Archive for Movie Novelizations

AWESOME-tober-fest 2016: Jason X movie novelization by Pat Cadigan

Posted in books, Friday the 13th, Genres, horror, Jason Vorhees, movies, nostalgia, pop culture with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on October 27, 2016 by Paxton

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Back when I did Movie Maniacs in 2012, I reviewed several 80s horror movie novelizations.  They are pretty rare out there in the wild, so it was a treat to be able to cover several of them.  If you’re curious, check out my reviews of Nightmares on Elm Street (Parts 1-3), Friday the 13th Part III and Friday the 13th Part VI.

While I’m a fan of both Freddy and Jason franchises, I probably gravitate towards Jason as my favorite overall. And being a fan of Friday the 13th, I’m telling you that Jason X is a very polarizing entry in the franchise.  Many people hate it.  I’m not one of them. I see some potential in this movie. It goes mostly unfulfilled, but there’s potential there.

Anyway, in 2005, about 5 years after the movie was released, during the media blitz for Freddy vs Jason, Black Flame books got the license to print Friday the 13th novels.  They would do two series, one of them being in the original timeline and another series in the Jason X timeline.  There would eventually be about five books in the Jason X series and it started off with a novelization of the movie by Pat Cadigan.

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Picking up this book I should tell you it’s hefty for a slasher movie novelization.  The general rule for movie books is about 1 page per 1 minute of action.  So a 90 minute movie would generally be about a 90 page book if it was a straight translation.  Give or take some flourishes by the author.  Well, this book is over 400 pages long.  Jason X the movie is 92 minutes long.  So there may be one or two flourishes by the author.

I have lots of hopes for this extra 300+ pages of content.  I want the futuristic world fleshed out. They barely mention what the future world is like aside from “the Earth has become uninhabitable”.  And who are the members of the crew that find Jason?  Are they scientists?  Explorers?  Archeologists?  What?  It’s not really explained in the movie.  And lastly, I’m hoping I get more action and murder with Uber Jason.

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So, I’ve read the book, did it meet any of my expectations? Was it any good?  The easy answer is yes, it was good.  If not great.  As a fan of the movie, I also enjoyed the book.  Unfortunately, the page count is due to the author fleshing out existing scenes with more exposition and not creating brand new scenes or subplots not in the movie. Well, the main character, Rowan, is given a definite romantic interest with Brodski who has a larger part in the book.  But, it ultimately goes nowhere because he meets the same fate in the book as he does in the movie.

So what new stuff is there?  Well, the author does add some very interesting content in the form of character backstories and many ruminations on the nature of Jason Voorhees.  We also get a good description of what the universe is like 4.5 centuries in the future which we don’t get in the movie.

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Per the book, after Rowan and Jason were frozen together, the Army did go to the facility to help, but found the entire complex on lockdown and decided to leave it alone as they finally had Jason contained and the world was starting to have bigger issues like food riots and global warming.  Things got so bad martial law was declared.  One hundred years after Jason is frozen the Earth starts to burn starting at the equator.  Surviving humanity escape to biospheres in orbit and we eventually contact alien life and trade them for the blueprints to a “hyper drive”.  Rowan and Jason were left on Earth, cryogenically frozen and forgotten for the next 3 centuries.  And I guess the power grid stayed “hot” for that long as well since the system stayed on lockdown and frozen for that long.  Eventually, using the alien “hyper drives”, humans settled on an Earth II.  Earth I would be studied in colleges as history and one college, New Harvard, would send field trips back to the original Earth led by Professor Lowe who is considered the foremost authority on Earth I.  It is one of these field trips, populated by the Professor, a team of military escorts and a group of students that discover the frozen and forgotten Jason and Rowan.

So the group that discovers Jason is just a class field trip?  I did not pick up on that.  Anyway, the other new things Cadigan adds includes lots of insight into the nature of Jason.  We learn that Jason’s existence is elemental.  He’s not evil per se, but anti-life.  An anti-life elemental.  Living things had many purposes but the basic one is life itself.  By contrast anti-life had one purpose.  Cancel out life.  KILL.  We also get a kind of explanation to why bawdy teenagers set Jason off.  Life stimulates survival instinct in many ways, one of which is sex.  Sex makes humans feel more alive and it helps create more life.  This is what Jason, as an entity of anti-life, is drawn to.  This is why Jason’s urge to kill becomes more apparent when these things are happening.  I like how this book is trying to explain some of the nature of Jason’s existence.  It doesn’t go too far, it goes just far enough.  I like it.  Cadigan also describes Jason’s senses and how he hunts his victims.  He has a “life radar”.  He can sense the life around him.  Once someone gets on his “radar” he can track them.  Again, I like these types of explanations.

