GERALD’S GAME. (2017) A STEPHEN KING FILM REVIEWED BY SANDRA HARRIS.

GERALD’S GAME. (2017) BASED ON THE 1992 BOOK BY STEPHEN KING. CO-WRITTEN, EDITED AND DIRECTED BY MIKE FLANAGAN.

STARRING CARLA GUGINO, BRUCE GREENWOOD, HENRY THOMAS, KATE SIEGEL, CHIARA AURELIA AND CAREL STRUYCKEN.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

Question: What is a woman…?

Answer: A life support system for a cunt…

Wow. I loved this Stephen King movie adaptation of the supposedly ‘unfilmable’ book, GERALD’S GAME. I found it on Netflix during a routine scroll-down and was happily immersed within five minutes.

I love films about troubled marriages, having had my own share of rubbish relationships, and it’s obvious fairly early on that rich couple Jessie and Gerald Burlingame are heading off for some kind of make-or-break romantic weekend away at their super-isolated country house in Alabama.

Gerald, a good ten or fifteen years older than his wife, is some kind of executive business hot-shot, and he’s told his office people he’ll be out of touch for a few days. They have no children, and Jessie has only a few friends but they’re not really close, so there’ll be no-one to disturb them for these few days.

Carla Gugino as Jessie Burlingame is a truly beautiful woman in the Rachel Weisz mode, the kind of delicious, red-lipped, smoky-eyed brunette, perfectly proportioned, who makes us washed-out blondes all look like a sack of crap.

Gerald is clearly lucky to have her, as she seems to be a lovely sweet person as well, but Gerald isn’t entirely happy with their sex life- they currently have none- and he’s hoping that this weekend will rekindle something in them that’s been missing.

Two hundred dollar steaks are his idea of a culinary aphrodisiac, and a prologue to the nookie. Then follows the sex, and a smugly smirking Gerald, hepped up on Viagra, whips out the handcuffs, and not the furry novelty kind either, but the real thing. Sheriff issue handcuffs, lol. ‘Put your hands on the car, boy, or I’ll pepper yo’ ass with buckshot six ways till Sunday,’ and that kind of thing.

Jessie is a little weirded out by the metal love cuffs, but Gerald has made it clear he needs to try out some new stuff, so she feels obliged to go along with him, to save their marriage, see? But only up to a point. When she tells Gerald she’s had enough of his shit, much to Gerald’s angry mortification, something thoroughly unexpected happens that leaves Jessie fighting for her life.

They’ve left the back door open in their eagerness to get to the bedroom. But that’s okay, isn’t it? I mean, the place is in the middle of nowhere, right, and there isn’t a living soul for miles around, which was probably what Gerald, the sneaky sod, had in mind when he was whisking his gorgeous missus away on a dirty weekend for a spot of how’s-yer-favver, lol.

Jessie is in an exceedingly vulnerable position in their lavish holiday home. A stray dog, a stray escaped lunatic and some very disobedient memories from her troubled childhood that just won’t stay buried are some of the things that walk right up to her and get in her face while she’s a sitting duck, trapped in a SAW-style how-far-will-you-go-to-survive-type situation.

Well, they’re the only things that walk up to her, but, trust me, they’re enough. I had a sleepless night over this film, I can tell you. The horrific topic of child sexual abuse is handled very well here, by the way, showing us that the demons that come out of our closets at night are not the only monsters we have to fear.  

The ‘Crypt Keeper’ or grave robber in the film was inspired by none other than Wisconsin serial murderer Ed Gein, the gift that just keeps giving as far as cinema is concerned. PSYCHO, TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE, THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS were all inspired by Ed, who liked to gut people and make furniture and ornaments out of their skin.

He’s possibly the spookiest of all the ‘famous’ serial killers, is Ed. Anyone who’s as much at home rootling about in a cemetery as in his house, as comfortable around the dead as the living, has the power to make other, so-called ‘normal’ people feel very uncomfortable.

He’s one of the few major serial killers of the twentieth century who doesn’t seem to be the subject of a Netflix documentary. I’d love to think there was one in the pipeline. Ed’s a fascinating, if gruesome, study. We’d all have nightmares after watching his story.

You’ll be rushing to research the condition of ‘acromegaly’ after watching GERALD’S GAME, and, just to warn you, there’s a scene in the film that would take the actual skin off your hand. Shit. I meant to say it would put the heart crossways in you. Forget I said that other thing, would you? The film also covers the grisly but extremely interesting topic of how long can you go without water/food, etc., before you die…?

You’ll be reminded very much of one of King’s other book-to-film adaptations, DOLORES CLAIBORNE, when you watch this film. It seems like a lot of strange, unasked-for things can happen during a total eclipse of the heart, sorry, I mean the sun. I went all Bonnie Tyler there for a minute.

Do the normal laws of God and Man not apply during this short but eerie time-span when the sun is obscured by the moon and dark shadows fall across the earth? ‘Keep watching, Mouse, keep watching!’ ‘Husbands die every day, Dolores.’ We don’t go all out for eclipses over here. Maybe it’s just as well…

‘You’re not real! You’re made of moonlight.’

PS, you might have seen on social media recently that the Bed, which is one of the three main stars of GERALD’S GAME, has finally married the Handcuffs, also an important player in the tightly-knit cast. After meeting on the set of the film and enjoying a whirlwind romance, the couple gave birth during the summer to Baby Futon, an adorable cherub who, according to her mother, the Handcuffs, is the living image of her father, the Bed. The couple have decided jointly that the Handcuffs will stay home and take care of Baby Futon, while Daddy Bed tries out for a part in the new John Lennon retrospective, A Bed for all Reasons.

‘We couldn’t be happier,’ gushed the couple from their new Hollywood home when I caught up with them during a Zoom chat yesterday. ‘We’ll always think fondly of GERALD’S GAME, as obviously that’s how we met. We’ve asked Carla and Bruce to be godparents, but we haven’t heard back from them yet. Of course, they’re very busy with their various careers. Um, did we mention that we couldn’t be happier…?’

Aw, it’s too sweet…

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘Sometimes, dead is better…’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

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

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

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

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

LEARNING CREATIVE WRITING ON THE CHEAP: BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©


LEARNING CREATIVE WRITING ON THE CHEAP.
BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

I nearly had a heart attack yesterday when I saw that the price for an online self-publishing course was nearly seven thousand dollars. Even in euros, that’s a ridiculous amount of money.

The online course business practically exploded during the pandemic and is still blossoming; all those people staying home and sitting in front of their computers, wanting to learn a new skill or sharpen and hone some existing ones.

I love a good writing course. I signed up to loads during the pandemic. Some of them were free- FUTURELEARN- and some were as cheap as a tenner- UDEMY. I’m not a millionaire, and, even if I were, there’s probably no way I’d pay seven grand for a course in self-publishing or creative writing.

Everyone is hustling nowadays. I sign up to a lot of writing emails and writing blogs because I’m a compulsive signer-upper, lol, and, plus, you never know what little gems of advice or pearls of literary wisdom you might come across in one of them.

