Reviews header Selected from Shivers #83

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

Video / DVD Reviews •
Stephen Foster on over a dozen new DVDs including The Devil’s Rain and eXistenZ, plus Hillbillys in a Haunted House. There's a special section on DVDs from Anchor Bay including Argento's Deep Red and The Abominable Snowman, and many more...

Plus in a further article, the lavish and long-awaited UK DVD presentation of Men in Black

Book Reviews •
Stephen Laws' The Midnight Man, The Ragchild from Razorblade Press, and the 'uncollected' stories of R Chetwynd-Hayes in a new volume, Phantoms and Fiends.

Film Reviews •
The strangely familiar slasher movie Cherry Falls and the lame spoof
Scary Movie considered

Plus Horror on the Web •
looks at the variety of sites devoted to Blair Witch-craft

DVD Review • Anchor Bay DVD Special
Anchor Bay, our favorite DVD company, continues to go from strength to strength, developing the quality and presentation of their releases. After a hesitant start, the company now routinely releases discs that are 16:9-enhanced, with animated menus and worthwhile bonus materials.

Recently the company has added THX-certification to some of their releases, and some titles now include close captions. Their reach has extended considerably, and they now have a unrivalled catalogue of genre titles, including several key Hammer titles, films by Lamberto Bava and Dario Argento, and newly-polished gems like Return to Oz.

More Anchor Bay releases reviewed in this issue: Four-Sided Triangle, Zulawski's Possession, X The Unknown, Quatermass 2 and Argento's Inferno

The Abominable Snowman
Director: Val Guest Starring:
Forrest Tucker, Peter Cushing, Maureen Connell
Region 0 (All Regions), unrated
Anchor Bay Entertainment

Anchor Bay's The Abominable Snowman DVD

Reviewed by Stephen Foster
selected and edited from Shivers #83

Based on a long-lost BBC play written by Quatermass creator Nigel Kneale, (The Creature, in 1955), this 1957 Hammer film is unjustly neglected. Peter Cushing gives one of his finest performances as a botanist who strikes up an uneasy alliance with an American impresario (Tucker) during a trip to the Himalayas. Together they search for the legendary Yeti, but get more than they bargain for when they eventually encounter the creatures.

The film may be too sedate to fully engage a modern audience, but there are several memorable scenes, and time spent watching Cushing perform is never wasted. The film has played numerous times on TV. Recent broadcasts have tantalizingly begun in letterbox format, before switching to full-screen as soon as the credits have finished. Anchor Bay’s stunning widescreen presentation, (replicating the original Cinemascope-like Regalscope 2.35:1 theatrical ratio), is a revelation, opening out Guest’s tableaux considerably. Almost every shot is improved, either by keeping more cast members on screen at a time, or revealing the impressive scale and detail of Bernard Robinson’s sets.

The disc captures Arthur Grant’s stark black and white cinematography very nicely. Anchor Bay’s print carries the film’s original British title (it was lengthened to The Abominable Snowman of the Himalayas for the US) and is even preceded by its original British Board of Film Censors certificate. The disc is enhanced for 16:9 presentation, and comes with a commentary track by Nigel Kneale and Val Guest. The disc also contains an episode of the feeble World of Hammer TV series titled Hammer Stars: Peter Cushing. The documentary, narrated by Oliver Reed, contains clips from several films not yet released on DVD, and this, too, is presented in 16:9-enhanced format.

Deep Red
Director: Dario Argento Starring:
David Hemmings, Daria Nicolodi, Gabriele Lavia

Region 0 (All Regions), unrated
Anchor Bay Entertainment

Ordering details for Deep Red here

See also our exclusive
Dario Argento interview here

Reviewed by Stephen Foster
selected and edited from Shivers #83

Regarded by many as Argento’s best film, Deep Red concerns an English music teacher (Hemmings) in Rome who witnesses a brutal murder, and teams up with a young reporter (Argento regular Nicolodi) to investigate. The film is a showcase for the director’s stylistic flourishes, and aural extravagances.

No presentation has come close to equalling that on Anchor Bay’s new disc, which presents the film in a stunning widescreen (2.35:1) transfer, enhanced for 16:9 sets, with a new Dolby Digital 5.1 surround mix that pushes the ferocious Goblin soundtrack. The disc contains the most complete version of the film ever assembled in one place, and was created with Argento’s full co-operation. A couple of scenes are included that only have Italian audio, (the English tracks have been lost, or were never recorded), and these have been subtitled.

Two trailers and a tantalising ten-minute 25th Anniversary featurette, which includes interviews with Argento and the members of Goblin, complete the package, which is guaranteed to take pride of place in any Euro-Horror lover’s collection.

Book Review
The Midnight Man
By Stephen Laws
Published by Silver Salamander Press
266pp, hardback and paperback (see below)

Stephen Laws' The Midnight Man
Reviewed by David Howe:
selected and edited from Shivers #83

Stephen Laws is the author of ten acclaimed novels, including Chasm, Spectre and The Frighteners. He lives and works in Newcastle upon Tyne.

Stephen Laws has been quiet on the Horror scene for the last few years after he split with publishers Hodder and Stoughton following publication of his tenth novel Chasm. For those of you missing Laws’ particular brand of well written and entertaining terrors, this new collection from Silver Salamander in America is well worth a look. The book may be dated 1999, but it has only just been published after several delays.

Laws is not a prolific short story writer, but when he does put pen to paper the results are nothing short of spectacular. Here we have a selection of tales from his very first (Yesterday I Flew with the Birds) to his most recent (the award-winning The Song my Sister Sang and The Crawl) and the impact of the stories is never less than impressive.

Tales like The Crawl, where a man and his wife are chased at walking pace along a motorway by a scythe-wielding scarecrow are the stuff of nightmares, while Pot Luck is a quirky piece with a almost Roald Dahl sense of the macabre about it. We have original tales of werewolves (Man Beast and Guilty Party), Frankenstein-like creations (Junk in which machinery melds with flesh in a horrific homage to the Japanese Tetsuo films) and true, gritty, urban horror (Black Cab and The Fractured Man).

Laws spares nothing in his descriptions of horror, and yet some of the stories are life-affirming and rich, showing the scope and range that this talented writer has at his disposal. As with Simon Clark’s collection Salt Snake a few years back, Silver Salamander have put together a nice package, and it’s well worth tracking down. In the UK copies are available from BBR Distribution (PO Box 625, Sheffield, S1 3GY). Choose from a deluxe hardback, leather bound, 1 of 50 copies, £55; Limited edition hardback, cloth bound, 1 of 300, £29.95; Trade paperback, 1 of 500 copies, £10.95.

Reviews © Visual Imagination Ltd 2000.
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