Monday, 30 July 2012



Now I don't normally shill things on this blog and I KNOW how late my next review is (but it will come soon, I promise) however, this is a cause that I feel warrants our support.

If you've read my previous epic post on how all horror films tie-together (here), you'll have heard of the gloriously underrated and frankly superb Behind The Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon.

Alongside Scream and Joss Whedon's Cabin In The Woods, BTM is one of the most intelligent and entertaining deconstructions of the horror genre I've ever seen. 

Set in a world that neatly combines several horror icons, the film follows a film crew as they record the titular Vernon during his plans to join his idols Voorhees, Krueger and Myers on a bloody night of slaughter.

It's superb.

And now there's going to be a sequel/prequel/remake, named Before The Mask: The Return of Leslie Vernon.

Marvellous news... BUT IT NEEDS YOUR HELP!

Scott Glosserman (the producer and director of BTM) has launched a Kickstart campaign to raise the necessary funds to see the film come to production... and this is where you step in.
Using a very simple payment system, you can buy into production. From a paltry $1 donation (IT ALL COUNTS!) to buying an original poster for the film, T-shirts, £32 gets you a pre-order of a collectors edition of the film, autographed by the director and with a frame from the final cut of the film included!
Bigger and better donations see even more amazing rewards.

That headline up there? Well a number of these donations include you getting A SPECIAL THANKS in the credits for the film!

Even better, these start at just $5!!!!!!!

What's stopping you?

If this film is HALF as good as the first, it'll be an instant cult classic... and YOU get to point to people who flock to it in the future and say 'I was THERE from the beginning, man.'

So come on people, support the genre.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012



Dir: Clive Barker
Starring: Andrew Robinson, Clare Higgins, Ashley Laurence, Sean Chapman, Doug Bradley

So here we go, my first request and my first attempt to tackle an entry from one of the big franchises. And yes, I count Hellraiser as one of the big franchises. Maybe not A-List like Halloween, Elm Street and Friday the 13th, but it’s not far off. Perhaps B-List then.

The film starts with a very sweaty, anxious Frank somewhere hot and where people have FILTHY fingernails. Seriously, these people look like they've been mining for bumgold up an elephant's jacksy. A local merchant appears with an odd foreign accent (Asia? Africa? Watford?). Oh, it's Morocco. Watford would have been better. It seems his pleasure is 'the box'. He eagerly grabs the aforementioned odd puzzle box (itself a BEAUTIFULLY designed prop) and off he goes. The next scene has him back in his home in London (wha...? This is based in the UK???? YES!!!!!!) Frank proceeds to solve the puzzle box, which upon closer inspection looks like THE EASIEST PUZZLE TO SOLVE IN HISTORY.


Well, more accurately, chains and hooks hit Frank. Ouch, gory latex flesh-rending ahoy! After Frank splits (quite literally) we get cool eerie chains jangling and swinging, then PINHEAD, played by Doug 'Awesome' Bradley. He awesomely puts the pieces of Frank's face together like a jigsaw puzzle, awesomely picks up the box, awesomely returns it to its original state and then he and his fellow hideous (but awesome) Cenobite buddies awesomely disappear.


After this awesomnitude Frank's brother Larry and Larry's new wife Julia move into Frank and Larry's old home. This is brilliant, Larry is Andrew Robinson, Scorpio from Dirty Harry! This guy fucking rocks!
How fucked up is Frank if the 'normal' brother is the one who said: 'Come on sing everyone! Sing or I'll go home and kill all your mommies, sing, sing!' to a busload of school kids?????

Julia is THE most 80s looking woman in history but at least she's English. A continual source of amusement to me in this film is the way it tries to paint Julia as some kind of redhot sex siren and really, well, she's not. Like, at all.

She does have a KILLER 80s POWERHAIRCUT though. Sweet.

Anyway, they get inside and find all kinds of rubbish, rotting food, muck and odd sexy statues.
That was not a typo.
This place is a bit of a fixer upper!
Larry realises that Frank has been here. He isn't that much of a genius though, because the pictures of Frank with loads of half naked ladies laying around the place were kind of a big clue.
Larry gets a call from his daughter Kirsty... and it turns out she's American too. Hmmm. She was originally meant to be staying with Larry and Julia's POWERHAIR but isn't now. Her frizzy perm probably felt it couldn't cope in the same house as such ALPHA HAIR.
Speaking of Julia's POWERHAIR, it's currently in the room where Frank got got. That wasn't a typo either. She's TOTALLY ogling Frank's pornaroids. DIRTY 80s SLUT!
And with that they decide to move in. Mmmmm, homely.
Cut to them moving into the house, compete with PROPER fat/sweaty removal men. Who also appear to be American. And drink Bud. Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.
Finally Kirsty gets some screentime. Ok she's just walking along the banks of the Thames (I think, but seriously, this film could be set ANYWHERE)

She walks into the house and Julia buggers off upstairs. Julia is her stepmum, you see, and they don't really get on. That's some deep character development shit, right there. Upstairs Julia goes into Frank's room where we get a sudden raunchy flashback to the day before she got married. Turns out Frank visited while Larry was out and proceeded to give Julia such a serious dicking that she's STILL not recovered. LEDGE.
For those of you wondering what his super hot moves are, they seem to consist of sticking his finger in her mouth, then using a flick-knife to ruin her 80s POWERNIGHTIE.

