FRANKENSTEIN CREATED WOMAN. (1967) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

FRANKENSTEIN CREATED WOMAN. (1967) BASED ON THE BOOK BY MARY SHELLEY. DIRECTED BY TERENCE FISHER. PRODUCED BY ANTHONY NELSON KEYS. WRITTEN BY JOHN ELDER (ANTHONY HINDS).

STARRING PETER CUSHING, THORLEY WALTERS, SUSAN DENBERG, ROBERT MORRIS, DUNCAN LAMONT, PETER BLYTHE, DEREK FOWLDS, BARRY WARREN, PETER MADDEN AND COLIN JEAVONS.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

O-ho. The cunning and self-serving, though undoubtedly charming-when-he-wants-to-be, Baron Frankenstein is up to his old tricks again, this time in the little village of Karlsbad in the Hammer-created ‘mitt-Europe’ that often features people in traditional Tyrolean dress and has stunning mountain ranges and forestry as its backdrop.

This time, the ambitious Baron, always greedy for still more knowledge and scientific advancement, has managed to capture the soul of an executed man and transplant it into the body of a woman who, before her suicide, suffered from terrible distortion and paralysis of the body and extensive scarring and disfigurement of the face.

The young man in question is Hans, the attractive, well-built but also decent and compassionate assistant to Baron Frankenstein and Dr. Hertz, the village doctor, who work together. When Hans was a child, he saw his father executed by the village guillotine, which stands on a little hillock on the way out of town.

Despite his criminal antecedents, Hans grows up as the kind of man who knows right from wrong and who will stand up for what’s right if he sees people around him acting the maggot.

Because he’s poor, though, and his father was a known executed criminal, the villagers tend to look down on him and not defend him when his own neck is on the line after a terrible crime has been committed in the village. Poor Hans is an easy target. Talk about round up the usual suspects.

The young woman is Christina Kleve, daughter of the local innkeeper. Because of her facial deformities and physical handicaps, she runs afoul of three local fops, Anton, Karl and Johann, who mock her afflictions mercilessly in the cruellest way imaginable. They’ve even composed a horrible personalised song to taunt her with, if you can believe that. Fops can be so cruel…!

Not only is Christina devastated by their mockery, but her lover (yes, she has a lover!) is aroused to ire on her behalf also. When the new and improved Christina emerges from her Baron Frankenstein-imposed chrysalis in the Baron’s house, under the ‘care’ of said Baron and the doddery but well-meaning Dr. Hertz (Thorley Walters), a campaign of murderous revenge is entered into by a mysterious and unknown killer that appals and frightens the villagers in general and the fops in particular. They can’t say they didn’t have it coming…

Peter Cushing is ice-cool, calm and collected once more as the Baron, and Susan Denberg is a beautiful addition to the range of stunning actresses known collectively as Hammer Glamour.

The ‘science’ in this one is very dodgy, far-fetched and tenuous indeed, perhaps more so than in any other Hammer film featuring the rather dubious experiments of Baron Frankenstein. I daresay it wouldn’t stand up to too much scrutiny.

But then, we don’t watch Hammer horror for the accuracy of its scientific knowledge, do we? We watch it for the blood-lust, the boobs, the costumes and the settings, innit? We watch it for the high production values and everything else the Hammer brand stands for.

But FRANKENSTEIN CREATED WOMAN‘s metaphysical elements and all the talk of ‘capturing the soul’ put me very much in mind of a 1972 British horror film called ‘The Asphyx,’ starring Robert Powell and Jane Lapotaire, in which a Victorian gentleman scientist attempts the same feat with no less disastrous consequences. Check it out if you haven’t seen it. It’s an eccentric little gem of a film.

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, women’s fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

Her debut romantic fiction novel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books.

THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE: THE 2018 NETFLIX TV SERIES. ©

THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE: THE TELEVISION SERIES. (2018) CREATED AND WRITTEN BY MIKE FLANAGAN. BASED ON THE BOOK BY SHIRLEY JACKSON.

STARRING CARLA GUGINO, TIMOTHY HUTTON, MICHIEL HUISMAN, ELIZABETH ANN REASER, OLIVER JACKSON-COHEN, KATE SIEGEL, VICTORIA PEDRETTI AND ANNABETH GISH.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

‘Whatever walked there, walked alone…’

Wow. This ten-part series makes for excellent television drama, but I suppose we’d better start by saying that it’s not as good as the original film of Shirley Jackson’s superb horror novel; how could it be? But it’s pretty damn good television viewing, even though it wasn’t as scary as I’d been led to believe and there’s an awful lot of talking and repetition in it.

It’s a ghost story, told in a non-linear fashion, so a bit you see in one episode might not make sense at all until another episode repeats the thing and explains it to you. Yes, that might be annoying for some, but the plot is really well written and complex and, even though it seems to have a million things to keep track of and an equal number of loose ends to tie up, it doesn’t do a bad job at all of tying everything up in a nice big bow at the end.

Okay, so it’s the summer of 1992 and the Crain family- the parents, Hugh and Olivia, and their five sprogs Stephen, Shirley, Theodora and twins Luke and Nell, come to live in the titular Hill House to do to it what the Americans call ‘flipping,’ that is, they’re going to do it up a bit and sell it on to make a fortune. That’s the plan, anyway.

But Hill House is haunted to buggery, as we all very well know, and it isn’t long before the house begins to exert its evil supernatural pull over the family Crain. Little Luke has an ‘imaginary’ friend called Abigail, who comes out of the nearby woods to play with him.

He is also haunted by a terrifyingly tall man with a walking stick, who floats a good twelve inches above the ground. His twin, Nell, is tormented by visitations from a scary-sounding someone she calls ‘the Bent-Neck Lady.

Theodora learns that she has a ‘psychic’ touch: if she touches something or someone, she can derive psychic information from it. She takes to wearing gloves every day, however, to prevent this from happening. Well, not everything she learns is necessarily welcome information, so you can’t really blame her, can you?

Dad is severely disturbed by the sounds of scraping, banging and tapping he hears in the basement he’s trying to de-mould, and as for Mom…! Mom probably has a sign tattooed across her forehead that only ghosts can see, a sign saying: ‘Haunt me, please!’

She’s a drippy, hippy-dippy spiritual type to begin with, gliding through the rooms in a succession of fabulous long nighties and robes, with her long dark hair streaming out behind her, but when the house starts to impact on her already fragile-seeming emotional state, she becomes a million times flightier.

She sees dead people and chats away to them as if they’re real, and she’s extremely susceptible to the ghosts’ warped mind games, being highly suggestible when they plant ideas of evil-doing in her increasingly damaged mind.

