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Thursday, April 6, 2023

Throwback Thursday - Midnight Movie by Tobe Hooper

note: This is a review that I wrote ten years ago. I don't remember where it was originally published. I thought it was on my old website but I believe I had shut it down by then. 

So when I heard that director Tobe Hooper had written a book I have to admit that I was a bit dubious.  I mean the guy knows how to shoot a horror film and create atmosphere like no other.  Not only is the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre genius, but Salem’s Lot is the best King adaptation ever and the Funhouse is very creepy.  But I’ve never felt like his strength was the plot or storytelling.  So how could this translate to a book where that is about all he had to work with?

The short answer is that I was wrong and totally underestimated Hooper.  The book tells the tale of his fictional first movie called Destiny Express.  When a local kid from Austin Texas digs up the only copy and decides to show it at a rundown bar he invites Hooper as a special guest.  But watching the movie has a strange effect on everyone that watches it.  Some become suicide bombers, others zombies, and some develop a strange STD that causes colorful things to happen.  Collectively this is referred to as the “Game” and it sweeps the country.  It falls to Hooper (his fictional self in the book) and others to stop the Game before it is too late.

I really enjoyed this book.  The story is told in a very interesting way.  Some of the events are written in the first person, as you would expect.  Though the perspective is changed from one character to another.  You also get excerpts from blog postings, twitter, and emails.  These help to fill in the blanks from characters that wouldn’t be around to explain things after the fact.  Now this could have been very confusing, but it is handled in such a concise way that it works.  There isn’t a wasted sentence or event described.  It makes for an interesting and entertaining read.  I found myself unable to put the book down wanting to read just one more chapter. 

One more item that I feel the need to talk about is the man himself, Tobe Hooper.  I’m not sure if it is his reputation or the fact that he has backed out of so many conventions that he was scheduled to appear at, but I never thought of him as someone whom I’d like to meet.  Admittedly there have never been rumors of him being a jerk or anything like that; I just thought he didn’t want any part of the fans.  My opinion has changed a lot after reading this book.  Sure it might all be fiction but I’d like to think that the self effacing and down to Earth Tobe from the book is close to the real one.  I say this because the Tobe in the book explains why he dreads public appearances and why they are such a pain.  It is almost like he is trying to explain himself to the fans thru the book.  Then again maybe I’m reading too much into it.

I highly recommend Midnight Movie.  It is a great read and worth your time.  I also have a new found appreciation for a director that whose work I’ve always liked.  Can it get better than that?


© Copyright 2023 John Shatzer

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