HALLOWEEN: RESURRECTION. (2002) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

HALLOWEEN: RESURRECTION. (2002) BASED ON CHARACTERS CREATED BY JOHN CARPENTER AND DEBRA HILL. DIRECTED BY RICK ROSENTHAL. STARRING JAMIE LEE CURTIS, BRAD LOREE, BUSTA RHYMES AND TYRA BANKS.
REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

This film is great craic, as we say here in Ireland. (That means fun, by the way, not hard drugs…!) It’s the eighth instalment in the superb series of HALLOWEEN horror films, and this one was directed by the chap who directed HALLOWEEN 2 back in 1981, which I think is kind of cool. And I know cool when I see it, haha. Ask anyone who knows me…

It’s got a very ‘Nineties feel to it, and it’s kind of like two films in one, really. The first segment of the film sees Jamie Lee Curtis, once more playing Laurie Strode, facing off against her deranged brother Michael Myers again.

This time around, the setting is the psychiatric hospital in which Laurie has been incarcerated since she decapitated a paramedic three years ago, mistakenly believing him to be her brother. It’s an easy mistake to make. Shure, I remember one time when I… On the other hand, no-one really needs to hear that story now. On with the review…

Does pure evil prevail when the siblings come face-to-mask once more? I can’t tell you, even if you try to tickle it out of me, because that would be a pretty big spoiler, and I don’t roll that way. I can, however, tell you that this bit is excellent, even though the overall film itself got poor reviews, and is easily as good, as tense and as dramatic as any of the other Laurie-Michael bits throughout the rest of the franchise.

During the part of the film that follows, you’d almost be forgiven for thinking that you’d tuned into a different movie. It’s still good, though. This time around, we’re back in the old Myers house in Michael’s and Laurie’s home town of Haddonfield, Illinois.

The house is in a terrible state of disrepair by now, which makes it the perfect location for an Internet reality show in which six young people hole up inside it over Halloween and try to figure out what drove Michael Myers to kill. Well, okay, if they think that they can succeed where the police and the psychiatrists failed, who are we to argue? Let ’em knock themselves out, that’s what I say.

The students are so uniformly horrible and annoying that I doubt if any of the viewers are too upset when Michael Myers, star of the show once more, shows up and starts to murder them one by one in increasingly imaginative ways. One of these ways is so unpleasant that it gives me the willies to even think about it, so you’ll forgive me if I don’t write about it here.

Busta Rhymes is a good laugh as Freddie Harris, the mastermind behind the reality show. And the language out of him! ‘Tis shocking altogether. It’s mother-effing this and mother-effing that. You’ve never heard the like of it. He needs his mouth washed out with soap, that’s what he needs.

He’s great fun, though, and totally kick-ass when his back is to the wall. Also, Michael better beware ‘cause Freddie knows kung fu. Supermodel Tyra Banks (AMERICA’S NEXT TOP MODEL) doesn’t contribute a whole lot, unless you count getting herself killed off fairly early on as a contribution.

I love the bit in the underground part of the old Myers’ house where it transpires that Michael has been living for the last three years, since the time that Laurie thought she’d killed him but it turned out that she killed a paramedic due to Michael’s sneaky sleight-of-hand. He’s been eating rats and probably drinking the water that drips off the walls, no doubt dreaming of the day when he can go after Laurie again with his trusty old kitchen knife.

One of the three girls is a Brittany Murphy look-alike, one’s a dead ringer for actress Julianne Moore and the lead girl is actually pretty mopey, until being pursued by a murder-minded Michael Myers forces her to show a bit of spunk/chutzpah/true grit for once. The three blokes are pretty much uniformly awful. Michael’s welcome to ‘em.

An interesting twist is that the show taking place in Michael Myers’ old house is being streamed live on the Internet, and so, when the murders start happening, people in the online world think it’s all part of the act. This makes them slow to reach for the phone and call 911. Luckily, however, there’s still one little girl out there who still believes in Santa Claus. Wait, wrong movie, but right sentiment. Carry on killing, dear Michael. Carry on killing…

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:

HALLOWEEN H20: TWENTY YEARS LATER. (1998) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

HALLOWEEN H20… TWENTY YEARS LATER. (1998) DIRECTED BY STEVE MINER. THEME TUNE BY JOHN CARPENTER. STARRING JAMIE LEE CURTIS, JANET LEIGH, LL COOL J, ADAM ARKIN, MICHELLE WILLIAMS, NANCY STEPHENS, CHRIS DURAND AND JOSH HARTNETT.
REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

I love this film. It’s one of my favourite movies in the HALLOWEEN franchise, started in 1978 and based on characters created by Debra Hill and the legendary John Carpenter. Serial killer Michael Myers, he of the white William Shatner mask, sensible boiler suit and work boots ensemble and distinctly stabby tendencies, is back and guess what…? He’s totally up to his old tricks again.

