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

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

HIGH PLAINS DRIFTER. (1973) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

high-plains-drifter-2

HIGH PLAINS DRIFTER. 1973. DIRECTED BY CLINT EASTWOOD. WRITTEN BY ERNEST TIDYMAN. MUSIC BY DEE BARTON. CINEMATOGRAPHY BY BRUCE SURTEES.

STARRING CLINT EASTWOOD, VERNA BLOOM, MARIANA HILL, BILLY CURTIS, STEFAN GIERASCH AND GEOFFREY LEWIS.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

I love my Westerns, spaghetti or otherwise. This film was shot in California but was heavily influenced by Clint Eastwood’s regular collaborator, Sergio Leone, he of decidedly spaghetti western fame.

Thanks to Leone’s DOLLARS trilogy (A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS, FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE and THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY), Clint Eastwood was already an international cinema star with his own film production company, the Malpaso Company, by the time he made HIGH PLAINS DRIFTER.

It’s an excellent and entertaining revenge Western with a possible bit of a ghost story thrown in. No-one plays a Mysterious Stranger Who Rides Into Town And Does A Bunch Of Macho Stuff like Clint Eastwood does, and in this film he’s possibly at his most mysterious and macho, or at least the most so that I’ve ever seen him.

His ‘Man With No Name’ character was already well established by now. Clint had played him in each of the DOLLARS trilogy. Though he was given nicknames like ‘Joe’ or ‘Blondie’ or even ‘Boy’ in the trilogy, he essentially remained formally nameless and without an identity or back story.

We may find out the back story of characters like Colonel Douglas Mortimer (FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE) or Tuco the Bandit (THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY) but Clint’s character remains an enigma. He’s the ultimate Mystery Man, A Man Without A Past. We know nothing of his past or possible future, only his present.

Anyway, in HIGH PLAINS DRIFTER, Clint, again nameless, arrives in the tiny seaside mining town of Lago and immediately starts stirring things up big-time, putting the townspeoples’ backs up and having forced- or is it…?- sexual congress with what can only be described as… ahem… the town slut.

Within his first few minutes of landing in Lago, he shoots three men dead in self-defence and rapes a beautiful local woman called Callie Travers who deliberately singles him out and starts an argument with him. He decides to ‘teach her some manners’ by dragging her into a nearby barn and raping her. That’ll learn her, lol.

You see, I think she’s seeking out Clint’s attentions on purpose on account of he’s the best-looking man to arrive in Lago in many a day. And she looks like she’s enjoying herself to me. Sure, she cries ‘rape’ afterwards to save face but later in the film she joins Clint for dinner and goes to bed with him willingly, openly this time.

Of course, the feminists and the ‘me too’ brigade would be up in arms if such a thing happened in a film today but, back then, stuff like that happened all the time and no-one batted an eyelid.

Just like no-one bats an eyelid in Lago when Callie Travers runs around screaming ‘Rape! Rape!’ after the event in the barn. Some of the townspeople might even decide that that slut Callie got what was coming to her.

I’m a woman and I enjoy watching that scene and find it exciting. I don’t think it means I want to be dragged down a dark alley by a knife-wielding stranger and violated. I just think that Clint Eastwood was one of the handsomest film stars of all time and it’s exciting to watch him having rough sex with a woman in the rather Neanderthal style of the time, that’s all. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, lol.

Anyway, it turns out that the people of Lago need the super-tough, enigmatic Stranger a ‘hell’ of a lot more than he needs them. (See what I did there?) They need him, in fact, to protect them from a trio of lowlifes who are being released from prison in the near future and who are expected to be gunning for the people of Lago who’ve previously double-crossed them in a deal.

The deal apparently involved a previous Marshal of the town called Jim Duncan who, when he became a painful inconvenience to the townspeople, was bull-whipped to death on the main street of Lago by Stacey Bridges (Geoffrey Lewis, the grave-digger from SALEM’S LOT) and the Carlin brothers, Dan and Cole, the trio of degenerates.

Well, I suppose that in prison you have a lot of time to think, and it seems like most screen villains don’t waste a minute repenting of their sins and former lifestyles but only entertain thoughts of revenge. Fantasising about vengeance against the person or people who put them in jail is what gets them through their sentence. 

