HALLOWEEN 4 (1988) AND HALLOWEEN 5 (1989). A DOUBLE REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

HALLOWEEN 4 AND HALLOWEEN 5: A DOUBLE DOSE OF SLASHER-HORROR FILM REVIEWS BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

HALLOWEEN 4: THE RETURN OF MICHAEL MYERS. (1988) BASED ON CHARACTERS CREATED BY JOHN CARPENTER AND DEBRA HILL.
DIRECTED BY DWIGHT H. LITTLE.
STARRING DONALD PLEASENCE, DANIELLE HARRIS, GEORGE P. WILBUR, BEAU STARR AND ELLIE CORNELL.

HALLOWEEN 5: THE REVENGE OF MICHAEL MYERS. (1989) BASED ON CHARACTERS CREATED BY JOHN CARPENTER AND DEBRA HILL.
DIRECTED BY DOMINIQUE OTHENIN-GIRARD.
STARRING DONALD PLEASENCE, DANIELLE HARRIS, ELLIE CORNELL, BEAU STARR, WENDY KAPLAN, TAMARA GLYNN, MATTHEW WALKER AND DON SHANKS.

Ooooooh, I do love a nice bit of HALLOWEEN at Halloween, or in fact on any night of the year. Pure undiluted slasher-horror cinema was surely born in the ‘Seventies and ‘Eighties, with marvellous franchises like this one and FRIDAY THE THIRTEENTH and A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET kicking and screaming their way into our world through the tight but surprisingly accommodating birth canal of VHS and Beta-Max, lol.

I’ve chosen to review these two films together because HALLOWEEN 5 is a direct continuation of its predecessor. You might remember that the superb horror series took a break from the silent but deadly serial murderer Michael Myers in HALLOWEEN 3 (an excellent horror film in its own right if you can stop bemoaning the absence of Mikey for five f***ing minutes…!), but Michael is back with a bang in instalments 4 and 5 and, trust me, he’s literally never been deadlier…

Michael escapes from state custody while he’s en route to another sanatorium and, as usual, where does he make a beeline for? Why, Haddonfield, Illinois, of course, the place where, in 1963 when he was only six years old, he brutally murdered his older sister Judith by ‘stabbing her in the tits,’ which is how they refer to it in the latest film in the franchise, HALLOWEEN KILLS (2021).

It’s also a mere ten years since he slaughtered a bunch of people, namely innocent babysitters and horny teens just trying to ‘get some,’ in that same unfortunate hometown of his, and created a role for himself (in perpetuity, mind you) as that town’s very own boogeyman.

As in: ‘If’n y’all don’t eat yo’ vegetables, Michael Myers gonna git y’all and carve y’all up into little pieces…!’ Or words to that effect, anyway. A killer who wears a white mask, never speaks a single solitary word but possesses the strength to kill other grown men with his bare hands in a variety of colourful and unusual ways is surely a mighty effective boogeyman and enough of a horror to scare manners into the brattiest of bratty kids, you must admit.

Anyway, this time Michael’s off to Haddonfield to kill his niece Jamie Lloyd, beautifully played by Danielle Harris. She’s the daughter of Michael’s (apparently) deceased sister Laurie Strode, aka the wonderful Jamie Lee Curtis from HALLOWEENs 1 and 2, making her Mikey’s niece.

And why does he want to kill his adorably sweet and pretty little niece? Well, for no reason other than that she’s family, and Michael always seems to make a point of murdering his kith-and-kin. Silly Michael.

He just can’t seem to work out the connection between having a family and being happy. Still, if he could, he wouldn’t be our stabby boy, would he, the murderous little dickens…? Aw, bless his expressionless white mask and natty boiler suit. He’s our boy for sure.

There are certain things standing between the impassive-faced Michael and his murderous goal, though. In HALLOWEEN 4, the pretty blonde Rachel Carruthers is Jamie’s doting new step-sister and she ain’t gonna let no non-talking, knife-wielding serial killer hurt her precious little sis.

Well, not unless that serial killer kills Rachel, that is, which would appear to be his aim, but Rachel and Jamie have the protection of the town sheriff and his slutty daughter Kelly, whose pert backside the sheriff should surely have paddled when he so nearly caught her making out with Rachel’s faithless boyfriend Brady. If ever a young lady needed a good spanking, the practically pantsless blonde bombshell Kelly Meeker surely fits that bill…!

In HALLOWEEN 5, which by the way ends with a wicked twist, as does the fourth film, Jamie is protected by Rachel’s best friend Tina, a super-annoying young lady who actually shares a car journey with the masked serial killer without knowing it.

He’s wearing a really freaky borrowed Halloween mask and looks utterly terrifying, but Tina just starts laying into him straightaway about ‘his’ (she thinks he’s her boyfriend Mike, aka ‘the Fonz…!’) supposed shortcomings as a significant other.

