Monday, January 27, 2014

Stephen D. Sullivan's WHITE ZOMBIE

Long time readers of this blog will know that I have an affinity for movie novelizations -especially science fiction and horror stories. OK- almost exclusively science fiction and horror novelizations! I get a kick out these literary bastards for their fascinating quirks and the very real chance to learn about things left out of the movie. Often scenes are cut from a film that alter the tale in some way that can influence the viewer in a positive or negative way and discovering these bits of orphaned narrative is a source of pure joy for a geek of my type. And, of course, the few times that a novelization slips into publication based on an early version of the script with drastic differences from the finished film can be even more fun. Its like a peek inside the creative process of a work. 

Enter author Stephen D. Sullivan who, out of nowhere, has decided to do genre novelization fans a great service. He has taken it upon himself to write a novelization for a horror film originally released long before this often insulted sub-genre of literature was big business. That's right classic horror fans- he has crafted an adaptation of the 1932 Bela Lugosi tale of Haitian voodoo WHITE ZOMBIE! HERE he explains why he took on this challenge and why he chose this creaky public domain feature to novelize.

I read the book last week and I can attest to the fact that Sullivan has done a fantastic job. I have always enjoyed WHITE ZOMBIE but I've always felt that although it is creepy and occasionally disturbing, it has a strangely distancing narrative that keeps me from being too invested in the characters. The film has always played out like a well produced play that I can keep at arms length while enjoying the darker aspects as entertainment.

The smartest thing Sullivan has done is what any good writer should do - he brings the reader fully into the story by letting us inside the minds of the various characters. We watch the same awful deeds unfold that we have witnessed before onscreen, but this time we are privy to the warped thoughts of the villains and the vain hopes of the victims. Sullivan has done this very well, relating events with a sharp, modern style that never feels out of place in a tale taking place in the early 1930's but also isn't filled with elements someone under 60 years of age wouldn't understand. This book does the film an enormous service by enhancing it and making it seem more vital and alive than even a high definition print viewed in perfect conditions could. Sullivan has managed to deepen and strengthen this classic tale of terror in a way that should make any Monster Kid happy. To read this book is to experience WHITE ZOMBIE in a brand new way - call it emotional 3-D! I heartily recommend this wonderful book and hope more fans check it out.

Thank you Mr. Sullivan for making me appreciate WHITE ZOMBIE more than I ever have before!


Stephen D. Sullivan said...
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Stephen D. Sullivan said...

I man blushing! Thanks, man. Glad you enjoyed it.