To say that Irwin Yablans created Halloween is a bit of an overstatement. As producer, he may have made the entire franchise possible, but movie-making is always a collaborative effort. A writer has to provide a compelling story, a director has to translate that story to the screen, and a cast of actors and actresses have to bring that story to life. To say that you “created” something by way of financing it is, frankly, kind of arrogant, and while Irwin Yablans’ success story is both fascinating and worth telling, you are entirely likely to walk away from his book The Man Who Created Halloween feeling that he is high on his own supply.
From the foreword of the book, it is clear that Yablans is both awed and impressed with what he has accomplished in the film industry. Watching audiences embrace a film you helped bring to life is an inarguably heady experience. Seeing your own name on a marquee is enough to make anyone beam with pride: that much is completely understandable. Taking it one step further into “I am awesome!!” territory is a bit off-putting, especially when reading about someone who isn’t exactly a household name. In fact, if you said you were reading a book about the man who created Halloween, most people would assume you were talking about John Carpenter.
If, instead, you’re interested in how one grows up to be a producer and function as an independent agent within the studio system, Yablans begins at the beginning, going all the way back to his youth in New York. This would be interesting enough were it not tinged with nasty remarks about his mother (!!!), who was an overweight smoker who disgusted him. Wow. Bitter much? He doesn’t even get into the making of Halloween until the book is more than half over, which means recounting the formative years of a guy who would grow up and finance films. This is significantly different from glimpsing the inner workings of the mind that took Yablans’ concept and gave us the Michael Myers who kept us awake at night.
While the title of the book is somewhat deceptive, we are given a behind-the-scenes look at one of Hollywood’s most memorable horror films, as well as the other films Yablans produced in his heyday (Tank, Men at Work, Prison, etc.). It is a Hollywood insider’s tale, to be sure, but Yablans is not a natural writer and his story focuses more on succeeding in business than it does on the creative aspects of filmmaking. As long as you’re expecting a straightforward account of a Hollywood producer’s career trajectory, you won’t be disappointed.