Nearly every single one of those emails from bloggers is trying to sell me something. The ‘secret’ to being a successful self-publisher or creative writer, mainly. They want me to book a place on their live ‘training’ class or masterclass, and then buy a super-expensive course or ‘package’ containing all kinds of online writing-related doo-hickeys, some of which might be useful, others less so.

They want me to pay for an ‘in’ to an exclusive online writing community that will supposedly support my writing efforts and make the solitary business of writing a little less lonely. These are often held on Zoom, but I also know of a particular ‘exclusive’ writing group on Facebook that requires you to pay thirty-five quid a month to be in their snobby group.

 I’ve been offered the chance to join and ‘find my tribe,’ but I’m not paying thirty-five quid a month to be in a Facebook group, I don’t care how supportive the other members are! If I have thirty-five quid a month to spare, there’s always a gas bill or a lecky bill it can go towards.

And let’s not forget the books. Everyone’s flogging a book, and the book, like the masterclasses and ‘training’ videos and ‘bundles’ of writing aids which would normally cost thousands of dollars but are now going for a song at a mere fifty bucks, claims to reveal the ‘secret’ you’ve been waiting your whole life to hear.

The ‘secret’ to good writing, the ‘secret’ to keeping your readers engaged from the get-go, the ‘secret’ to selling a million books a year on Amazon, the ‘secret’ to being more successful than Stephen King mashed together with Hilary Mantel, even the ‘secret’ to writing a book without typing a single word, a new one I came across lately that just boggles my mind.

I’ve got news for you guys, though, and it might seem disheartening at first, but it’s actually good news. There is no ‘secret,’ no magic wand, no magic spell, no silver bullet, no special key that will unlock all the success and acclaim you’ve ever dreamed of.

And that’s good news, because it means that you’ve already got the power within you to be a good writer, and it lies in your own mind and your own hands. You don’t need ruby slippers to get there, because you’re already there. Well, nearly.

I’ve been writing for twelve years now myself and I’ve discovered that there really is only one way to do it. You have to sit down at your computer every single day, or as many days a week as you can manage it, and write stuff, and then you just have to keep doing that exact thing, year in, year out.

The more you write, the better at it you’ll get. That’s pretty much guaranteed. When I first started out, I joined a writers’ group and wrote a little something every week along the lines of the prompt they’d given us.

Physical writers’ groups might be thin on the ground at the moment due to Covid, but you can keep in touch with all your own writer friends on Facebook like I do (writing is a lonely business; that’s just the way it is), and I still maintain you don’t need to pay thirty-five quid a month to do it…!

You can also follow book bloggers and writers on social media, and read their posts exhaustively to find out how they do things. I do this, and I learn a lot about writing and books this way.

Books are an invaluable source of information. Not only is reading the number one way, next to practising, to improve your writing, but you can actually buy books- or borrow them from the library- that give you tips on writing and how to maintain good writing practices and a meaningful writing life.

My two favourites, ON WRITING by Stephen King and Anne Lamott’s BIRD BY BIRD, are frequently at the top of most peoples’ ‘Best Writing Books’ list, so you won’t go far wrong with them. You can also buy books of writing prompts, if you feel like you’re stuck and need a bit of a leg-up, or get them for free online.

You can also buy books filled with creative writing exercises, which will give you the feeling that you’re doing a self-guided course for next to nothing. Trust me, you don’t need to spend nearly seven grand on a writing course to improve your writing. (Unless you’re doing an actual degree course; that’s different.)

All you need is your writing space and laptop, a few notebooks, pens and how-to books, and, of course, access to the Internet and a positive wealth of free information on everything from good grammar to how to self-publish a book on Amazon for free with Kindle Direct Publishing.

Those are the actual physical, tangible things that you need. You’ll need other things too, like grit and courage and an absolute determination to keep going no matter how shit things get, and they can get quite shit, believe me. But you already have all those things within you, which is how I have a pretty good feeling that you’re going to be okay.

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:

A BOOK OF HORRORS, EDITED BY STEPHEN JONES. (2011) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

A BOOK OF HORRORS. (2011) EDITED BY STEPHEN JONES. PUBLISHED IN ENGLAND BY JO FLETCHER BOOKS, AN IMPRINT OF QUERCUS BOOKS.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

This is my favourite anthology of horror short stories ever, with Stephen King’s NIGHT SHIFT coming a close second. I’ve read A BOOK OF HORRORS several times now, and it still retains its power to spook me and to make me go to sleep at night facing my bedroom door, rather than with my unsuspecting back to it.

Anyway, it’s fitting that I’ve already mentioned the undisputed King of Horror, Stephen King, because he’s the guest of honour here and his story is first in the book. Entitled THE LITTLE GREEN GOD OF AGONY, it’s the story of a billionaire called Newsome, the sixth-richest man in the world, who survives an horrific plane crash, but broken limbs and daily agonising pain is the price he pays for his survival.

Kat is his nurse, and she’s a little brusque and brisk with her billionaire client, because he seems to think that all his fabulous wealth should really entitle him to live a charmed, pain-free existence. For this reason, Kat is a little less sympathetic towards him than she should be, considering she’s his nurse, or, as he calls her, his ‘Queen of Pain.’

When we come in, a minister from the sticks called the Reverend Rideout, has come to ‘cure’ the billionaire of his constant pain. ‘He was tall and very thin, maybe sixty, wearing plain grey pants and a white shirt buttoned all the way to his scrawny neck, which was red with overshaving. Kat supposed he’d wanted to get a close one before meeting the sixth-richest man in the world.’

The sceptical and battle-hardened Kat, whose gig with Newsome is the best-paid job she’s ever had in this or any other life, doesn’t believe for a second that this ascetic-looking minister from the sticks can alleviate the billionaire’s pain for a second.

In fact, she thinks he’s just another charlatan, come to fleece the rich man of a few million bucks in exchange for some muttered words of spiritual mumbo-jumbo over his shattered limbs. She couldn’t be more wrong…

The book features some really gripping horror stories by such esteemed authors as John Ajvide Lindqvist (LET THE RIGHT ONE IN, 2004), Ramsey Campbell and Richard Christian Matheson, the son of screenwriter and fiction writer Richard Matheson.

Richard Matheson Senior was a ridiculously talented man, who wrote numerous film and television scripts as well as the novel, I AM LEGEND, which has been filmed under its own name and also as THE LAST MAN ON EARTH (1964), starring horror legend Vincent Price.

My three favourite stories in the anthology, apart from the Stephen King one that opens the proceedings, are as follows: A CHILD’S PROBLEM, by Reggie Oliver, in which a young boy called George St. Maur is sent to live with his horrible old uncle in pre-Victorian times while his parents live abroad for a bit.

While at the uncle’s country mansion, wee George uncovers a mystery that seems to involve a black man, Brutus, a black spaniel called Dis, and the most beautiful woman that the young George has ever seen, the late Lady Circe St. Maur, his nasty uncle’s deceased wife, a woman from the West Indies of whom very little is known. A never-ending chess game seems crucial to the mystery also.

