THE PAN BOOK OF HORROR STORIES (Book Review)

Selected by: Herbert van Thal

First published by Pan Books in 1959 / Reprinted: 2017

296 pages


THE GHOSTS OF SENSIBILITIES PAST

Pan Book of Horror StoriesHaving released their first mass-market paperback in 1947 (Ten Stories by Rudyard Kipling), publishing giants Pan are this year celebrating their 70th anniversary with a series of reissues of their most popular and iconic titles. Piquing my interest among the twenty classics receiving a new lease of life was a reprint of the first ever volume of collected horror stories; 22 macabre tales from authors renowned (Bram Stoker, Peter Fleming, C.S. Forester) and unheard of.

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A Christmas Carol (DVD Review)

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PG – 95mins – 1999


 

MAKE IT S(N)O(W)

Perhaps the most famous Christmas story ever written, authored by perhaps the most famous novelist who ever lived, Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol has had more adaptations and reimaginings than you can shake a sprig of holly at. While some will always cherish the olde worlde charm of the Alastair Sim classic (1951), Albert Finney’s beloved musical (1970), the Muppets’ frantic, family-friendly retelling (1992), Bill Murray’s modernised comedy, Scrooged (1988), or Disney’s Jim Carrey-heavy performance capture animation (2009), for me this 1999 TV movie starring the man who is Jean Luc Picard is the quintessential version. My dad and I habitually return to it in the lead up to every Christmas and I must have seen it in excess of fifteen times.

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Planes, Trains and Automobiles (Cinema Review)

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15 – 92mins – 1987


 

HOME FOR THE HOLIDAY

As part of a season celebrating the beloved films of John Hughes, last month Cinema City in Norwich screened this classic seasonal comedy – now 30 years old – from the iconic, late American filmmaker. While many make this Thanksgiving-set heart-warmer an annual tradition, this was only my second-ever viewing, and to see it on the big screen with a room of fans who laughed along uproariously to every gag like they were seeing it anew really enchanted me. My second viewing will NOT be my last.

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Erik the Conqueror (Blu-ray Review)

Erik the Conqueror Blu

VIKINGS VIA ITALY

My third review for entertainment podcast website 60 Minutes With went live yesterday, so this is just a heads up and polite nudge to follow THIS DIRECT LINK to read my take on Arrow Video‘s new 2K restoration – and sumptuous double-disc, dual-format release – of Mario Bava’s 1961 swashbuckler Erik the Conqueror.

Critters (Amazon Prime Review)

15 – 85mins – 1986


 

FURRY FANGED FOOTBALLS

The Brown family’s rural Kansas farmhouse is about to become the chomping ground of a horde of hungry, malevolent alien vermin in this quintessentially 80s sci-fi/horror comedy, which plays out like Gremlins meets Ghoulies – with a multitude of iconic pop culture references thrown in for good measure!

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Murder on the Orient Express (Cinema Review)

12A – 114mins – 2017


 

NO BEACH-SIDE HOLIDAY

Kenneth Romeo & Juliet LIVE Branagh has dual duties as both headliner and director of this fourth adaptation of Agatha Christie’s classic 1934 mystery novel, featuring “probably the greatest detective in the world” (self-professed), Hercule Poirot, the Dickens-loving gentleman with the distractingly-iconic moustache which successfully upstages a train-full of Hollywood A-listers.

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A Nightmare on Elm Street (Blu-ray Review)

18 – 91mins – 1984


 

SLEEP DISORDER

“Everybody’s got to dream, young lady.”

Inexcusably falling into the ‘genre classic I’ve somehow never seen’ category, I remedied my unintentional aversion to Wes Craven’s Elm Street franchise by picking up the 5-disc Blu-ray boxset recently, which neatly includes all 7 original entries and only skips on the 2010 remake (which, shamefully, is the only one I had previously seen).

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Madame Bovary (DVD Review)

15 – 113mins – 2017


 

FEVER OF DESPAIR

Announced in March 2012, cast over the next year and a half and filmed in Normandy from September 2013, French-American director Sophie Barthes’ period adaptation of Gustave Flaubert’s ‘obscene’ nineteenth century masterpiece was granted a premiere at the Telluride Film Festival the following August and then it just… disappeared.

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A Boy Called Christmas (Book Review)

Written by: Matt Haig

Illustrated by: Chris Mould

Published in the UK by: Canongate, 2015

266 pages


 

YOUNG SAINT NICK

While I openly appreciate that I am far beyond the target demographic for this Primary school-skewed prequel detailing how a lonely and underprivileged woodcutter’s son grew up into the magical gift-giving, mince pie-munching Father of the festive season, I was on the lookout for an easy Christmas read to get me in the spirit. This much-applauded “future Classic” (as broadcaster-cum-novelist Simon Mayo hailed it) from the Number One Bestselling author of The Runaway Troll sounded like the perfect pick.

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Under Milk Wood (DVD Review)

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15 – 83mins – 2015


QUITE EARLY ONE MORNING

Dylan Thomas has described his own classic BBC radio play (later a theatrical production and 1972 Richard Burton-starring film) as “strangely simple and simply strange,” and no finer analysis can I make. Director Kevin Allen hoped his new filmic adaption would help bring this bizarre school-taught masterpiece to a new contemporary audience, but going in fresh I struggled greatly with this surreal and unorthodox kaleidoscope of ‘normal’ Welsh life.

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