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Terror into Words: A Look at ‘John Carpenter’s Halloween’ The Novelization


The following is an excerpt from my October side blog EVERYDAY IS HALLOWEEN, in which I’ll be offering daily tidbits, observations and praise of John Carpenter’s classic 1978 film HALLOWEEN.  Click the link below and bookmark, check back daily for updates.

The novelizations of movies.

Woody Allen blasted them in Manhattan, his on-screen character calling them “another contemporary American phenomenon that’s truly moronic.”

For a kid in the early 80s without a VCR or Pay TV (what they called HBO and Showtime back in the day), they were my salvation.

The only way to experience movies again, or even for the first time (sort of), was to read the book based on the screenplay.

Yes, that’s a devolution of format, but many of these book versions of the films were written and ghost-written by really talented people.  One that stands out in particular, and maybe the best of the novelizations I read back in the day, is Halloween.

Credited to Curtis Richards (a pseudonym of Horror author Dennis Etchison), this novelization doesn’t start with the murder of Judith Myers.  That doesn’t happen until chapter 2.

Instead, Richards starts the book with a prologue explaining the Halloween related origins of the curse of “Samhain.”

From there, the book deviates to a first chapter containing a scene between a young Michael Myers and his grandmother.  The chapter works to humanize the young Michael, setting up a sort of alibi one could argue in the form of Schizophrenia.  Some of the dialogue is flat out chilling. Focusing on the pre-pubescent/pre-boogyman years of Michael Myers is what critics tore apart in Rob Zombie’s take on Halloween, but I loved it (more on that later).  He may have been inspired by this novelization’s attempt to back-story Michael, if not the television version of the film’s additional scenes (more on that later).

Halloween the novelization is long out of print from Bantam Books (ISBN 0-553-26296-3), but you can snatch up a copy on eBay for a hefty price.  There are two editions, but I love the original book cover pictured below.


There are more invented side-bars to the screenplay that you can read about on this fantastic Halloween wiki here.  If you’re a true fan of the film, this one is worth investing in or somehow getting your hands on.

Incidentally, there are novelizations of Halloween II, III, 4, and 5, but as with the films, they don’t live up to this original one.

Visit Everyday is Halloween HERE!

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