THE RISE OF THE KRAYS (2015) AND THE FALL OF THE KRAYS (2016). A DOUBLE REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

THE RISE OF THE KRAYS (2015) AND THE FALL OF THE KRAYS (2016). DIRECTED BY ZACKARY ADLER.
STARRING SIMON COTTON, KEVIN LESLIE, PHIL DUNSTER, DANNY MIDWINTER AND ALEXA MORDEN.
REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

Wow. These two low-budget films, based on the true life stories of notorious British gangsters Reggie and Ronnie Kray, claim to leave out the glamorisation of the twins’ stories and to leave us with the impression that its two subjects are nothing more than two truly nasty pieces of work. Well, job done, because both films are heavy going and the twins have no redeeming features in them whatsoever.

It’s not entirely realistic, however, because no-one is truly all bad, or even all good, for that matter. Even Hitler had his redeeming features. He loved dogs, especially his own bow-wow Blondi. He liked children, and the offspring of that charming couple, the Goebbels,’ doted on him and called him Uncle Adolf.

He was a vegetarian too, and even though I know that that doesn’t automatically make a person ‘good,’ if he’d been alive today he probably would have been to the forefront of the ‘save the earth by stopping eating meat’ campaign. Isn’t that a really weird thought…?

But the Kray twins in these two films just come across as thugs, brutish, humourless and incapable of feeling love or kindness, never mind mercy, towards any of their fellow men, or women.

Their mother Violet is not seen in the film except in brief, dialogue-less flashback, so we are not able to witness the twins’ adoration for her that the 1990 film, THE KRAYS, with Martin Kemp and Gary Kemp in the starring roles, deals with so well.

THE RISE OF THE KRAYS just shows us the twins beating people up for nearly two hours until eventually they pretty much run the criminal underworld in ‘50s and ‘60s London. There doesn’t seem to have been any crime in which they didn’t participate; protection rackets, arson, armed robbery, and, finally, murder. They leave behind them a trail of bloody and broken bodies, all casualties of their ferocious, overwhelming need for more and more power.

Ronnie, like in the superb 1990 film, is portrayed as the more violent and angry of the twins, the one that always goes too far and has to be pulled away by Reggie, who’s screaming things like, come away, Ron, leave him, he’s dead already! They allowed people to get into huge debt to them, and then mutilated or crippled them in retaliation.

Ronnie’s mental illness, his schizophrenia, is dealt with here. He did in fact finish his life in Broadmoor, the high security mental hospital, and would have been on medication, one presumes, till the end of his days. While he was at large, however, no-one, not even his beloved twin, could keep him in check.

It was his excesses, and his genuine feeling that he and his brother were ‘untouchable,’ that led to his carelessness and to his making the mistake of shooting people in front of witnesses.

Usually, witnesses to their crimes could be leaned on and ‘persuaded’ neither to testify against the Krays in court nor to single them out in identity parades, but every dog has his day and all good things, as they say, come to an end.

It was the tireless work of London copper Leonard Ernest ‘Nipper’ Read that eventually got the terrible twosome banged up for life, a long-time ambition of Read’s. It was the murders of George Cornell of the excessively violent Richardson gang, convicted gangster Frank Mitchell, whom the Krays sprung from Dartmoor Prison as a sort of mad, ill-advised publicity stunt, and finally of Jack ‘the Hat’ McVitie, that eventually ‘done for’ the brothers. Nipper has quite a big part in the second film.

Reggie marries his quiet, girl-next-door type girlfriend Frances Shea in the second film, but he’s so foul to her and her parents are so against the match that it all ends in tears, and more besides, for poor Frances.

She just didn’t seem to know the complexity of what she was getting in to. Ronnie was terminally jealous of his brother’s marriage and wife. Whatcha need anyone else for, Reg, when we got each uvver, was his answer to everything.

The only likeable people in the two films seem to be Dickie Baker, a member of the twins’ so-called Firm, and Lisa, the beautiful but slightly tragic escort/hooker. They look like they have a chance of happiness together at one stage, but they decide not to take it, for reasons best known to themselves. Sad. I love when she dryly calls him the Ghost of Christmas Past…! Cheeky but apt. Anita Dobson, by the way, of EastEnders fame, is back behind a bar here as the poor, put-upon bleached blonde pub landlady, Madge.

Well, there you go, anyway. The 1990 film, THE KRAYS, has real heart and we quite get to like the twins and empathise with them and their dear old mum, even though we know that the lads have done some really bad things.

Part of our empathy stems from the fact that the twins are played by the dreamy Martin Kemp and Gary Kemp from ‘80s British New Wave band Spandau Ballet, but it’s also a bloody good film as well. Here, the Krays’ close relationship with their mother, brilliantly played by Billie Whitelaw, has something almost of the mystical about it. Mother and sons are nearly supernaturally close, connected tightly forever through hearts and minds.

The women here are all such troopers too, such strong characters. They’ve survived Hitler and World War Two, they can make a few shillings feed everyone in the family for a week and they know what it’s like to be dodging blows from an unemployed and depressed alcoholic of a husband at closing time on Friday and Saturday nights. Such a great film. I thoroughly recommend it to your attention.

THE RISE OF THE KRAYS and THE FALL OF THE KRAYS, unfortunately, don’t come close to the 1990 film for heart, soul and characters we can empathise with. It makes the two brothers look evil, mentally deranged and just thoroughly unpleasant characters. There’s a good ‘Sixties soundtrack and you might find your nostalgia strings being plucked at the sight of ‘Sixties London, but there’s not a lot else to commend this gore-fest. Sorry…!

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:

CAM. (2018) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

CAM. (2018) DIRECTED BY DANIEL GOLDHABER. WRITTEN BY ISA MAZZEI. STARRING MADELEINE BREWER.
REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

I absolutely bloody loved this Netflix horror movie and was held in its vice-life grip right until the very end. Sadly, the ending didn’t explain the ‘horror’ part of the film at all, which was disappointing, and there was more than one red herring present in the plot, but I still wouldn’t have missed CAM for all the tea in, well, erm, my local tea-shop, I suppose, seeing as we can’t be non-pc any more, lol.

Madeleine Brewer does a phenomenal job of portraying Alice Ackerman, a beautiful young American woman who makes her living as a sex worker, but from the relative safety and comfort of her own home.

She’s a ‘cam-girl,’ which means that she, in effect, has her own Internet channel on which she performs sex acts or sexy acts or even ordinary acts that she sexes up a bit, and all for the benefit of the (mostly) male viewers who pay her in ‘tips.’

