• Nathan Erdel

Book Review: The Legend of Halloween (2021)

While not the most obvious movie tie-in product ever made, nor the most outrageous, David Gordon Green’s choice to adapt John Carpenter’s classic Halloween into a classic, oversized children’s book makes a lot of sense. After all, Halloween remains, classically, a children’s holiday, and the tale of Haddonfield’s least favorite son making his autumnal homecoming is the stuff of cinematic urban legend, so, sure: put the Boogeyman where he belongs - into the subconscious fears of children of all ages, but in a package seemingly designed for children ages 5-10. Makes sense, right?

So, what’s the book? Well, The Legend of Halloween, written and illustrated by David Gordon Green & Onur Tukel, is purely and simply… a children’s book retelling of Carpenter’s seminal film, complete with rhyming couplets and charmingly illustrated moments from that fateful Halloween night. Much like the original film, it’s a mostly bloodless affair, relying more on the simple story of the Shape, and the fact that most readers will be at least passingly familiar with the 1978 film, than any additional violence or bloodshed. It’s a quick read, clocking in under 30 double-sided pages, and absolutely makes a great collectable for fans of Halloween. But, really, a children’s book? Yes, really. It works.

The execution of The Legend of Halloween is charming, brilliant, and completely spot-on in presenting Carpenter’s classic horror film as a children’s book. The illustrations and rhymes take the slasher genre bite out of Michael Myers’ legend, distilling it to the simple story of the Boogeyman, an urban legend for children in Haddonfield and beyond, creating a tale even more bloodless than the original, yet still just as eerie. If Halloween (2018) showed a Haddonfield in which the story of Michael Myers was already muddied with “fact” and fiction, The Legend of Halloween might set the stage for the the community writ large in the upcoming Halloween Kills (2021), which would make this book an incredibly smart and creative meta preamble to the 2nd chapter in Green’s Halloween trilogy.

The illustrations throughout are in a style that is crude, simplistic, yet very charming, completely apropos for a children’s book, despite it being the retelling of what many people consider the king of all slasher flicks. Readers won’t find much blood, overt violence, or any “see anything ya like” moments, yet all three are referenced to within the pages, giving the book a Simpsons-esque quality of playing upon adult knowledge without being inappropriate for young readers. While some more sensitive young audience members may find the book a bit too intense, this Halloween could be a fun introduction for young horror fans who may still be a bit to young for its cinematic counterpart, or, at least, the slew of imitations this book’s inspiration, well, inspired.

The Legend of Halloween is simply wonderful: a fun and inspired take on our favorite midwestern madman, given to us by the man behind one of the cinematic series best entries. It’s more than simply a curio: it’s a interesting and brilliant adaptation of the original Halloween, repackaged as a children’s bedtime story, and, in that, actually retains some of the spook factor of the original tale while still making it appropriate for young readers. If not anything else, it’s an incredibly fun diversion while we eagerly await Halloween Kills.

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