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The creator of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre takes to print with a co-authored foray into zombie comic novel territory.

Tobe Hooper, real-life auteur of on-screen mayhem and gore, is the protagonist in his own novel, chronicling a plague of "suicide bombers, burning cities, an inordinate number of missing persons, and a new strain of STD." The all-in-good-horror parody begins with Hooper invited to screen his never-seen teenage-filmed first effort, Destiny Express, at the famous South by Southwest Festival in Austin, Texas. Austin happens to be Hooper's home town, he's been offered a generous fee and he's sure to see old friends. Enter a bonanza of bizarre characters. Dude McGee, the corpulent slacker organizing the screening, resides in his mother's basement, has body odor redolent of lunch meat, and purposely mangles Hooper's name. Erick Laughlin is a local film reviewer and sometime musician. Janine Daltrey needs the bucks she'll earn taking tickets at the door, but she refuses to enter the screening venue, a raunchy bar called The Cove. Then there's Janine's sister, Andi, plus assorted meth cooks and tweakers, and Tobe's childhood best friend, Gary Church, who starred in Destiny and then moved to Hollywood for a career chewing scenery in horror flicks. The world begins to turn upside down at the screening when the film somehow releases a virus that infects those present. Andi turns from virginal good girl to a mega-obsessed sexual glutton. Gary returns to "Hell Lay" and morphs into a zombie. Arsonists flame up everywhere. A Homeland Security agent becomes a terrorist. And it's all because of the Gamethe virus—transmitted by the never-before-screened film. This isn't a straightforward narrative. The frenetic, quick-change-of-scene novel lands on the pages as handwritten notes, copies of e-mails, blog posts, Twitter tweets and first-person recitations from the various characters.

Horror as comedy, bawdy and blue, more yucks than frights.

Pub Date: July 1st, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-307-71701-6
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Three Rivers/Crown
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15th, 2011


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