Something happens in the house in 1992 that sees the family (well, nearly all the family) fleeing for their lives, like the family in THE AMITYVILLE HORROR. The story moves back-and-forth over the ten episodes between the past and the present, and it won’t be until the very last few frames in the very last episode that we discover just what happened in that cursed house that fateful summer.

The Crain siblings are very messed-up adults. It’s pretty obvious that their stay in Hill House has impacted upon them big-time in different ways. One is a funeral director and a control freak. One is a heroin addict. Another is a child psychologist, responsible for working out if children have been sexually or otherwise abused. Her job makes her miserable. It’s a good group so far, isn’t it?

Another of the siblings is a flaky mess whom everyone in the family feels is a suicide waiting to happen, and yet another writes books about hauntings in general and Hill House in particular, books that get their entire family’s back up. I told you it was a good group…!

The siblings haven’t had any answers from their parents, in particular from their father, regarding what exactly happened in Hill House to tear the family apart that summer. Now, their lives are so messed-up and mixed-up that they’re going to need some answers, whether their parents want to give them these answers or not. Why not start by asking what was behind the locked door of the Red Room, for which they never had a key when they lived there…?

There are definitely references in the series to the original book by Shirley Jackson. Two of the sisters are called Theodora and Nell, there’s writing on the wall and banging on the doors, and the weird caretaker couple, the Dudleys, won’t stay on in the house in the night, in the dark, when it’s night, after dark, lol.

Some of the scares are extremely effective; others less so. I’d definitely recommend this Netflix series. It’s good writing and good acting; it’s a bit annoying and confusing in places, full of dreams and fantasies and with all the females in it sporting identical hairstyles, but it’s mostly good scary fun that puts me very much in mind of Stephen King’s THE SHINING.

I believe that Stephen King, master of horror and a huge fan of Shirley Jackson’s book, gives THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE, the series, his seal of approval. It has mine too, for what it’s worth, so go forth and watch it and enjoy it, and just make sure the Bent-Neck Lady doesn’t find you alone in the house, in the night, in the dark…

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, women’s fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

Her debut romantic fiction novel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books.

THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM. (1961) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM. (1961) BASED ON THE WRITINGS OF EDGAR ALLAN POE. PRODUCED AND DIRECTED BY ROGER CORMAN. SCREENPLAY BY RICHARD MATHESON. STARRING VINCENT PRICE AND BARBARA STEELE.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

This is a really gorgeous and sumptuous film version of Edgar Allan Poe’s creepy story, and one of the cycle of film adaptations of Poe’s works undertaken by legendary director, Roger Corman.

The magnificent horror legend Vincent Price plays Nicholas Medina, a wealthy nobleman living in (almost) solitary grandeur in his cliff-top Spanish castle by the sea in the middle of the sixteenth century. It’s 1546, to be precise. Nearly time to be getting the dinner on, so…!

Nicholas doesn’t receive many visitors, as a rule, but, as the film starts, a man called Francis Barnard comes to his castle door, demanding to be let in and to be given the details of his sister, Elizabeth’s, recent demise. Nicholas’s sister, Catherine, feels that they have no choice but to let the man in and try to endure his pointed, suspicious questions about his sister Elizabeth’s death.

Elizabeth, by the way, was Nicholas’s beloved wife, who passed away recently under rather mysterious circumstances. Nicholas is still distraught and absolutely bereft at her passing. He loved her with all the intensity and possessiveness of his autocratic heart, and now he almost wishes that he were in the grave alongside her.

We see flashbacks of Nicholas’s perfectly idyllic life with Elizabeth (Barbara Steele), in which they dined, chatted eagerly and played music together, Elizabeth’s speciality being the harpsichord. Their life together might seem a little dull to outsiders, but Nicholas certainly seems to be having a ball with his ravishing young wifey in the flashback clips, and so does Elizabeth, to be fair.

But now Elizabeth is dead, under circumstances that her brother Francis finds highly dubious. Not only that, but harpsichord music is now being heard all over the castle, when everyone knows that the harpsichord was Elizabeth’s favourite instrument and that she was the only person in the house who ever played it.

The maid is claiming to hear her dead mistress’s voice in her bedroom and, then, when Nicholas hears it too, a grisly decision is taken. There is nothing for it but to go down to the crypt in the castle’s cellars and exhume the corpse of Elizabeth Medina. Just to check that she’s really dead, and not wandering around the draughty castle in her flimsy burial shroud saying ‘boo!’ to people when she pops out from behind the drapes to give ’em a heart attack.

Nicholas’s mental state is hanging by a thread at this stage (he physically swoons in virtually every second scene), but down they go, he, Catherine, Dr. Leon (who pronounced Elizabeth dead at the time of her demise) and Francis, Elizabeth’s brother. Down, down, down they go into the dusty, cobwebby bowels of the Medina castle…

Vincent Price is superb at playing widowers-in-mourning. He’s just terrific at it, and also at wearing the doublets and hose and long luxurious dressing-gowns and velvet slippers of Ye Olden Times.

Barbara Steele is the most beautiful and fascinating actress to ever don a wasp-waisted gown in which to play the ghost of herself, and the sets are gloriously-coloured and the torture chamber splendidly, if ghoulishly, equipped. Still, you’d expect that from a torture chamber, wouldn’t you?

Adding the Spanish Inquisition to the plot and the torture chamber as well was an inspired piece of writing, and the possession of Nicholas Medina by his father’s evil ghost a fiendishly delicious twist in its tail. The whole film is truly a feast for the eyes, and there are plenty of twists and turns to keep the viewer’s interest.

The only thing I found puzzling was that the film-makers hired three very similar-looking men to play Dr. Leon, Francis Barnard and Nicholas’s man-servant, Maximilian, who saves the day at the end of the movie.

All three men have short dark hair and similar nondescript faces and are pretty much of identical height and build. Why would the film-makers do that? The men look like three fraternal triplets. I just found the whole thing kind of confusing. It doesn’t detract from the movie in any way; it’s just weird that they didn’t hire actors between whom it was easy to tell the bleedin’ difference…!

You’ll love THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM. It does credit to Poe’s work, and it’s one of the many jewels in both Roger Corman’s and Vincent Price’s crowns. And scream queen Barbara Steele’s majestic presence is truly the icing on an already fabulous cake.

