FINAL GIRL explores the slasher flicks of the '70s and '80s...and all the other horror movies I feel like talking about, too. This is life on the EDGE, so beware yon spoilers!

Jul 12, 2007

Reading is Fundamental

I don't know about you, but with the advent of The Digital Age my personal motto became "Fuck books!". I mean, why spend time reading some stupid old book when I can be watching something on a screen? Why use my imagination to depict, say, an explosion when I can actually watch it unfold in badass CGI fakery? Isn't that better? Yes, it is. Trust me, if Henry James were alive today in the age of ILM, the portrait of a lady would be a hologram or some Cracker Jack lenticular shit. Or maybe Isabel Archer would turn into a big robot right before our very eyes and shoot lasers out of her fingertips, destroying all of America's precious national landmarks. Take that, Lincoln Memorial! Up yours, Largest Cross in the Western Hemisphere! It's time to extinguish the Eternal Flame! You know who's buried in Grant's Tomb? Everybody, that's who.

Wait, where was I? Oh yeah. The books I have on my shelves are either strictly for show or they're hollowed-out and contain nothing but jewels, fabulous jewels! I try to limit my reading to street signs and menu options; I certainly don't read any of the crap I write here. In the interests of time, space, the World of the Slasher Film, and Final Girl browsers everywhere, however, I made a concession and recently read the novelization for Halloween II (by Jack Martin, based upon the screenplay by Debra Hill and John Carpenter).

Ah, the novelization. For those of you unfamiliar with the concept, the novelization comes after the film. Reading the book, I suppose, lets you re-live the movie over and over as opposed to, say, simply watching it again. While these books might seem like a pointless notion, it should be noted that they tend to contain a lot more backstory about the characters than the films do. I remember finding the novelization of the first Halloween at the Paperback Trader when I was a wee bonny lass and being so excited I could just pop. It had pictures from the movie! It had a scary cover! And there were also lengthy passages chronicling Michael's time in the asylum, with scenes that weren't in the film. See? Novelizations are good for the film buff.

Hmm...perhaps I should also point out how excited I was to pick up the novelization for 9 to 5 when my local grocery store had it...that one, I simply can't explain.

At any rate, Halloween II does fill in a few blanks for us, such as providing the answer to the burning question "How does Michael Myers know that Laurie is at the hospital and how the frig does he get there?" See, there's this TV producer who's all hot to get the scoop and she takes off for the hospital; she gets a flat tire en route and...
A shape the size of a mountain on two legs unfolded inside the trunk. It rose up and up. Then it sprang. It took her head back by the hair. Her white throat was suddenly exposed. A flash of silver and her throat had been slashed, with such brutal force that her head was nearly severed from her shoulders. It happened like that and then it was over, more quickly than the eye or any camera could have recorded. Even in slo-mo.

There was a jingling of keys. A moment later the car was running again.
Eyyyaghhhh! Can you feel the terror through the oh-so complex sentences?

While the novel does not explain how Michael's hand remains unscathed while he repeatedly plunges it into the scalding water of the therapy pool, it does give us a bit more insight to Dr Loomis..namely, the dude is a pretentious dick. Who knew? In the films he's always portrayed as a bit...eccentric, perhaps, but sort of guilt-ridden over Michael's escape and desperate to save Haddonfield's children from The Evil while still maintaining a bit of psychiatric interest in his patient. In the pages of Halloween II, however, he's got an extreme hate-on for Michael and he's given to some rather colorful- and hilarious- thoughts about his arch-enemy:
I'll be here, no matter how long it takes. I defy him to show his obscene face once more to the world of the living. So that I can blow him into a thousand putrid pieces and scatter those pieces on the four winds. For even Lord Samhain is bound for the present into his human form. If you cut him, does he not bleed? You're damned right he does. I'll rip his death-eating heart into pulp with a load of burning lead...
Wow, easy there, Loomie. You're gonna give yourself an ulcer with thoughts like that! He goes on to call Michael "The Prince of Scum" and "Michael Bloody Myers of Evil Incarnate", a title which would be so much better if he added "Incorporated" at the end. He's also got some choice words for Sheriff Brackett, dubbing him "pathetically stupid" and a "midwestern pig".

We also get some more backstory for Laurie as she lays in her hospital bed all drugged-up. She thinks about all the time she wasted being the "good girl" ("All my studying didn't do me any good tonight") and laments the fact that no one can be saved from fate. Bob couldn't save Lynda, Paul couldn't save Annie..."They can't- they're waiting for someone to do the same for them. Don't you get it?" Diazepam makes one philosophical, no? She goes on to dream about visiting Michael in the hospital and her vaguely abusive parents. It's all fascinating, I tells ya.

Do they publish novelizations anymore? I have no idea, but I sort of hope so. It'd be rad if there's some future Final Girl out there nerding out because she just found the paperback version of Scream 3 or something.

