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Halloween II Paperback – 1 Oct 1984
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This naturally posed a problem when the time came to novelise it, which is why author Curtis Richards added a lot of backstory about ancient Druid curses. Halloween II's author, Jack Martin (pseudonym of Dennis Etchison), continues that trend, and can't be blamed for doing so. A novel is a very different animal to a film; it doesn't have any visceral tricks like music and fake blood to rely on, so must succeed on the strength of its story.
Succeed Halloween II does. Etchison crafts a genuinely compelling, even Gothic novel, rich with fatalism. If it's sometimes a little overwritten, Etchison still has to be respected for approaching this job with a real vision, when Z-grade crap might have sold just as well. In fact, I'd wager that it WOULD have. Let's face it, Halloween II isn't exactly Psycho, or Halloween for that matter. All Etchison had to do was string a lot of gory death scenes together in a paint-by-numbers way. Instead, he takes the plot seriously and writes long descriptive passages which do more than set extras up to die. The Laurie of his novel is smarter and more likeable than she was in the film, closer to Carpenter's original.
The plot should be familiar to fans of the franchise: seconds after Halloween ends, Dr. Loomis is still standing on that balcony over which he shot Michael Myers six times. Nonetheless, Myers' corpse isn't on the lawn where it should be, and so Loomis starts stalking the night in search of him, while a traumatised Laurie is taken to hospital. There, she meets a cast of assorted staff who'll soon be lined up for a slashin'.
A recurrent motif in the novel is jack-o'-lanterns, which burn through the night on windowsills and countertops, emitting dark smoke through their crowns. This allows Etchison to create some lovely, haunting set pieces, like when a lantern's rays are disturbed by falling autumn leaves, or one in the hospital which shines in the sterility.
An occasional failing is his broad characterisations here and there; Sheriff Brackett, who helped Loomis look for Myers in Halloween, is given inexplicably rough treatment. Loomis (in his internal monologue) calls him everything from a hick to a pencil pusher. Loomis himself can be a bit soft-headed and silly at times. The best character sketches are of the hospital staff; I came to really like Jimmy, the ambulance man with a crush on Laurie.
Dennis Etchison's Halloween II gives us hamburger when it could have just slapped down some gristle. To those who are snobby about this kind of book, seeing it perhaps as just merchandise, remember that they're often written by talented writers.
A highly recommended read!
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
To me, a good movie novelization accomplishes three things: It expands upon the film without being contradictory, it grants the reader a closer insight into the characters in the film, and finally, it must capture the feel and spirit of the film.
Martin accomplished all of those objectives in this novelization, and it remains one of my favorites. I heartily recommend it to not only fans of the franchise, but to horror fans period. As a bonus, it is one of the more reasonably priced movie tie-in novels and thus more accessible. Get it while you can.
My main gripe was that this book was not a direct continuation of the first book by Curtis Richards. Some of the changes to the story made in the first novel were overwritten in this novel completely. I also feel like the author has a tendency to drone on and on about absolutely nothing. Bits that didn't really expand on the characters or the story.
However, if you're a big fan of the Halloween series, I'd recommend giving a read.