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, women’s fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

You can contact Sandra at:

sandrasandraharris@gmail.com

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

https://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com

R-POINT. (2004) A SUPERB KOREAN HORROR FILM REVIEWED BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

r-point bed

R-POINT: A TARTAN ASIA EXTREME KOREAN HORROR FILM. (2004) STARRING KAM WOO-SUNG AND SON BYONG-HO. DIRECTED BY KONG SU-CHANG.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

‘Come in, Butterfly, this is Donkey 30, come in, Butterfly!’

I’ve watched this superb Korean horror film three times in the last week since first discovering it, that’s how good it is. Set against the backdrop of the tail end of the Vietnam War, it’s the story of a bunch of Korean soldiers (they fought in the Vietnam War alongside the Americans, possibly as a thank-you to the Americans for their assistance in the Korean War a decade earlier) sent to Romeo-Point, an island somewhat south of Ho Chi Minh City, to try to find out what’s become of a unit of Korean soldiers who went missing there six months previously.

Distress calls from men in the missing unit have been received at the men’s former base, and the calls are chilling beyond belief. The soldiers sending the distress calls believe that they’re all going to die horribly at R-Point, and it’s frightening to listen to.

The soldiers in this search and rescue unit, led by the handsome Lieutenant Choi and the hard-ass Vietnam veteran Sergeant Jin, are all very young and have been recruited mainly from a local syphilis hospital, seduced into volunteering for this mission by the promise of a ticket straight home to Korea in ten days’ time.

It’s dreadful, really, to think that men so young, some little more than boys, have had to experience the horrors of war and killing their fellow men before they’ve even turned twenty. The hilarious way in which they squabble like kids with each other proves their immaturity.

They should be at home with their wives and children (they’re too young even for marriage, really!) or in college or working at their jobs, not here in the midst of a horrible war they didn’t even start and probably don’t even understand.

This last isn’t at all outside the bounds of possibility. Remember how the guys fighting each other in World War I, the English and the Germans, mostly didn’t really have a clue why they were there? But never mind, eh? Ours is not to question why, ours is just to do and die, and all that, eh what?

The little battalion of men are terrified of R-Point, anyway, a remote uninhabited island lush with green vegetation, trees and grasses and dotted about with the graves of murdered men and the remains of ruined stone temples.

It has an evil supernatural atmosphere right from the get-go, as the first man to get left behind because he needs to pee will tell you. The scene he walks into as he’s searching desperately for his buddies in the unit is as beautifully choreographed as any ballet, and so chilling it’s now one of my Top Three scary scenes of all time. I can’t wait for you guys to see it too and agree with me, lol.

The men bed down in a ruined mansion that looks like it’s come straight out of one of those ‘TEN MOST HAUNTED PLACES IN THE WORLD’ posts on Facebook. They’re all on edge anyway, but once the supernatural occurrences start happening in earnest, they have trouble holding onto their sanity. The whole island is imbued with a terrible evil, and once it gets a hold of a man, it doesn’t tend to let go.

The incident in the cave with ‘Donkey 30’ is a real frightener. Ditto what happens with the French soldiers Jacques and Paul, who say they’re ‘stationed somewhere near here,’ and also with the American soldiers who stop off at the mansion while on business of their own.

The film has been described by Front Magazine as ‘BLAIR WITCH MEETS FULL METAL JACKET,’ but I’d add in John Carpenter’s THE FOG and also THE THING as well, for reasons you’ll get if you’ve seen the film.

The lads have seven days to complete their mission and find out what’s happened to the missing soldiers. At the end of that time, transport will be arriving to take them off the island and then home. If anyone’s left alive, that is.

The American soldiers are already placing bets that the Korean guys won’t survive a week at R-Point, because ‘nuthin’ lives in R-Point.’ Nonetheless, the transport home will come. Whether there will be anyone left alive at R-Point to transport home, remains to be seen. The goddess of evil must have her sacrifices…

This is the best and spookiest horror film I’ve seen all year. I urge you to watch it if you get the chance. You won’t regret it.

‘Come in, Butterfly, this is Mole 3! Come in, Butterfly!’

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, women’s fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

You can contact Sandra at:

sandrasandraharris@gmail.com

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

https://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com

ANNABELLE COMES HOME. (2019) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

annabelle comes home

ANNABELLE COMES HOME. (2019) STARRING VERA FARMIGA AND PATRICK WILSON. DIRECTED BY GARY DAUBERMAN. REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

I love all the other movies in The Conjuring universe and in the Annabelle franchise, but I wasn’t crazy about this one. It starts off promisingly enough, when the cutest couple in the acting world, Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson playing real-life demonologists Lorraine and Ed Warren, offer to take the evil doll Annabelle off the hands of the current owners, who are being plagued by the pesky thing.

They soon realise on the journey home with Annabelle that the doll is ‘a beacon for other spirits,’ and attracts them the way a sugar daddy with an open wallet will draw hos, skanks and gold-diggers, pardon my French. Like I said, a really promising start to this hotly-anticipated addition to the Annabelle canon, but things do go kind of downhill from there.

For the rest of the movie, the gorgeous, loved-up Warrens (they are sooooo cute!) are absent, away on some kind of a trip while their mopey pre-teen daughter Judy is ‘cared for,’ and I use the term loosely, by two truly dopey teenage girls, Mary Ellen and Daniela.

Mary Ellen is the soft-pink-sweater-wearing, blonde, fluffy dim cheerleader type, but not slutty with it; in fact, she’s positively coy and vapid around her would-be boyfriend, the ‘hilariously’ named ‘Bob’s-got-Balls.’

Daniela is the troublesome one, the precocious little brat who routinely sticks her nose into things that don’t concern her. She blames herself for her part in her father’s premature death in a car accident (guess who was driving?), and unwisely thinks that she can use the absent Warrens’ haunted artefacts’ room as a way of summoning her ‘darling dad’ back from the dead so she can apologise to him.

The rest of the movie is basically the three girls and Bob’s-got-Balls being chased around the house by artefacts from the haunted room, the keys to which the Warrens have left lying around carelessly, tsk tsk. And Daniela seems to have  brought the artefacts to life, which seems ridiculously easy to do. Just say, c’mon, I’ll be your friend if you come alive, stuff like that, and they say, why not, yeah, let’s do it. Stuff like that.

The ghosts include the murderous bride who likes to go stabby-stabby, the Japanese samurai dude in battle dress, the accordion-playing monkey, a sort of horned green goat man who slightly resembles Jim Carrey’s character in The Mask and, last but not least, some kind of a giant hell-hound who can be subdued, fear not, by an old beat-up guitar. Oh, and, of course, Annabelle the doll herself keeps popping up around the house in various positions and places. In the bed, under the couch, sitting in the rocking chair, etc. Meh.

