think the same. Oh, and there are lovely bare boobies on show here too, and that’s always a big plus…!

HAUNTING OF CRESTVIEW HIGH is a terrible film really, but as I watched it with a friend, we had great fun with it together. If I’d been watching it alone with no-one to have a laugh with, I’d have been bored rigid and bitterly disappointed with the lack of any real scares.

It’s about a bunch of really awful American high school kids in their last year of school, a school for mostly super-rich snobs like the children of politicians or lawyers.

A bunch of six of these privileged little horrors all find themselves in an eight-hour detention one day. Their teacher falls mysteriously ill and goes off, locking the posh brats into the school library for the whole day.  The Health and Safety people will have a f**king heart attack when they hear about this gross act of negligence on the teacher’s part.

It’s a loving homage to the hit ‘Eighties movie THE BREAKFAST CLUB, and Judd Nelson actually plays the headmaster in this snobby upper-class school, which will delight any fans of the old movie. There’s actually another film doing the rounds called ‘DETENTION,’ which has the super-cool tagline ‘THE BREAKFAST CLUB MEETS THE GRUDGE…!,’ so I must check that out if I get the chance.

Anyway, the six brats involved in this all-day incarceration are mostly the kids of rich parents who’ve committed foul play against an old native American chap called Jacob Rainwater. They’ve shoved him off his land in order to build the school a huge fancy library.

In return, the school will guarantee that their snotty, ill-bred brats will all graduate on time and with the honours they need to get into their big fancy colleges. It’s well for some…

The spirits aren’t happy, however, even if the kids’ parents are. Some strange paranormal-type happenings in the library on Detention Day have the snotty little poshos running scared. And the situation is not without its element of human conspiracy, either, but I ain’t telling. Let it be a surprise-slash-reward for anyone who actually sits through the whole cringingly bad film…!

So there you have it, guys. Another two-for-the-price-of-one horror film review from your friendly neighbourhood movie critic. The first film is terrific and utterly watchable. It’d be a great story even without the horror, if you know what I mean.

The second film, well, still watch it by all means if it comes your way. Just don’t expect too much from it, that’s all. Except boobies. There are boobies in it so you can expect those. Boobies (like diamonds in the ‘Going to Africa’ episode of THE SIMPSONS!) will make everything all right. Boobies…! Boobies…! Boobies…!

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. 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, womens’ 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:

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

https://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com

http://sexysandieblog.wordpress.com

http://serenaharker.wordpress.com

sandrasandraharris@gmail.com

https://twitter.com/SandraAuthor