MONSTER: THE JEFFREY DAHMER STORY. (2022) A NETFLIX SERIES REVIEWED BY SANDRA HARRIS.

DAHMER: THE JEFFREY DAHMER STORY. (2022) CREATED BY RYAN MURPHY AND IAN BRENNAN.
STARRING EVAN PETERS, NIECY NASH, RICHARD JENKINS, MOLLY RINGWALD, MICHAEL LEARNED AND PENELOPE ANN MILLER.
REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

Set your faces to stunned admiration, people, because this is the best piece of television I’ve seen all year, and it’s been a good year for television. It’s the Jeffrey Dahmer story in series form, and it’s a terrific achievement on the part of Ryan everything he touches turns to gold Murphy and his screen-writing team.

The acting is superb, the story-telling is the right mix of the gruesome and the sympathetic, the era of the early ‘Nineties is perfectly re-created and Evan Peters as the serial killer is just so good as the murderer with the adorably cute grin and occasional quirky sense of black humour.

This is the only Netflix series I’ve seen so far that I’ve been seriously tempted to re-watch again from the beginning as soon as it ended. I’m actually sad that I’m not watching it any more, that’s how compelling it is.

Ready for some plot now? ‘Course you are, lol. The past is expertly blended in with the present as we see Jeffrey Dahmer growing up as a shy, awkward, somewhat weird lonely kid from Milwaukee who doesn’t really care about school or making friends or getting a head start in life.

His home-life is what one might delicately refer to as a shit-show. His mother Joyce doesn’t seem to want to be married with children; she pops pills, threatens suicide constantly and does everything in her power to be mentally if not physically absent from her husband and Jeff.

She screams and throws things and brandishes a knife at her husband in front of a traumatised Jeffrey, and she finally walks out on her family, taking her other child with her, when Jeff is about eighteen. Jeff misses her, crazy and out-of-control as she is, and takes to drinking heavily and mooning round the house, aimless and depressed, in her absence.

Richard Jenkins as the father, Lionel Dahmer, is superb. He’s the person who inadvertently sparks off Jeff’s interest in dissecting body parts. In Jeff’s youth, his father shows him how to cut up the roadkill they find on their car journeys together. If he had the slightest idea where that was going to lead to, he might have thought twice about involving his son in such a gory activity.

Lionel’s marriage to Joyce is in a terrible state. He walks out on Joyce a lot during Jeff’s childhood because of Joyce’s erratic behaviour, and is already married to the kindly and supportive Shari (played by the marvellous Molly Ringwald) by the time Joyce walks out on the Dahmer family for good.

Dad really, really loves his gormless-acting son, the golden-haired Jeffrey, and is genuinely concerned about the adult Jeff’s burgeoning alcoholism, his almost complete lack of a work ethic and seeming inability to get on with people and make friends.

He pushes Jeff into a community college and then, when that fails, into the army. When that fails too, it’s a case of ‘You’re moving with your auntie and uncle in Bel Air!’ For auntie and uncle, read Grandma; he moves in with his grandma, Lionel’s elderly mum, in West Allis, Wisconsin, after college and the US Army have both bombed, and terrorizes her with his strange behaviour.

Grandma is a quiet, God-fearing Church-going woman, and Jeffrey’s behaviour quickly becomes unacceptable to her. His alcoholism, compulsive lying and swearing, his occasional outbursts of violence, and, worst of all, the constant parade of young black or Latino men he brings back home with him at night to do God-knows-what-with. She’s deeply uncomfortable about what this last thing might say about her beloved grandson’s sexuality.

When Grandma interferes with what he’s trying to do with these men (drug, kill, dissect and even preserve bits of them), Jeffrey gets angry and there’s a moment there when I genuinely fear for Grandma’s life. You’ll literally never believe who plays her; Michael Learned, who once upon a time used to portray the mother in a little-known American television programme called THE WALTONS

Between 1978 and 1991, Jeffrey Dahmer kills and dismembers seventeen mostly black young men and boys. He commits necrophilia and cannibalism and preserves a number of body parts for his own amusements.

He seems to prefer to have sex with dead or incapacitated males, as he doesn’t like his sexual partners to move around too much or take the initiative. He gets a bad reputation around the gay bathhouses for being a man who drugs and rapes his partners.

Niecy WHEN THEY SEE US Nash is fabulous as Glenda Cleveland, the black single mother living next door to Jeffrey Dahmer in the Oxford Apartments, his last address before his imprisonment. Can you imagine living next door to him? He’s the original Neighbour from Hell.

Through the vent that connects their two apartments, she hears the fighting and shouting as Dahmer subdues his victims, and the sawing and hammering noises he makes as he cuts them up. She also smells the foul odours of the decomposing bodies.

The police don’t come out smelling of roses in this case. Glenda calls them numerous times to report the highly suspicious noises and stench coming from Jeff’s apartment, but Jeff just trots out the old ‘Oh, I left out some meat and it went bad’ excuse and the cops just thank him and apologise for disturbing his evening…!

The cops really mess up when a young Laotian boy, Konerak Sinthasomphone, Dahmer’s youngest victim, is trying desperately to escape Jeff’s clutches and very nearly makes it. Jeff turns up and is so convincing in his assertions that Konerak is his ‘boyfriend’ that the police actually return the young man to Dahmer’s custody, leaving a horrified Glenda looking on, barely able to believe their stupidity, and also their willingness to accept the word of a white man over that of anyone black or Asian or Hispanic.