The film is more of a Goosebumps/Jumanji/Scooby Doo-style kids’ adventure film than anything else. It that’s what you’re after, well, fair enough, but it was scary adult horror I was after myself, and I’m pretty sick of the way kids are taking over the horror genre. It’s the Warrens themselves I want to see, not their boring, dull-as-dishwater offspring who ‘sees’ priests who aren’t really there, and her ditzy bloody babysitters.

The most interesting thing about this movie is that someone on the film-making team has used it to showcase the superb music of Badfinger, a pop rock band from the late ‘Sixties (when they were known as the Iveys) and the early ‘Seventies, whom a lot of people figured were going to be the next Beatles.

In fact, as they’d been signed to the Beatles’ Apple record label and their Number One hit Come And Get It had been penned by Paul McCartney and given to them to use, they had a lot of quite close ties to the famous band and, when Badfinger toured America, a lot of people even thought they were the Beatles in disguise . . . !

The band consisted of Pete Ham (vocalist, guitar, piano) and Mike Gibbons (drums) from Wales and Tommy Evans (vocals, bass) and Joey Molland (vocals, guitar) from Liverpool. They had started to make it very, very big when the shit hit the fan.

Unscrupulous management saw the band benefit very little from all the work they’d done and, in 1975, lead singer Pete Ham took his own life, unable to live any longer with the stress of what mis-management had done to them.

It was an absolutely tragic waste of a life and a huge talent. Pete’s death devastated his friends and family. His girlfriend was pregnant at the time and would eventually give birth to a daughter who never knew her father.

Pete’s closest friend and band-mate Tommy Evans, both of whom co-wrote the best and biggest love song of all time, Without You, taken to the top of the charts at different times by Harry Nilsson and Mariah Carey, never recovered from the loss of his mate and writing buddy. He, too, took his own life, a few years later in 1983.

Joey Molland is the only member of the band alive today. As far as I know, he’s still writing and performing music and touring it. In the film Annabelle Comes Home, the Badfinger Hits Day After Day and Baby Blue are heard towards the start of the movie and there’s a copy of one of the band’s albums on the coffee table too; you can clearly see the band’s faces. All good-looking lads they were, too.

If there were any justice in the world, they’d be around today, still playing and performing their startlingly pure and honest blend of pop rock that was right on the verge of hitting it big when disaster struck. If this film leads to a new and excited audience for Badfinger, brilliant. But, as a horror movie, whether you view it as a stand-alone film or as part of the wider franchise, it’s kind of a disappointment. 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 Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, women’s fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

You can contact Sandra at:

sandrasandraharris@gmail.com

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

https://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com

http://sexysandieblog.wordpress.com

http://serenaharker.wordpress.com

https://twitter.com/SandraAuthor

LOST HEARTS (1973), THE TREASURE OF ABBOT THOMAS (1974) and THE ASH TREE (1975): MORE GHOSTLY ADAPTATIONS FROM THE BBC REVIEWED BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

lost hearts

CLASSIC GHOST STORY ADAPTATIONS FROM THE BBC: LOST HEARTS (1973), THE TREASURE OF ABBOT THOMAS (1974) AND THE ASH TREE (1975). BASED ON THE STORIES OF MONTAGUE RHODES JAMES.

STARRING SIMON GIPPS-KENT, JOSEPH O’CONOR, MICHAEL BRYANT, PAUL LAVERS, EDWARD PETHERBRIDGE AND BARBARA EWING.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

These three ghost stories in the BBC’s A Ghost Story For Christmas series are just gorgeous. They’re beautifully photographed and the stories are good and creepy too. As the little booklet accompanying the DVD box-set tells us so descriptively, they would have appeared on television late at night, probably the last programme before the station shut down for the night.

This was back in the days when television wasn’t a twenty-four-hour thing, remember, and you had a choice sometimes of only two, three or four channels. The viewer would have watched the programme in front of the dying embers of that day’s fire, and gone straight up to bed afterwards with the disturbing imagery from the ghost story weighing heavily upon his mind. By Jove, if that isn’t the way to do it…!

Lost Hearts tells the story of a recently orphaned boy called Stephen coming to live with his ancient aristocrat uncle/first cousin twice removed Abney, in said uncle’s fabulous stately home set in acres of rolling parkland.

Uncle Abney is, quite simply, too good to be true. He’s chuckle-y and funny and so kindly disposed towards the soon-to-be-twelve-years-old lad that we wonder in earnest what his deal is. Things –– and people –– that seem to be too good to be true often are, after all . . .

If I were Stephen, I’d be extremely worried about the well-meaning but thoroughly unnerving tales told by the housekeeper about children who were invited to stay at the house by the kindly old Mr. Abney in the past, but who then disappeared into thin air shortly afterwards. Still, the boy is powerless to act, isn’t he? What can he do in a situation like that? He’s orphaned, after all, and the older gentleman in whose home he currently resides is now his legal guardian.

The fog-wreathed landscape looks wonderful in this film. The supernatural beings are present in the narrative almost from the beginning, but they’re no less creepy for all that, the Italian hurdy-gurdy gypsy boy in particular. The music is marvellous and the graveyard scene at the end is just beautiful to look at. Apologies for the fulsome nature of my adjectives, but really, this short film is just too visually delicious to resist.

In The Treasure of Abbot Thomas, an intellectually arrogant cleric by the name of the Reverend Justin Somerton is engaged on what amounts to a secret treasure hunt, for the gold said to have been secreted away by the titular Abbot Thomas in the ancient church-slash-seat of learning where Somerton is now doing some research. It has to be kept secret because it would fatally damage Somerton’s academic reputation to be seen to be grubbing around after a handful of gold coins.

Somerton is assisted in his treasure-hunting by the aristocratic young Lord Peter Dattering, whose father is recently deceased. I love the bit where Peter invites his mentor Somerton to a séance in his home. Peter’s mother is convinced that her medium and the medium’s husband are able to contact her dear dead spouse for her, but the snobby show-off Reverend Somerton soon puts paid to the medium couple’s little scam . . .

Somerton and Peter have great fun flexing their intellectual muscles in trying to solve the puzzle left by long-deceased alchemist and suspected sorcerer, the Abbot Thomas. Imagine Somerton’s fright, though, when he realises that the mischievous, malevolent Abbot Thomas has not been trying to keep him away from his precious treasure, but has in fact been trying to lure him into a horrible, deathly trap, using the treasure as bait. The scene in the catacombs is delightfully gruesome, and I love the end bit, of which we get a satisfying bird’s-eye view. He looks down on what is hidden . . .

