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

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

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

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

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

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

DORIAN GRAY. (2009) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

Picture-of-Dorian-Gray-2009wide

DORIAN GRAY. (2009) BASED ON THE NOVEL BY OSCAR WILDE. DIRECTED BY OLIVER PARKER. STARRING BEN BARNES, COLIN FIRTH, BEN CHAPLIN, DOUGLAS HENSHALL, REBECCA HALL, RACHEL HURD-WOOD, EMILIA FOX, MARYAM D’ABO AND FIONA SHAW.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

What a brilliant concept by Oscar Wilde, and what a tragic end he came to. His book THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY has remained a classic of horror fiction to this day. It’s right up there with Bram Stoker’s DRACULA, Mary Shelley’s FRANKENSTEIN, Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu’s CARMILLA and Robert Louis Stevenson’s THE STRANGE CASE OF DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE.

I love this film version, even if I do consider the excessively youthful Ben Barnes to be blank-faced and vacuous and as vacant and as an empty toilet cubicle, but then the whole point of the story is that Dorian’s face remains angelic and serene while his portrait takes the hits.

Do we all know the story? Greenhorn Dorian Gray comes to London in the late nineteenth century to inherit his horrible old deceased grandfather’s massive estate. One of the first people he meets, unfortunately for him, is the dissolute middle-aged toff Lord Henry Wotton, who immediately sets about making the innocent and virginal Dorian as corrupt as he is.

Henry Wotton really thinks he’s the bee’s knees, swanning around making pithy, epigrammatic statements that are pure Wilde but with a little twist or tweak; for example, instead of saying: ‘I can resist everything except temptation,’ a famous Wildean quotation, he says: ‘The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it.’

He would have been a fop in an earlier era, complete with wig and fan, and would have lounged about declaring to all and sundry about how he’s about to simply expire from ennui. He’s clearly jealous of Dorian’s youth, grace and beauty, and Dorian later throws back in his face the fact that he, Dorian, has the balls to engage in all the dirty shenanigans available to the rich toff in London Town whereas Wooton is too cowardly to go the whole hog.

Dorian is not averse to sampling all the devious, twisted delights the London social scene has to offer, especially once he’s made a pact with the devil that ensures that he will remain young and beautiful forever. What’s the catch, though?

Well, he’s sold his soul to the devil, so he will from now on be a vessel for evil rather than good, and the fabulously life-like portrait painted of him by celebrated gay artist Basil Millward will age and sour instead of the real Dorian. It all sounds like a sweet deal at first, but selling one’s soul to Satan means that, sooner or later, one has to pay the piper…

Oh, the dissolute pleasures to which Dorian gives himself up! He deflowers virgins and barely bats an eyelid when they become pregnant with his offspring and kill themselves with the shame of his rejection of them. He ruins debutantes just for the hell of it, then seduces their ageing mothers just because he can, and to mess with their silly heads.

Drink, smoking, drugs, Chinese opium dens, sex orgies, homosexual sex, bondage, sadomasochism, even bloody murder; Dorian engages in every kind of depravity you can name and probably some you can’t, with actresses, whores, rent-boys and drug addicts. His face remains youthful and smooth while upstairs, locked away behind bars in his attic, his portrait grows foul and maggotty with the weight of all Dorian’s vice.

Tongues do start to wag, however, especially when Dorian returns from a Continental trip of many years with his face as smooth and unlined as when he left, while all his contemporaries, such as Henry Wooton and Henry’s Aunt Agatha, have aged horribly.

Dorian becomes a bit of an outcast. After all, what sorcery or witchcraft permits a man to retain his youth and good looks long after he should have surrendered them to Old Father Time…? People are wary and suspicious of the young cad, ‘young’ being the operative word.

Even his old mucker Henry Wooton wants nothing to do with him any more. But Henry has a perfectly valid reason for declaring Dorian Gray to be persona non grata. Henry has a grown-up daughter now, a daughter who loves Dorian, of all people, but Henry fears for his little girl. He’s already seen what special fate Dorian Gray reserves for little girls…

The costumes, setting and scenery in this film are absolutely stunning. The fabulous and atmospheric Highgate Cemetery even features in one scene. Not much to giggle at in the film, but the funniest bit is definitely when Dorian Gray, without warning, suddenly turns into Hugo Weaving, the Elf King from THE LORD OF THE RINGS series of films. Watch it for yourself. You’ll see…!

