Discover more from Horror Bulletin
Influencer, Huesara: The Bone Woman, Elephant, Ginger Snaps 2 and 3, Psycho IV and The Innocents
Weekly Horror Bulletin Newsletter 231
We’ve got four more movies and a (longish) short film this week:
We’ll start with the brand-new “Influencer” and “Huesara: The Bone Woman,” both from 2023. Then we’ll take a look at a possibly-political short film from 1989 with a big body count. We’ll follow that up with the next two films in the Ginger Snaps series, “Ginger Snaps 2: Unleashed” and “Ginger Snaps Back: The Beginning.” For our bonus films, we have:
Thanks for reading Horror Bulletin! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.
“Psycho IV: The Beginning” from 1990, Anthony Perkin’s last turn as Norman Bates
“The Innocents” (1961), an excellent adaptation of “The Turn of the Screw.”
We’ve got two announcements this week pertaining to our books:
FREE! Horror Bulletin Monthly Issue 20 is now out. This, as always, has all our previous month’s reviews inside, but this month, we’re offering the ebook version (in PDF and ePub) absolutely free! Check out https://brianschell.com/collection/free-books for this one and more!
FREE! The Horror Guys Guide To The Halloween Films is available now, exclusively at our web store, https://brianschell.com/collection/free-books. The eBook version is completely free. Enjoy! Note that it’s also available as a paperback, but that one’s obviously not free. Also note, that there are a couple of other free books on the site as well!
Check out all our books!
The Horror Guys Guide to:
Here. We. Go!
Directed by Kurtis David Harder
Written by Tesh Guttikonda, Kurtis David Harder
Stars Emily Tennant, Rory J Saper, Cassandra Naud
Run Time: 1 Hour, 32 Minutes
Spoiler-Free Judgment Zone
The sets and locations are beautiful to look at. With a cast that pulls it off well and an interesting script that builds nicely, we found it an entertaining win.
We open on a fairly small island. As we zoom in, we see someone lying on the beach, possibly dead.
We cut to Madison, a woman who talks about travel. She’s a travel influencer in Thailand. She talks about all these places and what an amazing time she’s having, but it looks like everywhere she goes is deserted. And she seems kind of bored and unhappy when she’s not smiling it up for social media. That night, at a bar, a guy dressed like a tourist starts a conversation. He offers to show Madison around, but another woman butts in and rescues her. She’s CW, and she has a huge birthmark on her face.
Madison and CW talk about why they’re here and CW asks Madison to go somewhere with her tomorrow. Madison does her selfie-talk for her social media, but CW avoids being in the pictures. Madison whines about her boyfriend, who isn’t with her on this trip. CW gets them new boyfriends for the night very quickly.
Madison returns to her hotel and finds her room has been ransacked, and now she’s missing her passport. It’ll take two weeks to get another passport, and CW offers for Madison to stay at her place until then. She calls Ryan, her boyfriend, and tells him that she can’t come home right away. He blames her, so she breaks up with him.
Madison and CW end up at CW’s house. They take CW’s boat out to a remote island, just the two of them. Madison immediately notices that there’s no cell signal there.
Madison jokes that CW brought her here to kill her. CW says no, she won’t do that, but she just might leave her here alone, forever. She’s very convincing about how Madison will starve to death or die in about three days without drinkable water. Madison laughs, “I like that, but people would notice I’m gone.” There’s more talking about how useless social media is. It’s all good fun.
Credits roll. Yes, at 26 minutes in.
First thing in the morning, CW takes all Madison’s stuff and leaves on her boat before Madison wakes up, just as she “joked” she would last night.
Three weeks later, CW has taken over Madison’s social media accounts and everything else. No one online notices any difference. Since there’s so many photos and videos of the real Madison, it’s easy enough to do face swaps digitally, wearing a blond wig and dressing like her.