Once again, we see him chasing after his sister Laurie Strode, brilliantly played by Jamie Lee Curtis. This time around, however, Laurie is no longer the fearless teenage babysitter she once was. She’s all grown-up and neurotic now, possibly an alcoholic as well, albeit a functioning one. She’s the headmistress of a posh private boarding school in a charming little town where, one presumes, nothing really bad ever happens. Till now…

Laurie’s teenage son, played by heart-throb in the making Josh Hartnett, is a pupil at the school. Mom is having a hard time loosening the apron strings because she’s still very much hung-up on the whole being-nearly-killed-by-her-psychopathic-brother thing. She’s even faked her own death and changed her name to Keri Tate since HALLOWEEN 2. That’s how scared she is of Michael returning, and how much she wants to be prepared for it if he ever does return.

The events of HALLOWEENs 4, 5 and 6, known collectively as The Thorn Trilogy, have been set aside completely for this film. I believe the proper word is retconned, people, they’ve been retconned, although, between retcons, reboots and remakes, my poor head is completely fried. Anyway, this film is supposed to be a continuation of HALLOWEENs 1 and 2 only, and leaves out the storyline concerning Danielle Harris as Jamie Lloyd, Michael’s niece and Laurie’s daughter.

Laurie still has nightmares about Michael and her alcoholism is a condition that ably demonstrates her very human frailty and inability to come to terms with the worst thing that’s ever happened to her. Well, it’s the worst thing that can happen to anyone really, isn’t it? Not all of us have a psychotic murderer in the family, thankfully.

Laurie’s/Keri’s teenage son John is driven mad trying to convince Mom to loosen up a little and put the past behind her. She sure picks an ill-advised time to do just that. It’s Halloween (naturally!) and Michael Myers arrives at the nearly empty school- most of the students and teachers are away on a school trip to Yosemite- all ready to create his own particular brand of stabby, head-crushing havoc.

Laurie has reluctantly given John permish to go on the trip, but, unbeknownst to her, he and his girlfriend Molly and two of their friends are actually all secretly planning to stay behind. Oh, not to study or anything productive like that, but to booze it up and make out with each other in typically irresponsible horny teen fashion.

Laurie and her teacher boyfriend, Will Brennan, are planning something similar while the kids are away. Sexy hi-jinks ahoy, lol. But their presence, and the presence of the four teens, in the empty school merely makes it easier for Michael Myers to pick them off one-by-one, like  the proverbial fish in a barrel…

The unhurried, impassive-faced but undoubtedly lethal serial killer cuts a murderous swathe through the remaining staff and students in an effort to get to Laurie. When an opportunity for escape presents itself, however, does Laurie grab it with both hands or does she decide to finally make a stand and face down the man who’s haunted her dreams since forever…? I think I’ve probably given the game away with that last bit so just try to look surprised when it happens, haha.

The gorgeous browns and oranges of America in the Fall give the film a lovely warm cosy feel, despite the fact that it’s a slasher movie. The Americans really know how to do Halloween, as we know from THE SIMPSONS and MODERN FAMILY and the HALLOWEEN franchise itself. That’s certainly reflected in their beautiful scenery, foliage and unerring ability to decorate their homes and gardens to absolute perfection during the spooky season.

Michael Myers is, as always, amazing in everything he does: getting up every time he’s been hit even when you think it’s impossible, dropping one-handed down from the ceiling and walking calmly and unhurriedly after his scattering, scrambling prey without ever breaking a sweat. He’s cooler than a swig of ice-cold lemonade on a melting hot day, and just as welcome.

LL Cool J as the school security guard who wants to write torrid romances while being berated down the phone by his gobby wife is great fun too. Also, the late great Donald Pleasence, who played the now-legendary Dr. Loomis, Michael’s psychiatrist, in some of the earlier films, is affectionately acknowledged here in photograph form, which is sweet. Nancy Stephens as Nurse Marion Chambers, is here again too, and, boy, is she kick-ass…!

