JAMES CAMERON’S ‘TITANIC.’ (1997) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

titanic poster

JAMES CAMERON’S ‘TITANIC.’ (1997) WRITTEN, PRODUCED AND DIRECTED BY JAMES CAMERON. STARRING KATE WINSLET, LEONARDO DICAPRIO, FRANCES FISHER, BILLY ZANE, BERNARD HILL, KATHY BATES, GLORIA STUART, BILL PAXTON, SUZY AMIS AND DAVID WARNER. CHEESY THEME TUNE PERFORMED BY CELINE DION. MUSIC BY JAMES HORNER.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

‘If celebrities didn’t want people pawing through their garbage and saying they’re gay, then they shouldn’t have tried to express themselves creatively. Well, at least I’ll always have my crank calls. Old Lady From Titanic, you stink…!’

Homer Simpson of THE SIMPSONS in the episode about the celebrities, starring Kim Basinger, Alec Baldwin and Ron Howard.

I always regret that I didn’t go to see this ‘Nineties blockbuster in the cinema when it was first released, as it must have been spectacular to witness on the big screen. At the time, however, I was fantastically and disastrously embroiled in an affair with a married man that was the blight of my youth and I had, therefore, other things on my mind. Such as his lies. Oh, his terrible, terrible lies!

I love you. He loved me not, gentle readers. I’ll love you till I die. I wish I could set Alanis Morrisette on him, just for that one alone. She feels very strongly about that kind of lie in particular.

My wife and I haven’t slept together for years. What was the new baby called again? I’ll leave my wife for you when the kids are in college. They were toddlers. I’ll never leave you. He left me three fucking times before he left me for good.

Each time hurt worse than the last and made me actually contemplate thinking about considering ending it all, if you get me. Luckily I decided not to bother with all that high drama or I’d never have met you guys.

And so on and so forth, anyway. You don’t need to know how low I sunk. Suffice it to say that it ended. Now let us focus no more on the follies of my youth and concentrate on the big-budget cheese-fest that is TITANIC, the biggest film of the ‘Nineties or maybe even any other decade for that matter.

It’s common practice, of course, to slag it off but I love it and I always have. It’s got gorgeous dresses and fabulous hats, a stunning Kate Winslet, an actress whom I’ve liked in everything I’ve ever seen her in, a broodingly handsome Billy Zane and a plot based on historical fact. The sinking of the TITANIC bit, that is, not the Rose and Jack bit.

The only things I dislike about the film are that song by Celine Dion and the choice of Leonardo DiCaprio as Kate Winslet’s love interest. I’ve never liked the rather baby-faced youth and I did not like him in this. The very thought of being in a position where I would actually choose a life of poverty with this… this child over a life of comfort and luxury as the wife of the rich and gorgeous Billy Zane brings me out in hives, I kid you not.

And I’d much rather settle down to watch TITANIC on December the twenty-sixth than actually going out to brave the shops again like some crazy people do, this time to attempt to exchange the rubbish presents foisted on them by distant relatives and friends for slightly better stuff.

It’s true I neither want nor need a dozen gift-sets of the same foot-care cosmetics I didn’t want last year but what the hey. I’ll simply re-gift ’em next year and on Saint Stephen’s Day, otherwise known as Boxing Day, I’ll stay in with TITANIC and a plate piled high with leftover-turkey sambos and mince pies and wallow in the delicious tragedy of it all.

Rose DeWitt Bukater, played by English Rose Kate Winslet, is a young woman betrothed to Billy Zane’s super-rich heir to a steel fortune, Caledon Hockley. They are travelling to America with Rose’s uptight Ma and, when the TITANIC reaches its destination, Rose and Cal are to be married.

Ma DeWitt Bukater will be relieved a thousand times over when this happens. Her husband is dead and the family money, as she tells her daughter in no uncertain terms, is all gone. The film does a great, if grim, job of highlighting how precarious a woman’s position was in those days if she didn’t have a rich man to protect her.

