THE CATHOLIC SCHOOL. (2021) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS.

THE CATHOLIC SCHOOL. (2021) DIRECTED BY STEFANO MORDINI. INSPIRED BY THE BOOK BY EDOARDO ALBINATI. STARRING BENEDETTA PORCAROLI AND FEDERICA TORCHETTI.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

Wow. This based-on-a-true-story Italian language film set in the mid-Seventies is a really grim watch. For the first hour and a quarter, say, it’s just a mish-mash of a story about the most awful privileged rich white boys you could ever have the misfortune to meet, and how they practically get away with murder in their exclusive Catholic school for rich boys, which is located in Rome.

The sense of privilege and entitlement just radiates off these late-teenage boys like the stink of rotten fish, with heartfelt apologies to the poor fish, who can’t help it. These boys treat women like possessions, to be used, abused and then tossed aside like so much rubbish. It’s horrible to watch.

Then, when they get in any trouble, Mummy and Daddy, who are filthy rich, bale them out and there are never any consequences for their wrongdoings, unless you count the odd slap from a rich father when he loses patience with the little scut he calls sonny boy.

We are told by the narrator, Edoardo Albinati, that consequences for misbehaviour were so randomly applied that the boys chose to go ahead and do exactly what they wanted to do and just take their come-uppance if- and when- it ever arrived.

These rich boys have sex willy-nilly with their friends’ mothers and sisters, all of whom are inter-changeable gorgeous European women with the long dark hair and terrific bone structure. The boys are brought up thinking that the world and everything in it, including the women, is theirs for the taking. Sort of like a bunch of mini-Scarfaces. If no-one ever tells them any different, how are they meant to know right from wrong? The parents and the titular Catholic school are jointly at fault here.

The film is confusing as hell, jumping between the points of view of various boys who all look the same, and it’s divided up into equally confusing ‘time chapters’ such as ‘six months earlier’ to ‘130 hours earlier.’ I mean, what the hell…? It was difficult to make out, not only which boy was which, but which female they were f**king was which. Was it someone’s mum, someone’s sister or someone’s bloody granny? Who knows?

Anyway, the last half hour of the film sees the crime happening, the true-life crime from 1975 to which the whole movie is leading up, the crime that became known as the Circeo Massacre. In September of that year, two beautiful unsuspecting young Italian students, Donatella and Rosaria, are lured to a fabulous seaside villa by two of the boys from the school.

Once there, they are horribly raped, beaten, bullied, humiliated, taunted and tortured by the two boys, who are later joined by another guy whose father apparently owns the villa they’re using to commit their nasty crimes in. The third guy is supposed to be just out of prison as well. Such nice company they keep, right?

Angelo Izzo, Andrea Ghira and Gianni Guido are the mens’ names, though I use the word ‘men’ ironically. They’re not men. They’re cowardly little bully boys who use their superior physical strength to intimidate and frighten defenceless women. Real men don’t seem to feel the need to prove to themselves and their friends that they’re tougher than women or even other men.

I don’t know how any of them expected to get away with it. It’s probably that awful confidence they have in them that makes them feel that there is no price to pay when you’re a rich handsome young guy and your dad can buy off the police. And the school.

One of the girls will be dead after their torturous ordeal, the other as good as. And all because a bunch of lads developed toxic masculinity in the environment that more or less demanded it of its young men. Violence is what is expected of the boys in this environment, the narrator tells us. To be a man is to be violent.

And was justice done, in the end? Sadly, only partially. One of the perpetrators went on to kill two more women after he was released from prison for his part in the Circeo Massacre. As good a candidate for Throwing Away the Key as I’ve ever come across.

Apparently the Italian carabinieri were not exactly ruthless in pursuit of justice for these two lovely young women. Were palms greased, as they undoubtedly had been at the school? I don’t know. One good thing came out of this whole convoluted mess, and that was that Italian law finally allowed that rape was a crime against the person, and not just an outrage against public morality.

Public morality? One wonders how the Italians had been used to prosecuting rape cases in the past. Did a ton of perpetrators walk free? Don’t tell Donatella Colasanti that rape is not a crime against the person. That’s exactly what it is; a crime against the person, and the person’s body, mind and spirit, a crime against the person’s very soul and psyche. Never mind your public morality.

Is this a good film? I don’t even know. Turn to Netflix and see for yourself, but be warned: as I said at the start, it’s a grim 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 new book, THIRTEEN STOPS EARLIER, is out now from Poolbeg Books:

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

The sequel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS LATER,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books:

ANONYMA: THE DOWNFALL OF BERLIN. (2008) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

THE DOWNFALL OF BERLIN: ANONYMA. (2008) WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY MAX FARBERBOCH.
BASED ON THE MEMOIR, EINE FRAU IN BERLIN: ANONYMA (A WOMAN IN BERLIN: ANONYMOUS) BY MARTA HILLERS.
STARRING NINA HOSS, EUJENY SIDIKHIN, JULIANE KOHLER, ROMAN GRIBKOV AND AUGUST DIEHL.
REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

This superb but harrowing film is based on the memoirs of a real-life German woman who lived through the end of World War Two, and that turbulent period when Berlin was occupied by the Russians and it was said that up to 100,000 German women were raped by Russian men.

The Russian Army was the first triumphant force to reach and overcome Berlin, which by then was being poorly defended by members of the Volksturm, the raggle-taggle ‘People’s Army’ comprising young boys and old men that didn’t stand a chance in hell of standing up against the Russian tanks.

Remember Hitler’s last public appearance, an informal ceremony in the garden of the Reichschancellery, presenting the Iron Cross to boys no more than ten or twelve years old? These boys, though they did their best, were all that was standing between a battered Berlin and the might and anger of the Russian Army. They were bound to fail. They had no chance.