My favourite thing about about this film is the presence in it of Janet Leigh, Jamie Lee’s still-beautiful mammy and undisputed horror movie royalty. Thirty-eight years before this film was made, she starred as the heroine of Alfred Hitchcock’s PSYCHO, still considered to be one of the scariest movies ever made.

It’s a personal favourite of John Carpenter’s, if not his absolute fave horror flick of all time. He refers to it as ‘the Grand-Daddy of all the slasher horror movies ever made’ in an extra feature on the DVD I have of HALLOWEEN H20.

HALLOWEEN H20 gives a couple of much-appreciated little nods to the earlier film, such as subtly playing the famous theme tune when Leigh’s character Norma (Norma…? Geddit…?), the school secretary, is walking away from the school to her car. Which, by the way, was the car she drove in PSYCHO as she was running away from her old life with a stolen forty grand in her handbag, only to come a terrible cropper at the Bates Motel.

Also, Marion the nurse is named after Leigh’s character Marion Crane in PSYCHO. One certainly gets the impression that this is one film that John Carpenter wishes he himself had made. I’m so glad Janet Leigh doesn’t get killed in HALLOWEEN H20. She’s been through enough, God bless her. Shee-it. That was a spoiler too, wasn’t it…? Dagnammit…

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

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

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

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

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

CAM. (2018) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

        AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.
 
Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. She has studied Creative Writing and Vampirology. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, women’s fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:
http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO
Her debut romantic fiction novel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books:
https://www.amazon.com/Thirteen-Stops-Sandra-Harris-ebook/dp/B089DJMH64
The sequel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS LATER,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books:
 https://www.amazon.com/dp/1781994234

HALLOWEEN. (1978) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

HALLOWEEN. (1978) DIRECTED BY JOHN CARPENTER. PRODUCED BY DEBRA HILL. SCREENPLAY BY JOHN CARPENTER AND DEBRA HILL. MUSIC BY JOHN CARPENTER. CINEMATOGRAPHY BY DEAN CUNDEY.
STARRING JAMIE LEE CURTIS, NANCY LOOMIS, PJ SOLES, CHARLES CYPHERS AND DONALD PLEASENCE.
REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

‘Death has come to your little town, Sheriff.’

‘No man did that.’
‘He’s not a man.’

This is the big one, the film that kicked off one of the most successful franchises in movie history. It tells the story of serial killer Michael Myers, who in this film stylishly and effortlessly joins fellow horror movie icons- some already in existence, some yet to come- Freddie Kreuger, Jason Voorhees, Leatherface, Jigsaw and Co. in the ‘Horror Movie Villain Hall Of Fame.’ (I don’t know if such a thing actually exists, by the way. I’m just speaking metaphorically, lol.)

Michael Myers brutally murders his somewhat slutty older sister Judith when he’s still in short pants. He gets banged up in a mental hospital for his trouble. There he stays for fifteen long years. Then, one dark spooky night, he escapes, much to the disgust and horror of his head-shrink, Dr. Loomis, brilliantly played by Donald Pleasence.

Dr. Loomis knows the score, you see. He might be the only character in the film who does. ‘I met this six-year-old child with this blank, pale, emotionless face, and the blackest eyes; the devil’s eyes … I realized what was living behind that boy’s eyes was purely and simply … evil.’
 
As Dr. Loomis says himself in the film, he spends the first seven years of Michael’s incarceration trying to get through to him, then the next eight attempting to see to it that the boy never gets out of captivity. Michael is pure evil, you see, without logic, reason or remorse. And you can’t kill pure evil, remember that…

Michael makes his way back to the fictional town of Haddonfield, Ohio, where the abandoned old Myers house has fallen into creepy disrepair. He focuses his attention on schoolgirl Laurie Strode, who spends her free time babysitting local kids and hanging out with her boy-crazy friends, Annie and Linda.

Jamie Lee Curtis, the daughter of Janet Leigh of PSYCHO fame, is fantastic as Laurie, the character that made her famous. As she goes about her lawful business with her gorgeous long blondey-brown hair swinging free and a pile of schoolbooks under her arm to indicate to us the studiousness of her nature, she gets the feeling that she’s being watched. She’s right to feel that way, dead right.

She is being watched, by a tall, well-built male wearing a dark-blue boilersuit. Oh, and he also wears a terrifying-looking white mask… Nothing to be worried about there, so…! You’ll see so many iconic scenes of Michael in this stalking part of the film.