It’s actually really surprising that Michael doesn’t twist her curly, fluffy little head right off her shoulders for bitching at him non-stop about nothing. Dressed like Cyndi Lauper in the ‘GIRLS JUST WANNA HAVE FUN’ music video, she’s bubbly, full of life and chat and as irritating as a rash in your private area, but her heart’s in the right place. As long as Michael doesn’t get his gigantic, organ-crushing paws on it, that is…

(I was re-watching this film recently with my adult daughter, and, after watching this scene between Michael and Tina, in which Tina nags him into stopping the car at a store so that she can buy cigarettes, my daughter turns to me and says thoughtfully: ‘So, Michael is just as susceptible as ordinary men to being nagged to death by women…!’

Darling Dr. Loomis is in both films too, with the lovely cuddly old Donald Pleasence reprising his role as Michael’s psychiatrist from the earlier movies, possibly the one man who realises the full extent of Michael’s terrible capability for doing harm to people.

All burned in the face and hands from a previous confrontation with the Silent One, Dr. Loomis bends over backwards to try to save the folks of Haddonfield, and in particular little Jamie, from another deadly encounter with Michael.

Of course, he meets with the usual resistance, scepticism and even incompetence along the way but, once the body count starts climbing, people suddenly all start singing from the same hymn-sheet.

By this time, however, Dr. Loomis has pretty much nearly lost his mind after all the years of Michael-induced terror, and he starts to forget that little Jamie is just a child, instead bullying her into helping him to find and manipulate the serial killer.

The poor doc’s fairly well battered and exhausted, and his lovely old trademark ‘COLUMBO-‘ style overcoat in shocking need of dry-cleaning, by the time the story rolls to a close in the very place where it began, the old Myers place which has gone to rack and ruin in a few short years. The town obviously didn’t take the best care of its very own murder-house…

The violence is extreme and frequent in both films and the character of Michael Myers has great craic killing people in ever-more gruesome and grisly ways. Both these movies are terrific fun and I wouldn’t consider them inferior to the earlier ones at all, although it would have been nice if Jamie Lee Curtis had been in them too, then we would have had a full complement of HALLOWEEN past pupils, as it were. Still, we have Michael and dear old Gloomy Loomy, and that’s good enough for me.

I’ll just end by boasting (I mean casually remarking) that I saw John Carpenter and his band perform his famous movie soundtracks live in Dublin’s Vicar Street in October of 2017, I think it was. He was one sexy mutha, all dressed in black with his silver hair tied back in a ponytail, and when he played the theme tune to HALLOWEEN, the whole place went wild. Best night of my life so far. Long live HALLOWEEN, John Carpenter and Michael Myers, a magnificent triple threat by anyone’s standards.

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. (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

THE RIPPER. (2020) A NETFLIX MINI-SERIES REVIEWED BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

THE RIPPER. (2020) NETFLIX. DIRECTED BY JESSE VILE AND ELLENA WOOD.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

This four-part true crime documentary mini-series was released in December 2020, and it tells the story of the serial killer known as ‘the Yorkshire Ripper.’

He was named for his Victorian counterpart, ‘Jack the Ripper,’ who became infamous for killing and horribly mutilating five (maybe more, but definitely five) prostitutes in the overcrowded and notoriously poor and crime-ridden area of Whitechapel, London in the ‘Autumn of Terror,’ otherwise known as the autumn of 1888.

The press christened both serial murderers with their ‘catchy’ nicknames, each of which sold newspapers. The true identity of Jack the Ripper was never discovered, although there was a list of suspects as long as your arm. For a long time in the mid-to-late ‘Seventies, the people of England despaired of the Yorkshire Ripper ever being brought to justice either.

The Yorkshire Ripper, who turned out to be Bradford lorry driver Peter Sutcliffe, murdered thirteen women in the West Yorkshire and Manchester areas between 1975 and his eventual capture, quite by accident, really, in early 1981.

He also attacked another ten women (at least) who survived his cowardly hammer-and-knife assaults, and, who knows, there may have been more we never knew about. Quite the charming customer, eh?

The mini-series focuses on the police investigation to catch the man dubbed ‘the Yorkshire Ripper.’ It was an investigation which spanned several years and generated so many files jam-packed with bits of paper that concrete pillars were needed to prop up the room in the police station that contained them. Nowadays, of course, it’d all be done on computers, but computers were very much in their infancy back then.

The investigation engendered more cock-ups than the police generally like to admit to, and the public were privy to most of them. Because the odious little killer’s first few victims were prostitutes, the police assumed that the murderer must be a prostitute-hater and also that the only women in danger from him were prostitutes.

This theory was sorely tested when schoolgirl Jayne MacDonald was murdered in 1977. So, the Ripper was killing ‘innocent’ women now, was he, and not just prostitutes? The police actually used the term ‘innocent women’ to describe the non-sex-worker victims, something they’ve had to quite rightly apologise for in recent years.