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

DAVID COPPERFIELD. (1999) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

david copperfield

DAVID COPPERFIELD. (1999) A BBC PRODUCTION: BASED ON THE BOOK BY CHARLES DICKENS. DIRECTED BY SIMON CURTIS. TOM WILKINSON AS THE NARRATOR.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

‘Like many fond parents, I have in my heart a favourite child. And his name is David Copperfield.’ Charles Dickens.

‘Barkis is willin.”

‘Janet, donkeys! Donkeys!’

David Copperfield the book is a mammoth achievement on the part of its writer Charles Dickens. Nearly a thousand pages long, it details the life of the titular David Copperfield from his baby days to much, much later on in his life, and in such detail it would truly take your breath away. I’ve been reading the book myself this year and was delighted to find this film version of it, which was first broadcast on the BBC in 1999, on Christmas Day and Boxing Day.

Everyone loves a bit of Dickens at Christmas, whether it’s his perennial festive favourite A Christmas Carol, or Great Expectations, Bleak House, Nicholas Nickleby or any of his other works.

His books are immensely popular when it comes to screen adaptations, the way Shakespeare’s works lend themselves so readily to staging in the theatre. It’s fantastic the way we’re still familiar with Dickens and his oeuvres nearly a century and a half after his death.

In this version, a pre-Harry Potter Daniel Radcliffe in his first screen role plays David as a child. His childhood at the Blunderstone Rookery in Suffolk is idyllic, spent with his adoring mother Clara Copperfield and even more adoring nurse Clara Peggotty, played by Birds Of A Feather star Pauline Quirke, who’s perfect in the role.

David’s childhood is all tender cuddles and endearments and picture books and gentle tuckings-in at bedtime. His father has pre-deceased him, so David’s childhood is a thoroughly feminine affair.

His blissful existence changes when David returns from a visit to Yarmouth, where he has been staying at the shore with Peggotty’s kindly seafaring brother Daniel (Alun Armstrong: This Is Personal: The Hunt For The Yorkshire Ripper), Daniel’s nephew Ham, Daniel’s niece Little Em’ly (who is not Ham’s sister) and a weeping widow by the name of Mrs. Gummidge, played by Patsy Byrne, the actress who portrayed Miranda Richardson’s dotty old Nursie in comedy series Blackadder.

David returns to Blunderstone Rookery, from the happiest holiday of his whole life, to find that his lovely sweet mother has married her horrible suitor, the grim, black-clothed, stern-faced and joyless Mr. Murdstone, played by an unrecognisable Trevor Eve (Shoestring, the Frank Langella Dracula.)

Mr. Murdstone brings his equally horrible sister Jane, played by Zoe Wanamaker, to live with them, and between them they pretty well terrorise both mother and son. Their only ally is now the wonderful Clara Peggotty, who would die for either of her precious charges in a heartbeat.

After an altercation in which David is savagely whipped by Mr. Murdstone, his nasty step-father sends him away to boarding school against his mother’s wishes. But it was very much what happened to the sons of well-to-do men in the Victorian era. The boys and their mothers had little or no choice in the matter.

At school, the boys were whipped by their teachers and by older boys (for whom they were forced to ‘fag’ or skivvy), made to learn a load of dry, dusty old Latin, algebra, theorems and trigonometry while deprived of most material comforts, and then they left school damaged, broken, determined to take their revenge on the world and with the most intense sexual hang-ups about being flogged that would never leave them. Okay, so I’m making a generalisation here but you get the idea.

David’s head-teacher, the sadistic old Creakle, played by Ian McKellen, is practically addicted to whipping the boys in his rather dubious ‘care.’ David’s only friend and protector is, rather luckily, the arrogant young toff Steerforth, without whose patronage David would undoubtedly have suffered much more in his schooldays.

