By Curtis Richards
"The horror started on the eve of Samhain, in a foggy vale in Northern Ireland at the dawn of the Celtic race..."The novelization of John Carpenter's Halloween was released to coincide with the film, and while it followed the plot of the movie pretty faithfully, there were a number of diversions made in print that were not found on celluloid. As everyone is (or should be) familiar with the storyline, I'll only deal with the differences here.
The differences begin right off the bat, as the novel begins at the dawn of the Celtic race: Deirdre, the youngest daughter of the Druid King Gwynnwyll, was an early-bloomer, with sandy brown hair and amber highlights, eyes of green, and a skin tone resembling "cream and wild rose". She was an early-bloomer, and had caught the eye of many men--including one Enda, a 15 year old boy whose botched childbirth left him with a uselessly shriveled arm. Enda's advances, though, were met with both laughter and fear.
At the festival of Samhain, Deirdre's betrothal to another man was announced, and Enda snapped, attacking and murdering the pair with a blade his family used for butchering hogs and chickens.
Enraged, the rest of the tribe attacked Enda, rending him limb from limb. Following the melee, only his heart and head remained, and these were buried on the Hill of Fiends, where the tribal shaman pronounced a special curse, which, in hindsight, doesn't seem like such a great idea.
"Thy soul shall roam the earth till the end of time, reliving thy foul deed and thy foul punishment, and may the god Muck Olla visit every affliction upon thy spirit forevermore."Flash forward to October 31, 1963.
A six year old Michael talks with his grandmother, who is disappointed in his choice of costume--a clown. When she was a kid, Halloween was a serious affair, she says, and much effort was put into scaring away the Bogeyman, who would slaughter livestock, burn down barns, etc. She even recounts one particular incident of her own in Nineteen-Ought-Something, when the supposed Bogeyman had slit the 300-pound family hog's throat, carried it up to the roof, and plugged the chimney with it.
"Twas the Bogeyman, that's all there is to it."
We learn, in passing, that Michael has been having trouble: fights at school, bed wetting, having violent dreams, and hearing voices. But wait...Michael's not the only one who had suffered these symptoms in the Myers bloodline. This is exactly how it started with Michael's great grandfather Nordstrom: In the 1890s, at a harvest dance on All Hallows Eve, he shot and killed a couple and was hanged for his crime.
Michael, urged by the voices he hears, slaughters his sister Judith after she has sex with her boyfriend. Michael's leering looks and jealousy, and some of the more "sensitive" areas that he attacks, suggests something of an incestual attraction--which is definitely a new twist on the brother-sister relationship. In fact, at a later point in the book, Michael recalls her body as "pink, firm, with beautiful tight buttocks and round high breasts with jutting nipples"
At this point, it becomes obvious that the wandering spirit of Enda is what Michael's grandmother is inadvertently talking about when she discusses the Bogeyman. He had taken over nameless (to us) citizens in her hometown, then Nordstrom Myers, and finally Michael himself.
Following the murder (which we are all familiar with), we are privy to a few scenes of his trial, and details of his incarceration as related by Dr. Loomis. According to the good doctor, Michael has been known to act out brutal vengeance against members of the staff and other patients whom Michael feels have slighted him, but they are done in such a way that no proof of his involvement can be found. Because of Michael's reign of terror, everyone fears him and they go out of their way to keep him happy. So Michael rather likes it on the inside...
Which is why Michael does not attempt an escape for 15 years. As stipulated by the judge, when Michael Myers is 21, he is to be transferred to an actual prison, an idea he is not fond of. That's why he waits so long to make his getaway. And when Michael drives off in his car, Dr. Loomis speculates that someone may have given him driving lessons, just as he does in the movie, but in view of Michael's special treatment in the novelization, it makes much more sense here.
Once Michael makes his escape and returns to his hometown, we are for the most part done with the story through his eyes, and the tale takes us into more familiar territory. A few less-important--but still interesting--variations do crop up, though.
We are given a name for Michael's obsession with the Halloween holiday: Anniversary Syndrome, a very real disorder where mentally disturbed persons relive the events of the previous year's trauma on the anniversary of its events. Loomis, in a rather risky gamble, actually organizes a Halloween Party at the hospital while young Michael was still in his care, setting him up for incident to prove to the judge that he should not be released.
Michael's trademark look is described as such: Dark khaki mechanics coveralls, hair black, face powder white, with red lips and sunken purple eyes, a livid scar zig-zagging down his cheek--which is a close, but not exact, approximation of the figure we see on screen.
And, perhaps most disturbingly, we learn that Michael Myers has a throbbing erection while stalking Laurie Strode and her friends, and is clearly aroused while watching Annie undress. He can't even help but compare her to his deceased sister:
"Her legs weren't as long as Judy's, her buttocks were larger and filled the panties to straining, and she had a sensual bulge just over the crotch that made him breathe heavier with desire."
While I'm not usually a fan of novelizations, I was actually quite impressed with this one--and it may have just changed my outlook. It was a fast and satisfying read that kept me guessing, even though I knew exactly where it was heading. The variations in plot and deeper detail kept me interested throughout the entire page count, and I loved that we were given an insight into an otherwise mysterious character. Purists may not appreciate the linking of Michael's homicidal tendencies with an ancient Celtic curse, but when viewing many of the other films to come (chiefly Halloween 4-6, although also a few key scenes in Halloween 2), it really helps to pull it all together.
What is the curse of Enda, if not another name for the Curse of Thorn?
If you're looking for a variation of a favorite story, I highly recommend this book. IF you can find it for an affordable price. It goes for $80 or more on Amazon, so I suggest prowling used book stores until you find it on the cheap, like I did.