If a guy wants Alice’s online persona, ‘Lola,’ to do something in particular, he’ll up his tips accordingly. It’s all perfectly legal, and camgirls do pay taxes. It’s the guys who tip the girls who can end up losing their shirts, especially if, as in one case I read about, they’re using the company credit card to tip their favourite camgirls…! A clever camgirl can earn her college tuition fees in this way. It has been done.

A camgirl can do anything she likes on her ‘show,’ which will be hosted on a host site, who presumably take a generous share of the girls’ earnings. Lola’s show is hosted by FreeGirlsLive or FGL, and if you have any technical problems, they’re the ones who are supposed to help you fix them. They’re no better or worse than any other tech support helpline, seemingly. (They’re shit.) She talks live to her viewers in what are known as rooms, or chat rooms.

Lola does partial nudity on her show, or she might do things like make guys pay to watch her eat a messy blueberry-filled pie or take a bite out of a steak still running with blood. She might let the viewers ‘share’ her bath or workout routine. She might spank herself, masturbate, or flash her tits or lick/suck something phallic-shaped, all while being tipped ‘live’ as her show is streaming on the host site.

Lola has a collection of kinky sex toys, from handcuffs to vibrators, all ready for active service, and a wardrobe full of sexy little outfits and slutty lingerie. She might do a sex show with another camgirl to give her ratings a bit of a boost. Alice/Lola is obsessed with ratings. She’s super-excited when she gets into the Top 50 of camgirl sites on FGL, and dreams of the day when she might make Number One.

The pressure to keep your ratings up is almost unbearable. If Lola goes offline for a bit to sleep or shop or see family, her ratings drop. It’s like she’s not supposed to have a life outside of the chat rooms. The show has quite literally become her life.

It’s true she’s been able to buy herself a lot of cool stuff since she became a sex worker, such as fancy jewelled phones and gold laptops- so jealous of these!- but, like I said, she lives only for the show and the ratings, which is a bit sad. And there’s always someone else out there who’s going to do better than her, which is soul-destroying.

The pressure to keep things fresh and to keep coming up with new, bigger and better ideas for her show is also pretty exhausting. Lola’s clients have just lately started demanding blood, so she’s had to do a show where she cuts her own throat with a giant Michael Myers knife and a sachet of fake blood. Her ratings go through the roof, but it’s a little disturbing, don’t you think? I mean, where’d’you go from there? How’d’you top that?

She has private online chats with her biggest tippers, and this gives the men the idea that they and Lola are somehow ‘exclusive’ to each other, which can lead to stalking, threats and/or blackmail. You know what guys are like, lol.

She even meets up with some of these guys, allowing them to buy her dinner and give her presents, but, once you start meeting these guys in person, you’re kind of leaving yourself open to all kinds of preconceived notions on the part of the men. I’m buying you dinner, so you owe me, kind of thing.

Anyway, the camgirl part of the movie was fascinating enough on its own, without the film-makers throwing in a horror element as well. This occurs when Alice/Lola discovers herself to be locked out of her own FGL account one day. That’s not the horror bit, haha, but it’s plenty bloody horrifying in its own right. Computer/Internet trouble is the worst.

Anyway, as if this isn’t irritating enough (Tech support! Tech suppooooooooort…!!!), she also discovers the strangest thing. Alice might be offline, but her alter ego Lola, sexy, simpering Lola, is very much online, performing a show from Alice’s very own bathtub and saying and doing all the things that Alice-as-Lola would normally do. What the hell gives…?

The cops are useless pervs. When Alice tries to tell them that someone who looks exactly like her has stolen her identity, one cop says: ‘If you don’t like what you see on the ‘Net, then don’t go online.’ The other cop says: ‘What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever been asked to do?’ When Alice tells him she doesn’t have sex with her clients, he replies: ‘That’s a shame…’ Jerks.

Alice is also trying to cope with the fact that her mother has just found that her daughter is a sex worker, and not the web developer Alice was pretending to be. Alice’s younger brother’s mates have all caught her ‘show’ online, and it’s just not a very good time for the Ackerman family all round.

The writer of CAM based her writings on her real-life experiences as a camgirl. It’s the most fascinating new-to-me topic I’ve come across in ages. This is a fantastically slick and stylish film that you’d be nuts not to watch, despite the fact that the horror element sadly falls a little bit flat in the end. I didn’t even really mind too much that that happened, because the camgirl storyline is just so jaw-droppingly gripping. Watch it. It’ll kick off your Halloween viewing nicely.        

        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:
https://www.amazon.com/Thirteen-Stops-Sandra-Harris-ebook/dp/B089DJMH64
The sequel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS LATER,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books:
 https://www.amazon.com/dp/1781994234

CREEP (2014) AND CREEP 2 (2017). A DOUBLE BILL OF HORROR FILM REVIEWS BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

CREEP (2014) AND CREEP 2 (2017). DIRECTED BY AND STARRING MARK DUPLASS AND PATRICK BRICE.
REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

I really liked this clever double bill of films, hopefully one day to be a trilogy. The two lads involved, Duplass and Brice, have written, scripted, acted in and directed two really sharp, smart innovative ‘found-footage’ movies, even though the genre has been pretty well exhausted by now and it must be hard to keep coming up with new twists and turns to keep it fresh.

The only negative thing I’ll say about it, and it’s not even really a negative, more of an ‘inevitable,’ is that, once you’ve seen the excellent first movie, you kind of know what’s in store for you with the second, and, I suppose, any third movie the lads get around to making as well. But don’t let that put you off. These films are great fun, and perfect viewing for Halloween.

In the first film, Patrick Brice portrays Aaron, a videographer with not much coming in in the way of jobs and money, who accepts an assignment that offers a videographer just like him a thousand bucks for one day’s work. He travels on the appointed day to an out-of-the-way cabin near some woods and meets Josef, the client, played by Mark Duplass.

So, what exactly does this Josef fella want filmed, then? He tells Aaron a perfectly acceptable and even heart-rending story as to why he wants the younger man to film him as he goes through a Day in his Life.

Josef is good-looking, charismatic, obviously wealthy, well-spoken and doesn’t at all seem like the kind of nut-job who’d go round axe-murdering folks while wearing a full-head wolf mask, hahaha…

Aaron is a little weirded out by Josef’s hands-on touchy-feely-ness and the way Josef thinks they’ve formed a new lifelong friendship, but, hey, some guys are just full-on like that. Aaron starts filming (anyone for a ‘tubbie,’ lol…?) and clearly thinks that a thousand bucks in the hand for a day’s work is a really good deal by anyone’s standards.