This is such a good television series; I honestly can’t commend it enough. Well done to Ryan Murphy and his team. I can’t wait to see who they’re giving the ‘magic treatment’ to next…!

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.
 
Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. She has studied Creative Writing and Vampirology. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, women’s fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:
http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO
Her new book, THIRTEEN STOPS EARLIER, is out now from Poolbeg Books:
https://amzn.to/3ulKWkv
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.co.uk/Thirteen-Stops-Later-Book-ebook/dp/B091J75WNB/

THE WOMAN IN THE HOUSE ACROSS THE STREET FROM THE GIRL IN THE WINDOW. (2022) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

THE WOMAN IN THE HOUSE ACROSS THE STREET FROM THE GIRL IN THE WINDOW. (2022)
A NETFLIX COMEDY SERIES REVIEWED BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©
DIRECTED BY MICHAEL LEHMANN.
STARRING KRISTEN BELL, TOM RILEY, MICHAEL EALY, MARY HOLLAND, CAMERON BRITTON, SHELLEY HENNIG AND GLENN CLOSE.

‘Bingo…!’

This is a black comedy series in eight less-than-thirty-minutes episodes that would be easy enough to binge-watch in one night. Well, that’s how I did it, anyway, last night, as a matter of fact. It’s a send-up of all those crime thriller books and films that have names like GONE GIRL and THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN.

I’ve found the trend a bit tiresome at times, as every second crime book seems to have the words ‘the girl’ or ‘the woman’ in the title. I’ve noticed a similar trend in literary fiction for having ‘the so-and-so’s daughter’ for a title. Apothecary’s daughter, abortionist’s daughter, and we’re still only on the A’s here, lol. The world of books sure could use a shot of originality.

Anyway, this parody series features Kristen Bell, who played Princess Anna in the smash-hit kids’ animated film FROZEN (2013), as Anna, the rather kooky American heroine. Anna lives alone in a fabulous big house on a secluded, exclusive street rather like Wisteria Lane from the drama series DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES. Only rich people live there, and you probably have to be vetted by the neighbourhood welcome committee before you ever get permission to buy a house there.

Anna’s marriage to Douglas, an FBI profiler specialising in serial killers, broke up after their eight-year-old daughter Elizabeth dies in hilarious fashion. Well, this is a dark comedy series, after all, and a piss-take of the current annoying trends in crime thriller writing. Anna is an artist, but she hasn’t painted since Elizabeth’s death.

She spends her long, lonely boring days drinking huge full glasses of red wine, popping the pills her therapist gives her, which incidentally cause her to hallucinate, and staring out the window at her neighbours’ comings and goings. She reads books with titles like THE WOMAN ACROSS THE LAKE and THE GIRL ON THE CRUISE. She desperately needs to get a life, but she obviously hasn’t reached that place yet.

One day, a handsome British widower called Neil moves in right across the street with his daughter Emma, who’s about the same age as Elizabeth would have been. Anna immediately falls for Neil and starts bringing him and Emma casseroles- apparently, that’s a recurring trope in these crime thrillers- and encouraging Emma with her drawing.

She’s absolutely horrified to discover, after all the casseroles and meaningful looks, that Neil has a beautiful, but bitchy, young air hostess girlfriend called Lisa. Even more horrifying is the night that a sloshed Anna looks across the street and sees Lisa dying from a cut throat in Neil’s house.

She calls the police, who find no sign of a dead body or even a struggle. What they do find, however, is a drunken Anna who seems to be incapable from telling fact from fiction, imagination from reality and alcohol-and-pills-induced hallucinations from What Really Happened. No-one believes Anna’s story. Even Anna herself doubts it at times. The race is on for the grieving mother to find the truth before… well, before the series ends, I suppose.

For a parody or a spoof of something, it’s not exactly a laugh a minute, like, say, BLAZING SADDLES or YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN, but there are a few good laughs in it. The self-help books of the day, for example, and cannibalistic serial killers (Massacre Mike is genuinely funny). People’s ridiculous online profiles and the lengths folks’ll go to to look like they’re carefree and having a great old time, and the very amusing all-over-the-house sex montage between Anna and beefcake Sexy Rexy. I also loved the bitchy, social-climbing Chinese neighbour Carol and Glenn Close’s very classy cameo at the end.

I would never watch this series again though, as one viewing really shows you everything you’ll ever need to know about it. I even feel guilty about spending an entire Friday night on it, as it’s really only chewing gum for the eyes without any particular intellectual merit to it but, what the hell, we’ve all been through a global pandemic together and we deserve some brain-switched-off downtime. That’s my excuse, anyway. What’s yours…?

BOOKS I’M THINKING OF WRITING IN THE FUTURE:

THE WOMAN WHO WAS THERE ONE MINUTE AND GONE THE NEXT.

THE WOMAN’S DAUGHTER, WHO WAS ALSO SOMEONE’S SISTER.

THE WOMAN AND THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN MEET THE WOMAN WHO WAS THERE ONE MINUTE AND GONE THE NEXT.

YOU TOO CAN BE A SERIAL KILLER.

THE SERIAL KILLER’S DAUGHTER.

THE ALCOHOLIC’S DAUGHTER.

YOU TOO CAN BE AN ALCOHOLIC SERIAL KILLER.

