With a short introduction by actor Simon Pegg, what we have here is a reprint of the 1978 novelization of the classic zombie movie Dawn of the Dead, brought to us by legendary director George A. Romero–who is, as we all know, the godfather of the post-voodoo apocalyptic zombie tale–with writing assistance from Susanna Sparrow.
So why would you want a reprint of an old book of an old movie? For one thing, it’s an attractive trade paperback–even if it does feature the obligatory dead man’s hand on the cover, with outstretched fingers reaching toward an orange sky. For another, it would make the perfect gift for any rabid reader of undead literature, a collectable companion to the classic movie.
But what does the book offer that the movie does not? Why read it when you can watch the film any time you get the urge? Here’s why: this is a novel, not a script; at time, a character’s motivation may be unclear in the movie, but it is not so in the novel, because you are privy to each character’s inner thoughts and motivation–something you don’t get from the movie. In all other ways, the book follows the movie except for a few minor differences (for example, there’s a puppy in the novel that didn’t make it to the big screen).
If for some reason you have not seen the movie, but decide you want to read the book anyway, what you’ll get is a workmanlike zombie story that seems rather mundane because you’ve seen this sort of thing all before a hundred times. But you must remember, before the original Dawn of the Dead movie, there had been nothing like this (unless you count Night of the Living Dead, of course). This movie was the inspiration for nearly every other zombie story that followed, in books and on screen. At the time, it was unique.
So what we have here is an important piece of horror cinema history, and it’s a great thing that a publisher made it available again for the swelling hordes of zombie fans.