from Shivers #72
Reviews header

The Latest in Horror Entertainment

In this issue: ten pages of reviews, covering:
Book Reviews • We review Shivers contributor Kim Newman's new novel Andy Warhol’s Dracula, Isle of the Whisperers from veteran writer Hugh B Cave and the splendid Indigo from Graham Joyce. Plus a 40th Anniversay Fearbook from Famous Monsters of Filmland

Video / DVD Reviews • A massive selection of Horror and Fantasy DVDs featuring The Exorcist, Urban Legend, and a special edition of John Carpenter's Halloween plus a bumper re-release of the classic Universal Horrors including Bride of Frankenstein and The Invisible Man

TV Reviews • We continue our reviews of the third season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer with four late Season Three episodes, including the fan favourite Doppelgängland, featuring the wicked version of Willow. Also the first episode from Channel 4's Shockers series.

Film Reviews • John Carpenter's Vampires, a tale of Vatican sponsored vampire hunters (finally released in the UK!), plus Renny Harlin's Deep Blue Sea and the BBC's acclaimed documentary Wisconsin Death Trip.

Urban Legend on DVDVideo Review
Urban Legend
Director: Jamie Blanks
Starring: Jared Leto, Alicia Witt, Rebecca Gayheart
Region 2 (PAL) DVD

Reviewed by Stephen Foster
selected and edited from Shivers #72

The proliferation of urban myths in the last decade or two has been remarkable. Idle chatter that was once referred to as ‘old wives’ tales’ now has the added power of narrative, and the benefit of instant digital communication, which makes it possible for outré stories to spread across the globe within hours. There have been movies about urban myths before, (Bernard Rose’s impressive Candyman (1992), referenced here in the ‘Bloody Mary’ scenes, for example) but Urban Legend is the first Horror film from a major studio to take the stories themselves as its theme.

As a primer to the subject it’s a great popcorn movie. It has a cast of appealing young things, (who frequently indulge in the sort of activities that appealing young things indulge themselves in), some excellent widescreen (2.35:1) cinematography (reproduced in fine detail on this new DVD version, enhanced for 16:9 sets), and some very nice set pieces. It also has some nice cameo appearances, (including Robert Englund and, appropriately enough, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen’s John Neville), and a powerful score by Christopher (Hellraiser) Young. The DVD features a commentary track by the film’s writer, one of the cast members, and young Australian director Jamie Blanks, and also contains potted biographies of most major cast members.

By reading the blurb on the back of the box you’d get the impression that the UK and US versions of the disc are pretty much the same. You’d be mistaken. The main difference is that the US disc is double-sided, offering a choice of full-screen or widescreen versions. It also offers Dolby 5.1 or Dolby Surround sound. The UK disc has Dolby 5.1 soundtracks in English and German, and numerous foreign subtitle options that aren’t on the Region 1 disc. Both discs have the same theatrical trailer, although on the UK disc the sound has been mastered incorrectly.

The UK disc has a six-minute “Making of…” featurette, which skilfully blends trailer-type footage with behind the scenes footage and vacuous sound bite interviews. The US disc has a lengthier, more rough-and-ready, look at several key sequences being shot, narrated by the director. The US version also features a deleted scene – a sex scene at that! – featuring Tara Reid’s character, in rough-cut form; a juicy bonus inexplicably missing from the British disc. Fans of the film will probably want to get both versions, especially as the UK disc is noticeably sharper than its American counterpart.

Book Review
Andy Warhol's Dracula
by Kim Newman
Published by PS Publishing
(98 High Ash Drive, Leeds, LS17 8RE, England)
£25.00 h/b (signed and numbered) or £8.00 p/b • 66pp

Reviewed by David Howe
selected and edited from Shivers #72

In this new novella from PS Publishing, Kim Newman travels back to the swinging sixties and merges together the characters of Andy Warhol (whom everyone believes to be a vampire) and his group of hangers-on, drop-outs and artists, with a real vampire named Johnny Pop. As this is Kim Newman territory, the story is loaded with in-references for those who like spotting such things but, more importantly, Newman never lets these get in the way of the way he wants to tell his tales.

Here we have life from the point of view of Johnny Pop, with humans craving a taste of vampire blood as a junkie craves his next fix, and the world revolving around a small group of fun-seekers centred on Warhol. These sections are interspersed with extracts from a paper written by one Kathleen Conklin about Warhol’s life and experimental films. The narrative switches between these two, the reader never quite sure where the blurring between fiction and fact starts and ends. For thus is Newman’s talent: to make you think that maybe, just maybe, this strange parallel world in which his characters live and breathe is more real than what we previously thought to be true life.

Newman manages to rationalize Warhol’s life in the context of a world where vampires are real, and it works. The novella is enjoyable and quirky, and has a most evocative and effective cover. With an introduction from F Paul Wilson, this is another nice entry into this impressive series of novellas.

VHS Roundup by Stephen Foster

The Mummy returns (to a retailer near you)Universal will be re-promoting their ‘Classic Horror’ movies beginning on January 17th 2000, a few weeks before Stephen Sommers’ recent remake of The Mummy is released on VHS. Most titles were recently digitally remastered. Frankenstein, The Bride of Frankenstein and Dracula will now include ‘Making of…’ featurettes, (probably the ones prepared for the American DVD releases). The rest of the range: The Mummy, Creature From the Black Lagoon, The Black Cat, The Phantom of the Opera (Claude Rains), The Raven, The Wolf Man and The Invisible Man.

Meanwhile Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment will release Dreamland, a new X-Files video compiled from the two-part body-swap story, on 22nd November. The tape will only be available by mail order, and only by ringing 08456 102213 (in the UK). The price is £14.99.

Reviews © Visual Imagination Ltd 1999. Not for reproduction