The author of the memoir remained anonymous for as long as she could, until she was identified as German journalist Marta Hillers. The book was widely read but not by the Germans, who literally couldn’t stomach the thought of their women being made impure by the mass invasion of Russian cocks. Some folks will have you believe that the book is not just a sensationalist book about rape, but the subject of rape certainly comes up in it.

In my own opinion, EINE FRAU IN BERLIN is an important book, a book that holds just as much meaning as a war general’s remembrances about the military battles that were fought in World War Two. The women’s battles are just as relevant, just as much so as other wartime experiences, even if these experiences arouse rage, anger, hatred and disgust in the bosom of the German male.

Anyway, our heroine-narrator, whose name we don’t know, is in Berlin when the Russians invade, living in an apartment building with a handful of other women, some old, some young, some old men declared unfit for fighting and a few children.

The Russian Army make their presence felt quickly, by putting up their flag and sexually violating every available woman they can find. Age is no barrier to them. Our narrator is raped several times by different men, after which she makes a Scarlett O’Hara-type promise to herself, one which she intends to keep. ‘No-one will touch me again without my consent.’

So, how does she intend to keep this promise to herself? She seeks the protection of first one and then two Soviet officers, the handsome dairy farmer Anatole and then the tormented widow, Major Andrej Rybkin, with whom she has a doomed but at least reciprocated love affair.

It’s all in return for sex, though, and she receives not only their protection but also food and other hard-to-get supplies. Berlin’s shops have been gutted in the war, but the Soviets have access to food and soap and even goodies, so the women put out for them and they’re- the men, at least- perfectly happy. A fair exchange is no robbery, after all.

I wouldn’t judge these poor women for doing what they have to do in order to survive. Their German husbands will do enough of that when they come home from the front, or from manning the death camps, or from wherever they’ve been… What rights do the husbands even have to pass judgement, anyway, after they’ve been away at war for so long?

Juliane Kohler, who was absolutely fantastic as Hitler’s missis Eva Braun in the 2004 film DOWNFALL, turns up here as Elke, our anonymous narrator’s friend.

“How many times?” queries the narrator.

Elke doesn’t even need to ask her friend what she means.

“Four times,” she answers, before changing the subject gaily with a forced brightness. Four? Sounds like she got off lightly, considering what went on.

Women in those days didn’t have access to birth control, did they, so how did they keep from producing dozens, if not hundreds, of little Russian-fathered babies? Most likely there were hundreds of Russian babies floating around in the post-Third Reich Germany. And, if a woman was raped by more than one Russian soldier, which certainly happened, she mightn’t even know the identity of her own baby’s father.

Did their mothers lie to their German fathers about their babies’ origin, and to the babies themselves? And what effects, if any, did that have on the children concerned, because most of those children would never know the men who fathered them…?

The Russians were fierce and formidable opponents in war, and, of course, Hitler’s biggest military mistake was to open up a war on two fronts, against the Soviets as well as against the Allies. However, in the film, the Russian soldiers seem amiable, generous and friendly towards the German women, children and old men who treat them civilly.

They love to laugh, to love, to live, just like the Germans and the people of other nations. They pray, they dance, they drink like fish, they eat like horses and they adore to sing patriotic songs that venerate their beloved Russia.

The people in our anonymous narrator’s apartment building build up a comfortable rapport with their ‘invaders,’ and life takes on even just a tiny semblance of normality. They even laugh and hold raucous parties with their ‘liberators.’

Which were they, the Russians? Were they the conquerors of Berlin, or the liberators? We’re liberating you from your Nazi overlords, they said as they rolled into the German capital in their massive tanks. I suppose the German people who hadn’t supported the Nazi regime were pleased to be ‘liberated.’

Many Germans feared the arrival of the Russians and chose to commit suicide rather than be invaded.
A woman in the film tells another what she’d heard from a German soldier; that, when the occupation happens, if the Russians do to the Germans even a fraction of what the Germans did to the Russians in the Russians’ very own country, then God help the Germans.

The Nazis initially had horrendous plans for Russia; they wanted to steal her acres and acres of ‘lebensraum’ or ‘living space’ for themselves, an expanding nation, and for a time there were plans to take Russian food and leave Russian people to starve to death. And that’s not even mentioning what the Nazi Einsatzgruppen or death squads did to the country’s Jews. It seems like the Germans had every reason to fear Soviet retribution.

Anyway, to sum up, I admire the anonymous narrator’s courage and determination in deciding that she’s going to survive the Russian occupation, whatever way she needs to do it. She even begs her Major lover and protector to stop the rapes of other German women, but his uninterested reply is simply: ‘My men are all healthy.’  

When her German fiancé returns from fighting the losing battle against Russia and the Allies, it’s almost certain that he’ll be intolerant of her survival tactics and look down on her as a ‘fallen woman.’

But how hypocritical is that? Don’t tell me that he’s never, whether in the Wehrmacht or the SS, done something during this awful war in order to survive that he’d be ashamed to tell his wife or priest. Needs must when the devil drives, you know.

This is an excellent and thought-provoking movie. If you think you’re up to being punched in the kisser with the weight of an extremely turbulent part of history, then watch it. At one hundred and twenty six minutes, it’s a long one but a good one.

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 new book, THIRTEEN STOPS EARLIER, is out now from Poolbeg Books:

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

The sequel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS LATER,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Thirteen-Stops-Later-Book-ebook/dp/B091J75WNB/

OLOTURE. (2019) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

OLOTURE. (2019) DIRECTED BY KENNETH GYANG. STARRING SHARON OOJA, OMONI OBOLI AND BLOSSOM CHUKWUJEKWU.
REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

One of the great things about Netflix is that it’s introduced me to a load of world cinema titles that I probably wouldn’t otherwise have had access to. Thanks to Netflix, I’m now a committed Bollywood fan and I’m also starting to dip my dainty cinematic toe into African cinema as well, something I wasn’t even aware existed to the extent it does.

OLOTURE, pronounced Ollo-turay, a Nigerian crime drama, is one of the most gripping but also horrifying movies I’ve seen in a long time. It’s based in Lagos, which is the capital city of Nigeria and the biggest and most densely populated city in Africa as well.