George’s life is endangered, the closer he comes to the heart of this chilling mystery. But, child or not, he displays a courage, strength of character and even a coldness, rather like his uncle’s, far beyond his years: ‘He considered whether he could live with the possibility that he might have imprisoned a man alive in a coffin with a corpse. It did not take him long to decide that he could…’ Good for you, Georgie boy, lol.

SAD, DARK THING by Michael Marshall Smith puts me in mind of TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE and other similar films, not because any kind of massacre takes place but because it features a lonely man, driving round the back roads of America with no particular goal, coming across a rather odd ‘attraction’ in the backwoods that at first fascinates him, but which he may just live to regret ever clapping eyes on…

Finally, NEAR ZENNOR by Elizabeth Hand is a sort of folk horror tale set in Cornwall. It scared me so much when I first read it that I immediately gave the story to my daughter to read, with the words: ‘Do you find this story terrifyingly scary too?’ After reading it, she agreed that she did, and I felt so vindicated that I now re-read the story every summer as a mark of respect for its ability to put the willies up me anew, smoothly and effortlessly, with every reading.

This really is a superior horror anthology. Some of the stories I didn’t really get, but even these ones still scared me and made me really ‘see’ them in my mind’s eye, a very impressive feat, as I hope you’ll agree.

There’s no sweeter feeling than having the heart put crossways in you (Irishism, lol) by a creepy story in a book or by a scary film, when you’re not in any personal danger yourself. It’s why we watch horror films and read horror stories. We get all the thrills, but none of the spills, see? Happy reading…

‘George identified the coffin at last because it was the newest and its wood was covered in green baize pinned down with brass tacks, almost untarnished. Jem would not look, so George lifted the lid and peered in by himself.

The figure in its winding sheet was slender and still retained the vestiges of her beautiful shape. The features, too, were almost intact, though the eye sockets were empty. Black lustrous coils of hair hung down on each side of a face whose exquisite bone structure was covered by a delicate membrane of golden skin. Over the folded skeletal hands, on one finger of which a sapphire ring still sparkled, had been laid a pair of common iron slave manacles.

George picked them up, then gently closed the coffin lid on the Lady Circe’s remains…’

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.

IT: CHAPTER TWO. (2019) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

pennywise-it-chapter-2

IT: CHAPTER TWO. (2019) BASED ON THE BOOK BY STEPHEN KING. DIRECTED BY ANDY MUSCHIETTI. STARRING JESSICA CHASTAIN, JAMES MCAVOY, BILL HADER, ISAIAH MUSTAFI, JAY RYAN, JAMES RANSONE, ANDY BEAN AND BILL SKARSGARD. WITH A CAMEO FROM STEPHEN KING.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

‘Your hair like winter fire,

January embers,

My heart burns there, too.’

‘We all float down here.’

‘Hey, Richie! I f**ked your mother.’

Aw, man. I paid fourteen bucks for this movie, lol. I thought Bill Skarsgard was terrific once more in his role of the supremely evil Pennywise the Dancing Clown, but the rest of the really long and convoluted horror film seemed a bit messy to me.

It’s twenty-seven years since the kids from the original movie defeated Pennywise for the first time, and now the clown is back- he returns cyclically every twenty-seven years, for whatever reason- to wreak havoc upon the township of Derry once more. He is helped in his fiendish doings by a particularly nasty homophobic attack at the start of the film, which sees a bunch of local thugs unwittingly providing Pennywise with one of his first victims this time round.

Mike Hanlon, because he’s chosen to live in Derry his whole life, is the member of the original gang of kids charged with the responsibility of dragging the unwilling group back to Derry to grapple with Pennywise again. See how fast they come running, lol.

There isn’t a one of ’em happy to be returning to the place where they made a blood oath twenty-seven years ago, an oath to come back to Derry if Pennywise ever reared his ugly head again. Well, guess what? The clown’s back and he’s playing dirtier than ever.

Mike knows that the only way to put Jack back in his Box is to get the old crowd together again. It’s a bit like, erm, we’re putting the band back together, man, only no band re-union ever made a member commit actual suicide at the mere prospect, as far as I know.

Accountant Stanley Uris, one of the original Losers’ Club, is found dead in his bathful of blood, a razor dangling from his lifeless fingers, shortly after receiving the call from Mike, the town librarian in Derry. Yeah, Mike’s a bit of a buzzkill, to be honest. He’s the one guy you don’t want ringing you up with an invitation.

Anyway, back they all come, the rest of the gang, to good old Derry. There’s drippy Beverley Marsh, whose adult self is made to look a lot like Bryce Dallas Howard’s Aunt Claire from the Jurassic World franchise. Rather confusingly, I thought. There are other looks for women to go around, you know, film-makers, not just the one.

Anyway, Beverley, now a household name as a fashion designer, has swapped one form of imprisonment for another, by exchanging her physically and sexually abusive father for a horribly violent husband. In fact, there’s quite a disturbing scene of domestic violence near the start of the film where this excuse for a man attacks her brutally, just for taking a phone call from Bill Denbrough, one of the gang.

Beverley holds a torch for Bill, now married and a successful mystery novelist, one of whose books is currently being made into a film, because she thinks it was he who sent her a soppy love poem when they were both in high school together.

Bill, by the way, is also the older brother of sweet little Georgie, who was abducted and murdered by Pennywise in the first instalment of the two-parter. Remember the boy in the yellow rain slicker, as the ‘Muricans call it, holding the red balloon on the posters? That’s L’il Georgie.

Bill has been haunted by guilt over Georgie’s death for twenty-seven years. Scared as they all are, he must be itching to get another crack at the clown who killed his little brother. Maybe killing Pennywise once and for all will stop the terrible guilt he carries with him every day.

The bespectacled Richie Tozier, a foul-mouthed loudmouth of a kid, has become a foul-mouthed loudmouth of an adult, only now he’s putting his big fat mouth to good, and no doubt lucrative, use as a successful stand-up comic.

His former sparring partner, hypochondriac Eddie Kaspbrak, is back now too, looking a lot like Steve Carrell from the American version of ‘The Office,’ and the pair resume their love-hate relationship that consists mainly of really lame ‘Yo’ Mamma’ jokes. The ‘humour’ in the film is pretty awful. It really drags it down. Eddie is now a risk assessor and has married a woman too like his over-protective mother for it to be a coincidence.

The formerly tubby Ben Hanscom has become the handsome rich architect Ben Hanscom, and that’s about it. Beverley has a thing for Bill, but surely she won’t fail to notice heart-throb Ben? Bill is married, after all, and I’m sure she doesn’t want to be a little home-wrecker. Or does she? She’s married herself too, after all. Although, in all fairness, her husband is an abusive prick and the sooner she divorces his sorry ass, the better it’ll be for her.