So now the trio of gurriers- that’s what we call lowlifes in Ireland- are riding to Lago to revenge themselves on the townspeople, who have plenty on their consciences themselves. They stood by and did nothing while a man, a fellow human being, endured an agonising death at the hands- and whips- of the three thugs. How can they live with themselves after what they did? A little too easily, it seems to me. 

The Stranger decides to stay and help out the undeserving citizens of Lago when the townspeople promise him that he can have anything he wants, free, gratis and for nothing, from any of the establishments in Lago.

He makes good use of their offer, partaking liberally of free wine and steak dinners while enjoying the willing company of Callie Travers, the blonde woman he ‘raped’ when he first landed in Lago. It’s not a terribly politically correct film, but then again, it probably wasn’t a terribly politically correct era for film-making, as we’ve already discussed.

The Stranger also has sexual congress with Verna Bloom as Sarah Belding, an unhappily married woman who at first appears to resist the Stranger’s advances but who then capitulates to his stubbly and no doubt ever-so-slightly malodorous charms.

Her husband, the hotel-keeper, is so useless and lily-livered that he stands by like a mouse and does nothing when he thinks that his wife, whom he presumably promised to love, honour and cherish till death do them part, is about to be raped by Clint. He doesn’t deserve a good strong woman like Sarah, the only person in the whole miserable town of Lago to speak out against the horribly inhumane death of Marshall Duncan.

The Stranger, aided and abetted by a dwarf called Mordecai, the only person he troubles to befriend in Lago and whom he has ‘promoted’ to the twin roles of Marshal and Mayor, wreaks havoc in Lago.

He forces the townspeople to paint every building in town bright red and paints the word ‘HELL’ over the town sign as an ominous welcome to the little gang of hoodlums. He trashes the town completely in the name of ‘helping’ them, and I think it’s because he figures they deserve it. They got away scot-free after the death of Jim Duncan, after all.

Anyway, the three lads eventually turn up and start shooting up the town but it’s not too long before Clint, at his enigmatic best, dishes out some good old-fashioned Wild West retribution with a little whip-action of his own.

“So, you guys all like whipping then, do you…?” he so easily could have said, though he doesn’t. “Well then, me buckos, let’s see how you like THIS…” Whip crack away, whip crack away, whip crack a-WAAAAAY and so on and so forth…

I love the character of the cowardly sheriff because he openly admits that he only got the badge by sort of default when Jim Duncan died. (That’s how Police Chief Wiggum in THE SIMPSONS got HIS badge…!)

I love the cowardly- and mercenary- town preacher too and I’m certain I’ve seen him in other films before in a similar role. I like the cowardly greasy barber with his comb-over as well. There are some great characters amongst the townspeople.

I love that Clint, who’s accused of being ‘cruel’ by the townspeople, is openly kind, decent and generous to the Native American Indians and the Mexicans in Lago. They’re treated like dirt by the townspeople who abuse them (the Indians) and make them do their dirty work for them (the Mexicans). What a rotten lot the townsfolks of Lago are. Clint should leave ’em all to rot in Hell…

You should watch this brilliant sort-of-spaghetti Western if you want to see Clint all bristly and manly and shooting up a storm with, as usual, one hand tied behind his back. Well, not literally, but you know what I mean. Hey, it works for me.

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

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

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

You can contact Sandra at:

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

https://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com

http://sexysandieblog.wordpress.com

http://serenaharker.wordpress.com

sandrasandraharris@gmail.com

https://twitter.com/SandraAuthor

THE STRANGER BESIDE ME. (2003) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

stranger beside me ted

THE STRANGER BESIDE ME. (2003) BASED ON THE BOOK OF THE SAME NAME BY ANN RULE. DIRECTED BY PAUL SHAPIRO.

STARRING BARBARA HERSHEY, BILLY CAMPBELL AND MEGHAN BLACK.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

The book on which this made-for-TV film is based is far superior to the film, sadly, but then it would have been hard for any film to fully capture the sheer brilliance of Ann Rule’s true crime masterpiece. It’s no slur either on the sweet-faced Barbara THE ENTITY Hershey’s acting.

