Where evil twins and friends come together to lovingly snark Point Horror and other teen genre fiction

 

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Wing: Many thanks to Dove for the work she did here, and welcome to the new guest recappers. You can support our work on our Patreon, which also gives you access to our Patron-only feed and bonus recaps and podcast episodes. Early Patron rockstars: Marie and Tara M.

We’re expanding the recap empire. More details available here, or email wing@pointhorror.com if you want to recap specifically for the Devil’s Elbow.

The recap master list has not only existing recaps, but books that will be recapped at some point in the future. The trope counter definitions will come in handy for some of the recaps. You can find us on social media on Facebook and Tumblr. We are twinned with Sweet Valley Online, if you want something saccharine and pastel to clear your palate.

Recap List:

20 September – Mermaid Saga Parts 1-2: A Mermaid Never Smiles by Rumiko Takahashi
23 September – The Forbidden Game: The Hunt by L. J. Smith (Donna)
30 September – More Tales to Give You Goosebumps by R. L. Stine (Jude)

OMG! What happens next??? Read on… »

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Recap #89: Mermaid Saga Parts 1-2: A Mermaid Never Smiles by Rumiko Takahashi

Title: Mermaid Saga Chapter 1 & 2 – A Mermaid Never Smiles

Author/Artist: Rumiko Takahashi

Summary: N/A

Initial Thoughts: Some of you might know who Rumiko Takahashi is, or if you don’t, you might at least know of her works. She’s a longtime mangaka and creator of “Inuyasha,” “Ranma 1/2,” and “Urusei Yatsura.” She’s been writing and illustrating comics since at least the 1970s, and she’s still going. Nearly every one of her series have gotten at least one animated adaption, and most of them run for DECADES.

But today I’m here to talk about one of her more obscure titles and possibly the one oddball in her resume of titles. “Mermaid Saga” is Takahashi’s only foray into a straightforward horror series, and is relatively light on humor and love triangles unlike her other books. Which is good because it means her male protagonist isn’t an insufferable lech or an idiot.

Rest assured, the mermaids here are NOT the kind of mermaids you’re familiar with. We’re not talking about Ariel, or Darryl Hannah in “Splash,” or even the Hans Christian Andersen Little Mermaid. Mermaids in this story are monsters. Sometimes they walk on two legs, sometimes they don’t. But they are not cute, and they’re not friendly. The only way you can kill them is by chopping off their head.

Legend says the mermaid’s flesh can grant a person immortality if eaten. And it can… if you’re lucky. Eating the mermaid’s flesh is like Russian roulette, and if you don’t get immortality, you’ll be lucky if it kills you. The majority of people who eat the flesh, well… it’s not pretty.

Mermaid Saga didn’t get an animated series straight away. There were two OVAs (Original Video Animation, the equivalent of direct to video movies), one in the 80s and the 90s, and then an animated series in the 2000s. The one animated adaption I’ve watched in its entirety was the “Mermaid’s Scar” OVA from the 1990s, which is my favorite by far due to the artwork and the beautiful music. By admittedly, the opening theme to the anime series, “Like An Angel,” is breathtaking.

It’s one of Takahashi’s shorter series, with all the chapters collected in 4 volumes. For the sake of these recaps I’m going by each separate arc, but will include the cover art of the Viz manga collections that included the arcs.

[Wing: Okay, this sounds amazing, and I’m so excited. #killermermaidsforever]

And I’m including an MP3 of the opening theme, “Like An Angel” by Chiaki Ishikawa.

OMG! What happens next??? Read on… »

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Recap #88: The Scarecrow by R. T. Cusick

cover of The Scarecrow by R T Cusick, has a scarecrown set against a cloudy full moonTitle: Scarecrow by R. T. Cusick

Summary: Beware the kindness of strangers

After crashing her car, Pamela Westbrook awakens to find that she has been rescued and cared for by the Whittakers, a family living on a remote farm in the Ozark hills. Still reeling from her accident and haunted by a tragic loss, Pamela takes comfort in the farm’s quaint setting and the family’s peaceful ways.