Anyway, the chess pieces are all back on the board and ready to rock and roll. Now to kill Pennywise, using an ancient Native American Indian ritual painstakingly researched by Mike. Shame to waste it, certainly. Down, down, down into the murky sewers they go. Twenty-seven years ago, here they come…!

I’m not crazy about the ‘Killing Pennywise’ bit. That part of the movie seems more like a combination action-adventure-fantasy film than a true horror movie, and even the music in this bit is more like something you’d hear in a big Steven Spielberg Christmas blockbuster-type film than anything else. It just didn’t seem to fit the horror written in the great man’s book and now transported to the big screen.

I must point out that the gang of kids-now-adults have the run of the place at the Derry townhouse. No staff man the hotel whatsoever, neither do other patrons frequent it. Ditto Mike’s library, and, to be honest with you, most of the township of Derry as well. It felt a bit like only the main actors and no-one else was allowed to use the admittedly very impressive sets that were built for the film. I’m sure their massive budget allowed for extras, so where were they?

My favourite bit of the film was Stephen King’s cameo as a cantankerous old second-hand store owner, and the only part that scared me, in an otherwise unscary film littered with CGI boogeymen and too many darn flashbacks, was the bit in Beverley’s old house with Mrs. Kersh, the old lady. And not the old lady as a CGI streaker but purely as her human self. There’s something about really old ladies that scares people, which is why they pop up so often in horror movies.

You know, there’s talk of a ‘three-quel’ to this franchise, that would have to be written from scratch as the book has already been filmed in its entirety. I’ll watch it if and when it comes out, because obviously I, like everyone else on the planet right now, have a massive case of FOMO (fear of missing out), but I won’t be happy about 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 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

ZOLTAN: HOUND OF DRACULA. (1977) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

reggie nalder face

ZOLTAN: HOUND OF DRACULA. (1977) BASED ON THE NOVEL ‘HOUNDS OF DRACULA’ BY KEN JOHNSON. DIRECTED BY ALBERT BAND. STARRING MICHAEL PATAKI, REGGIE NALDER AND JOSE FERRER.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

This is a very strange film; I’m not honestly sure if I’ve ever seen a stranger. I’m reviewing it, though, because of two things. One, it’s referred to on the DVD box as ‘the infamous midnight movie gem, ZOLTAN: HOUND OF DRACULA,’ which harks back to an earlier, possibly much cooler and more exciting era of cinema-going.

And two, because it co-stars Reggie Nalder, who, a year or two later, went on to star as Mr. Kurt Barlow, in other words the vampire, in the television dramatisation of Stephen King’s superb SALEM’S LOT, one of the best vampire books ever written. It’s right up there with DRACULA itself, Anne Rice’s INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE and Whitley Strieber’s THE HUNGER. Mr. Barlow is an extremely sinister character, maybe one of the scariest ever screen vampires.

ZOLTAN: HOUND OF DRACULA starts in modern times, with a bunch of soldiers back in ‘the old country,’ i.e., Romania, blasting open a tomb that contains the coffins of dozens of dead members of the Dracula family. That’d be quite the find for us vampire lovers, wouldn’t it?

The dopey soldier ordered to guard the tombs overnight thinks it might be a good idea to pull the stake out of the body of one Dracula family member. It’s the last bright idea he ever has, poor lad.

The corpse he’s unwittingly re-animated is that of Zoltan, Count Dracula’s faithful big black hound, a Doberman Pinscher, and Zoltan’s first task in his new life is to kill the dopey soldier who unintentionally gave him that life again. That’s gratitude for you, eh?

The clever doggie then pulls the stake out of his beloved master, not Count Dracula himself but a part-vampire called Veidt Schmidt (Reggie Nalder), a servant of the Count’s like himself. Together, Zoltan and Schmidt served the Count faithfully back in the day, but now all the Draculas have expired and there’s no-one left for the pair to work for. Or is there…?

The last of the long line of Draculas was apparently smuggled out of Romania years ago for his own safety. Name of Michael Drake, he now lives in California, America, and apparently has no idea he’s a vampire. Schmidt and Zoltan travel to California to find Michael, pursued hotly by an Inspector Branco from ‘the old country,’ whose job it is to stop them.

In the meantime, Michael, a typically American middle-aged married man with a family, has piled his wife and two kids, their two German Shepherd dogs and a box of adorable newborn puppies into their gigantic Winnebago camper van for a holiday by an isolated lake. How long will it be before Veidt and Zoltan, and then Inspector Branco, catch up with them there?

What I didn’t really get about the movie is this: if Veidt and Zoltan want to find Michael to beg him to be their master again, why are all their overtures towards him murderous? Why are they constantly trying to kill him, then?

Some of the scenes featuring dog attacks are very vicious, especially the one where Zoltan is attacking a lonely hitchhiker, and another one where several dogs are keeping Branco and Michael, now fighting fiercely together to defeat the representatives of the house of Dracula, under siege in a fishermen’s cottage.

The dog attacks look so real, and by this stage Zoltan has recruited some local doggies to his cause as well, including Michael’s big mutts Annie and Ramsey. We even see the adorable missing black puppy being vampirised and turned into a puppy of the Un-dead. It’s too cute and weird, but then I mentioned that it was a strange movie, didn’t I?

It’s a very odd little film indeed, but worth at least one watch for Reggie Nalder’s tremendously creepy made-for-horror face and also for all the doggie action, both cute and spooky. Bow-wow, Zoltan old friend, bow-wow. The Meaty Chunks are under the sink.

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

THE HUNGER. (1983) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

hunger catherine

THE HUNGER. 1983. BASED ON THE BOOK ‘THE HUNGER’ BY WHITLEY STRIEBER. DIRECTED BY TONY SCOTT. CINEMATOGRAPHY BY STEPHEN GOLDBLATT.

STARRING CATHERINE DENEUVE, DAVID BOWIE, CLIFF DE YOUNG, SUSAN SARANDON, BETH EHLERS, DAN HEDAYA, WILLEM DAFOE AND BAUHAUS.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

(First published here in 2016.)

I took this film out of the library recently (yes, there are still those of us who do that, like cave-people who’ve never heard of Netflix…!) and the librarian laughed as he checked it out and remarked that the director really had ‘a thing for billowing curtains.’

I had to laugh too. There certainly are a lot of billowing curtains in this visually beautiful and arty erotic vampire film, along with classical music and classical statuary and paintings. The director was definitely trying to create something artistically eye-catching and in this he’s succeeded, but the film’s not without its problems or, indeed, its stern critics.

Despite its being obviously sexy and stylish, film critic Roger Ebert described the film as ‘an agonisingly bad vampire movie.’ That’s one way of looking at it, I suppose, but it’s found itself a cult following amongst the goth subculture so the news isn’t all bad.

Me personally, I love this film and think it’s one of the best non-Dracula vampire movies ever made, along with INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE and SALEM’S LOT, based on the internationally bestselling books by Anne Rice and Stephen King respectively.