The Ash Tree is arguable my favourite story of the three short films. The handsome, aristocratic young Sir Richard Fell is the newest incumbent of Castringham hall, his predecessor Sir Matthew having died a strange and mysterious death.

Sir Richard straightaway begins to experience moments of possession, when he finds himself occupying the body and mind of the late Sir Matthew. But Sir Matthew lived in witch-finder times, when innocent women were hanged and drowned and burned to death after being found ‘guilty’ of so-called witchcraft.

Sir Matthew’s mind, once he has reluctantly accused a beautiful local woman, Anne Mothersole (played by Hammer actress Barbara Ewing), of witchcraft and condemned her to a horrible death by hanging, is not a comfortable place to be. Sir Richard becomes more and more discombobulated by the periods of possession. Is it only a matter of time before he suffers the same grisly fate as his unfortunate ancestor . . . ?

Sir Richard has a saucy little sexpot of a girlfriend called the Lady Augusta, by the way, who seems to be permitted an extraordinary amount of freedom for a woman of the time. Gadding about on her horse, swanning over to Paris for her wedding trousseau and daring to chide her husband-to-be over his inclusion of Henry Fielding’s The Adventures of Tom Jones in his library. A woman who reads? Heaven forfend . . . 

It is sincerely to be hoped that Sir Richard beats this distinct tendency towards independence out of her once they are lawfully wed, which was the style of the time, and fills her belly with enough regularity to take her mind off gadding about and keep it where it belongs, in the nursery. Humph.

There’s an hilarious passage in the booklet which accompanies this DVD box-set, in which director Lawrence Gordon Clark tells us about how it was the ash tree in his very own garden that served as the downfall of poor Sir Richard.

Months later, the following summer, in fact, Clark was entertaining friends in his garden when a hideous spider baby, that seemingly hadn’t been boxed away with the other hairy monstrosities after filming ended, fell suddenly out of the tree into the lap of a terrified female guest. If that had been me, the speed of my departure would have put the Road-Runner to shame. Sweet suffering Jesus.

‘Mine shall inherit . . .’

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, women’s fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

You can contact Sandra at:

sandrasandraharris@gmail.com

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

https://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com

DEATH SHIP. (1980) A GHOSTLY HORROR FILM REVIEWED BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

death-ship

DEATH SHIP. (1980) DIRECTED BY ALVIN RAKOFF. STARRING GEORGE KENNEDY, RICHARD CRENNA, SALLY ANN HOWES, NICK MANCUSO, VICTORIA BURGOYNE AND SAUL RUBINEK.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

Wow. This ghostly horror film completely blew me away. I’d been You-Tube-ing ‘ghost ships’ and related stuff, on account of having read some really scary true-life stories about same in John Robert Colombo’s TRUE CANADIAN GHOST STORIES, an excellent book I read over Halloween. Then a clued-in FB friend recommended DEATH SHIP, and I was intrigued enough to give it a go.

It stars George Kennedy as the main character, a Captain Ashland, the captain of a cruise ship who’s on his last cruise before handing charge of the ship over to Richard Crenna’s Trevor Marshall. I love George Kennedy.

He was one of those very masculine old-school actors like Paul Newman or Steve McQueen, although I’m not sure if he was ever treated as romantic lead material. Very unfair, as I’ve personally always fancied him, this big giant bear of a man with his gruff deep voice and commanding demeanour. My ideal man, in fact, lol.

He was terrific in DALLAS as JR Ewing’s enemy, Carter McKay. I also loved him in the Western movie BANDOLERO! as July Johnson, the straight-down-the-line sheriff who pursues a couple of criminals (played by James Stewart and Dean Martin) into Mexican bandit territory because they’ve brought with them as a hostage the woman that he, July, loves. Alas, the woman, played by the stunning Raquel Welch, prefers bad boy Dean Martin to good guy George Kennedy, and in the end no-one really gets what they want. Sigh. Such is life.

Anyway, Captain Ashland is a grumpy bastard who maintains he went to sea to captain a ship and sail the seven seas, not to pander to the gushing socialites who all want to be able to say that they’ve sat at the captain’s table for dinner while they were cruising. I see his point, but on the other hand I see theirs too. No point going on a poxy cruise unless you can say you’ve chowed down at’t’ captain’s table, lol.

His pandering to vacuous socialites gets cut brutally short on this, his last trip, however. The cruise ship is scuppered by another vessel that comes at them out of nowhere and blows the whole lot of ’em out of the water in a POSEIDON ADVENTURE-style maritime catastrophe. This other vessel is the titular DEATH SHIP. Climb aboard at your peril…

The survivors, cast adrift in a lifeboat, have no choice but to board the ghostly vessel. The survivors are, neatly and coincidentally, Captain Ashland; his successor-to-be Trevor Marshall and Marshall’s wife and two cute kids, Robin (a girl) and Ben, who are allowed the full run of the ghost ship in a highly irresponsible manner that would earn their parents a rap on the knuckles today; a sexy young couple called Nick and Lori who were having sex when the iceberg, sorry, the ghost ship, struck (that’s the way I’d like to go, by the way, lol); the ship’s comic (bet he doesn’t find his new gig too bloody funny!) and a random old lady passenger, who are the ghost ship’s first two disposable casualties. Oh yes, the ghost ship wants to kill them all, didn’t I say? Cue evil snigger.

The ‘death ship’ is magnificent in its rusty, cobwebby state of dereliction and decay. We don’t know if it’s a ghost ship as such or what those in the maritime business would call a ‘derelict’ ship, a real ship that somehow lost its crew and passengers and now sails the seven seas rudderless, a navigational hazard if it should happen across another vessel in its path.

What we do know is that the ship is a relic from Nazi Germany, a so-called ‘interrogation ship’ where ‘enemies of the state’ were taken and tortured horribly for what bits of information they possessed. Out at sea, miles from anywhere, who was there to hear you scream? We also know that ghostly, unseen hands operate the rusty, dusty machinery and direct it towards hurting, maiming or even killing the passengers now in its evil clutches.

I love the way that they only show you the bare minimum of ghostliness in the film, and the way that Nazi Germany and the ‘Forties, the time when this ship was peopled with real-life seamen (titter, seamen!), are revealed to us in little bite-sized snatches, rather than in huge chunks of flashback.

There are the bunks with the pin-ups of Betty Grable and stars of ‘Forties German cinema plastered around them; the ‘Forties music on the record player and the home cinema with film footage of Hitler and his minions playing on a loop; the German voice issuing orders through the speakers in the radio room; a mere glimpse of the German naval captain on his bridge.

