THE DOLL TRILOGY: REVIEWED BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

THE DOLL (2016), THE DOLL 2 (2017) AND SABRINA (2018): A TRIPLE REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©
DIRECTED BY ROCKY SORAYA AND STARRING LUNA MAYA AND SARA WIJAYANTO.

I was thrilled to bits to find these three Indonesian horror films on Netflix recently. Well, to tell you the truth, I’d scrolled past them a few times thinking, yeah, yeah, a scary doll, oooooh, I’m so scared…! And that’s sarcasm, by the way. But then one night late last week, I decided to give ‘em a chance and watched one a night for three nights, and I loved them.

At nearly two hours long each, they’re terrific value for money, and, the best thing of all, they’re like the Indonesian version of the ANNABELLE and CONJURING films! Which I adore, by the way, so coming across these three little gems felt like Christmas Mark 2.

In each film, a haunted doll plays havoc with the lives of a well-to-do, attractive young Indonesian couple on the up-and-up. They live in the most magnificent modern houses that seem much bigger on the inside than they look from the outside, with all the endless passages and hidden rooms, etc. Plus, up-and-coming they might be, but how can such young couples afford such fabulous mansions…?

The husbands are young and fit, usually working in finance or construction, and the wives are young and beautiful with lovely long hair and have nothing to do while their husbands are off out, bringing home the bacon. They have too much time on their hands, which is why sooner or later they’re bitching at their husbands about haunted dollies.

In the first first film, the haunted doll of a murdered child causes chaos in the life of the young couple, who might not have acquired their dream lifestyle quite by honest means. The doll was found up a haunted tree, by the way, and it’s not good karma to do a whizz up agin it, lol. Not illegal, mind you, but just not good karma.

The exceptionally dopey wife, egged on by another bored housewife across the street (give these women something to do, for Gawd’s sake!!!), stupidly welcomes a DON’T LOOK NOW-style ghost into her home, mistaking it for a child that needs shelter, and then runs around like a headless chicken for the rest of the movie trying to shake it off.

In THE DOLL 2, possibly my favourite of the three films, the stunningly beautiful Luna Maya plays Maira, whose daughter Kayla dies in a horrible car crash, but later returns- in ghost form, natch- through the medium of a haunted doll.

The doll, Sabrina, was Kayla’s own in life, and so ugly and frightening it should come with a health warning. The ‘doll’ in the first film was cute and mischievous-looking. Sabrina is a proper horror. And it keeps moving around the place, seemingly without recourse to human agency. Talk about Elf on the Shelf gone bad.

Luna Maya is brilliant as Maira, the grieving mother who is convinced her dead child has come back to her. I was more than happy to see her reprising her role in the third movie, this time with a new hubby in tow, the owner of a famous toy factory, and a new child, though not her own. Her husband is playing guardian to his orphaned niece, but how was she orphaned, o-ho…? That’s a question for nearer the end of the film…

Little Vanya, the niece, not unnaturally misses her mom, who is easily summoned back from the dead by means of a sort of Ouija board game. Summoning folks is easy-peasy. It’s getting rid of them, that’s the hard part. You’ll know the trouble with inviting the dead into your life, of course, if you’ve watched all the same movies I have.

Sometimes, if that door is left open a mite too long, something else can slip unnoticed into the world of the living, and then they’re harder to get shut of than herpes. Maira is terrorised on a harmless family trip to the beach by something from another dimension that wishes terrible harm on her. Who’s she gonna call? Why, the Indonesian version of Ed and Lorraine Warren, of course!

Miss Laras, the beautiful and elegant Ghost-Buster lady, features in all three films, each time with different blokes who might be a husband, a brother, or just a work colleague, I’m not really sure. There are plenty of loopholes, not to mention whopping great plotholes, in all three films, but I didn’t care because the movies are such great fun.

They’re incredibly violent as well, just to let you know. Every second cast member is walking around possessed and equipped with a big knife for stabbing. And, if you’re a director who’s budgeted for a certain amount of knives for your film, you sure as hell ain’t gonna wanna waste them.