THE DAUGHTER OF THE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW WHO USED TO BE THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN BUT IS NOW GONE.

THE WOMAN WHO LIVED IN THE HOUSE WITH THE WINDOWS.

THE WOMAN WHO LIVED IN THE HOUSE WITH THE WINDOWS BUT NO DOOR.

THE ALCOHOLIC WOMAN WITH THE DAUGHTER IN THE HOUSE.

THE ALCOHOLIC WOMAN WITH THE SERIAL KILLER DAUGHTER WHO WAS ALSO A WOMAN BUT NOT AN ALCOHOLIC ONE.

YOU TOO CAN LIVE IN A HOUSE WITH WINDOWS.

Let me know if you can come up with any more…

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:

HELTER SKELTER. (2004) THE STORY OF THE MANSON FAMILY MURDERS REVIEWED BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

charlie

HELTER SKELTER. (2004) A RE-MAKE OF THE 1976 MADE-FOR-TV MOVIE. DIRECTED BY JOHN GRAY. BASED ON THE BOOK OF THE SAME NAME BY VINCENT BUGLIOSI WITH CURT GENTRY.

STARRING JEREMY DAVIES, CLEA DUVALL AND MARGUERITE MOREAU.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

This film, based on true events, will give you the willies. At the moment of writing this, I’m about one third of the way through the book on which it’s based, and the book tells you- and shows you- all the things over which the film, of necessity, has to draw a veil of discretion. The film tells the story of the dreadful events which are collectively known as the Manson Family Murders, and it’s told from the point of view of a young girl called Linda Kasabian.

In 1969, the teenaged Linda breaks up with her husband, who basically abandons her and their baby daughter Tanya. Linda, already used to commune life, is invited to join one located on the Spahn movie ranch in the hills outside Los Angeles.

The head of the commune is Charles Manson, a scrawny little beardy weed of a guy who, for the members of his ‘Family,’ has come to represent God, Jesus Christ, the Devil, good and evil, Heaven and Hell. He is the heart and particularly the Soul of the Family.

Charlie Manson tells Linda Kasabian exactly what she wants and needs to hear at this time. ‘No-one will ever throw you away again,’ he assures the emotionally insecure young girl who has already admitted to him that her husband and stepfather have both made her feel ‘disposable.’

They have sex- Charlie has sex with all the long-haired hippy girls, on whom he also bestows aliases- and soon she’s pregnant again. I don’t think the Family feel kindly disposed towards contraceptives and the notion of keeping oneself safe from sexually transmitted diseases!

Life on the commune is weird, man. Everyone has sex with everyone else and the babies and children are communally cared for, although, in some cases, it would seem like they were communally neglected, ie, left out in the sun all day to burn, stuff like that. Women are indoctrinated into believing that their function is to have babies and look after them and their men.

The guy who plays Charlie here does a terrific job. You can well imagine abused or needy women lapping up his freaky-ass nonsense, silly maxims like ‘No sense makes sense’ and ‘Come to the Now, man!’ He loves the sound of his own voice, which is probably why he founded his own cult.

I could never personally buy into his ridiculous notion that you’re doing people a favour by killing them because you’re ‘bringing them to the Now,’ and it’s hard to imagine how anyone ever did, but they did and that’s how the murders were able to happen. 

Linda is taken out at night by Charlie and various other members of the cult for what they call ‘creepy crawls.’ They wear dark clothing, break into rich peoples’ homes and disarrange stuff so that the occupants of the house will wake up and be freaked out to find that everything’s different.

The ‘creepy crawlers’ all carry knives. If any one of their victims had had the extreme misfortune to wake up during one of these night raids on their homes, I feel confident in saying that murder would have been committed without compunction by the culties.

In August 1969, the ‘creepy crawls’ get really real. In the house known as 10050 Cielo Drive in Los Angeles, five horrific murders are committed one sultry night. The victims are as follows: Sharon Tate, the beautiful, eight-months-pregnant actress wife of director Roman Polanski, who’s away filming in London when the murders happen; Jay Sebring, thirty-five, Sharon’s ex-boyfriend (they’re still good friends) and head of an international men’s hairdressing corporation; Abigail Folger, the heiress to a coffee fortune, and her Polish lover Voytek Frykowski; and finally, poor Stephen Parent, a young guy who was only visiting the caretaker of 10050, Cielo Drive, William Garretson, in the lodge house that night to try to sell him a clock radio. Talk about being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

By the time Manson’s besotted followers had done their leader’s dirty work, the house and gardens at 10050 Cielo Drive resembled a slaughterhouse. The following night, a rich businessman called Leno LaBianca, who owned a chain of grocery stores, was brutally murdered in his own sitting-room along with his attractive wife Bianca. The two sets of killings were soon being referred to as the Tate-LaBianca murders, and it wasn’t too long before the hippies out at Spahn movie ranch were squarely in the frame for them.

Linda Kasabian ran away from the Family after she witnessed the murders and was utterly sickened and shocked by them. Unlike the other girls, whom Charlie controlled through sex and drugs and the undeniable power of his words, Linda still had a reasonably unskewed sense of right and wrong.

‘Death to piggies’ might have been Charlie’s and his sick-in-the-head followers’ raison d’être, but it wasn’t Linda’s. Although she ran away from the cult, initially without her daughter Tanya so as not to arouse the suspicions of the other cult moms, she came back of her own accord, to tell the police what she knew.

