Friday, August 5, 2011

Review of Movie Madness

Title: Midnight Movie

Authors: Tobe Hooper and Alan Goldsher

Publisher: Three River Press

Date: 2011

Pages: 310


The Good News: Director Tobe Hooper has been invited to speak at a screening of Destiny Express, a movie he wrote and directed as a teenager, but that hasn’t seen the light of day in decades. And Hooper’s fans are ecstatic.

The Bad News: Destiny Express proofs to be a killer… literally. As the death toll mounts, Tobe embarks on a desperate journey to understand the film’s thirty-year-old origins—and put an end to the strange epidemic his creation has set in motion.

This is one of the most interesting books I’ve read in a long time, and that is meant as a compliment.

The plot is simple. Tobe Hooper’s first film, Destiny Express, a horribly amateurish production made when he was a teenager and which has been lost for thirty years, is mysteriously discovered. When it’s played at the South by Southwest Film Festival in Austin, Texas, the fans go wild – literally. Everyone who watched the movie becomes infected.  Some people turn dangerously violent.  Others become obsessed with sex, satisfying their insatiable appetite with anyone they can find while spreading an STD that causes the infected to ooze blue.  The unlucky ones devolve into self-mutilating zombies. As the outbreak spreads across the country, Erick Laughlin, a film critic who attended the showing but did not watch the entire movie, figures out the connection between the epidemic and the film and attempts to enlist Tobe in an effort to set things right. Unfortunately, mankind's future may lie in the director's past.

[A note to the readers: One of the reasons I picked up this book is because several reviewers compared the sex scenes to those of Ed Lee, which appealed to my dark side. That is not the case. No one writes sex scenes as perverse as Ed. However, that should not detract from the overall appeal of Midnight Movie.]

The story is told in first person narratives, journal entries, newspaper articles, e-mails, blogs, and Tweets. While the premise of the book is off the wall and completely irreverent, Tobe and Alan make it work. The characters range from the likeable (Erick and his girlfriend Janine Daltrey), to the sympathetic (Janine's sister, Andrea, who transitions from virgin to sex addict after watching the movie), to the utterly obnoxious (Dude McGee). Tobe’s narrative rants about himself, directing, and the movie industry in general are worth the price of the book alone. Don’t worry if the plot seems to ramble along in a disjointed orgy of violence and sex for the first two hundred and fifty pages; it’s meant to be that way. For those who want a nice, tight ending, there's no need to worry.  The authors wrap up the story nicely in the last thirty pages and resolve all the unanswered questions.

Midnight Movie is a fun novel and a must-read for any Tobe Hooper fan.  I give it four and a half out of five blue-oozing rotting zombie heads.

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