Then there is the ‘interrogation room’ itself, no more than a brutal torture chamber, and the Freezer Room, possibly the saddest place on the whole entire God-forsaken ship. And God doesn’t seem to have ever had a place on this carrion ship of death and decay and hopelessness, and it’s certainly not God who’s steering its eerie, lonely course now.

The ship of doom is having a very unhealthy effect on Captain Ashland. I love the bit where the sensible, Daddy-ish, woollen jumper-clad Trevor Marshall comes to his wife and says: ‘The ship has caused Captain Ashland to take on the persona of a German naval captain, it’s like it’s possessing him in some way!’ Or words to that effect, anyway.

It’s the funniest bit of the film, which is definitely not a comedy. It’s like something out of THE SIMPSONS, that line is. You half expect to hear Lisa Simpson, the voice of reason, saying: ‘Well, d’uh! Everyone’s already worked that out, Dad…!’

So now, Captain-to-be Marshall has to save his wife (played by Sally Ann Howes, or Truly Scrumptious from CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG) and unruly children and the sexy young couple (who just can’t seem to keep their kit on!) from the gruesome machinations of Captain Ashland, who has a definite kind of ‘The Shining’ thing going on with the ship of death.

And he- Captain Ashland- now resents Trevor Marshall as well, thinking it’s Marshall’s fault he’s losing his captaincy, and not his own complete and utter ability to be a ‘people person.’ He’s out for Marshall’s blood, and, as long as he’s being evil, the ship of death is determined to help him…

The ship itself is terrifyingly creepy, from the untenanted radio room, where a crackly long-dead German-speaking voice issues its instructions through the speakers, to the long echoey corridors where the sound of loudly clanging doors can be heard, unnervingly, from up ahead. It’s kind of like the Overlook Hotel from THE SHINING, peopled by ghosts and the bad energies from the awful deeds that took place there, but on sea instead of on land.

The Death Ship sailed the seven seas (Are there really seven? Can someone actually count them for me, please?) long before there was a Captain Ashland or a Trevor Marshall, and it will sail them long after those two men have returned to the dust from which they came. I can’t recommend this superbly spooky British-Canadian horror film heartily enough. It’s captured my imagination in a way that nothing else this year has. Full steam ahead for frights and frolics…

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, women’s fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

You can contact Sandra at:

sandrasandraharris@gmail.com

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

https://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com

http://sexysandieblog.wordpress.com

http://serenaharker.wordpress.com

https://twitter.com/SandraAuthor

THE HAUNTED. (1991) THE LOST ”CONJURING” MOVIE REVIEWED BY SANDRA HARRIS.

haunted warrens

THE HAUNTED. (1991) DIRECTED BY ROBERT MANDEL. STARRING SALLY KIRKLAND AND JEFFREY DEMUNN. REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

I love haunted house films, as some of you might already know, but even better are the ones that are ‘based on a true story.’ I mean, it’s bad enough to think that some of these poltergeist-y phenomena might happen, but to know that they did happen to some folks in real life, well, that really makes you sit up and take notice.

In this film, it’s the ‘Eighties and a family called the Smurls are moving into a lovely big new house on Chase Avenue in a place called West Pittson in Pennsylvania. Jack and Janet are totally Mrs. and Mrs. Normal America in every way, a nice hardworking couple with four daughters, Erin, Shawn, Colleen and Katie. Jack’s lovely old parents move in with them too, and they have their own entrance to their big new house in the respectable new neighbourhood.

They’re not even unpacked before the new neighbourinos are calling over with fresh-baked brownies, inviting the Smurls to join the Lions Club and the Sacred Heart League. Lands’ sakes, but this sure sounds like a jumpin’ neighbourhood…! I’m sure they hold great yard sales, luaus and block parties too, lol, like every respectable ‘Murican family on television ever, lol.

Anyway, the house is haunted, as you’ve probably already guessed. At first, the mom, Janet, is the only one who experiences the supernatural phenomena with which their home appears to be plagued, so naturally, when she complains about it to her hubby, he thinks she’s over-tired at first. Then he gets angry and starts to make out like it’s all in her head.

But when Jack’s mom starts to experience some of the spooky stuff too, he and his dad are forced to take the situation a bit more seriously. So, what exactly’s been happening? Well, doors slam shut of their own accord, putrid odours are smelled in various places, whispered voices are heard in conversation with each other and humanoid shadows float from place to place in the house. It’s pretty scary stuff.

The creepiest thing for me was the fact that the supernatural entity in the Smurls’ house was able to simulate Janet’s mother-in-law’s voice in order to lure Janet into the basement. That bit was freaky. In the bedroom, a sleeping Janet is made to levitate several feet above her bed and the bedclothes are pulled off Jack and Janet’s bodies while they slumber.

Probably the most horrific supernatural event to which we’re made privy is the rape of the dad Jack by his own teenage daughter, though of course it’s the demon who lives in their house taking the daughter’s form to make the rape all the more terrible.

If you look closely during the rape sequence, you’ll see the real face of the demon who haunts the Smurl house like a deadly and disgusting miasma. Demon or no demon, though, I’m not sure that the dad would ever have been able to look his daughter in the face again after that dread-filled experience.

The Smurls’ call in the church, just like the poor family in AMITYVILLE 2: THE POSSESSION, for my money the scariest haunted house/demonic possession film ever made, bar none. The priest blesses the house, but the vengeful demon is only getting started. The Church refuses the priest permission to perform an exorcism or to help the Smurls further.

So, who do the Smurls turn to now? I cheered loudly when ghostbusters- sorry, demonologists!- Ed and Lorraine Warren were called in. I’ve loved the Warrens ever since watching THE CONJURING/ANNABELLE films, but these Warrens aren’t as nice and smiley as their counterparts in THE CONJURING, and Mr. Warren sure doesn’t play Elvis on the guitar to cheer up the Smurls. Mind you, the Smurls didn’t ask him to. Maybe he was just waiting for that invite, lol.

Still, Lorraine Warren, the head ghostbuster of the pair, does manage to confirm that the Smurls are housing three relatively harmless spirits and one demon. Rent-free as well, I’m guessing, those pesky freeloading entities! The demon’s the one you need to watch out for.

His main goal, apparently, is to tear the family apart and destroy their faith in God, because family strength, unity and togetherness and an unswerving faith in the Lord are the only things that can hurt the demon, see?