The public were no less derogatory themselves, though, and were quite voluble on the subject of Jayne MacDonald’s being on a whole different level to the prostitutes who were killed: ‘She weren’t in their category at all,’ said one housewife who was interviewed.

No offence is meant here to poor Jayne MacDonald and her heartbroken family. A victim is a victim is a victim. But prostitutes, and not just prostitutes, but any ‘good-time’ girl or woman who went out late at night drinking and dancing without the ‘protection’ of a man, was seen to be ‘asking for it.’ No wonder women everywhere were up in arms.

Bruce Jones, who played much-loved cabbie Les Battersby in Manchester soap opera CORONATION STREET in the Noughties, was interviewed in this Netflix documentary because he actually found one of the victims himself, something I hadn’t known until I watched this programme. Jean Jordan was found on waste ground, with one of the most important clues of the whole investigation in her handbag… a brand-new five-pound-note, given to her by her killer as the price of a quickie…

The police had only a few clues to go on: tyre marks, a boot print, this five-pound-note. Peter Sutcliffe was actually interviewed three times about the five-pound-note and a whopping nine times overall, but he managed to give the investigating officers satisfactory alibis each time.

Except, that is, for the time he was seen by Andrew Laptew, one of the officers on the case. Laptew had a ‘hinky’ feeling about Sutcliffe after visiting his Heaton home, but when he brought up Sutcliffe’s similarity to the many Ripper ‘photo-fits’ to a superior officer, he was unceremoniously shut down.

Letters and a cassette tape purporting to be from the Yorkshire Ripper proved to be no more than nails in the coffin for George Oldfield and Ronald Gregory, then Assistant Chief Constable and Chief Constable for West Yorkshire respectively.

They both put their complete trust in these items, particularly the tape in which the ‘Ripper’ talks with a Geordie, or Newcastle, accent. This led them up the blind alley of only suspecting men who spoke with a Geordie accent, leaving the real killer, Sutcliffe, free to kill three more women and attack a further two.

A million pounds was spent on an advertising campaign to catch the Ripper on the authority of Ronald Gregory. The prize exhibits were the letters (the killer’s handwriting?) and the tape (the killer’s voice?). This campaign was probably the biggest and most shocking waste of time and money in police history.

And then one night in January 1981, a couple of humble coppers on the beat spot a bloke and a prostitute up an alley together in a car which turns out to have dodgy number plates, and decide to wander over to have a shufty. The rest, of course, is history. In the heel of the hunt, it was good honest coppering ‘what done for’ the Ripper.

This is a pretty good documentary that should bring the crimes of this evil but highly ordinary little man to a new generation of crime buffs. The investigation was rough on the police, and rougher still on the women of England and the victims and their families.

Women were told by the police to stay off the streets at night. Women wanted a curfew imposed on men. The killer was a man, wasn’t he, not a woman? The police didn’t take seriously some of the women who came forward to report that they’d been attacked by a man in a similar manner to the Ripper victims. Shambles, much?

The police, Oldfield and Gregory and Co., moulded the facts to fit the theory instead of the other way around. It mightn’t have mattered so much, if women’s actual lives hadn’t been so much at stake the whole way through.

And meanwhile, everyone was so busy looking for a monster with horns and a tail that the real killer, a painfully ordinary little runt with a Jason King moustache and a job driving a lorry, was able to wreak havoc in the red light districts of Leeds and Bradford, among other places, and escape detection for nearly six years. Lessons were learned, but, sadly, too late for some…

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:

TED BUNDY. (2002) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

TED BUNDY. (2002) DIRECTED AND CO-WRITTEN BY MATTHEW BRIGHT.

STARRING MICHAEL REILLY BURKE, BOTI BLISS, TRACEY WALTER AND TOM SAVINI.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

‘Well, out here is the court of Ted! Here, what I say is law!’

I saw this film on video- yes, that’s right, video, lol!- back in 2002, and it scared the living daylights out of me. Since then, I’ve toughened up a lot and I’ve read a lot of the books about American serial killer Ted Bundy, so I’m well able for it nowadays. It’s still a very gruesome watch, mind you.

What I like about this version is that it doesn’t really glamorise Ted and his awful crimes. The more recent film, starring Zac Efron as the man himself, was a drastically sanitised re-telling of Ted’s story– EXTREMELY WICKED, SHOCKINGLY EVIL AND VILE (2019)– and portrayed the brutal woman-killer and rapist as a heart-throb beloved of women everywhere.

This film really shows the ugly side of Ted. Okay, sure, he’s good-looking and well-dressed, although I personally think those daft dicky-bows and checked jackets make him look a bit dorky. All he’s really got to commend him to women is a pretty enough face and the gift of the gab, and that’s all you need with some women.

But here, even in the opening scenes, set in the early 1970s, we see him as the kleptomaniac Peeping Tom and disgusting chronic masturbator that he really was, making those ugly weird gurning faces when he ejaculates or when he looks at himself in the mirror. Was he a narcissist as well? Probably!