I’ve been reading in prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi’s book about failed musician, Beatles’ fan and ex-pimp Charles Manson’s disadvantaged upbringing. The child of a teenaged prostitute with no father to speak of, he had spent most of his life before the murders in and out of institutions, from juvenile detention centres to adult prisons. Well, that’s no excuse for any of the things he did. Ted Bundy had only a single mother for a parent too and he never did any of the things… Oh wait, he did. Sorry, bad example, lol.

I must tell you about something absolutely mad that’s referred to in the film but which the book explains in a bit more detail. Before they were all arrested for the murders, the Family were planning en masse to follow their crazy-as-batshit leader out into the desert because there was a ‘hole’ in Death Valley which, if you followed it deep down inside to the very centre of the earth, would lead you to an entire civilization, all apparently living and thriving away underneath the earth. It’s straight out of Jules Verne, is that.

Only Charlie knew where this hole was, and the Family were going to hide out with this other civilization while ‘helter skelter,’ the race war to end all wars, played itself out above ground.

I have only one word to say with regard to this ‘plan,’ which is worse than Homer Simpson’s plan to take his whole clan to live with him under the sea when the heat from his sexual harassment suit becomes too much to bear. (Remember? There’ll be no accusations, just friendly crustaceans, under the sea…!) What is this one word? Well, in a nutshell… Cuckoo…!

Manson, in the end, was sentenced to death for his part in the excessively brutal killings but had his sentence commuted to life imprisonment. That was fifty years ago this very year, and he only died recently there, in 2017. Same year as Moors murderer Ian Brady. He was probably still a nut-job when he passed away, a basket-case, a fruit loop.

That’s nearly fifty years that he was living at the American taxpayers’ expense, and every year he remained on earth was probably another slap in the face for the loved ones of the people he ordered his culties to murder in cold blood, simply because they were rich and ‘rich whites’ represented the ‘establishment, the ‘man.’

Oh well. He didn’t live forever, contrary to the impression he might have been trying to give his brainwashed followers. One day he too, the great Charlie Manson, had to answer for his crimes before a higher power, like we all will have to some day. Only then would real justice have been done.

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

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

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

You can contact Sandra at:

sandrasandraharris@gmail.com

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

https://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com

http://sexysandieblog.wordpress.com

http://serenaharker.wordpress.com

https://twitter.com/SandraAuthor

FRITZ LANG’S ‘M.’ (1931) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

fritz lang m

FRITZ LANG’S ‘M.’ (1931) DIRECTED BY FRITZ LANG. SCREENPLAY BY FRITZ LANG AND THEA VON HARBOU. STARRING PETER LORRE AND OTTO WERNICKE.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

‘10,000 marks reward.

MISSING

Believed to have been murdered.

ELSIE BECKMANN.

Age 6-a-half years. Fair hair. Brown eyes. About 3 ft 4 in height. Last seen outside the Barclay School For Infants on April 14th at about ten minutes past twelve.

Any person able to supply information, please communicate with

CARL LOHMANN,

Chief of police or any police station.’

People are always calling ‘M’ Fritz Lang’s masterpiece. I love this film very much but I just want to point out that Fritz Lang’s ‘METROPOLIS’ exists too and might be an even better candidate for the title of this director’s actual masterpiece.

That’s not to say that ‘M,’ possibly the earliest film ever made on the disturbing and grisly subject of child murder and Fritz Lang’s first ever talkie, isn’t a masterpiece. It is, it absolutely is. But the guy can have two masterpieces, can’t he…? That’s all I’m saying, lol.

People usually think that the film is based on the murderous career of serial killer Peter Kurten, the so-called ‘Vampire of Dusseldorf,’ but Fritz Lang himself points out that Kurten was never an admitted child killer and also that the script for ‘M’ was already done and dusted before Kurten was ever apprehended. But serial killers did already exist back then, so it’s certainly more than possible that they gave Lang his idea for the film.

The German city in the film is a city living in terrible fear when the movie starts. A spate of child murders have the inhabitants on the edge of their seats, worrying themselves sick about their kiddies who are every day at risk from becoming the next murder statistic until this fellow is caught. And what won’t they do to the bastard when he is…! Temperatures run very, very high in the city at the moment.

In fact, the movie starts with a murder. Pretty, lively little Elsa Beckmann, the daughter of an impoverished and exhausted washerwoman, is cajoled away from her life by a man whose distinctive profile we first see against the background of one of the ‘WANTED! MURDERER!’ posters. It’s an effective introduction for the man the whole city is just longing to meet.

The images that imply Elsie’s death at the hands of this man, who jauntily whistles the theme from Grieg’s PEER GYNT while he lures the child casually away (his signature?), are stunning in their simplicity.

Her ball rolls away into a patch of wasteland; her new balloon is caught in some telegraph wires and flaps helplessly in the breeze. Two simple but strikingly powerful images, and pretty little Elsie Beckmann is lost to the world of man forever.

The whole city is up in arms. The police are working flat out to catch the killer. This is a good thing, right? Well, not, apparently, for certain elements of the city’s criminal fraternity.

They can’t take a step now without being caught up in a police raid to catch the child murderer. The constant police presence across the city is interfering big-time with their criminal activities. If this keeps up, they’ll be on the breadline, grumble grumble grumble. Ya gotta feel sorry for them.

