Written by: Matt Molgaard
Reading Curtis Richards’ novelization of John Carpenter’s iconic motion picture, Halloween, proved more than rewarding. It’s not a stretch to open the book and anticipate a carbon copy of John’s film. But readers are in store for something with quite a bit more depth. Sure the story follows the picture’s occurrences and blueprint with strong faith – even utilizing a good 90 percent of the feature’s original dialogue – but there’s an internal examination put to work that cannot be relayed through film. Sans the inclusion of shifting first person narratives, it’s impossible to know what cycles through the minds of the victims and protagonists on screen.
The novel however grants fans that missing element. Knowing the amalgamation of thoughts that course through the noggins of each focal character drastically alters the dynamics of the story. In reading the novel, we actually get to know Laurie Strode, Sam Loomis and the reckless youth who prance about this tale, on a much more personal level. Emotions that can only be showcased through facial expressions, dialogue and body language, in front of a camera, take on a whole new life as we’re subjected to unspoken feelings.
If Halloween the film was a shocking genre feature, the novel is a shocking character study with all the visceral impact delivered by the motion picture itself. Within the novels pages, for example, Laurie, while innocent, certainly isn’t quite as pure as what we perceive when viewing the 1978 classic. She’s a good girl, but her thoughts certainly wander. That difference is pronounced because, as I’ve noted, we actually get a chance to climb inside Laurie’s head. Dare I say the interior is equally, if not more compelling than the exterior?
But there’s another level of this story that really shines, and helps to explain the Myers mythology. We don’t get much of a chance to study a young Mike in the film, and we’re not gifted much of a look at the time that passes between 1963 and 1978. However, Richards’ tale offers a wealth of information and backstory to take in. In fact, I really wish Rob Zombie had studied this novel thoroughly before attempting to illustrate the lost years of Michael Myers in Zombie’s first Halloween flick.
In the backstory produced by Richards, we learn that there is, unquestionably a supernatural element to the boy. The conjecture produced by the film is inked in fairly bulbous fashion in this book. Furthermore, we learn that this strange affliction has long existed in the Myers bloodline. These are facts that Sam Loomis knows, and uses as a tool to lobby for Michael’s long term confinement.
It almost works.
Myers’ escape tactic in the novel works a parallel course to the escape in the film, as does the bulk of the action. The treasure really does hit readers in small, controlled doses. Every minor cliff hanger or question left floating in the film is answered within these pages. A simple example of the attention invested in minor details here can be detected in the scene in which Annie and Laurie stumble right into the path of Annie’s father, Sheriff Brackett, after hastily extinguishing a joint. Watching the film, it’s obvious that the sheriff would catch a whiff of that ganja, but not a word is mentioned. In the novel, Brackett makes a light hearted remark about their drug use after Annie and Laurie have taken off to leave the sheriff to his duties.
These miniscule differences are what make the novel so special.
On paper, Myers is damn near as frightening as he is on screen. However, there’s a somewhat more… human element to his character. He’s significantly more vocal (not words so much as load and frequent grunts and growls), not quite as impervious to pain as we know him to be on film. Stab him onscreen, he simply shrugs it off, within this novel however, he not only feels it, but is markedly more effected. As unstoppable as Michael seems, Richards endows him with a more detectable level of vulnerability. I can’t really call him more human, although he clearly thinks, and he clearly understands his actions. He’s simply a slicker villain than the picture leads us to believe.
Any fan of the Halloween genre should seek this novel adaptation out as soon as possible. It’s a stellar addition to the franchise as a whole, unfortunately, it’s a pretty difficult piece of work to track down; at least for a fair price.