CW goes to Bangkok, where she hunts down another social media influencer, Jessica, and follows her around. After making herself known to Jessica, CW breaks into Jessica’s hotel room and steals her passport. CW invites Jessica to stay with her, but when they get to “CW’s” place, they find Ryan there, Madison’s boyfriend. This is a complication no one was expecting.
In the morning, “Madison” calls Ryan and tells him to leave. It’s all done on CW’s computer with voice synthesizer mods. Ryan and Jessica hit it off and talk about Madison, thwarting CW’s evil plans.
Jessica gets a new hotel room to get away from CW. She thinks CW is taking advantage of Madison’s friendship and doesn’t want the same thing to happen to her. CW then takes the direct approach and beats Jessica to death. She puts Jessica’s body into her suitcase. Ryan comes home with a bunch of friends to party, but CW insists he tell them to leave.
Ryan figures something’s up with CW and doesn’t think Madison’s “work” is as good as it used to be. He offers to make CW a “star” but before that can happen, she spikes his drink. She undresses him while he lays in bed, mostly unconscious. She uses the opportunity to use FaceID to unlock his phone and delete a photo of her. Then she unwraps a condom, throws it on the floor, and goes to sleep topless beside him.
Ryan wakes up in the morning and doesn’t remember any of what happened last night, but it looks like they had sex. He leaves. CW then goes home and burns the rest of Madison’s stuff except her handwritten diary notebook.
We then get a flashback to Madison and Ryan first meeting and him getting her started on social media influencing. Back in the present, we see that Ryan hasn’t given up on Madison. He goes back to the hotel and runs into Rupert, the British guy who hit on Madison. He remembers Madison leaving with CW. He takes a closer look at Madison’s videos, and figures out there’s been some alteration to hide CW’s birthmark. He knows what she’s been doing.
Ryan breaks into CW’s place and goes through her things, finding Madison’s diary in there. He knocks out CW and ties her up. He read in the diary about CW taking Madison to a “wonderful island.” She accuses him of stalking Madison electronically, which is how he found her in the first place. She says she’ll accuse Ryan of beating and killing Madison, and the social media posts will back that up. CW has a bruise. Who are the police going to believe?
CW offers to take Ryan to Madison. As they approach her boat, she pushes him off the dock and drowns him. She goes through all his stuff and finds an engagement ring, which she promptly puts on. She makes a post as Madison on her account saying she’s dumping Ryan, who was a predator.
CW drives her boat to the island to dispose of the bodies. She sees signs that Madison might still be alive, so she gets right to work looking for her. Madison finds her first. She yells “You bitch!” as she whacks her with a log.
Madison goes to the boat and finds Ryan and Jessica’s bodies. She drives away taking the boat, bodies and all, leaving CW on the island alone.
Hopefully, Madison had the boat pointed on the right heading to hit land. She had no idea where they were and knew nothing about boats. She might have ended up in the middle of the Atlantic.
Why are all these resorts deserted? It’s clearly not the off-season, as the weather is amazing.
There are several scenes, which are probably important, where CW holds a phone with a bunch of text on it that we could not read on our giant 4K TV. Wonder what that was about? It needed to be zoomed in a lot closer if we were supposed to read it.
The scenery and sets are beautiful. The acting is decent. The plot is interesting and unique; a different kind of identity theft.
Huesara: The Bone Woman (2023)
Directed by Michelle Garza Cervera
Written by Michelle Garza Cervera, Abia Castillo
Stars Natalia Solian, Alfonso Dosal, Mayra Batalla
Run Time: 1 Hour, 37 Minutes
Spoiler-Free Judgment Zone
This one combines the fears of pregnancy and body changes with religion, family stress, and mythology. And maybe some dark external forces. It looks good, and the acting seems natural, but there was too much of a lack of explanation. We give it a weak thumbs-up.