Another thing I like about this book is it deals with Jason being captured and studied scientifically.  It makes sense the government of course wants to figure out how Jason does what he does.  And it makes sense the government would want to weaponize those talents.  This movie sort of touches on those ideas.  We see Jason being tested in the beginning but we also see lots of cell testing on the space ship Grendel after he’s been taken out of cryo-freeze.  I don’t want the government to figure anything out, I want them to think they have everything under control, see results of their “tests”, get confused and then Jason “unexpectedly” comes alive and ruins all their plans by killing everybody.  That’s what I want.  And we get that here.

So, yes, the book delivers as a solid adaptation of the movie itself.  It fills in some holes and adds some interesting back story to many of the characters.  If I have to say anything against it, it does feel a bit long.  Four hundred pages is a lot for a slasher novel and it kind of feels long.  But I was rarely bored.

Like I said, this novelization was the beginning of a series of novels based in the Jason X universe. The novels sound interesting, but all of them are around 400 pages which is a little too long for a Jason Voorhees novel. However, Pat Cadigan did followup the Jason X novelization with the next book in the series, Jason X: The Experiment.

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The gist of the plot involves the government using skin grafts from Jason to create a super soldier who then goes rogue. It sounds kind of cool having Uber Jason vs a super soldier. It seems the other four books in the series also deal with the government’s attempts to weaponize the unnatural abilities of Jason Voorhees.  I liked this novelization enough that I would consider reading Cadigan’s followup book.

Unfortunately, this book series is pretty hard to find. Actually, all of the Friday the 13th books are pretty hard to find.  I got lucky when I found this particular book on PaperbackSwap.com several years ago. I’ve only ever seen one other book in the series in the wild. It was the third book, Jason X: Planet of the Beast by Nancy Kilpatrick.  I found it in an old used bookstore in Auburn, AL back in early 2010.  But I’m always on the lookout and hopefully someday I’ll find that second Pat Cadigan Jason X book.


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Krush Groove the novel now exists. FINALLY.

Posted in Beastie Boys, books, movies, music, nostalgia, pop culture, rap, Run-DMC with tags , , , , , , on September 21, 2016 by Paxton

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In the latest episode of the Cult Film Club podcast, we are talking about one of my favorite movies, Krush Groove, from 1985. It’s a fun discussion and a great look back at essentially the genesis of my interest in rap, which was around early 1985 when the first Fat Boys album and Run-DMC’s second album, King of Rock, was released.

Later that year, in October 1985, the movie Krush Groove was released.  I did a small review of the movie back in 2010 for the 25th anniversary.  Check out episode #36 of the Cult Film Club podcast for my more in depth thoughts on the movie.

What I really want to talk about is, why wasn’t there a Krush Groove novelization?  The obvious answer is that it was a movie focusing on the music industry and it may have been hard to translate that since there are at least 3 music video sized interludes in the movie.  But that shouldn’t have stopped them.  I just finished reading the novelization to Jason X and that book expands the sparse 1 hour and 20 minute movie into a 400+ page novel.  You telling me something couldn’t be done with Krush Groove?

So, to correct this rather EGREGIOUS oversight, I created my own Krush Groove novelization based mostly on the design of the soundtrack album cover.

Krush Groove novelization

I think it goes without saying that I would have read the sh*t out of this book.

Movie novelizations that should exist

Posted in books, movies, pop culture with tags , , , , on August 22, 2016 by Paxton

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If you’ve read this blog or my Twitter feed for any length of time, then you know I’m a huge fan of movie novelizations.  As a matter of fact, several years ago I started a feature where I read and reviewed a few of the more obscure movie novelizations like Clue: The Movie, the original Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie as well as a bunch of old rare horror novelizations like Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th VI and Return of the Living Dead.  I’d like to eventually continue that feature but right now, I want to talk about movie novelizations that never got made.  That should have been made.

