“VIDEO NIGHT” (Book Review)
I’m gonna venture a little prediction here:Adam Cesare is a Fango superstar in the making. Of all the new writers busting out on the scene — and there are some great ones, without a doubt — Cesare’s the young guy with the greatest encyclopedic gorehound know-how, blistering cinematic pace, unquenchable love of both fiction and film, and hell-bent will to entertain.
In short, he was born to wail on this shit. Fangorians, take note!
Video Night doesn’t waste a second getting up to speed. By page 4, we’ve gone from fun teenage sex to horrific teenage death to the first appearance of the badass monster we’ll be following for the next 240 pages. These are pages that never let up for a second, as the craziness just keeps coming, one gruesomely mutating nightmare surprise after another.
The year is 1988, the place is Long Island, the hair is big and the contraband of choice comes on VHS tape. Our boy heroes, Billy and Tom, know the dark side of the local video store like the back of their trusty right hand. Every monster movie. Every monster. Every move.
Will this gnosis save them — and Rachel, the kickass girl next door — when actual insectoid body-snatchers show up and start to take over the neighborhood? I ain’t sayin’.
But I will tell you that Cesare does just about everything right. The characters are fun, complex, and engaging. (Special kudos to my fave, poor ol’ Officer Darl, who goes through all KINDS of ungodly hell.) The relationships are believable, with emotions that actually track..
The momentum keeps building. The stakes keep escalating. The monsters just keep getting worse and worse, the catastrophic mayhem more juicy and hopeless. Best of all, the writing moves like a greased torpedo, compulsively readable as it rockets through your brain. There’s not a lot of wasted wordage on these pages.
I gotta be honest: my favorite Cesare to date is Tribesmen, a mindblowing short novel set during the Italian cannibal phase of 80s cinema (and a book I loved so much that I published it back in 2011). Video Night was written first, and I think it shows in some first-timer ways. But for a first book, this thing is remarkably solid and assured. It walks in kicking ass, and doesn’t stop till it’s done.
And would it make an amazing movie, joining the canon of late-night greats it spends its running time in celebration of? I’ll let you be the judge.
But you heard it here first. Adam Cesare’s gonna be a Fango superstar.
HAVE FUN! And then tell me I’m lyin’.
— John Skipp
Buy VIDEO NIGHT by Adam Cesare from Samhain publishing, trade paper and ebook, HERE.