If you're the tolerant type, forgiving of a few plot holes, you're going to love the crap outta Midnight Movie, written by the man who directed and co-wrote 1974's The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Tobe Hooper's debut horror novel is fun, gory, and pleasingly self-aware. And frankly, if you're the sort of bibliophile who still reads zombie novels (good lord, like a shamble of the undead, there are ever more), I've got a hunch you're the charitable sort.
As immersed as we've become in walking-dead lore, Midnight Movie has a few twists up its tattered sleeves, with some nice surprises about what it is to be a zombie (think fast, erratic behavior and voracious sexual appetites). Midnight Movie is a lot like Max Brooks' stellar novel World War Z, which was filled with first-person accounts of a zombiepocalpyse. But while Z had the feel of the New York Times, Midnight Movie is more Twitter: a lowbrow account of the end-of-days chaos that starts after a SXSW screening of director Tobe Hooper's (fictional) first film Destiny Express, made as a teenager before a car accident caused him to suffer from memory loss. Much like The Ring, once an audience views this rare film, they face a grisly future.
Hooper has a great ear for dialogue—and damn is he funny—so Midnight Movie proceeds at a rapid-clip skip into a trope-filled horror shit-show. Hooper—both the author of and a character in Midnight Movie—is a curmudgeonly recluse. Homeland Security Agent Aaron Gillespie joins a terrorist cell. Virginal college sophomore Andrea starts sleeping around. Erick goes from emo film critic to nighttime disappearing act. Meanwhile, Austin and surrounding cities start experiencing random acts of über violence, explosions, and a rash of meth fires.
Midnight Movie is definitely not without a few cringe-worthy flaws, and Hooper seems to have taken some writing cues from Stephen King: some characters' motivations are a little light on stakes, and some plot points are entirely hokey. But generally, the book is a fresh, epistolary take on the zombie genre, filled with humor and salacious gore. Midnight Movie definitely makes the horror-canon cut.