When David’s bullied and broken young mother dies, not long after giving birth to Mr. Murdstone’s child, Murdstone removes a heartbroken David from school (heartbroken about his mum, not about leaving school!), begrudging the money that would be required to pay for the boy’s education.

He then forces him to work in a London blacking factory of which he is part-owner. It’s no more than slave labour and David is bullied there by the older boys. I’m not sure what a blacking factory is but it seems to involve a great many icky barrels of boiling hot tar. Not exactly the place for a vulnerable child.

David is happy to lodge with Mr. Wilkins Micawber (genially played by Bob Hoskins), however, one of Dickens’s most enduring characters. Married (his wife is played by Imelda Staunton) with several children, Mr. Micawber is constantly in debt, constantly hiding from his many creditors, constantly having to pawn everything in the house in order to have money for food and constantly living in the optimistic expectation that something positive will ‘turn up’ to save his family from starvation and his family name from a perpetual blackening.

The main thing you need to remember about Mr. Micawber is that you should, under no circumstances whatsoever, ever lend him money. It will undoubtedly be the last you see of it. He’s free with his IOUs all right, but unfortunately you can’t eat those. 

While lodging with Mr. Micawber, David has the experience of visiting his friend in Debtor’s Prison and of becoming intimately acquainted with the local pawnbroker, played by comedian Paul Whitehouse. When the Micawbers move away, on the promise of something’s unexpectedly having ‘turned up,’ David decides he’s had enough of the factory.

He runs away to Dover, to the one relative he has left in the world, his wildly eccentric Aunt Betsey Trotwood, played by Maggie Smith. David is as happy as Larry living with his Aunt Betsey and her no less eccentric but kindly and well-meaning lodger, Mr. Dick, played by Ian McNeice.

Aunt Betsey goes to bat for him against the odious Murdstones and, even when she does send him to school, it’s to a nice decent school in Canterbury. While there, he lodges with Aunt Betsey’s cordial lawyer Mr. Wickfield and his beautiful daughter Agnes, who treats David like a brother and becomes a lifelong friend. David has fallen on his feet here, lol.

The star of the whole show is Nicholas Only Fools And Horses Lyndhurst as the startlingly red-haired and sinister clerk of Mr. Wickfield’s, Uriah Heep. Being ‘umble’ is Uriah’s thing. Falsely ‘umble, that is, pretending he’s content to stay a lowly clerk when his ambition secretly knows no bounds. He’s the kind of poisonous wretch, however, who prefers to get ahead by bringing others down and trampling on their broken bodies on his way up the ladder to take their place.

He has his evil eye on Mr. Wickfield’s business and, even more disturbingly, on Mr. Wickfield’s lovely daughter Agnes, and he loathes David from the start, seeing him as a competitor for both ‘commodities.’ He tries to hide his hatred for David under a simmering veil of ‘umbleness,’ but I think both men know the real score. Can David prevent Uriah from doing the ultimate damage to his dearest friends…?

There’s so much more to the story. He meets the love of his life, Dora, and he entertains ambitions himself of becoming a writer, even though his grounding is in the law. My favourite storyline in the whole book/film is what happens to Little Em’ly and the poor devastated Peggotty family when David unwittingly releases a viper into their collective bosom.

And, as the cast list reads like a Harry Potter ‘pre-union,’ may I suggest that, as brilliant as Trevor Eve is in the role of Mr. Murdstone, a black-haired and hatchet-faced Alan Severus Snape Rickman might have been even better?

Michael Boone Elphick plays Peggoty’s suitor Barkis, and Cherie Lunghi is cast in the role of Steerforth’s autocratic mother. Thelma Barlow, who for years played the fluttery Mavis Wilton, Rita Fairclough’s sidekick, in Coronation Street, here portrays Uriah Heep’s mother (‘Be ‘umble, Uriah, be ‘umble!’). Comedienne Dawn French is the tipsy Mrs. Crupp, David’s landlady when he first lives independently. As adaptations go, this is an excellent one, and with an all-star cast to boot. It’s well worth three hours of your time. I say go for 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

http://sexysandieblog.wordpress.com

http://serenaharker.wordpress.com

https://twitter.com/SandraAuthor

THE THREE SCROOGES: THREE FILM VERSIONS OF CHARLES DICKENS’ ‘A CHRISTMAS CAROL’ REVIEWED BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

scrooge alastair sim

THE THREE SCROOGES: A TRIPLE FESTIVE FILM REVIEW OF CHARLES DICKENS’ 1843 NOVELLA: A CHRISTMAS CAROL. REVIEWS BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

A CHRISTMAS CAROL- 1951. DIRECTED AND PRODUCED BY BRIAN DESMOND HURST.

