Wilson turns from medical thriller (Sims, 2003) to focus on a contagion of vampires.
The author has been writing about vampires since The Keep (1991), a bizarre bloodfest about an extermination squad of storm troopers sent to destroy monsters that were killing Nazis in a Transylvanian castle. This time, he takes off from his short story “Midnight Mass,” which was filmed from Wilson’s screenplay, released theatrically last July, and is already out on a DVD that’s gotten some of the most wretched reviews ever to appear on Amazon.com. So Wilson has apparently novelized his story from the screenplay. In his introduction, he calls it a pseudovampire novel, while he terms Midnight Mass the real deal, like Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot and not like the tales of tortured romantic aesthetes passing for vampires since King’s masterpiece. This one starts big: all of Eastern Europe, Russia, India, China and now Western Europe are overrun, while vampire conversions multiply geometrically. Starting with big Jewish sections of Brooklyn and Queens, the whole East Coast is lost as well. The US vampires tear off their victims’ heads to stop turnings and conserve their food population. Since Wilson’s story takes vampires seriously, it takes Catholicism seriously as well, making crucifixes and holy water fatal to vampies. Sister Carole Hanarty, of St. Anthony’s church in small but now largely deserted Lakewood, New Jersey, learns that the vampires hire “cowboys” to round up human cattle while promising them eternal life later on. Carole, forced to “rekill” undead Sister Bernadette, turns vigilante, cooks up some potassium chloride plastique bombs, and later joins with Father Joe Cahill and Joe’s lesbian niece Lacey, to form a vampire killer posse. The group liberates the Lakewood Post Office, where vampies sleep, then it’s off to the Empire State Building, with Carole wired as a suicide bomber, to kill Franco, the top vampire.
Far-out, fresh, and gripping. And better than the movie.