An official adaptation of John Carpenter’s 1978 Halloween presented in the form of an illustrated children’s book, The Legend of Halloween is one of the most unique and innovative horror collectibles ever released.
The project actually originated as a wrap gift to the cast and crew after completing filming of Halloween Kills in the fall of 2019, but it turned out so well, producers decided to print a limited run for fans to be able to purchase.
The hardcover rhyming book is co-written by David Gordon Green (co-writer and director of Halloween 2018 and its upcoming sequels Halloween Kills and Halloween Ends) and fellow filmmaker Onur Tukel (Applesauce, Richard’s Wedding), who also illustrated the book, with Trancas Films producers Malek Akkad and Ryan Freimann overseeing. The story is based on the original screenplay of Halloween (1978) by John Carpenter and Debra Hill.
At just 56 pages, it’s a brisk and easy read, and a fun and refreshing way to re-experience the Legend we all know so well, of Michael Myers killing his sister Judith on Halloween when he was six years old, and then his escape from Smith’s Groove Sanitarium, his return to Haddonfield, his obsession with teenager Laurie Strode, and his murdering of Laurie’s friends before their climactic confrontation on Halloween night in 1978.
There are some great little touches that I know fans of the franchise will appreciate, small details like Michael’s middle name (Aubrey), the red Phelp’s Garage truck, Lonnie Elam’s #22 t-shirt under his red jacket, Laurie throwing a potted plant at Tommy Doyle’s bedroom window to wake him up, and even “Boombox Boy” (played by Lance Warlock, son of Dick Warlock) from 1981’s Halloween II, who makes an appearance in the book.
Tukel’s animation style is similar to Schoolhouse Rock, and has a nostalgic simplicity that will warm the hearts of those of us who grew up with the now-classic Saturday morning cartoons of the late 1970s and early 1980s.
The writing is somewhat Dr. Seussian, with its clever rhymes and wit, but with a few adult words like “voyeuristic,” and themes like Paul wanting to “get it on” with Annie that will undoubtedly require some explaining to less mature readers. There are also a few decidedly older references, like “Warhol” (as in the late artist Andy Warhol) and “Casey at the bat,” that kids (and many adults) will never get. I’m 45 years old and I had to Google “Casey at the Bat” (it’s an 1888 poem about baseball), so there’s no way any actual children will grasp that particular phrase. But overall, it is a faithful retelling of the classic story, done in a way that almost all ages can comprehend.
Green and Tukel are able to successfully work in some of the actual quotes of dialog from the movie at times, though there are some small changes here and there, as well. The story is also told slightly out of order from the film when Laurie sends Tommy and Lindsey to get help before the closet scene rather than after.
When the book was first announced last October, Green told Entertainment Weekly, “I have nine-year-old twin boys and I try to be somewhat cautious about the content that they absorb. I thought this would be a fun way to tell the story and establish the world of Halloween that John Carpenter and Debra Hill started.”
With that quote in mind, my biggest question as a I sat down to read the book was if it is truly meant for kids. Could it serve as a light introduction to the mythology of Michael Myers for those still too young to watch the actual film, or is it really meant primarily for collectors and super fans like myself?
The answer, of course, depends on the child and his or her maturity level, as it is in essence still a story of a madman killing innocent people. So if you’re a parent who hasn’t discussed what death is with your kids quite yet, they may not be ready for this book. On the other hand, my own son was nine years old when I let him watch the original 1978 Halloween film itself, and I could see using the book as a sort of precursor to set the stage if it had been available to us a year or two prior to his first viewing.
But then, my son also grew up in house where Michael Myers is more prominent on the walls than his grandparents are, and where we taught him early on how movies are made and that they are make-believe. So, again, it really depends on both the child and the parents as to what age and how to introduce them to horror of Michael Myers, but, while I’m tempted to say that if they are old enough to appreciate this book, they may be ready for the actual film itself, The Legend can absolutely serve as a soft introduction to the Halloween franchise for some younger readers who can handle a newer and darker, more dangerous kind of fairy tale.
It is also a kind of “stranger danger” warning to kids that could and should be taken to heart before they go embark on a Halloween night of trick or treating around the neighborhood.
Ultimately, this book is mainly for the mega-fans, many of which will certainly use it as way to introduce their kids to the characters and the general story of the film, and all of which will definitely get a kick out of seeing how much of that film is successfully and entertainingly reimagined in this entirely different format, created with clear love and respect for the iconic source material.
The Legend of Halloween is not as much a radical repurposing as it is a totally original reinterpretation of a classic, fundamentally scary story that, like Frankenstein and Dracula before it, will live on long after its creators have left this world, and will continue to hit those fundamental buttons of fear that Carpenter and Hill so perfectly honed in on for countless generations to come.
Available now from Further Front Publishing, you can order your copy of The Legend of Halloween at LegendOfHalloween.com.
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