We open on a woman climbing a huge number of stone stairs on her knees, using a pillow to soften the pain. Others are there, walking up the immense stairs normally. At the top is a huge religious statue. Valeria places flowers at the shrine, and makes a motion as if this is a fertility ritual of some kind. We cut to a woman on fire, and then the credits roll.
Valeria and Raul have sex. He’s into it, but she just wants to get on with her day. She then lays on her back and holds her legs up, another pregnancy helper. After work, she watches children in the park wistfully. She then picks up a report from the doctor’s office, and it’s really good news.
Valeria and Raul start shopping for cribs. Mother-in-law Norma buys them an ugly one that they don’t care for. Her parents, Maricarmen and Luis, and sister Vero are thrilled; their prayers worked.
Not long after, Valeria starts getting severe cramps in her hands. Her friend Octavia hasn’t seen her in years, but they don’t talk for long. That night, she watches a woman jump out a window, but rather than die, she gets all “bendy.” Raul doesn’t see anything and thinks she imagined it.
The doctor says she’s lost six pounds and has anemia. This can’t continue. She goes home and works on the baby’s room. That night, she hears someone downstairs, and we see the “broken” woman from before crawling around out there.
Valeria goes to see Ursula, who does a little ritual and predicts trouble for her. The doctor says it’s going to be a girl. When she sees the baby on ultrasound, she gets afraid.
She takes a nap and we see a hand reach out from under the bed and break her leg. Raul says it’s just a cramp.
We flash back to Valeria and Octavia when they were much younger. Octavia wants the two of them to run off together as a couple, but Valeria is thinking about going to college. Back in the present, Valeria goes to see Octavia, who now teaches boxing. They kiss and make up, but that escalates quickly into more. She doesn’t mention that to Raul.
Valeria goes to her family’s house for some practice babysitting. We see that the children are horrible people. She sees the strange woman again and panics, pressing the alarm button. The kids are traumatized and get minor injuries in the commotion. The dog is killed, but everyone thinks he just choked on his chain. She won’t be asked to babysit again; she may not even be allowed to see the children again.
Raul has friends over for dinner, but Valeria sees a spider in the food and freaks out. She goes into the nursery and sets the bed on fire. She blames the bone woman, but Raul thinks she’s losing her mind. He also knows about the babysitting incident, and also about Octavia. Raul talks to his parents about having her committed.
Octavia has had enough of Valeria’s games and breaks it off with her. Valeria almost immediately goes into labor and has the baby.
Eventually, Raul has to go to work and leave Valeria alone with the baby. It cries all the time, and she does nothing to make it stop. Valeria’s back gets all “scrunchy” and changes. We see that she does something to make the baby quiet. She wakes up later and the baby is gone; she looks all over and finds it crying in the refrigerator.
Valeria’s aunt and Octavia take her to a house in the country. Ursula is there and warns that once they start this, they cannot turn back. Ursula has a group of witches there who will help fix Valeria’s problem. They start a very strange ritual.
She walks through the woods and hears a baby crying. She runs around looking for the source of the sound and we see a woman in a sheet is following her. She sees a whole pile of “broken” people who crawl after her, popping and crunching as they move. The bone-crunching people grab her and tear her apart. Then the woman in the sheet burns up.
Valeria wakes up, and all the witches are smiling. A success!
Back at home, she hands off the baby to Raul and wheels out her suitcases. I guess he’s had enough of her nonsense as well…
Being pregnant can be scary, and yes, a mother’s body changes during that time, but this is taking it all a bit far. If there is some actual Mexican mythology or lore behind all this, it’s not explained at all in the film; Valeria comes off as crazy. It’s not even post-partum, as she was weird from the beginning.
The creature effects are good. The suspense is good. I never understood why any of this was happening, and I don’t really know why she left Raul and the baby in the end.
It made no sense.
