My New Year’s Resolution for 2022 was the same one I had for 2021 – Read more books! You see, despite having a small library in my apartment, I’d been neglecting them in favor of zoning out in front of the TV. On the rare occasions I cracked one open, I’d find myself dozing after just a few pages. Clearly, my frenetic job coupled with social media had zapped my attention span and it was high time I did something about it. So, this time last year, I signed on on Goodreads and challenged myself to read twenty-five books in 2021. Spoiler alert: I didn’t succeed. The official number of books I completed was eighteen garnering me 72% on Goodreads. But hey, that’s still passing, right? Not surprisingly, most of them were horror or thriller stories and the ones I’ll be focusing on today.
This past Halloween season, many of us physical media devotees proudly assembled our favorite horror films to watch during the month of October. Under normal circumstances, my watch list would consist of such obvious choices as Halloween (1978), The Fog (1980), and The Exorcist (1973). This year, however, I challenged myself to watch horror films I’d never seen before and were available via streaming services. Although I saw some interesting flicks (God bless Shudder) I was never more grateful for my DVD/Blu-ray/4K collection come November 1st!
Despite skipping over William Freidkin’s masterpiece, I did indulge in its source material. William Peter Blatty’s 1971 book, “The Exorcist,” not only spawned the cult classic film but also helped usher in the golden age of “Paperbacks from Hell.” Its success (along with “Rosemary’s Baby” and “The Other”) sparked the horror paperback craze by inspiring more publishers to also try cashing in on the demonic craze.
I honestly can’t say how many times I’ve seen the movie but I can say I’d never picked up the book; something I decided to rectify after coming across a copy of Blatty’s 2010 “40th Anniversary” updated version at Goodwill this past summer. This slight revision featured minor adjustments in dialogue and the addition of a hardly mentioned side character named Father Lucas (more on him later). In other words, it was an obvious cash grab but still had plenty of other insights and differences between the book and film worth noting. BTW it should go without saying that there will be spoilers for both, so proceed with caution…
Last month, Prophecy (1979) finally made its way to Blu-ray thanks to the good people at SHOUT/Scream Factory in honor of the film’s 40th Anniversary. Despite my already owning a copy on DVD, I anxiously ordered a copy – mostly for the “extras.” I’ve talked about my love for this film before and, despite it being chided by critics (it currently sits at 27% on Rotten Tomatoes) I think it’s a solid monster movie with a great cast and an old school effects. During one of my vintage horror paperback hunts, I managed to find a copy of the film’s novelization. Since both the book and the screenplay were written by David Seltzer (author of “The Omen”) I didn’t expect there to be much deviation between the two stories. Considering how many times I’ve seen the movie, however, I was eager to learn any further insights the book may bring. But before I get things rolling, I do have to warn anyone who hasn’t seen the movie or book (or read my previous “Book vs Movie” post on The FOG) this blog is loaded with SPOILERS.
I enjoy a fun horror novel and am a lifelong fan of comic books. So when I received a copy of Pizza Man: Or, the Pizza That Crawled Out of My A-Hole by Bryan Higby and Rick Snyder I was pleasantly surprised. The narrative was so vibrant, it’s about the closest you’ll get to a comic book without any visuals. If you’re looking for a story that never takes itself too seriously and maintains a consistent level of adult humor than this is page turner is for you.
“Why do good people like bad movies?” B movie director, Bret McCormick, not only poses this question but gives us a 250-page answer courtesy of Texas Schlock: B-Movie Sci-Fi and Horror from the Lone Star State. In fact, this book presents such an incredible homage to Texas’ low-budget films of the ’60s, ‘70s, and ‘80s, he made this lifelong Chicagoan feel like he’d grown up there. Not that you have to be a Texan nor seasoned movie fan to appreciate this as it’s the perfect resource for ingratiating younger fans to these movies while inspiring us older ones to nod with understanding.
Horror books often find themselves on the silver screen and with mixed results. The Exorcist, JAWS, and The Omen are positive examples of book-to-movies but, unfortunately, for every Misery, there’s a Dreamcatcher. Sometimes the book is inspired by the film rather than its source material but, either way, there’s bound to be differences; subtle or profound. Today’s vintage book discussion is more of a rumble than a review and between one of my favorite John Carpenter films and a book written by Dennis Etchison to promote it. So let’s jump back to 1980 and revisit The FOG…