A group of burglars and safecrackers, headed by a man who couldn’t look more like a Nazi if he tried, in his belted overcoat, hat, black gloves and stick (for whopping things…!), decide to catch the killer themselves and thereby loosen the coppers’ grip on the collar of the city’s criminal underbelly. Then they can go about their unlawful business in peace and quiet once more without the bleedin’ fuzz breathing down their necks all the livelong day.

The funny thing about all this is that the leader of this group, the guy in the Nazi overcoat (incidentally played by an actor who went on to have a rather succesful career under Nazi rule, so we’re not too far out), is wanted by the police on three separate counts of manslaughter.

But because the victims are presumably only adult males who got in the way of his criminal enterprises, then that’s totally okay, see? They weren’t little children. This gives us an idea of the special place reserved in hell (and in the minds of their peers) for the people who do harm to children.

The criminals, with the aid of the city’s population of beggars and down-and-outs, do actually manage to catch the murderer. They haul him in front of a secret kangaroo court consisting of criminals and their pals and there’s very much a feeling that these could tear the child murderer to shreds like wolves, if their leader so much as gives them the signal.

The man chosen to ‘defend’ the murderer brings up some very good points about the notion of capital punishment, the penalty for murder in those days. Should a man be penalised, he argues eloquently after a heartfelt speech from the murderer, if he has no control over his actions and is therefore not responsible for them? The kangaroo court are sceptical. They’re all for execution, and the sooner the better.

The counsel for the defence begs that the murderer be turned over to the police for justice to take place in a civilised fashion, rather than let him be subject to mob justice. We, the viewers, all probably know at this point that the murderer, rather than being summarily hanged or guillotined or shot by a firing squad, needs to be taken into protective custody, preferably in a mental hospital, and there analysed and given whatever treatment, if any, was available to the paedophiles of the day. The mob, however, might have other ideas…

Peter Lorre is brilliant here as You-Know-Who. His eyes are so big and expressive! He did an English language version of the film too, a version which up until only fairly recently was considered lost, and here he gives his first ever English-speaking performance in any movie ever. This makes it a very exciting discovery indeed for Peter Lorre aficionados.

The English language version of the film is a full twenty minutes shorter than the original German version, however, so for this reason I much prefer the German version with English subtitles. The two films have different, though similar, endings, if you get me, and the better ending of the two is in the German version, in my humble opinion.

The film really brings home to the viewer the vulnerability of children, the fact that they can be lured away from their parents, their friends, their homes, their schools and their very lives by an apple, a balloon, a piece of candy.

The kiddies in the film seem particularly impoverished, if Elsie Beckmann’s home and (I’m guessing) overworked single mother are anything to go by, so all the killer has to do is flash a toy or a few sweets to get the child to follow him anywhere he wants.

The spoilt brats of today with all their fabulous, expensive technology might be a little harder to lure away. You’d almost certainly have to be technology-savvy and offering something rather exceptional to get them to glance up, bored, from their iPads.

‘M’ is a truly haunting film. The lovely lost children, the terror of the murderer when faced with the kangaroo court, and the desolation of the downtrodden, impoverished mothers who’ve each lost children in this sinister way all combine to give us some genuinely disturbing images and memories that we won’t forget in a hurry. I can’t say exactly that you’ll enjoy the film, purely because of the grisly nature of the subject matter, but you’ll definitely remember it anyway.

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

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

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

You can contact Sandra at:

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

https://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com

http://sexysandieblog.wordpress.com

http://serenaharker.wordpress.com

sandrasandraharris@gmail.com

https://twitter.com/SandraAuthor

 

A ROOM TO DIE FOR. (2017) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

a room to die for

A ROOM TO DIE FOR. (2017) DIRECTED BY DEVANAND SHANMUGAM. STARRING CHRISTOPHER CRAIG, LOREN PETA, MICHAEL LIEBER, ANTONIA DAVIS, VAS BLACKWOOD AND JON CAMPLING.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

I loved this one. A young couple moves into a rented room in an old couple’s house because they’re flat broke. Marcus is an unemployed stand-up comedian. Of course he’s bloody well unemployed. There’s only money in stand-up comedy if you’re Michael McIntyre or Peter Kay or someone like that.

He’s not even a good stand-up comedian, if ‘Glitter Pussy’ and ‘Danger Wank,’ his two big jokes, are anything to go by. Has he ever even heard of the word ‘punchline,’ never mind the actual concept? Somehow I doubt it. You must have a punchline, otherwise you’re just leaving your audience hanging, hanging and dissatisfied.

He’s a wimpy, spoiled immature little boy who stays in bed ogling porn while his beautiful and much more responsible girlfriend Jill goes out to do a tiresome job in a call centre, trying to flog life insurance to old people who don’t want it but do just want to hear a human voice every once in a while.

They’ve taken a room in Henry and Josephine Baker’s house because they’re stoney-broke, as I’ve said. It’s a lovely old house that looks like it should be called The Old Rectory because of its gothic church-like appearance.

The house on the DVD box is a different house, by the way, a more American-looking haunted house, just in case you’re looking at it and saying to yourself in disgust, this doesn’t look like a lovely British rectory, lol.

Henry and Josephine seem like a lovely old couple, even though moving in with them makes Marcus feel like he’s back home with his parents. And that’s not a good thing. You move out to get away from your parents, lol.