So, can the Warrens help the Smurls, or will the Smurls be forced to engage in ever more extreme measures to get the help they need? It’s a pretty scary and unnerving film and, because it’s based on a true story, it’ll remind you strongly of the first two original AMITYVILLE HORROR films.

Because of the sexual element, I was also reminded of Barbara Hershey in THE ENTITY, a terrifying film in which a woman is raped repeatedly over time by a sexually aggressive ghost who haunts her house. She sustains actual physical injuries from these assaults, so she knows herself that they’re really happening.

The psychiatrists, however, are falling over themselves to prove that some sort of sexual abuse in the woman’s childhood is causing her troubled mind to invent or imagine the ghost-rapes in her adulthood. It seems to be really, really hard for them to accept that maybe, just maybe, there’s a real ghost in this lady’s house.

When I watched THE ENTITY first, I was clearly still rather immature because I was giggling at the ghost-sex and making out like it was better than no sex at all. Now that I’m older, and with, of course, the benefit of hindsight, I stand by every word I said back then, lol. Any sex, even ghost-sex, is always better than no sex at all…!

I watched THE HAUNTED on Youtube and I put on captions (subtitles), as sometimes the sound isn’t great on these Youtube films. You know the way that these captions are often poorly translated into English and can end up looking like total gibberish?

The funniest bit was when the exhortation to ‘expedite Amish women in glasses’ came up on the screen (and nothing whatsoever to do with the plot, of course!), but a big shout-out must also go the following: ‘Boppity happens when there’s a big stinky.’ I’m not even going to try to follow this one with a comment of my own. I think ‘boppity’ speaks for itself. ‘Nuff said.

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, women’s fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

You can contact Sandra at:

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

https://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com

http://sexysandieblog.wordpress.com

http://serenaharker.wordpress.com

sandrasandraharris@gmail.com

https://twitter.com/SandraAuthor

THE GHOST. (1963) STARRING BARBARA STEELE. REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

barbara steele tree

THE GHOST. (1963) DIRECTED BY RICCARDO FREDA. STARRING BARBARA STEELE, PETER BALDWIN, ELIO JOTTA AND HARRIET MEDIN. REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

Set in Scotland in 1910, this is an absolutely gorgeous Italian gothic horror film, made in colour and starring that most divine of all scream queens, Barbara Steele. If ever a woman was born to wear period costume and the unrelieved black and jet of widow’s weeds in the setting of a fabulous old gothic mansion, it is surely Ms. Steele. With her dark hair, those huge dark flashing eyes with extra-white whites and her pouty pink lips, she is a horror goddess of some considerable distinction.

Here, she plays Margaret Hichcock, the beautiful and much younger wife of eccentric millionaire physician-scientist and occultist, John Hichcock. John is a cripple and confined to a wheelchair. Margaret seems outwardly devoted, loving and attentive to her unfortunate spouse, who lavishes her with jewels and furs and fantastic dresses, with his magnificent mansion in which to store everything.

One is reminded of the words of spoof chat-show hostess Mrs. Merton (Caroline Aherne from The Royle Family) to her guest on the couch, magician’s assistant Debbie McGee: ‘What first attracted you to the millionaire Paul Daniels…?’ Get what she’s implying? Of course you do. Snigger.

John Hichcock has a tendency to feel extremely sorry for himself, despite his millions of pounds, his wonderful seaside mansion and his stunning younger wife. Well, I suppose he doesn’t feel very virile and manly next to his doctor, the younger Charles Livingstone, who is both, and staying in John’s house to boot, so as to be on hand for his patient. Oh, didn’t I mention that poor, crippled John has a love rival in the form of this handsome and bearded medic…? Well, he does, lol.

Unbeknownst to John (though he surely must suspect something), Margaret and Charles are having the kind of deeply passionate sexual love affair that a man in a wheelchair can probably only dream about. Their coupling is urgent and satisfying, but it goes much farther than this.

Margaret, head over heels in love with the attractive, rascally doctor, wants him to prove his love to her by performing the ultimate act of devotion: killing John, so that she and Charles can be together forever, whilst enjoying the material fruits of John’s labour together as well. The dastardly pair can almost taste that lovely money…

It never works out well though, does it? You’ve only got to watch films like Double Indemnity, later re-made as Body Heat, and The Postman Always Rings Twice, Dial M For Murder, A Kiss Before Dying and A Perfect Murder, to know what happens to young lovers who try to kill the wealthy spouse of one or other of them.

Even if they do manage to get the job done and the hated spouse, who’s standing in the way of their perfect happiness, is successfully bumped off, the terror of getting caught almost always leads the guilty parties to begin destroying each other with suspicions, paranoia and fear.

Riddled with guilt and maybe even regrets, they’ll often behave so nervously and carelessly that they give themselves away to the Poirot, Maigret or Morse waiting patiently to catch them and who, quite frankly, has suspected them from the start and was only giving them enough rope with which to hang themselves.

Still, as if any of this would ever prevent a pair of lovers from committing murder if they thought they could get away with it! Charles does the devilish deed, but almost from the moment he does it, Margaret and Charles both are plagued by John’s ghost, which is presenting itself inopportunely around the house in ever more ghoulish manifestations.

Are their guilty minds causing these manifestations? I mean, are they hallucinating or is there something more sinister at work here? Is one of them trying to gaslight the other? It’s happened before in situations like this. And corpses have frequently turned up acting the mickey after death in other movies as well, films like Crucible of Horror, starring Michael Gough, and Hammer’s Taste of Fear with Christopher Lee.

John’s safe has been emptied as well, to make things a million times worse, and Charles and Margaret are doing their utmost to try to recover the wealth, without which they’ll have killed John for nothing. Where is the money, and who or what is trying to drive them mad? Who will triumph, Charles or Margaret or, as is infinitely more likely, neither? Remember that we’re not usually intended to profit from our murder of another…

Barbara Steele’s strikingly beautiful and expressive facial features are the undoubted star of this show. There’s some gorgeous scenery too though, like the graveyard in which stands the Hichcock family crypt, where some deliciously atmospheric scenes of gothic horror are set.

Watch out for the reference to Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, which had already been made, and the little similarity to The Changeling, the George C. Scott horror movie which by this stage had not yet been filmed.

The characters of John’s old governess Catherine and the local cleric Canon Owens, a wittering little man who knows full well on which side his bread is buttered, are excellent additions to the little cast of five. The scenes of possession are genuinely creepy. But Ms. Steele’s unusual beauty still comes out on top every time. God save the (scream) queen…!