Michael standing behind the bushes, with half of him squarely in shot on the street and the other half behind the bush. Michael standing amidst the billowing white sheets in the back garden. Michael watching Laurie from across the street as she sits in class, but when she looks back, of course he’s gone, leaving poor Laurie wondering if she’s imagining things…   

Halloween arrives and Laurie is babysitting the neighbours’ sproglet again. Across the street, the confident, curly-haired Annie Brackett is babysitting too, only she’s not a very good babysitter because she palms her little charge off on Laurie so that she can go and pick up her boyfriend Paul and bring him back to her employers’ empty house to have sex. What a little hussy, eh?

Nancy Loomis as Annie, the weed-smoking daughter of Haddonfield’s sheriff, is just fantastic. She carries a whole portion of the film all by herself as she potters about, chatting away loudly to herself, in the house of the little girl she’s babysitting for, Lindsey Wallace.

The whole time she’s there, taking her kit off after she spills food on herself and so on, she’s being watched by a fascinated Michael. Although she feels a little uneasy at times without knowing why, especially in the darkened laundry room which is down the back of the Wallaces’ garden, the first she hears of any possible threat or danger is when Michael Myers strangles her to death in a chillingly realistic scene.

In Annie’s absence, hers and Laurie’s other friend, Lynda, a flirty, sexy blonde cheerleader, brings her bloke Bob into the Wallaces’ empty house and they immediately rush upstairs to engage in sexual shenanigans. Hmmm, the teens of Haddonfield are clearly over-sexed. Maybe there’s something in the water.

Well, Michael Myers is not called the scourge of the Haddonfield Babysitters’ Club for nothing! I made that bit up, by the way, I mean, no-one actually calls him that besides me, but they should do because he seems determined to put a stop to their fun, their dope-smoking, beer-swilling sexual antics, in the only way he knows how… That’s right, folks, killing!

Anyway, after all the sex, Bob goes downstairs in the darkened house to pick up a couple of post-coital beers and gets himself impaled on Michael Myers’ stabby little friend, his huge trademark knife. My favourite scene in the whole movie is the one that comes next.

Annie is sitting up in bed topless, waiting impatiently for her boyfriend to bring her her beer. Well, well. Slutty and bone-idle. I see. Her boyfriend comes to the bedroom door and stands there motionless, not speaking, draped from head to foot in a white sheet. Or is it her boyfriend…? Well, the figure is wearing Bob’s glasses so it must be Bob, right…? I love that the film has a bit of a naughty, cheeky sense of humour as is illustrated clearly here.

Meanwhile, Laurie is doing her nut waiting for her friend Annie to get in touch about picking up the nipper she’s meant to be minding. Eventually, she tires of waiting, pops across the street to the Wallaces’ house where Annie is supposed to be babysitting Lindsey and discovers some things she’ll see in her nightmares for the rest of her life.

The street is empty. No parents, no neighbours are around to help her. Things go from bad to worse for poor Laurie as she is then chased through the Doyles’ darkened house by the knife-wielding masked man. It’s her turn to be killed now, apparently, and Michael has saved her till last. At one stage, she’s even cornered in a closet while Michael Myers stabs his way through the wood.

She is helped in timely fashion by the overcoated Dr. Loomis, who’s been wandering around Haddonfield all night looking for his escaped mental patient. The good doctor shoots the maniac, sending him flying through an upstairs window and into the garden below. He should be dead after all that, right? Wrong. Dr. Loomis turns his back on the ‘boogeyman’ for a minute and he disappears, leaving the way beautifully clear for a sequel or three…

Laurie: That was the boogeyman.

Dr. Loomis: As a matter of fact, it was…

There’s just so much to love about this ground-breaking film, the ‘Daddy,’ if you will, of the slasher movies. The superbly memorable musical score by John Carpenter. The way that Haddonfield looks so pretty, all decked out in rustic browns and oranges for Halloween. The sheer annoying shrillness and over-confidence of Annie that nearly makes us want to root for the slasher.

The scene in the graveyard with the uprooted headstone… ‘He came home…’ The spot-on performances of Donald Pleasence and Jamie Lee Curtis. Last but not least, Michael Myers himself. His trademark boilersuit, knife and mask ensemble. The way his chalk-white masked face can suddenly materialise out of the shadows and make you jump.

The unhurried, calculated way in which he hunts down his prey, who can never seem to run as fast as he can walk. The way that you can kill him, or think you’ve killed him, but he won’t stay dead. He’s bloody brilliant. He’s my favourite of all the iconic horror movie baddies. I’m even a little sexually attracted to him, rightly or wrongly. He’s the strong silent type. I like that in a guy…

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.
 
Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. She has studied Creative Writing and Vampirology. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, women’s fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:
http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO
Her debut romantic fiction novel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books:
https://www.amazon.com/Thirteen-Stops-Sandra-Harris-ebook/dp/B089DJMH64
The sequel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS LATER,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books:
 https://www.amazon.com/dp/1781994234

HALLOWEEN 3: SEASON OF THE WITCH. (1982) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

HALLOWEEN 3… SEASON OF THE WITCH. (1982) WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY TOMMY LEE WALLACE. PRODUCED BY JOHN CARPENTER AND DEBRA HILL. MUSIC BY JOHN CARPENTER AND ALAN HOWARTH.
STARRING TOM ATKINS, STACEY NELKIN AND DAN O’HERLIHY.
REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

I love this film. It’s my absolute favourite of all the non-Michael-Myers films in John Carpenter’s HALLOWEEN series of films. Haha, okay, it’s the only non-Michael-Myers film in this particular series of films, I know that.

I also know that some critics think it’s not a worthy addition to the HALLOWEEN franchise because it doesn’t have Michael Myers in it, he of the latex mask and decidedly stabby tendencies, but I still think it’s a brilliant movie.

Yes, it’s true that I miss the silent-as-the-grave Michael Myers and his messed-up mind, but HALLOWEEN 3 is a little cinematic gem. It reminds me of WESTWORLD and THE STEPFORD WIVES, two of my favourite flicks, because of the über-creepy robots and even creepier musical score. The plot is actually pretty ingenious as well.

Handsome, well-spoken Irish actor Dan O’Herlihy (g’wan, the Irish!) plays the film’s expensively suited and booted villain, Conal Cochran. He is the megalomaniac founder of Silver Shamrock Novelties, based in the sleepy American town of Santa Mira, which has sort of become the company’s town, if you get me.

Mr. Cochran, unbeknownst to the world at large, has allowed his immense wealth and power to go to his immaculately-coiffed silver head. He’s going all-out for Halloween this year. He intends to revive the ancient Celtic rites of the night known as ‘All Hallows Eve,’ but not in a good way. Oh no, not in a good way at all, dear reader.

He wants to return the night to its original witch-cult beginnings. He intends that there will be mass sacrifices on this coming Halloween night, as there would have been on Halloweens-of-yore, and not just of adults, either. That’s practically the worst part of this fiendish plan.

Half the kids in the country have bought Cochran’s fabulous Silver Shamrock novelty masks- pumpkin, skull or witch- for the fast-approaching Halloween. But when they put the masks over their heads at nine o’clock on Halloween night while watching a ‘special give-away broadcast’ on the television horrorthon, they’ll get a little more than they bargained for… Well, okay, a lot more than they bargained for, but I’m not going to tell you what that is so don’t ask me, lol.

Only two people stand in the way of crazy old Mr. Cochran’s fiendishly evil plan: the divorced alcoholic, Dr. Daniel Challis, who’s witnessed the aftermath of a toy salesman’s horrific death at the hands of one of Cochran’s robotic goons, and the murdered salesman’s daughter, Ellie Grimbridge. The pair find themselves thrown together in the hunt for the truth about what happened to poor old Harry Grimbridge.

Together the two travel to the quiet little American town that houses the Silver Shamrock factory, engaging, incidentally, in some sexy shenanigans when they find themselves sharing a Santa Mira motel room.

Tsk, tsk, how shocking of them, especially as the womanising Challis is twice Ellie’s age if he’s a day. This seduction scene comes as no surprise to fans of John Carpenter’s superb horror movie, THE FOG, of two years’ earlier, however.

In THE FOG, Tom Atkins portrays Nick Castle, a middle-aged man who picks up and sleeps with a practically teenaged Jamie Lee Curtis, whose character, Elizabeth Solley, is engaging in the highly dangerous activity known as hitch-hiking. They go straight to bed, despite the whopping age gap. Castle even allows himself to be paid for his ‘services’ with one of Elizabeth’s drawings, the scoundrel. If anything, he should be paying her…!

Sure, Castle lets Lizzie hang out with him for the duration of the movie, but you can bet your ass that, as soon as the last ancient mariner has slithered back into the deep from whence it came, he’ll be giving her the bum’s rush with the words, see you next fog, baby…! The dastard.    

Anyway, there are no flies about shrewd businessman Conal Cochran’s person, as you might expect, and he figures out in a heartbeat that ‘Mr. and Mrs. Smith,’ as the saucy pair of illicit lovers are calling themselves, are onto his little game.