Sharon Ooja plays the titular Oloture, a stunningly beautiful black journalist who goes undercover as a prostitute for a story for the newspaper she works for, THE SCOOP. She keeps in touch by phone with her editor, boss and friend Emeka, or they might occasionally meet up secretly and at great risk to Oloture, as the people she’s mixing with now do not take kindly to cops, snoopy journalists or spies.

The world Oloture now inhabits is an ugly, cruel and merciless one peopled by savagely violent pimps, cold, unsympathetic madams, rich, privileged punters and prostitutes often in the last stages of poverty, desperation and helplessness.

The first time we see Oloture on the job, as it were, she’s climbing out a bathroom window at a sex party to avoid sleeping with a client. The client is furiously angry, though, and Oloture gets in trouble with the madam, who is also the landlady of the dump she sleeps in with the other prostitutes. And when I say, she sleeps there, I literally mean she has a camp bed there and nothing else. It’s purely functional.

Next time Oloture attends a sex party, wearing a wig like the other hookers and a short garish outfit that leaves little to the imagination, she doesn’t get off as lightly. She is drugged and raped by a grossly overweight politician called Sir Philip.

She’s devastated. I’m not sure what her intentions are when she goes undercover as a sex worker. I mean, I don’t know if she intends to have sex with the punters or if she’s hoping to avoid it or what, but the fact is that the situation she’s in is perilous and precarious, and she must have known, deep down in the back of her mind, that sex was on the cards at some point. Ah well. It happens, and poor Oloture tries to wash away the ignominy and degradation in the shower, and we all know how well that works…

Oloture hears from another prostitute of a woman called Miss Alero who, for a hefty sum of money, will take these poor broken women away from their shitty lives to a wonderful, magical place called… Europe.

That’s right, Europe is the holy grail for the prostitutes, and Oloture, traumatised and all as she is, decides that she wants in, for the sake of her story. The story in the newspaper has become even more important to her now, more personal, even more than ever worth fighting for, since the rape at the party.

What Oloture and the other girls don’t know yet is that the trip to Europe is a front for the worst kind of human trafficking. Once they pay their money, they are herded onto a bus and taken to a secret destination.

Angry, frighteningly aggressive muscular black men then take over from Madam Alero. Well, let’s tell it like it is! They take the girls’ phones- no contact with the outside world is allowed- and ‘train’ them to strut, bump and grind and lap-dance, all the skills they’ll need to attract male customers wherever they’re going. They subject the women to terrifying voodoo rituals to terrorise them into not running away, to make the superstitious young ones think they’ll be cursed if they try to leave.

It’s tragic the way one of the girls has earlier sent for her younger sister, thinking that the two of them will have a lovely new start in Europe together. All the young woman has unconsciously, unknowingly done is, she’s just provided Madam Alero and her crew with a much-prized ‘virgin’ for their ‘collection.’ Can you imagine how shit that must feel…?

Seeing Oloture making quick, clandestine visits to her loving mother, before the whole ‘Europe’ thing kicks off, really highlights the difference between the sleazy twilight world of the prostitutes and the light, bright clean world of fresh air, personal freedom, home cooking and motherly love.

The film also shows us that the era of the traditional pimp, working alone, with his gold-knobbed pimp cane, fur coat and broad-brimmed, feathered hat like every black pimp in every blaxploitation movie ever, is dying out, to be replaced, I suppose, by a sort of communal madam in a brothel or group of ‘controllers.’

Oloture gets into terrible trouble for trying to get a battered and abused hooker called, heart-breakingly, Blessing, to leave her pimp, Chuks, who makes Ike Turner look like Barney the Dinosaur, but it’s poor Blessing who gets the mother of all hidings as a result…  
 
Oloture has gotten herself into the worst situation imaginable. These men Madam Alero runs with don’t let the girls go once they have them under lock and key. Can Oloture be the exception to the rule? Can Emeka, her editor, manage to secure her release? This is an excellent eye-opener from a social justice point of view, but it’s a cracking good story as well. Watch it if you can. Did I mention it’s on Netflix…?

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
 

NATIONAL TREASURE. (2016) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

NATIONAL TREASURE. (2016) BASED ON OPERATION YEWTREE. DIRECTED BY MARC MUNDEN.

STARRING ROBBIE COLTRANE, JULIE WALTERS, TIM MCINNERNY, KATE HARDIE, SUSAN LYNCH AND ANDREA RISEBOROUGH.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

I really enjoyed this sex crime courtroom drama TV series, although it made me feel sick as times, based as it is on the police investigation into Jimmy Savile, which dredged up a fair few other little fishies in its net as well.

Robbie Coltrane (HARRY POTTER, CRACKER, FROM HELL with Johnny Depp) is superb as ageing comedian and television star, Paul Finchley. He’d be cast in the same mould as some real life comedians like, say, Bruce Forsythe, Les Dawson and the like. Paul’s star is now on the wane, and his TV duties have dwindled to presenting- we’ll assume- a fairly crappy, if popular, daytime quiz show called Smuggle.

When we meet him, he’s presenting a Lifetime Achievement Award to his own former comedy partner, Sir Karl Jenkins, an event which sticks in his craw more than he lets on to the people around him. After twenty or thirty years at the top of his telly game, Paul Finchley is now washed-up, a has-bean, old hat, a Z-list celebrity, while sycophants and his close friends presumably make sure to keep telling him he’s ‘a national treasure.’

It’s at this point that Paul is charged with raping a woman called Rebecca Thornton in the ‘Nineties, over twenty years ago. When this becomes known, several more women come forward with similar allegations, although some of these subsequently fade away again and only two end up coming to court. The woman with the first complaint, a one-time fan-girl of Finchley’s, and Christina Farnborough, the Finchleys’ former babysitter.

‘They think I’m Jimmy fucking Savile,’ Paul groans at one point.