For some more info and reviews of slasher flick novelizations, head over to the always-bitchin' Retro Slashers. Man, I'd love to get my hands on that copy of April Fool's Day...wait, I mean...uh, reading is for losers! I'm just gonna go watch it!

***
Don't forget, kids...tomorrow is the Friday the 13th Blog-A-Thon! I'm privy to what some of you have cooking, and let me just say...we're gonna blow the roof right off this INTERNET! If you're posting something on your own blog and I've yet to post (no, I still have no idea what I'm going to do), send me a link via email- it's available in my profile over yonder to the right. If you've written something but you're blogless and you'd like me to post it for you here, where my magic stardust might rub off on you a little, simply include the piece in an email. Huzzah and hooray!

10 comments:

Chadzilla Saxelid said...

Trivia: "Jack Martin" is really Dennis Etchison, who wrote the novelization of Carpenter's The Fog. He also wrote, under the Martin Moniker, the novelizations of Halloween III: Season of the Witch and Videodrome.

Ah, video tape killed the novelization. How I recall those wonderful pre-video days when I could stroll through a bookstore and find novelizations of just about every movie ever released...Prophecy, Dark Star, Final Exam, Halloween I, II, and III, Videodrome, Scanners, The Dark, The Boogens, Kingdom of the Spiders...oh, the list goes on and on and on!

Theron said...

In the '70s, I used to delight in reading novelizations of my favorite movies ("Young Frankenstein" was a particular fave). But the advent of DVDs has rendered novelization obsolete. Used to be when a movie left the theater, you couldn't see it again - hence the need for novelizations. Now? Who wants (or needs) to read the book when you can see the actual movie? Ahhhh, the good ol' days?

Personally, I miss them. The writing was usually so bad that it brought a whole new tortured dimension to the movie. Plus, the books were based on the screenplays, which means there would often be scenes in the book that had been cut from the finished movie...of course, now those are called deleted scenes...

Stacie Ponder said...

Aren't we all a bunch of old farts? :D It's absolutely true, though...video killed the novelization star.

Thanks for the trivia, Chad...Jack Martin got around! I've actually got Halloween III and it's up next. I kind of can't wait to read it.

It's a good thing I'm broke, otherwise tracking these books down might become my newest obsession. Young Frankenstein? Wow!

Mariana said...

Thanks to you when I saw this image I immediately thought "midget porn". http://www.widelec.org/stuff/frank_uyttenhove/frank_uyttenhove_07.jpg

spazmo said...

I found a copy of "Friday the 13th Part 3" at a friend's place. Asked him if I could take it home to read, and he said "You're staying over, aren't you? Read it tonight."

It took about an hour and a half.
Was it too much to hope for a novelization of a 3-D film to be presented in pop-up form? Unimaginative publishers...

My favorite print adaptation was "It Lives Again!". I was just bursting to see the movie version, after being scared shitless by "It's Alive!", but when they got around to releasing the sequel, it was R-rated. I begged my mom to take me, but no dice.

aBearAware said...

Novelization, as a genre, had its good points. I remember finding novelizations of Scanners and The Thing (Carpenter version) in a used bookstore, when I was about 9 years old. TV commercials for both those movies had already completely fucked my mind, so finding these "books" was the closest I could come to seeing the movies, and, perhaps, either exorcising the horrible thoughts from my juvenile mind, or satisfying my budding urge to watch people get ripped apart in really gross ways.

So, the novelizations helped. Somehow. I think.

Re: the question, is novelization dead? Being a hardcore Cronenberg fan, I bought the n'z'tion of eXistenZ three weeks before the movie finally played in my little backwater Pacific Grove CA residence at the time. So that would be 1998 or so?...

Bill Walsh said...

I actually sometimes would read the novelizations before I got to see the movies. I think I read both Star Wars ("Hey, where did Biggs go?") and Raiders of the Lost Ark (in the back of a station wagon on the way to the beach) before I actually saw the movies.

And now I'm a novelist manqué? Coincidence, or terrifying rift in space-time? You make the call...

Dr. Criddle said...

Hi! I tagged you. drcriddle.blogspot.com

Antaeus Feldspar said...

They do indeed still make novelizations -- a friend of mine was recently ranting about how abominable the novelization of Transformers was, in fact.

What strikes me as hilarious is when the movie is based on a book, and then they publish a novelization based of course on the movie. I can just imagine the snobby purist book-only fans (well, not that you'd need to be a snobby purist, but it's funnier to picture it happening to a snobby purist) listening in abject horror as a clueless newb fan gushes about how their favorite Tolkien moment is Legolas surfing on the shield...

John Barleycorn said...

A friend of mine wasn't allowed to watch Natural Born Killers so he tracked down the novelization (this was what? 1994?) and read it several times. Said it was a big piece of shit but hey, if you can't see the movie, read the (hastily written) book.

I rotted off the novelization for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles when I was a wee lass, er, lad. Good times.

I wanna read novelizations now! Gimme!