They're Coming to Get You, Barbara - by J D Allen. Book review.

I think we can all agree that Night of the Living Dead is not only a great film, but it also had a major impact on the horror genre and modern culture.

Before the 1968 release of the film, zombies were mostly seen cinematically as the product of witchdoctors and voodoo rituals. It wasn’t until George Romero that audiences witnessed what we now know as the zombie. And even then, the undead creatures in the film were called ghouls, as the word 'zombie' was mostly only linked with Caribbean culture.

Of course, nowadays, everyone and their Grandma know what a zombie is. The shambling - and sometimes inexplicably running - cadavers have been everywhere and have infiltrated every known entertainment medium. So much so that the zombie theme is one that more often feels overused rather than exciting or intriguing. Keeping the theme fresh takes a lot of ingenuity as various writers, movie makers, video game creators etc. try to add their own twist to the formula.

But, what if instead of trying to add to, or change, the formula, it was taken back to the basics?

That is what author J D Allen has done with They’re Coming to Get You, Barbara, which kicks off at the same place as Night of the Living Dead, with Barbara and her brother Johnny visiting their Father’s grave; before going into its own direction.

However, before I go into any more detail, here is the official synopsis:

Contrary to what many believe; Johnny did not die that afternoon in the cemetery when they came to honor their deceased father, and the first known ghoul attacked him and his sister, Barbara! His death would come much later!

This is Johnny’s story!

Reviving at dusk, with a bleeding head-wound, Johnny rises to discover he is alone in the deserted graveyard, and he vows to do whatever it takes to find his missing sister, Barbara, in this all-new shocker told in a parallel timeframe adjacent to the original zombie classic, NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD!

If you think Barbara had a wild and terrifying night, just wait until you read her brother, Johnny’s, story as he traverses the land of the undead to reunite with his sister at that infamous encounter inside the rundown farmhouse where Barbara waits in terror!

One thing that is abundantly clear with They’re Coming to Get You, Barbara, is how much of a fan J D Allen is. Events from the film are accurately described, including ones witnessed from a different perspective. And there are nods aplenty to the creators, stars and folks who were involved in not only the original film but beyond as well. Anyone who has looked at the movie credits will recognise familiar character names cropping up and also used for some locations including a fast food joint. And yet, I never thought they felt forced. If you spot them, it feels like a little reward and a sign of respect for the original. If you do not spot them, no problem; it will not deter you from the story.

The clever thing about the book; is how much it feels like part of the franchise. It isn’t just respectful of the path it’s treading; it feels like a natural part of the story. If I had any say in the matter, it would be considered canon. That’s how accurate, well told and respectful it is. I know without a doubt that scenes from the book will be in my head when I next re-watch the film. Everything ties in nicely to make They’re Coming to Get You, Barbara feel like an intrinsic part of the story. It doesn’t just complement it; it joins it.

One of my favourite references had to be an airline flight number that links to the release year of the movie. Although the captain really should have had a moustache. If you recognise his name, you will know why.

The book expands on the lore as well, as it’s not only the unburied dead that are walking the earth, and there is also a scene with a ghoul feasting upon an animal, which wasn’t a thing that became part of the franchise until Survival of the Dead. Well, OK; a ghoul did eat a bug in Night of the Living Dead, but it wasn’t something that felt important to the plot when watching.

The only negative I have with the story is a moment when Johnny claims he does not believe the reports he has heard on the radio, considering them possibly, hysteria in a similar vein to that from the War of the Worlds radio drama. It is a little strange when he had just experienced a rotting arm clawing at him from within a broken crypt. Come on, Johnny. You have witnessed this shit first hand; get with it


Overall, if you have seen the film and think you know what happens to Johnny, then They're Coming to Get You, Barbara is a must-buy. Yes, I'm sure it would work as a solo read, but to truly see it shine, you need to have seen the movie. The book is such a love letter to Night of the Living Dead that you would be missing out by not experiencing them both.

I highly recommend it. It expands upon the movie without changing it, and as I said, you can tell it came from a place of fondness for the film and the franchise.

It truly is the perfect companion piece.

You can purchase They're Coming to Get You, Barbara from Amazon

If you are interested in reading more from author J D Allen you can click here to see his Amazon Author page.

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