No doubt the men whose names were on the cops’ hit-list after the revelations about Jimmy Savile felt, as Paul Finchley did, that they were the victims of a witch-hunt, but there does seem to have been a culture of ‘big stars get everything they want’ in the TV stations back in the day. Women were disposable and not as important as the big- male- stars of the day, and how they felt about things didn’t really come into it at all.

The series goes to great lengths to show us the affects of these allegations on the Finchley family. Finchley himself is shell-shocked, but steadily maintains his innocence. His and his wife Marie’s adult daughter, Dee, was a mess to begin with.

She lives in a halfway-house for women with drug and addiction problems. Her two children live with their dad at the moment, and there’s some suggestion that she may lose them to him for good if she can’t get her act together.

We keep seeing flashbacks of her and her dad together in her childhood, and Dee seems to be trying to remember whether or not he sexually abused her. Her mum, Marie, warns her at one point not to ‘go there,’ as they have enough troubles to be going on with.

A word about Marie, brilliantly played by Julie Walters. Marie is outwardly the perfect wife and mother, devoted to her family and standing by her man all the way. She’s doing that thing where she’s supporting Paul in public, and going to court with him and everything, but looking daggers at him in private, banning him from the marital bed and acting like he’s, well, Jimmy Savile, and like he’s disgraced and shamed the family.

She’s had this one-sided arrangement with Paul all their married life, an arrangement which suits only Paul, which is why I call it one-sided. He is a serial philanderer/adulterer, addicted to having affairs and one-night-stands. Even now, in his mid-sixties and walking with a cane, he has sex with prostitutes.

The arrangement is this. As Marie is unable to stop him from straying, he can sleep around as much as he likes, as long as he’s honest about it and tells her about it. She then ‘forgives’ him, but I bet he’s had to pay for his sins with holidays and new kitchens and bathrooms and designer wardrobes over the years. Carmela Soprano in THE SOPRANOS received plenty of such ‘guilt gifts’ throughout the course of her marriage to mob boss, Tony Soprano, in the hit HBO TV series of the same name.

It’s a most unsatisfactory arrangement. Marie’s soul-destroyed by all the cheating, so much so that she’s thinking of seeking consolation with Paul’s old comedy partner, Tim McInnerny as Karl, who’s always fancied her. Whatever happens, whether Paul is found guilty or not guilty, it doesn’t look like he’ll have much of a marriage to come back to.

The two women accusing Paul of rape are treated shabbily in court, as you might except. Even in real life, women like this are frequently seen as gold-diggers. Oh, the man’s rich and famous, eh? Well, then, obviously this bird’s after a nice big pay-out, whether through the courts or for selling her story to the newspapers!

This is a terrific drama, well acted and very of the moment, what with all the accusations of sexual misconduct flying around the globe today. Every month, someone new seems to get ‘cancelled’ for political incorrectness or charged with actual sexual abuse of people they encountered- or targeted- in the course of their successful careers. It’s a depressing thing to think about. Great drama, though. Watch it if you can.

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:

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:

APPROPRIATE ADULT. (2011) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

APPROPRIATE ADULT. (2011) BASED ON TRUE EVENTS. WRITTEN BY NEIL MCKAY. DIRECTED BY JULIAN JARROLD.

STARRING EMILY WATSON, DOMINIC WEST, MONICA DOLAN, SYLVESTRA LE TOUZEL AND ROBERT GLENISTER.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

‘I’m not your friend, Fred.’

‘Can I just ask if the appropriate adult’s all right…?’

‘Heather’s not under the patio. She’s in Bahrain, working as a mule for a drugs cartel. Now, whether you believe that or not is entirely up to you.’

I love this made for television crime drama, first shown in two parts on ITV. It’s considered to be the third part in a trilogy of made for television films about Britain’s most notorious murders from the second half of the twentieth century: THIS IS PERSONAL: THE HUNT FOR THE YORKSHIRE RIPPER from 1999 is one of the best true crime movies I’ve ever seen in my life. SEE NO EVIL: THE MOORS MURDERS (2006) is almost equally good.

APPROPRIATE ADULT is not the story of the horrific abductions, rapes and murders of innocent young women carried out by the loathsome serial killers Fred and Rose West in Gloucestershire between 1967 and 1987, although they did very much commit these crimes with which they were charged and of which they were found guilty. (Fred, of course, committed suicide before he could stand trial, but there was never any doubt as to his guilt.)

Rather, it is the extraordinary story of the ordinary woman training to be a social worker- Emily Watson playing Janet Leach- who had put her name down on a list of volunteers to be the ‘appropriate adult’ for when the police have charged someone of limited mental capacity or with learning difficulties, who might have trouble understanding the charges against them.

The appropriate adult would then sit in on the interview sessions between the police and the person charged with the offences and make sure that the person is okay to go on with the sessions and that they have everything they need, etc. It’s kind of like baby-sitting but with more serious implications…!

Janet Leach, thirty-eight, is a divorced mum-of-five with all the usual worries about money, kids and career. Her current partner is bipolar and needs to be hospitalised when he is going through one of his manic phases. So, as we see, this lady is not without her share of problems even before she encounters one of the twentieth century’s worst ever serial murderers.  

This case is Janet Leach’s first time to be chosen as an ‘appropriate adult.’ When she realises that it’s not only a murder case, but a multiple murder case in which heads have been cut off as casually as chopping up a lettuce for a salad and bodies stuffed into suitcases before being buried in the back garden or cellar, you can tell that she’s been knocked for six a bit.

Dominic West (no relation, I’m sure!) does a cracking job of portraying the evil but oddly genial Fred, a labourer for whom no job was too small, too big or too dirty and who liked to present an obliging, pleasantly hail-fellow-well-met face to the world at all times. He gives the impression that there’s nothing he wouldn’t do for you if you asked him, he’s so congenial.

