Written by: Josh Hancock
Curtis Richards’ 1979 novelization of John Carpenter’s Halloween provides a harrowing look into the knife-plunging horrors inflicted upon the citizens of Haddonfield, Illinois on that fateful Halloween night so long ago. Written in a sparse style that heightens the suspense with every turn of the page, the novel follows the plot of Carpenter’s film with loyal precision, but it also offers powerful character studies of both Laurie Strode and Michael Myers. In addition, the novelization is a far more violent and sexual affair than the movie, with several scenes of bloodshed and rolicking teenage sex. For these reasons, the novelization of Halloween is a must-read for devotees of the film and for horror fans in general.
The opening of the book reveals much about Michael’s childhood, in particular his relationship with his sister Judith. The film provides scarcely a glimpse into Judith’s character, but the novelization takes readers deeper into the events that lead to her brutal murder. Here, Judith is a witty and sensual girl, brimming with youthful energy and sexuality; when her death comes readers truly feel the impact of the loss. Later, after Michael becomes institutionalized, a Halloween party at the hospital turns into a supernatural display of his power—another scene that expands the world of the film. Richards also gives insight into Michael’s own perverse sexuality. Obsessed with memories of his dead sister and tormented by an inherited psychosis, the young Michael becomes the embodiment of the psychosexual killer, driven by lustful urges and deviant thoughts. These additions, delivered by Richards in a rapid-fire style that maintains the story’s cinematic drive, flesh out the Halloween universe and make for an exciting read.
The classroom scene in Carpenter’s film, in which the teacher speaks of fate and destiny, suggests that Laurie Strode possesses a keen academic intellect. The Halloween novelization runs with this idea, providing Laurie with many opportunities to ponder the sinister history of Halloween, the murder of Judith Myers, and the nature of human evil. In addition, though the movie is famous for effectively showing little blood, the novelization holds nothing back in the gore department. When Laurie discovers the trio of bodies near the story’s climax, Annie’s intestines have spilled out onto the bed; Bob’s tongue hangs “purple and bloated”; and Linda’s eyes bulge grotesquely from their sockets. Richard even experiments with narration, writing some scenes from Michael’s point-of-view, presenting him as a man with a deeply disturbed mind and an unquenchable thirst for teenage blood.
For rabid Halloween fans who can recite every line of dialogue and who have memorized the details of each single frame of the movie, parts of the novelization might be a tad boring. This is not necessarily a criticism of the book—just a realistic assessment. Many scenes unfold just as they do in Carpenter’s film, so readers looking for something entirely new (or those new to the concept of novelizations of films) might not be thrilled with every chapter in the book. Still, Curtis Richards’ interpretation of Halloween is a blast to read, chock full of graphic kill scenes, all the classic dialogue you love from the film (“totally”), in-depth character studies, and chilling depictions of the ancient rites of Samhain. If you get hold of a copy, keep it—not only for its literary merits, but for its symbolic place in the hearts of horror fans worldwide.
Order it here.