Thursday, March 24, 2011

Finished With The Dead

I finished reading my decidedly rare hardcover edition of Dawn of the Dead by George Romero and Susanna Sparrow.  The movie, as many of you realize, is a classic.  How well does the book hold up?  I am loathe to say this, but in this case the movie was actually better than the book.

The book stays fairly true to the movie.  To find all the differences, I'd have to back and watch the film again.  I last saw it about four years ago, but I've watched it about a dozen times.  Any differences in the book didn't seem to matter.  What did matter was that I had no emotional connection with the characters and all the social critiques of the movie which were laid out in images were laid out in the book in words (obviously), and that is where it failed.  Instead of letting readers draw their own conclusions about consumerism and zombies in the mall, as well as our protagonists actions while holed up in such a place, it spelled them out.  Black and white.  All on the page. 

I like zombie fiction probably a little less than the average zombie fan.  I find that the movies work better as the visuals are what cinch the deal for me.  Zombies are, no pun intended, too lifeless to hold my attention on the page.  The scope of their terror is lacking, but can be well-displayed on a film screen where their stages of rot take over for their personality.  For myself, zombie fiction has to have strong living characters.  Dawn of the Dead, the film version, made the living and dead equally matched in various ways.  It worked to captivate viewers like few other zombie films have.  The book version of the same story simply accentuated the flaws.  Both the zombies and living came across as flat, with the exception of Peter, whom we still never really get to know.  Usually that is a flaw of a film since a film can't go into the background like a book.  Here the book never tried to get too deep into Peter's backstory, and that was a damn shame.

Books and movies are two different mediums that do different things.  They each tell their story in their own way.  A movie done as a book doesn't work, and, as we can plainly see here, a book written as a movie leads to nothing but disappointment.

Mandatory FTC Disclaimer:  Clicking on the Dawn of the Dead affiliate link and buying the movie will earn me a commission.  You would be buying the original and not the remake, which has its own strengths, but is nowhere near as good as the classic film.  I did not provide a link to the book, and I'm sure as hell not selling mine.  I may never read it again, but when the zombie invasion comes, I can barter it for safety from all those FTC ghouls.  Also, that book was not a review copy.  It came straight from my extensive library ... now approaching 1,000 books.

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