Now to the plot. Miriam Blaylock, played by well-preserved French actress Catherine BELLE DE JOUR Deneuve, is one hot momma. In one way. In another, she’s a stone-cold bitch who also just so happens to be a vampire. That’s right, she’s an ageless and beautiful vampire who is hundreds, maybe thousands of years old.

She lives in Manhattan in a fantastic old house filled with the aforementioned priceless objets d’art. She doesn’t need to go out to work because she’s as rich as Croesus, although she poses as a teacher of classical music along with her handsome younger husband. By the way, did I forget to mention that this classy lassy with the bottomless bank account is married in the film to the Thin White Duke…?

Yep, her hubby John, an eighteenth-century cellist, is played by musician-actor David Bowie, who sadly passed away earlier this year and- as some people maintain!- unintentionally sparked off a chain of celebrity deaths that had us reeling and railing against the Grim Reaper till midsummer at least. It’s been a bad year for celebrity deaths.

He’s a vampire too like his missus but he’s a very tragic figure in this film. When we come in, he’s unfortunately started to age at the rate of knots, even though Miriam, that lying, manipulative bitch, had promised him eternal life and also eternal youth when they first got together back in the eighteenth century.

She may have been telling porkies about the eternal youth thing, but it seems that she was telling the brutal truth about his living forever, which is extremely bad news for her hubby John who’s now so ancient in his appearance that he makes Grampa Simpson from THE SIMPSONS look young…!

Before long, Miriam is callously locking him away in a coffin in a room at the top of the house where, incidentally, she keeps the rotting corpses of her other lovers. She’s pledged eternal love to all of them but we quickly learn that ‘eternity’ for Miriam can end in a heartbeat the minute she tires of you or you can no longer satisfy her. The corpses are doomed to lie there, awake and aware, for all eternity because she’s too goddamn selfish to let them die. That bitch. I told you guys she was cold…!

Things start to get really gruesome after poor, poor old David Bowie has been put in his ‘forever’ box in a heartbreaking scene that would make you feel very angry with Miriam on behalf of John and the other boxed lovers.

The sexually insatiable but horrifically selfish Miriam then turns her attentions to Dr. Sarah Roberts, the author of a dreary but terribly worthy tome called SLEEP AND LONGEVITY who carries out ageing experiments on monkeys, of all things.

Dr. Roberts, a gerontologist consulted by an agonised David Bowie before his incarceration in Miriam’s attic, is played by a freakishly young-looking Susan Sarandon with a painfully ‘Eighties hairstyle. Poor David Bowie thought that maybe she could slow down or even stop altogether his dreadful ageing process but it was no dice, sadly. Science hasn’t advanced that far yet, if it ever does.

Sarah can’t help being mesmerised by Miriam, who is quite simply the last word in feminine allure. The two have lesbian sex in Miriam’s gaff. (Well, what other kind could they have…?) Yes, you do see boobs; Sarah’s, but not Miriam’s…!

The sex is all very artistically-shot and stylish, and by the end of it, Miriam has co-mingled their respective bloods, in a disgustingly non-consensual act of what we’d today probably refer to as rape, and Sarah is on her way to becoming a fully-fledged vampire.

Sarah gets as sick as a dog as her body comes to terms with its new situation. I love the scene in which Miriam tells her new lover that she’ll sleep for six hours out of every twenty-four and she’ll need to ‘feed’ once a week. Just give the girl the instructive pamphlets entitled SO YOU’RE A VAMPIRE NOW or VAMPIRES 101 or VAMPIRES FOR DUMMIES or even SO YOU’VE RUINED YOUR LIFE and let her figure it all out for herself, lol. 

Sarah becomes so desperate for blood when ‘the hunger,’ as Miriam puts it, is upon her, that she kills her own scientist lover when he comes looking for her at Miriam’s place, and she joins in the gory fun when Miriam rips a young male pick-up limb from limb.

Sarah’s scientist friends are alarmed when they examine her blood medically and discover that her bloodstream has actually been invaded by a foreign, non-human blood strain, which is winning the battle for dominance over Sarah’s own normal blood.

It’s extremely frightening for Sarah (‘What have you done to me…?’), and it’s also almost impossible not to think of the way in which the AIDS virus is transmitted. This was, after all, the time when AIDS was rearing its ugly head for the first time. The passing of the vampire gene resembles the transmission of a blood infection. Christopher Lee never had this issue, lol.

In fact, when I first used to watch the devastatingly handsome and sexually dominant Christopher Lee as Dracula in the HAMMER HORROR films, I wanted nothing more than to be a vampire too.

I’d live with him in his crumbling Transylvanian castle and drink blood from a jewel-encrusted goblet brought to me nightly by my new husband’s naked, full-bosomed handmaidens. It was going to be sweet. This film put me off the idea of being a vampire for good.

All that sweating and being sick and looking as if you’re dying with the ‘flu while your body craves human blood changed my mind about it, along with the decidedly unsavoury sight of Susan Sarandon in her yucky grey sweat-socks sweating buckets through her old grey T-shirt.

I only ever wanted the glamour and the sex with Dracula, anyway, not so much the other stuff. I certainly never wanted to do my own killing, and I’d only ever be pushed about immortality if I had someone decent to share it with. But, when it comes down to it, isn’t that what Miriam wants for herself…?

So anyway, do Miriam and Sarah live happily ever after for all eternity, or is eternity just too long a time even for a vampire…? There’s a neat little twist at the end that I can’t tell you about, but I thought it was a strange ending to an already strange film. Apparently, some members of the cast were disappointed in the ending but some viewers will think it’s only right and proper.

There are some plotholes in the film, which is so painfully ‘Eighties it looks a bit dated now, but the plotholes, I suppose, are of secondary importance compared to the look of the thing. Willem Dafoe makes a brief cameo as a man who wants to use the pay-phone after Susan Sarandon’s finished with it and the violin-playing kid is really, really annoying. ‘Eighties band BAUHAUS make an appearance and the monkey experiments stuff gets quite confusing after a while. I didn’t enjoy that bit too much.

The first half-hour drags a bit and things don’t really get going until David Bowie is locked away in his coffin, but the hour or so after that is required viewing for fans of the vampire genre. Based on the novel by Whitley Strieber, there’s not one mention of the ‘v’ word in the film, however, which is interesting. Watch this if you enjoy vampire flicks. If you can overlook the flaws, it’s a real little cracker, I promise you.

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

STEPHEN KING’S ‘PET SEMATARY.’ (1989) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

stephen-king-in-a-cameo-in-the-movie-version-of-pet-cemetery

PET SEMATARY. (1989) BASED ON THE BOOK BY STEPHEN KING. SCREENPLAY BY STEPHEN KING. DIRECTED BY MARY LAMBERT. STARRING DALE MIDKIFF, DENISE CROSBY, MIKO HUGHES, BLAZE BERDAHL AND FRED GWYNNE.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

‘Sometimes dead is better…

With a re-make of this film in cinemas fairly soon, I thought it might be a good time to re-visit it. It’s based on one of horror maestro Stephen King’s best books, and I hope I’m not alone in thinking this. It’d be right up there with THE SHINING, a tale of madness and ghostly visitations set in an isolated hotel that’s closed to the public in the winter, and SALEM’S LOT, possibly the best vampire novel of modern times. (Yes, yes, I’m aware of the works of Pablo Neruda, by which I mean Anne Rice…!)