His modus operandi is well known by now. We see him chatting up attractive young brunette women smoothly and slickly, often wearing a cast on a ‘busted’ arm so that women will help him to his car with his books or whatever else.

When they’re not looking, he hits them viciously over the head with a tire iron and shoves them in the car. Then he takes them to a deserted place, where he rapes, tortures and murders them. Nice guy, huh? He returns, often several times, to the body ‘dump sites’ to have sex with the rotting corpses, until such time as they’ve become too decomposed for his enjoyment.

We see him putting make-up on a woman’s severed head which he’s brought home and is keeping in his house. Disturbingly, he carries the wrapped body of an unconscious or dead woman out of her house and into his car in front of a passing group of four people and a dog, who apparently don’t see anything strange at all in what he’s doing.

In between the abductions, rapes and brutal murders, he studies law (sporadically), works as a volunteer in a telephone crisis centre (that’s a bit like the Samaritans over here) and checks in with his girlfriend, single parent and student Lee and her young daughter, for a dose of much-need family life. After one murder in particular, he’s starving with the hunger and Lee obligingly cooks a meal for him!

This film doesn’t make Lee (based on Elizabeth Kloepfer) look too good either. In fact, here, she’s a whingy, whiny nightmare who wants to keep tabs on Ted round the clock, but Ted has the wanderlust (he cruises for women constantly in his little Volkswagen Bug) and he just doesn’t operate that way.

She whines at his habit of seeing other women but doesn’t take any decisive action, she asks him what he’s thinking when he’s quiet (a big no-no), she pesters him about meeting his parents when it’s clear there’s some mystery there that he doesn’t want discussed, and she doesn’t question it when she finds a pair of handcuffs in Ted’s car that he says he’s never seen before in his life.

She’s not comfortable about being tied up and asked to play dead when they’re in bed together, but she doesn’t stand up to him because she’s weak and afraid of being on her own. I’m not judging her for that. I’ve done the same thing myself in the not-so-distant past. It’s a very ‘woman’ thing to do, shure.

Anyway, most of Ted’s ‘big moments’ are in here, but with the womens’ names mostly changed. There’s his spectacular abductions of, not one, but two, women from Lake Sammamish State Park on the one day in sunny July, his two escapes from prison, and his horrific attack on the Chi Omega sorority house in Tallahassee, Florida, during the second of these escapes.

We see his attempted kidnap of Carol da Ronch (1974) from the Fashion Place Mall, Utah, by the phoney ‘Officer Roseland,’ and one of Ted’s most shameful accomplishments, the abduction and murder of twelve-year-old schoolgirl, Kimberley Leach. Not that the other murders weren’t shameful too, but you know what I mean. A child, a twelve-year-old little girl…

The justice system threw the book at Ted after that. Retribution for his heinous crimes eventually caught up with him on January the twenty-fourth, 1989, when he was executed in the electric chair.

He manages to have sex in prison (bribing the guards was a common practice) and even conceives a child while inside, a daughter, with his new girlfriend and champion, Carol Ann Boone. Although we see the sex, there’s no mention of a child here.

We see the big bold brave Ted bawling like a baby when he has to have his head shaved and his rectum packed with cotton wool prior to talking that last walk to ‘Old Sparky.’ It’s as plain as day that all his pity is for himself, though, and not for the beautiful young women with families and talents and potential whose lives he stole.

What happened to ‘the court of Ted,’ Ted…? A big man around women, he shrinks and shrivels inside himself when he’s dealing with big tough men who are not going to stand any bullshit from him.

Like I said, this film doesn’t glamorise Ted, but instead makes him look like the cowardly weasel he really is. EXTREMELY WICKED, SHOCKINGLY EVIL AND VILE introduced Ted to another generation of young female groupies, but it’s not really the most accurate picture of the man and his crimes. This film from 2002 comes pretty close, I think. Check it out, but be aware that it’ll give you the willies.

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

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

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

WOLF CREEK 2. (2013) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

WOLF CREEK 2. (2013) DIRECTED AND CO-WRITTEN BY GREG MCCLEAN. STARRING JOHN JARRATT.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

I know that this film probably comes under the heading of torture porn, ie, a sub-genre of horror film that goes out of its way to show the viewers sickeningly graphic portrayals of gore and bloody violence against the human person, but I still love it.

And I find John Jarratt’s Mick Taylor an oddly compelling and sexually attractive serial killer, although that probably says more about me and my warped personality than anything else, lol. But lets’s have a closer look at him, anyway.

When he was a callow youth of twenty-three, John Jarratt played a fairly sizeable role as Albert Crundall in PICNIC AT HANGING ROCK, one of the best Australian horror movies ever made. He did it very well, as it happens.