She makes a very nice Ann Rule and neatly captures the fact that Ann Rule was a lovely decent person who was put in a very awkward situation by her friend and co-worker, a certain serial killer by the name of Ted Bundy. What am I saying, awkward situation? It was a situation probably unprecedented in the history of true crime writing.

Ted had committed several murders in Seattle, Utah, Washington, Idaho and Colorado in ‘Seventies America, and former policewoman Ann, who wrote true-life crime stories for magazines for a living, was commissioned to write a book about the murders that would be finished only when the murderer was caught and convicted. If that ever happened, that is.

In her fabulous book THE STRANGER BESIDE ME, first published in 1980 and then updated in 1986 and 1989 (Ted was finally executed in 1989), Ann describes working nights as what we here in Ireland would call a ‘Samaritan’ but what the Americans referred to as working as a telephone crisis counsellor in a Crisis Centre.

Ted, a handsome young Republican law student who once worked on Governor Evans’s election campaign in Washington, worked right alongside Ann as a telephone counsellor. Students and other young people would phone in with their problems, just as people would phone the Samaritans over here if they were feeling suicidal, depressed or even just a little low.

Ann does a very good job in her book of describing the good feeling she and Ted would get when someone who was intent on committing suicide while on the phone to them was saved by her and Ted’s intervention. In the film you see them working as a team to save a life, so it must be said that Ted actually once used to save lives, rather than just snuffing them out forever.

Ted befriended hard-working single parent Ann and was fascinated by her work as a true-crime writer. He even asked to borrow copies of the detective magazines that carried her stories.

Ted would almost certainly have enjoyed reading about women who were beaten, raped, tied up and murdered, and if there were pictures too, well…! So much the better. He was in his element. This was exactly his area of interest. He lived for brutally hurting women.

Of course, Ann at the time didn’t have a clue that Ted was the mysterious faceless phantom who was spiriting pretty young college co-eds away from their lives and families forever. When she saw that the photofit pictures of the serial killer, who strangely enough was actually calling himself ‘Ted’ to his victims and potential victims, resembled her own friend Ted from the Crisis Centre, she told her friends on the police force.

She had always remained good friends with her buddies on the force and their tip-offs and inside information on criminal cases made good stories for Ann, who helped them out also whenever she was able to do so. It was a good strong symbiotic relationship that helped both sides.

Ann was unaware at the time that Ted’s then girlfriend, a young woman called Elizabeth Kloepfer whose whereabouts today are a total mystery, as far as I know, had had her own suspicions about her boyfriend’s frequent absences and was also trying to alert the police. Ted Bundy was about to become the Number One Suspect in a major murder case.

Ted was caught initially by a traffic cop, I believe, who was puzzled as to why an upstanding citizen with nothing to hide would be carrying around a rape kit and burglary tools in the boot of his car. In the film, Ann meets with Ted while he’s still free but under police surveillance, and he tries to persuade her that the charges against him are bullshit.

Ann has her suspicions, though, and she’s especially worried about the murders because her own daughter Leslie- with whom I’m friends on Facebook, thanks to the magic of the Internet!- was a teenager at the time and liked to go around doing as she pleased, as most teenagers like to do. There’s a bit in the film where Ted tells Ann categorically that Leslie will not, repeat not, be harmed by the murderer. Only a man who was the murderer himself could make a promise like that.

The film doesn’t have the same ambience of dark, lurking menace that Ann’s marvellous book contains. I was scared for weeks after reading Ann’s account of the terrible murders in the Chi Omega sorority house in Tallahassee, Florida.

Ted, who’d escaped from prison for the second time and was still on the run, gained access to the sorority house through a door with a faulty lock. He then bludgeoned two sleeping students to death and inflicted grievous bodily harm on two others. Unbelievable though it sounds, all the attacks were carried out and achieved within a matter of twenty minutes or less. No-one heard anything, and only one person saw anything.

Ann wrote the account so well that I felt like I was crouching there in the darkened stairwell myself, watching Ted run down the stairs and out the front door carrying the oaken club he’d used to bludgeon the sleeping girls. He was actually seen by one of the girls leaving the house.

The film doesn’t even come close to capturing the horror of that dreadful night. After Ted exited the Chi Omega sorority house, he attacked another woman in a nearby ground floor apartment. Posing as a fellow called Chris Hagen, he only had a few more weeks of freedom left before he was re-captured and incarcerated for good. For the good of the community at large, you might rightly add.