Janet is obviously repelled by Fred when she meets him first and hears his dreadful stories of lust murders and the sado-masochistic torture of victims before they were murdered. But Fred takes an immediate liking to his ‘appropriate adult’ and it’s not long before Janet, too, falls under his so-called ‘spell.’

Here’s the thing about Fred, and this is my own personal opinion now. He loves all women, but especially the woman he’s with at any given time. He’d probably love D.C. Hazel Savage, who’s conducting the interviewing, except he’s sneaky and he instinctively knows she’s too smart to fall for his bullshit.

But Janet Leach is a tiny, timid little bird of a thing whose shyness and vulnerability Fred probably sniffs out immediately. Here’s a woman he can manipulate, a woman who’ll believe his lies.

He’s the most complete picture of a pathological liar you’ll ever see; if he told you it was raining, you’d be well advised to stick your own head out the window just to check for yourself.

Janet is probably exactly the kind of easily manipulated little mouse of a woman Fred would have gone for in real life. And now, here she is, in his life every day for a while, hanging on to his every word and giving him her undivided attention, which is all Fred ever wanted from a woman.

How does he manipulate her fragile emotions, then? He tells her she’s special, that she understands him in a way no-one else, not even his precious Rose, does. He implies he can’t do any of this without her, and that there’s a special bond between the pair of them that no-one else, outside of their little protective circle, can possibly ever hope to understand.

Janet is probably immensely flattered. What woman wouldn’t be? Has anyone else ever needed her so thoroughly, she’s probably wondering, has anyone else every placed so much trust in her? God Almighty, she’s probably honoured that she was the chosen one.

When he starts comparing her physical appearance to that of the so-called ‘love of his life,’ poor murdered Anna McFall, she’s more than likely half in love with him already. She starts to help the semi-literate Fred with his ‘autobiography,’ ‘I was Loved by an Angle.’ (Yes, yes, he means to write ‘angel!’)

She continues to visit him in prison, bringing him clothes and offering her support, long after her role as appropriate adult has officially ceased to be a thing. When Fred does what he does over the New Year of 1995, Janet Leach has a very curious reaction which I’m not going to tell you about here for fear of the dreaded spoiler. You’ll have to watch the film yourself to find out…!

I’m not saying that Fred was happy about being caught, but, Lord, he must have been in his element, his absolute element, during those long police interviews with the ever-attentive Janet Leach by his side!

Talking, talking, talking to his heart’s content, always with a captive audience and with a new woman now to ‘woo,’ congratulating himself inwardly on being smarter than the police and sending them on a wild goose-chase or leading them- quite literally- up the garden path as they desperately try to wriggle it out of him where he’s buried his own daughter’s remains. Did he believe his own wild stories? I guess we’ll never know.

A word about Rose, the wife. Here, she’s wonderfully portrayed by Monica Dolan exactly as I imagine she was in real life: a liar, vulgar, loud, aggressive, foul-mouthed, threatening violence, making enemies right left and centre. She won’t be free any time soon, if ever. I would say that’s for the best.

     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.

LITTLE ANGIE, BY EMMA CAVE. (1977) A PSYCHO-SEXUAL THRILLER REVIEWED BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

LITTLE ANGIE. (1977) BY EMMA CAVE. PUBLISHED BY PAN.

BOOK REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

This is one of the strangest books I’ve read in a long time. It was described by Auberon Waugh of the Evening Standard as ‘a dazzling psychosexual thriller; a corker of a book,’ and, yes, it was a good enough read, but it didn’t exactly blow me away, either.

It’s really just a very unpleasant story about a mentally fragile woman who is dominated, abused and even gaslighted by the three main men in her life: her father, her husband, and then someone else’s husband, and she is also manipulated and manoeuvred by her friends. It’s really quite ghastly to read about.

Angela Maclintock was born into a super-privileged American family. Her father is a millionaire, and the most important person in her life. Certainly, she loves him better than she does her mother, whom she despises and abhors.

But her father dies when she’s still quite young, and it devastates the impressionable Angie. She never really recovers from it, even though, as her father’s heir, she has all his vast stores of money with which to console herself.

If her father had lived, given the way father and daughter felt about each other, we might have been reading a story about incest. In fact, the story reminded me a lot of Andrea Newman’s sexy shocker BOUQUET OF BARBED WIRE, the book and the television series, which last I reviewed here recently. It features implied father-daughter incest and caused quite a kerfuffle in Britain at the time.

Anyway, Angie eventually transplants herself to England and goes to university, her father’s dearest wish for her. She tries to fit in with the other students and even attempts to greatly play down her wealth so as not to alienate herself from them. But she leaves college after a year to marry the horrible posh Richard, whose sexual proclivities leave Angie not just cold, but positively freezing.

Richard comes complete with his closest friend Jessica, a greedy and manipulative bitch, who from the start has pound signs in her eyes when she looks at the super-minted but also super-naive Angie, who just really wants to be loved. She wants to be loved and happy, just like everyone else in the world does. What’s wrong with that?

But Angie doesn’t live in the real world: she lives in a world where the fairytale princess waits patiently in her castle tower for her prince to come. To come and rescue her, that is, from nasty old real life with its problems and annoying trifles. Angie can’t cope with the real world, or with Richard and his vile, disgusting sexual preferences.

That’s why, when Sir Peregrine comes along with his easy, dominant charm and courtesy towards an Angie who’s been almost destroyed by her marriage to Richard, and who has fled to the English countryside for safe harbour, the emotionally fragile young woman falls into his lap like a peach tumbling from a tree. If Richard almost destroyed her, then the machinations of Sir Peregrine will surely finish the job…

I love poking about amongst old books from the 1970s and early 1980s. You literally never know what you’re going to find. I wouldn’t exactly call LITTLE ANGIE an undiscovered gem of vintage horror fiction, but I wouldn’t give it the cold shoulder either. It’s such a curiosity, it’s definitely worth a read or two.