It seems almost every genre picture from the mid 80s to the mid 90s received a novelization.  It was a simple way for studios to extend someone’s movie going experience outside the theater.  Plus, in the age before the ubiquity of home video, it allowed you to revisit your favorite movies over and over.  I loved novelizations and I read them fervently growing up.  I still do, but to a lesser extent.

However, as with anything else, there are gaping holes in what movies did and didn’t get novelized.  Maybe the movie studios didn’t have a lot of faith in the movie’s success.  Or were deciding not to spend the money on an author to translate the script.  Whatever the reason, like I said, there are movie novelizations that I wish existed that don’t.

One of the first big novelizations I’ve already talked about wishing existed were both of the Young Guns movies.  My buddy Shawn and I wanted them to exist so much that we created our own.  These were previously displayed when Shawn and I collaborated on Young Guns vintage trading cards.

YG novelization YG2 novelization

Awesome, right? Well, that’s what I want to do, start creating my own custom movie novelization covers for movies that I wish had novelizations.  This feature is going to reveal a totally eclectic set of covers, but I think you’ll enjoy it.

Another set of movie novelizations I created and previously revealed on Twitter involved the first two Christopher Reeve Superman movies. The reason those novelizations don’t exist (novelizations for both Part III and Part IV do exist) is because of Mario Puzo, the author of The Godfather.  Puzo wrote the original screenplays for both of those first Superman movies and as a clause in his contract, no one could write the novelizations of those screenplays except him.  And he never wrote them.  Kind of a dick move, Mario.  So all I have are these fake covers of what could have been.

Mario Puzo Superman novels

These covers were created from two Superman novels written by Elliot Maggin that were released because there were no Puzo novelizations.

Okay, so those are some covers I’ve previously shared. How about two brand new covers? Let’s start off this Fantasy Movie Novelization Library with two of my favorite 80s genre movies. Breakin’ and Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo.  I don’t know if you can tell from the picture, but I made these junior novelizations which are lighter in page count and are taller and more square in shape.  You can mostly tell by the Scholastic logo I put in the bottom left.

Breakin' novels

I love the idea of having these two break dancing centric movies get junior novelizations because I imagine the books would be like 120 pages long and breezy fun to read.

So that’s the gist of this feature.  I’ll make a few novelization covers for movies that don’t have them and post them right here.  It’s sort of a fun sister project to my Vintage Comic Throwdowns feature.

Hope you enjoy seeing them as much as I enjoy making them.

Keep reading those movies, my friends.

More Young Guns vintage trading cards!

Posted in 80s, Billy the Kid, books, movies, nostalgia, pop culture with tags , , , on July 8, 2015 by Paxton

A month or so ago Shawn Robare and I unveiled our custom set of vintage Young Guns trading cards. I showed you the even numbered cards in the set (Billy, Dick, Charlie, Tunstall, etc) and Shawn showed the odd numbered cards (Doc, Chavez, Dirty Steve, Murphy, etc). Also, if you guys were paying attention, we both revealed some variant/chase cards over on Cult Film Club which featured alternate image cards as well as custom book covers for the movie novelizations Shawn and I so wish existed.  Click the cover below to see these alternate card images plus see the other Young Guns novelization cover.

YG2 novelization

As such huge fans of the Young Guns movies, Shawn and I couldn’t leave well enough alone.  I mean, if we do an entire custom made vintage set of trading cards for the first Young Guns movie and then can’t do one for the sequel, then what are Shawn and I doing here?  Not our jobs, I’ll tell you that much.

So, we dug in and made a second set of cards for the sequel and now it’s time to see those cards.  Like last time, I’m going to show you half the set here.  If you want to complete the full set of Young Guns II cards, hop on over to Branded in the 80s and see Shawn reveal the second half of the set.

First off, lets check out the wax paper wrappers.  Here’s the main wrapper with Billy.

YG2 wax wrapper

And as is sometimes done, we made a variant wax wrapper for the set featuring Pat.  Shawn even has a rare third wrapper variant over in his article featuring Arkansas Dave.  Check it out.

