Reviews header Selected from Shivers #81

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

Video / DVD Reviews •
More DVDs including:
The Bone Collector, End of Days, Return to Oz, Something Wicked This Way Comes, Jaws, Gods and Monsters, and Sleepy Hollow

Film Reviews •
Space-bound Horror in Pitch Black

Soundtracks • bounce back
with a bumper crop: latest Hammer CDs, plus Sleepy Hollow, The Tenth Kingdom and Battlefield Earth

TV Reviews •
In-depth consideration of three varied Buffy episodes, and four from Angel – including the return of Faith

Book Reviews •
New titles include Christopher Fowler's Calabash, Echoes of Darkness and Tim Lebbon’s Naming of Parts

Book Review
Calabash
By Christopher Fowler
Published by Warner Books, 346pp paperback

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

Ordering details on Christopher Fowler'slatest at amazon.co.uk here
Reviewed by David Howe:
selected and edited from Shivers #81

Christopher Fowler is a director of The Creative Partnership, a film production company based in London’s Soho. He is the author of numerous novels and short stories.

After a run of great novels, Christopher Fowler stumbles slightly with his latest novel. Calabash is not a patch on work like Soho Black, Psychoville or Disturbia. We are in Sixties Britain, a land of bleak despondency, especially for 16-year-old Kay Goodwin. He lives in the seaside town of Cole Bay, a depressing mix of run down amusement arcades, crumbling piers, teenage Angst and pensioners. To escape from the dreariness of his existence he creates Fantasy worlds, drawing maps and inventing stories. One day, while standing on the pier, he is suddenly transported to Calabash, a fantastic city with spires and temples. The people of Calabash welcome him: he was expected; and he aids the chief scientist Trebunculus in understanding some of the technologies from his home. In Calabash Kay is someone important. He falls in love with the Sultan’s beautiful daughter and they begin an affair. He is also charmed by other women, and is treated like royalty. But back home, nothing changes. The skies are grey and Kay’s life seems to be slipping out of view. Then Calabash changes; the land suffers internal rebellion and it is Kay who must to try to save the day. Fowler has created a patchwork of fantasy and reality: Calabash reflects the opposites of Kay’s life in England and he discovers that he has far more of an influence on the events in Calabash than he thought – but can he change his situation in England as easily. It’s a well written and imaginative novel, but one which fails to really excite. Fowler is playing with numerous themes here – loss of youth, love and imagination– but none of them gel to form the firm foundation that the novel needed to really soar.

DVD Review
The Bone Collector
Director: Phillip Noyce Starring:
Denzel Washington, Angelina Jolie, Queen Latifah
Region 2 (PAL) DVD • Columbia Tristar Films
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Ordering details for The Bone Collector here
Reviewed by Stephen Foster
selected and edited from Shivers #81

A James Patterson-style thriller reminiscent of Se7en, The Bone Collector is a misconceived exercise. Noyce, no slouch as a director, however invests the film with considerable tension, conjuring up several memorable scenes and situations that make the film worth seeing. Washington plays a New York cop, who has recently been paralysed and confined to a hospital bed. To solve a series of horrific murders he teams up with a rookie cop (Jolie) who acts as his avatar.

The disc is validated by a commentary track by Noyce, who approaches the task methodically. His thorough deconstruction of the movie is as interesting as the movie itself. The disc also contains a satisfying twenty-minute Making of… The disc is beautifully presented, with atmospheric menus. The film is presented in widescreen ratio (2.35:1, 16:9 enhanced), a format that Noyce is obviously very comfortable with. The 5.1 sound is adventurous, and will give home theatre systems a good workout. The US disc is practically identical, but also sports DTS sound. Most pundits agree that DTS is a superior format, and it is regrettable that UK labels are not supporting it.

DVD Review
End of Days
Director: Peter Hyams Starring:
Arnold Schwarzenegger, Gabriel Byrne, Kevin Pollak

Region 2 (PAL) DVD • Touchstone Pictures
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Ordering details for End of Days here
Reviewed by Stephen Foster
selected and edited from Shivers #81

It’s the eve of the Millennium, and the Devil (Byrne) stalks New York, looking for the woman (The Craft’s Robin Tunney) who is destined to bear his child. Time is running out, and bodyguard Jericho Cane, whose wife and child were murdered, lacks the one key attribute to save her – faith.

Hyams’ overwrought thriller is hamstrung by a typically stoic Schwarzenegger performance, (“You think you know bad? You’re a f**king choirboy compared to me! A choirboy!”), and a complete lack of subtlety, but it has its moments, and there’s obviously been a lot of money spent on it. Fans of the Omen subgenre, and people who appreciate truly bad movies will undoubtedly get a kick out of it.

Touchstone’s UK disc, presented in 16:9-enhanced 2.35:1 ratio, with a knockout Dolby 5.1 sound mix, comes with a number of supplemental features, including nine fascinating short items exploring the film’s spectacular special effects, an on-location featurette and a couple of music videos. A very worthy effort, but the British disc lacks Hyams’ commentary track, the elaborate animated menus, and various text-based features that were on the American disc. The bits and pieces are pretty incidental, but the commentary adds considerable value to the package, and shouldn’t have been ditched.

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