It is a very wet, very windy (and very dark) day today, and on days like this there is nothing better to do than sit down to read a book. And the book that I have just finished – Taking Shape: Developing Halloween from script to scream – was an absolute dream to read.
Taking Shape by Dustin McNeil and Travis Mullins is a fascinating tome which charts the history of one of cinema’s most enduring film franchises, the Halloween series. The book covers all of the movies that have been released so far, and provides an array of details about each picture.
Beginning with John Carpenter’s 1978 horror classic, Halloween, Taking Shape discusses the film in great detail, highlighting its origins as well as its impact, before moving on to the sequels: Halloween II (1981), Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982), Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988), Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989), Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995), Halloween H20 (1998), and Halloween: Resurrection (2002). From here the book then covers the two Rob Zombie-directed pictures, Halloween (2007) and Halloween II (2009), as well as the more recent entry, Halloween (2018).
Of the 11 films noted above, Taking Shape provides a plot summary for each movie, so that key characters and story beats are noted (perfect for those who know little about the series). The book then discusses production info, to provide an interesting account of how each film got made (or in some cases, almost didn’t get made), before moving onto a collection of interviews.
To back up each film, the book includes at least one interview with a crew member or someone involved with the Halloween franchise. This ranges from a discussion with Tommy Lee Wallace, director of Halloween III, to a conversation with John Passarella, the author of the Halloween 2018 novelisation.
These interviews are very insightful, as in some cases they highlight details about script changes and alternate scenes that never made it to the screen. And that’s where the real gold is in this book, not only does it tell you about what appeared in the final cut of each picture, it also discusses what got left on the cutting room floor.
Want to know the differences between the theatrical cut and the producer’s cut of Halloween 6? It’s covered in Taking Shape, along with details about the different cuts of the Rob Zombie films and lots more.
So, how did I come to discover this book? By complete accident actually, as it was released in late 2019, and it simply passed me by.
I was searching for something horror-related on Amazon, and I just happened to notice Taking Shape as a suggestion at the bottom of the page. I was a little dubious about the book at first, as I felt I already knew enough about the series, but after taking a punt I was pleasantly surprised.
Taking Shape proved to be an informative read, which has given me a much greater understanding of the way the Halloween movie series has evolved. And best of all, while the weather has continued to create havoc outside my window, I have managed to ignore it completely with various tales from Haddonfield (all via Hollywood).
If you wish to check it out yourself, Taking Shape: Developing Halloween from script to scream is available from Amazon UK in paperback or kindle editions.
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