But soon, Pamela becomes wary of her surroundings. Micah, the strange, silent son, is treated cruelly and seems desperate to convey a message to Pamela. Girlie, the youngest child, possesses frightening, unnatural powers. When it’s time for the ritual burning of the scarecrows, Pamela comes face to face with a terrifying evil. She is ready to get away from the family’s dark rituals – but the Whittakers don’t want her to leave.

Tagline: N/A

Initial Thoughts

I’ve never read this one before, but after revisiting Silent Stalker for the recent podcast episode, I am not feeling very generous to Cusick or excited to read more of her writing. Which is a shame, because this, too, sounds like a fantastic setting with an interesting, creepy story. I love the Ozarks, I love kids with unnatural powers, and I love the idea of a ritual burning of the scarecrows.

Unfortunately, this is Cusick, so I am not holding my breath.

[Note from the future: I SHOULD HAVE BRACED MYSELF BETTER.]

Content Note: Rape discussion inside.

OMG! What happens next??? Read on… »

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Devil’s Elbow Podcast #12: Silent Stalker by R. T. Cusick and Skeleton on a Skateboard by Tom B. Stone

Wing recaps Silent Stalker by R. T. Cusick and Graveyard School #2: Skeleton on a Skateboard by Tom B. Stone (aka Nola Thacker aka D. E. Athkins). Around the 21 minute mark, she gets a little deep about mental illness, the damage books (and other pop culture) can do, and her exhaustion over living with a mental illness. And then it gets much more fun with the ridiculous joy that is Graveyard School.

Links mentioned in the podcast:

Written Recaps: pointhorror.com

Episode Media: Silent Stalker by R. T. Cusick and Skeleton on a Skateboard by Tom B. Stone

Reader/Listener Mail: Super Serials podcast

“Gypsy” as a slur.

Facebook: Devil’s Elbow

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Patreon: Devil’s Elbow

 

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Recap #87: Friday the 13th, Part 2!

cover image of Friday the 13th Part 2 with font in white on a black background. Red partially covers "Part 2"Title: Friday the 13th Part 2 (I guess we’re not into Roman numerals yet?) [Wing: Well, the cover image I have is into Roman numerals, but there are a bunch out there without it.]

Summary: Get ready for twice the terror with Friday the 13th Part 2: Deluxe Edition! Fives years after the massacre at Camp Crystal Lake, the nerve-wracking legend of Jason Voorhees and his diabolical mother lives on. Despite ominous warnings from the locals to stay away from “Camp Blood”, a group of counselors at a nearby summer camp decide to explore the area where seven people were brutally slaughtered. All too soon, they encounter horrors of their own and the killing begins again. You’ll be at the edge of your seat for this gruesome thriller about 24 hours of bone-chilling fear!

Tagline: 2x The Fear… 2x The Carnage… 2x The Terror! [Wing: By god, the tagline on the cover version I have is so freaking much better, and it is boring as hell: The body count continues…] [Virgin: Clearly, the creativity died with the first installment, Wing.]

Note: I don’t honestly know what’s actually “deluxe” about this version, but thank Odin it’s not the damn uncut version! Finally, a break!

Initial Thoughts

Oh, I got a whole bunch!

Firstly: this is supposed to take place five years after the first Friday the 13th but in fact was released in reality April 30th, 1981. Yeah, this happened a lot with movies, jumping forward in time as opposed to staying current with the period of release, but still. That’s frustrating.

Also, way to release it on Walpurgisnacht! (Google it, kids.)

Secondly, this film is as old as I am. Wild.

Thirdly: is there a state comprised of nothing but summer camps, each spaced five miles down the road from one another? Is it somewhere in Maine? Are they secretly run by Stephen King? Because, damn. I know, and maybe this isn’t true but it seems to be, that summer camps are/were a big thing in the Northeast, because you’re all crammed in like sardines in the concrete jungle back there. (Greetings from the open spaces of the wild, wild West!) I know we have camps here; in another life I was a participant in Camp Fire and took a couple trips to Camp Namanu, which had a pond full of salamanders but it wasn’t a proper *lake*. (The salamanders succeeded in making us scream, holding onto our oars as we rowed the tiny canoe around. We were suburban-dwellers not good with nature, okay.) I think the scariest thing that ever happened on any of those trips was when the rope snapped while we were climbing a trail up the side of a mountain and then that morning when we weren’t allowed outside the cabin because the caretaker’s dog had died outside the front door and the adults didn’t want us to see the corpse.