He captures the twosome, though separately, and tells Challis that he will share the fate of the poor unsuspecting children of America, after first giving him a gruesome demonstration of the masks’ power.

Then he slaps an ‘infected’ mask on Challis, and leaves him alone to reflect on the hopelessness of his position until it’s time for the ‘Big Giveaway’ at nine pm. Oh yes, did I mention that it’s now Halloween Night…?

ATTENTION: WHOPPING GREAT SPOILERS AHOY, ME HEARTIES, BIGGER THAN THAT FUCKIN’ ICEBERG, Y’ARRR…!

Challis manages to escape the megalomaniac’s factory of death, staffed entirely by evil robots, though not until he’s managed to screw up Cochran’s machinery of terror, which actually includes a bloody great rock nicked from Stonehenge, if you can believe that…!

Challis then grabs Ellie and starts hightailing it back to his home-town where his own kids, in the care of his estranged wife, are looking forward to putting on their Silver Shamrock masks at nine o’clock in front of the ‘special give-away broadcast.’ Before Challis can make it back to town, however, he is attacked by Ellie, who is no longer human but an evil robot… Eeeek!

Challis eventually makes it back to town, but more important even than reaching his own endangered kids is his effort to get the different television stations not to run the Silver Shamrock ‘special broadcast.’

If he fails at this, the kids watching the broadcast will get one heck of a nasty surprise. One by one, the stations agree. There’s still one more station to persuade before nine o’clock, though. Will Challis get through to them on time? You’ll have to watch the movie and see for yourself, lads…

ATTENTION: WE’RE SAFELY PAST THOSE PESKY SPOILERS, Y’ARRR AGAIN…!  

Apparently, in making this movie that has neither Michael Myers, Laurie Strode nor Samuel Loomis in it, the creators of HALLOWEEN- John Carpenter and Debra Hill- had it in mind to create a sort of anthology series of horror stories that all take place at Halloween.

Personally, I think that that’s a cracking idea but disappointing box-office takings dictated otherwise and the idea was scrapped. The rest of the HALLOWEEN films all featured the strong, silent Masked Slasher known to us as Michael Myers.

That was no bad thing either, of course, as Mikey M. is an unforgettable horror icon. He’s up there with Hannibal Lecter, Norman Bates, Freddie Kreuger, Jason Voorhees, Jigsaw and Leatherface. Still, a separate horror anthology might have been quite cool, too.

Anyway, watch HALLOWEEN 3. Ah, go on. It’s bloody brilliant. You’ll love it. And don’t forget. EIGHT MORE DAYS TILL HALLOWEEN, HALLOWEEN, HALLOWEEN! EIGHT MORE DAYS TILL HALLOWEEN, SILVER SHAMROCK…! EE-OO, EE-OO, EE-OO, EE-OO, EE-OO, EE-OO, EE-OO, EE-OO, EE-OO, EE-OO, EE-OO, EE-OO…!

And I most certainly will not go and eff myself, thank you very much. I happen to think that this is a highly enjoyable and entertaining jingle that absolutely does not make me want to claw off my own ears with a garden rake every time I hear it, so there. Put that in your pipe and smoke it…

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:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

   AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.
 
Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. She has studied Creative Writing and Vampirology. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, women’s fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:
http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO
Her debut romantic fiction novel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books:
https://www.amazon.com/Thirteen-Stops-Sandra-Harris-ebook/dp/B089DJMH64
The sequel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS LATER,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books:
 https://www.amazon.com/dp/1781994234

CARRY ON ENGLAND. (1976) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

CARRY ON ENGLAND. (1976) DIRECTED BY GERALD THOMAS.
STARRING KENNETH CONNOR, WINDSOR DAVIES, PATRICK MOWER, JUDY GEESON, JOAN SIMS, PETER BUTTERWORTH, JACK DOUGLAS, MELVYN HAYES AND DIANE LANGTON.
REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

‘Sergeant Major, some of those men are wearing skirts!’

‘They is not men, sir. They is… women…!’

This is the 28th film in the original 30 CARRY ON films, and there are people who say it’s not very good and even a bit silly to boot. Okay, so it’s by no means perfect and it’s missing some of our favourite CARRY ON stars, like Sid James, Hattie Jacques, Charles Hawtrey, Kenneth Williams, Bernard Bresslaw, Barbara Windsor and Jim Dale, but it’s still worth a watch as part of the canon, even if you only watch it once.

