22nd Aug2011

Book Review: ‘Undead’ – by John Russo

by Paul Metcalf

Undead by John Russo is a book of two halves. The first half is the novelisation of Night of the Living Dead and the second part is the novelisation of the first concept for Return of the Living Dead. This is interesting to read as it’s totally different than the movie it became. This version of Return was more of a follow on from Night of the Living Dead and had a more serious tone.

Night of the Living Dead is an easy read as it’s very familiar to anybody who has seen the movie. Having been attacked by a zombie while visiting a graveyard with her brother Barbara is chased to a farm house where she is joined by others to form a group to defend themselves against the zombie onslaught. Although a good story I did find that the novelisation as with the movie tended to drag on. The barricading of the windows and doors for example seemed to me to be a long winded affair and the story itself could have really been improved if the tension and claustrophobic nature of being in such a siege scenario was further explored. One thing the story did manage to do is add more of a background as to who the owners of the farm house were and add to the story of the sheriff and his posse making their way through the countryside in an attempt to clear out the zombies and find any survivors. I found this part of the book to be a satisfying read for me as a horror fan and I have no doubt others will feel the same, it may also encourage people who have never seen Night of the Living Dead to go and hunt out this movie which of course is a good thing.

Return of the Living Dead was a strange read really. As a big fan of the movie I would have loved this to be the novelisation of that, but it’s a shame it’s not. What it is though is an interesting story in which now not old do the survivors have to deal with the zombies but also with humans whose main aim in the chaos is just to pillage and loot whatever they can find while society breaks down around them. This story is very similar to Night of the Living Dead as it’s a direct continuation really of the original, with events taking place 10 years after the original outbreak. I liked how this part of the book had a more successful use of paranoia as there is a fear of people dying, with some groups in society “spiking” the dead through the skull to make sure they are dead. Of course this is shown to be a good practice as when the dead do return it’s only the ones who were not spiked that return from the dead. As stated though I would have loved this to be the novelisation of the Return of the Living Dead movie as it’s one of my favourites. It does state in the introduction that this book does exist so I may try to track it down so I can read it. As a direct sequel to Night of the Living Dead I really did enjoy this though and it would make quite an interesting movie. It would be a Last House on the Left style movie in my eyes with more of an edge on the effect of the human actions rather than those of the zombies themselves.

The book as a whole is an entertaining read and sheds new light on the Night of the Living Dead story. It provides more detail and opens up the post zombie outbreak world outside of the original sequels. It is interesting to see that if this story had been followed it would not have been the end of the world as occurs in Dawn and Day but the zombie outbreak would have been controlled with “outbreaks” occasionally taking place. This storyline though had the belief that life would prevail and the zombie would not take over the world. An interesting read.

Undead: Night of the Living Dead & Return of the Living Dead is out now from Titan Books.


Comments are closed.