Hang on one second...

Dark floppy hair?
Handy with a flick-knife?
Surname COTTON?

Why DOES that sound familiar?

Ahem, anyway while Julia's POWERHAIR is reminiscing over Nick Frank's weapon (HARUMPH!) Larry proves what a useless soppy twat he is in comparison by cutting his hand on a nail, then acting as if he'd just stapled his bollock to a pitbull. It's a cut, man up!

He stumbles up the stairs, still acting like a major league sissy, then stumbles into the room with Julia's POWERHAIR where we get MAJOR GRAPHIC SLOW MO BLOOD SPLASHES!

Okay, it's not exactly Saw but it distracts Larry from the puddle that Julia made too...

They head off because the aforementioned cut requires stitches and then we get treated to some FUCKING BRILLIANT SPECIAL EFFECTS! The blood seems to resurrect Nick Frank from a weird mini heart thing under the floorboards. I think it's safe to say it was his. From here we get to see his body kind of knit itself together sinew by sinew and bone by bone. This is so COOL I may have to take a minute.




Ah that's better. This scene is made all the better by the payoff that the odd animatronic missing tissue man at the end looks like violent racist professional footballer Lee Bowyer. Nice.

Cut to later and Larry is having a dinner party. His guests are all fucking twats (and American. Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm) After a couple of unfunny minutes where Julia's POWERHAIR thinks about the dicking she got from Nick Frank, she makes her excuses to leave this bunch of pricks.
I do not blame her.

Needless to say she goes up to Frank's room and soon meets SKINNED NICK FRANK.
This guy is da bom, fo' shizzy, and explains that the blood we were shown in super graphic slow mo somehow resurrected him. I've just had a thought... when Pinhead and friends were shown gathering up all the bits of Nick Frank and sticking them on the spinning pillars (best 90s indie band name ever!) was it because they know that if any bits are left behind and come in contact with blood the victim can be brought back?


WAS IT?????

ANSWER ME, DAMN YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Where was I? Oh yes, SKINNED NICK FRANK lays the whammy on Julia's POWERHAIR... and my god she is STILL into that dicking, even though he's a skinned undead violent racist footballer. She evens goes back for more finger sucking. FILTHY 80s SLUT!

SKINNED NICK FRANK is all: 'Yeah baby, get me some more man blood and I'll be whole again (like Atomic Kitten, yo) and I'll totally say my 'Come to Daddy' catchphrase.'

And Julia's POWERHAIR is all: 'Okeydokey. Sure I can work out both of your plums and you may violently attack asian cab drivers (allegedly) but you're still more fun than that shitty fucking party downstairs. Now give me some more finger to suck. SLUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUURRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRP!'

After this Kirsty goes home with a guy who I think is her boyfriend (and American. Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm) and she is wearing a MAJORLY SHARP HAT here. Whoo hoo! Perhaps she thought it was the only way her head could hope to overcome Julia's POWERHAIR? All this scene does is show us that the ridiculously dressed American wanke... wait a minute... he's called Steve! BEST CHARACTER IN THIS, he's SO the hero with bravely unconventional hairstyle and unique fashion sense. Anyway Steve and Kirsty are hooking up. Oh and a hobo who looks a bit like Russell Brand is watching her.


Back in Cotton Towers Julia's POWERHAIR is still frothing over thoughts of Frank's dicking. That's it. Mind made up.

Time to go all Fred and Rose.

Meanwhile we get an odd dream at Kirsty's involving feathers, blood and a sound effect of a baby crying. It's actually quite creepy.

She goes out in enormous sunglasses and quite possibly the ugliest orange blouse in history.
Words cannot do it justice.

Julia's POWERHAIR goes to a bar where a small, bald, sad, little man who may not be called Derek but SHOULD be soon cracks on to her.

He's English too! WHERE IS THIS SET????? Pretty soon J's PH convinces Derek to go home with her. Even in THAT blouse, he agrees. Derek here does something BRILLIANT.

When Julia's POWERHAIR leads Derek upstairs into SKINNED NICK FRANK's room, he astutely notices that it is not a bedroom.
She (equally astutely) says 'We don't need a bed.'
He pulls the best you-little-minx! face and replies: 'Why not, eh? There's a first time for everything!'



Unless he's referring to this being the first time he's ever done it with somebody with such POWERFUL HAIR in a luminous orange blouse.

