Reviews header Selected from Shivers #82

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

Video / DVD Reviews •
Stephen Foster on DVDs including:
Gargoyles, Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things, Dario Argento's The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, Mystery Men and The Exterminator.

Book Reviews •
The autobiography of Paul Naschy, plus Richard Laymon's The Travelling Vampire Show, Nicholas Royle's intriguing The Director's Cut and zombie movie compendium The Dead Walk.

TV Reviews •
Ian Atkins look at the final episodes from the latest seasons of Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Angel

Film Reviews •
Hollow Man, X Men, What Lies Beneath and the Japanese Horror prequel Ring 0: Birthday considered

Book Review
The Travelling Vampire Show
By Richard Laymon
Published by Headline £17.99 h/b, 314pp

Richard Laymon's latest
Reviewed by David Howe:
selected and edited from Shivers #82

Born in Chicago in 1947, Richard Laymon is the author of numerous novels and over 60 short stories.

After a disappointing foray into the thriller genre for his last book (Among the Missing) Laymon returns to Horror with his new novel … just.

The Travelling Vampire Show is nominally about that titular entertainment, but the book is mainly about three teenagers growing up in an American backwater. There’s Dwight, Rusty and Slim: Dwight is the thoughtful, intelligent one, obsessed with sex and girls and who quite fancies Slim but can’t admit it to her. Rusty is the overweight butt of the jokes, who hangs out with Dwight and Slim as they are his friends. Slim is the natural leader, shapely, gorgeous, spunky, and who changes her name each summer as the mood takes her. These three characters have adventures, they go out exploring, they get into scrapes and generally bond as all kids who grow up together do.

Thus the novel is a coming of age story for these three. Not all will make it through alive, and via numerous flashbacks and paragraphs of introspection we learn of their past lives, fortunes and failures. After simply an age we get to the Vampire Show of the title, and a neat short story kicks in during which the kids, along with a grown-up friend, face off against the vampire.

The novel is patchy and uneven, and more than once I just wanted Laymon to get on with the plot rather than presenting us with more flash-back summer adventures. What Laymon has done extremely well is to present three characters who come over as totally believable – with all the Angst and neuroses that coming of age presents. It’s an enjoyable short story, or novella, expanded to novel length with back-story and teenage sexual fantasies. Neither wholly satisfying, nor a total disaster.

DVD Review
Gargoyles
Director: Bill L. Norton Starring:
Cornel Wilde, Jennifer Salt, Grayson Hall
Region 1 (NTSC) DVD • VCI Home VIdeo
Order it from VCI today!
Gargoyles
Reviewed by Stephen Foster
selected and edited from Shivers #82

This month the spotlight falls on several discs from Oklahoma-based label VCI Home Video (www.vcihomevideo.com). They’re developing an interesting catalogue, including a growing number of cult Horror titles, and show signs of gradually improving the presentation of their discs.

Gargoyles is a memorable 1972 TV movie about an anthropologist (Wilde) and his daughter (Salt) who discover a race of ancient demon-like creatures in the Arizona desert. It has the same atmosphere as episodes of The Night Stalker, which is to say that it’s quite like The X-Files. The creatures, which were realized by Stan Winston, look rather dated now, but the story is played with conviction (especially by Oscar-nominated lead Wilde) and the film succeeds despite Norton’s unimaginative direction.

The movie has the look of a TV production (it was given a theatrical release in Europe) but seems remarkably well preserved – it lacks bite in the darker areas, which spoils the presentation somewhat. The disc has a satisfying stereo surround mix that adds weight to the music and sound effects. The disc also contains flaky trailers for The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (also reviewed this issue, along with VCI's Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things and Kill, Baby... Kill!) and future releases Blood and Black Lace, The Night Visitor and Gorgo.

DVD Round-Up
The Exterminator
Director: James Glickenhaus Starring:
Samantha Eggar, Robert Ginty

Region 2 (PAL) DVD • Synergy
Order it from Blackstar today!

Ordering details for The Exterminator here
Reviewed by Stephen Foster
selected and edited from Shivers #82

Synergy has presented James Glickenhaus’ The Exterminator as a ‘Directors Cut’ – so they say – which directors are they talking about? – that claims to include never-before-seen footage. It’s a pretty good 1.85:1 transfer with quite presentable digital surround sound.

This new version has had some of the previous BBFC cuts restored, but a scene involving a woman being tortured is still censored, (the BBFC database lists 22” of cuts, some or all of which involve substitutions). The new version runs 97’44”. The old Intervision tape (circa 1985) ran for 94’21”, with 2’54” of cuts. Braveworld’s videotape (circa 1991) ran for 94’00”, with 3’38” of cuts. Whichever way you slice it, the net difference between the old and new versions is minimal.

Reviews © Visual Imagination Ltd 2000.
Images © Headline books, VCI HomeVideo, Synergy. Not for reproduction