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, women’s fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

You can contact Sandra at:

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

https://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com

http://sexysandieblog.wordpress.com

http://serenaharker.wordpress.com

sandrasandraharris@gmail.com

https://twitter.com/SandraAuthor

THE UNINVITED. (1944) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

uninvited

THE UNINVITED. (1944) BASED ON THE BOOK ‘UNEASY FREEHOLD’ BY DOROTHY MACARDLE. DIRECTED BY LEWIS ALLEN. SCORE BY VICTOR YOUNG.

STARRING RAY MILLAND, RUTH HUSSEY, GAIL RUSSELL, DONALD CRISP, ALAN NAPIER, CORNELIA OTIS SKINNER, DOROTHY STICKNEY AND BARBARA EVEREST.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

I read the book that inspired this film in February of this year, and it was the best horror book I’d read in ages, if not ever. It scared the bejeesus out of me. I was half-afraid to keep going and yet for a million quid I couldn’t have stopped. It scared me as much as Shirley Jackson’s THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE, and that’s saying something.

The film of THE UNINVITED is a beautifully atmospheric gothic haunted house film, and the two lead parts are well acted by Ruth Hussey and the marvellous Ray Milland (THE PREMATURE BURIAL, DIAL M FOR MURDER, THE LOST WEEKEND).

It’s an important film historically because it’s the first one to portray ghosts as credible and legitimate entities, rather than just comedy spooks played for laughs. Having said that, the film is nowhere near as scary as the book, which was disappointing for me. It’s still a bloody good film though, and lovely to look at. Here’s the lowdown anyway.

It’s the late ‘Thirties, for a kick-off. Roderick and Pamela Fitzgerald are two London siblings with Irish roots. They are holidaying together in Cornwall with their little terrier Bobby when they accidentally happen across a gorgeous old empty house on the edge of a cliff. They fall in love with it instantly and decide to buy it.

Pamela, a sensible girl with a tendency towards bossiness, is the driving force behind the siblings deciding to pool their savings and bury themselves in the country. Pam has decided that it’s the perfect place for music critic Roderick to pen the kind of music he’s always wanted to write, instead of just reviewing other peoples’ work. Ahem…!

This is a change from the book, in which he’s a journalist on a newspaper who’s trying to write a book on the side, a dreary old tome that gives him no joy and which, during the course of the novel, he gleefully throws over for a play.

I personally prefer Roderick as a writer rather than a musician. As a writer myself, I love reading books and watching movies about people who want to write things but are having trouble with it. Heh-heh-heh. I just like knowing that success doesn’t always tumble easily into other writers’ laps either…!

Anyway, Rodders and Pamela buy the house, Windward, at a knockdown price from a local toff who resides in the town of Biddlecombe. He’s a retired gent called Commander Beech, who admits as they’re hammering out a price that previous tenants of the house have experienced what he delicately terms ‘disturbances’ while living there. Well…!

Roderick and Pamela aren’t the least put off by this news. In fact, Pamela is positively aglow with excitement while the cynical Roderick just laughs it off. There’s no such thing as ghosts, right?

The Commander’s sheltered little grand-daughter Stella is the only person who doesn’t want the house sold, as it’s the house where she lived for the first three years of her life with her parents, who are now both dead.

But the Commander seems to want shut of the house, with the proceeds of the sale going straight into a bank account for Stella. The sale goes through. Pam and Rodders move in to the enchanting old house on the cliff, along with Bobby the terrier- leave that squirrel alone, Bobby, you little fecker, you!- and their painfully ‘Oirish’ cook, Lizzie. Ah shure, begob and begorrah and shure all you can do is pull the divil by the tail and all the rest of it.

Of course, the siblings gradually discover that the Commander’s reluctant words of warning about ‘disturbances’ may not be a load of old hogwash after all. One of the rooms in the house, the room in which Stella’s artist father did his painting, is cold and unwelcoming and imbues anyone who enters it with a terrible feeling of depression and hopelessness. I feel the same when I walk into my bedroom and see the masses of wrinkled clothes piled up there awaiting ironing, lol.

The sound of a woman bawling her eyes out with unhappiness wakes both Pam and Rodders in the night, but there’s no unhappy woman to be found anywhere on the premises. Lizzie’s cat refuses point-blank to climb the staircase in the eerie, candle-lit house- no electricity, can you imagine that?- and Lizzie herself swears she saw someone on the landing who definitely didn’t belong there.

Strangest of all is the effect the house has on Stella, the Commander’s beautiful young grand-daughter who, by now, has captured the much older Roderick’s heart completely and utterly. The age difference doesn’t seem to bother anyone, so who are we to judge them, some eighty-odd years later? It’s none of our business, I say. Leave ’em alone.

The Commander, largely unaware of the growing attraction between his grand-daughter and Roderick Fitzgerald, doesn’t want Stella going to the house on the cliff for other reasons, reasons that have nothing to do with a possible romance with Rodders Fitzgerald. It’s the house he’s worried about, and he’s right to be worried.

The house seems to be simultaneously both a dangerous place for Stella to be, a place of violence and terror and malignant forces who want to do her harm, and also a place of peace and happiness where she’s convinced the loving spirit of her mother still lingers.

But Stella’s mother, of whom Stella’s childhood memories are all happy, warm safe joyous ones, would hardly wish to do her daughter harm, would she? In that case, then, who is the malicious influence lurking in the shadows at Windward who wants to see Stella throw herself off the cliff and dash her brains out on the jagged rocks below?

Could it possibly be that two spirits haunt the mysterious, isolated house on the cliff, one the benevolent ghost of Stella’s loving mother and the other…? Who exactly is the other, and what is he or she so pissed off about that only the taking of Stella’s young, barely-begun life will pacify them?

That’s what Rodders and Pamela have to hurry to find out, with the help of the nice Dr. Scott from the neighbourhood (Rodders and Stella aren’t the only two players in this little drama who feel the sting of Cupid’s arrows; watch where you’re aiming that thing, you tubby little cherub, you!) and a very unpleasant and maybe even slightly demented woman from Stella’s past called Miss Holloway. Let’s just hope the siblings are in time…

The ghostly manifestations in the book are terrifying. The light coming from the darkened nursery late at night, the murmurs, the crying, the sickening, ghastly cold that actually drains a person of their physical strength and will to carry on and the figure materialising out of the mist, it’s all the stuff of nightmares and, trust me, I had a fair few after reading THE UNINVITED.

The movie doesn’t quite manage to convey the same sense of dread and horror, but it’s still a gorgeous film which I would have been perfectly happy with if I hadn’t first read the book, lol. The lesson here is obviously this. Never read books…

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, 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