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

STRAW DOGS. (1971) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS.©

straw dogs

STRAW DOGS. 1971. BASED ON THE BOOK ‘THE SIEGE OF TRENCHER’S FARM’ BY GORDON M. WILLIAMS. DIRECTED BY SAM PECKINPAH. STARRING DUSTIN HOFFMAN AND SUSAN GEORGE.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

‘Jesus. I got ’em all.’

‘Rats is life, Mr. Sumner, sir.’

Every man has a breaking point.

‘They were practically licking my body.’

‘This is where I live. This is me. I will not allow violence against this house.’

This is the kind of film that has the power to disturb you long after you’ve watched it. It’s one of my all-time favourites. It was banned from home viewing for a time, it’s that controversial. David Sumner, masterfully played by Dustin Hoffman, is a mild-mannered American mathematician who relocates with his young wife Amy to the remote Cornish farmhouse near the village of Wakely where Amy grew up.

The secretive, close-mouthed and mysterious locals look askance on them from the get-go. Even though Amy was once one of their own, she went away to America to live and has now returned with a husband so alien to them that he might as well waggle his antennae at them and say ‘nanu-nanu.’

They laugh openly at everything he says and does, and they sneer at him behind his back too, while ‘sir-ring’ him to death in a pseudo-servile fashion to his face. You don’t belong here, they’re telling him with ever sneer, every snipe, every sarcastic remark.

Amy is beautiful, sexy, vibrant, the kind of woman whom mild-mannered mathematicians probably don’t end up with all that often. Unless you’re Professor Frink from THE SIMPSONS, lol. Hoyvin glayvin…!

From the moment she appears on screen, sashaying down the main street of the village, braless in a tight white top with her nipples making a guest appearance of their very own, it’s hard not to take your eyes off her. One immediately gets a strong sense that the weedy little David Sumner has his hands full with her.

Everything about Amy screams exaggerated sexuality. Every man in the village wants to have sex with her, even if they already have, back when she lived there before with her father. (Looking at no-one in particular, Charlie Venner…)

Janice Heddon, a teenage girl from the worst family in the village (her father Tom, played by the superb Peter Vaughan, is nothing but a lawless alcoholic thug), tries to ape Amy’s easy, overt sexuality and it later becomes her downfall.

Amy and David’s marriage is clearly a troubled one. She passive-aggressively tries to provoke him every day into being the kind of man she really wants him to be, ie, a brutal he-man like Charlie Venner, who’s not averse to using his fists on women as well as men, but David Sumner, mild-mannered astral mathematician, won’t rise to the bait, which makes her desperately unhappy.

She flirts with and prick-teases the locals to ease her boredom and her feelings of dissatisfaction with David, and then complains when they react by having a good old stare at her unfettered boobies. She has every man in the village in a right old tizzy over her lustrous blonde locks, huge eyes thickly fringed with dark lashes and slim, sexy figure in mini-skirts and boots.

David and Amy have hired a group of these locals to fix their garage roof for them. They are a motley crew of deviants and inbred-seeming undesirables, as indeed half the population of the village appears to be. Big, blond and brawny Charlie Venner seems to have a past sexual history with Amy. He looks at her as if he’d like to devour her whole. They have considerable chemistry together.

Norman Scutt is just plain sleazy. Chris Cawsey, the giggling rat-catcher, is probably the most repulsive of the bunch. (‘Don’t call me Len, you little prick! I’m a bishop!’) While working on the roof, all four men, including one of Tom Heddon’s sons, watch Amy’s comings and goings intently.

She says they make her uncomfortable but if she’s so uncomfortable, her hubby David points out, and as we mentioned ourselves before, why doesn’t she put on a bra…? You can’t go around without one, he says, and expect that kind not to stare. Hmmm. No comment from me here. I’m just the reviewer, I ain’t here to judge.

The air of threat and menace that underlies the whole first half of the film begins to manifest itself materially with the anonymous killing and stringing up of Amy’s cat. Then David is conned into going with Cawsey, Scutt, Venner and their gigantic friend Philip Riddaway on a duck-shooting expedition. While he’s off pumping our poor feathered friends full of lead, Charlie Venner pays Amy a clandestine visit back at the farmhouse.

He loses no time in exercising his physical and sexual mastery of her. He proceeds to slap her around the place and then rape her brutally. Or does he…? I mean, is it still rape when the woman is saying ‘no’ with her mouth but screaming ‘yes, yes, yeees…!’ with her body? Because that’s what Amy is doing. It’s a hard one to figure out. Is Amy being raped or are she and Charlie simply re-igniting old flames hot enough to barbecue steak on…? You’ll have to watch the film for yourself to decide that one.

What happens next is a lot less ambivalent. Charlie looks up from his sexual endeavours to find himself staring down the barrel of Norman Scutt’s shotgun. Scutt, who has doubled back from the shooting party, motions silently for Charlie to move over and let him, Scutt, have a go at Amy, as it were. The fear and disgust in Amy’s face and voice when she looks up and sees that it is Scutt and not Venner who is having sex with her from behind are undoubtedly genuine.

Hubby David doesn’t find out about the rapes but he fires the men, nonetheless, both for yanking his chain over the whole shooting-party thing and also because they’re just thoroughly unpleasant characters to have knocking around the place. No argument from me there.

We’re getting to end-game now. During the annual church social, local sex-offender Henry Niles accidentally kills a young girl, Janice Hedden, daughter of the friendly neighbourhood violent drunk, Tom Hedden. When David and Amy accidentally run over the fleeing Henry Niles in their car, David brings him back to Trencher’s Farm until he can get hold of the doctor.

An angry and liquored-up mob, led by Venner, Scutt and Cawsey, descend on the farmhouse, baying for the blood of Niles. David won’t hand Niles over to the angry mob. They’ll beat him to death, he tells Amy, who’s all in favour of giving Niles up to the self-styled vigilantes. But David has a conscience. This is not how civilised people behave. He refuses to let the other men dictate to him. When he makes his position clear to them, the gloves come off and the game is most definitely on.