CARRIE, the maestro’s first book, was also a terrific read and made a great film, starring Sissy Spacek as the telekinetic high school outsider who wreaks a terrible revenge on the teenagers who’ve made her life a misery, and who could blame her? They were proper little bitches to her, lol. They had it coming.

There are loads of other brilliant Stephen King books, short stories and novellas that were made into films too, like MISERY, DOLORES CLAIBORNE, MAXIMUM OVERDRIVE, THE LANGOLIERS, BAG OF BONES (a personal favourite starring the swoonsome pairing of Pierce 007 Brosnan and Melissa George from Antipodean soap opera HOME AND AWAY), THE DARK HALF, THINNER, CUJO, CHILDREN OF THE CORN, IT, THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION, STAND BY ME, SECRET WINDOW, SECRET GARDEN, THE STAND (which I adored), THE MIST (with the saddest ending of any horror film ever, bar none) and probably a few more which I’ve forgotten. You can remind me if you like!

He’s had a career to be super-proud of, anyway, the King, probably the most commercially successful career of any writer who ever lived, God bless him. If anything ever happens to him, and we hope nothing will (I’m personally hoping he might be immortal!), he’ll be leaving behind millions of devastated fans, that’s for sure. Yes, we have plenty of talented horror scribes writing away today, and that’s great, but there can never be another Stephen King.

Anyway, PET SEMATARY is the story of a small family from Chicago who move to a lovely big house in a small American town in Maine. The Dad, Louis Creed, is going to work as the town’s doctor. His wife Rachel is strangely uptight, but then she had a really rough childhood.

She still keeps in touch with her parents, whom she seems to love, but her childhood experiences with her sick sister Zelda were truly the stuff of nightmares. It’s jolly decent of her to still maintain a relationship with her parents after the way they left her alone, at her age, with the dying girl. It was irresponsible of them at best, and cruel beyond belief at worst.

Louis and Rachel have two children, Ellie and Gage. Ellie is a little girl who’s got a bit of a ‘shining’ thing going on, or even a ‘shinning,’ if you’re a fan of THE SIMPSONS. She has disturbing, distressing dreams that accurately predict the future, although her parents don’t take her seriously at first. There’s also the aforementioned Gage, their adorable little baby son, and a cat rather coolly called Winston Churchill. That’s the Creed family, anyway.

Now, they don’t seem to realise that they’ve purchased a property that has no fencing around it and that gives on to the most dangerous road in the whole of the Western hemisphere. Trucks and lorries tear up and down this road day and night, and nearly the whole of the town’s population of cats and dogs has ended up as roadkill beneath the wheels of these diesel-guzzling monsters.

The Creeds’ new neighbour, the lovely old widower Judd Crandall, leads them down a worn woodland path on their property to a clearing known as the ‘Pet Sematary.’ It’s a place of burial for all the beloved pets of the town’s children.

I presume they were all killed prematurely trying to cross that damned road, lol. Anyway, it’s at least handy to know that there’s a place to bury old Church the kitty if he ever decides to get to the root of the old joke, why did the chicken cross the road…? It’s meant to be a place of peace and rest but it’s a wee bit creepy too.

Things get much creepier when Church in fact does get run over while Rachel, Ellie and Gage are away at Rachel’s parents for Thanksgiving, leaving Louis in charge of the house. Well, that’s what you get for leaving a man to hold the fort. Remember that auld fella from FATHER TED who tried to make a cup of tea and he ended up breaking his leg? That’s the kind of thing you’re up against.

Old Judd Crandall decides that this is the time to let a stunned Louis into a secret he’s known about for years, a secret about the strange little place in the woods the kids call the ‘Pet Sematary.’ It’s the original ‘Indian burial ground’ horror story. 

What happens after Louis becomes privy to the secret of Pet Sematary is so nightmarish, I won’t ruin it for you by dropping spoilers. Suffice it to say that Louis actually feels he’s in a nightmare from this point onwards, a nightmare from which he can’t wake up.

Stephen King makes his usual cameo appearance as the minister who presides over the funeral of the poor miserable Missy, and very handsome he looks too, with a full healthy head of thick black hair. What’s your favourite Stephen King cameo? The one in MAXIMUM OVERDRIVE where he says to his wife of the cash machine that’s behaving erratically: ‘Honey, the machine just called me an asshole…!’ Yeah, mine too!

The ghastly supernatural appearances of the decidedly dead Victor Pascow seem to make little sense at first but gradually his true purpose becomes all too clear. I love the bit where Louis wakes up in his bed after having a nightmare where he’s following a mutilated Victor through the woods and, when he wakes up, his legs and feet are covered in muck and debris. I love Victor’s dire warnings about how ‘the barrier’ shouldn’t be ‘crossed’ because ‘the ground is sour.’ It’s blood-chilling stuff.

The terrible story of poor old Timmy Baterman is a great addition to the movie also. The film as a whole, like the old cautionary story of ‘The Monkey’s Paw,’ proves without a doubt the truth of the adage: ‘Be careful what you wish for.’ And Judd Crandall (played by Fred Gwynne, Herman Munster from THE MUNSTERS) is right too, dead right, when he intones to Louis in sombre tones that ‘Sometimes dead is better.’

The thing is, will Louis take his wise old neighbour’s advice? Louis Creed is young and hot-headed and he still thinks he knows what’s best for his family. He doesn’t respect the old adages, which are there for a reason, to guard us against the urges of our less-than-better natures. He’ll have to learn the hard way so, and learn he must.

Oh and, by the way, before I watched this movie I didn’t realise that the word ‘Sematary’ was a deliberate childish mis-spelling on the part of Stephen King, I thought it was how the Yanks spelled the word. D’oh…!

Do try to watch or re-watch this old gem before you catch the re-make in the cinema next month, just to give you something to compare the newbie to. And always remember to be careful what you wish for, just like poor Louis Creed isn’t careful. And why be careful? Because you just might get it, that’s why…

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, 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

STEPHEN KING’S THE STAND. (1994) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

stand nadine stephen king

STEPHEN KING’S THE STAND. (1994) BASED ON THE NOVEL BY STEPHEN KING. DIRECTED BY MICK GARRIS.

STARRING GARY SINISE, MOLLY RINGWALD, JAMEY SHERIDAN, LAURA SAN GIACOMO, RUBY DEE, OSSIE DAVIS, MIGUEL FERRER, CORIN NEMEC, MATT FREWER, ADAM STORKE, RAY WALSTON, BILL FAGERBAKKE, PETER VAN NORDEN, KATHY BATES, ED HARRIS, ROB LOWE, SHAWNEE SMITH, SAM RAIMI AND STEPHEN KING IN HIS TRADITIONAL CAMEO ROLE.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

‘We are dead and this is hell.’