To say that Josef is a ridiculously complex person and that Aaron’s life is in the gravest danger is something of an understatement. Is any word that ever comes out of Josef’s mouth the truth, or is he just a pathological liar through-and-through?

He makes Aaron jump through hoops during their day together, holding the money out to him as a sort of carrot, and, by the end of their time together, Aaron is traumatised enough never to want to see Josef again, but no spoilers, right…?

In the sequel, Josef is up to his old tricks again. This time, it’s a fed-up, lonely YouTuber with a failing web series called ENCOUNTERS to her name who falls under his spell. Desiree Akhavan plays Sara, beautiful but pissed off with the way her life and her web series are going.

ENCOUNTERS sees her talking to various eccentric users of Craigslist, a massive American classified ads website. It’s a terrific idea, but obviously there are just so many people out there trying to make a name for themselves on the Internet that her own efforts are, quite simply, swamped under all the other bazillions of available shows.

When Josef, now calling himself ‘Aaron,’ by the way, tells her what kind of documentary he wants her to help him film, Sara is thrilled. This ‘encounter’ could be the one that finally gets her noticed as a YouTuber. She starts the cameras rolling, and keeps them rolling all day, despite Josef’s attempts to scare her, spook her and even get her to leave.

Is Josef not ‘into her’ because he prefers men to women, as you might have concluded yourself by now, or because she’s not as easily shaken up as Aaron was? There’s a desperation about Sara that Aaron didn’t seem to possess, down on his luck as he was, and you get this feeling that there’s literally nothing she won’t do for (a) a man she fancies, and (b) for her web series. Will she be a match for the sick-in-the-head Josef, or will she end up just another page in his diary…?

Watch out for Mark Duplass’s willy, it could go off, lol. I love the way that Josef seems almost miffed and unsettled by the fact that Sara doesn’t mind at all getting naked in turn. If he’s doing the nudity thing to shock his guest, he might just have picked on the wrong person…

I’m still laughing about the ‘tubbie’ thing from the first film. These two lads are terrific film-makers. I cannot wait for the third film in this trilogy, and for whatever plot twists and turns they’ll come up with next. There’s only one way I can end this double review, repetitive as it may seem. Anyone for another ‘tubbie?’ Ah, c’mon, the water’s lovely…!

   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:
https://www.amazon.com/Thirteen-Stops-Sandra-Harris-ebook/dp/B089DJMH64
The sequel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS LATER,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books:
 https://www.amazon.com/dp/1781994234

THE DISAPPEARANCE OF MADELEINE MCCANN. (2019) A NETFLIX CRIME DOCUSERIES REVIEWED BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

THE DISAPPEARANCE OF MADELEINE MCCANN: A NETFLIX SERIES. (2019)
REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

I would well believe that this was the most reported-on missing persons case ever, as it is claimed to be. Blonde-haired British Madeleine, aged nearly four, went missing from her family’s holiday apartment in Praia da Luz, in the Algarve area of Portugal, in May 2007, making this probably the most reported-on family vacation of all time to boot.

Her two-year-old siblings, Sean and Amelie, were asleep nearby at the time. Her parents, Kate and Gerry McCann, both doctors and practising Roman Catholics- I don’t know what that’s got to do with anything either!- were absent from the apartment at the time.

They were having a boozy holiday dinner in a so-called ‘nearby’ tapas restaurant, but I saw the map of that restaurant in relation to the apartment where the children were sleeping, unsupervised. It may be many things, people, but I would never have deemed it to be ‘nearby.’

I’m probably not the only person who would frown on the notion of leaving kids alone while the parents go out for the night, and for doing this exact thing, the McCanns probably lost a fair amount of public sympathy.

But it seems to have been common enough practice in this resort, even though the resort provided both a babysitting service and a night creche. Why would you not just use one of these, and be safe rather than sorry? Still, it’s easy to be wise in hindsight, and it’s even easier to judge the actions of others.

The ‘Tapas Seven,’ as they are known, all friends of the McCanns’ who dined together on that fateful night, maintain that they were all running back and forth from the restaurant all night checking on the kids, but, when Kate went to do her own checks around ten o’clock, Madeleine was gone from her room, the only clue to her disappearance an open window…

That’s when everything goes a bit mad. I hope it’s not a ‘spoiler’ to say that this excellent and thorough documentary series doesn’t hold the answers to the mystery surrounding the disappearance of Madeleine McCann. Madeleine has never been found, alive or dead, and people today are probably no nearer to finding out what happened to her than they were back in 2007.

What the eight episodes do is just collate all the information available on the case and dole them out to us in fifty-minute bursts. It looks extensively at the night of the disappearance, and the actions of the McCanns and the Portuguese police shortly afterwards, when, apparently, a lot of time was wasted and opportunities to find the child were botched or overlooked at first on the part of the police. There are so many theories about what might have happened to Britain’s best-known little missing person.

Did the McCanns, both doctors and Kate a qualified anaesthetist, accidentally over-sedate the child to make sure she slept while they were out for the evening, and then stage an abduction to cover it up? We see a journalist asking the McCanns if they dosed the child up on Calpol before heading out for the night, to which they reply in the negative.

One fact in favour of this ‘over-sedation’ theory seems to be the fact that Sean and Amelie, the two younger McCanns, themselves slept all the way through the furore that was the immediate aftermath of the discovery of the disappearance. On the other hand, if this theory is correct, where is the body? How was it made away with so successfully that it was never discovered?

Did an opportunistic paedophile take Madeleine, someone who perhaps knew that the kids would be alone that night while the parents dined out? Was she stolen to order by someone who really wanted a child of their own and couldn’t have one in the usual way? If this was the case, I wonder how the new ‘parents’ of a stolen child could ever hope to be happy with their new little daughter, knowing that their happiness was entirely based on another family’s misery.

Was she snatched by an international paedophile ring? Men were apparently seen hanging around the apartment and the little resort town around the time of the disappearance. They may have been something to do with it, or they may not have been. It’s as simple, and as complex, as that.

According to one of the private detectives the McCanns hired further down the road- I mean time-wise, not geographically!- there are ‘dark’ parts of the Internet where paedophiles can go and say what they’re ‘into’ and be supplied with it. That poor detective really looked like he had seen some things that he wished he could un-see, if you know what I mean, but some things, once seen… Well, you know yourself.