Henry in particular clearly doesn’t think that stand-up comedy is a real job. Jill is keeping Marcus, to all intents and purposes, and Henry thinks that Marcus is much less of a man because of it. He imposes petty rules on Marcus’s meagre attempts at housekeeping and nags at him to clean up his mess until Marcus feels like he wants to lamp Henry one, right in the kisser.

There’s something strange about Henry and Josephine. They claim to have a newborn baby, for one thing, even though they’re easily in their sixties. Henry is, anyway. The actress playing Josephine is using a bad blue-grey rinse in her hair to make her appear older than she is. This mysterious baby is a baby whom Jill and Marcus never see, but its crying can be heard at odd hours throughout the day.

There’s even something odd about its crying as Marcus, who has absolutely nothing to do all day, discovers to his unease. The unseen baby cries for the exact amount of minutes each time. Twenty minutes each time, to be precise.

What does this suggest to you guys, because it suggests to me that this baby, for some reason, is no more than a recording. But why? Why go to all this trouble to pretend that there’s a baby in the house?

Jill and Marcus squabble constantly as the strain of living in Henry and Josephine’s admittedly lovely house begins to take its toll on the young couple. It’s not until they’re each tied to a chair in Henry and Josephine’s basement that they finally realise the real reason why the older couple were so keen to have them living in their house. Rock-a-bye baby, in the treetops…

I love Henry. He’s a brilliant character, a right old rascal. Jill’s superior arse of a brother Jason is a great character too. He doesn’t think that stand-up comedy is a proper job either and he makes Marcus feel about two inches tall when he boasts about his own inflated pay-packet. Jason brought Jill up himself after the deaths of their parents and I think he really thinks that she can do better than Marcus the big loser. I agree, lol.

I love when Josephine asks Henry if the nosey Jason is going to pose a problem for them when the young couple go missing, as they’re- Henry and Josephine- clearly operating outside the law, and Henry merely smiles and says: ‘I think you’d better put down some more plastic sheeting, dear.’ Henry is a boss, the best character here by miles.

There’s violence and even rape in the film but I could have done with a nice supernatural element to things as well. A nice bit of devil-worshipping and the presence of the Man Down Below, you know, the guy with the horns and forked tail?

That would have kicked ass, especially in view of the house’s lovely gothic appearance. This is still a great film though. I only came across it by accident but I’m very glad I did. We’d better all shush now. The baby’s trying to sleep…

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

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

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

You can contact Sandra at:

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

https://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com

http://sexysandieblog.wordpress.com

http://serenaharker.wordpress.com

sandrasandraharris@gmail.com

https://twitter.com/SandraAuthor

ALFRED HITCHCOCK’S THE LODGER: A STORY OF THE LONDON FOG. (1927) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

lodger scarf

THE LODGER: A STORY OF THE LONDON FOG. (1927) DIRECTED BY ALFRED HITCHCOCK.

BASED ON THE NOVEL BY MARIE BELLOC LOWNDES AND THE PLAY CO-WRITTEN BY MARIE BELLOC LOWNDES.

STARRING IVOR NOVELLO, MALCOLM KEEN, JUNE TRIPP, MARIE AULT AND ARTHUR CHESNEY.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

This fog-wreathed silent movie has the distinction of being the first real thriller ever directed by a certain Alfred Hitchcock, and the distinction also of being a bloody good film as well.

It already bears some of the future hallmarks of the great man’s directing and, in fact, it’s a jolly polished product for a first-timer. Not many thriller directors could have achieved such perfection on a first try.

Thirty-eight years have elapsed since Jack The Ripper held the city of London to ransom in the infamous ‘Autumn of Terror’ in 1888, and here now we have Alfred Hitchcock presenting us with this spooky tale in which a serial killer of women murders an attractive blonde female every Tuesday, regular as clockwork. Well, it’s good to be regular, lol. There’s a whole branch of the pharmaceutical industry devoted to that very end, after all. (Excuse the pun…!)

This is probably one of the first ever films to make reference to Jack The Ripper or be based on him. The man who savagely slaughtered Polly Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride, Catherine Eddowes and Mary Kelly in the Autumn of Terror in 1888 gave rise to an absolute plethora of books, films, magazine articles and word-of-mouth stories all detailing his horrific crimes for the reading public who, seemingly, couldn’t get enough of him. We could be looking here at one of the first few films based on his infamous career of butchery and hate.

Funny too, that Alfred Hitchcock should begin his illustrious career almost mythologising blondes, when we all know now that he had a big thing for them in his later works. Kim Novak, Tippi Hedren, Eva Marie Saint, Grace Kelly, even Doris Day, all gorgeous glamorous ice-cool blondes to set the pulses racing and the temperatures soaring. Someone had a definite fetish, heh-heh-heh.

Anyway, off we pop now back to London in the ‘Twenties, as fog-wreathed, dark and mysterious a city as it was in Saucy Jack’s time. A bevy of beautiful blondes are being done to death every week by a madman calling himself ‘The Avenger,’ leading blondes to wear dark wigs as a means of protecting themselves from the marauding murdering maniac.

We go now to the Buntings’ house. Ma and Pa Bunting, a traditional middle-aged English couple, have rooms to let. Pa Bunting sits at the kitchen table reading the newspaper in his shirt-sleeves while Ma Bunting cooks up the vittles.

