Reviews header Selected from Shivers #78

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

Video / DVD Reviews • Include CandyMan and Sinbad discs, plus a genre DVD round-up for Regions 1 & 2

Book Reviews •
Peter Straub's latest Mr X, Simon Clark's Judas Tree, China Miéville's King Rat

TV Reviews •
in-depth consideration of two Buffy episodes, two Angel episodes, three X-Files episodes, and the fairy tales of The Tenth Kingdom

Film Reviews •
Teen Horror in Final Destination starring Kerr Smith and Devon Sawa, plus Scream 3 starring David Arquette and Neve Campbell

DVD Review
CandyMan: Day of the Dead
Director: Turi Meyer
Starring: Tony Todd, Donna D’Erico, Nick Corri
Region 2 (PAL) DVD • Order it from Black Star today!
CandyMan: Day of the Dead - available at BlackStar
Reviewed by Stephen Foster
selected and edited from Shivers #78

Billing itself as ‘the sequel to Clive Barker’s Candyman’ – as if Candyman: Farewell To the Flesh never happened – this film comes to us courtesy of the writer/director team which brought you Leprechaun II.

The film features Baywatch babe Donna D’Erico – pronounced Donnna D’Erico on one of the menu screens – as Daniel Robataille’s last surviving descendent, who summons the Candyman at an exhibition of Daniel’s paintings. She soon finds herself the focus of attention as the Candyman works his way through her friends and acquaintances.

This third film in the series has been drained of almost all of the poetry that made the original so memorable, especially now that another key ingredient, Philip Glass’s pulsating music, has been dispensed with. D’Erico makes a gutsy heroine, but the series has one fundamental flaw: the more you see of the Candyman the less interesting he becomes.

Mosaic’s disc does the film – and their customers – few favours: it’s presented in full-screen format only, with Dolby Surround (2.0) sound. It’s a nice enough transfer, but it should have been so much better. A photo gallery, production notes and a full-screen trailer – which shows how bad the film might have looked if DVD authoring facility DGP hadn’t done such a good job – provide minor added value.

DVD Review
The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad
Nathan Juran
Starring: Kerwin Mathews, Kathryn Grant, Torin Thatcher

Region 2 (PAL) DVD
Order it from Black Star today!
7th Voyage of Sinbad - available on DVD from BlackStar

Columbia Tristar have given Ray Harryhausen fans much to smile about with a pair of terrific discs. Jason and the Argonauts came out last year, and now The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad joins it. Both discs contain virtually identical sets of supplements: The Harryhausen Chronicles (a very nice hour-long documentary from 1997 which gives a pretty thorough overview of his career), This Is Dynamation (a three-minute contemporary trailer promoting Seventh Voyage’s innovative special effects techniques), a recent twelve minute interview (conducted by John Landis) about Jason, and A Look Behind The Voyage (12-minutes of interviews and clips, copyright 1995, but looking much older).

Trailers for Seventh Voyage, Jason and The Golden Voyage of Sinbad (the next Harryhausen title due for release) complete the package. The extras deserve to be released as part of a more comprehensive stand-alone presentation, and Columbia may eventually regret their generous decision to give them away so freely!

The 1958 film is presented in 1.85:1 format, enhanced for 16:9 sets. The composition is a little tight, masking off picture information at the top and bottom of the screen that we’ve been used to seeing, but provides dynamic new compositions that will thrill the most jaded of viewers. The movie looks a little grainy, but it’s certainly an improvement on previous home video versions. Sadly Columbia seems to have dropped the ball where the film’s sound is concerned. This DVD offers only a mono mix, whereas the previous NTSC laserdisc release was in stereo.

Book Review
Mr. X
by Peter Straub
Published by HarperCollins, 482pp, trade paperback

Order it from today!

Peter Straub's Mr X
Reviewed by David Howe
selected and edited from Shivers #78

Peter Straub is the author of fourteen novels and has won numerous Awards for his work. Check out the full range of Peter Straub's books at today!

Some of Peter Straub’s books are among my top Horror novels ever. Titles like Ghost Story, Shadowland and Floating Dragon are always a pleasure to read. Straub eschewed the Horror field for many years in favour of Vietnam-flavoured works, and Mr X marks his return. It is with a heavy heart, therefore, that I must report that the novel is ponderous and hard going, and not a patch on his earlier work.

Mr X is the story of Ned Dunstan, who, like others in his family, can perform apparently magical acts: his aunts can cause electrical surges, and are master thieves, while Ned’s talent seems to be to be able to go back in time at will, and return when he wishes. Ned is also being haunted by his double: a brother he never knew he had; and also by his mysterious father. When his mother dies, Ned is given the clues to find out for himself what his true inheritance is, and just what the connection is between his father, and the writings of H P Lovecraft, and what his brother wants from him.

Straub’s plot is overly complex, and the meandering of Ned and all the other characters becomes something of a chore. There are nice ideas here, but they are buried under a morass of incidental detail. The idea that someone could seriously believe Lovecraft to be a prophet and his works to be fact is somewhat incredible (although in an afterword Straub notes that apparently such a person really existed), and the book’s ending is somewhat anti-climactic with explanations being delivered verbatim as Ned sets out, in case you missed it, what has really been going on.

The book ends with a question, but for me, the answer was ‘so what?’ Mr X is a bit of a clunker, and I hope that Straub can find his feet again ready for the eagerly anticipated sequel to his and Stephen King’s The Talisman.

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