11 September 2018



'Be lucky, Frank.'

'Politics bear no relation to morals.'

'It's a fucking Christmas miracle...!'

'Girls like you disgust me, Margaret.'

'I told you not to talk to me, you fucking cunt.'

'It's much better to be feared than to be loved.'

'We rule with an iron fist. We are old-school, proper.'

'This friend of ours, he's got a bit of a temper on him.'

'It's my job to make people believe they're loved. It's their job to make people scared.'

'My Mum always says that there's nuffin' you can't fix wiv a nice fucking cup of tea.'

I can hear the seagulls whirling and dipping and croaking at each other in the sky above my house as I write this. They come inland in search of all the food scraps we surfeited humans apparently leave lying around the place, tut tut.

It's fitting, anyway, the sight of these magnificent birds (but don't let 'em peck you while they're nicking your sambo, it really hurts!), because the bird motif from THE KRAYS (1990) is repeated in THE KRAYS: DEAD MAN WALKING, possibly as a tribute to the older film.

THE KRAYS is a fantastic film. Starring brothers Martin and Gary Kemp from 'Eighties New Romantic pop band Spandau Ballet, it's the story of the notorious twins' lives, describing their stint as London's East End's most violent ever (and most celebrated!) crime-and-gangland bosses.

The Kemp brothers, Martin and Gary, turn in magnificent performances as Reggie and Ronnie Kray, but I especially loved Billie Whitelaw (FRENZY, THE OMEN) as their old Ma, Violet, who gave birth to these two little darlings in 1933 in Britain-Between-The-Wars.

Is THE KRAYS: DEAD MAN WALKING as good as or better than THE KRAYS? Well, you know, I think it's nearly as good but it's just different, dealing not with the Kray twins' lives as a whole but with only one specific period in it, the time in December 1966 when they sprung a friend of theirs, Frank 'The Mad Axeman' Mitchell, from Dartmoor High Security Prison.

Why did they do it? The guy was an horrifically violent criminal with a terrible record of behaving badly, both in and out of the nick. Well, he and Ronnie were sort of mates, having once served time together in prison. Also, Frank hadn't been given a release date and was very frustrated about this.

Ronnie, whose idea the prison-break was, had this idea that the publicity attached to a break-out might help to secure the longed-for release date for Frank. Also, it was a chance to say 'fuck you' to the Establishment and it might even enhance the Krays' standing in the world of organised crime, as if they needed such a boost...!

I like the fact that the whole film isn't taken up with the actual nitty-gritty of the escape, but gets more or less straight to the point by showing us Frank being taken to an empty flat by some of the Kray twins' minions after the escape has been successfully effected. 

If Wikipedia is to be believed, he didn't have much difficulty busting out of prison and more or less just wandered away from a small working party on the moors to the place where the getaway car was waiting for him.

A young fella called Teddy is assigned to watch Frank until the Krays show up and decide what to do with him, but he proves wholly inadequate against the psychopathic nut-job that is Frank 'The Mad Axeman' Mitchell. Poor Teddy's in way over his head.

Mitchell has enormous physical strength and is a big hairy brute of a man but he has the mental capacity of a teenage boy. A dangerous child, so, and if you've seen THE OMEN, lol, you'll know exactly how dangerous some children can be...

The Krays arrange for three prostitutes to come to the flat so that Frank can choose one to have sex with. Frank chooses. The girl leaves in an ambulance. The Krays, menacingly played by Marc Pickering (Reggie) and Nathanjohn Carter (Ronnie), decide to call in a professional nightclub hostess who can 'handle' a man like Frank Mitchell. Does such a woman exist? Yes, and her name is Lisa Prescott...

Lisa is played by the gorgeous Rita Simons, who joined the cast of EASTENDERS in 2007 as feisty bleached blonde Roxy Mitchell. She and her sister Ronnie (played by Samantha Janus) were nieces or something to Peggy Mitchell, the grande dame of the show and the uncrowned Queen of the Queen Vic. I always preferred Roxy to Ronnie. She had balls, lol, and was beautiful with it.

She's no less beautiful here as she carefully 'plays' the awful Frank Mitchell like he's a violin. 'I'm 'ere for you, right 'ere, I am 'ere 'cause I wanna be.' She leads the brutish but strangely child-like Frank around by the nose, until he catches her out in a little white lie. Then poor Lisa, hardened nightclub hostess or no hardened nightclub hostess, finds out what the real Frank Mitchell is like...

In the meantime, Reggie is going through a painful separation from his wife Frances. She's leaving him, and he doesn't seem to want that. Ronnie, a homosexual, is involved with a rather sleazy peer of the realm known as Lord Boothby, played by Guy Henry. They're seen here as preparing to engage in sexual three-ways with a handsome young male waiter at a nightclub.

Leslie Grantham, best known for playing Dirty Den in EASTENDERS, where he was married to Angie Watts and fathered Sharon Watts, is great here in what was to be the final role before his death. He plays Police Inspector Leonard 'Nipper' Read who's made it his 'life's mission' to bring down the Kray twins.

I also liked Christopher Ellison, formerly DCI Frank Burnside from ITV police series THE BILL, as Albert Donaghue, the twins' minion, and Nicholas Ball as Harry Webster their hitman. Nicholas Ball (another former EASTENDERS cast member) starred in THE HOUSE THAT BLED TO DEATH in 1980 as part of the HAMMER HOUSE OF HORROR TV series. He was very handsome, in a kind of David Essex way, back in the day. What would they need a hitman in THE KRAYS: DEAD MAN WALKING for, by the way? Well, I'm not letting the cat out of the bag, lol. That'd be telling, and I never tell.

Darren Day also appears here as the very unfortunate Don, y'know, Lenny's Dad, Lenny wot 'as the stall, innit? I love Ronnie's response to Don's pitiful bleating:'Is that what you're doing, Don? Are you questioning whether we're gentlemen?' Poor Don nearly poops himself on the spot, and I don't think he was in any mood to drink that scalding hot tea...!

I'm not sure but I think that Ronnie is possibly the more dangerous and unpredictable of the twins. He wears glasses and he comes across as quite mild-mannered at first but then you see him going medieval on someone's ass and you just think, that bloke's fucking mental...! When he loses it, he really loses it, know what I mean? You'd be scared to death of him.

The one complaint I might have, although it's not really a complaint as I found it quite funny, is that no-one but the Kray twins themselves are dressed in the appropriate period costumes. Don looks like he came straight from home in his modern-day clothes.

The two lads have the black coats with the lovely velvety bits on the collar but everyone else is sporting modern clobber, modern hair and make-up and even, in one case, modern plastic surgery, at the very least some collagen for the lips.

One bird in particular looks like she's auditioning for a Kim Kardashian-lookalike contest. And no, it's not one-time Page Three Stunna Linda Lusardi as Frank's Mum. The ravishing Linda looks like she hasn't aged a day in twenty-odd years.

I considered going into the booby business myself once, you know, a long time ago. Decided against it in favour of being a writer. At the pace I'm going (snails' pace!), it might actually have been quicker to get 'em out for the lads...

THE KRAYS: DEAD MAN WALKING is out now on home entertainment release from 4Digital Media through SONY PICTURES HOME ENTERTAINMENT. 


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:


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