Review: Book Vs. Film: Cold in July

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Cold in July started out as a noir book written by Joe R. Lansdale. Lansdale is a genre writer that writes everything from horror to sci-fi, and of course some noir. Cold in July was first published in 1989.

The screenplay is written by Nick Damici and Jim Mickle who also directs. This team has brought us a few low-budget horror movies including the very good Stake Land. They are also working on a television show based on Hap and Leonard, two characters also created by Lansdale and has 10 books in the series so far. This will hopefully start airing on the Sundance Channel next year.

The Film stars Dexter himself Michael C. Hall in a role just as dark, but a totally different type character.  He plays a family man who is married to a lovely wife played by Vinessa Shaw and has a small boy.  They have a home invader, who Hall kills in self-defense.  He then learns that the man he killed has a father who just got out of prison, played by Sam Shepard.  The Father comes to town for revenge on his son’s killer and all hell breaks loose!  This might be enough for a complete film, but it is only the start, the direction this goes is far from predictable.

Don Johnson steals the show as Jim Bob, a detective that bleeds Texas and is called in to help on the case.  He raises pigs, wears an outfit out of the old west and drives a big Cadillac.  We want more Jim Bob! and we might just get it.  Jim Bob is a character that also appears in the Hap and Leonard books, so we may see him in the television series at some point.

So what is better, the film or the book.  I read the book and then watched the movie twice, and I would have to say I would go with both. Nick Damici and Jim Mickle stay true to the source material, even having the film take place in the late 1980’s when it was written.  I actually think watching the movie first may be the way to go.  The story is so fresh and original that you will not see what is coming in the film, leaving you with more shock and awe then if you read the book first.  Then read the book as soon as you can get your hands on a copy.

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