Anyway Derek gets distracted and it's HAMMER TIME! Julia's POWERHAIR batters him senseless with it. Then SKINNED NICK FRANK drinks him like an extra thick McDonalds Strawberry milkshake.

Poor Derek. Sadly gone, but never forgotten. Let's all play that Puff Daddy/Faith Hill song for a while.

Or not.

The upshot of this is that we get a bit more SKINNED NICK FRANK! He's a bit more glisteny and globby now.

While he finishes his large McDerek meal, Julia rushes to the wc to wash all the blood off her face and (HIDEOUS) blouse. Of course Larry comes home now so she pretends she's feeling sick, then suggests Larry cracks out the booze in the next breath. FILTHY 80s LUSH!

Meanwhile Kirsty works in a petshop. You can probably guess the nationality of the customers. For no reason Hobo Russell Brand turns up, eats some crickets, then leaves.

Back to SKINNED NICK FRANK and Julia's POWERHAIR's nefarious plan and we see another bald Englishman get offed. This time Julia looks much less perturbed afterwards. Maybe SKINNED NICK FRANK is coating his fingers in valium before he sticks them in her gob now?

After this latest meal Frank is whole enough to put on a suit and shirt. He's still kind of a bloody raw mess, so the shirt is ruined. Daz Doorstep Challenge time! The best thing is that SNF is looking pretty damn cool in his fancy threads.


Turns out Frank summoned the Cenobites because he's so bloody extreme, but they were more than he bargained for and now he desperately need to get healed and run away quick before they realise he's left the hell dimension they dragged him to. EVERYBODY watching knew this by this point SKINNED NICK FRANK! Maybe stick to dicking, eh?

Later that night SKINNED NICK FRANK's reforming nerves cause him to get het up, crashing around in the loft while Larry watches a boxing match during a thunderstorm. Julia temporarily forgets how to lie, so she's forced to distract Larry with the temptation of nookie. Meanwhile SKINNED NICK FRANK has nailed some rats to the wall, so it's probably safe to say that he's in a pissy mood.

And as Larry starts bumping and grinding on Julia's POWERHAIR (which I don't see nuttin' wrong with) SKINNED NICK FRANK makes an appearance, looming menacingly in the background with a knife in his hand. Julia's POWERHAIR has kind of a twinge of conscience and starts crying and pleading ('NO, PLEASE, I CAN'T BEAR IT!')
Needless to say this TOTALLY kills the mood and as SKINNED NICK FRANK slips back to his hiding place, Larry sulks and marches out to have a chinese with Kirsty.
At least that's how the editing makes it appear.
After they moan about Julia's POWERHAIR for a while, Larry thinks it might be that Julia's POWERHAIR is a little lonely and needs some company. Kirsty begrudgingly agrees.
So of course the next day when she goes to visit Julia's POWERHAIR she sees her wicked stepmother taking a bald man inside! Ooooooooooooooooh, FILTHY 80s SLUT!

Suspicious at this, Kirsty sneaks inside and up the stairs... where she sees what happens to SKINNED NICK FRANK's victims. Gunky! Sloppy SKINNED NICK FRANK appears to try to placate her, then suddenly gets a bit rapey. That finger is poised for Kirsty's mouth when she finds the Lament Configuration puzzlebox among SKINNED NICK FRANK's shit. When SKINNED NICK FRANK bricks it, she realises that the box is a pretty handy tool and hurls it through the window. SKINNED NICK FRANK is not amused, even less so when Kirsty scarpers down the stairs, grabs the box and does a runner.
For some reason, in the next scene Kirsty suddenly goes deep into shock and passes out. Okay, maybe the reason was that her skinned dead uncle just tried to molest her after she saw a man get vampirised. Not THAT unexplained after all.
As she fades into unconsciousness we get a weird timelapse photography flash of a flower blooming.

That's right, nothing says sheer gruelling terror like Chrysanthemums, BITCHES!

After that fucking stupid interlude, Kirsty comes round in hopsital, apparently having forgotten some stuff. When the staff talk to her (all of whom ARE FUCKING AMERICAN) they tell her she was clutching a strange item... and give her a signed photograph of Keith Chegwin.


Needless to say, as soon as Kirsty's alone, she starts to play with the box.


Upon solving it the wall opens!
AWESOME! The wall actually parts and there's some damn spooky catacomb-looking tunnels exposed... which Kirsty walks into.


She doesn't make it far before she bumps into the equally great AND crap Engineer. This Cenobite isn't like the others, it seems more like a mindless monster and definitely spent less time sorting out its outfit at the Goth/Emo stalls in Camden Market.

