Mark Harris
The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror
Editor: Stephen Jones
Publisher: Robinson
Price/Pages: £6.99/494pp
ISBN: 1-85487-554-X
If it was a cat, TMBONH would be quivering in its paws. Fortunately, the ninth incarnation of Jones’ horror overview has more in common with restless legions of the undead that grace its pages, who are seldom quite as inanimate as they first appear. So don’t be put off by the dismal cover design or even the awful title, whose spiritual home is certainly the Bargain Book Bin at Woolworths - TMBONH continues to provide a solid, enjoyable overview to the year in horror. Jones’ introduction gives a whistlestop tour of the significant books, films, comings and goings of 1997; and then it’s full steam ahead. Many of your favourite names can be found here; I was particularly taken with Simon Clark’s classic Welsh chiller, Stephen Laws’ horror version of Duel, Brian Hodge’s superb reading of the Christian myth, Ramsey Campbell’s literary nightmare and Kim Newman’s wonderfully funny Heart of Darkness/Dracula tale. But there isn’t really a duff tale in the bunch, even if they do reflect the slightly inward-looking (too many stories about writers!) and SF-influenced nature of modern horror writing. TMBONH rounds off nicely with a comprehensive necrology which maintains a tastefully neutral tone throughout, for instance referring to the death of film producer Dodi Fayed ‘and his girlfriend’ in a Parisian car crash. In short, TMBONH contains all you need to bring you up to date with the British and international horror scene, and contains some damn good stories to boot. Well worth your pennies.
Great anthology, shame about the cover  

BFI Modern Classics: The Exorcist
Author: Mark Kermode
Publisher: BFI publishing
Price/pages: £??.??/120pp
ISBN: 0-85170-673-8
The recent re-release of Friedkin’s 1973 classic provides an excellent excuse to look at Kermode’s thoughtful and wide-ranging analysis of the film. Published in a slim, well-produced volume, this ‘Modern Classics’ imprint oozes style throughout. It is intelligently illustrated in full colour, with film stills and production photos on almost every page. Kermode kicks off with a brief recap of the real life events in 1949 on which Blatty’s novel was based, then takes a leisurely stroll through the film itself, before bringing us up to date on lost footage, new endings and the on-going dynamics between Blatty and Friedkin. There is even a great bibliography. There’s plenty here to interest fans and non-fans alike, although the minutiae of production details are only mentioned when they’re really peculiar. For instance, did you know the eerie scratching noises in the attic were really hamsters inside a kettle drum? You can tell Kermode has really got under the skin of The Exorcist, and delights in revealing the inside story on the infamous subliminal images, the certificate-busting masturbation scene and even the mixed reaction the film received when it burst upon an unsuspecting public. A film with as much substance as The Exorcist demands a thorough, balanced treatment, and here Kermode excels, discussing the issues and imagery without ever resorting to film-school cliches. This book will never be comprehensive enough for a real fan, but as a handy companion to one of the seminal horror films, it is first class.
Superb companion to a superb film  


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