Archive for movie novelizations

Thrift Store Finds Hallo-Weekends – Halloween III: The Season of the Witch movie novelization

Posted in thrift store finds with tags , , , , , , on October 19, 2013 by Christopher Pearce


This week, we return to my old beloved stomping grounds, the movie novelization. We’ll be looking at Halloween III: The Season of the Witch, written by Jack Martin, the pen name of horror writer/editor Dennis Etchison.

Season of the Witch Cover

The book is based on a screenplay by Tommy Lee Wallace and was published by Jove Publications in 1982. Cover price was $2.95, I paid fifty cents.

I’ve written about a bunch of these film tie-in books in the past. I’ve even written about the Halloween franchise novelized before!

As a pre-teen, I was an avid reader of novelizations as a way to carry my love of a movie out of the theater and into my everyday life. I had few friends who would buy the novelization to read about a movie their parents were never going to let them see (usually R-rated action and horror flicks). It was sort of a literary methadone to the pure heroin of cinema.

I picked up this novelization of Halloween III at the thrift store because I’m a HUGE fan of the first Halloween movie. I’ve seen it dozens of times and it remains a masterful work. A quick glance at Wikipedia tells me I’ve also seen most of the other Michael Myers Halloween flicks (including Halloween H20 but excluding the Rob Zombie remakes) so I’m fairly up to speed with the series. I’ve seen them all… but I’ve never seen Halloween III.

If you’re at all a fan of the horror genre, you probably know why this is. Halloween III: Season of the Witch was something of a noble experiment. John Carpenter and the various producers decided to turn the franchise from a series focused on Michael Myers into a yearly Halloween-themed anthology. This third entry in the series told an entirely new story with no ties to the characters and situations that had made the previous two films such a success. Halloween III ended up being something of a disaster and the anthology idea was chucked out the window in favor of bringing Michael Myers back for another go-around not too soon after.

Halloween III has gained some cult traction in horror circles of late but like I said… it’s the one movie in the franchise I skipped. I decided to do an experiment of my own this Halloween season: I would read the novelization… then I would watch the movie for the first time. I wanted to see how my enjoyment of the movie would be either increased or tempered based on having read the tie-in book first.

First things first. How is the book? Click through to find out what I thought.

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thrift store finds: the blair witch files #1- the witch’s daughter

Posted in thrift store finds with tags , , , , , , , , , , on February 18, 2012 by Christopher Pearce

Today we’ll be looking at The Blair Witch Files #1: The Witch’s Daughter, “written” by Cade Merrill, published by Bantam Books in 2000. More about those quotation marks in a bit.

This is the third tie-in novel I’ve encountered made from an R rated horror movie and marketed to kids. You may remember I previously looked at the Halloween series of YA novels and the Nightmare on Elm Street novelization. I find so weird these books are explicitly marketed to young people- of course they’d be interested in them, but it just seems a strange fit. By codifying these movies in lines of young adult novels, it’s essentially like saying “Go ahead, twelve year old child who has no business watching The Blair Witch Project… sneak in and get the shit scared out of you!”

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thrift store finds: aliens novelization

Posted in thrift store finds with tags , , , , on April 9, 2011 by Christopher Pearce

Less a review and more a trip down memory lane, today’s (and next week’s) thrift store finds are a couple of novelizations based on and around the 1986 movie Aliens.

This week, let’s look at the novelization. Next week, the novelization of a novelization.

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thrift store finds: batman (1989) novelization

Posted in thrift store finds with tags , , , , , , on October 30, 2010 by Christopher Pearce

(Thrift Store Finds is a mostly-weekly “column” of sorts where I discuss some of the cool books I’ve happened upon in my neighborhood St. Vincent DePaul store. Please don’t mistake me for an expert on any of the books I am writing about… I’m just a fan of a bargain.)

I was the last generation of kids for whom home video wasn’t a given. By the time I was in junior high, VHS had pretty well taken over the world, allowing even the most meager of homes the luxury of making it a Blockbuster night. Moreover, as home video rental stores began to get a foothold in towns and cities across the country, the window between a film appearing on the big screen and in your local video store narrowed considerably.

When I was a kid, however… this was not the case. If you wanted to see a movie, you saw it in the movie theaters. If you were lucky, a year or so later, it’d appear on HBO… and a year after that perhaps, on one of the Big Three TV networks. If you wanted to know more about that movie, you’d watch Entertainment Tonight. Many a Monday evening I remember spending glued to the television watching the ageless Mary Hart opine about weekend’s movie grosses.

There was no immediate gratification of a home video release. There was no Internet to sate a budding cinephile’s interest in the making of their favorite movies. It was catch-as-catch-can.

…and this is where movie novelizations picked up some slack.