Rather wisely, Kirtsy shits herself and runs, just making it back into the hospital room before the Engineer can get its claws on her. Phew, close call... until a bell sounds and light and steam starts to seep between the tiles on her wall. First Chatterer appears close by, grabbing Kirsty by the face. Hey, that finger is awfully close to her mouth. Maybe SKINNED NICK FRANK gave Chatterer some pointers while he was tortured in the Cenobite Hell dimension? What a guy!
Awesome, here comes Doug 'Awesome' Bradley. Pinhead awesomely delivers a load of awesome lines that awesomely inform Kirsty just how awesomely fucked she is for summoning the awesome Cenobites, whether on purpose or not.
Kirsty promptly shits herself again and starts pleading and begging for her life. Pinhead awesomely laughs at her tears, much like Cartman with Scott Tenorman.


Finally Kirsty manages to get his awesome attention by completely grassing up SKINNED NICK FRANK.
Pinhead is all: 'Btch, please, we're the fucking Cenobites, nobody escapes us. We'd know, dig?'
While Kirsty is all: 'No straight up, Guv, strike a light and no mistake, SKINNED NICK FRANK did and he's at my gaff right now.'
As Pinhead is so awesome he awesomely says that he might let Kirsty go if she cvan present SKINNED NICK FRANK in her place AND he confesses what has happened.
Kirsty knows she doesn't have long and promptly sets off to confront Julia's POWERHAIR and SKINNED NICK FRANK... but little does she know that her dad has already returned home and SKINNED NICK FRANK just needs one last thing to be whole... SKIN.

Okay, so I won't ruin the end, but suffice it to say that it completely delivers.
It was kind of daunting writing a review of Hellraiser because it's such a beloved film. Even a whole slew of shitty sequels haven't killed this franchise, primarily on the strength of this initial outing.
This is with good reason  —  Hellraiser is a true classic. With an oddly dreamlike, sexual and disturbing story and amazing visuals, Clive Barker's adaptation of his own novella is a MUST WATCH.

Just try not to have any nightmares about timelapse pansies now.

HEY, I KNOW YOU:  ANDREW ROBINSON – Hey, this guy is a proper actor and everything! He’s been in Dirty Harry (where he’s AWESOME), Cobra alongside Sly Stallone and he had a recurring role in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine as Garak. Good work.
CLARE HIGGINS — A strong actress, but not that glittering a career. TV roles including Casualty and Midsomer Murders litter her cv, although she had a role in the big screen adaptation of Philip Pullman’s The Golden Compass (Northern Lights to us Brits) and she was in the top drawer BBC horror dramedy Being Human.
ASHLEY LAWRENCE — Nowt of any note. Well, except a role in Red.
DOUG ‘AWESOME’ BRADLEY — Okay, so he’s Pinhead. He needs NOTHING ELSE on his cv to be A-OK in my book, but he has added to his horror awesomeness with roles in Nightbreed (another Clive Barker work) and a TOP role in Pumpkinhead: Ashes to Ashes. Which I kind of love. AWESOME indeed, Douglas. AWESOME indeed.
CLIVE BARKER — is one of the greatest horror writers in the worlds. His Books of Blood are ESSENTIAL reading while his dark, disturbing fantasy efforts such as Weaveworld and Abarat are captivating. Barker is Britain's Stephen King.

ANGELS TO SOME: In a film with this many monstrous, murdering flesh-renderers it’s pretty damn tough working out who the biggest monsters are. First we have uncle Frank. 

A ne’er-do-well thrillseeker who has pushed himself to the limits of sensation for his own sordid pleasures, subsequently became unstuck and is now desperately screwing over anybody he can to get out of the hell he brought on himself. This is a man who would happily sleep with his sister-in-law the day before her wedding day, then manipulate her to bring random men to him so he can vampirically feed on them to bring himself back to our dimension. He’s also happy to sacrifice this same sister-in-law AND his brother to escape Hell. Oh, and he kind of wants to rape his niece. In this story, Frank (and to a lesser degree, Julia) really are the villains of the piece. 
But they’re not what people remember.
Oh no.

The coolest, most iconic things to come out of Hellraiser are the Cenobites. 

Pinhead (billed as Lead Cenobite in this first outing), Butterball, Chatterer, um, Female Cenobite and the barely-glimpsed-but-nonetheless-very-creepy Engineer MAKE this film. Not so much villains as an alien force of nature, the Cenobites are the threat. Never really explained in this first entry in the franchise, all we know is that the Cenobites are linked to the box (later identified as Lemarchand’s Lament Configuration) and those that seek the extremes of experience can summon these demonic entities using the box. From here the Cenobites will drag their victim's soul back to their own hell dimension where they will be tortured for eternity. The Cenobites themselves all sport various scars, tears and piercings, suggesting that the tortures they share with their victims are also experienced by the Cenobites. In fact later films explore this in greater depth, revealing that many of the Cenobites were victims of the box before being twisted and transormed into this new physical form.
The heavy S&M message here, the link between pleasure and pain and a revelling in the experiences of the flesh, is perhaps enough to fill an entire thesis, but the Cenobites themselves are not vindictive. There are strict rules to what they do. They obey them and force everybody else to obey them too.
Their powers include a supernatural physical resiliency, the ability to teleport to anywhere they are summoned and a control over hooks and chains that are used to snare and torture their prey.
Plus they look frickin' UBERCOOL.


