James Futch & James Newman,
Night of the Loving Dead (KHP, 2005)

I truly love it when a writer takes a well-worn idea, crafts a subtle (or not-so-subtle) plot twist and runs with it to create something altogether fresh and new. When I read the promotional copy for Night of the Loving Dead, I thought co-authors James Futch and James Newman had done precisely that.

The concept is based on any number of zombie books and movies. For whatever reason, supernatural or scientific, the dead rise and stalk among the living to quench their dreadful hunger. In Futch and Newman's cojoined imagination, however, the zombies aren't hungry for flesh or brains, they're hungry for sex. Their carnal appetites are loosed upon the world each night within the confines of the Grady Memorial Hospital morgue, where rumor has it ancient, arcane practices that predated the hospital's construction still haunt the site and cause the nightly resurrection.

How fun, I thought. This should be good for a laugh.

Futch and Newman certainly approach the book with a maniacal grin and wink. The protagonist, Sheila, is a newly hired hospital security guard, working the graveyard shift to pay for her education so she can give up stripping for a living. Her boyfriend, Alex, is a videographer for a locally based porn emporium and, when he learns of the nightly couplings in the basement level of Grady Memorial, he decides there's a mint to be made through the fledgling industry of necroporn. And it all goes just as planned until Alex decides to introduce a live (and completely unaware and drugged) female into the undead frenzy. And two local porn kingpins decide they need a piece of the profits. And a hospital administrator with sexual hangups makes an unscheduled visit to the basement after midnight.

If this doesn't sound like enough fun yet, how about we add a retired black man with a bad case of Tourette's syndrome. That's always good for laughs, right? Oh, and to really twist your funny bone, let's have fleas lay eggs in the nostrils of coma patients. Yeah!

Night of the Loving Dead could have been a clever twist on the zombie genre. But no, Futch and Newman take the concept entirely too far, coating themselves and their readers in blood, bile and other bodily fluids. The detail with which they describe grotesque and graphic zombie sex -- and the sexual damage the undead can wreak on themselves, their zombie partners and any living humans who get in their way -- tells me these two lads spend an unhealthy amount of time imagining this sort of thing -- right down to its festering core. Believe me, they will detail for you exactly what body parts will tear, what will break and what will burst in a viscous explosion.

Come on, boys, you can dress it up in occult trappings, but rape is never funny, even if the character is drugged and/or is someone we're not supposed to like. Honestly, I'd be a little worried if Futch and Newman lived in my neighborhood.

Don't be fooled by the hype that makes Night of the Loving Dead sound like a comic horror romp. It's vile.

On the other hand, if the thought of sex with dead things appeals to you, this book is just your thing. Buy a copy today!

review by
Tom Knapp

21 July 2007

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