Back when people actually read books, novelizations of movies were incredibly popular. Kids could read and reread (and reread) the stories from their favorite Hollywood blockbusters. However, writing and publishing a novel is a very time-consuming process. So in order to release the novelizations in time to coincide with a respective film’s theatrical run, authors would frequently work from early drafts of a script or invent details whole-cloth.
As you well know, a lot tends to change between the first draft and the final product, especially in film, so these stories would often have discrepancies. Nothing major, usually. Maybe the author fleshed out a character a little differently, or the weapon someone uses to escape has been changed for the final film. But sometimes, the novelizations include details that are so mind-meltingly different from the original films that they change your entire perspective on the story. Let’s take a moment to explore five of those very special occasions.
That’s Right, Gizmo from Gremlins was an Alien
I suppose now is the time to mention that, especially in this case, not everything mentioned in the novelizations is canon. Joe Dante has explicitly dismissed the GREMLINS book as poppycock, but who do you want to believe? Novelization author George Gipe and I know the truth: Gizmo is an alien.
The galactic powers ordered the Mogwai sent to every inhabitable planet in the universe, their purpose being to inspire alien beings with their peaceful spirit and intelligence and to instruct them in the ways of living without violence and possible extinction. Among the planets selected for early Mogwai population were Kelm-6 in the Poraisti Range, Clinpf-A of the Beehive Pollux, and the third satellite of MinorSun#67672, a small but fertile body called Earth by its inhabitants.
It’s reassuring to know that the Mogwai come in peace, but maybe it would be better if the extraterrestrial diplomats didn’t have the potential to transform into hideous monsters. In fact, it’s audaciously implied that Gremlins were responsible for some of NASA’s more prominent space shuttle failures:
The Gremlin eluded capture by the six-man crew long enough to shut down the computer handling the craft’s guidance and navigation systems… Returning to Earth eight hours late as a result of the Gremlin’s meddling, the crewmen were debriefed by government officials, who warned them not to describe what had actually happened on the mission.
It’s incredibly fascinating how much this revelation changes the entire story at a deep, fundamental level. Instead of being a creature feature romp, it basically becomes a remake of E.T. starring Howie Mandel.
Halloween’s Michael Myers was Possessed by an Ancient Celtic Spirit
The horror started on the eve of Samhain, in a foggy vale in northern Ireland, at the dawn of the Celtic race. And once started, it trod the earth forevermore, wreaking its savagery suddenly, swiftly, and with incredible ferocity.
Thus begins the prologue to Curtis Richards’ novelization of HALLOWEEN. Doesn’t that sound eerily close to the Samhain nonsense spouted in a lot of the lesser sequels? Well, buckle in because most of the things people hate in the series’ later entries can be found right in these here pages.
You know how people complained that Rob Zombie’s remake spent too much time exploring Michael Myers’ childhood and showing him talking up a storm? Well, welcome to the first three chapters of this book, where young Mikey loves nothing more than to sit down and have lengthy chats with his grandmother. But we’ve barely scratched the surface of this book’s lunacy. It turns out that Michael is being influenced by a long dead Celtic spirit who appears as a voice in his head, telling him to “say I hate people.”
In that previously mentioned prologue, which takes place near the dawn of Celtic civilization, a 15-year-old disfigured boy named Enda falls madly in love with Deirdre, the daughter of King Gwynwyll. Yes, it’s basically a Game of Thrones subplot. After having his affections spurned, Enda murders Deirdre and her fiancé in a fit of rage on Halloween night. The townspeople get their revenge and kill the boy, dooming his spirit to wander the Earth and coerce others into repeating his crimes on Halloween, including Michael’s own great-grandfather, who shot two people at a harvest dance in the late 1800s.
All this elaborate backstory sets up is the reason Michael kills his sister and her boyfriend that fateful Halloween night back in 1963. A simple sexual psychosis would probably have sufficed, but how else would we get flowery passages like this?
It was the voice. The voice stirred up the hatred. It had done so in his dreams and now it was doing it in real life. It had begun with the strange pictures in his head at night, pictures of people he had never seen–oh, maybe in comic books or on television, but never in real life. People in strange costumes, animal skins, armor, leather, drinking and dancing wildly around a fire. One couple in particular. They looked like Judy and Danny, madly in love with each other, dancing in a circle around a huge bonfire while he, Michael, stood in the crowd hating them, burning up with jealousy.