Now meet Daisy Bunting, their ravishing blonde (yes, blonde!) daughter who works as a model or mannequin for a nearby fashion-house. She’s a thoroughly modern Millie, is Daisy, with her ‘golden curls’ cut short in the style of the time and her legs, shown off to perfection, encased in the hose and high-heeled shoes that were all the rage amongst the young women of the day. Long skirts and dresses were out. Showing off yer shapely pins was in, in in…!

She’s a proper little flapper, this one, with her smart little cloche hats hugging her neat little head, and of course she has a suitor. The Boyfriend is a tall strapping capable fellow, a police detective no less, and one who’s investigating the ‘Avenger’ murders to boot.

Daisy and The Boyfriend rub along together just fine, and no doubt the Buntings are thrilled skinny that a chap with such a good pensionable job is taking an interest in their Daisy, an interest which might very easily lead to matrimony. After all, doesn’t The Boyfriend himself remark to the Buntings:

‘As soon as I’ve put a rope around the Avenger’s neck, I’ll put a ring on Daisy’s finger!’

However, along comes the titular ‘Lodger’ to set the cat royally among the pigeons. One dark foggy night, Mrs. Bunting opens the door to a tall dark-haired young gentleman with a scarf wound round his face. He’s come about the room to let. As he’s willing to pay a month in advance, Mrs. Bunting is more than happy at first to accommodate the handsome stranger.

He’s a queer duck though, is this one. For a kick-off, he asks Mrs. Bunting to take away the pictures in his room, which are all of golden-haired young women. Hmmm. Very odd indeed, wouldn’t you say?

He’s certainly a bit of a rum cove and no mistake. When he meets the golden-haired Daisy, however, he demonstrates no such aversion to blonde females. The pair are instantly attracted to each other.

The Lodger, with his air of mystery and his chalk-white face painted to resemble a chorus girl’s, complete with Clara Bow lippie, is utterly enchanted by Daisy, much to The Boyfriend’s disgust.

How dare this poncy fly-by-night swoop down and take Daisy away from him? How dare he buy her an expensive dress from the fashion-house where she models? Such a gesture smacks rudely of an intimacy which disturbs The Boyfriend no end.

The Buntings are none too pleased either, especially when The Lodger’s mysterious nightly comings and goings seem to coincide with the movements of The Avenger, who’s continued to commit his ghastly murders even while we’ve all been caught up in the super-exciting love triangle between Daisy, The Boyfriend and The Lodger.

The Buntings and The Boyfriend all come to the same dreadful conclusion. If The Lodger is The Avenger, who signs his killings with his chosen moniker so we know whodunnit, then isn’t Daisy’s life in the most appalling danger? And hasn’t she this very night gone off into the fog with The Lodger without so much as a by-your-leave to the Buntings or The Boyfriend…?

The scenes near the end, that are not quite the end, resemble the grim finale of THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA from 1925. I’ll say no more than that. The foggy gaslit streets of London deserve a credit all their own, and Alfred Hitchcock an even bigger credit for managing to make his debut thriller so marvellously, gothically atmospheric.

There’s a twist in the film- you know Uncle Alfred’s a big fan of a twist in the tale/tail- and to think that he made this film nearly a hundred years ago boggles the mind. I love that something so completely perfect and perfectly complete was made so long ago. It’s a must-see for Hitchcock fans. I promise you, you won’t be disappointed.

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

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

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

You can contact Sandra at:

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

https://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com

http://sexysandieblog.wordpress.com

http://serenaharker.wordpress.com

sandrasandraharris@gmail.com

https://twitter.com/SandraAuthor

SEE NO EVIL: THE MOORS MURDERS. (2006) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

myra maureen

SEE NO EVIL: THE MOORS MURDERS. (2006) BASED ON TRUE EVENTS.

DIRECTED BY CHRISTOPHER MENAUL. WRITTEN BY NEIL MCKAY.

STARRING SEAN HARRIS, MAXINE PEAKE, JOANNE FROGGATT, MATTHEW MCNULTY, GEORGE COSTIGAN , SUSAN TWIST AND JOHN HENSHAW.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

‘Does a dog have a soul…?’

This one originally aired on ITV over the course of two nights in 2006, and I’d say there was hardly a family in the whole of England and Ireland that wasn’t glued to it. I was watching it myself and I thought it was phenomenally well done, despite the horrific subject matter. Having re-visited it recently as a two-hour-and-seventeen-minute film, the impact was no less powerful.

It’s the story of the infamous Moors Murders as seen through the eyes of Myra Hindley’s younger sister Maureen, whom Myra called Mo or Moby and genuinely seemed to love, if such a cold-hearted woman could be deemed capable of love.

It’s 1963 and the death of her baby Angela Dawn with David Smith, her young husband, sees a distraught Maureen turning to her older sister Myra for comfort. A side-effect of Myra and Maureen’s spending more time together is that David Smith and Ian Brady are thrown together a lot too.

At first, David isn’t terribly keen on Ian, an egotistical show-off proud of his high intellect and the fact that he’s well-read. Ian loves an audience. He spouts a lot of nonsense about philosophy, relativism (whatever that is) and existentialism that goes right over Dave’s head at first. As it did mine, I must say.

Gradually Ian, with his narrow, pinched-looking nose and cruelly thin lips, gets inside Dave’s head. He gives Dave books to read by the Marquis de Sade, books that Ian has studied carefully himself along with books on Nazi ideology and Nazi atrocities.