Now, a mature, grizzly-looking John Jarratt plays Mick Taylor, a serial killer probably unequalled anywhere in film or literature in his zest for killing and the hatred against virtually all of society/humanity he harbours in his hairy breast, snigger.

He’s Australian, right, and an extreme example of the original Alpha male. Hunting, tracking, stalking, shooting, gutting, skinning, slicing, chopping, boiling, even sexually violating; is there anything he hasn’t done to the animal- or human- carcass? Mick’s done it all.

He loves the chase almost as much as the kill, and he’s usually pretty confident that he’ll bag his prey. He knows his territory, the deserted outbacks and lonely highways of Australia, like the back of his huge leathery hand, after all.

Dressed in his trademark lumberjack shirt, jeans, boots and a wide-brimmed hat to keep the hot Aussie sun off his widdle noggin, he trawls these largely empty roads looking for unsuspecting tourists and backpackers to lure back to his torture chamber of a home. And, once he gets you there, you’re better off dead…

Waking up in Mick’s torture chamber is the one thing you don’t want to do. And yet, it’s exactly what happens in WOLF CREEK 2 to poor Paul Hammersmith, an English tourist (played by an Australian actor) who unintentionally ‘deprives’ Mick of a beautiful German female captive whom he accidentally lets get away from him.

Mick is hopping mad. He can get months and months of fun and amusement out of a female prisoner, and this jumped-up little ‘pommie cunt’ has done him out of a guaranteed good time.

So, Mick’s determined to pay Paul back, and this is why Paul is cable-tied to the torture chair in Mick’s gracious establishment with Mick sitting opposite him, regarding him quizzically as if wondering which power tool to use on him first.

The astonishing level of knowledge possessed by Mick in regard to Australian culture and history is really quite shocking to witness. After all, he doesn’t strike one as a guy who did well in school and then went voluntarily on to further education.

Yet, the questions he sets Paul, who’s answering them in exchange for his life (and fingers!) here, are extremely in-depth and intelligent. Mick is proud to be an Australian, and he loves his country.

But there’s genuine love of country, and then there’s National Socialism, lol. Mick Taylor, possibly the world’s biggest xenophobe, is an equal opportunities racist. He hates everyone with the same level of contempt and disgust.

Every nationality, from the Germans to the English, is just another bunch of ‘foreign cunts’ to Mick Taylor. He refers to them as a plague of vermin, coming to ‘his’ country to f**k it up and destroy it. And we all know what you do with plagues, right? You wipe ’em out…

Paul’s ‘English wit’ and his pretty passable attempts to get Mick to join him in some buddy-buddy drinking songs is highly amusing to Mick, not unlike the way that King Kong is amused by Naomi Watts’s juggling tricks and acrobatics in the Jack Black/Peter Jackson version of KING KONG. (Both captives here are rather cleverly trying to use psychology to lull their captors into a false sense of security, but will it work?)

Unlike King Kong, however, Mick Taylor does still intend to kill poor unfortunate Paul Hammersmith. He simply doesn’t mind having a bit of craic and bonhomie with him first, a bit of man-banter. After all, the existence he leads is a pretty lonely one.

But Paul has at least some gumption, some balls; maybe he doesn’t want to be killed. Maybe, unlike the terrified females Mick is more used to, he intends to fight for his life, so that one day he can go back to England, as presumably he intends to do, and resume his job and/or his studies there. But, of course, Mick won’t go down without a fight, and Mick Taylor fights dirty…

I think this film is actually better than the 2005 original. The first film is excellent, and it’s fine that it’s just the relatively straightforward story of three young tourists who fall afoul of Mick on their wee driving holiday. It’s the perfect, easy-does-it introduction to the franchise. But WOLF CREEK 2 is so much more complex.

We get to see a whole lot more of Mick’s hate-filled, xenophobic personality, and the plot has a load of very satisfying twists and turns. I love the bit about the crooked, corrupt cops who try to give Mick a speeding ticket when he wasn’t even speeding (I don’t give much for their chances of survival, do you?), and the horror of the subterranean caves shows us that Mick’s evil has even more layers to it than we previously imagined. Roll on WOLF CREEK 3. Some of us need to know where our next Mick-Fix is coming from…

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

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

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

HANDS OF THE RIPPER. (1971) A HAMMER FILM REVIEWED BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

HANDS OF THE RIPPER. (1971) A HAMMER FILM PRODUCTION. BASED ON A SHORT STORY BY EDWARD SPENCER SHEW. DIRECTED BY PETER SASDY.

STARRING ANGHARAD REES, ERIC PORTER, DORA BRYAN, JANE MERROW, KEITH BELL, DEREK GODFREY, MARJORIE RHODES, MARJIE LAWRENCE AND LYNDA BARON.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

This is Hammer Horror’s contribution to the massive canon of Jack the Ripper films. Although Jack the Ripper was a real person who, in the year 1888, during the so-called ‘Autumn of Terror,’ murdered and mutilated five unfortunate prostitutes in London’s Whitechapel area, he has long since passed into legend and is fictionalised as often as Dracula, Frankenstein’s monster and Sherlock Holmes.

