Reviews header Selected from Shivers #80

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

Video / DVD Reviews •
A host of Hammer DVDs from US company Anchor Bay, including The Plague of the Zombies and The Reptile, plus more discs includingThe Seventh Sign and Stigmata

Book Reviews •
New titles including Kim Newman’s Dracula Cha Cha Cha and Hideous Progeny: A Frankenstein Anthology plus notable small press titles including The Shadows Beneath

TV Reviews •
In-depth consideration of two pairs of Buffy episodes, three Angel episodes, and three more X-Files episodes

Film Reviews •
Featuring the new films Bats ("a by-the-numbers, po-faced eco-thriller") and Stir of Echoes, based on a Richard Matheson novel

Book Review
Dracula Cha Cha Cha
By Kim Newman
Published by Simon and Schuster, 285pp, hardback

For a 20% discount (valid when this page was created), order it from amazon.co.uk today!

Ordering details on Kim Newman's latest at amazon.co.uk here
Reviewed by David Howe:
selected and edited from Shivers #80

Kim Newman is one of the UK’s most respected film critics and journalists and his work appears regularly in Empire and Sight and Sound magazines (as well as Shivers, of course). He is the author of seven novels, plus five collections of his short stories.

This is the latest in a series of themed books from Kim Newman, all set in a vampire-infested world where Dracula survived staking at the hands of Jonathan Harker and his friends, and ends up the consort of Queen Victoria in a Britain where vampires are tolerated, if not accepted, as the equals of living men.

In Dracula Cha Cha Cha, the setting is 1959 Rome, as Dracula announces his forthcoming engagement to a Moldavian Princess, leading to speculation as to what his true motives may be. Amongst the guests at the ensuing party is French vampire Genevieve Dieudonne, lifelong friend of the elderly Charles Beauregard – one of Dracula’s enemies – vampire journalist Kate Reed, plus assorted other vampires all interested in seeing Dracula succeed or perish. But there is another force at work.

A sinister figure called The Scarlet Executioner is killing off elder vampires and the police seem helpless to prevent it. So Charles, Genevieve, Kate and the vampire Commander Bond of the British secret service end up trying to outwit both Dracula and the unknown Executioner in order to see justice done.

Kim Newman has, as usual, fused a great many themes and characters together to form a very entertaining novel. The title refers to the dance that people and vampires have been performing to keep Dracula happy (dancing to Dracula’s tune), but despite this, and despite his overshadowing of everything in the book, Dracula himself never speaks, and only appears towards the end of the book. It’s an impressive feat of writing and misdirection, which keeps the readers guessing as to who or what might be behind the events and the deaths.

Given that almost all the characters have appeared in Newman’s fiction before, this novel is perfectly stand-alone, and enough information is revealed to allow the vampires to come over as real people, prone to emotion, fear, anger and love, as well as blood lust, revenge and spite. If you like vampire fiction to be somewhat different from the norm, then you’ll love Kim Newman. This is an excellent novel, a kind of vampiric Thomas Harris thriller. And so much more enjoyable than Hannibal!

Newman also has available at the moment, two collections of his short stories: Seven Stars and Unforgivable Stories (both available from Pocket Books) and a hardback signed and numbered limited edition collection of his Where the Bodies Are Buried stories (available for £17.50 from Alchemy Press, 46 Oxford Road, Acocks Green, Birmingham, B27 6DT).

DVD Review
Plague of the Zombies
Director: John Gilling
Starring: André Morell, Diane Clare, John Carson
Region 1 (NTSC) DVD • Anchor Bay Entertainment
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Reviewed by Stephen Foster
selected and edited from Shivers #80

There aren’t any Hammer DVDs available in the UK yet, but there is quite a selection in the US, where Anchor Bay have been building a very representative collection, mostly based on the series of laserdiscs released by Elite. These releases will certainly find an appreciative home with every fan of the studio’s output.

Plague of the Zombies is one of the finest Horror films of the ’60s, placing it in the top ten or so films in the Hammer canon. Originally released as the B-movie in a double bill with Dracula – Prince of Darkness, Plague is one of Hammer’s most atmospheric productions.

The film is presented in anamorphically-enhanced 1.85:1 ratio. The source material is marked here and there, but the colours are robust and generally the film is in excellent shape, and the sound is considerably tighter than the audio on the UK video versions. The disc also contains two theatrical trailers, including one for the Prince of Darkness double bill, and an episode of the vapid The World of Hammer TV series, Mummies, Werewolves & The Living Dead.

DVD Review
The Reptile and more TV...
Director: John Gilling Starring:
Noel Willman, Jennifer Daniel, Jacqueline Pearce

Region 1 (NTSC) DVD • Anchor Bay Entertainment
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Reviewed by Stephen Foster
selected and edited from Shivers #80

The Reptile is a traditional monster story, similar to the studio’s 1964 effort The Gorgon. It is an exotic story, involving a cult of snake-worshippers, but played with conviction by a compelling ensemble cast. The film is presented in 16:9-enhanced 1.85:1 ratio, and is supported by a theatrical trailer, and a couple of short TV ad’s (for the film’s double-bill appearance with Rasputin The Mad Monk). Another World of Hammer episode, Vamp, completes the package.

Also reviewed in this issue from Anchor Bay's Hammer Collection: The Lost Continent and Rasputin - the Mad Monk

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