We hear from two men who were considered suspects by the police at one time, but no longer: Robert Murat, an English chap living in Portugal, and Sergey Malinka, a young Russian computer expert who had once done some work on a website for Murat.

We see what happens when the McCanns are named as ‘arguidos,’ or suspicious persons, themselves for a while by the Portuguese police, and how upsetting this was for the couple, because, as they said themselves, if the police thought the McCanns had done something to Madeleine, then they weren’t out looking for the ‘real’ culprit.

There were hundreds of sightings of little blonde girl children all over Europe after the disappearance, and those all had to be looked into. We hear from the double-glazing millionaire and his son who felt pity for the McCanns and involved themselves in the case, helping with some of the sightings. I didn’t care for either of these two lads. They seemed a bit, I don’t know, entitled or something, to me. Like, okay, we have money so we’ll conduct this investigation however we want. I didn’t really dig them.

We hear from Justine McGuinness, the McCanns’ first PR person, and Gonzalo Amaral, the detective who first worked on the case in Portugal and ultimately wrote a book about it. We hear from friends of the McCanns, who have nothing but sympathy for the couple, and we see loads of footage of the McCanns talking to the press, Kate clutching Madeleine’s favourite toy, Cuddle Cat, all the while.

We also hear from some people who have the temerity to suggest that other kids go missing too, but not all of them get the money and publicity thrown at them that the Madeleine McCann case was able to avail of. Hundreds of kids world-wide go missing every year. Anyone who actively looks to re-unite them with their parents is a hero in my book.

The weirdest thing of all about this baffling disappearance- well, one of them!- is that Madeleine would be eighteen years old now if she was still alive, which, hopefully, she might be. Maybe someone took her who then brought her up with kindness and care. It’s not outside the bounds of possibility.

For the public though, she’s frozen in time, like a fly in amber, as that cute little blonde four-year-old with the happy smile and that distinctive dark strip on the iris of her left eye. It’s one of the iconic images of the twenty-first century. Let’s hope that, one day, we find out the truth about what happened to her.     

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:

THE DEVIL NEXT DOOR. A NETFLIX CRIME DOCUMENTARY REVIEWED BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

THE DEVIL NEXT DOOR. (2019) A NETFLIX CRIME DOCUMENTARY SERIES DIRECTED BY YOSSI BLOCH AND DANIEL SIVAN.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

There’s a scene in that excellent Nazi-hunting film, THE BOYS FROM BRAZIL (1978), in which Frieda Moloney, an imprisoned former concentration camp guard, screams at Laurence Olivier’s character: ‘It was thirty years ago! No-one cares any more!’ She’s talking, of course, about the Holocaust, and deriding the elderly Nazi-hunter for his continued efforts to track down Nazis and bring them to justice.

There are two schools of thought. One is that the past is the past, it’s dead and gone, let sleeping dogs lie and we should all move on from the horrific happenings of World War Two. The other is that it’s never too late to prosecute wrong-doers for their evil deeds, even if the perpetrator is currently a feeble old man who’s lived a blameless life for decades now.

John Demjanjuk is the subject of this brilliant documentary. In 1986, he was extradited from the United States to Israel to stand trial for being the notorious concentration camp guard Ivan the Terrible of Treblinka. He had been positively identified by eyewitnesses, all Holocaust survivors.

Apparently, this particular guard stood at the door of the gas chambers in Treblinka with a sword, which he used to cut off the breasts of female prisoners as he herded them roughly to their deaths.

As if death wasn’t enough, they had to be tortured first too. All that this guard was required to do was shepherd the Jewish captives to their collective deaths. The torture was his own idea, something ‘extra’ he did purely out of his ‘enthusiasm’ for his ‘work.’

Although John Demjanjuk was initially found guilty of being this Ivan the Terrible fella, it was ultimately decided that this was a case of mistaken identity, However, and it’s a giant however, he was still a former concentration camp guard, only from Sobibor, another of the death camps.

John Demanjuk, now deceased, was born a Ukrainian in 1920. He served in the Second World War, but was taken prisoner by the Nazis, after which he started working as a guard in their death camp machinery.

That happened to a huge amount of captured Ukrainians in the war. I’ve read that, as concentration camp guards, they became even more brutal than the Nazis themselves, and more dreaded, feared and hated by the Jews they guarded.

Anyway, after the war, John Demjanjuk fled to the United States with his wife and daughter. They settled in Ohio and John worked at the Ford automobile factory, becoming a US citizen in 1958 and living a life of complete anonymity until the time of the trial in Israel.

The documentary deals openly with the shocking fact that, not only were former Nazis allowed into America to live in peace and quiet after the war, but some of them were actively encouraged, especially if they could lend the United States an expert hand with, say, their space programme. And to think that America fought the Nazis in World War Two! It’s difficult to fathom.

The trial of John Demjanjuk in Israel was a complex and emotive affair. Both the prosecutor, the quiet and unassuming Michael Shaked, and Demjanjuk’s defence lawyer, the flamboyant Yoram Sheftel, a Jew, were still alive in 2019 and each contributed to the documentary.

Sheftel, a powerful personality, reveals how he received hate mail and death threats and even had acid thrown in his face for being a Jew being paid big money to defend an alleged Nazi.

Demjanjuk, a big burly smiley fella who looked like he hadn’t a care in the world, maintained his innocence all the way through the trial. Although he may not have been Ivan the Terrible, he was still a former concentration camp guard with blood on his hands, and I don’t believe he ever apologised to any Holocaust survivors for this. I have to say I didn’t care for him much. He seemed arrogant, full of himself, and confidently relaxed about the prospect of getting off.

The Holocaust survivors who took the stand in the trial and talked about how they and their families had been treated in the camps were much more sympathetic. There’s an electrifying moment when John Demjanjuk has the cheek to offer his hand in friendship to Eliahu Rosenbaum, an eye-witness to the crimes of Ivan the Terrible, but Rosenbaum explodes in righteous anger.

I won’t reveal the ins-and-outs of the verdict and the appeal and related activities, in case you want to watch this excellent five-part documentary series for yourself and, if you have an interest in the Holocaust, you really should. It contains graphic images of concentration camp victims, as you might imagine.  

I especially liked Eli Rosenbaum, formerly the Director of America’s OSI, or Office of Special Investigations- ie, Nazi Hunting- and the way he wasn’t deterred from pursuing a criminal just because the crime was decades old.

This man, who once questioned Hitler’s own pet film-maker, Leni Riefenstahl, has probably done more than anyone else in America to hunt down and prosecute former Nazis. God bless that man.