There was something about a cat too in Ann’s book (I’m a bit hazy on the details here), a cat who’d apparently sensed the terrible evil in the Chi Omega house on the day of the murders and done a legger for several weeks until he felt it was okay to return. And the bit about the girl who was in the bathroom that very night and had no idea that it was Ted’s footsteps she heard outside the closed bathroom door…! It gave me chills for days.

In the film, Ted apparently goes to his execution in the electric chair without having his head or legs shaved or his rectum packed with cotton wool as would have actually happened, but I suppose these are mere details.

I’m more disappointed with the total lack of atmosphere in the film, the total absence of any real horror in its depictions of Ted’s heinous crimes. Their Ted is kinda wrong too, his face is too long.

It’s still a good watch though, THE STRANGER BESIDE ME, although I stand by what I said. The book is better. The New York Times described it as follows: ‘As dramatic and chilling as a bedroom window shattering at midnight.’ They’re not wrong. Rest in peace, dear Ann. I wish I’d known you. You sound like one heck of a great lady.

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

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

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

You can contact Sandra at:

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

https://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com

http://sexysandieblog.wordpress.com

http://serenaharker.wordpress.com

sandrasandraharris@gmail.com

https://twitter.com/SandraAuthor

 

FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE. (1965) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

indio

FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE. (1965) DIRECTED BY SERGIO LEONE. MUSIC BY ENNIO MORRICONE. STARRING CLINT EASTWOOD, LEE VAN CLEEF, GIAN MARIA VOLONTÉ AND KLAUS KINSKI.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

‘This train’ll stop at Tucumcari.’

‘In ten minutes, you’ll be smokin’ in hell. Get up!’

‘When the chimes end, pick up your gun. Try and shoot me, Colonel.’

‘Where life was cheap, death sometimes had its price. That’s when the bounty killers appeared.’

‘Why’d’ya choose my bar to commit suicide in, Mister? I know that man. And if that man didn’t kill ya, then he musta had a very good reason.’

This won’t be a review so much as one great big love-in. I bloody ADORE this film. It’s a spaghetti western shot in Spain (with the interiors done in Rome) and the middle film in what is commonly referred to as the ‘Dollars’ trilogy, its predecessor being A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS and its successor, THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY.

Sequels, as you know, can get something of a bad press but this film, in my opinion, is a classic example of the sequel far, far surpassing the original in just about every way you can think of.

Like the way the original FRANKENSTEIN, made in 1931 by James Whale, as brilliant as it is, is somewhat eclipsed by the 1935 sequel, THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN, also made by James Whale.

And the way that I prefer JAWS 2 to the original JAWS. although that’s not quite the same thing, that’s more a matter of personal taste. For which I’ve gotten a lot of abuse, I might add. (‘You think JAWS 2 is better than the original JAWS? What the fuck is the matter with ya, ya fuckin’ idiot? Ya must need your fuckin’ eyes tested!!!’)

The plot is simple enough, but it works so, so well. Clint Eastwood and Lee Van Cleef, in roles that made them both into internationally recognised cinema stars, play Manco and Colonel Douglas Mortimer respectively, a pair of bounty killers from the bad old days of the Wild, Wild West who each share a common aim.

What aim is this, I hear you say? You might well ask. They both want to claim the massive bounty- ten thousand dollars to be precise- on the head of El Indio. Indio (Gian Maria Volonte) is a decidedly sociopathic bank robber-slash-murderer-slash-all-round bad guy, who is drugged up for a lot of the movie on some intoxicating addictive substance that he smokes nearly non-stop.

He commits mayhem with impunity all over the place with the help and backing of his notorious gang of unwashed cut-throats and thieves: Niňo, Slim, Paco, Chico, Hughie, Franco, Groggy, Wild and all the rest. Life is cheap in their world and they never shed a tear for any of the lives they snuff out so carelessly. Easy come, easy go, huh?

We first see Indio when he’s being broken out of prison by his gang. Then, in a super-cool scene in an abandoned church that’s breath-taking in its magnificence, he revenges himself against the man who got him sent to prison.