Ma and Rose will be set for life if Rose marries Cal but Rose, desperate to escape the confines of the life that her Mother and Cal have laid down so rigidly for her, has been making goo-goo eyes at Leonardo DiCaprio’s Jack Dawson, an impoverished, rootless artist who won his ticket for the Ship Of Dreams in a lucky hand of poker.

Jack, who meets Rose when he saves her from committing suicide by jumping over the side of the ship, is teaching Rose all manner of unsuitable things. How to spit like a man, how to go to a ‘real party,’ how to pose in the nip for a randy artist and how to have sweaty, cherry-popping sex in the back of parked automobiles. Tsk, tsk.

Cal and Mrs. DeWitt Bukater are fit to be tied, they’re so enraged at all of this. And then, on that fateful night in April 1912, the ‘unsinkable’ TITANIC hits the iceberg in the freezing cold North Atlantic Ocean and sails right into the history books as one of the biggest disasters in maritime history…

The film portrays the sinking magnificently, in my humble opinion. We see first the disbelief of the passengers, who’ve been assured that ‘God himself could not sink this ship.’ We see the band playing ‘music to drown by’ and the first-class passengers dressing in their finest clothes as they prepare, chillingly, ‘to go down like gentlemen.’ They still don’t really believe that they’ll be required to, though.

Then there’s the absolute chaos as the ship starts to go under and the passengers scramble madly for the wholly insufficient number of life-boats. Then there’s the terrifying splitting in half of the gigantic ship and the deaths by drowning and deaths caused by the knife-sharp cold.

There’s the much-parodied scene as Rose lies comfortably on a nice big door in the ocean while Jack, ever the good little steerage passenger, freezes his balls off in the bitterly cold water. ‘There was room on that raft for the two of youse!’ goes a certain Irish commercial for, I think, Maltesers or something. Well said, that man, whoever he was.

The story is book-ended at both ends with the modern-day story of the late Bill Paxton’s really cute treasure-hunter trying to find a fabulous necklace called The Heart Of The Ocean on the wreck of the sunken ship. The now one-hundred-and-one-year-old Rose is ‘helping’ him although, as the viewers see, ‘a woman’s heart is a deep ocean of secrets’ and she’s pulling the wool over his eyes a little bit, the ancient hussy.

There are so many iconic scenes to remember fondly when the ship sinks. Here are some of mine. The millions of plates falling off their shelves and into the water. The old man and woman huddled tightly together on their bed, determined to die together. The shell-shocked Captain when the water explodes in on him.

The girl floating dead in the water with her dress billowing out around her, filmed from below. Very artistic, is that. It could even be a painting. The ship’s officer shooting himself after he realises he’s killed someone while trying to keep order amidst the chaos.

The rich guy in his dinner jacket sitting there in shock as the water dares to breach the upper echelons of first class. Dreadfully vulgar, the mighty ocean, dontcha know. Must be from the Chippewa Falls ocean, that would explain its appalling lack of good taste…!

Ioan Gruffudd shouting ‘Is there anyone alive out there?’ as he trawls the icy waters for survivors with his little whistle. Rose in the rain on the Carpathia the day after the sinking realising that she has The Heart Of The Ocean in her pocket. After she’s had, like, the entire fucking ocean underneath her when she was on that floating bit of coffin, lol.

I simply adore Rose’s gorgeous red ‘committing suicide’ dress and dinky little shoes. I also love all the scenes that show the lower decks of the ship filling with water first. Those are all top-notch depictions and I honestly don’t see how anyone could have done them better.

I love this film and I watch it every Christmas without fail. I won’t hear a word said against it, not unless you’re bitching about the awful song, lol. Happy New Year now, y’all. Have a good one. And remember to keep a sharp eye out for Celine Dion, as far as I know she’s still alive and could still be singing…!

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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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

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