As for John Demjanjuk, deceased since 2012 at the age of ninety-one, I expect he’s where he’s meant to be right now. You may escape the hangman, but there’s no escaping the higher power who judges us all.      

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:

VERONICA. (2017) A NETFLIX HORROR FILM REVIEWED BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

VERONICA. (2017) A SPANISH HORROR FILM FOR NETFLIX DIRECTED BY PACO PLAZA AND STARRING SANDRA ESCACENA. LOOSELY BASED ON REAL EVENTS.
REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

I wasn’t expecting this Netflix horror film to be as good as it is. Loosely based on a real-life Ouija board case from Spain in 1991 in which a girl died mysteriously after using one of those devil-boards, it’s the story of a very ordinary schoolgirl, the titular Veronica.

She experiences hauntings and a bit of the old demonic possession as well after using the Ouija board which comes free with the occult magazine she regularly buys. A free Ouija board? I remember the days when a cheap sparkly nail varnish sellotaped to the front of your magazine was the most you could expect, lol.  

Anyway, poor Veronica seems to be having quite a hard time of it generally, even without the haunting to contend with. Her dad is dead, and her mum works all the hours God sends in the family restaurant/bar to keep a roof over her kids’ heads and food in their mouths.

Mum unfortunately has to put a ridiculous amount of pressure on Veronica, as the oldest child, to care for her two younger sisters, Irene and Lucia, and her adorable little brother with the curly hair and glasses, Antonito. The kids are all likeable and terrific little actors too, but, as their screen sister Veronica knows, they take an awful lot of looking after.

Veronica has to get them up in the morning and see that they’re washed, fed, dressed and ready for school. She does a full day of school herself then, before collecting the young ‘uns, dropping by the restaurant to pick up the food which Mum has prepared for their dinners and bringing everyone home again to feed ‘em, wash ‘em, get ‘em to bed and then do her own homework.

It really is an incredible amount of pressure to put on a teenage girl but, as I said, Mum doesn’t really have any choice. It’s either work or starve and be homeless. Veronica is fifteen and still hasn’t had her first menstrual period. Maybe its onset is delayed by the tremendous pressure the girl is under, who knows?

She’s definitely ripe for a haunting-slash-possession, though, as teenage girls often seem to be, because of riotous hormonal activity and, in this case, because of the death of a father whom she clearly misses. Plus, of course, her dad’s demise left her in the unenviable position of being a second parent to her younger siblings.

She’s been denied the carefree adolescence some girls experience, and she often has to miss out on seeing her friends to babysit her siblings. Also, the film-makers have thrown in a solar eclipse for good measure. Could the stars have been aligned in exactly the right way for a haunting to occur…?

The haunting is pretty damn effective. Veronica starts seeing things, awful things, around the family apartment, and having frightful nightmares, shortly after using the Ouija board in her Catholic school junk room with two of her friends. Her own odd behaviour during the séance causes her friends to be wary of her afterwards. The session scares all three girls witless, anyway.

‘Sr. Death,’ the blind, chain-smoking retired nun who lives at the school, is able to sense that ‘someone’ now walks beside Veronica who was accidentally summoned up by the amateur séance, someone from whom her three siblings must now be protected. Veronica has opened a door, the ancient nun says, that should never have been opened. If Veronica didn’t have the willies up her before, she certainly does now.

I was scared stiff myself watching the hauntings. Poor Veronica. Her friends have ditched her, her mum thinks she’s acting out just to make things difficult for everyone and their downstairs neighbour wants to know what all the racket from upstairs is about when Veronica doesn’t have a clue herself. She’s left to face the horrors alone and the outcome is going to be bloody…

I love ‘paranormal activity’ films and this is a good ‘un. The moral of the story is, of course, that you should never interfere with things you don’t fully understand, and the occult is probably at the top of that list.

I wouldn’t personally use a Ouija board if you paid me to, that’s how spooked I would be at the whole idea of waking sleeping dogs with a sledgehammer, which is the effect the Ouija board seems to have on the spirit world.

The film’s ending is shocking and could maybe have been prevented if only poor Veronica hadn’t been left shouldering so much responsibility by herself, but, as we’ve agreed, Mum has to work and that’s that. There is no-one else, as there’s no-one else for so many real-life single parent families. Maybe that’s the real horror in this story.

Other reviewers have pointed out the very obvious undercurrents of sexual abuse underpinning Veronica’s story and, if they’re right, it makes for a sad tale indeed. Either way, whatever you decide is the reason for all these gruesome happenings, it makes for a really gripping watch.

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:

THINGS HEARD AND SEEN. (2021) A NETFLIX HORROR FILM REVIEWED BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

THINGS HEARD AND SEEN. (2021) BASED ON THE BOOK ‘ALL THINGS CEASE TO APPEAR,’ BY ELIZABETH BRUNDAGE. DIRECTED BY SHARI SPRINGER BERMAN AND ROBERT PULCINI.

STARRING AMANDA ‘MEAN GIRLS’ SEYFRIED, JAMES NORTON, RHEA SEEHORN, KAREN ALLEN AND F. MURRAY ABRAHAM.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

I had two things to say about this movie and a quick glance on Wikipedia informs me that they have both been said before. Well, ain’t that a kick in the head? I’m going to say them anyway, because they’re the two things that actually strike me most about the film.

Firstly, this movie would probably have worked much better without the supernatural element, because the ghost story is woefully weak and the story about the car-crash marriage is strong and could have been even stronger if it wasn’t trying to squash in a ghost story as well.

Secondly, the movie is very similar to Robert Zemeckis’s excellent oeuvre, WHAT LIES BENEATH, from 2000, one of my favourite films of all time. Harrison Ford and Michelle Pfeiffer absolutely smash it as the cheating, charming gaslighting research scientist/college professor and his wife, who’s being haunted by the ghost of someone intimately known to her husband, if you catch my drift.

The wife is dead-set on bringing the mystery to light. When Michelle PFeiffer says to Harrison Ford: ‘That girl must be brought up,’ the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. The husband in WHAT LIES BENEATH is unwilling for his ghastly-slash-ghostly secrets to come under scrutiny, because of the obviously negative repercussions for himself and his nice cosy set-up and career success.