The action takes places in an army barracks in the English countryside during the part of World War Two when Hitler was bombing the bejeesus out of poor old Blighty. It’s kind of an experimental barracks which accommodates both male and female soldiers, and that’s the main reason the regiment stationed there is an absolute shambles.

The recruits there are lazy, slipshod, slapdash, haphazard and hopeless. They report sick whenever there’s work to be done. They like a nice lie-in of a morning, and they clearly hope to just sit out the rest of the war in their nice cosy little country barracks without having to lift a finger or squeeze so much as a single trigger. That shouldn’t be too hard, as they appear to be a barracks without any weaponry or ammunition whatsoever…

Of course, the main source of distraction for every soldier in the platoon is the close proximity of the opposite sex. The males and females are all over each other like a bad case of poison ivy.

There’s nookie going on morning, noon and night, in the barracks, on parade and in the air raid shelter known as ‘the snoggery.’ The name says it all. The sex-obsessed soldiers just can’t stop fondling their privates. And their corporals, and their sergeants, and their bombardiers…

Then, Captain S. Melly (yeah, yeah, we get it, lol), played by a diminutive and moustached Kenneth Connor, is appointed to this barracks as the new head honcho. He seems completely thrown by the presence of women in the barracks.

It’s obvious he’s never had to handle a platoon of feisty females before, females with, erm, protruding front things and knickers and, ah, what do they keep under their knickers again, Sergeant Major…?! You get the point...

With the help of Sergeant Major ‘Tiger’ Bloomer, played by the wonderful Windsor Davies in pretty much the exact same role he was playing at the time in long-running British-Army-in-India sitcom IT AIN’T HALF HOT, MUM, Captain Smelly sets about trying to be the new broom that sweeps clean. It’s not an easy job…

Poor Captain Smelly. He’s thwarted at every turn by the idle, shiftless soldiers, who would make great army personnel if they put even half the same effort into their work as they do into their schemes to avoid work.

Even Sgt. Major Bloomer, a true army hard-ass, doesn’t like to push his men- and women!- into working too hard, as it just makes them cranky and harder to deal with…! Call this an army, lol.

Led by Patrick Mower (THE DEVIL RIDES OUT, Rodney from EMMERDALE) as Sergeant Len Able, the recruits are much more interested in working out how to get into each other’s quarters at night, after Captain Smelly bans the sexes from ‘mingling,’ than they are in fighting Hitler.

There’s a Sergeant Tilly Willing and a Bombardier Ready as well, by the way, in addition to a Private Alice Easy, a sort of bargain basement Barbara Windsor-type character…!

The shit hits the fan- most of it ends up on Captain Smelly, sadly- when a visiting Brigadier and Major find the barracks sorely lacking in order and fighting spirit. Suddenly, an air attack from Goering’s Luftwaffe threatens the very existence of the barracks.

Will Smelly’s men- and women- step up to the plate and fight bravely for Merrie Olde Englande, for King and Country? Will old Smelly be proud of his privates at long last…? Will he want to toast his privates in the mess with a magnum of champers? Will he be overcome with an urge to pat his privates lovingly on their person and tell them he’s inordinately proud of them? (I should probably stop this now…!) It remains to be seen, people.

I love that Melvyn Hayes from IT AIN’T HALF HOT, MUM plays a similar role here as Gunner ‘short-arse’ Shorthouse. A curvaceous Joan Sims has the hots for Sgt. Major Bloomer, who’s not quite sure he’s man enough for her, and Johnny Briggs, aka Mike Baldwin from long-running soap, CORONATION STREET, turns up in the beginning of the film to drive Captain Smelly to his new camp.

My son, incidentally, loves Jack Douglas, whom he calls ‘the Tourettes Man’ because of his hilarious twitching and random-word-saying. I love the scene where Joan Sims’s Jennifer Ffoukes-Sharpe makes short work of Peter Butterworth’s Major Carstairs with a few slick manoeuvres, and the one in which Captain Smelly accidentally morphs into Adolf Hitler. Deutschland uber alles, eh what…?

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:

PET SEMATARY. (2019) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

PET SEMATARY. (2019) BASED ON THE 1983 BOOK BY STEPHEN KING.
DIRECTED BY KEVIN KOLSCH AND DAVID WIDMYER.
STARRING JOHN LITHGOW, JASON CLARKE AND AMY SEIMETZ.
REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

‘Sometimes, dead is better…’

I didn’t much care for this re-make of the 1989 film adaptation of Stephen King’s book of the same name. This book is probably one of the most beloved of all of the horror maestro’s weighty tomes, along with CARRIE, THE SHINING, SALEM’S LOT and MISERY. Although, in fairness, Stephen King wrote a lot of books and they all have their fans.

