Halloween Kills–A nostalgic, horror movie novelization not to be missed

Review by C.J. Bunce

I reviewed the movie on its opening weekend in October here at borg.  The movie is a true triumph for fans of director John Carpenter.  Of the ten (yep, ten) prior sequels to the 1978 original that set off an entire genre of movies, Halloween Kills is the most faithful to the original story.  On the screen it was great fun seeing Jamie Lee Curtis reprise her starring role as 1970s survivor Laurie Strode, along with  actors like Charles Cyphers back as the sheriff, Nancy Stevens as the doctor’s assistant, and Kyle Richards as the grown-up little girl.  In Halloween Kills: The Official Movie Novelization, author Tim Waggoner digs into this great story, amplifying the characterization, and making everything that flashed quickly past the movie audience have deeper implications.  He digs into the timeline of events in 1978 as the modern-day return is revealed moment by moment on that single day in 2018 that is spread over this final trilogy of movies.  You’ll be hard pressed to read a better horror tale or movie novelization this year.

From the firefighter rescue that supposedly killed Michael Myers in the previous movie installment, to his visualization of the unraveling of a peaceful Midwest town, to the required juggling of more than your average number of story characters–in two timeframes–Waggoner shows he understands John Carpenter and Debra Hill’s vision for this town.  As fictional as it is, he gets Haddenfield, Illinois, right.  It’s City Confidential, but with Paul Winfield’s honey-dipped narration swapped for some pulse-pounding, fast-paced descriptions of its denizens out of control and caught off-guard–again.  (Someone really needs to make a spoof of that show featuring Haddonfield).

Waggoner creates an inner-monologue for Myers as the Shape or the Bogeyman, which doesn’t quite attempt to explain the mind of a serial killer so much as to indicate the hollow soul of the monster set along this ugly trajectory, this return, or revenge, or completion of destiny.  The novelization feels like a monster movie of the Universal Monsters school, a classic monster as opposed to another modern madman, which in part is why this story is something better than the typical slasher horror material.

The first half of the novel leaves the reader anxious, knowing that at any time the story must flip to Myers knocking characters off the chessboard one by one.  Once it starts, the author delivers, and the reader can expect to wince his/her way to the end.  No doubt ample credit is due to the story creators of the underlying script: Scott Teems, Danny McBride, and David Gordon Green.  For the intended final trilogy in the franchise (until the next reboot, that is), this story had much to accomplish, and as the second act it’s far superior to the first.  Amazingly it’s so different from its first chapter, much more interesting, so much so that it will be difficult for the final chapter, Halloween Ends, to top it.

Fan of John Carpenter, of the original 1978 Halloween, of the franchise, of horror reads, and fans of tie-in novels shouldn’t miss it.  Tim Waggoner’s Halloween Kills: The Official Movie Novelization is available now here at Amazon, also available in a spooky audio edition read almost unrecognizably cold by actor Bronson Pinchot.

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