Friday, July 15, 2011

Book Review: Midnight Movie

Now for something different...

Everybody who knows about horror has heard of Tobe Hooper, so I'll just leave it at that. Well, it seems like writing a novel is what he wanted to do next, hence this review of his first one, "Midnight Movie", which he co-wrote with Alan Goldsheer ("Paul is Undead: The British Zombie Invasion.")

Tobe Hooper has been woken up by an obnoxious guy named Dude McGee. Why? Because dude has obtained a very hard to find copy of Hooper's first movie, a fucked up little ditty he made as a teen called "Destiny Express", which will be seen for the first time by anyone-even Hooper himself- at SXSW. Well, the movie turns out to make an impact-but not a good one, as it unleashes a virus known as "The Game." What does "The Game" do? Why, it causes a strange blue liquid to ooze from your genitals, then you're skin starts to become green and slimy, and then you become a zombie. Now, with the help of a film critic named Erik Laughlin and those who helped make "Destiny Express", Hooper must find a way to stop this epidemic before it destroys humanity.

"Midnight Movie" is a relatively quick read, and not particularly scary. In fact, it's more of a mix of dark humor, gore and sex that at times reminded me of one of those splatterpunk novels from the 80's, only updated for today's environment. To be fair, it does run into two problems. The first one is that few of the people here are written all that well. Characterization is sadly not the book's strong point, and apart from a Game-stricken sophomore named Andi Daltrey and her sister Jaine after being viciously beaten by her zombified ex, you don't really care about anyone's fate here. The other problem is that it tries to tackle various subjects-terrorism, meth addiction, the nature of horror films, old friendships-in a novel that isn't particularly long, thus making some of it feel kinda added on for no real reason other than padding (I could have done without the meth subplot.)

That out of the way, this is still a fun but light book that reads like a B-Movie throughout-hell, I'd like to see this become one. The humor is mostly funny and gruesome, with enough gallows laughs and chuckle worthy moments, not to mention some revolting gore. I especially like the movie aspect of the book, because 1.) it's a nice twist on the usual "viral outbreak creates zombies" convention that's been done to death (pun intended), and 2.) it's actually a pretty insightful look at the nature of the movie business. You can tell that this is from a man whose dealt for years with the shallow, artless nature of Hollywood, yet all of the frustrations never feel like venting. Instead, this a man telling you upfront that he's danced in the business for years, and he knows the ups-and-downs of making movies. If anything, it makes me hope that Hooper one day writes a memoir.

So, is "Midnight Movie" worth a read? It's far from spectacular, and ultimately feels like it could have been better, but it's an enjoyable bit of literary junk food that managed to keep me reading throughout. It's not perfect, but at least I didn't have a bad time.

Rating: 6.5/10

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