Tuesday, October 2, 2012

31 Nights of Halloween
'Halloween: Nightdance'

Halloween: Nightdance (Devil's Due Publishing, 2008) 
Writer: Stefan Hutchinson
Artist: Tim Seeley
Rating: Ten of Ten Stars

 Lisa is a teen struggling with a variety of personal demons... and she is about to come face-to-face with something far worse than any of them. Halloween is fast approaching, and so is the silent serial killer Michael Myers....

 "Halloween: Nightdance" is one of those rare graphic novels that will actually manage to invoke dread as you read it--horror comics are even harder to do well than horror movies, but Hutchinson and Seeley succeed brilliantly.

 Hutchinson's writing is fairly sparse and evocative, using just the right amount of words in the right places. He even seems to have a handle on how to properly tell a story in the comic book format, something tragically few writers in the field seem able to do. Hutchinson's pacing is spot-on throughout, whether you look at in on a page-by-page basis, or over the book as a whole.

The same is true of Seeley's artwork. Seeley is one of those also increasingly rare artists who understand how to lay out a comic book page and effectively move the story--and the reader--along just through the visuals. He also delivers several grotesque scenes beside which which some of Michael's film exploits pale. Even the murders seem more horrific here than in any of the films... perhaps because the images are frozen on the page, so the horror remains in front of you rather than flitting by at 24 frames per second.

The book is also as successful as it is because it invokes the mood of the original John Carpenter "Halloween" without aping it; it tells a unique story, in a unique fashion, but it does so while incorporating all the things that make a "Halloween" story a "Halloween" story.. Hutchinson clearly understands the elements of the "Halloween" property that make it different from other slasher films out there--and it's not just the knife-wielding guy in the jumpsuit. (I suppose that shouldn't surprise anyone, given that he was the creator of the acclaimed "Halloween: 25 Years Later.")

"Halloween: Nightdance" was the first in a series of graphic novels and comics that Devil's Due produced as part of the 30th anniversary of the release of Carpenter's "Halloween" film. It is well worth a look if you appreciate well executed horror stories... and that goes double if you're a fan of classic "Halloween". Heck, you'll even enjoy it if you're a fan of the recent Rob Zombie-helmed travesties... you'll get a taste of what "Halloween" should be when it's done right.

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