The Latest in Horror Entertainment
in this issue:11 pages of reviews, covering Soundtracks (The Creature and The Omen) • Books from Stephen King and Christopher Fowler • Videos from Sam Raimi, Peter Jackson and John Carpenter • Film: The X-Files, Godzilla and Species 2 • TV: two Millennium episodes and a quartet of Buffy the Vampire Slayer tales... Not to mention the selection we've put here!
Book Review
by Stephen Laws
Published by Hodder & Stoughton
546pp £16.99 h/b

If you only read one Horror novel this year, then make it Chasm by Stephen Laws. From his very first novel, Ghost Train, Laws has always delivered the goods, and with this, his tenth novel, he delivers them in spades. The small town of Edmonville is hit by an earthquake which destroys property and kills many of the residents. When the shockwaves subside, the survivors emerge into a grey and bleak world. Edmonville no longer exists in reality and has been dragged through into a parallel dimension. The remains of the town are perched atop craggy spires of rock, and between the crags is a vast and apparently bottomless chasm.

The survivors bond together and try and make sense of what has happened. Then the dead come back to life and attack the living. This is the work of the Vorla, a formless and deadly entity which lives in the chasm. It feeds on the terror and despair of the humans and will stop at nothing to generate it. It is wily and manipulative and is determined to wring every last emotion from the survivors.

Laws uses this scenario to explore human relationships and to try and understand how people can come through under immense pressure. His characters are likeable and, as they try and come to terms with the horror that has befallen them – and that help is not going to arrive – so to does the reader. The book pummels along to one climax after another, and, just when you think there are no more twists to be revealed, Laws pulls off a cracker and pits our heroes against not just the Vorla, but against another group of humans, ones who have embraced the Vorla and its ways. It makes for a nerve-shredding climax. Chasm is easily one of the best Horror novels I have read recently. Have a look for yourself and see why Stephen Laws is one of the most exciting and original writers currently working in the field..

David Howe

Video Review
Count Dracula
Director: Jess Franco
Starring: Christopher Lee, Herbert Lom, Klaus Kinski
4Front Retail (Budget)

For many years this version of Stoker’s tale was something of a holy grail for fans of the Count, fuelled by Lee’s positive reviews of the film, at a time when he was continually running down Hammer. Sad to say the film, which purports to be a faithful adaptation, is nothing of the sort, although it does on occasion capture the spirit of the novel as well as any other version. Franco’s direction is as ham-fisted as ever, and his regular cast of players does the material no favours whatsoever. Lee gives an emphatic performance as Dracula, Lom plays Van Helsing without gusto, and Kinski is a sadly very subdued Renfield. Franco himself appears in a cameo as the carriage driver who takes Mina and Lucy to Van Helsing’s clinic. It would be kindest to say that 4Front’s dubbed print is a bit battle-scarred, but at this price it fully deserves a place in every fan’s collection.

Stephen Foster