Hammer’s HANDS OF THE RIPPER has all the sumptuous costumes and sets, rich autumnal colours (apt!) and solid performances that you’d expect from a Hammer period horror film. The women’s costumes, in particular, are gloriously flattering and their big feathery hats are the most sublime confections the world of millinery has to offer.

Even the prostitutes, the raddled whores of Whitechapel, are all played by Hammer beauties and are therefore lovely to look at, even if their Cockney accents have to sound like Foghorn Leghorn caught in a blender. Also, the plot has a few holes in it, to be sure, but what are a few holes between friends…? Let’s not be picky here, lol.

Angharad Rees plays Anna the heroine, if you can call her that, given that she’s actually the villain here as well. When she was a child in her cot, she witnessed the horrific murder of her mother by her father, who was harbouring the biggest and bloodiest secret of the era in his murderous bosom.

Now, the pretty blonde Anna is all grown up and living with an unscrupulous foster mother called Mrs. Golding, who assuredly knows a good money-making opportunity when she sees it. She pimps out the virginal-looking girl to wealthy gentlemen and forces Anna to collude with her in the phoney sėances she regularly holds.

When the self-serving Mrs. Golding is found savagely murdered after one such instance of ‘communing with the spirits’ and the petite little Anna is the chief suspect, she is rescued from the horrors of prison by a rich doctor of the mind, rather than the body, a chap called John Pritchard.

Convinced that Anna carried out the horrific killing while under the influence of her dead murderer of a father, Dr. Pritchard, a fan of Sigmund Freud’s, is determined to ‘study’ her and see how the world of psychiatry can benefit by such a study.

We don’t study our murderers enough, he complains, because we’re too quick to slap a rope around their necks. To this end, and totally convinced that his motives are pure and only for the betterment of people’s knowledge of medicine, he brings a bemused Anna home to his luxurious town house and immediately installs her in his dead wife’s bedroom and dresses her in his dead wife’s fabulous gowns. Hmmmmm.

In the first place, I put it to you that Dr. Pritchard is motivated as much by lust as by ‘learning.’ Would he be doing all this if Anna was a syphilis-ridden old hag, with black teeth and sagging tits? I doubt it very much. And he certainly wouldn’t be putting her in his wife’s pristine and beautifully preserved bedchamber.

And, what was really strange, Dr. Pritchard’s posh toff son Michael and his elegant and gracious bride-to-be, Laura, don’t seem to have any problem at all with their father bringing a scruffy little street urchin into their palatial home and into his beloved mother’s bed, of all places, and giving her the run of his dead mother’s wardrobe and jewellery.

Instead, they smile, stick out their hands and say: ‘Welcome to the family, Anna…!’ Grotesque, unbelievable, bizarre, unprecedented, or gubu, as we used to say here in Ireland in the ‘Eighties, during one of our less successful periods of government. Honestly, some countries shouldn’t be trusted with the job of governing themselves, lol.

Another person’s reaction to Anna’s sudden installation as the new lady of the house that I find deeply suspect is Dolly, the maid’s. Played by Marjie Lawrence (I, MONSTER, with Christopher Lee), Dolly seems absolutely thrilled to have a tousle-haired little nobody like Anna foisted on her as her new mistress without warning.

She doesn’t seem to say to herself, why wasn’t I elevated suddenly to the status of lady of the house, especially as I was here first? Why should this common little nobody be promoted to status and wealth in this house over me? My tits are as good as ‘ers, any day of the bloomin’ week, and if it’s sex he wants, well, I can give him that, I’ve been pleasing men in that way since I were a young ‘un, he only has to ask!’

Instead, she delights in bathing the new little cuckoo in the nest and dressing her up in her former mistress’s frills and furbelows, calling her a little doll and revelling in her improved appearance. This script was clearly written by a man. A man who surely doesn’t know women…!

Anyway, Dr. Pritchard’s lust for his charge seems to be blinding him to the irresponsible behaviour he himself is exhibiting by allowing Anna, a suspected murderer, to live in his house with himself, his son, his son’s blind fiancėe Laura, the maid Dolly and the elderly housekeeper Mrs. Bryant, who’s probably been with the doctor’s family since the doctor himself was a lad. Frankly, he’s putting his entire household at risk, in a way that he wouldn’t be if his ‘subject’ were a good deal less charming and attractive and dwelling in a locked room in the asylum.

All it takes is a simple kiss and a flash of glittering light, such as that made by a jewelled brooch or necklace, and the emotionally disturbed Anna is ‘triggered’ into another psychotic episode, one that leaves blood on her hands and not a trace in the world on her heart or memory.

Just like some of us aren’t ourselves when we’re hungry, Anna is not herself when she is possessed by the soul of her evil killer of a father. Although, when did he die, and did anyone even mention that he was dead? Was he killed by the angry mob that was pursuing him on the night he slaughtered his wife?