Dave finds himself reading about the rape and physical abuse and torture of young women, but his wife Maureen tells him that she can’t understand how either he, Dave, or Ian for that matter, can get their kicks out of reading about men beating and/or raping women. We don’t know what Dave makes of all this but it’s pretty obvious how Ian feels on the subject.

Ian and David plan a bank robbery together, unknown to Maureen but not to Myra, who will drive their getaway car. (Ian doesn’t drive, you see.) They take guns out onto the nearby Saddleworth Moor for shooting practice.

The four young people, Ian, Myra, Maureen and Dave, spend a lot of time out on the beautiful wild Moors because it’s Ian’s and Myra’s favourite place. Maureen is heard to remark that she doesn’t know what they see in the cold, windy expanse of grass and muck.

I can certainly see the attraction of moors, they’re wild and windy and gloriously sort of primeval as in Emily Bronte’s WUTHERING HEIGHTS, but these moors in particular are hiding Ian and Myra’s grim secrets.

During a drunken conversation between Ian and David, Ian reveals that he has killed people in the past and, what’s more, that David has unwittingly stood on their graves out on the Moors. Dave doesn’t know what to believe at first. Then he decides that it’s all just big talk on Ian’s part as usual. He’s a boaster and a show-off, after all.

Dave changes his mind when Ian entices a young man called Edward Evans back to his and Myra’s council house which they share with Myra’s old grandmother. In front of Dave’s eyes, Ian murders Edward Evans with an axe. Afterwards, he coldly orders Myra and Dave to clean up the blood.

Dave, feeling like he’s in a nightmare, does what Ian orders him to do before stumbling home in the early hours of the morning, sick and frightened, to a sleeping Maureen.

In the morning, the terrified pair go to the police, which was a pretty brave thing to do on their part. Maureen was reluctantly ‘shopping’ her beloved sister, and Dave was risking the wrath of a man he was obviously very afraid of, that is, Ian. Their action was the catalyst that broke the horrible state of affairs that became known as the ‘Moors Murders’ case wide open…

Maureen and Dave can’t believe it when Ian and Myra are arrested for the murders of missing local young people Lesley Ann Downey, John Kilbride and now Edward Evans, whose body was recovered by the police in Ian and Myra’s council house the day after his brutal murder.

The bodies of Lesley Ann Downey and John Kilbride were discovered buried out on Saddleworth Moors. George Costigan (Bob in RITA, SUE AND BOB TOO) is brilliant here as DCI Joe Mounsey, the careworn detective who never gave up hope of finding little John Kilbride and who, in fact, was the one to first uncover the little boy’s lonely resting place.

Ian and Myra were each sentenced to life in prison for these three murders. It wasn’t until much later that they confessed to the murders of Pauline Reade and little Keith Bennett.

The latter had broken his glasses the day before he was murdered and so he went to his death not being able to see properly, a fact which haunted his poor mother and which makes his fate all the more devastatingly poignant.

The evil couple, who nicknamed each other Neddie and Hessie (Neddie after a character in THE GOON SHOW and Hessie after British pianist Myra Hess) were reviled for all time after the details of their heinous actions became known to the public.

The tape made by the couple of Lesley Ann Downey begging and pleading for her life and the pornographic photos they took of her did nothing to endear them to the courts. Their addiction to documenting their gruesome activities was at least part of their undoing.

It was even Ian and Myra’s habit to get all incriminating materials out of the house before they committed another murder, so if the police came round they’d find nothing out of the ordinary. The level of premeditation here is quite extraordinary.

They packed everything up into two suitcases which they placed in the left-luggage section of Manchester Central Railway Station. When the police found a couple of these ‘treasure-troves’ after Ian and Myra were arrrested, let’s just say that they now had a lot more evidence to go on…

Maureen and Dave, with another baby on the way, attempted to rebuild their own lives but the public wouldn’t let them forget who they were and the couple had a long way to go to find peace, if they ever did. They were hugely affected by the fallout from the Moors Murders.

Maureen did in 1980 of a brain haemorrhage, twenty-two years before her born-again Catholic sister Myra passed away in custody, the short peroxide blonde hairstyle, no longer her trademark, replaced by her own longish, natural brown hair.

Ian Brady lingered on till 2017, somewhat bearing out the old Irish saying that ‘you can’t kill a bad thing.’ The absolute secrecy surrounding his cremation and the scattering of his ashes in the sea will tell you just how reviled a person he remained even until after his death.

Maxine Peake does an excellent job here of portraying Myra, one of the most hated women in Britain ever. Not only does she look like her but she plays her as she apparently really was, surly, secretive, unco-operative and stand-offish.

The real Myra didn’t do herself any favours with her unhelpful, abrasive attitude towards the police, and certainly there was at least one set of parents of the Moors Murders victims who died without knowing where their child- Keith Bennett, the smiley-faced boy who broke his glasses- was buried. To this day I believe his remains are still somewhere out on the Moor.

This drama serial handles the explosive material with sensitivity and compassion. The film-makers are careful not to distress the parents and families of the victims any more than they already have been. Some of the relatives helped Neil McKay, the writer, with his research. It’s a grim subject, maybe one of the grimmest, but it needed to finally be told.

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

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

You can contact Sandra at:

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

https://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com

http://sexysandieblog.wordpress.com

http://serenaharker.wordpress.com

sandrasandraharris@gmail.com

https://twitter.com/SandraAuthor