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Stocking Stuffers for Your Favorite Fanatic

Some helpful hints for the last-minute Christmas shopping.

By Steve Biodrowski     December 21, 1999

Well, Christmas is next Saturday. That means this is the last weekend you'll have to run out and buy presents. If you're like me, you tend to wait until the last minute, hoping for inspiration to strike and tell you just the right thing to buy for your spouse, family, friends, etc. Well, you're in luck: instead of having to wait for a mystic revelation, we are providing this list of helpful shopping hints, some gifts sure to please your favorite fanatics. Of course, since you're browsing here, we're assuming your tasteand that of your friends and familyruns to a particular sort of entertainment, which may not always be in keeping with the Christmas season. Still, we've tried to find at least a few suggestions in the realm of fantasy, horror and science fiction, that would be appropriate stocking stuffers.

NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS FIGURES: Because TIM BURTON'S THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS is set in Halloweentown, we tend to think of it as a Halloween movie. Yet only the first five minutes deals with that holiday; the rest of it is about Christmas. The initial toys were not huge sellers, but they eventually disappeared from the shelves, becoming highly sought-after collectibles. Now, a whole new set of toys is available. There are numerous figures and toys of different sizes, almost all of them wonderful (although the plush versions of Jack and Sally look a bit bloated). Particularly apt for the holiday season is large size figure of Jack Skellington in his Santa suit, but you also might want to consider the remote-control Christmas snowmobile, with Jack carting a load of presents. At approximately $120, it's a bit pricey, but isn't that special someone in your life worth it.

SLEEPY HOLLOW ACTION FIGURES: No Christmas connection here, but these action figures from McFarlane are truly amazing in their detail and artistrykids love them, and so will you! The Sleepy Hollow set includes three figures: Ichabod Crane, the Crone, and a standing Headless Horseman (with severed heads). There is also a separate Headless Horseman with Horse box set that really looks good on a shelf at home or on your desk at work.

THE ART OF SLEEPY HOLLOW: Continuing with our Tim Burton trend, here's an excellent coffee table book containing the screenplay by Andrew Kevin Walker and lavishly illustrated with still from the movie and pre-production artwork, much of it by Burton himself. Whether or not you think the film script is worth owning, the strong visuals are well represented here, making this a must-have for any Burton fanatic.

PRINCESS MONONOKE: THE ART AND MAKING OF JAPAN'S MOST POPULAR FILM OF ALL TIME: The film may not have been as widely seen as SLEEPY HOLLOW, but it was just as elaborate visually, and this beautiful book takes a fascinating look behind-the-scenes. This is a definite must for anime fanatics, and even fans of animation in general might have their eyes opened up to the fact that Japanese animation is more than just POKEMON.

VINCENT PRICE: A DAUGHTER'S BIOGRAPHY: The late actor was once known as the 'Merchant of Menace,' a horror movie star acknowledge as the heir to the legacy of Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi. There have been several books cataloguing his career in films, but now his daughter Victoria Price has fashioned this biography. Even if you're too young to have seen Price's movies in theatres, this book may awaken your interest enough to encourage you to rent some of the better ones, such as HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL, which was remake earlier this year with Oscar-winner Geoffrey Rush doing a dead-on Price impersonation.

THE STANELY KUBRICK BOX DVD SET: Kubrick made only a handful of films that fell into the genres of science fiction, fantasy, or horror, but these films were monumental in their impact. This box set contains some of his non-genre work, but DR. STRANGELOVE, 2001, A CLOCKWORK ORANGE, and THE SHINING make this a great gift worth giving to not only a Kubrick fan but to any discerning genre film fanatic.

JAMES BOND BOX DVD SET: Even if you favorite Bond fanatic already has these films on tape, this box set is an excellent gift, containing seven titles presented in elaborate special editions. The films are not necessarily the cream of the crop of the Bond series, but with GOLDFINGER, THUNDERBALL, FOR YOUR EYES ONLY, LIVE AND LET DIE, LICENSE TO KILL, GOLDENEYE, and TOMORROW NEVER DIES, you're sure to find enough entertainment to justify the $160 price tag at most stores.

LASERDICS: They're disappearing from shelves like they're going out of style, but their picture quality is still slightly better than DVDs. Even better for you, if you're on a budget, is the fact that these discs are being red-tagged at ridiculously low prices in order to make room for the new, smaller discs. If you can find a discount store trying to get rid of its stock, you should be able to make some great Christmas purchases for approximately ten dollars per title. Even elaborate boxed sets that once sold in the neighborhood of $100 are now priced down to a level comparable with DVDs. Just remember: if you're shopping for a fanatic, make sure you buy the widescreen deluxe edition, preferably with supplemental material.

Oh, and here's one big recommendation for something not to buy: any book that was adapted from a film that was adapted from an original book in the first place. For example, just try to find a copy of E.B. White's STUART LITTLE in your local books store. Fat chance. But you will have no trouble finding movie-tie in books that tell the film's version of the story, illustrated with stills, of course. I mean, what's the point of even publishing something like this instead of reissuing the original? I guess it's that the revenues don't have to be shared with the publisher of the original book. Now that's the Christmas spirit!

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