Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Night He Went to Barnes & Noble:
The Great Horror Film Novelization Movement

When you’re a kid obsessed with horror films and you’re parents won’t keep dishing out the two bucks to rent every movie your heart desires you have to get creative to feed your addiction. Pretty much anyone who’s mildly obsessed with our genre knows that we will spend the money for shit most folks won’t. We seek out what cannot be found and then… we make a poster out of it or a poseable doll or knit it into existence. We’re sorta like Trekkies… no wait… strike that. We ATE THE TREKKIES AND STOLE THEIR SPIRIT! But I digress. When you’re young, addicted to horror everything and limited on financial resources you try everything to feed the bitch (that’s a bread making term but I’m co-opting it).

You take trips to Walden Books and get Fangoria and Gorezone and try to pick up a couple back issues to boot, but mom says only two. So you have to choose between the Videodrome cover, Jason Voorhees unmasked and Fright Night part II. You’ll go for whichever issue you think would look better hanging on your wall or the issues with the most skin showing. After Walden Books (you do remember our dear departed friend Walden don’t you?) you’ll go to Long Valley Video where the owner, Sal, will have held the newest release that your dad had reserved. It’ll come in a black case with a number scribbled on the side. He’ll scratch your name off a list and then he’ll go to find you. Where are you? In the horror aisle which bleeds into the action aisle and the sci-fi aisle and if you follow that to the end there’s a cut door that swings both ways where all the nudie movies are kept. You’ll hang out by that door all night to catch a glimpse of what is inside. Then you’ll find your movie. Same deal as the magazines… pick two or one (gasp). Go home. Watch both movies consecutively. Watch them again. Again. Again. No what do you do? The money machine is all out of “yes, only two’s” and you’re jonesin”. You head to the library!

This is how I spent my youth. Trying to feed my thirst for films. I’d pretty much exhaust myself trying to see everything and with the exception of a nine years stint spent trying to take life “more seriously” I have been a non-stop gungho fiend. Let’s go back to our last destination. I can safely say that I thank Cthulhu everyday for Google. The card catalog, micro film archive, Encyclopedia Britannica and that monochrome database of interlibrary loan items really does a number on your fragile mind. I was a research whore. I’d sit on their database looking for anything horror. I’d interlibrary loan our meager local library to doomsday. Before the internet as we know it there were systems of research that were beyond painful and slow. Time consuming. Where am I going with all this? Remember this is the week in our Halloween calendar where we focus on books… BOOKS… They make no beep beep beep beeps. You want your books?

I started noticing that Halloween had a book. It wasn’t a book ON Halloween. It was John Carpenter’s Halloween. An actual novel. Now I was fairly certain that John Carpenter and Debra Hill didn’t take the concept for Michael Myers first night out from a novel of any sort. That was reserved for the classic Universals only. I order a copy and sure enough it arrives with the cover of the movie poster and the words “The Night He Came Home” right there on the cover. It was awe inspiring. How did the movie I would watch daily end up in paperback?

I cracked the book open and surprise surprise, it didn’t start on Halloween night with young Michael scrounging around the house for a big ol’ butcher knife wearing a clown mask. It started with Michael discussing the devil with one of his grandparents. A whole new back story that clearly never made into any cut of the movie I ever saw. Now I realize that all movies are “cut” to some degree. You can’t leave all your bad, waste of time footage in. I even realized years later that the version of Halloween I was watching was missing a bit o’ time during my favorite P.J. Soles murder scene i.e. no boobies on TV makes Jimmy a very dull boy. Well in addition to several scene edits the version I saw growing up put Sam Loomis in front of a panel discussing the future of Myers as he grew older, institutionalized… waiting. The book fleshed out other scenes and combined with the two movie version I have seen I get the feeling that the reason I love the Halloween series so gosh darn much is due to its Star Wars like universe created around it. Books. Movies. Soundtracks… where’s the comic book? Not for a few years I’m afraid.

So there had to be more of these. I knew there would be and my library wasn’t quick to stock any of them nor were the surrounding libraries. I’m still amazed they carried Halloween in paperback. I’m pretty sure you’ve either got a demented librarian feeding horror stories to the kiddie section or someone simply ordered the wrong book. If Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark had trouble getting in then how did this one make the cut? I left my library with a bunch of dreams. Dreams of extra scenes and character development. Dreams of libraries that stocked books I wanted to read. And the internet would come and I would soon learn that I no longer needed the library to find my genre specific tomes. You know the last time I went to the library was to lift a book I had when I was a kid that I could not find in print or on E-Bay or Amazon. I got so nervous that it just wouldn’t be there anymore so I “borrowed” it. It’s on permanent lend.

Now I’m not talking about movies based on books like Dracula or the Exorcist. Jaws. I’m talking about films that come out and then a paperback version is released complete with movie poster cover and additional scenes added (if you’re fortunate). I used to think it was an 80’s thing, but Chiller Theater proved me wrong with a table with a wide assortment different titles from the 60’s on up. I had to hide my cash from myself so I wouldn’t spend it all in one place. It’s fetish of sorts. Almost like our VHS fetish. Almost like our need to blog about everything fetish. Curtis Richards did the Halloween novelization in question and it’s reviewed quite well.

Enjoy some of the others that you may recognized in this gallery to the horror movie turned horror paperback. Quite a few of these are still cheap, on Amazon and present well as part of your collection. Thanks Bantam books for your money hunger turned creative genius.

One last thing… in researching this blog I came across one of the absolute best sites dedicated to our beloved horror fiction. It’s a must read for horror fans. Go check out Will Erickson at Too Much Horror Fiction HOME PAGE. His stuff is amazing.

Definitely check out this one for more reading on novelizations although he isn’t the biggest fan: TOO MUCH HORROR FICTION

Also stop down at Blood-Disgusting for an amazing picture gallery HERE!!!

-Dr. Terror

Bet this one looks familiar:

One more time... with feeling:

IMPORTANT!!! READERS OF THE TRAVELING TERROR-VERSE... UH HMMM... I mean people who come around here and stand in the corner waiting for Suzy B. Good to ask you if you wanna dance with her to "Love Hurts" by Nazareth. I need you to do my a favor and send a self addressed stamped envelope to the following address courtesy of:

Dr. James P. Terror.
213 Seymour Rd.
Hackettstown, NJ 07840

Why would you do such a thing? Because I need to send you a free pair of 3-D glasses. Cardboard Anaglyph Glasses. Cyan and Red. You'll know why you need them when the time is right. If you have them at home. Get ready for something new... for me. If you own a pair they should work just fine (when the time is right... bwahahaha). If you own the blue and red one's or even the magenta and cyan they should work just fine. Get your requests in early because the holiday is coming quickly (like me... um... INAPPROPRIATE!).


  1. Great post! I have a few of these, from the Halloween and Friday the 13th films. Of course, two I don't have are the books for the first movie in each series! ARGH! :)

  2. I know what you mean. Must collect them all. I'm trying to build a collection but it can get quite pricey with the collectibility of some of these. Thanks for commenting and the kind words.

  3. Cool, thanks for the link Doc! Happy collecting!