STARRING ALASTAIR SIM, GEORGE COLE, PATRICK MACNEE, MERVYN JOHNS, KATHLEEN HARRISON, HERMIONE BADDELEY, MICHAEL HORDERN, MILES MALLESON, HATTIE JACQUES, ERNEST THESIGER AND GLYN DEARMAN.

DISNEY’S A CHRISTMAS CAROL- 2009. DIRECTED BY/CO-PRODUCED BY/ SCREENPLAY BY ROBERT ZEMECKIS.

STARRING JIM CARREY, GARY OLDMAN, COLIN FIRTH, BOB HOSKINS, CARY ELWES, FIONNUALA FLANAGAN AND ROBIN WRIGHT PENN.

A CHRISTMAS CAROL- A MUSICAL VERSION- 2004. DIRECTED BY ARTHUR ALLAN SEIDELMAN.

STARRING KELSEY GRAMMER, JENNIFER LOVE HEWITT, JANE KRAKOWSKI, JESSE L. MARTIN, GERALDINE CHAPLIN AND JASON ALEXANDER.

I guess I’d better get something straight right from the start. My favourite film version of Charles Dickens’ super-popular Christmas book will always be the one with The Muppets and Michael Caine in it, the 1992 version.

Michael Caine is the best he’s ever been, playing the famous miser who gets taught a stern lesson by three spirits on Christmas Eve a long time ago, and Jim Henson’s iconic puppets really help to drive home the message of Christmas to the viewers, who will all be in floods of tears by the end. Whaddya mean, speak for myself? I am speaking for myself, haha.

But just because I have a favourite movie version of the perennial Christmas phenomenon (trust me, it’s a freakin’ phenomenon!) doesn’t mean that there aren’t a load of other brilliant film adaptations out there too. I’ve picked out three great ones for us to look at today, all telling the same basic story but in different ways.

Does everyone know the story? It’s been filmed umpteen times and parodied about as often, so there’s probably not a soul alive today who hasn’t seen some version or another of Dickens’ probably most commercially successful work.

It’s true that if Dickens were alive today, he’d surely be able to retire on the immense royalties and the film rights that derive from this book alone. A CHRISTMAS CAROL would be his pension plan, in the same way that the song MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYBODY would be for the band SLADE or I WISH IT COULD BE CHRISTMAS EVERY DAY for WIZZARD. Sure wish I could get me some of that yearly Crimbo action…!

Anyway, Ebenezer Scrooge is an old moneylender living alone in gloomy chambers in pre-Victorian London. He is notoriously mean and heartless to the clerks who work for him and to the poor families who are obliged to borrow money from him.

To the rich fat-cat businessmen with whom he consorts, he’s a joke and a figure to be despised and pitied. His stinginess and penny-pinching are legendary throughout London. Not something you want to be known for, really, is it?

Things change forever, however, when Scrooge is visited by three spirits one lonely Christmas Eve. Well, it’s four spirits, really, as he receives a visit from his long-dead business partner Jacob Marley initially, Marley serving to kind of pave the way for the Big Three who’ll come along later as foretold.

The three spirits, the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future, show Scrooge terrifying visions from his, well, you know, past, present and future that serve to scare the miserliness out of him forever. He does a complete about-face and, from that night forward, it was always said of him that ‘he was a man who knew how to keep Christmas well.’ Oh, the wonderful quotable quotes!

