Featured Post

Featured Post - Mystery Movie Marathon

I thought I'd kick the new year off with another movie marathon. I thought it was time to check out a few old school mystery flicks. Som...

Thursday, June 8, 2023

Throwback Thursday - Night of the Living Dead by John Russo

note: This was originally published ten years ago for another website. To make it fit here at Crappy Movie Reviews I had to make some format changes. The contents of the review remain unchanged.

Okay so Night of the Living Dead is one of my favorite movies ever. It launched the zombie genre that is obviously important to me. I mean I ran a site called Gutmunchers! A few years after the movie was made someone came to Russo, who was involved in the movie, and asked him to write a novelization. That book is what I read for this review. Now that we have some of the history out of the way lets talk about the book itself.

This is a pretty faithful adaptation of the movie. The setup is the same with Ben and Barbara arriving at the farmhouse, both looking for shelter from the undead wandering around outside. They board up the house, deal with zombies, and are surprised by the other survivors in the basement. We still get the conflict between Ben and Harry Cooper (one of the basement survivors) and things end the same way that they do in the movie. For the most part if you have seen and enjoyed the movie (how could you not?) then you will like the book.

That last sentence was a huge relief for me to write. As a fan I’ve had a difficult time dealing with Russo. On one hand I think that he is a very nice guy who I’ve met several times. He is very kind and generous to the fans. He also had a lot to do with the formation and creation of Night of the Living Dead, which is a huge plus for me. But I’ve also had issues with Russo. All his post Romero movies have been either terrible or barely passable. I also have disliked his attempts to go back and live off of Night of the Living Dead. For example, the comics or new footage he shot for the classic movie. I won’t even go into his attempts to continue the zombie story without Romero and the resulting legal wrangling.

This novelization is maybe the best thing that I’ve read from Russo. He follows the movie plot closely and when he does deviate it is to add things that they couldn’t have shot. There is a bit more gore and the deaths of the characters are way more gruesome. From Johnny being eaten to the barbeque at the pickup things are way more graphic. Russo is also able to share the thoughts of the characters and explain their actions or lack of them to the reader. While this doesn’t change anything it does make you more sympathetic to a Harry Cooper. Sure he is a coward, but he does care about his daughter. 

For me this is exactly what I wanted when I sat down to read this book. Russo is spot on and does a wonderful job with the story. I’d say that this is a must read for any fan of the movie.  t is available in a book called Undead, which also includes Russo’s Return of the Living Dead novel. It is his original idea for the story and is dramatically different from the movie. Instead of the familiar characters we get a sequel/follow up to the events of Night of the Living dead and is worth checking out. I recommend all fans of the zombie genre as well as Romero/Russo fans track themselves down a copy of Undead.


© Copyright 2023 John Shatzer

No comments:

Post a Comment