Directed by Alan Clarke
Written by Bernard MacLaverty
Stars Gary Walker, Bill Hamilton, Michael Foyle
Run Time: 39 Minutes
Spoiler-Free Judgment Zone
This is a series of people getting shot by different people. It’s extremely realistic in the acting and effects, and the camerawork has an interesting, voyeuristic quality. But there is no real story or plot, and it gets repetitive.
We’re in Northern Ireland for this one.
We watch a man enter a building, walk around a swimming pool, and then shoots a janitor. He then walks back out of the building. The same man then shoots the clerk in a gas station. In both cases, we get a long lingering shot of the dead man after the killer leaves. The man then shoots a bald man in a parking lot five times.
Another man shoots a guy in the restroom
Another man shoots a guy in the park.
Another man is killed in a restaurant.
Another man is killed in a factory.
And a home invasion.
And another parking lot.
There’s basically no real dialog; the film is just a long series of random executions, usually of people in places alone where there are no witnesses. It’s grainy and gritty; the camerawork is unobtrusive and effective. There’s no real acting, but the people all seem real enough.
This has something to do with “The Troubles” in Ireland, but as an American, I don’t know any real significance beyond that those were violent times. This was aired on BBC TV in 1989, and I’m sure that must have been a real shocker to watch in those days.
It very quickly becomes repetitive and… boring. This may actually have been the point of the film; the murders went on for so long that they all started to run together and become meaningless.
Ginger Snaps 2: Unleashed (2004)
Directed by Brett Sullivan
Written by Karen Walton, Megan Martin
Stars Emily Perkins, Brendan Fletcher, Katharine Isabelle
Run Time: 1 Hour, 34 Minutes
Spoiler-Free Judgment Zone
This takes right up after the first movie, with the further adventures of the surviving sister Brigitte. It’s a good continuation, well made in every way, though it does drag in a few spots. It’s a good sequel overall.
Credits roll as we watch a woman shaving parts that aren't supposed to be hairy. There’s also a great deal of cutting and bleeding as we hear some things from the first film. There are syringes and drugs being used as we hear about a cure.
Brigitte is in the library as the guy working there hits on her. She shoots him down and wants some books on bloodletting. She’s got a bunch of overdue books so he won’t let her check out.
She has a log book for her injection doses; it’s not a cure, it just delays the change. She imagines her dead sister Ginger warning her about the “cure.” Jeremy, the library guy, comes to her door and thinks that she’s really sick. He puts her in the car as another werewolf attacks the guy. Brigitte staggers off into the snow and passes out.
She wakes up in a hospital, and Alice comes in; she runs the facility. Brigitte asks about Jeremy, but Alice thinks the blood was all Brigitte’s after overdosing. They all think she’s a drug addict because of all the track marks. The whole place is a drug rehab clinic. Brigitte immediately makes a run for it, but it’s not an easy place to escape. They lock her back in her room.
Brigitte goes to group therapy, and there is a vast amount of eye-rolling. Brigitte talks about turning into a werewolf, but the doctor thinks that’s just code for being a lesbian. The blood test comes back as monkshood, which is completely legal and not a stimulant at all; it’s also known as wolfsbane. Another patient, “Ghost,” overhears all this. She reads comic books and knows the connection between wolfsbane and werewolves.
Luke, one of the staff people, brings Brigitte some of her drug in return for sex, but she turns him down.
The next day, everyone throws pennies at Ghost until Brigitte puts a stop to it. Ghost asks Brigitte about werewolfism. She notices that Brigitte now has pointy ears. Ginger reappears and tells her to either give in or give up. She ends up cutting the tips of her ears off.
That night, Ghost goes into the abandoned part of the hospital and finds Tyler having sex and giving drugs to one of the other patients. She gets into his stash and takes Brigitte one of her doses. Tyler tells Brigitte no and squirts it all over the floor. She licks it up.
Dr. Brookner then gives a group masturbation lesson for eighteen girls at once. Nope– just a dream when she dozed off during guided meditation. She runs to the mirror and her ears have grown back and her eyes have changed color. We see that there’s a full werewolf outside the hospital, stalking the place. Ghost finds that Rocky the dog has been eaten.