In Dream Warriors, Taryn Could Breathe Fire
The punky Dream Warrior Taryn White is everybody’s favorite beautiful badass from A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 3. However, if the movie had used the early script referenced in the Jeffrey Cooper novelization, she could have had the ability to breathe freaking fire.
However, you take the good with the bad. Instead of having her perish via Freddy’s wicked syringe claws, she dies in a silly fairy tale homage where the dream demon pretends to be her grandmother. Still, a fire-breathing Little Red Riding Hood is almost as cool as what we got…
Also, we can’t talk about the DREAM WARRIORS novelization and not talk briefly about the dream romance between Dr. Gordon and Nancy’s ghost. Check it out:
Kristen hesitated. “Do you still…see each other?” “Yes,” Gordon replied with a strange little smile. “I’m going to see her tonight. I guess that’s why I’m so anxious to get to sleep.” Kristen smiled and nodded. “Will you say hi?” Gordon grinned. “Good night, Kristen.” Gordon closed the door and turned out the light. Then he trudged slowly upstairs and got ready for bed. It did not take him long to drift into a peaceful sleep. The paper mache model of the Elm Street House sat on his bureau. It was different now—clean, pure and inviting.
Suddenly, in one of its tiny windows, a light came on. And he was there with her.
Jason Lives… And So Does His Dad
Fans of the FRIDAY THE 13TH series know that the murderous madman Jason Voorhees was very close to his deranged single mother Pamela. But in Simon Hawke’s novelization of JASON LIVES: FRIDAY THE 13TH PART VI, the original ending to the film is revealed: Jason’s father is still alive.
Although we haven’t seen hide nor tail of Elias Voorhees in the previous five films, the novel reveals that he has been paying for the upkeep of both Jason and Pamela’s graves at the Eternal Peace Cemetery. Apparently the family grew closer in death, because Elias sure as hell didn’t step up to take custody of Jason after his mother died. Elias did appear in several FRIDAY comic books, but it’s a shame he never showed up in the film franchise, because I would have loved to see Jason exact his bloody revenge.
That could have been quite the fight too, because this passage shows that Elias might just have a smidgen of Jason’s evil power coursing through his veins. Check out the reaction of the cemetery caretaker, Martin (who doesn’t live to see the end of the film version, but is spared in the novelization), when Elias discovers Jason’s grave is empty:
Slowly, Jason’s father straightened and turned to look after the old caretaker. Inside his shack, Martin upended the bottle of Wild Turkey and drank deeply, feeling the fire of the whiskey burn his throat, unable to stop shaking. He suddenly felt cold, as if someone had walked over his grave. He couldn’t stop shivering. He sank down onto the floor in the corner of his little shack, hugging the whiskey bottle to him with both arms, trembling like a leaf and saying over and over, “I didn’t, I swear I didn’t, Mr. Voorhees, I didn’t know, I swear–“
In Jaws: The Revenge, the Great White Shark is Powered by Voodoo
One of the biggest complaints about JAWS: THE REVENGE, the much-maligned fourth film in the franchise, is that it makes no sense how a Great White shark could follow the Brody family all the way from Amity Island to the Bahamas. Well, in Hank Searls’ novelization, there’s an explanation that makes perfect sense… sort of.
Voodoo. The reason is voodoo. Apparently, Michael Brody destroyed a local witch doctor’s magic gourd (I’m not making this up), so the man sought revenge by using voodoo to send the shark into its tooth-gnashing frenzy. You’d better think twice before cutting off that guy in traffic.
Obviously, the shark also has his own reasons for working with the witch doctor, as evidenced by this extremely strange passage written from the shark’s POV:
The sound of the man-things in the water angered him, for he owned the sea.
The voodoo curse also explains Ellen Brody’s seemingly psychic link to the shark. If you can call that an explanation. However, of all the entries on the list, this is the one that most makes me want to rewatch the movie using this new context. Imagining evil voodoo magic at work might genuinely improve the experience. Maybe give this one a shot!