CREATIVE CARNAGE: Chains, hooks and a flesh explosion!


DIALOL: There’s loads, this film is a goldmine!

MERCHANT: 'What’s your pleasure, sir?'
NICK FRANK: 'Come to Daddy.'
PINHEAD (BILLED AS LEAD CENOBITE): ‘The box. You opened it. We came.’
NICK FRANK: ‘I thought I’d gone to the limits. I hadn’t. The Cenobites gave me an experience beyond limits — pain and pleasure indivisible.’
KIRSTY: ‘Who are you?’ PINHEAD: ‘Explorers in the further regions of experience. Demons to some, Angels to others.’
PINHEAD: ‘You solved the box, we came. Now you must come with us, taste our pleasures.’
PINHEAD: ‘No tears, please, it’s a waste of good suffering.’
KIRSTY: ‘You can go to hell.’ FEMALE CENOBITE: ‘We can’t. Not alone.’
PINHEAD: ‘We’ll tear your soul apart.’
NICK FRANK: ‘Jesus wept.’
PINHEAD: ‘We have such sights to show you.’

10 WORD WRAP UP: A genuine, undeniable horror classic from the great Clive Barker

If you haven’t already, do please check out and like the Hickey’s House of Horrors Facebook page, which you can find here. It gives you a nice quick link to any new posts on this blog, plus regular news updates from around the web. I check the Internet so you don’t have to! Alternatively, follow me on twitter: The House@HickeysHorrors

Until next time, I hope you enjoyed your stay.

Friday, 22 June 2012


Thought I'd go a bit topical this week and tie it in with the DVD release of Hammer's adaptation of the FANTASTIC Susan Hill novel.

For most people who saw this far more faithful ITV adaptation more than 20 years ago, this review should reawaken some chills...


Dir: Herbert Wise (Written by Nigel Kneale and Susan Hill)
Starring: Adrian Rawlins, Bernard Hepton, David Daker, Pauline Moran

SUMMARY: Within just a few moments of this TV movie starting, it becomes all too clear that this is OLD SCHOOL. And in a pretty charming way. Nice. We cut to Arthur Kidd (renamed from Arthur Kipps in the book) as he heads into work at a law firm. A quick reference to the latest Charlie Chaplin film from some MASSIVELY UNPROFESSIONAL law clerks helps bludgen us to death with provide us with a good dating reference. By this I mean it tells us that the story is taking place in the 1920s, not that it tells girls we might be interested in that we're witty, hung like donkeys and ALWAYS put the toilet seat down after a wee.
Arthur is then summoned to his boss' office. Immediately we see that Mr Sweetman is a KNOB. Everything he says in this scene seems to be based along the following lines: 'You're a useless excuse for a solicitor, you will undoubtedly shame this office and nobody thinks you can do anything... however, I want you to travel up north on your own to deal with the estate with a longtime client of this firm with no help because I'm sure you can handle it. Oh, by the way, I hate your face.'
Clearly fired up to impress a boss he'd be better off telling to FUCK OFF, Arthur heads off to his wife, young son, baby daughter and nurse to do ALL THE WORK for them. Their's is a happy home. We can tell this because Arthur gives his son a kazoo.

A kazoo.


It's not exactly a Nintendo DS, Dad...

Anyway, Arthur heads off to catch the train to the marvellously named Crythin Gifford. It is MILES away. We can tell this because he meets a nosy man who talks to him on the train (DEFINITELY not in London anymore).
Sam (that's his name) has a good gruff accent and no-nonsense demeanour, although he gets a little more cagey when talking about Arthur's destination Eel Marsh House (SOUNDS DELIGHTFUL!) and Mrs Drablow, the woman whose death has sent Arthur on his merry way. At the other end Arthur reveals his Cityness by looking a bit surprised to see there are no cabs at a station which is in the arse end of NOWHERE. Luckily Sam (who is clearly a Ron Burgundy-esque BIG DEAL around here) offers him a lift to the Gifford Arms.
There are more gruff, no-nonsense common people here. Arthur seems a little unsure of how to speak to them. I'm amazed he's even trying through these accents.
The inn isn't exactly 5 star but it seems nice enough. The next day sees Arthur going to see a local solicitor, Mr Pepperell. If Big Sammy Flashybollocks wasn't quite elusive enough about Eel Marsh House, Pepperell is here to take up the slack. He practically crosses himself when they mention the place!
The two lawyers wander through Crythin Gifford on a busy market day and we get some good period details. By this I mean the town looks right and displays a nice amount of character for the time in which it's set, not that it discusses the heaviness of flow during its monthly cycle.
And from the bustling town we go to THE BLEAKEST CHURCHYARD EVER. A horsedrawn carriage carrying Mrs Drablows remains arrives, with a fine array of behatted Pallbearers.

