John Carpenter's Halloween...the no-brainer "Set on Halloween" book. A classic, one of the original slashers. Often imitated. Interestingly enough, until today, I'd never seen the movie.
I fell into this perfectly. It wasn't until I started the book and read the blurb that I realized that this book is a novelization of the film. That discouraged me a little because just the idea of a book based on screenplay sounds like a rip off. Can you create an ice burg from the top down?
Turns out, you can. Or at least Curtis Richards can. In the name of research I took myself down to the ye olde video store and rented a handy dandy DVD of Halloween. The book is only about 160 pages, so I finished that sucker, and pushed "play".
The coolest thing about doing it this way is that I got to realize a book on screen instead of the screen playing at the book. The dialogue, pacing and chills were spot on. What was most interesting to me in the comparison of the two is that while the book obviously lacks the tension ratcheting addition of Carpenter's score, the added back story of Michael Myers psychosis and time at the sanitarium certainly makes up for it. A scary monster who kills for no reason is one level of fright, but one with a history is a whole other story.
You would think that reading and watching back to back would be boring, but it was actually delightful.
I do understand how the word delightful is not necessarily congruent in a review of "Halloween", but I've long accepted that I'm a little weird. Plus, in the world of slasher horror flicks, the word of the day is fun. You have to be a little loose and leave a bit of your critical self at the door. For example, there will be avenues unexplored, there will be holes unfilled, and there will be decisions that are laughably questionable, but the point is, did it make you feel? Where you scared, did you forget to ask those questions in the moment?
Here's another thing that was interesting about the book which shows itself more overtly than the film did. Laurie Strode, our smart and innocent babysitter stalked by Michael Myers, has more in common with Ripley from Alien than you'd have thought.
I've long heard, and touted myself, how Sigourney Weaver's role in Alien was one of breakthrough for women in film. A role in which a strong, smart female drives the solution and action. She's her own savior.
On a smaller scale, this also true for Laurie. In the face of her deepest fears, she does what a number of her friends could not - she fights back and survives, protecting her two wards in the process. The book is better at portraying this than the movie and is chiefly the reason why I enjoyed the book a bit more. Laurie in the book makes some very calculated moves that deviate from the film and the feisty part of me rooted for the knife in the groin and hanger in the eye that much harder.
Given the time period in which both Alien and Halloween were released, I found this correlation interesting.
Unarguably Halloween has it's place in film history and therefore I could not review this book without relating it to the movie. That said, anyone who has enjoyed the movie would likely find the book equally enjoyable, maybe more as it glimpses a possible back history to the terror that is Michael Myers and an insight into the insidious affect he has on Laurie Strode.
ETA Footnote: Just found out that John Carpenter's big first directed work was a movie called Dark Star who he co-wrote with Dan O'Bannon. O'Bannon went on to write Alien. Wiki just blew my mind.