Brigitte finally plays nice with Tyler and gets an injection. Ghost thinks Brigitte killed the dog and blames her, but Brigitte denies it. “It found me,” Brigitte says. Ghost tells her about a way out through the air vents. This takes her to the abandoned section of the hospital where she finds another patient, who’s really stoned. The werewolf attacks the patient as Brigitte watches.
Brigitte meets up with Ghost, who promises she knows a way out. The werewolf attacks Brigitte, but Ghost sets him on fire. They steal a car and get away. Brigitte tells her the story about Ginger and the first film. The other werewolf wants to mate with Brigitte. Ghost has the monkshood, but forgot the needles. They head to Ghost’s grandmother’s house.
Ghost sets a trap for the werewolf, but a deer sets it off instead. Brigitte drinks its blood. They meet with Tyler to get more of her drugs from him. He injects her, but she has some kind of unexpected reaction.
Tyler does something bad to Ghost, and Brigitte grabs a knife. She locks him outside, knowing the werewolf is out there. “Don’t you just love the sound of nature,” asks Ginger as the monster eats Tyler.
Ghost and Brigitte get all “Home Alone” as they set up traps in the house. Ghost shoots at the monster, but it’s actually Alice, who has come looking for them. Brigitte comes in, and she’s not looking good. Brigitte accuses Ghost of lying about Tyler and what happened to her grandmother, but Alice pulls a gun on both of them. The monster attacks, and Alice and Ghost hide in the attic.
The werewolf comes in and sniffs Brigitte before she stabs it. Then she beats it to death with a curling stone. Ghost then kills Alice. Brigitte crawls up out of the basement and asks Ghost to kill her. Ghost locks her in the basement instead.
We see who the real monster of the film is…
It drags in several places, but the story is solid and a good continuation of the first film. It had been a few years since we saw the original film, but this one filled in the blanks to cover what we’d forgotten.
We never get the whole truth about Ghost and Grandma Barbara, but it didn’t go well for Barbara.
Ginger Snaps Back: The Beginning (2004)
Directed by Grant Harvey
Written by Christina Ray, Stephen Massicotte
Stars Katherine Isabelle, Emily Perkins, Nathaniel Arcand, JR Bourne
Run Time: 1 Hour, 34 Minutes
Spoiler-Free Judgment Zone
A couple hundred years ago there were a couple of sisters named Ginger and Brigitte who look exactly like the two sisters in the modern movies with the same names. As the title implies, this is an origin story of the werewolf curse in the previous two Ginger Snaps movies. It’s a bit drawn out, but the Horror Guys have split opinions with one thumbs up and one thumbs down.
In 1815, a group of soldiers from the fort went to pick up supplies, and they never returned. We get glimpses of them being eaten by werewolves as credits roll.
Two sisters, Ginger and Brigitte, ride through the snow on a horse. They get off their horse and walk into an empty camp. There’s blood and wreckage everywhere, but no people. There’s one old woman who talks about her sister. She gives them weird necklaces before saying, “Kill the boy or one sister kills the other.”
The horse runs away and Brigitte gets her foot stuck in a metal spring trap. An Indian hunter and his pet wolf stop to help her. He leads them to the fort. The Commander, Wallace, interrogates them, and the Reverend thinks they need to throw them out, since their story cannot be verified. The doctor uses leeches on Brigitte’s injured leg and talks about the monsters in the woods.
Everyone comes to a big dinner, and the women are the center of attention. There’s a lot of conflict between the men for reasons we don’t understand yet. When there’s howling heard from outside, the dinner breaks up. The Reverend accuses the girls of being evil.