No, not him...

Inside the church, Arthur and Pepperell are the only mourners... until a WOMAN IN BLACK arrives. 
I'm sure she's not important to this story...
She stands at the back being eerie. A fine talent, that.
Out in the churchyard the not-very-popular Mrs Drablow is interred. Once again TWIB (Galaxy defender!) appears, watching from a safe distance. As Arthur and Pepperell head off they see a load of children by the churchyard wall, watching the proceedings (it's grim up North, they have to make their own entertainment!)
After basically filling his pants when Arthur asks about TWIB (She won't let you remember!), Pepperell chases the kids away. Arthur realises that this bloke is clearly a 'nana and takes him back to his office.
Artie proves to be a little slow on the uptake and asks Pepperell if he'd care to join him at Eel Marsh House. You can practically smell the faeces in the air during Pepperell's garbled no thanks. From here he ushers Arthur out of the office, informing him that a local man, Keckwick, will take him over the treacherous causeway to the house.

An aside: All of this subtle but uncomfortable shit going down so far is called ATMOSPHERE. I would like the current generation of horror film makers to worry less about casting whichever rapper is currently a bit cool and more on this, please.

Outside we see amusing commoners doing things badly for our entertainment. Oh look there are gypsies! OH LOOK THEY'RE STEALING! HOW VERY SURPRISING AND ENTIRELY UNEXPECTED!
As a little gypsy girl attempts to run (probably to fetch a whole clan of family to steal EVEN MORE) a cart carrying logs spills its load (HMMMMPH!) and she ends up pinned beneath a log as more threaten to fall. Everybody kind of looks on until Arthur dashes into the middle of the Big Fat Gypsy Log-Squash and pulls her to safely. Big Sam sees this and suggests they hit the inn and get wankered, settle Arthur's nerves.
Sam here does something brilliant. He asks one of the most ridiculous questions in history: 'How was the funeral?'


'Yeah, it was fuckin' bangin', bruv, we were 'avin it!'

Anyway, Sam has some showing off and strutting in front of the less successful people to do, so he sits Arthur down for lunch in the middle of some locals in town for market day. Yes, they are gruff and outspoken. No, that is no surprise. One of them is kind enough to inform Arthur that his trip is a waste of time because NOBODY would buy that house. At this point I notice they are eating thick chunks of meat, fresh bread and a MASSIVE jar of pickled onions. The Gifford Arms has just reached Michelin Star status in my eyes.
And finally to Eel Marsh House. Keckwick arrives and he's that bloke who smokes all the time in Heartbeat! YAY! But now he isn't smoking. Lame.
When it comes to gruff, no-nonsense outspokeness, Keckwick makes the other locals look like Tony Blair. He pauses just long enough for Arthur to climb aboard and then they head out across Nine Lives Causeway (SCARY!) 
We get to see the quick moving, thick sea mists in action and realise that Causeway is bloody lethal if you don't know what you're doing. 
The house itself is quite nice actually and very roomy.

Upon letting them in, Keckwick takes Arthur on the WORST TOUR IN HISTORY.
The following ACTUALLY HAPPENS — Keckwick walks into a room: 'Her room.' Points at the chair: 'Her chair.'
Um, thanks?

Arthur nearly pisses his pants to discover that the house has ELECTRIC LIGHT! Powered by its own generator in an outhouse, no less! Keckwick then fucks off and says he'll be back before the tides come in. Yep, during high tide you're isolated in Eel Marsh House.

It'll be a doddle to sell this place.

Despite his deadline, Arthur decides to mooch about and explore the land around the house (Maybe Mr Sweetman the KNOB had a point earlier...) He soon discovers weatherworn gravestones and the remains of an old chapel... AND TWIB (dressed in black, remember that!) appears. This time Artie gets a better look, only to be greeted by the most malevolent PMT face in history! (we're back to a period drama joke here, aren't we?)
Fortunately Artie is a complete sissy ladyboy and he runs away in the girliest manner possible. After flouncing into the house, he locks the door, catches his breath and starts to explore the house. This consists in him opening loads of doors and switching on the new-fangled KICKASS ELECTRIC LIGHT, until he comes across a locked one he cannot open. Oooooooh.
So he goes into Mrs Drablow's study and promptly pours himself a massive drink. Arthur likes the sauce, seriously, I don't think he's been to a single place without hitting the whisky or brandy yet. In this room he finds the death certificates of two people who died on the same day, plus a photo of somebody who looks not unlike TWIB (walk in shadow! Move in silence! Guard against extraterrestrial violence!) He also discovers a phonograph and some wicked old wax cylinder recordings. Man, these things are AWESOME for creepiness. 