Well, even if he wasn’t, who else would be possessing Anna and driving her to kill? I told you there were a few plotholes, didn’t I, but they don’t really affect the overall pleasing experience of viewing this gorgeous Hammer offering.

PS, I loved the scene set in the Whispering Gallery of St. Paul’s Cathedral, and also the inspired casting of Lynda Baron, aka, the busty Nurse Gladys Emmanuel from OPEN ALL HOURS with Ronnie Barker, as Long Liz, one of the prostitutes murdered by Jack the Ripper.

She’s just perfect as the tart with a heart as big as all outdoors. But, if Long Liz was killed by old Saucy Jack, how come she’s still alive fifteen years later and still working her patch? Ah, who cares? Her magnificent bosoms say more than tight, foolproof plotting ever could…

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

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

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

LAST GIRL STANDING. (2015) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS.©

Last-Girl-Standing_600 (1)

LAST GIRL STANDING. (2015) DIRECTED BY BENJAMIN R. MOODY. STARRING AKASHA VILLALOBOS, DANIELLE EVON PLOEGER AND BRIAN VILLALOBOS.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

‘What happens AFTER the horror movie?’

This isn’t exactly the greatest horror movie ever made, but it whiled away a June Bank Holiday Friday night during coronavirus lockdown nicely enough, and it’s definitely worth one watch and one evening of your time.

The idea of the ‘last girl standing’ is a ready-made horror trope all of its own already. (It’s always a girl, by the way; maybe because the aesthetics of a trim young woman running in a slim vest top and hotpants, with unfettered boobies bouncing freely and with long hair streaming out behind her, are more pleasing to the eye than if we just have, say, a heavy-set bearded bloke in sweatpants pounding along, struggling to breathe ’cause its years since he attempted anything approximating physical exercise.)

We’re all familiar with the image of the last girl in a horror movie to survive a massacre by the serial killer. We’ve all seen her running frantically through the woods in the dark, her white vest top stained with the blood of the friends she’s seen murdered by the villain and her long hair matted with blood and twigs. (From the trees and bushes, see?)

We’ve seen her trip and stumble to the forest floor just inches ahead of the pursuing killer. We’ve seen her flag down the one car on the otherwise deserted motorway, only to find that the car is being driven by the killer or one of his local accomplices, say, a corrupt sheriff or something. In other films, the car’s occupants are genuine and the Last Girl Standing is whisked away to the safety of the nearest hospital or police station.

In this film, Camryn (the world’s worst spelling of Cameron, a lovely name) is the titular Last Girl Standing. She saw her friends butchered in the woods in a pagan ritual, by a serial killer wearing a deer mask complete with antlers known as ‘the Hunter.’ Camryn went one further than most victims, however, and actually killed the man who was looking to add her name to his list of kills.

So, now, it’s a few years later and Camryn’s life is, to be totally honest about it, a bit shit. Her apartment looks like no-one lives in it, so reluctant has she been to personalise it or put her own stamp on it.

Her hair is limp and lank-looking, she dresses in the drabbest of drab shapeless hoodies and tops, she’s become almost terminally shy and jumpy and she barely talks to anyone at the dry cleaners-cum-launderette where she works. Even Nick, the cute new guy, has trouble getting a smile or a friendly word out of her.

Camryn has terrible survivors’ guilt. Why did she live, when none of her friends did? Plus, she lost all her closest friends in one fell swoop; all murdered by ‘the Hunter.’ That’s plenty to be depressed about as it is, but now, as well, since Nick joined the staff, coincidentally enough, Camryn has the feeling she’s being stalked.

Is the Hunter not dead after all? Has he come back to finish the job he left unfinished before? Or is Camryn merely losing the plot after all this time? You’ll have great fun trying to figure out which it is.

Camryn’s new friends- they’re Nick’s mates really- certainly think that Camryn is as mad as a box of frogs, out in their garden in the dead of night searching high and low for skinned and bleeding rabbits, and digging up dead serial killers in the middle of nowhere, also in the dead of night, just to make sure they’re still dead.

Is she cuckoo, or is she right? Is the Hunter back to finish her off, or maybe one of his friends or relatives is seeking to avenge the killer? It could go any way, especially as Camryn has such a tenuous grip on reality at the moment. Have fun figuring it out. It’s a good, serviceable little horror film and you’ll enjoy watching it, as I said earlier, at least once.

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

SOME MUST WATCH. (1933) BY ETHEL LINA WHITE. SANDRA HARRIS REVIEWS THE BOOK THAT INSPIRED THE MOVIE ‘THE SPIRAL STAIRCASE.’ ©

some-must-watch

SOME MUST WATCH. (1933) BY ETHEL LINA WHITE. THE BOOK THAT INSPIRED THE FILM, THE SPIRAL STAIRCASE.

