What do you get when you cross one of the most iconic horror movies with a picture book? The Legend of Halloween, a children’s adaptation of the John Carpenter classic that’s here to introduce kids to the boogie man! This odd little number is a beat-for-beat recreation of the movie’s plot featuring comical illustrations and written entirely in verse– it’s a bit like Seuss but with a much higher body count.
It’s worth noting that this book was written by David Gordon Green, the director of 2018’s Halloween and the two planned sequels. Often side projects like this are handled by fans who are otherwise not attached to the property, but Green’s role in the project really lends it a sense of authority and further cements his love for the series. The Legend of Halloween is co-written and illustrated by Onur Tukel, an independent director and renaissance man with an interesting IMDb credit: he’s listed as a “fear consultant” on 2018’s Halloween. I’m not sure what exactly that job entails, but it sounds wonderful.
I’m sure you’re wondering if this is actually child-appropriate, and the short answer is…probably? At your own discretion. There are a few illustrations that feature the cast in underwear and vague allusions to sex, but if you’re comfortable with your child reading an adaptation of a slasher film you probably know that comes with the territory. There is no blood or gore beyond cartoonish splashes and drips like those on the cover, though there are corpses and light depictions of violence. Ultimately, whether or not this is appropriate for children is going to depend on the kid. Use your best judgment.
As an adult reader, this was a fun novelty. The art style is whimsical, the rhymes are spot on, and the whole thing feels like a loving tribute to a movie which, for many of us, began a lifetime of horror fandom. I especially love Loomis’ football head and the wildly cartoonish facial expressions throughout– even Michael’s mask changes expressions ever so subtly (although he’s almost always just barely frowning).
All told, The Legend of Halloween isn’t some sort of game-changing revelation that’s going to alter how you see the movie. It isn’t trying to be that, mind you, but that’s probably going to be the biggest takeaway for a lot of readers: the book is a lighthearted and somewhat surreal retelling of the film. That’s all it’s meant to be and that’s exactly what it delivers.
The Legend of Halloween is competent in every way, but the audience for it may be quite limited. Avid fans of the movie will appreciate it because it kind of feels like an alternate reality version of Halloween, and parents who want to introduce their (more mature) kids to the horror genre may find it useful, but the novelty of seeing the shape in a picture book may be lost on a lot of horror fans.
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