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Thursday, January 28, 2021

[Review] ‘The Legend of Halloween’ Offers a Fun, Clever Spin on John Carpenter’s Slasher Classic

Given the iconic status of the long-running Halloween film series and the amount of entries to be found therein, it’s a bit surprising to this fan that we have so little in the way of literary extensions for this beloved franchise. Sure, there are a handful of novelizations, and a few insanely hard-to-find young adult books from the 90s. Hell, we even have some damned fine comic books that chronicle the continuing adventures of Michael Myers, even if those are a tad tough to come by these days as well. Beyond that, though?

With its curious January release date, Further Front Publishing’s The Legend of Halloween looks to add one more noteworthy tome to the fairly modest pile of available Shape-centric publications. Officially sanctioned by Halloween copyright holders Compass International Pictures and boasting the participation of Halloween (2018) co-writer/director David Gordon Green, Legend is neither a novelization, nor a young adult novel, nor a comic book.

Rather, it’s…a children’s book?!

Written and illustrated by both Green and children’s book author Onur Turkel, The Legend of Halloween retells the events of John Carpenter’s original 1978 film through the bright, cheery lens of colorful illustrations and rhyming text, reframing the slasher story as a sanitized spooky tale meant to strike an acceptable amount of fear into reasonably aged youngsters. In telling the story in this manner, it’ll perhaps be all too easy for some fans to see this as little more than a curiosity, at best. Indeed, it surely comes off as a bit of a one-note spoof at first glance. However, in staying true to the beats of the first film while keeping us an arm’s length from its suspense and horror, this telling does come across as creepy and oddly unnerving. It feels…wrong, but not in a negative sense. It’s just that it may be as likely to provide adult Halloween fans a measure of the same chills that younger readers with little to no knowledge of the films will likely get, for entirely different reasons.

While I imagine some fans might very well take me to task for that reaction and insist on viewing Legend as a harmless trifle of a kids’ book, I’d ask everyone to look just a little closer. Its intentions, I believe, are right there in the title. It isn’t Halloween. It’s The Legend of Halloween. Like all legends, this telling provides readers with a distance from the horror and immediacy of the original story. It’s a rollercoaster, presenting us with the illusion of danger, even while we know full well that no harm could possibly come to us. It renders Michael Myers impotent, his actions bloodless. This is how the characters in Green’s 2018 film view Myers and the horrors he wrought on that Halloween, forty years removed from their initial impact on that community. But, much as that film’s cocky teens and forgetful adults in that film learned, the boogeyman is no less a threat simply because he’s aged or been forgotten. Laugh or shrug at him all you care, but you may very well face his wrath at some point for your lack of respect. Given Green’s involvement here, I’d be very curious to see if a version of this book makes an in-universe appearance in one of his upcoming sequels.

All that aside, this book does function as a fun, clever spin on a well-worn tale. The writing is often amusing (“Our hero’s name is Laurie. / She’s cute and really clever. / Michael stalks this trio / as they all walk home together.”), while the artwork is clean and simple, yet full of character. In addition, one of the more interesting aspects of Legend is that a good deal of it is told from an unfamiliar perspective – Michael’s. Events from Carpenter’s film that we all know by heart are now told from the Shape’s perspective, which gives this telling more vitality than I was expecting.

Ultimately, if you’re a longtime Shape fan, you know you’re going to want this book on your shelf. If you’re a casual horror fan, your mileage may vary, but I doubt you’ll be disappointed if you give this unexpected take on a genre classic an honest shot. So go ahead – pick up this book and appreciate it for its sly chills and offbeat humor.

But laugh in Michael’s face at your own peril.

“The time had come for trick or treats,

makeup, masks and capes.

But no one saw the crazy man

with the scary shape.”



source https://bloody-disgusting.com/reviews/3650022/review-legend-halloween-offers-fun-clever-spin-john-carpenters-slasher-classic/

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