As someone who earns their crust writing about crime fiction and films, I have to confess that I particularly enjoy covering (whenever I can) another passion of mine: horror films. But in that area, I defer to my friend and colleague Kim Newman, who is the unchallenged doyen in this territory. His intelligent and often unsparing reviews have graced the pages of magazines from Empire to Sight and Sound to the late, lamented Video Watchdog. Although he and I have our disagreements about films (Kim doesn’t get The Exorcist), we concur on a great many things. But reading this weighty and fascinating collection of reviews written for his column in Empire magazine (heavily repurposed here – Newman is like Stanley Kubrick in that something by him is rarely finished), I realised – as if I needed reminding – that he is an omnivore of the horror field who brooks no rivals. In fact, I got to page 73 of the book before I encountered a film I’d seen (and I consider myself a connoisseur of the obscure). As a trawl through the (mostly modern) lesser-known byways of the genre, this collection will become a must-have addition for any collector’s library, particularly for those seeking something off the beaten track. You will search in vain for mainstream fare here; it is simply off the agenda. One of the real pleasures of the book (apart from the quality of the writing) is the fact that Newman is utterly even-handed in his discussion of the films under review, applying an unflinching cudgel to the dully meretricious, but finding merit in the films that try to do something unusual with the genre. It is an essential collection – but those with solely mainstream tastes will not be tempted.
Kim Newman’s Video Dungeon: The Collected Reviews is published by Titan