Late that night, Ginger hears crying and tracks it down. It’s a deformed little boy who attacks and bites her. She wants to leave, but the guard catches them as they open the front gate. Before that can escalate, a werewolf attacks the gate from outside. The Reverend locks the girls inside a building with another one of the monsters that breached the wall, but the Indian guy shoots it with an arrow. They go back to their room as the battle continues outside.
The following day, Ginger gets friendly with the Indian hunter and has a vision of death. There’s a confrontation between the doctor and Finn, and it looks like Finn has been bitten. The doctor orders Finn to put a leech on his chest as a test. The leech swells up instantly, so the doctor shoots Finn. The monster that attacked the girls and was killed has the tattoo of the brother of one of the men, and a glass eye like the brother had.
There’s lots of arguing and angst. Ginger gets sicker and sicker from her bite. The commander’s son, Geoffrey, has been bitten and is slowly turning into a monster; he’s the one who bit Ginger. The men grab the women in the middle of the night and take Ginger prisoner. Doc wants to give Ginger the leech test, but the commander orders him not to.
The commander says Ginger has to leave; according to the old woman’s prophecy, the only way for them to survive is to kill Geoffrey. Ginger tracks down Geoffrey, but can’t kill him. Commander Rowland ends up having to shoot his own son.
The girls leave the fort and head off through the woods. They find the old woman with the prophecy, and she says it’s too late. The woman does a ritual for Brigitte, and she has a vision of herself stabbing Ginger to death. When she wakes up, the old Indian woman is dead. The Hunter eventually ends up taking Brigitte back to the fort.
The Reverend wants to burn Brigitte on the fire, but she says Ginger will be coming for her. Ginger fights with James, the worst of the humans, and she claws his throat out before opening the gates to let her “friends” inside.
There’s a big battle, and by the end, only Brigitte, Ginger, and the Indian Hunter remain. Brigitte stabs the hunter in loyalty to her sister. The fort burns to the ground.
Not long after, Brigitte starts to freeze to death, but Ginger says she’s not cold in her condition. Ginger infects her sister.
The two main actresses play characters with the same names and relationships as in the first two movies, but this takes place nearly two hundred years before that, and the sisters have no connection to the modern versions of themselves. What’s up with that?
It’s really slow. There’s an awful lot of talking and arguing. I was eager for it to end. Yawn.
Psycho IV: The Beginning (1990)
Directed by Mick Garris
Written by Joseph Stefano, Robert Bloch
Stars Anthony Perkins, CCH Pounder, Henry Thomas, Olivia Hussey
Run Time: 1 Hour 36 Minutes
Spoiler-Free Judgment Zone
This was okay, but it didn’t seem necessary. It was well made all around, but there were no real surprises. It lacked any of the suspense or mystery of the previous three movies.
We open up to a guy talking on the radio. He openly admits that he murdered his mother. The show theme tonight is about people who have committed matricide. He’s Raymond, and he’s there talking about the murder as part of his therapy. Fran Ambrose runs the talk show, and she’s clearly prodding the guests for more details. Dr. Richmond tells about his first case, and it sounds very familiar. Raymond has to go because curfew of 10:00 is part of his release agreement.
“Ed” calls in to the show, but we see that “Ed” is Norman Bates. He says he’s killed before, and now he’s going to have to do it again. We flash back…
From the cars, it looks like the 1950s. Young Norman talks to a girl at the motel; she’s very flirty, and he’s very nervous. Norman says his mother is upstairs asleep. She wants to have sex, but he gets called to unclog a toilet. The girl runs up to the big house while he’s busy, so he assumes she’s deserted him.
He catches her there and takes her to his room, where she promptly loses all her clothes. Norman’s mother tells him to kill the whore, but he refuses. She says she'll do it for him. We see that his mother is a mummy in a wig, and he takes the wig and a dress. The girl gets bored waiting and comes into mother’s room. Norman comes in and does what Norman always does. It’s all very familiar.