He listens to the recordings to hear Mrs Drablow recounting some pretty disturbing shenanigans involving an as yet undisclosed 'she'. So, Arthur decides to neck a few more shots. (He drinks a whisky drink, he drinks a vodka drink, he drinks a lager drink, he drinks a cider drink...) then promptly strolls out onto NINE LIVES CAUSEWAY TO WALK BACK. Is he fucking pissed?????
Suddenly the sea mists roll in and Arthur realises something we did as soon as he started walking — this idea was FUCKING STUPID. Luckily he hears the horse and trap approaching in the murk. But suddenly he hears the trap run afoul of the marsh. He hears the trap sinking beneath the surface while a woman and a young boy scream.
This sound effect is GENUINELY chilling. The voice actors nail it and you totally understand Arthur's distress as he flees back towards the house... but then Keckwick arrives and there's no sign or mention of any trap lost in the mist. HMMMM.

Back on the mainland Arthur walks through the churchyard, only to see that loads of the headstones are for children. One is for Big Sammy Flashybollocks' son. Just to make sure we notice this, Arthur reads it aloud for us. I'm amazed he can read, he must be bladdered.
After this he decides to visit Sammy and we see that he is indeed Flashybollocks as his house is MASSIVE. He has dinner with Sam and his wife and the table is HUGE for three people. You could play football on that thing! After yet more booze (TEQUILA, IT MAKES ME HAPPY!) Arthur and Sam retire to the drawing room where finally Artie opens up about what's going on. 
I'm not surprised, I'm amazed he hasn't got an arm around Sam while saying "I fuckin' love you like a fuckin' bruvvah, y'know, y'my besht fuckin' mate, Sham...' Sam tries to convince Arthur not to go back to Eel Marsh House, but when that doesn't work he gives him a dog instead. 


Spider (the dog) is awesome by the way.
From here Artie decides that he and Spider will stay at Eel Marsh House until he's able to conclude his business. The locals at the inn do NOT agree with this idea one bit.
Still, back we go to NINE LIVES CAUSEWAY (the location really is wicked here, it's so atmospheric and cool) and soon Artie is back inside the house, this time with Spider as well as the FRICKIN' SWEET ELECTRIC LIGHTING and booze.
After a little explore (that door's still locked) Arthur hears the noises of the accident again. It's just as nasty this time. So, shitting himself, Arthur decides it's SONOGRAPH TIME! BOOYAH! He hears even more disturbing things from Mrs Drablow's recordings. That night he is woken by an odd noise. It's a thumping noise coming from behind the locked door.


Arthur talks to Spider a little much here, then performs the feeblest attempt to barge down a door ever. After this fails (SHOCK!) he goes to fetch an axe ('It's a trick, get an axe!') Arthur walks inside and switches on the light... at which point a ball bounces out!
Arthur just about shits a brick and in the greatest reaction shot by a jack russell in history, Spider TOTALLY judges him for it.
Arthur is now in the spookiest nursery ever. Who the FUCK would put their child in this room?????
Just to make it creepier, Arthur hears a child's voice talking to him. While frantically glancing about he discovers a little lead soldier in his pocket.

And then the lights go out, accompanied by THE STRINGS OF FEAR on the soundtrack.

Arthur RUNS to the generator (I don't blame him) and quickly restores power to the house. Then just as things start to calm down again, an eerie whistling can be heard from out on the marshes.
And Spider runs off towards it! 


He disappears into the darkness and after a half-arsed attempt to follow, Arthur heads back indoors... but not before he hears the sound of the creepy accident on the marsh again.
OK, shit has just got real. Arthur heads back in and dives straight back into the sonograph recordings. This is brilliant, because as Arthur is driven more and more mental by his ordeal, his hair is getting bigger and bigger. By the end he's going to look like Tina Turner! Finally the truth about TWIB is revealed (turns out she's not just your first, last and only line of defence against the worst scum of the universe!)
For spoilers, see the section below.
Then Arthur discovers the toy soldier among his things and REALLY starts to lose his shit... especially when he hears the sound of a pony and trap.


Here we have EXPOSITION CORNER, where Sam and Arthur reveal ALL of the backstory that we have undoubtedly put together ourselves by now. Arthur goes to show Sam the nursery, but upon entering it sees that the whole place has been trashed. OoOoOoOoOoOoOoOHHHHHH!
That's the last straw, Arthur keels over. He is taken back to the Inn, clearly in shock and feverish. Upon being taken to his bed, we build towards the BIG SCARE.
I won't ruin it, but if you've seen this, you KNOW what it is. If you haven't... prepare for nightmares.
After his fever passes and the bad shit is gone, Arthur is visited by Sam who explains that Eel Marsh House, ahem, 'mysteriously', nudge-nudge, burnt down. There is no more need for Arthur to be here and as soon as he is fit, he should head home to be with his wife and family.
But just what affect has his nightmarish experience had on Arthur's state of mind?
And is The Woman In Black's (uh-huh, yeah!) curse finally over?