Nadine Cross, on the occasion of her ‘honeymoon’ with Randall Flagg.

I love a nice long Stephen King mini-series watched in film-format, ie, all at once, and this is probably his longest ever mini-series. It’s a whopping six hours long, making it twice as long as SALEM’S LOT or THE LANGOLIERS, so I felt like I was getting terrific value for money with it.

My viewing of it happily coincided with my cable TV’s deciding to go on the blink for the weekend, so that I had a working telly but no TV programmes. THE STAND kept my mind somewhat off missing STRICTLY COME DANCING and THE X FACTOR live Saturday night show. I said somewhat, lol. Nothing could keep my mind off that sad, sad loss entirely…!

We’ve got to synopsise an epic six hours into a few short sentences, so here goes. We’ll try to keep it as succinct as possible. There are four ninety-minute sections, entitled THE PLAGUE, THE DREAMS, THE BETRAYAL and finally THE STAND, so if you don’t have six hours to spare all at once you can just watch a section at a time.

First of all, we’re dealing with an American Apocalypse here, people. A terrible plague, ironically known as ‘the superflu’ because you start off by coughing and sniffling, is accidentally released from a top-security government containment facility in a little town called Arnette in East Texas.

The plague decimates everyone in America who comes in contact with it. Well, not quite everyone. A small number of people are, for some reason, immune to it. These are the lucky people who’ll eventually be called upon to re-populate the Earth, heh-heh-heh.

The United States gummint tries to isolate them and study them, but it’s not long before the doctors and the gummint officials in the white spacesuits are dead of the plague too, leaving the survivors free to go wherever they damn well please.

The survivors, of whom more exact details in a bit, are all having the same dream, a dream that tells them to go to Nebraska and find an elderly black woman called Mother Abagail Freemantle, who sits on the porch of her little country house playing her guitar and waiting for the ‘chosen ones,’ ie, the survivors, to come to her.

The survivors all make their way to Mother Abagail, who tells them that their real pilgrimage is only just beginning. Can you imagine the groan that Homer Simpson would let out to hear that his hard work was not ending but merely starting? Lol.

Yep, now the survivors have got to travel to Boulder, Colorado, from where they’ll presumably put down roots and from which they’ll make the titular ‘stand’ against the real evil, the Devil’s emissary on Earth, a chap called Randall Flagg.

Flagg’s base is Las Vegas, ironically the Mecca for those who want to spend their filthy lucre on fancy whores and roulette, and any survivors not called by Mother Abagail have made their way to Flagg to join his unholy army of the night .

Randall Flagg is an hilariously brilliant villain. With his long greying locks and his undoubtedly impressive supernatural powers, he looks like how Scottish comedian Billy Connolly might look if he were a country-and-western singer in cowboy boots and a denim jacket.

He has the ability to shapeshift into a crow or a demon at will (the demon make-up is great, by the way), and his real strength lies in knowing the weaknesses and secret desires of his enemies, even better than they know them themselves.

If Flagg and his minions (former convict Lloyd Henreid, escaped mental patient Trashcan; madcap and immensely volatile slut Julie Lawry, it’s a good group!) ever get to rule the world, it’ll end up being one big crap-table and a monument to the unholy Mammon. Four of Mother Abagail’s disciples set out from Boulder, Colorado to make their final ‘stand’ against the evil of Randall Flagg.

They are Stuart Redman, the only surviving occupant of the town of Arnette in East Texas; Larry Underwood, a singer with huge gambling debts whose career was just about to take off when the plague took hold (that is some bitchin’ luck, isn’t it? On the one hand, his singing career is dead in the water but, on the plus side, his debts are all automatically wiped out because his creditors are all dead of the plague!); a sweet and deeply patriotic retired college professor called Glen Bateman (and his mutt, Kojak!) and a lovely cuddly fella in a checked shirt and jeans called Ralph Brentner.

Stuart is a regular Joe Soap who finds his inner ‘leader’ when the plague hits town. The survivors look to Stuart to lead them out of the mess they’re in and, by golly, he gives it his best shot, when he’s not knocking up Molly Ringwald’s wide-mouthed Frannie, another survivor, that is, and stealing her away from the man who’s loved her his whole life, one Harold Lauder.

Harold is a touchy character, very sensitive, a poet-nerd suffering from unrequited love of the big-toothed Frannie. Frannie’s defection to Camp Stuart and her subsequent pregnancy wounds Harold deeply and makes him an ideal target for Randall Flagg, who sends his own fancy whore-wife Nadine Cross to seduce Harold and bring him over to the Dark Side.

Nadine, who’s also had relations with Larry Underwood but fails to convert him to Flagg’s evil cause because Larry’s now married to and in love with fellow survivor Lucy, is possibly the most interesting character in the movie next to Flagg himself.

She’s played by Laura San Giacomo (PRETTY WOMAN, SEX LIES AND VIDEOTAPE), an extraordinarily beautiful woman whom I personally could look at and listen to all day, she’s so striking-looking.

When she’s brutally raped by a demonic Flagg on their so-called ‘wedding night,’ a travesty of a genuinely lovely and happy wedding night, she loses her mind altogether, proving that she’s not entirely evil and not wholly on board with Flagg’s evil plans for world domination.

The rape scene and its disturbing aftermath, when we see how traumatised Nadine is and how white her hair has become as a result of it, is really quite shocking. On the plus side, however, Nadine’s lovely boobies stand straight up in their Wonderbra when she’s in a lying-down position and they look absolutely marvellous. If they’re fake, which I’m not entirely sure of, then the plastic surgeon has done a most commendable job.

Rob Lowe, an actor I’ve never really cared for, plays a deaf-mute survivor called Nick Andros. Nick Andros is only really interesting from the point of view that he discovers poor ‘retarded’ Tom Cullen, who later turns out to be quite the hero of the piece, living alone in his small town as the sole survivor of the plague.

Nick finds Tom re-arranging the local store mannequins into little tableaux on the village square, through which no traffic ever runs any more. Everyone who used to drive through the now-deserted town is long-dead. It’s really quite creepy, what he’s done with them there mannequins…!

Anyway, I loved THE STAND. It’s six good hours of pure enjoyable entertainment, and Stephen King himself makes his trademark cameo as one of the ‘chosen ones.’ He looks really well in jeans and a jacket and he has quite a few lines and appearances in this one as well.

There’s a good soundtrack that includes songs from ZZ TOP (Sharp-Dressed Man), Crowded House (Don’t Dream It’s Over) and Blue Oyster Cult (Don’t Fear The Reaper, what else?). 

The make-up for the plague victims is positively top-notch and it’s really freaky when the survivors go into the church to clean up the bodies and they see all these hideous corpses sitting silently there. Traditionally, people turn to God when an Apocalyptic event such as the plague occurs, we’re told, and we can well believe it, too.