What’s strange about these knives, however, is that a load of people are stabbed with them, then they get up and seem perfectly fine again just a few minutes later. ‘I’ve been stabbed? Ah shure, that’s nothing! I’m grand again, anyway.’ Maybe they’re trick knives, lol.

And I love the way the characters in this universe don’t seem to have to endure any tiresome legal repercussions for their actions, in particular the numerous stabbings. The cops are rarely called and, if they are, you can always put ‘em off by saying things like, ‘Don’t worry, Officer, we’ve got this,’ or ‘Shure, youse can go on home, it’s a bit dangerous for you lot here,’ and then they just bugger off as meek as lambs. Makes me wonder what we pay our own police force here for, when we could just be dealing with crimes ourselves like the guys in these three films.

Anyway, I relished every stabby minute of this excellent trilogy (It could also have been named ‘RICH MARRIED LADIES WHO DON’T HAVE ENOUGH TO DO START IMAGINING SHIT AND THIS LEADS TO ALL KINDS OF EVEN MADDER SHIT AND STUFF’) and I encourage you guys to watch it too. It’s great escapism for the auld COVID times. And that, as we all very well know, is nothing to be sneezed at…

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:

ANNABELLE COMES HOME. (2019) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

annabelle comes home

ANNABELLE COMES HOME. (2019) STARRING VERA FARMIGA AND PATRICK WILSON. DIRECTED BY GARY DAUBERMAN. REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

I love all the other movies in The Conjuring universe and in the Annabelle franchise, but I wasn’t crazy about this one. It starts off promisingly enough, when the cutest couple in the acting world, Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson playing real-life demonologists Lorraine and Ed Warren, offer to take the evil doll Annabelle off the hands of the current owners, who are being plagued by the pesky thing.

They soon realise on the journey home with Annabelle that the doll is ‘a beacon for other spirits,’ and attracts them the way a sugar daddy with an open wallet will draw hos, skanks and gold-diggers, pardon my French. Like I said, a really promising start to this hotly-anticipated addition to the Annabelle canon, but things do go kind of downhill from there.

For the rest of the movie, the gorgeous, loved-up Warrens (they are sooooo cute!) are absent, away on some kind of a trip while their mopey pre-teen daughter Judy is ‘cared for,’ and I use the term loosely, by two truly dopey teenage girls, Mary Ellen and Daniela.

Mary Ellen is the soft-pink-sweater-wearing, blonde, fluffy dim cheerleader type, but not slutty with it; in fact, she’s positively coy and vapid around her would-be boyfriend, the ‘hilariously’ named ‘Bob’s-got-Balls.’

Daniela is the troublesome one, the precocious little brat who routinely sticks her nose into things that don’t concern her. She blames herself for her part in her father’s premature death in a car accident (guess who was driving?), and unwisely thinks that she can use the absent Warrens’ haunted artefacts’ room as a way of summoning her ‘darling dad’ back from the dead so she can apologise to him.

The rest of the movie is basically the three girls and Bob’s-got-Balls being chased around the house by artefacts from the haunted room, the keys to which the Warrens have left lying around carelessly, tsk tsk. And Daniela seems to have  brought the artefacts to life, which seems ridiculously easy to do. Just say, c’mon, I’ll be your friend if you come alive, stuff like that, and they say, why not, yeah, let’s do it. Stuff like that.

The ghosts include the murderous bride who likes to go stabby-stabby, the Japanese samurai dude in battle dress, the accordion-playing monkey, a sort of horned green goat man who slightly resembles Jim Carrey’s character in The Mask and, last but not least, some kind of a giant hell-hound who can be subdued, fear not, by an old beat-up guitar. Oh, and, of course, Annabelle the doll herself keeps popping up around the house in various positions and places. In the bed, under the couch, sitting in the rocking chair, etc. Meh.

The film is more of a Goosebumps/Jumanji/Scooby Doo-style kids’ adventure film than anything else. It that’s what you’re after, well, fair enough, but it was scary adult horror I was after myself, and I’m pretty sick of the way kids are taking over the horror genre. It’s the Warrens themselves I want to see, not their boring, dull-as-dishwater offspring who ‘sees’ priests who aren’t really there, and her ditzy bloody babysitters.