Fran listens intently as “Ed” relates the tale. Dr. Richmond asks where Norman lived at the time, but Norman hangs up. The doctor seems hostile towards “Ed,” and we get the impression he might know who is really calling. Norman gets a call from his wife, telling him to pick up his birthday cake because she has to work late. She asks him if he’s upset about her big news, and he denies it.
“Ed” calls back to the radio show. Fran wants to know about what his mother did to him to make him the way he is. We flash back again…
It’s Norman’s father’s funeral; he died from a large number of bee stings. Norman was about five at the time, and his mother was still alive. She was tickling him at the funeral and then slapped him for laughing.
Mrs. Lane, a neighbor, comes to the door and wishes Norman a happy birthday.
Norman talks about some of the good memories of his mother. Then he talks about killing Mother’s boyfriend when he was fifteen. Norman gets a little close to his mother and that gets awkward. She calls him a “Dirty, dirty, pig!”
The doctor asks how many people “Ed” has killed, and Norman replies that the doctor is an idiot. It was a super-hot summer, and both Norman and his mother were running around with very very few clothes on. She makes him give her a sexy, sweaty massage. Norman’s erection becomes an issue again, and she flips out on him and makes him put on a dress and locks him in a closet.
Back at the station, Dr. Richmond tells the producer that “Ed” has to be Norman Bates, the case he talked about at the top of the hour. The producer comes in and makes the doctor leave the studio.
Norman mentions that he eventually married his psychologist whom he met at the institution.
Back in the past, Mother screams about the highway not going to put an exit near the motel. She blames Norman for no particular reason other than he’s there. He later watches her have sex with a strange man in the motel. Norma says Chet is going to get a divorce and marry her.
Chet’s an ass around Norman, so naturally, Norman hates him. He brings boxing gloves and beats up Norman. Chet and Norma laugh at him while Norman lays there and bleeds.
Norman says that after his most recent murders, he wanted to be executed. He admits that he is Norman Bates. Fran asks why he’s going to kill again. Why would he want to lose everything?
We cut back to Norman making out with an older woman in his car. He has to go inside to give Mother some medication while she waits for him. Norman in drag strangles her–twice. When Norma finally dies from Norman’s poison, he steals her body from the mortuary and does his taxidermy magic on her.
Fran frantically talks to Norman about his upcoming planned murder of his wife. He screams that she’s gotten pregnant, and he knows that’s a serious mistake. He doesn’t want the madness to continue with his genes. She doesn’t believe that his kind of problem is genetic, but he does.
We flashback to Chet and Norma having sex. Norman makes them some ice tea and pours in a whole bottle of strychnine. He takes it up to them. They both chug it quickly as Norman watches. It’s dramatic, to say the least, as they both die pretty hard.
Norman says “The show’s over,” and hangs up. Norman then calls Connie and tells her not to come home; meet him at his mother’s house. She arrives at the old house and Norman takes her up there and they go inside.
She says she tricked him into getting her pregnant, and that it’ll be alright. She starts to get really nervous when he gets a huge knife from under a floorboard. She runs away, and he chases her. He catches her and sees his reflection in the knife. “You’re not that person anymore, Norman. Our baby won’t be a monster.” He drops the knife.
Norman sets fire to the house. “I’m free!” Is the past really dead? As the movie ends, we hear the new baby crying…
Anthony Perkins is great, as always, but he quite literally phones in his performance for ninety percent of the film. Olivia Hussey, as Norma, really overacts and is over-the-the-top in every scene, but she’s also in Norman’s certainly-faulty memory, so we’re seeing what he remembers, not necessarily the truth. Henry Thomas, as young Norman, is very good here as well.
The problem is that there’s not much new here. Much of what we see we can assume or extrapolate from what’s already come before. We didn’t need it all spelled out. The whole storyline with Mrs. Spool as Norman’s “real mother” is ignored entirely here.
Is it good? To quote Norman, “Not inordinately.”
