Reviews header Selected from Shivers #76

The Latest in Horror Entertainment
In this issue: ten pages of reviews, covering:

Video / DVD Reviews • Lemora – The Lady Dracula and Zombie Child on video, From Dusk to Dawn 2 and a host of new titles on DVD

Book Reviews • Alan Blackwood's
Plague of Angels, Dean Koontz's False Memory, and Steve Savile's chap-book Icarus Descending

TV Reviews • The new incarnations of Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) and further episodes of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Angel, and The X-Files.

Film Reviews • We examine the Spanish shocker Open Your Eyes

Plus new Soundtracks including Scream 3, Theatre of Blood and the Quatermass Movie collection

Video Review
Lemora – The Lady Dracula
Director: Richard Blackburn
Starring: Lesley Gilb, Cheryl Smith
VHS RETAIL • Order it from Black Star today!
Lemora The Lady Dracula
Reviewed by Stephen Foster
selected and edited from Shivers #76

Any film which has been condemned by the Catholic Film Board has to be something you’d be interested in seeing, yes? It’s not hard to see what they found objectionable in Blackburn’s grim fairytale story of an angelic teenage girl who becomes ensnared in a weird world filled with ghouls, lesbian vampires and Hansel and Gretel-type architecture! It’s an interesting movie, with a peculiar style not unlike The Company of Wolves or Valerie and Her Week of Wonders.

Exploited’s new video release makes the 1974 film available again after quite a while in the wilderness (although it has been available on video in the UK before). Their print, which carries the title Lemora – A Child’s Tale of the Supernatural, is hardly pristine and rather dark, but is more than acceptable. The film itself, incidentally, is about 85 minutes long – the “100 min” on the box includes a lengthy interview with the director. (How long? – Don’t know! – Our review tape ended before it finished!)

Video Review
From Dusk Till Dawn 2
Scott Spiegel
Robert Patrick, Bo Hopkins, Duane Whitaker

Region 2 (PAL) DVD
Order it from Black Star today!

The first of two sequels to Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez’s outrageous 1996 road-movie-cum-vampire flick, Texas Blood Money cleverly reworks the storyline of the original. This time around a group of lowlife crooks (Patrick et al) plan a heist, but are sidetracked when they are attacked by the former denizens of the Titty Twister bar…

The movie doesn’t have the same impact as Rodriguez’s film, and without George Clooney it doesn’t have quite the same machismo, or anything to rival its central twist, but there’s still a lot to enjoy, and Spiegel certainly keeps things moving, finding increasingly ingenious places to put the camera.

This is a movie that has broad appeal, and even staunch fans of the original movie won’t feel too disappointed. Buena Vista’s disc presents the film in 1.85:1 ratio and, unlike the US disc, is enhanced for 16:9 viewing. The Dolby Surround (2.0) sound is nicely mixed, but appears to have minor some lip-sync problems.

Book Review
A Plague of Angels
by Alan Blackwood
Published by Corgi • 541pp

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Plague of Angels
Reviewed by David J Howe
selected and edited from Shivers #76

Alan Blackwood was born in Hove, Sussex but emigrated to the USA when he was twelve. He lives and works in Los Angeles where he is consultant for an interactive computer company.

A far better take on hypnotically induced crime than Dean Koontz's False Memory (also reviewed this issue) is Alan Blackwood’s Plague of Angels. Following the success of Kingdom of the Blind, Blackwood turns in another superior thriller, this time with definite X-Files undertones.

Conor O’Neil is a chief of security at a New York store, and his life takes a turn for the worse when two strangers confront him one morning. In the blink of an eye they vanish, and Conor is left to try to explain when the store is robbed. Unfortunately, the safe-boxes they take are strangely empty, and Conor finds that he is under suspicion for the theft by the police – headed up by a cop with a huge grudge against Conor.

Conor’s quest to clear his name brings him into contact with stage hypnotists, theatrical agents and a crusading evangelist determined to bring the world together in the name of his religion. Blackwood juggles all these ideas deftly, and comes up with a tale of conspiracy and power stretching back to a lethal influenza epidemic in 1918. Epic is definitely the word for it.

Perhaps the only criticism I have is that Blackwood’s two master-hypnotist protagonists had apparently fallen on rough times before being recruited to help the religious causes of the evangelist Dennis Evelyn Branch, and were penniless. I would have thought that the ability to control and influence any other human, would have ensured that the couple were never short of money, places to stay, or employment… This is a minor niggle, though, and overall the book rocks and rolls towards a satisfying climax.

Plague of Angels is an enjoyable thriller which crosses continents with ease with just enough sexy hypnosis and gunfights to keep the most jaded readers on the edge of their seats.

Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased)

1.02 Mental Apparition Disorder
Written by Charlie Higson, Directed by Rachel Talalay
Guest stars: Hugh Laurie, Steven Berkoff, Richard Todd

UK premiere March 25th 2000
TV Review Vic Reeves as Marty Hopkirk (Deceased)
Reviewed by
Ian Atkins
selected and edited from Shivers #76

‘I’ve been under a lot of pressure and I think I might have gone mad.’
Doctor Lawyer (Hugh Laurie)

Based on the original series’ second episode, A Disturbing Case, it’s a little worrying to see the makers of this new take on Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) raiding the script cupboard so soon. After all, the first episode was pretty much written before they started, so does this show that the series is going to owe more than just a slight debt to the original?

Well, yes and no. If you’re going to do a re-make of an original episode, then this isn’t a bad one to choose. Hugh Laurie is the head of a mental health farm who is hypnotising his guests into doing crimes on his behalf. Of course, this is the same place where Jeff Randall goes to rid himself of his delusions of seeing his dead partner, something which to Marty’s horror begins to work. Marty himself is experiencing some help too in the form of Tom Baker’s Wyvern, a sort of guide to the afterlife, and it’s only through these lessons that he’s going to be able to save the day.

Adding a pointless subplot in a casino seems more there to pay lip-service to the original series’ vibe than any good plot reason, and the degree of coincidencitis needed to bring it all together nearly strains things too far. As it is, any viewer half familiar with their television actors will be almost reeling from all the familiar faces that crop up: it’s a parlour game afterwards to see how many you can remember, though in its defence, this was often the experience of seeing the original show.

However, some good direction and sly visual jokes (watch what Wyvern does with the broken statuette) make the most of the high points of the episode, most of which occur between Baker and Reeves. It’s this episode’s glimpse of the afterlife that really fascinates, and significantly is the first aspect introduced by the remake. With creativity like this, and avoiding another trip to the ’60s Script Cupboard, then things are looking very good for one man and his ghost.

Reviews © Visual Imagination Ltd 2000.
Images © Fox TV, Columbia, Anchor books. Not for reproduction