How the return of the novelization has brought more material for the fans to enjoy
Riding the success of John Carpenter’s 1978 original masterpiece, HALLOWEEN, Bantam Books released the first franchise novelization in 1979; penned by Curtis Richards (pseudonym of Richard Curtis: literary agent and author advocate). The novel elaborated on the story with focus on the Celtic rituals of the holiday origin and how they relate to Michael Myers and also got the reader a bit more intimate with the masked killer including touching upon the often-discussed relativity of the sexual motivations behind male slashers.
The novelization sold out with Bantam releasing several reprints over the years which also included adapting the cover from the original pumpkin-headed, white-sheet-wearing kid to the knife and pumpkin image of the movie poster. While reprints were being dished out well into 1982, 1981 saw Halloween II complete with novelization published by General Paperbacks and written by Jack Martin (more familiar as screenwriter Dennis Etchison). The interest in novelizations grew tremendously as readers would often get more material than what was on the screen. An entire sequence involving the news reporter (“You need their parents’ permission, if you can’t find them, get a statement anyways”) where she encounters Michael on his way to Haddonfield Memorial Hospital is especially intriguing. Jove Books then released Halloween III: Season of the Witch in 1982; Jack Martin writing this follow-up as well and surprisingly, little to no variance in material from what went on the screen. Aside from changing young Jamie Lloyd’s age, the 1988 release of Halloween IV (no Return of Michael Myers added) by Nicholas Grabowsky was a relative screen-to-print adaptation. While all the novelizations are scarce, early print copies run a fine dollar in the collector market especially the fourth. Interesting to note that in 2003, 2013 and 2015, Nicholas Grabowsky re-released Halloween IV with the latter being “The Ultimate Edition” complete with a never-before-published epilogue for the story and other additional material. Franchise die-hards should most definitely seek out this version for their bookshelf.
This brings us to date with the newest entry in the franchise receiving rave reviews and much fan appreciation. Indeed, Halloween 2018 has propelled to the top of the Box Office to become the #1 movie in North America for two straight weekends in a row since opening October 19th. The compelling story of Laurie Strode’s return clearly earned back an audience and Michael Myers return to scary form sending that same audience home with chills. October 23rd saw the release of the first Halloween novelization to hit shelves since 1988. With keen viewers spotting scenes from the trailer and hearing lines of dialogue absent in the film, the release of the novelization was eagerly anticipated. Written by John Passarella, he wastes no time kicking off the story much in the same manner as the film. Podcasters Aaron and Dana (the former having an additional name in the book) are in Smith’s Grove. A few lines of dialogue help fill in the gaps especially when Aaron asks Michael if he remembers Laurie Strode. One trailer showed this clip and it’s a shame it did not make it into the final cut. It is after this though that the novel takes a different turn by giving us our beloved Laurie on her self-constructed gun range and bringing the reader deeper into her mindset and neurosis about Michael’s return. Yes, a welcome moment of Laurie humming a very familiar song, not heard from her lips since the original, adds such richness to Laurie’s state. One can hope that this moment is re-instated into an extended cut of the movie once it hits Blu-ray. Snippets of her shoot-out do appear in the movie but at a different place.
Granted, a film only has so many minutes to delve into the characters and Passarella’s writing gives the reader exactly that – with added material of Allyson (Laurie’s granddaughter) that places her more firmly in opposition to her mother Karen (Laurie’s daughter). From the first four chapters, the novel is able to set itself apart from the film by juggling these scenes and giving some added cohesiveness to the morning of October 30th, 2018. More so, the novel easily expands Allyson’s friends Vicky and Dave along with her boyfriend Cameron Elam, son of original character Lonnie Elam (“Lonnie Elam probably won’t get out of the third grade” says Laurie to her young charge Tommy Doyle in the 78 film after he warns her of approaching the Myers house) and this continues to give life to the characters that we only get so much of in the film.
“Gone are the days of novelization saturation and one is hard-pressed to find a decent novelization for any new film.”
The writing is on point with an expressive display of tension mixed with emotional resonance; painting a picture through the eyes of the reader and giving us apt descriptions of each character’s attributes. Never does the story lose itself in the narrative and before you know it, you’re onto the next chapter. If there is one other moment that dominates Halloween 2018, it is the third act confrontation between hero and villain. With the suspense riding high, readers will be pleased to get more material of this epic Laurie Strode/Michael Myers battle – as if the on-screen wasn’t enough! The ability to be inside the minds of Laurie, Karen and Allyson, with their own perceptions on the danger and peril of Myers attack, presents rich structural additions to the action.
Available in both print and audiobook, John Passarella’s Halloween, published by Titan Books, is a must have for both hardcore Halloween franchise lovers and casual readers alike. The book can serve as encouragement for anybody who questioned whether they should see the film. The book and film complement each other the way novelizations should. Gone are the days of novelization saturation and one is hard-pressed to find a decent novelization for any new film. Perhaps much the same way that the $100 Million+ grossing (so far) motion picture can inspire the return of slasher horror fare, this Halloween can bring about the return of novelizations that shined in the late 70s and early 80s. Seeing is believing but reading can be living!
So get on out to your local Barnes & Noble, Chapters/Indigo, or go online (if you must) and purchase this brilliant addition to the brand new resurgence of Halloween franchise fandom. Grab a blanket, a beverage and let your eyes take you to Haddonfield, Illinois where the Bogeyman is waiting to give you that one good scare. Happy Halloween everyone!
Writer’s Note: For all my fellow Halloween devotees, it should be common knowledge but I’ll tell you anyways – if you have some serious pocket change to spare, find yourself the 1997-1998 Halloween novels (#1 The Scream Factory, #2 The Old Myers Place and #3 The Mad House) written by Kelly O’Rourke. While the new film disregards the canon set by 1981’s Halloween II and the sequels, these three books stay within that universe with references to Laurie and others while bringing us new characters who must face The Shape. Highly collectible but well worth the read.