Now, I'll leave what happens from here to you lot to discover, but suffice it to say that if you've read the book and know the ending, this IS different, but still maintains that horribly bleak spirit. In fact, apart from some rather silly changes here and there, this is a far more faithful adaptation of the book than the recent Hammer film. It's also a tremendous piece of television, it looks amazing and the cast are all strong. Combined with the fantastic traditional ghost story feel, it's a winner.
If you haven't seen this adaptation, you NEED to find a way. 
Or I'll have to see my noisy cricket get wicked on ya.

HEY, I KNOW YOU: There's a very cool coincidence here. Adrian Rawlins, who plays the lead role of Arthur, has had a few roles in UK TV shows over the years (such as in Dalziel and Pascoe; Inspector Lynley; Casualty; Holby City and the AWESOME C4 superhero comedy-drama Misfits) however, the biggest title on his CV is EASILY the Harry Potter series of films. In these he plays the role of James Potter, Harry's dad. And WHO played Arthur in the recent remake? BRILLIANT!
Bernard Hepton also has a whole host of UK TV roles to his name, notably in The Charmer; I, Claudius; Bergerac and mini-series including Bleak House; Mansfield Park; Smiley's People and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. He also had a role in Gandhi and did some voice work for the heartbreaking animated film Plague Dogs.
David Daker is even more prolific and has turned up in just about EVERY naff UK drama you can think of. Casualty (and Holby); The Bill; Midsomer Murders; Ruth Rendell Mysteries; Dangerfield; Heartbeat; the works. He's probably best known for his recurring role as Harry Crawford in Boon.
In a pattern that should be all too familiar now, William Simons (who plays Keckwick) is also famous for his TV work, most notably Heartbeat.
The Kidd's nurse, Bessie is played by Robin Weaver. As well as The Muppet Christmas Carol, she has also appeared in The Inbetweeners as Simon's mum!
Pauline Moran's most famous gig would probably be her role as Miss Lemon opposite David Suchet in Poirot. She was also the bass player in an all-female band called The She Trinity back in the 60s. Heh, cool. 
Most surprisingly, Steven Mackintosh, one of the no-name law clerks has had a pretty decent career. As well as the usual TV dross (Poirot again; Van der Valk; A Touch of Frost and Inspector Morse amongst others) he has some pretty decent film roles including a part in Memphis Belle, the role of Fred (Scrooge's nephew) in The Muppet Christmas Carol (AGAIN! YES!!!!!!); Winston in Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels; and roles in a couple of the Underworld sequels and The Jacket. Good work, fella. 

THE DEAD ARE NOT QUIET HERE: The villain in this piece is the titular Woman In Black. Jennet Goss in life (changed from Jennet Humfrye in the novel) was a single mother in a time when this was completely NOT COOL and she was subsequently forced to give up her son to her sister, Mrs Alice Drablow and her husband. Unable to cope with the loss of her son, Jennet attempted to steal him away via horse and trap across Nine Lives Causeway which connects Drablow's home Eel Marsh House with the neighbouring town of Crythin Gifford. The pony and trap became lost in the coastal mists and sank into the marshes, killing all onboard. Now Jennet's spirit, mad with rage and grief at having her child taken, has become a curse to the seaside town. Each time she is seen it signals the oncoming death of a child.

Quite what her powers are remain unexplained. She is able to affect the perception of those she comes in contact with, summoning sights and sounds to terrify them. She can travel some distance to fulfil her curse (as shown at the end). She is one seriously spooky bird.

BODY COUNT: 4 onscreen, TONNES more off.

CREATIVE CARNAGE: In terms of murder, the grim as all hell ending. In terms of terror, that bed haunting. It caused untold nightmares back then, it'll cause them now too.


MR SWEETMAN THE KNOB: 'Sir, you must learn to take yourself seriously!'
MR SWEETMAN THE KNOB: 'You must cultivate authority.'
BIG SAMMY FLASHYBOLLOCKS: 'I had no cause to visit her... and if I had...'
ARTHUR: 'There was a woman. She was a mourner, dressed all in black.'
KECKWICK: 'They call it Nine Lives Causeway. Like what a cat's got. That's what you need out here.'
MRS DRABLOW'S RECORDING: 'Last night she did not come until 4 in the morning. Then it was a bad night. A bad night.'
BIG SAMMY FLASHYBOLLOCKS: 'Do you believe in ghosts?' ARTHUR: 'Never have.'
ARTHUR: 'She wasn't just looking... she was hating.'
MRS DRABLOW'S RECORDING: 'She has become wicked... and worse.'

10 WORD WRAP UP: Forget Radcliffe, ITV adapts this classic ghost story just right

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