When it comes to great horror, it’s no secret that some of the best movies and books out there mine the fertile ground furrowed by the titles that came before them. When that’s done by skilled creators, the result is usually a whole lot of fun. That’s exactly where Adam Cesare’s Video Night sits.
Even though I’ve already reviewed Tribesmen, this was the first Cesare book I read, and to put it simply, I bloody loved it. Cesare’s a great dude who wears his passion for his genre as a badge of honour. Whether you’re watching Project: Black T Shirt, his YouTube channel, or you’re reading his fiction, it’s obvious the guy is steeped in a love of horror. That, my friends, is a damn good thing. His work comes from a place of real honesty and enthusiasm. Couple that with his skills, and you just can’t go wrong.
The needle-tipped appendage glinted as it hovered above her for a moment. The creature’s clicks and screams accelerated, reaching a crescendo as it shot the stinger down into Rhonda’s chest.
Pain. There was pain between her breasts. The creature’s clicks subsided and she could hear the beast suckle at her insides. Before the pain stopped completely she felt a rush of cold…as if the creature were leaving something dark there inside her body.
Cesare, Adam. Video Night: A Novel of Alien Horror (p. 12). Black T-Shirt Books. Kindle Edition.
Video Night starts with a bang. Pun intended. In a manner that harks back to the greats of screen – and of parody – that bang is not going to end well for the hapless couple who’ve just been to see A Nightmare on Elm Street 4. Without providing too much detail, Cesare wastes no time getting to the gore, and the scene is set. With an alien invasion underway, shit is about to go down.
And that’s where our main character comes in. Billy Rile is a gun on the Nintendo and a total sci-fi and horror geek. He’s just not that good with the ladies. His best mate Tom Mathers, however, is a rough around the edges stoner. If you’re picturing a more sociable version of Kevin Dillon’s Brian from The Blob, you’re probably on the right track. For these two, every Friday night is Video Night. Put simply, monster movies in the converted basement at Billy’s place.
Billy couldn’t be sure if Rachel screamed out from behind him, because he deafened himself with his own yelp. The figure was vaguely human and still on fire in places. The tip of the creature’s snub nose and the points at the end of its sharp cheekbones glowed a deep orange. It was a color that reminded Billy of the end of a cigarette during a deep drag. At its forehead, a few inches above where its eyebrows should have been, was a smoking gash, a large, burning divot in its skull. Billy had seen a similar wound before. All it took was for the creature to speak his name to recognize it as Terry Manfred.
Cesare, Adam. Video Night: A Novel of Alien Horror (p. 219). Black T-Shirt Books. Kindle Edition.
For this particular Video Night, Tom’s bringing his girlfriend, much to Billy’s chagrin. He’s also got hold of some pills that aren’t exactly what they say on the tin. Without ruining too much for prospective readers, in the way of all good body horror and classic horror like Night of the Creeps and Slither, once the aliens are inside, shit’s about to go nuts. Amongst all of this, there are some awesome side-plots involving other families in the street, ‘body-snatchings’, a school bully, and, of course, a love interest for Billy.
With the plot and the premise all wrapped up, it’s important to note that Cesare’s writing is great. Cleverly characterising his cast with brief introductions, he injects humour and pathos into his fast-paced story, but never loses sight of his inspiration and creates a novel that’s representative of those influences at the same time as he lays down gory action-packed kill after action-packed kill.
With multiple threads of conflict beneath an overarching narrative arc that speaks to the best 80s horror films, Cesare’s Video Night is great fun, an easy read and a worthy addition to any horror fan’s bookshelf.
Buy your copy here: Video Night – Amazon.