So, he decides to get rid of the one person who knows his secret and is standing in the way of his keeping hold of the reins of his lovely, well-respected rich scientist life. And if that one person in his way can also be shown to be a tiny bit unstable and have a history of seeing things that aren’t there, well, so much the better for Mr. Professor…

THINGS HEARD AND SEEN has a very similar plot and is a very similar film, although the 2000 movie does the ghost story better. It’s 1979. Catherine and George Claire move with their little daughter Franny from their Manhattan apartment to a huge old farm in upstate New York. George, an art professor, is taking up a position in the college there and he’s extremely happy with his promotion.

Their lovely new house has a ‘troubled history.’ You know what that means. Folks died horribly there in the past, lol, and their spirits are not at rest. Not that there’s anything to ‘lol’ about in people dying horribly, haha. Ooops, I did it again…

Anyway, George is confident, handsome, ambitious, superior, smug, and a lying, cheating bastard to boot. He can- and does- charm the knickers off his female students, who all think that Professor Claire is just the swoonsomest swooner that ever swooned, snigger. They think he’s ‘the most,’ which folks may or may not have continued saying into the ‘80s, I just don’t know.

Catherine, on the other hand, doesn’t seem to be George’s biggest fan, for some reason. She’s jumpy, edgy, tearful, snappy and struggles with bulimia. She doesn’t seem to have a passion in life the way George is passionate about art. As she and George seem to have gotten married and pregnant straight out of school, maybe she hasn’t had a chance to find out what her true passion in life is yet, besides, of course, her child.

Added to this, she’s ‘seeing things’ around the house, shadows, people, ghosts and suchlike, but she can’t tell George about it because he’s grossly insensitive to her ‘vibes,’ and says he doesn’t want her ruining the new house on everyone by saying it’s haunted. The ghost story really needed to be sharper and more clear-cut, rather than a bit fuzzy and confusing the way it is.

George quickly finds himself a nice bit of stuff to keep him warm on the winter nights, because he’s not getting any nookie at home, what with Franny being in their bed nearly every night.

Catherine is stuck at home with the baby twenty-four-seven, with no-one to talk to but the two young lads who come to do jobs around the place. Even when the Claires get invited out to parties as a couple, George turns into a big, weed-smoking, drunk-driving jerk, so maybe they’d be better off staying at home.

Then comes the revelation that George has committed an illegal act to get the cushy position he’s in now at Saginaw College. It wasn’t hard to guess what happened in the plot from here, but there’s at least one thing in the last twenty minutes of the film that will probably surprise you, so do watch it to the end, even if you think you’ve already guessed the ending.

I liked F. Murray Abraham (SCARFACE, AMADEUS) as the cuddly and genial head of the college’s art history department, Floyd DeBeers- great name!- though I knew exactly what was going to happen to him the minute he said that he was going to have to inform the college of George’s pretty major deliberate act of deception. That isn’t the only thing that George has told lies about, either, so stay tuned.

Karen Allen, a classy lassy probably better known as Indiana Jones’s love interest, Marion Ravenwood, in the action-adventure films RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK (1981) and INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL (2008), has a small role in the film as a new acquaintance of the Claires’. There’s that Harrison Ford connection again! 

As I’ve said, the ghost story is as weak as piss, excuse my language, but the toxic marriage story is gripping, and could have been even gripping-er, which isn’t a word at all, if they’d just concentrated on that and nowt else. WHAT LIES BENEATH did it first and also did it better, but THINGS HEARD AND SEEN is worth a watch too, if only for comparative purposes.

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:

THE OPEN HOUSE. (2018) A NETFLIX HORROR FILM REVIEWED BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©


THE OPEN HOUSE. (2018) DIRECTED, WRITTEN AND CO-PRODUCED BY MATT ANGEL AND SUZANNE COOTE.
STARRING DYLAN MINNETTE, PIERCEY DALTON, PATRICIA BETHUNE, SHARIF ATKINS AND AARON ABRAMS.
REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

This horror film had a predictable beginning, a very exciting middley-bit and a disappointing, unsatisfactory ending. The blurb said that a mother and son have a terrifying experience when they move somewhere new, so I guessed straightaway that the dad of the family was for the chop. And he was. Whoever would have thought that nipping out to buy a half-dozen eggs was fraught with so much peril? I’ll think twice in the future before demanding a chucky egg and soldiers for my brekkie…
 
So, anyway, after Dad pops his clogs, downtrodden Mum Naomi Wallace and her touchy teenaged son Logan, an aspiring runner, leave their house and their debts behind to go and spend some time in Naomi’s rich sister Alison’s holiday home in the mountains. Alison, by the way, comes to the funeral of her brother-in-law (the egg guy) dressed as if she should be wrapping herself around a stripper’s pole, but she’s rich so she can do whatever the fupp she likes.

It’s miles from anywhere, this fancy holiday home that Naomi and Logan are bound for, and if anything happens to their car or the phone service, they’d be basically screwed, being so far away from civilisation, but it’s rent-free and they can’t seem to think of anything else to do in the wake of dad’s demise, so off they go…

The one snag is that the sister is trying to sell the house, so the Wallaces can’t stay there indefinitely. Also, they have to vacate the premises every Sunday between ten and five, so that strangers can nose around the property, re-arrange any carefully-shelved items, cast aspersions on the linoleum in the hall and disparage the fittings in the bog. This phenomenon is known as an ‘Open House,’ and it sounds horribly intrusive and like an invasion of the tenants’ privacy. But the Wallaces are poor now, see, and beggars can’t be choosers…

Any-hoo, after the first Open House has been inflicted on Naomi and Logan, Logan in particular gets the feeling that there’s someone else in the house with them. When they search the place, however, there’s no-one to be seen. But they’re getting hang-up phone calls, their stuff is being moved around like crazy and the hot water in the shower keeps being switched to cold.

Mom spends a lot of the movie in the shower in the nip, then going down to the darkened basement to re-light the pilot light which keeps switching itself off. I’m not sure if we’re meant to infer that the intruder, whom by now we know to be a big man in heavy boots, is hiding out in said basement, but Mom sure does spend a lot of time down there, barely wrapped in her towel while attending to the troublesome water heater

There are quite a few plot-holes in the film, clues that seem to lead nowhere and one or two red herrings in the form of a senile, widowed neighbour, who might or might not have a living husband, and an attractive, would-be suitor of Mom’s. Or, are they red herrings…?

Once the action gets going and the intruder theory starts to really gather momentum, there are some very scary moments, especially when Mom sifts through the newly-developed photographs she’s taken recently in an attempt to re-kindle an old interest…

The violence against the poor defenceless mother is horrific and possibly even gratuitous, likewise what happens to Logan. I’ve already mentioned that I was disappointed with the ending, so I won’t say any more for fear of the dreaded spoilers. You can make up your own mind regarding whether the film is a hit or a miss.

