I initially wanted to title this post “When there’s no More Room in the Bookstore” but Final Girl beat me to the punch. This entry is actually about a book, a book about zombies. Hence, the Dawn of the Dead reference. I just finished Midnight Movie by the illustrious Tobe Hooper, the mind behind The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Poltergeist, and The Funhouse, with Alan Goldsher.
The word for this book is intense. I love when a book scares me but that happens so rarely. This one scared me the way that Cell by Stephen King did. Or The Stand. That is, a lot.
My main complaint about the book is that it’s told in an oral-history format like Max Brooks’ World War Z. It’s an interesting way to juggle multiple points-of-view but, since the narrative is based on the characters speaking directly to whomever is recording the history, you lose out on what the characters are thinking and their motivations. I think that the format lends itself more to a psuedodocumentary than to literature. Remember when Sci-Fi showed that “documentary” that was supposed to go along with The Blair Witch Project? I’d love to see these books made into something like that. To their credit, Hooper and Goldsher manage to give the different characters distinct voices and make you care about their fates. At its worst, I forget who’s talking to me when I read this kind of narrative. But Hooper and Goldsher made me remember the characters and care about their fates.
The story follows the effects of a screening of Hooper’s first film, Destiny Express, at South by Southwest in Austin, Texas. There’s a fictionalized version of Hooper–apparently, he’s not as antisocial in real life as he is in the book–and different people from Austin who attend and deal with the consequences of what can only be described as a mind-virus that’s released on the unsuspecting viewers. It’s as if the mind-virus releases people’s inhibitions so they act violently, criminally or sexually promiscuously. Plus, their bodies slowly start to decay. There are lots of explicit descriptions of bodies with oozing sores. Also, if you’re a guy, you’ll start to ejaculate blue semen.
I would say that Erick Laughlin and Janine Daltrey are the main characters, along with Hooper. Erick is a music journalist who goes to the movie to interview Hooper. Janine is a friend of his who goes to work at the bar where the movie is being shown as a favor to her ex. They both avoid full exposure to the movie but have to deal with their friends succumbing to the strange power of Destiny Express. Dude McGee seems to be at the center of the events. He’s a repulsive, obese film-buff who smells like deli-meat. It’s Dude who arranges for the entire showing, but I don’t want to say any more for fear of spoilers.
That’s basically the story. The mind-virus, called “the Game,” spreads across America, leaving behind a trail of mindless walking dead, meth-fires, and people sexing themselves to death. Yet, the stakes never seem as high as they could be. I do wish that Hooper and Goldsher made the events more terrible and more deadly. Escalation, increase the stakes, you know? The resolution felt too neat for me and (some of) the consequences just weren’t as bad as they could be.
I will grant that this book is definitely memorable. Hooper has crafted some of the scariest, most enduring images in film, and the images from this book will stick with you. Plus, I have to confess, this book embiggened my crush on Tobe Hooper. If you’re reading this, Mr. Hooper, you should message me. ;]
Ultimately, I recommend this book highly, especially as an alternative to the latest fungal crop of horror-classic mash-ups. The images will stick with you and you’ll see them when you close your eyes to sleep.
- Scarina--the authoress and editrix of this site. I like scary movies and have dedicated my free time to cataloging horror--the good, the bad, and the ugly. Sometimes there are books too.
There's film criticism, literary criticism, and humor here. I can be highbrow but there's lots of pop culture too. And feminism.
I fervently love "Twin Peaks" and wish it were a real place so I could move there. I can't list my favorite scary movies because they change depending on my mood, the season, and how much coffee I've had.
I'm an artist looking for ways to blend creepy with cute. I try to channel my childhood nightmares, my love of horror, and my experiences with sleepy paralysis.
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