Friday, October 15, 2010

31 Days of Evil!

Bookworm's Book Club presents:

A Novel Way to See a Scary Movie!

Some of my favorite horror movie novelizations from my youth...

    The copyright on this novel by Curtis Richards is October 1979, which makes sense as the movie became a hit in the last days of 1978, and I guess they figured a novelization would be a hit too, so they got it onto the shelves a year later as the movie was re-released. I loved this novel. This was probably the first novelization of a 'grown-up' movie I'd ever read, so finding that everything from the movie was in there, and then that there was even more thrilled me no end.
    Richards adds backstory going back to the Celts in ancient times, telling of an unrequited love of a disfigured boy named Enda for the King's daughter, When he is humiliated by her, his love grows first into hatred, then revenge, culminating in murder on the night of Samhain, the Celtic Halloween. Enda dies himself soon after, but his rage lives on, cursing Enda's spirit to roam, seeking peace and finding only more hatred and violence. That rage does not die as the centuries pass, continuing to plague one certain family for generations. We then come forward in time not to Halloween night 1963, but a few days before that, giving us more with the Myers family in Haddonfield Illinois. It turns out this is the family plagued by the evil from centuries before, striking every other generation since the time of the Celts. Mama Myer's grandfather was the most recent to have had "problems," and now her 6 year old son Michael is exhibiting some of the same issues, hearing voices. And then it is Halloween night, and Mr. and Mrs. Myers go out for the evening, leaving Michael in the care of his big sis Judith and picking up where the movie starts. But Richard adds more to the story of what happened that evening. Then, when Michael sees his sister and her boyfriend as they head upstairs for some private tricks and treats...
    "It was the voice. the voice stirred up the hatred. It had done so in his dreams and now it was doing it in real life. It had begun with the strange pictures in his head at night, pictures of people he had never seen--oh, maybe in comic books or on television, but never in real life. People in strange costumes, animal skins, armor, leather, drinking and dancing wildly around a fire. One couple in particular. They looked like Judy and Danny, madly in love with each other, dancing in a circle around a huge bonfire while he, Michael, stood in the crowd hating them, burning up with jealousy."
    And after Michael is taken away to Smith Grove sanitarium for murdering his sister, we learn more about the events there as the years pass, leading up to Michael's escape on October 30th, 1978. After that the book is mostly the same as the movie, except for the occasional bit about Enda's rage.
    I read and re-read and re-re-read this novel constantly in the first couple of years I owned it. I think it's one of the best novelizations of a movie I've ever read. I recently turned up my copy at my father's and I'm going to read it again during this Halloween season.
    By the way, my research into the novel recently says there is a more rare edition than mine pictured above, which uses the movie's poster for its cover image. Here is what the apparently more desirable cover looks like:

Now that happens to be the image from the back cover of my edition. I like my copy better, actually, because although that pumpkin headed figure is cool and creepy, nothing like that appears in the book or movie. My cover was the poster. So la de dah.

At the risk of painting myself as some kind of crazed Halloween movie obsessed loon, I have to admit that in the late 1970's and early 1980's I was a crazed Halloween movie obsessed loon. So of course I picked this book up the moment I saw it on the shelf. Another great novelization by "Jack Martin," who later turned out to be horror author Dennis Etchison. I loved this novel too. More of the night HE came home was what the movie poster said. It was a rare sequel for the time to pick up the moment the first movie ended, continuing the story of the Halloween night Michael Myers turned his hometown into a slaughterhouse. I read it about as much and often as I read the first one. It too turned up at my father's this past summer, and it is in my stack of books to read. Probably next Halloween ;)

Well heck, did you expect the next one to be anything other than part III? I am apparently the only person who loved the idea John Carpenter and Debra Hill had to make Halloween an anthology franchise, with a completely different movie released each October under the Halloween umbrella title. And accordingly, I like their only effort in this regard, both as a movie and as a novelization. Another ancient Celtic evil, this time using technology to destroy the world using chips of rock from Stonehenge, monster masks, and the children of the world. I still like this movie, and "Jack Martin" (Dennis Etchison again) did another fine job converting the picture into prose.

There was a novelization for Halloween IV, but 1988 was a bit of a tumultuous year for me, so I missed picking it up. Here's what it looked like, though:

That seems to be the last of them - I don't think any of the other sequels got novelized. By the way, if anyone has a spare copy of Halloween IV, I wouldn't mind reading it. Get up with me.

There was another horror film series that rather quickly surpassed Halloween. In quantity, that is.

They waited until their part three to get a book onto the shelves though. I read this one a lot, even though it seemed author Michael Avallone (who also wrote at least one of the Planet of the Apes movie novelizations) had never seen Ft13 Pt 3, as he periodically had Jason chuckling at his own cleverness and capacity for evil. (?) Still a good read in the days before we owned every movie we want to; it also featured an ending shot for the movie, but changed before the film's release.

Weirdly, though, some years later, Paramount-ed a new series of books based on the movies, starting with the then-current release:

They then had Hawke go back and do the first three of the earlier movies:

Yep, he did a completely new novelization of Part 3. I couldn't tell you at this late date which was better, but I have to give Hawke some points for keeping that gigglepuss Jason Voorhees quiet during his version.

Sadly, I guess sales weren't all that great, as they stopped here, never letting Hawke sink his talons into Parts 4 or 5. (I really would like to see what he would have done with Part 5, which I must always point out was characterized by my pal Richard as being "Scooby Doo...with eye gougings.")

There have been two more recent book series based on the franchise: one about Jason's further adventures around Camp Crystal Lake in that nebulous period after Part 8, but before meeting Freddy or going into space; and the second series all taking place after Jason X sent the lad into the Final Frontier...but I'm not going into them now, this is about the books from back in the day...

Speaking of Freddy, he got in on the act at one point:

Yes sir, I had this one too. This one jammed the first three movies into a couple of hundred pages, a bit like the Cliff's Notes version, but a fast and easy read. And see? You got a special bonus chapter - "The Life and Death of Freddy Krueger!" What more could anyone ask?

They also did parts 4 and 5 together in a second book. Wes Craven's New Nightmare got a novelization as well. Poor Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare (aka part 6) got no love.

I had some other favorites as well:


And I haven't even scratched the surface here - there were SCADS of novelizations back in the 70's and early 80's, across every genre of movie. These were a few I really enjoyed reading (and re-reading when my access to books was somewhat more limited.). Now I own all of the movies (except one - care to guess which flick isn't in my collection?) but I enjoy owning the books too, and am always on the lookout for any when I find old books at any sale.

Til next time, you Can Poke Me With A Fork, Cause I Am Outta Here!


  1. Thanks for the shout-out!

    Also, yay for Fade To Black!

  2. Now, of course, every novel has a horror-twin tie-in. Flesh eating zombies have shown up in the universes of Indiana Jones and Star Wars (what--none in Trek?!?), and classic novels are being revisited with a horror spin.

    I'm not sure what the aim is with these books. Are they trying to pull readers from other genres into horror, or trying to pull horror readers into other genres.

    Either way, I'm older than rocks, older than dirt. No genre shifting for this reader...