Alastair Sim is superb as the crotchety Scrooge in the 1951 film. He plays literature’s most famous miser in a wonderfully understated but utterly realistic way. This is quite a grim version, and the bit where the charlady Mrs. Dilber (a fine performance from actress Kathleen Harrison) boasts about taking down the dead Scrooge’s bed-curtains and stripping the corpse of its nightshirt would really put the willies up you.

‘Bed curtains? Do you mean to say that you took ’em down, rings and all, while ‘e’s a-lyin’ there…?’

The bit at the end, though, where Scrooge puts things right with the poverty-hardened old biddy would gladden your heart. Alastair Sim is almost maniacally happy as he gallivants about, delighting in his second chance, and the shock on Mrs. Dilber’s face is a sight to behold.

Especially when he does an impulsive handstand while wearing only his nightshirt and she gets to witness wiv ‘er own two eyes the wondrous image of his meat and two veg in all their unclothed glory. Not exactly a vision for a respectable woman to be seeing, now is it?

Funny though, lol, to see Mrs. Dilber’s utterly horrified face. She finks ‘e’s gone stark staring mad, she does. She wouldn’t be at all surprised if the men in the white coats came for ‘im and carted ‘im off ter Bedlam.

Miles Malleson (a much-loved Hammer Horror actor) is a superb choice for the role of Old Joe, the mercenary scallywag who buys the bed-curtains from Mrs. Dilber for a good price because he’s always had a ‘soft spot for the ladies.’ Harrumph.

George Cole, star of MINDER in his later career, has a heartbreaking scene in this film as the younger Scrooge with a lovely full head of dark curly hair. Attending his beloved sister Fan’s deathbed, he leaves before she can extract a very important promise from him. His premature leave-taking leads Scrooge to make the same kind of mistake his own father made with him, Scrooge, and it will take a long, long time to put right.

Ernest Thesiger (THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN, THE OLD DARK HOUSE) has a cameo role here as the undertaker who is waiting to see to Jacob Marley’s corpse even before the old fellow’s breathed his last. 

‘Ours is a very competitive business, you know.’ 

Hattie Jacques (the CARRY ON films, SYKES the comedy series) also has the briefest of cameos (now you see her, now you don’t) as Mrs. Fezziwig, the buxom wife of Scrooge’s first employer. She looks lovely and young in her dusky-pink dress, dancing with her husband and laughing her head off in the spirit of the season.

I myself have a colorised version of the film that came free with the now defunct NEWS OF THE WORLD and was introduced by the actor Patrick MacNee, who actually has a small part in the film. While the colour is lovely and muted and not at all garish, I imagine the black-and-white version to be even more atmospheric.

All those marvellous scenes where the snow is falling silently on the quiet Victorian streets! Just imagine seeing ’em in black-and-white. It’d be really something. This Alastair Sim version of the film is the one I feel most captures the Victorian feeling of Charles Dickens’ wonderful old book. The shops, the lights, the snow, the housewives scurrying along with their baskets and bonnets, rushing to grab a Christmas goose before they’re all sold out; it’s like stepping into another world.

The DISNEY version from 2009 is surprisingly good, surprisingly grim and surprisingly scary. I know one or two adults who freaked out when Jacob Marley’s long-dead jaw broke free from its cloth confines and flapped about like a pair of ladies’ bloomers on a clothes-line in a gale-force wind. If anything, it seems that death and dying were even grimmer in Victorian London than they are today. Shudder. 

Scrooge’s house and bedchamber are terrifyingly dark and shadowed and Jim Carrey, an actor I don’t otherwise care for over-much, does an outstanding job as the voice of the miser. Imagine his fear when he’s interrupted by the ghost of his former friend and business partner while he’s huddled over his meagre supper on that fateful Christmas Eve:

Scrooge: ‘Speak comfort to me, Jacob!’

Jacob Marley: ‘I have none to give.’ 

Heh-heh-heh. Tough titties, in other words.

The animation in this version is fantastic. I myself love the way that the characters closely resemble the actors who are voicing them. For example, Scrooge’s nephew Fred is played by Colin Firth and he not only sounds like Colin Firth, he’s the spitting image of him too, which is kind of funny. 