The Innocents (1961)
Directed by Jack Clayton
Written by Henry James, John Mortimer, William Archibald
Stars Deborah Kerr, Peter Wyngarde, Megs Jenkins
Run Time: 1 Hour, 40 Minutes
Spoiler-Free Judgment Zone
This was a well-done adaptation of “The Turn of the Screw.” Even the kids were good in it. It’s a little long, but entertaining throughout.
The Uncle talks to Miss Giddens; it’s a job interview for a position as a nanny. He’s been “saddled with two orphaned infants” in his country home. Miles and Flora need a governess. She’s never done it before, but he has faith in her ability to care for the children. “Take the whole thing over and leave me alone. Never write, or complain, or involve me in any way,” he says. They had a previous governess, Miss Jessel, who died. “Whatever happens, you must handle it alone.”
Miss Giddens meets the little girl Flora, and Mrs. Gross, the housekeeper. Little Miles, the boy, is away at school. That evening, Flora asks about some people not going to heaven but staying behind.
Giddens gets a letter stating that Miles has been expelled from school for being a bad influence on the others. He soon arrives on the train. The next day, Giddens sees someone standing atop one of the house’s towers. She climbs the tower and finds Miles there, but he says he’s been alone for twenty minutes.
Giddens, Flora, and Miles play hide and seek, and she sees something strange. Then she finds a locket with a picture of a strange man inside. Not long after, she finds that man staring in through a window at her—it’s the man she saw on the tower earlier. Mrs. Gross says it’s Peter Quint, but it can’t be because he’s dead. This disturbs her greatly, but Mrs. Gross says it’s nothing. Quint died on the icy steps outside; he fell and died, but it was probably an accident. Miles found the body.
The children soon start acting out; they’re not the little angels that they pretend to be. Miles recites a super-creepy poem. Flora keeps repeating a specific song that starts to bother Giddens.
Mrs. Gross says that Miss Jessel was always happy when she first arrived, but she changed. They had a sort of sick, cruel romance. Jessel eventually drowned herself in the lake.
Out by the lake the next day, Giddens sees a woman in black standing on the water, but Flora doesn’t see anything. She soon comes to the conclusion that there are two ghosts roaming around here at Bly House: Quint and Miss Jessel. She believes that the two ghosts may, from time to time, be possessing the children.
Giddens wants to go to London and talk to the uncle, but Mrs. Gross doesn’t really see a problem. Once again, she sees Jessel, and then decides to cancel her trip. “The children are possessed,” she tells the housekeeper.
There are more various bits of weirdness with the children, including a long, romantic kiss from Miles and Flora just being mysterious. Flora swears she doesn’t see Miss Jessel, but Miss Giddens tries to force her to admit it. Mrs. Gross starts to think the governess is losing her mind—she doesn’t see anything either.
Mrs. Gross and Flora head off to London to report to the uncle, but Giddens and Miles remain at the house without any servants. Miles seems way too old for a child, and as she interrogates him, he admits that he heard things. She sees Quint at the window as Miles starts talking dirt and throwing things. He runs away, denying that Quint has talked to him.
She sees him again, but Miles doesn’t. Suddenly, Miles falls over dead. “You’re safe. You’re free. I have you,” she says over his corpse. She gives him one more long kiss.
It’s an adaptation of “The Turn of the Screw,” and it’s pretty close to the original book—except for the ending.
It’s all one of those “Are they real or am I crazy?”-type stories, but since The Turn of the Screw was one of the earliest versions of that idea, it gets a pass here. There’s never any evidence that ghosts are real, not Giddens’s imagination. Deborah Kerr does a great job descending from a normal governess to a terrified lunatic. The children do well also, acting far older than they really are. Could they really be possessed?
Newsletter Contact Info:
Stay tuned for more regular and bonus reviews next week!
Book Store: https://brianschell.com/collection/horrorguys
Subscribe by email: http://horrorbulletin.substack.com
Thanks for reading Horror Bulletin! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.