Friday, October 20, 2023

Halloween - The Scream Factory

The Halloween film franchise has been going strong for nearly a half-century. Who knew that a babysitter killer could spark so much interest from fans while simultaneously creating enough timelines and multiverses to compete with Marvel Comics. Depending on your level of fandom, you are just casually watching Michael Myers stalk his prey through 11 films (Halloween III doesn't count) or piecing together the various movies into separate timelines. For me personally, this is my favorite horror franchise and I watch the films religiously. In my mind, I've organized them all into various categories and timelines, but I've never bothered with the novels. 

In paperback format, there are novelizations for seven Halloween films and at least one fan-fiction novelization (Halloween 5 by Jake Martin). However, besides the novelizations, Berkley published three original paperbacks in the late 1990s – The Scream Factory (1997), The Old Myers Place (1997), and The Mad House (1998). These three novels, averaging 150 pages, were catered for young adults and featured Michael Myers doing what he does best – hunting teens in Haddonfield, IL. The books were authored by Kelly 'O Rourke (aka Kelly Reno) and aren't related to each other. These are stand-alone stories. This review is for The Scream Factory, the first of the three paperbacks. 

Ultimately, this novel only references events in the 1978 Halloween film. There is a mention of a body count, but it isn't correct. The book ignores any sequels, which makes it much easier to simply enjoy as a stand-alone horror novel. The knowledge that the Halloween film ended with Michael Myers being shot by his doctor and then disappearing is the only prerequisite needed. 

It's now 1997 and the small town of Haddonfield talks about Michael Myers as if he is an urban myth. The town's youth mostly designates the killer as a thing of legend, nothing more, nothing less. Myers hasn't been seen since 1978. High school student Lori Parker collaborates with her friend Sally to throw a large Halloween party in the basement of Haddonfield City Hall. The party, aptly titled The Scream Factory, will be a gathering of high school students and a local band (fronted by Lori's romantic interest). 

The events prior to the party leads to Myers appearance. In a series of murders, Myers begins killing some of Lori's friends and members of the town's staff. Myers is described as being covered in mud and having dirty hair, which brought to mind the imagery of “homeless” Myers in Rob Zombie's Halloween remake. Myers also does some things that are more in line with Jason Voorhees (Friday the 13th), showing supernatural strength by dragging a large tree across a highway. But, at other times he is calling Lori on the phone and making bizarre noises or placing jack 'o lanterns at various locations (with a knife). Rather odd behavior that seems to contrast with the movie versions.

The Scream Factory isn't great, nor is it scary. But, I will state for the record that this is more of an “adult” horror novel than young adult in terms of savage violence and some gore. I'm not completely convinced this is a young adult book despite the clownish cover art. If you just have to consume everything Michael Myers, then by all means read this. Otherwise, just stick to the films, novelizations, and the occasional graphic novel.

Buy a copy of this book HERE.

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