The most interesting thing about this movie is that someone on the film-making team has used it to showcase the superb music of Badfinger, a pop rock band from the late ‘Sixties (when they were known as the Iveys) and the early ‘Seventies, whom a lot of people figured were going to be the next Beatles.

In fact, as they’d been signed to the Beatles’ Apple record label and their Number One hit Come And Get It had been penned by Paul McCartney and given to them to use, they had a lot of quite close ties to the famous band and, when Badfinger toured America, a lot of people even thought they were the Beatles in disguise . . . !

The band consisted of Pete Ham (vocalist, guitar, piano) and Mike Gibbons (drums) from Wales and Tommy Evans (vocals, bass) and Joey Molland (vocals, guitar) from Liverpool. They had started to make it very, very big when the shit hit the fan.

Unscrupulous management saw the band benefit very little from all the work they’d done and, in 1975, lead singer Pete Ham took his own life, unable to live any longer with the stress of what mis-management had done to them.

It was an absolutely tragic waste of a life and a huge talent. Pete’s death devastated his friends and family. His girlfriend was pregnant at the time and would eventually give birth to a daughter who never knew her father.

Pete’s closest friend and band-mate Tommy Evans, both of whom co-wrote the best and biggest love song of all time, Without You, taken to the top of the charts at different times by Harry Nilsson and Mariah Carey, never recovered from the loss of his mate and writing buddy. He, too, took his own life, a few years later in 1983.

Joey Molland is the only member of the band alive today. As far as I know, he’s still writing and performing music and touring it. In the film Annabelle Comes Home, the Badfinger Hits Day After Day and Baby Blue are heard towards the start of the movie and there’s a copy of one of the band’s albums on the coffee table too; you can clearly see the band’s faces. All good-looking lads they were, too.

If there were any justice in the world, they’d be around today, still playing and performing their startlingly pure and honest blend of pop rock that was right on the verge of hitting it big when disaster struck. If this film leads to a new and excited audience for Badfinger, brilliant. But, as a horror movie, whether you view it as a stand-alone film or as part of the wider franchise, it’s kind of a disappointment. Sorry.

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 HAUNTED. (1991) THE LOST ”CONJURING” MOVIE REVIEWED BY SANDRA HARRIS.

haunted warrens

THE HAUNTED. (1991) DIRECTED BY ROBERT MANDEL. STARRING SALLY KIRKLAND AND JEFFREY DEMUNN. REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

I love haunted house films, as some of you might already know, but even better are the ones that are ‘based on a true story.’ I mean, it’s bad enough to think that some of these poltergeist-y phenomena might happen, but to know that they did happen to some folks in real life, well, that really makes you sit up and take notice.

In this film, it’s the ‘Eighties and a family called the Smurls are moving into a lovely big new house on Chase Avenue in a place called West Pittson in Pennsylvania. Jack and Janet are totally Mrs. and Mrs. Normal America in every way, a nice hardworking couple with four daughters, Erin, Shawn, Colleen and Katie. Jack’s lovely old parents move in with them too, and they have their own entrance to their big new house in the respectable new neighbourhood.

They’re not even unpacked before the new neighbourinos are calling over with fresh-baked brownies, inviting the Smurls to join the Lions Club and the Sacred Heart League. Lands’ sakes, but this sure sounds like a jumpin’ neighbourhood…! I’m sure they hold great yard sales, luaus and block parties too, lol, like every respectable ‘Murican family on television ever, lol.

Anyway, the house is haunted, as you’ve probably already guessed. At first, the mom, Janet, is the only one who experiences the supernatural phenomena with which their home appears to be plagued, so naturally, when she complains about it to her hubby, he thinks she’s over-tired at first. Then he gets angry and starts to make out like it’s all in her head.