It’s by no means a bad film as such. I’ll just reiterate what I said at the start. THE OPEN HOUSE has a predictable beginning, a very exciting middley-bit and a disappointing, unsatisfactory ending. But that’s only my opinion. You can check out the film yourselves on Netflix and you might even end up thinking that my verdict on it is as suspect as the one in the O.J. Simpson trial, lol. Have fun deciding…

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:
https://www.amazon.com/Thirteen-Stops-Sandra-Harris-ebook/dp/B089DJMH64

The sequel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS LATER,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books:
 https://www.amazon.com/dp/1781994234

CASTING JONBENET. (2017) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©


CASTING JONBENET. (2017) DIRECTED AND CO-PRODUCED BY KITTY GREEN.
REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

I watched this eighty-minute documentary on Netflix recently, and was struck by how it managed to tell a twenty-five-year-old story in a new and unusual way. Various actors and actresses, adults and children alike, are taking part in auditions for the roles of players in the story of the real-life murder of a little American girl called JonBenet Ramsey.

The story is told through the auditionees’ recital of their various lines and actions, and frequently they get to voice their own opinions as well regarding the guilt- or innocence- of the various characters in the real-life drama. The still-unsolved murder has been referred to as ‘the ultimate cold case,’ and seemingly everyone has an opinion on it.

So, what are the facts as we actually know them? Well, on the day after Christmas in 1996, a wealthy and outwardly happy family called the Ramseys, resident in Boulder, Colorado, had their lives turned upside-down forever by the discovery of the death of its youngest member, pretty little blonde angel JonBenet, aged only six.

This is what supposedly happened. The mom of the family, Patsy, who never appeared in public without her flawless make-up on and co-ordinating outfits, came down the back staircase of their home between five and six in the morning. Lying across the bottom step of this spiral staircase were three pages of closely-written handwriting.

Patsy read part of the first page. Realising that it was a ransom note that stated that ‘a small foreign faction’ had taken her daughter and wanted $180,000 for her safe return, she ran back upstairs to check JonBenet’s bedroom. Finding it empty, she screamed for her husband John, a very rich and successful businessman. Their nine-year-old son Burke apparently ‘slept through the whole thing.’

The Ramseys called the police, who did an initial search of the house that yielded no results. The Ramseys also phoned various friends and asked them to come over. Soon the house was crowded with people wandering all over the place. Shortly before lunch, John Ramsey and a male friend wandered away from the crowd and found little JonBenet’s body on the floor under a white blanket in a room off their basement.

Seemingly forgetting that a crime scene should be left untouched in order for the police to be able to investigate a case properly, John Ramsey removed the duct tape over the child’s mouth and loosened some of the ties that bound her. Then he carried her up to the living room and laid her under the Christmas tree, almost like a little wrapped present.

The media went nuts for the case. It was a slow news period, those quiet days between Christmas and New Year, and the case was ‘sexed-up’ considerably once it emerged that Patsy Ramsey, a former Miss West Virginia, had entered her beautiful little daughter into beauty pageants, and had been planning to ‘put her through the pageant system’ all the way had the child not passed away.

Photos began to appear in the media of JonBenet in full pageant make-up and regalia. She was a darling little girl and looked lovely in photos, being super-photogenic, but some of the pictures sexualised her and basically turned her into a certain type of paedophile’s dream: a little blonde angel in make-up and high heels.

Some of the professional photos of Jonbenet that Patsy had paid big money for made the child look about ten years older. Even in some of the family photos, JonBenet is pouting in a highly suggestive manner with heavy red lipstick on.

Some people were very critical of Patsy for decking her daughter out to look like a tiny, pocket-sized Lolita. She was accused of trying to live vicariously through her daughter. Seriously, six years old is a bit young for that kind of adult carry-on, surely…?

The autopsy conducted on JonBenet’s body found that she had been killed by asphyxiation. She’d also had a blow to the head and, distressingly, as if all that wasn’t bad enough, there was some blood in her underwear and signs of rough handling in her vaginal area.

It was thought at the time that semen was found on her corpse, which immediately put a sexually mature, adult male in the frame. I’m not entirely sure of myself here, but I think that later investigators were found to have been mistaken about the presence of semen on the body. But what about the ‘rough handling’ of the child’s vagina, and the fact that someone had supposedly wiped down her genital area with a cloth…?

Theories abounded, some of which you’ll hear from the actors auditioning for the parts of Patsy and John. Did Burke kill his pageant queen sister in a fit of jealous rage, and his parents then covered up for him by staging a kidnapping?

Did Patsy slam the little girl’s head against a wall in response to yet another aggravating bed-wetting by JonBenet? Did a complete stranger, or a friend, neighbour or disgruntled former employee of John’s sneak into the house and kill the little girl? Was it planned or opportunistic? Or purely accidental?

The three-pages-long ‘ransom’ note, addressed to John Ramsey, was found to have been written in the house, with a pen and pad of paper belonging to Patsy. The note was thought to have contained certain stock phraseology from crime movies. The Ramseys were known to be big movie fans and had some movie posters on display in the house.

I read the note myself and thought some of it honestly sounded like a pissed-off wife taking the opportunity to have a few sly digs at her ‘perfect’ husband. Don’t try to grow a brain, John…! Why not use some of that famous Southern common sense of yours, John…?  The tone of the note was thought to be more likely female than male, and plenty of people seem to think that Patsy Ramsey wrote it.

A garotte was found around the child’s neck and included part of a paintbrush also belonging to Patsy. The police were unable to find evidence of any forced entry into the house, all of which suggests it may have been an ‘inside job,’ rather than a crime committed by an outsider.

Also, for quite a while Patsy and John Ramsey more or less refused to co-operate with police or be interviewed by them at the police station, but their considerable wealth allowed them to hire expensive attorneys, private investigators and even a publicist to handle their TV and other media appearances. They appeared on CNN shortly after the murder, before they’d even spoken to the police, and body language analysts had a field day deconstructing their on-screen behaviour.

This film makes the most of a strikingly different approach to story-telling. I can’t get the image of all those red-sweatered, fully made-up Patsies all acting out scenes from the murder/kidnapping out of my head.

Ditto the house all dressed up for Christmas. One of the boys auditioning for the part of Burke walloping a water-melon with a blunt object to see if a young lad would have the strength to kill a younger child in such a way. The beefy chap who works nights as a ‘sex educator’ who’s auditioning for the part of one of the cops. In a film about a genuinely tragic event, this guy is a ray of sunshine.