What happens next has to be seen to be believed. Maybe if I tell you that the film is based on a book from 1969 called THE SIEGE OF TRENCHER’S FARM by Gordon M. Williams, you’ll get an idea of where things go from there. (Except for the siege, the film is nothing like the book. The film is a million times more exciting. The book never even had a rape in it!)

Suffice it to say that, after the most unimaginable bloodbath that leaves no fewer than six men dead, the lives of the people of Wakely village may never be the same again. It’s so weird, but Amy spends most of the film urging David to react to things like a man, ie, to lash out when people insult or offend him or his wife. When he finally does what she wants, it’s because he wants to, and for no other reason. Let’s hope she’s finally happy, the spoilt little hussy.

This is such a powerful film that no review could ever really do it justice. I just hope that you won’t take my word for it and that you’ll watch it for yourself as soon as you can. Believe me, it’ll be worth it. As for the whole is she, isn’t she…? question, answers on a postcard, please…

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

FREEZER. (2000) A JAPANESE EROTIC HORROR-THRILLER REVIEWED BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

Freeze_Me

FREEZER, aka FREEZE ME. (2000) DIRECTED BY TAKASHI ISHII. STARRING HARUMI INOUE AND KAZUKI KITAMURA.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

Asian horror cinema during this period in the early years of the millenium was just unbeatable. This erotic horror-thriller hails from that exact golden era, and is a sort of Japanese ‘I Spit on your Grave,’ in which a woman gets revenge on her rapists. Here’s the deal, anyway.

An attractive young woman called Chirhiro is raped one day by three men, one of whom she knows from school. The brutal gang-rape takes place in her own home, while her single mum is out at work. The traumatised girl moves to Tokyo and starts a new life, with a new cropped hair-do instead of her long glossy locks, in order to forget the awful things that have happened to her.

Now she has a good job in a bank, a lovely apartment and even a new fiancé called Nogami, who is one of her co-workers at the bank. Everything is going swimmingly for Chirhiro in her new life, until one day, five years later, to her absolute horror, she encounters one of her rapists in her apartment building. It’s no coincidence. He’s come looking for her specially…

The rapist, a cocky young wanna-be Yakuza-type called Hirokawa, has the gall and arrogance to move in with a terrified Chirhiro, availing freely of all the facilities her apartment offers. He takes baths and showers, leaving his clothes and things around the place for her to clean up. He rudely demands food and sex, and falls sweetly asleep in Chirhiro’s bed after raping and battering her again and re-awakening all the horrors of five years earlier.

Hirokawa tells her that the other two men who raped her are en route to the apartment also. One of them, a dangerous thug, has just been released from prison for assault. The three of them are planning, if you can believe the mind-boggling cockiness of it all, to celebrate his release by forcing their way into the life- and body- of the woman they gang-raped together five years ago.

Hirokawa even threatens the petrified Chirhiro with photos and videos of the rape. The scene where he flip-flops stark naked down the hall and sticks the photos in Chirhiro’s neighbours’ letter-boxes is so absurd as to be funny, even though poor Chirhiro’s terror is real enough.

Chirhiro did nothing about the rape five years ago, as in, she didn’t report it to the police or tell friends or family about it, and she does nothing now. The rapists are relying totally on their victim’s sense of shame and embarrassment and even guilt about the rape to keep her mouth firmly welded shut.

They feel confident enough to push her around, even in front of her co-workers, and they’re right to feel so. Chirhiro is too crippled with shame to tell anyone about what’s going on in her apartment. But, when it looks like Hirokawa has cost her her relationship with her fiancé, Nogami, she awakens from her trance and snaps suddenly into revenge mode…

The revenge is a little impractical and the results hard to sustain, but Chirhiro’s mind has cracked under the strain of both the initial gang-rape and, now, of seeing her despised rapists again. And, oh my God, they really are three dreadful examples of male humanity; bullies and cowards rank with the twin stenches of self-loathing and self- pity. Boo-hoo-hoo, everything bad happens to me…!

The ending will break your heart. Your mind will be full of The Things Chirhiro Should Have Done To Help Herself Instead Of The Things She Actually Does, but it’ll be too late by then. The die will already have been very much cast.

PS, I forgot to say that there’s way more sex and nudity in this film than I ever remember seeing in any other Asian horror movie before, so that might encourage some of you naughty boys (and girls!) to stick Freezer on the old to-watch list…!

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

ANATOMY OF A MURDER. (1959) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

Anatomy-of-a-Murder

ANATOMY OF A MURDER. (1959) BASED ON THE NOVEL BY ROBERT TRAVER. PRODUCED AND DIRECTED BY OTTO PREMINGER. MUSIC BY DUKE ELLINGTON. STARRING JAMES STEWART, LEE REMICK, BEN GAZZARA, ARTHUR O’CONNELL, EVE ARDEN, KATHRYN GRANT, MURRAY HAMILTON, GEORGE C. SCOTT AND DUKE ELLINGTON.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

Some might say that this was a strange vehicle for the all-American, wholesome-as-apple-pie Jimmy Stewart to get mixed up with. He’s not a grizzled old gunslinger in it, for one thing, and for another thing, there isn’t so much as a sighting in it of the giant rabbit who used to run the Savings and Loan.

Instead, James Stewart is casually using words previously unheard on the cinema screen, such as ‘rape,’ ‘panties’ and ‘spermatogenesis.’ That last one had even me scratching my noodle in bafflement. And this is the movie, if I’m not much mistaken, that made Stewart’s own Pops stop talking to him for a bit, it was so shocking to the old man.

For those who haven’t seen this black-and-white, rather controversial-for-its-time courtroom drama, James Stewart plays Paul Biegler, a small-town attorney who looks exactly as James Stewart does and who defends a man called Frederick Manion. Manion is accused of shooting dead the man who raped his wife.