The rotund and cheerful Bob Hoskins is the rotund and cheerful Mr. Fezziwig, who gives the best Christmas parties in London, and Gary Oldman plays the quiet Bob Cratchit in whose breast hides a terrible suffering. Maybe the words ‘Tiny Tim’ might ring a bell with you guys?

All the good quotes are in there too, everything from: ‘There’s more of gravy than of grave about you!’ and ‘If they are going to die then they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population!’ to ‘These are the shadows of the things that have been; that they are what they are, do not blame me.’

Oh, and don’t forget ‘It’s a poor excuse for picking a man’s pocket every 25th of December’ and ‘The spirits have done it all in one night; of course they have, they can do anything they like!’ Such brilliant lines, and all infinitely quotable.

I’ve even heard some people say that this DISNEY version of the film is the most accurate re-telling of the story they’ve seen. Whether it is or it isn’t, it really is surprisingly good, and everyone in my family always bursts out laughing when Scrooge actually steals the pennies off of the deceased Jacob Marley’s eyes with the words that just about sum up his utter stinginess:

‘Tuppence is tuppence!’

The musical version starring Kelsey Grammer is surprisingly good fun too. The songs are great craic altogether and the man we’re probably more used to seeing as Frasier Crane from both CHEERS and FRASIER and as the voice of criminal mastermind Sideshow Bob from THE SIMPSONS does a splendid job as the legendary meanie.

Scrooge makes the huge mistake in this version of throwing away the love of a well-tasty Jennifer Love Hewitt as Emily, a top bird the likes of which you probably didn’t get too many chances with in Victorian London.

He also refuses to help his former employer, the aforementioned Mr. Fezziwig, he of the simply splendiferous Christmas bash, when old Fezziwig’s business is in trouble. Given the kindness shown to Scrooge by old Fezziwig and his plump wife, this refusal to help old friends does not reflect Ebenezer in the best of lights, sadly.

I like this version too because it gives us an insight into what very obviously caused Scrooge’s terrible miserliness with money and his deathly fear of poverty. It’s probably no wonder that he turned out as he did but still, there’s such a thing as taking things too far, you know. He might do well to remember that, the little dickens…!

This version has a sexy blonde scantily-clad Ghost Of Christmas Past in it, by the way, who was leg-bombing away to beat the band a good decade before Brad Pitt’s gorgeous missus Angelina Jolie cottoned onto the trend.

The various Ghosts Of Christmas Future have been scaring the manners into kids since the cinema was invented, and I myself have always loved the Ghost Of Christmas Present, who never drops in without bringing enough festive food with him to feed an army. Now that’s the kind of guest you want round your gaff of a dark and dreary Christmas Eve. 

‘Come in and know me better, man!’

Well, that’s it. Only six days left till Christmas Day, 2018. Better go and get some provisions in. Do you happen to know if the poulterer’s in the next street still have the big prize turkey in their window? They do? How marvellous! I’ll just nip round and get it for Christmas dinner. It looks like it might be pretty heavy, though. Fuck it anyway. I’ll just shop online like I always do…

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

ANNA MEETS COUNT DRACULA… AN EROTIC HORROR TALE. THE FIRST BOOK IN ‘THE ANNA CHRONICLES’ BY KINDLE AUTHOR SANDRA HARRIS.

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So, you thought that the Victorians just spent their time quietly drinking tea and genteelly repressing their innermost desires, did you? Well, you were WRONG! The household of the wealthy Carfax family is a hotbed of deliciously deviant carnality and vampire sex. The beautiful Lady Anna Carfax is abducted by none other than Count Dracula himself and is treated to the sexual awakening of a lifetime, or should that be undead-time…? The rest of the Carfax family, servants definitely included, are in and out of each others’ bedchambers like rats up the proverbial drainpipe. Even Sherlock Holmes and Jack The Ripper make an appearance in this shockingly scandalous paranormal sex-and-spanking romp set in Victorian times. It’s inspired by the late great Christopher Lee’s smoulderingly sexy performance as Count Dracula in the Hammer Horror films, and you’d have to be undead from the neck up to miss out on it…

ANNA MEETS COUNT DRACULA: AN EROTIC HORROR TALE (THE ANNA CHRONICLES Book 1) Kindle Edition

EROTIC HORROR NOVEL ‘ANNA MEETS COUNT DRACULA’ BY SANDRA HARRIS IS COMPLETELY FREE FOR ONE MORE NIGHT ONLY!!!

pd vamp
So, you thought that the Victorians just spent their time quietly drinking tea and genteelly repressing their innermost desires, did you? Well, you were WRONG! The household of the wealthy Carfax family is a hotbed of deliciously deviant carnality and vampire sex. The beautiful Lady Anna Carfax is abducted by none other than Count Dracula himself and is treated to the sexual awakening of a lifetime, or should that be undead-time…? The rest of the Carfax family, servants definitely included, are in and out of each others’ bedchambers like rats up the proverbial drainpipe. Even Sherlock Holmes and Jack The Ripper make an appearance in this shockingly scandalous paranormal sex-and-spanking romp set in Victorian times. You’d have to be undead from the neck up to miss out on it…

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based performance poet, novelist, film blogger, sex blogger and short story writer. She has given more than 200 performances of her comedy sex-and-relationship poems in different venues around Dublin, including The Irish Writers’ Centre, The International Bar, Toners’ Pub (Ireland’s Most Literary Pub), the Ha’penny Inn, Le Dernier Paradis at the Trinity Inn and The Strokestown Poetry Festival.

Her articles, short stories and poems have appeared in The Metro-Herald newspaper, Ireland’s Big Issues magazine, The Irish Daily Star, The Irish Daily Sun and The Boyne Berries literary journal. In August 2014, she won the ONE LOVELY BLOG award for her (lovely!) horror film review blog. She is addicted to buying books and has been known to bring home rain-washed tomes she finds on the street and give them a home.

She is the proud possessor of a pair of unfeasibly large bosoms. They have given her- and the people around her- infinite pleasure over the years. She adores the horror genre in all its forms and will swap you anything you like for Hammer Horror or JAWS memorabilia. She would also be a great person to chat to about the differences between the Director’s Cut and the Theatrical Cut of The Wicker Man. You can contact her 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

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00SAUGZ6K

ANNA MEETS COUNT DRACULA. THE NEW AND FABULOUS EROTIC HORROR NOVEL FROM SANDRA HARRIS!!!

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So, you thought that the Victorians just spent their time quietly drinking tea and genteelly repressing their innermost desires, did you? Well, you were WRONG! The household of the wealthy Carfax family is a hotbed of deliciously deviant carnality and vampire sex. The beautiful Lady Anna Carfax is abducted by none other than Count Dracula himself and is treated to the sexual awakening of a lifetime, or should that be undead-time…? The rest of the Carfax family, servants definitely included, are in and out of each others’ bedchambers like rats up the proverbial drainpipe. Even Sherlock Holmes and Jack The Ripper make an appearance in this shockingly scandalous paranormal sex-and-spanking romp set in Victorian times. You’d have to be undead from the neck up to miss out on it…

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based performance poet, novelist, film blogger, sex blogger and short story writer. She has given more than 200 performances of her comedy sex-and-relationship poems in different venues around Dublin, including The Irish Writers’ Centre, The International Bar, Toners’ Pub (Ireland’s Most Literary Pub), the Ha’penny Inn, Le Dernier Paradis at the Trinity Inn and The Strokestown Poetry Festival.

Her articles, short stories and poems have appeared in The Metro-Herald newspaper, Ireland’s Big Issues magazine, The Irish Daily Star, The Irish Daily Sun and The Boyne Berries literary journal. In August 2014, she won the ONE LOVELY BLOG award for her (lovely!) horror film review blog. She is addicted to buying books and has been known to bring home rain-washed tomes she finds on the street and give them a home.

She is the proud possessor of a pair of unfeasibly large bosoms. They have given her- and the people around her- infinite pleasure over the years. She adores the horror genre in all its forms and will swap you anything you like for Hammer Horror or JAWS memorabilia. She would also be a great person to chat to about the differences between the Director’s Cut and the Theatrical Cut of The Wicker Man. You can contact her 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

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00SAUGZ6K