YG2 wax wrapper 2

Now, let’s take a look at the odd numbered cards in this set. Like I said, jump on over to Branded in the 80s to see the even numbered cards in the set. You can click any of these images to see them BIGGER on Flickr.

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AWESOME-tober-fest 2013: Night of the Living Dead (1974) novelization and a shambling mob of other zombie novels

Posted in books, Genres, horror, monsters, movies, pop culture, zombies with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 24, 2013 by Paxton

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There are a lot of zombie novels out there. I can’t read and review them all, nor would I really want to. However, there are a few I read that I’ll quickly review for you in an opportunity to get them out there so you have other zombie books to read now that AWESOME-tober-fest 2013 has got you hot for zombies again.

Let’s begin with the novelization of the original Romero classic, Night of the Living Dead.

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George Romero’s 1966 film, Night of the Living Dead, is a classic in the horror genre. While attending college in Pittsburgh in the 60s, George Romero and John Russo developed a horror script. They pitched it to a film company, received funding and created one of the most important genre-defining pictures of all time.  This book is the novelization of that script.  Surprisingly, the book wasn’t released until 1974, a clear six years after the release of the movie.  Which means that it wasn’t based on an original draft of the script, it was just a page one copy of the movie.  I didn’t realize that before I started reading.  So, if you’ve seen the movie, you’ve essentially read the book.  Except, the movie is actually better.  The book is slow and a LOT less interesting than the movie.  I don’t know if it’s the way Russo writes or what, but I had a hard time staying awake while reading plus there’s not really any new story information you get for reading.  You may as well just watch the movie again.

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In 1978, after Russo and Romero went their separate ways, Russo decided to write a sequel to Night of the Living Dead.  He called it Return of the Living Dead.  This book has nothing to do with the 1985 horror comedy of the same name other than it inspired that movie.  Russo wanted this book to be the movie and wrote it as a screenplay, but Dan O’Bannon disliked Russo’s story and did a page 1 rewrite.  This book was Russo’s attempt to continue the story they began in Night of the Living Dead.  It’s boring, uninspired and will immediately put you into a reading coma before you finish the first page.  It’s not even worth reading as a novelty.  As a matter of fact, just skip both of these books.  Watch the original 1966 Night of the Living Dead movie and the 1985 Return of the Living Dead movie.  They are much more enjoyable and you’ll get more out of it.


Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith – This is sort of the grandaddy of the outlandish classic fiction category that has become all the rage the last few years.  Stuff like Android Karenina, Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters and Queen Victoria: Demon Hunter all began with this book.  All the zombie/ninja embellishments were written by Seth Grahame-Smith who also wrote Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, that Johnny Depp Dark Shadows movie and he helped create and write the MTV TV show The Hard Times of RJ Berger.  I read this book several years ago.  It’s actually very entertaining.  I thought that the structure would be 1 chapter of Austen/1 chapter of Smith.  However, it isn’t.  Smith manages to deftly combine zombies and ninjas into every aspect of this story.  The lines have been blurred and it’s really hard to see where one story ends and the other begins.  It’s actually quite amazing how well this book works.  I can’t speak for the other quirky classic makeovers I mentioned, but at the very least, this deserves a read.  I think you’ll like it.  FYI, a prequel was written by another author called Dawn of the Dreadfuls, but I haven’t read it.

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AWESOME-tober-fest 2013: Return of the Living Dead movie novelization (1985)

Posted in books, monsters, movies, zombies with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 10, 2013 by Paxton

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Today I’m going to talk about one of my favorite things to do on this blog, movie novelizations.  If you read this blog, you know I love movie novelizations.  Especially movies from the 70s and 80s.  Today, I’m going to discuss the novelization of the zombie classic, Return of the Living Dead.

Return of the Living Dead novel

The history of this movie and its novelization is interesting in and of itself. I discussed it a bit when I reviewed the actual Return of the Living Dead movie. Essentially, John Russo who helped Romero write the original Night of the Living Dead movie, also wrote the novelization AND in 1977 a direct sequel book, Return of the Living Dead.  When Romero and Russo parted ways, they split the rights.  Romero went on to create his “of the Dead” movies and Russo went on to adapt his Living Dead sequel novel.  However, when the book was optioned, the studio had Dan O’Bannon rewrite the book as a script with a heavy comedic undertones to the horror.  That was how the movie was made.  John Russo would go on to write the novelization of O’Bannon’s script.