Taking out a musical pocket-watch that chimes a haunting little melody, Indio tells his betrayer to try and shoot him when the music stops. Watched by the members of Indio’s gang, the two men wait for the delicately tinkling chimes to end. And wait…

After initially locking horns over who has more right to go after El Indio and his gang and claim the whopping reward, Manco and Colonel Mortimer, after a very funny hat-shooting scene that breaks up the tension, decide that two heads might just be better than one when it comes to getting the better of the band of brigands.

They join forces and Manco is chosen- slightly to his alarm- to infiltrate Indio’s gang in order to bring down the enemy from the inside. This he does just in time for the gang’s next big job: robbing the bank at El Paso, legendary for its impenetrability.

The bank is successfully robbed, partly because Indio has some inside information as to the existence of a hard-to-open safe disguised as a drinks cabinet reserved for fancy guests who frequent the bank. The safe may contain as much as a million dollars in cash. It’s a very attractive proposition indeed for Indio and his gang. Irresistible, in fact.

They return to their hideout with the stolen safe, only to discover that they can’t risk opening it without damaging the money contained therein. What to do, what to do? Re-enter Colonel Douglas Mortimer with a handy solution and a proposition for El Indio…

There are just so many things to love about this film. It’s worth watching just for Ennio Morricone’s fabulous musical score alone. I promise you that you’ll be humming dum-dum-di-dum-dum-di-dum-dum-di-dum long after the credits have rolled. There’s some beautiful Spanish guitar in there too.

Blonde German actor Klaus Kinski (Werner Herzog’s haunting NOSFERATU THE VAMPYRE, AGUIRRE, THE WRATH OF GOD, COBRA VERDE, FITZCARRALDO) in a supporting role is deliciously twisted- and gorgeous- as the hunchback who goes berserk when the cool-as-fuck Lee Van Cleef strikes a match off his hump. The two ‘smoker’ scenes are excellent and great fun. ‘Cucilio, count to three…’ What I want to know here is, can Cucilio count at all, never mind to three?

Clint Eastwood is gorgeous in this, full stop. Seeing him in his poncho, all stubbly and manly, chomping on a cigarette and shooting a villain stone-dead without even looking directly at him makes me seriously wish that I could live out my naughty sex-fantasy of living in Wild West times when men were men and women were glad of it… Ahem…! (Coughs and clears throat and goes bright red in the face…) What I wouldn’t give to be dragged into a barn by my hair and shown Manco’s secret weapon, and what it’s used for…

But for me, the highlight of an already bloody brilliant film has to be Gian Maria Volonté, who plays the part of the utterly psychopathic robber-baron to perfection. He has the most beautiful eyes too, have you noticed that?

He is moody, broody and just ever so slightly insane as he opens his little pocket watch containing the photograph of the woman he raped and lets the tinkling chimes play out before the shooting of his adversaries can commence.

What’s the secret of the little pocket-watch he carries that plays music when you open it? The story is told in two gripping flashbacks. Indio seems haunted by the memory of it and smokes drugs to blot it out. I hardly think he feels any remorse for what he’s done as he’s a total sociopath but maybe his ego was slightly dented by what happened.

Think of what Lisa Simpson says sadly in the TREEHOUSE OF HORROR episode entitled BAD DREAM HOUSE. ‘It chose to destroy itself rather than live with us.’ You can see why Indio might have been a wee bit miffed all right.

He’s so good at being bad that I must admit I always shed a few sly tears every time I watch the showdown between him and the two bounty killers (they’re not called bounty hunters here but bounty killers) in the sweltering heat of the Agua Caliente sun.

So, do Manco and Colonel Mortimer ride off into the sunset together having each achieved what they set out to do at the start of the movie? Does Manco bag himself a cartload of dead villains for which he will receive a huge bounty and will Colonel Mortimer’s attempt to avenge the beautiful doe-eyed woman in the picture be a success? It’s all to play for, folks.

If you like spaghetti Westerns, then you need to watch this film. Then watch it again. Watch it even if you don’t normally like spaghetti Westerns. I promise you that you won’t be disappointed. This film is a real little exploding cracker of a movie. Bang bang, you’re dead…

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

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

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

You can contact Sandra at:

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

https://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com

http://sexysandieblog.wordpress.com

http://serenaharker.wordpress.com

sandrasandraharris@gmail.com

https://twitter.com/SandraAuthor