Kathy Bates has a cameo role as a radio talk-show host whom the Marines have to shut down and Ed Harris (STEPMOM) as an Army Major who can’t stand the heat when the ‘superflu’ looks to be cutting an unstoppable swathe through the rapidly dwindling American populace.

Some of the scenes are really emotional, too. When the survivors are in the town hall of their new home singing the American National Anthem with such pathos, I actually really wanted to stand up and sing right along with them, with my hand on my heart and the tears streaming down my face. I’ve never in my life felt so American, despite the fact that I’m one million per cent Irish, lol. ‘Oh, say can you see…?’ 

I must say that the survivors have a nice cushy number in some ways. Was your pre-plague house a rubbishy crap-shack, or maybe you were paying through the nose to rent some dump that wasn’t big enough to swing a cat in? No problemo. Just take your pick of the fabulous now-empty houses whose owners have all died of the plague, no questions asked. And no pesky mortgages either…!

Tired of your old pre-plague husband or wife? Just get yourself a brand-new one from amongst the survivors and you’re right as rain. This new post-Apocalyptic America has its advantages. Larry Underwood rid himself of his debts and Harold Lauder of his disfiguring acne in this Brave New World of theirs. Every plague-cloud has a silver lining…

I have yet to read the really big long book that inspired this cracking mini-series, believe it or not. I might go and look it out now while I’m still on this major Stephen King buzz. The size of it is so impressive, I have a vague notion that, God and Stephen King forgive my terrible blasphemy, I might have been using it as a doorstop in one of the rooms…!

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

STEPHEN KING AND GEORGE A. ROMERO PRESENT: CREEPSHOW 2. (1987) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

creepshow_2_main_1

CREEPSHOW 2. (1987) PRESENTED BY STEPHEN KING AND GEORGE A. ROMERO. BASED ON STORIES BY STEPHEN KING. DIRECTED BY MICHAEL GORNICK.

STARRING LOIS CHILES, GEORGE KENNEDY, DOROTHY LAMOUR, STEPHEN KING AND TOM SAVINI AS ‘THE CREEP.’

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

This is a loving tribute to the timeless era of EC comics. Can’t you just see Stephen King as a nipper in the ‘Fifties and ‘Sixties, running to spend his pocket money on the horror comic books that must have at least partially inspired him to write his novels? Bless his buttons. What a gory-minded kid he must have been, lol. A delight to have in your class at school or on your Halloween sleepover. ‘Now Stephen dear, it’s your turn to tell a spooky story…!’

Anyway, this is an anthology film like its predecessor CREEPSHOW (‘I want my cake…!’) and features three scary tales, only one of which I found actually scared me, haha. The first vignette features Hollywood actors George Kennedy and Dorothy Lamour as an elderly couple of store-keepers, Ray and Martha Spruce.

Their general store is dying on its feet, situated as it is in the town of Dead River, whose name says it all. The town is all but deserted, and it’s been a long time since any customers were able to pay cold hard cash for their purchases. The local Indian Chief is a case in point.

He comes into the store one day and presents Ray and Martha with a little bag of Indian treasures. You keep these until we can afford to pay you for all the goods we’ve bought on credit, he tells them. Don’t make beggars out of us now, he warns when Ray tries to give the stuff back. He leaves the shop all pleased with himself, unaware of the tragic little tableau that’s going to play out at the general store when his back is turned.

The store is robbed at gunpoint by none other than the Indian Chief’s nephew Sam Whitemoon. Sam, a real asshole of a guy with a whole bag of chips on his shoulder, is sick to the back teeth of being an impoverished Indian in a deadbeat town.

He’s inordinately proud of his good looks and long shining black Indian hair and he hopes to go to Hollywood to make his fortune in the movies. Well, why not? After all, there are a million other good-looking guys in Hollywood just queuing up to be busboys or barmen or waiters, so why shouldn’t Sam Whitemoon be one of them, lol…?

He and his two accomplices have to leave town for the bright lights of Los Angeles a little sooner than they’ve anticipated, however, when a double tragedy occurs during the robbery. They’ve reckoned without the retribution dished out by Old Chief Woodenhead, the wooden sculpture of an Indian Chief that’s stood outside the poor old general store since time immemorial. There’s gonna be a massacre tonight…

I loved THE RAFT, the middle vignette, in which four really annoying college students all get as high as kites and drive out to this lake that’s all deserted for the winter. They strip off and swim out to this raft thing in the middle of the lake. That’s when they notice this sort of moving floating mass on top of the water that’s getting closer and closer to them.

They reckon it’s some kind of oil slick and it’s certainly gooey enough and messy enough to be an oil slick, but what kind of oil slick pulls you under and strips the flesh from your bones like a school of starving piranha fish? No oil slick these college jocks and stoners have ever heard of, anyway.

On their floating raft in the middle of the lake, in full sight of their car and dry land, they’re trapped as effectively as if the lake were an ocean and there was no dry land for miles and miles and miles. I read the short story that inspired this particular vignette and it was eerily effective.

The final vignette, THE HITCH-HIKER, tells the story of a super-privileged married woman who clearly doesn’t know on what side her bread’s buttered. She risks her position as the wife of a rich lawyer to have sex with a much-younger-and-handsomer-than-her-husband male prostitute, for whose favours she has to pay cash. Well, I suppose if you’re highly-sexed and you’re not getting the good stuff at home… But still, paying for it when you’re a woman? It seems like madness to me. Men should be bloody well paying us, lol.

Anyway, one night when she’s driving back home from a vigorous sex session with Mr. Gigolo, she runs over a hitch-hiker in a yellow rain-slicker who’s looking for a ride to Dover. She decides to scarper from the scene of the crime and is horrified when she realises that the hitch-hiker she’s sure she killed is following her home…

Stephen King has a cameo in this one as a truck-driver who stops on the road when he sees a crowd gathering around the fallen hitch-hiker. He has a whole vignette to himself in the original CREEPSHOW movie as a goofy farmer. My favourite cameo of his in his own films is the one he has in MAXIMUM OVERDRIVE. Remember when he was trying to get money out of the ATM machine: ‘Honey, this machine called me an asshole…!’

Did this vignette form the basis for the movie I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER, by the way? It’s got the just-won’t-stay-dead hitch-hiker in the yellow rain slicker and the night-time hit-and-run accident that left him for dead on the freeway. It certainly seems likely.

Anyway, enjoy CREEPSHOW 2 which, as I said initially, won’t really scare you but it’s a loving homage to the creepy comics you might have perused as a young ‘un if you’re an American male of a certain age, lol.

Here in Ireland I don’t think we ever really did the creepy comics thing. I only ever remember being able to get the English BEANO and the DANDY and the girly comics like the BUNTY and the MANDY.

These comics were great too, don’t get me wrong, but American kids were privy to an entire horror-and-superhero comic-book culture that we never really had over here so we Oirish were deprived in that way, sadly. However, in our favour we do have Mr. Tayto and Father Ted. Enough said.

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