 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:
https://www.amazon.com/Thirteen-Stops-Sandra-Harris-ebook/dp/B089DJMH64
The sequel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS LATER,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books:
 https://www.amazon.com/dp/1781994234

LOUIS THEROUX: SAVILE. (2016) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©


LOUIS THEROUX: SAVILE. (2016) STARRING LOUIS THEROUX.
REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

I watched this seventy-five-minute documentary on Netflix at the weekend and found it fascinating. It’s a kind of a follow-up, if you like, to the film made by investigative journalist and broadcaster Louis Theroux in 2000, WHEN LOUIS MET JIMMY, only now the pair aren’t on chummy, palsy-walsy first name terms any more. Oh no.

Now, Louis refers to the disgraced DJ and broadcaster only by his surname, and talks openly about how he was ‘taken in’ by the consummate liar and performer that was the former BBC star Jimmy Savile. As he- Savile- had been dogged by rumours of paedophilia even during his lifetime, Louis did bring the subject up lightly with him in the 2000 film, only to be told categorically by the ‘celebrity’ that the rumours were untrue.

Savile’s reputation lies in ruins today after numerous accusations of rape, sexual abuse and sexual assault were levelled at him after his death in 2011 at the age of eighty-four. Both his grave and his former home have been vandalised. His name is mud. Louis, quite understandably, wants to distance himself from the ‘friendship’ with Savile that a lot of people probably found quite bizarre in the first place.

We are shown clips of ‘When Louis Met Jimmy’ in this later film. Shades of Norman Bates, I feel, when Savile takes us on a tour of his deceased mother’s bedroom, preserved exactly as she kept it in life. He still calls her ‘the Duchess,’ and has all her clothes dry-cleaned once a year to ‘keep ‘em fresh.’ Louis, as a favoured ‘friend,’ is permitted to sleep overnight in ‘the Duchess’s’ room during the course of making the documentary. I find that whole thing a bit creepy.

It seems to have been common knowledge in his own lifetime that Jimmy Savile, who was a coal-miner, a wrestler and the owner of nightclubs in the north of England before he shot to fame as a DJ on Radio Luxembourg, liked young girls. Really young girls, even as young as twelve and thirteen. People talked and laughed about it openly at the time, apparently. It doesn’t seem to have raised too many eyebrows back then, unfortunately for the girls, in many cases still children, who were abused.

When Savile worked on TOP OF THE POPS as a presenter, he’d apparently pluck young girls out of the audience and have sex with them in his dressing-room, or sexually assault them, as seems more likely from what we’ve been told. He had an instinct for honing in on girls who were vulnerable, friendless, lonely, penniless, or who were having trouble at home or were being abused at home.

Some of the now middle-aged women who speak to Louis Theroux in this film had been abused by relatives prior to meeting Jimmy Savile. They thought it was ‘expected’ of them to give Savile what he demanded when he’d come to their boarding school for troubled young runaway females in the ‘Seventies. (He practically had the run of the place; imagine…!)

Bribing the girls with cigarettes, a spin in his Rolls-Royce and promises of being allowed to appear on Savile’s television shows on the BBC guaranteed the ‘star’ a grope, a blow-job, hand relief and sometimes full sex in the back of the Roller. He didn’t do foreplay, finesse or feelings. It was just a quick in-and-out job, tongue in the girl’s mouth, grab her breasts and then the hand up the skirt. Let your Uncle Jimmy have a feel, that’s a good girl…

Why didn’t the girls report him? Well, they figured, who would have believed them? They were, essentially, girls in the care of the state, and he was Jimmy Savile, OBE, a national treasure, star of the BBC television and radio airwaves, who, in his lifetime, raised about forty million euros for charity. The Spinal Centre at Stoke Mandeville came about because of his tireless charity work and his sponsored marathon running. He was knighted for his charity work in 1990.

He was the darling of old ladies and kids everywhere, a sort of ‘god-like’ figure who was untouchable when it came to rumours of improprieties and other grumblings. He was pictured with such dignitaries as Prince Charles and Princess Diana, Margaret Thatcher, the Rolling Stones, the Beatles, and even the Pope. Who wouldn’t be nervous about reporting a guy like that to the authorities, who would be bound to take Savile’s side?

Some women even admit they were afraid of him, and I don’t blame them. I personally reckon that there was a very nasty streak behind the affable, genial, chatty jokey front he kept up the whole time. Watch the bit where, unaware that the camera is still filming, the eccentric showbiz ‘star’ tells us what he used to do to ‘messers’ in his clubs back in the day. It seems excessive and scary to me.

And just watch him say cockily, ‘I can get anything, me,’ when Louis queries how come Savile has his home address which was supposed to be ex-directory. Another girl, who’d given birth secretly as a teenager in the ‘Seventies just before she met Savile, has the distinct feeling that he’d seen her health records prior to seeking her out. ‘You’ve been a naughty girl with your boyfriend, haven’t you?’

That, seemingly, is how he got away with everything for so long. He was more or less King Jimmy, King of the BBC, the presenter of such iconic shows as JIM’LL FIX IT and TOP OF THE POPS.

In his trademark brightly-coloured shell-suits, big plastic glasses and with a fat cigar always clamped between his discoloured and rotting teeth, he was, for a while, the most recognisable man in Britain. Next to him, it’s no wonder the girls from the children’s home felt like nobodies, who wouldn’t be believed if they told on him and who might even get into trouble for so doing.

There are a couple of old dears in this 2016 documentary who have trouble believing that Savile was the monster he’s been made out to be. One lady has worked in the Spinal Centre built by Jimmy’s fund-raising for fifty years, and the other is his long-time secretary, Janet Cope. Even though Savile sacked her without warning in 2001 after thirty-two years of faithful service, she still remains loyal-ish to his memory, appearing doubtful when Louis gives her an example of the many instances of abuse.

Ah well. To them, the ugly little gnome-like man with the shock of white hair and non-stop attention-seeking stream of ‘look at me!’ patter was their hero. Girls today would probably look askance at a picture of him and make vomiting noises at the thought of being made to touch someone so physically repulsive, someone who wore a string vest and revealing shorts at the age of seventy-four to visit Louis Theroux’s office in WHEN LOUIS MET JIMMY. It feels like everyone who knew him back then knew what he was up to, but no-one did anything about it. Thank God things have changed a bit since then.       

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: