30 October 2015



As this was to be my first proper, full-on Horrorthon at the Irish Film Institute on Eustace Street in Dublin, I'd been looking forward to this annual event for some time. Of the thirty-five or so cinematic treats on offer over the five days (22nd-26th Oct., 2015), I attended roughly seven. If that doesn't sound like a lot to you, believe me when I say that you get pretty hot 'n' bothered running up and down the same road seven times in four days! (I didn't manage to attend anything on the first day.)
By the end of the four days (I told you I wasn't there for the first day!), I was frazzled, utterly exhausted and overwhelmingly, achingly happy but also sad that it was over. I can honestly say that it was the best Bank Holiday weekend of the whole year. And the clocks went back an hour on the Saturday as well, giving me an extra sixty minutes in the sack in the morning. What more could you possibly ask for...?
The first film I saw was a Friday lunchtime screening of THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES, the Hammer one from 1959 starring Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing. The film was preceded by some gorgeous publicity stills of Sir Chris in his heyday and also of iconic horror director Wes Craven, both of whom passed away earlier this year and whom the Horrorthon was honouring with the screening of five of their respective films.
Christopher Lee looked fantastic as Sir Henry Baskerville, striding around the moors of Dartmoor in his jodphurs with his riding whip tapping impatiently against his exceptionally well-sculpted thighs. Hee-hee-hee. Well, it's no secret that I have a massive crush on him and that he's my ideal male, haha...! Anyway, seeing him for the first time ever on the big screen was a deeply erotic experience (hee-hee-hee again!) and I went off to do my grocery-shopping afterwards with my head in a whirl.
I was back at the IFI later that night- 11pm, to be precise- to watch the brilliant Wes Craven commemorative double bill. THE SERPENT AND THE RAINBOW (1988) was followed by THE PEOPLE UNDER THE STAIRS (1991). The first is a fast-paced movie about Haitian voodoo rituals and 'zombies' who are buried but then come back to life, and if you're undecided as to whether to dig it out and watch it for yourself, let me tell you that it's probably the only film in existence in which Bill Pullman gets his scrotum nailed to a chair. Hope that's not a big fat spoiler, snigger...!
THE PEOPLE UNDER THE STAIRS tells the story of a kooky, kinky brother-and-sister couple who live in a big old mausoleum of a house and keep a bunch of pale-faced, straggly-haired prisoners in their basement. If you should ever pop by their gaff for a cup of tea, make sure you see no evil, hear no evil and definitely speak no evil, the couple's pet peeves, or you just might find that you're not permitted to leave their abode of the damned. And I mean ever...
When the double screening ended at 2.30am, I stumbled out of the theatre exhausted tired and hot but filled with the undeniable joy of Wes. Both films were great craic and I couldn't keep the smile off my face as I battled my way home through the Bank Holiday drinkers- and pukers!- who were out in full force.
The following night- the Saturday- I watched THE DEVIL'S WOODS (2015) by up-and-coming Irish horror director Anthony White, who was there on the night along with his entourage to introduce his movie. It's the story of four chums who go camping in Ireland's most haunted woods, and it's terrific fun and a full-on tribute to slasher movies like HALLOWEEN and FRIDAY THE 13TH and cult folk horror films like THE WICKER MAN.
I wrote a review of THE DEVIL'S WOODS in which I rather cheekily cited the leading lady's fit backside as the real star of the movie. After posting the review in the Horrorthon group, I subsequently made the online acquaintance of director Anthony White and it turns out that he was chuffed to bits with the review. I think that the leading lady (not to mention her lovely butt) might think differently about it, somehow...!
After the extra hour in bed, I was up early (-ish...!) the next morning for an 11am screening of THE GOLDEN VOYAGE OF SINBAD (1973) with my kids. Over the course of the next two hours,
we were treated to the glorious sight of Ray Harryhausen's stop-motion animation creations mingled with the no less glorious vision of Hammer actress Caroline Munro in a barely-there outfit as they all sailed the seven seas in search of a Fountain Of Eternal Youth, Unlimited Riches and A Load Of Other Great Stuff As Well.
Caroline Munro, of course, would be the special guest at the following day's commemorative screening of Hammer's DRACULA A.D. 1972 (1972). My son, incidentally, developed an instant crush on the legendary Hammer beauty when he saw her in THE GOLDEN VOYAGE OF SINBAD (1973). Then, when he met her the next day in the lobby of the IFI when she was just arriving for her film, he was bright pink-in-the-face with embarrassment and as happy as a dog with two tails.
Later that Sunday night, I was back in my comfy seat for THE EXORCIST 3 (1990), a film that I thought might ease me into the whole 'watching the original film of THE EXORCIST' thing. The original is a film I've always wanted to watch but was permanently too scared to attempt. THE EXORCIST 3 seemed like a good place to start and, as it happened, I was okay with it.
It was creepy in places but it was nothing I couldn't handle and George C. Scott was brilliant as the world-weary cop who's called in to solve a series of satanic crimes set in a woefully-understaffed and poorly-lit hospital, haha. I slept fairly soundly that night- I think!- and was up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed the next morning for (sob!!!) the final day of the Horrorthon.
THE NESTING (2015), aka APPARITION, which I watched at lunchtime on the Bank Holiday Monday, is a pretty decent film. It's about a man who loses his fiancée in a car-crash shortly after they move into a spooky old fixer-upper of a house with a troubled history situated in the middle of bleedin' nowhere. But is she really gone...? You'll have to watch the film for yourselves to find out what I mean by that cryptic remark, heh-heh-heh.
Unfortunately, the screening itself was beset by problems. The sound went off on the dialogue for about two-thirds of the film and the director Quinn Saunders, who was coming over to Ireland from America to introduce the film, didn't quite make it to the party on time but, mishaps aside, I really enjoyed the film.
It's my favourite kind of horror film, the kind where a couple moves into a haunted house and a load of weird s**t starts going down. It reminded me a little bit of a film I recently reviewed called THE INHABITANTS, the latest horror offering from independent film-makers Michael and Shawn Rasmussen, the guys who wrote John Carpenter's comeback film, THE WARD. When they asked me personally to review it... Well, there's no ending to that sentence. I just wanted you guys to know that they asked me personally to review it, hahahahaha...! (That was manic laughter, by the way, so please read it as such).
The final film for me was the special commemorative screening of DRACULA A.D. 1972 (1972) at 5pm on the Bank Holiday Monday. This is my personal favourite of the Hammer DRACULA movies and, to gild an already fabulous lily, beautiful Hammer actress and Bond Girl Caroline Munro was there to introduce the film, to answer questions afterwards on all or any of her films and to sell signed copies of her gorgeous pictures, of which I bought two.
Miss Munro was so nice and friendly that everyone who was there warmed to her immediately. For me, it was the highlight of the Horrorthon and I think it was for many others too. I was there in my capacity as a Hammer fan and I took away memories from that day that I'll hold in my heart forever. Oh Lord, how soppy I sound...! Better sharpen things up a bit.
In other news (is that sharp enough for you...?), the Surprise Film THE WITCH (2015) seems to have quite literally been the surprise hit of the Horrorthon. I'm kind of raging that I didn't think of going to see it myself. The closing film TALES OF HALLOWEEN (2015) was either great fun or not nearly scary enough, depending on who you talked to. The person I talked to about it loved it to bits and was glad to close her own personal Horrorthon with it.
Oh, and I saw director Richard Stanley coming out of a screening of one of his own films, HARDWARE, distinctively dressed in a big, wide-brimmed hat and long greenish overcoat. Oh, and I saw an ex-boyfriend of mine coming out of the same film and I had to turn my face away from him so he wouldn't see me because I dumped him by text and, to this day, I still don't know how he feels about that. 
I think you guys now know literally as much as me about the 2015 Irish Film Institute Horrorthon so it's time for me to love you and leave you. Goodnight and God bless and safe home. Over and out. Adieu, adieu, parting is such sweet sorrow and all that jazz. Shut up, Sandra. See you all in the next cartoon... 


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. In 2003, she was invited to be a guest on Niall Boylan's 98FM late-night radio talk show purely on the basis of having a 'sexy voice.'
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:


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