BOOK REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

As though struck by some recollection, he turned round and faced Helen.

‘How did you get back to the house?’ he inquired.

She did not understand the question.

‘When?’ she asked.

‘When you were coming through the plantation. I heard your footsteps. I waited… But you never came.’

At the words, suddenly- Helen knew.

‘You,’ she said.

SOME MUST WATCH, by Ethel Lina White.

This, as is says above, is the book that inspired film-maker Robert Siodmak to make his classic thriller, THE SPIRAL STAIRCASE. I’m not a huge fan normally of ’30s crime fiction, and I admit I only read this one because of its connection to the famous film.

The language can be out-dated in these ’30s crime novels, and sometimes it’s hard to know what’s motivating people to say and do some of the mad things we see them saying and doing. This book is no exception to that rule.

It’s the story of a young woman called Helen Capel, one of those women who takes a job in service as an antidote to being all alone in the world and obliged to make one’s own living.

She’s young and pretty with a cloud of red hair, and much is made in the book of her slight stature. She’s a tiny little fairy of a thing, the kind men rush to protect and cherish, much to the annoyance of at least one other, much taller and bigger, female character in the book.

She has a job as a ‘lady-help’ in the book, though what exactly her duties are meant to be is a somewhat mystifying question. She doesn’t appear to ‘help’ any one lady in particular in the house, and she seems to spend all her time flitting between the floors of the isolated English country mansion known as the Summit, sticking her nose into the business of the inhabitants of the house.

She has an insatiable curiosity about everyone and everything in the house that some folks would call nosiness, and she also seems selfish, self-absorbed, self-obsessed and possibly not a very nice person, which is odd for the heroine of a book. That’s what I mean about some of these ’30s crime novels written by lady authors; sometimes the people in them are not actually that nice or relatable…!

You’d be hard pushed to find a single nice character in the whole of the book, to be honest with you. The head of the household is the cold, intractable Professor Warren, who shares his home with his bookish unmarried sister Miss Warren and their obnoxious old bedridden mother, Lady Warren, a sly, cunning and cruel old baggage who gets rid of the nurses her children employ for her by means of violence both verbal and physical.

She may not get rid of her new nurse so easily, though. Nurse Barker, a tough cookie, has come from the nearby Nurses’ Home to take charge of Lady Warren. Because of her superior height, build and strength and a distinct darkening above the upper lip that necessitates the use of a razor, Helen and the gossipy drunkard of a housekeeper, Mrs. Oates, who lives downstairs with her handyman husband Oates, have decided she’s not a woman at all but a man in drag.

Which wouldn’t ordinarily be a problem (or maybe it would; it was still only the ’30s, after all!), but a murderer has been operating in the vicinity of the Summit of late. Several pretty young women have been brutally strangled to death, and earlier on in this particular day, in which the action of the book takes place, a woman who used to work for Lady Warren at the Summit was found dead and dumped outside the home of the Summit’s nearest neighbour, a Colonel Bean.

Which, of course, is bad news for Helen and the inhabitants of the Summit, because it means that the murderer is getting ever closer, and everyone in the house is suspect, especially the men. Let’s quickly meet the remaining tenants of the Summit.

There’s the Professor’s academic son, Newton, and his slutty wife Simone, who has her sights firmly set on Stephen Rice, the Professor’s live-in ‘pupil,’ who is not remotely interested in Simone, or at least not interested enough to run away with her, which is what she wants.

Finally there’s the young Dr. Parry, who doesn’t ‘live in’ but who constantly visits his patient at the Summit, Lady Warren. Over the course of his visits, he seems to fall in love with the vain, silly and flighty Helen, which might be no bad thing. For her, I mean.

Marriage and a slew of little’uns will sort her out and settle her down, but first of all she has to survive the fateful night in the book in which murder insinuates itself ever nearer to her. She suffers agonies of imagination that whole night before anything actually happens, and then, when murder finally does come knocking on her door for real, it’s wearing a surprisingly familiar guise…

There is a spiral staircase in the book, although it’s just a back stairs and doesn’t really see much action. Sadly, the book isn’t really scary at all, but it does feature one chapter that thrilled me, the opening one in which Helen Capel is returning from a solitary walk through a very eerie part of the woods near the Summit. This bit was good ‘n’ atmospheric, but unfortunately the rest of the book didn’t really keep pace with it.

It was nice to read something different over Christmas, and I did enjoy the book, although the odd behaviour and mannerisms of the characters annoyed me somewhat, and it was hard to find someone to genuinely like and root for in the book. Still, each to their own and every book is different and deserving of credit in its own way. This will be my last blog post of 2019, so Happy New Year to all my readers and may 2020 see the fulfilment of all of our dearest wishes.

Although her own lids seemed weighted with lead, she, alone, was awake in a sleep-bound world. She had to watch.

SOME MUST WATCH, by Ethel Lina White.

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