X The Unknown. Book Review

X THE UNKNOWN by Shaun Hutson,

Hammer Books, p/b £6.99

Reviewed by David Brzeski

Like many of us, I’m a bit of a purist regarding adaptations of classic works, so the fact that Shaun Hutson chose to bring this adaptation forward to the present day and relocate it a long way south of the events of the original 1956 film filled me with no little trepidation.

Having said that, I hadn’t seen the movie for a very long time—probably sometime back in the late 60s—so I decided to watch it again first, so I could more easily see what changes had been made.

I’m pleased to report that the alterations actually work very well and, in hindsight, the book hangs together rather better than the original.

Freed from the constraints of the film board censorship, Hutson is able to be more realistic with the dialogue of the soldiers. He neatly adds material and characters which give more weight to the events of the film, without sacrificing anything. There are only two major changes, other than period and location. The first is in making the lead character somewhat younger than in the original, which I found perfectly logical. The second is right at the end, where he has Royston realise that his original plan for destroying the entity was simply not going to work and comes up with a better and more believable one.

I’d always thought the “monster” to be vaguely Lovecraftian in concept, and it’s evident that Hutson agreed, as he ends the book on a quote from the master himself.

To some extent, I regretted my decision to view the original movie version first, as it rather took all the suspense out of reading what turned out to be a very enjoyable SF/horror novel.