When I was growing up and you wanted to re-experience that movie you loved so well, they were the only game in town. Novelizations were written retellings of your favorite flick, normally based on the screenplays of major motion pictures rather than the finished product that landed in movie theaters. Stemming from this fact, movie novelizations were often rife with “bonus scenes” and extra perspective on characters in a flick, simply by virtue of having to be written months before the actual movie was completed. After all, a film novelist couldn’t know which scenes in the shooting script would end up on the cutting room floor. As a reader and a movie fan, I always found this thrilling. For instance, I remember reading Alan Dean Foster’s novelization of Alien 3 and enjoying it MORE than I enjoyed the movie at the time.

I’m not sure movie novelizations serve much of a purpose in this day and age, when the Internet so readily caters to the whims of the cinematically obsessed… but I was vividly reminded of my my own obsession with novelizations this past weekend when trolling a New 2 You thrift store in Mason and discovering…

the novelization of the 1989 Batman movie by Craig Shaw Gardner.

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thrift store finds

Posted in commentary, thrift store finds with tags , , , , , , , , , on May 1, 2010 by Christopher Pearce

(Thrift Store Finds is a mostly-weekly “column” of sorts where I discuss some of the cool books I’ve happened upon in my neighborhood St. Vincent DePaul store. Please don’t mistake me for an expert on any of the books I am writing about… I’m just a fan of a bargain.)

This week, we’re going to take a break from comic paperbacks. I’m going spend some time with a couple of semi-interesting (well, they’re semi-interesting to me, anyway)  movie tie-in books I’ve uncovered.

I’m currently reading Blockbuster: How Hollywood Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Summer by Tom Shone, a not altogether convincing but still enjoyable defense of the brainless summer movie. I should say, while I have a great appreciation for movies, especially the New Hollywood flicks of the 1970’s, I was raised in the wake of the blockbuster. I grew to love love Robert Altman and Hal Ashby, but in my formative years, I mostly suckled at the respective cinematic teats of Spielberg and Lucas.

For that mental image… you’re welcome.

Anyhow, due to the fact there was NO real merchandise to speak of for Jaws in 1975,  there was a void to fill. People wanted Jaws stuff. I guess that’s where 101 Shark Jokes came from.

The jokes are predictably corny.

The author of 101 Shark Jokes is Phil Hirsch, and while I don’t know and can’t find a lot about the guy, I can tell you that all the cartoons in this book come courtesy of Don Orehek, a gag cartoonist who you may recognize as a contributor to the frequently referenced in Thrift Store Finds MAD Magazine knock-off Cracked Magazine.

Don’t hold that against him though- although the jokes are moldy oldies even by Seventies standards, a lot of the drawings are a lot of fun. Orehek has a loose, tossed off style that suits the “let’s get something out on bookshelves to exploit Jaws-mania” that suits this book.

I can’t pretend I understand where that Mark Spitz joke came from… but when was the last time you heard a Mark Spitz joke? Huh? Probably 1975!

Speaking as someone for whom Jaws is easily one of his Rob Gordon/High Fidelity Top Five Favorite Movies Ever, if I was a little kid I would have wanted this book. I would have wanted it for the same reason I wanted Batman toys in 1989- to take that fun experience I had in the theater and carry it with me past the multiplex. It seems as though knock-off books such as this was as good as it would have gotten for a Jaws fan in ’75.


I came across these books a few weeks ago and while I can’t get up the gumption to actually sit down and read them, it blows my mind that someone took the hard R-rated Halloween movie property and turned them into a Goosebumps-like series for kids. Michael Myers was pretty damn vicious in those flicks! I know most of my students have seen worse horror movies than the original Halloween by the time they are in middle school, but it still makes me scratch my head.

As near as I can tell, these are the first two books in a four book series by Kelly O’Rourke in 1997, most likely produced in anticipation for Halloween H20, the badly-named but actually not too terrible sequel to the original Halloween which reunited Jamie Lee Curtis’ Laurie Strode with her crazy bro.

O’Rourke expands on the Halloween mythos (the Myers family, the town of Haddonfield) without actually digging into the plots of past and future movies. In other words, Michael Myers is hacking kids to bits as per usual, but Laurie Strode and Dr. Loomis are nowhere to be found here. Working around the periphery of a big movie is kind of a cool concept, if you can put aside the knowledge that the movies these books were based on are probably far too mature for the kids these books are aimed toward.

…of course, when I was a little kid, I wasn’t allowed to see even one minute of A Nightmare on Elm Street and I was still fairly obsessed with Freddy Krueger. Perhaps there’s just something striking about these horror characters that lends themselves to being nightmare fodder for kiddies who aren’t even yet watching the flicks from whence they came. Still, these struck me as so odd, I had to have ’em.