The ones I mentioned are some of my own favourites, lol, along with CUJO, DOLORES CLAIBORNE, CHRISTINE, THE TOMMY-KNOCKERS and a fantastic book of short stories entitled NIGHT SHIFT.

Again though, he’s penned a load of brilliant short stories and novellas as well as full-length books, and so many of them have already been made into films. He’s an amazing writer, with a glittering back catalogue. So jealous…! Long live the King.

Anyway, why didn’t I like this particular adaptation of the famous book? Well, I love the book and the 1989 film, both of which had heart, soul and good, authentic scares. Also, the 1989 film had the adorable Fred Gwynne, aka Herman Munster, as a staunchly believable Jud Crandall. In the re-make, though respected actor John Lithgow undoubtedly does his very best, it’s just not the same.

They’ve tweaked the plot a bit too, which I wasn’t happy about as I loved the book and the original film so much. We still have the Creeds, though, a doctor’s family, moving from Boston to a town in Maine and discovering that they have, of all things, a burial ground for pets somewhere towards the back of their property. They don’t seem to have researched their own property too much this time around!

Dad of the family, Louis Creed, gets to explore a bit of the Pet Sematary by night courtesy of the spirit of Victor Pascow, a student at the university hospital where Louis works. Victor dies horribly near the start of the film, and his spirit seems to have a message it wants to pass on to Dr. Creed. What’s that you say, Victor? The ground out by the Pet Sematary is sour? No shit, Sherlock, lol. I wouldn’t bury any moggy of mine there, I’ll tell you that for nothing…

Anyway, when little Ellie Creed’s beloved pet cat Churchill gets run over on the dangerous road beside their house and dies, kindly old next-door neighbour Jud Crandall lets Louis in on a devastating secret about the Pet Sematary.

To cut a long story short, Church comes back from the dead. But he’s not himself. And that’s not all. Did you know that you can bury more than just pets in the Pet Sematary…? You shouldn’t, but you still can…

They’ve changed the Zelda scenes in this film a little bit, but I think it’s still safe to say that good old Zelda will give you nightmares once more. Rachel, the mom, is severely traumatised from her childhood experiences with her sick sister, and she’ll never be able to cope and move on unless she gets some serious therapy. That bit is really highlighted in this re-make. Mrs. Creed is super, super-screwed up, more than we even knew.

One part where they got it absolutely spot-on is the bit where Ellie ‘comes back’ but she’s ‘not quite right.’ I got genuine shivers at the scene where the dad is bathing the little girl and her hair is tangly and he sees the Frankenstein-like stitches in the back of her head that were put in by the funeral home… Then, when the child just turns plain evil and starts trashing the place, they lose me again. Ah well. It was good while it lasted…!

There was an opportunity for some good folk horror with the kids wearing the animal masks walking in a solemn procession to the Pet Sematary; maybe they could have done a bit more with that and had the whole town in on the gruesome secret of the pet graveyard or something like that, but maybe they felt they had enough on their hands with the Creed family, I don’t know.

The film also raises the issue of how to talk to children about the delicate topic of death. I don’t mean How to Break the News of a Death; the Christmas episode of FATHER TED has that covered.

Priest Number One: Your husband’s gone, and he’s not coming back, get used to it!

Priest Number Two: Remember how your husband used to love a good laugh…?

No, I mean the whole thing of where do you tell the kids their deceased loved ones or pets have gone to when they’ve died? The mum and dad in the film have differing views on the subject, so it might have been useful if they’d had a chat about the whole thing and gotten their metaphysical ducks in a row before their young ‘uns experienced the demise of a pet for the first time. It’s just a thought…!

I’d never advise a Stephen King fan not to watch a certain film or adaptation. This isn’t a bad film per se; I just didn’t dig it personally, and I found it rather lacking in good spooky atmosphere, which the original film had in spades. Maybe it looked good on the big screen and felt a bit more atmospheric then than just me watching it on Netflix did.

Make up your own minds, anyway. A Stephen King adaptation is a Stephen King adaptation, after all, and better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick any day, as we say here in Ireland. Enjoy it, and, listen, before I forget, don’t bother trying to use the dumbwaiter for the moment, will you? I think it’s broken…  

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

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

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

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

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