The question is not whether he ‘dunnit.’ He ‘dunnit’ all right. The man’s as dead as dead and there are witnesses and everything. The question is whether he was in his right mind when he ‘dunnit,’ or if he was in fact temporarily insane, as this is what he’s going to plead.

The trouble for the viewer is that the married couple at the centre of the drama, Laura and Frederick Manion, are not what you’d expect for a woman who’s just been supposedly raped and battered by an acquaintance and the husband who’s so horrified by what’s happened to his lovely wife that he’s rushed out while his blood is up and shot the guy who committed these awful deeds.

Ben, an army lieutenant, is young, handsome and very, very cold. There seems to exist very little affection between himself and Laura. He’s suspected of having a jealous temperament and of giving her the odd clout round the head when he’s in the mood, although he shows us little or no emotion at all in the film. It’s not out of the question for the viewer that his wife, an incorrigible flirt, made up the story about the rape and battery to excuse her late arrival home to their trailer and her dishevelled appearance.

Let’s move onto the wife, Laura. Talk about a femme fatale. She doesn’t seem to know the meaning of the word ‘inappropriate.’ Two days after the supposed rape, she turns up at Pauly’s office in a tight little outfit, flirting and smoking and smiling mysteriously, and making herself at home in his gaff, playing his records and sitting with her feet tucked up underneath her on his couch. She’s brought her adorable lickle wuff-wuff, Muff, with her too. Muff can do cute tricks, lol, and be altogether very obliging for an adorable lickle wuff-wuff. 

The homespun old Pauly is enchanted, to say the very least. There’s not much sign on the sexy blonde Laura of a recent trauma having taken place, barring the shiner underneath her sunglasses, which could just as easily have been given her by her husband as by the man she’s accusing of rape and battery. She looks rather in the pink, as a matter of plain fact.

Where’s the crying, the trembling, the hiding away and unwillingness to come forward that we might have expected from an on-screen rape victim? There’s none of that, just what seems like a vain, silly, thoughtless woman trying to add another middle-aged conquest to her army of followers. James Stewart, how easily you succumbed! For shame, haha.

Pauly and his elderly alcoholic assistant Parnell McCarthy (yep, it’s a good team, folks!) have to try to unravel what kind of man the dead guy, Barney Quill, was. In order to do this, they have to visit the bar which Barney owned and see the place where Laura and Barney met up on the night of the rape.

Over in one corner is the pinball machine on which Laura played on this fateful night, when she was boozing heavily and ‘swishing her hips’ in her little skirt and no doubt thrusting out her nips too in the little tight ‘Fifties sweater she wore.

And over there behind the bar is Alphonse Paquette, the surliest barman who ever pulled a pint. He surely doesn’t want to co-operate with Pauly and Co. What in the hell is he hiding? He’s played by a really young Murray Hamilton, by the way, a man who was once accused of ‘queuing up to be a hot lunch’ in the 1975 summer blockbuster, JAWS.

He’s definitely hiding something. Protecting his attractive young bar manager, Mary Pilant, maybe? Who is she, anyway, and what’s her connection to Barney Quill, the deceased bar owner with his trophies for shooting on display behind the bar…?

George C. Scott is handsome and deadly as the visiting big-city prosecutor who has to pit his razor-sharp wits against the rambling homespun wisdom of Pauly Biegler. The ancient judge, a bit of a rambling old dodderer himself, seems to be pro-Pauly rather than pro-the-visiting-big-city-prosecutor, but it’s not the judge Pauly has to convince with his arguments. It’s the jury of roughly about nine angry men and three mildly pissed-off women, and they all have lives to be getting back to…

I loved Eve Arden as Maida, Pauly’s good-humoured and efficient Girl Friday who puts up with his crap with loyalty and stoicism, even though some weeks he clearly can’t pay her her goddamn salary because he’s a bad businessman and he keeps letting people go off without paying him. She must have the patience of a saint to put up with his bullshit.

The funniest scene in the movie (and there’s a lot of comedy in this for a film about a rape trial) is when the judge, James Stewart and the two prosecutors are trying to find a suitable word for knickers, one that won’t offend the delicate sensibilities of the listening public but won’t cause them to crease up with a fit of the giggles, either. George C. Scott: ‘When I was stationed in France, there was a word they used there but it might be too suggestive…!’ Ah, go on, tell us, George, we’re totally in suspenders here…!

Modern-day feminists viewing the film will be appalled at the way in which the rape victim is judged unfavourably for her flirting and her boozing and her habit of swanning off to the pub without her husband or her knickers of a night, to play pinball and knock back the booze with strange men.

What was she wearing, the question some people think should be an irrelevancy in a rape trial, is given more court-time here than most feminists would like, and The Panties deserve their own credit, maybe even their own spin-off show, a cutting-edge legal drama where the characters are all played by undergarments, perhaps.

The long-winded judge who keeps trying to finish early in court so he can sneak off to go fishing could be played by an old pair of stripey boxer shorts, for example, and the sexy young barrister trying to make a name for herself could be portrayed by a lacy hot-pink thong, and so forth. The Panties could be splitting up with her husband and she’s fighting him tooth and nail for custody of their wonderful offspring, a delightful little pair of twin sock garters, and of course the case comes up before our aforementioned judge. You don’t buy it? No, neither did Fox, lol…

 Finally, if I may end with an appeal to film-makers to refuse to have pinball machines in the bars in their movies in the future, as said machines have been an incitement to rape in at least two films; this one, and also THE ACCUSED, starring Jodie Foster and Kelly McGillis.

In fact, the pinball machine in THE ACCUSED was later found to have participated actively in the on-screen rape of Jodie Foster’s character in the movie and became unofficially known as ‘the fourth defendant,’ along with College Boy, the Ted Bundy lookalike and the local, ahem, lackwit, shall we say, so you can see how easily it can happen. Say no to pinball machines and you’re saying no to pinball machine rape, and together we can stamp out this atrocity in our time. (Send donations too if you want; it’s a totally legit cause…!)

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