But when Jack’s mom starts to experience some of the spooky stuff too, he and his dad are forced to take the situation a bit more seriously. So, what exactly’s been happening? Well, doors slam shut of their own accord, putrid odours are smelled in various places, whispered voices are heard in conversation with each other and humanoid shadows float from place to place in the house. It’s pretty scary stuff.

The creepiest thing for me was the fact that the supernatural entity in the Smurls’ house was able to simulate Janet’s mother-in-law’s voice in order to lure Janet into the basement. That bit was freaky. In the bedroom, a sleeping Janet is made to levitate several feet above her bed and the bedclothes are pulled off Jack and Janet’s bodies while they slumber.

Probably the most horrific supernatural event to which we’re made privy is the rape of the dad Jack by his own teenage daughter, though of course it’s the demon who lives in their house taking the daughter’s form to make the rape all the more terrible.

If you look closely during the rape sequence, you’ll see the real face of the demon who haunts the Smurl house like a deadly and disgusting miasma. Demon or no demon, though, I’m not sure that the dad would ever have been able to look his daughter in the face again after that dread-filled experience.

The Smurls’ call in the church, just like the poor family in AMITYVILLE 2: THE POSSESSION, for my money the scariest haunted house/demonic possession film ever made, bar none. The priest blesses the house, but the vengeful demon is only getting started. The Church refuses the priest permission to perform an exorcism or to help the Smurls further.

So, who do the Smurls turn to now? I cheered loudly when ghostbusters- sorry, demonologists!- Ed and Lorraine Warren were called in. I’ve loved the Warrens ever since watching THE CONJURING/ANNABELLE films, but these Warrens aren’t as nice and smiley as their counterparts in THE CONJURING, and Mr. Warren sure doesn’t play Elvis on the guitar to cheer up the Smurls. Mind you, the Smurls didn’t ask him to. Maybe he was just waiting for that invite, lol.

Still, Lorraine Warren, the head ghostbuster of the pair, does manage to confirm that the Smurls are housing three relatively harmless spirits and one demon. Rent-free as well, I’m guessing, those pesky freeloading entities! The demon’s the one you need to watch out for.

His main goal, apparently, is to tear the family apart and destroy their faith in God, because family strength, unity and togetherness and an unswerving faith in the Lord are the only things that can hurt the demon, see?

So, can the Warrens help the Smurls, or will the Smurls be forced to engage in ever more extreme measures to get the help they need? It’s a pretty scary and unnerving film and, because it’s based on a true story, it’ll remind you strongly of the first two original AMITYVILLE HORROR films.

Because of the sexual element, I was also reminded of Barbara Hershey in THE ENTITY, a terrifying film in which a woman is raped repeatedly over time by a sexually aggressive ghost who haunts her house. She sustains actual physical injuries from these assaults, so she knows herself that they’re really happening.

The psychiatrists, however, are falling over themselves to prove that some sort of sexual abuse in the woman’s childhood is causing her troubled mind to invent or imagine the ghost-rapes in her adulthood. It seems to be really, really hard for them to accept that maybe, just maybe, there’s a real ghost in this lady’s house.

When I watched THE ENTITY first, I was clearly still rather immature because I was giggling at the ghost-sex and making out like it was better than no sex at all. Now that I’m older, and with, of course, the benefit of hindsight, I stand by every word I said back then, lol. Any sex, even ghost-sex, is always better than no sex at all…!

I watched THE HAUNTED on Youtube and I put on captions (subtitles), as sometimes the sound isn’t great on these Youtube films. You know the way that these captions are often poorly translated into English and can end up looking like total gibberish?

The funniest bit was when the exhortation to ‘expedite Amish women in glasses’ came up on the screen (and nothing whatsoever to do with the plot, of course!), but a big shout-out must also go the following: ‘Boppity happens when there’s a big stinky.’ I’m not even going to try to follow this one with a comment of my own. I think ‘boppity’ speaks for itself. ‘Nuff said.

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

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

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

You can contact Sandra at:

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

https://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com

http://sexysandieblog.wordpress.com

http://serenaharker.wordpress.com

sandrasandraharris@gmail.com

https://twitter.com/SandraAuthor