Like I said, interesting.  I’ve always enjoyed this movie so I thought I’d track down the novelization to review.  Because of the convoluted back story, it’s tough to actually track this down.  Many times the original Russo 1971 Return of the Living Dead book is mistaken for the 1985 movie novelization.  You have to make sure you are getting the right book.

But I got it, and I’ve read it.  How does it stack up to the movie?  By the way, in the below review I’m assuming you’ve seen the movie.

As a novelization, it’s not that bad.  Most of the scenes of the movie are there.  The character names are a little different in so far as the punker group of Freddy’s friends are concerned.  The major story details are the same, however, there are a few changes for the book.  It’s a lot more clear in the book that Freddy used to be a major punker.  He and his girlfriend Tina had walked in on their friend Sunshine after he overdosed on dope and the sight, in effect, scared them straight.  Freddy got a job and was determined not to end up the same as Sunshine.  This event is referenced throughout the book, but is only quickly mentioned in the movie.

The major difference in the novelization is a subplot of Russian spies who worked for the government back in the late 60s during the original events of Night of the Living Dead.  They are the reason the barrels of Trioxin are mistakenly sent to the Uneeda Medical Supply warehouse.  The spies sent some of the barrels there to hide them away from the government so the chemical could be released again later.  The spies then leave the country and head back to Russia.  We have several scenes of them in this book drinking and discussing their actions spying for the government and talking about the missing Trioxin barrels.

More differences involve the character Legs (aka Trash), played by Linnea Quigley in the movie.  During her graveyard striptease (which exists in the movie), in the book it turns into actual sex with her boyfriend, Suicide.  And even though, in the movie, Trash returns as a zombie for a short appearance at the end, Legs, in the book, stays dead and we don’t see her again.

We get a bit more fleshing out of certain characters like the mortuary owner, Ernie.  A little bit more with the paramedics that come to pick up Freddy and Frank, and even some back story to a few of the zombies that go on the rampage.  Two of which were being “dressed” by Ernie in the beginning.  They were a couple who died in a car wreck.  As a matter of fact, the zombie that is interrogated at the end of the movie, in the book, is actually the female side of this dead couple from the beginning.

All in all, this was actually a pretty good novelization.  I enjoyed reading it and seeing a little bit more than what we get out of the movie.


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Superman Week 2013: BB Hiller’s Superman IV novelization (1987)

Posted in books, comic books, movies, Superman with tags , , , , , , , , on June 20, 2013 by Paxton

Superman Week

So the new Superman movie, Man of Steel, made it’s theatrical debut on Friday.  To celebrate, I thought it would be fun to do another Superman Week.  I convinced CT over at Nerd Lunch and Robert over at To The Escape Hatch to join along.  So leap in a single bound over to those wonderful blogs and see what Superman content they are offering up this week.

Continuing Superman Week 2013 with another look at one of the Superman novelizations.  Here’s a review of the Superman IV movie novelization from 1987.  And yes, I’m pretty sure I hate this weird cover.

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The book is written by B.B. Hiller who is a veteran of movie novelizations. This guy has penned novelizations for Little Monsters (the one with Howie Mandell and Fred Savage), Ghostbusters II, Big, ALL of the 90s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movies and ALL of the Karate Kid movies.  So this guy has been around…so to speak.  Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on how you look at these things, Hiller didn’t adapt any of the other Superman movies.  Only this one.  The last one.  And, ostensibly, the worst one. However, to be perfectly honest, I’m a fan of this last Superman movie.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s absolutely f**king terrible but I love it anyway.  And I wanted to see if the book makes an attempt at explaining ANY of the crazy ass insanity that goes down in the movie.  A quick check of the page count (144) tells me that, no, this probably won’t explain a g**damn thing.  But I decided to try it anyway.

The verdict?  It’s actually not that bad.  Somehow, the ridiculous story on the page comes across better than it does on the big screen.  However, there are several added scenes and subplots that help explain some of the ridiculousness.  Just so you know, about 45 minutes of footage was removed from Superman IV including an entire subplot about a first failed attempt by Lex to create a Nuclear Man.

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