Really, putting a dozen pre-teen girls in a giant cabin is a far scarier situation then being stalked by a deranged killer. I’m not sure how I survived. Oh, wait, I am Virgin! I always survive camp!

Now that I have completely finished digressing! In reality, I am picking this recap up not long after viewing Friday the 13th, but you readers won’t be reading this until, uh, September? So just pretend that there’s not a giant gap (ha ha! I’ve time-jumped, like the film has! See what I did there?) and let’s see if I can play “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” with any of the cast members.

Still can’t believe he was in the first film. Seriously.

Important note! Remember, I am rolling over the body count from the first film, so that will be reflected in the counter and final tally.

OMG! What happens next??? Read on… »

Categories: Let's Do It! recaps, Recaps
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Recap #86: Little Pet Werewolf, a.k.a. “My Little Werewolf: Friendship is Magic”

Title: Graveyard School #4 – Little Pet Werewolf

Author: Tom B. Stone, a.k.a. Nola Thacker, a.k.a. D.E. Athkins

Cover Artist: Barry Jackson

Tagline: N/A

Summary: It’s pet day at Graveyard School and everyone is excited. Everyone except Skip Wolfson, that is. Every year it’s the same thing — Skip brings in his dog just to be ridiculed. While everyone else’s pets are exotic and brilliant, Skip’s dog is just a lazy mutt that can’t do any tricks. Skip wishes he could bring in some kind of really cool pet — like a werewolf. He’s in for the shock of his life when he doesn’t have to search too far for one! You’ll be dying to go to class at Graveyard School.

Initial Thoughts

We finally get to the werewolf edition, so I bet Wing is tripping BALLS. [Wing: Legit shrieks of joy when I saw it.]

What’s truly interesting about “Little Pet Werewolf” is how this is the first to really establish a type of socially conscious trend in the series. I covered in the introduction post how there was a somewhat consistent theme of discussing environmentalism and conservation of resources without going totally overblown and flying over the heads of the target demographic. In this one Stone/Thacker/Athkins briefly discusses animal abuse through the main character’s parents, who run a pet supply store and arrange for abandoned pets to be adopted into loving homes. [Wing: Seriously? That AND werewolves? This is going to be so great!]

This is also the first book where the main character can be genuinely grating on the reader, but admittedly he has enough redeeming qualities to avoid Scrappy territory. Also, the supporting character, Tyson Walker, is said to look like soccer player Cobi Jones with his short dreadlocks, so, way to say he’s Black without saying he’s Black. [Wing: In case you, dear reader, like me, do not follow soccer, here is Cobi Jones. He’s a hottie.]

[Wing: Do you know how much money I would spend on a series called My Little Werewolf: Friendship is Magic? With all sorts of little werewolves to collect? SO MUCH MONEY. ALL MY MONEY.]

OMG! What happens next??? Read on… »

Categories: Graveyard School recaps, Recaps
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Recap #85: Ghosts of Fear Street #26: Go To Your Tomb – Right Now, A.K.A. “Absolutely No Giants In This Book”

Title: Go To Your Tomb – Right Now!

Author: Carolyn Crimi [Wing: What even is this weirdness, someone not Stine writing Fear Street. The horror. THE HORROR.]

Cover Artist: Mark Garro

Tagline: “Talk About Being Grounded!”

Summary: You Meet Some Weird People In The Fear Street Cemetery…

Like Luana. She just appeared there when Jack was taking a shortcut through the cemetery. She said she had powers. And she told Jack she could make him invisible.

Being invisible would be cool, Jack thinks. But he’s not sure he wants to go through with it. After all, how far can you trust a ghost?

[Wing: If you’ve read a single book or heard a single story about Fear Street, you would know that you can’t trust a ghost at all, JACK. Also, why do people keep hanging out in the Fear Street cemetery? You should all know better by now!]

Initial Thoughts

My first foray into reviewing the “Ghosts of Fear Street” series, which is, as you could tell from the cover, “Goosebumps Meets Fear Street.” However, pretty much every book in the series was ghostwritten, and the publishing info before the title page informs you of the actual writer. I’m not familiar with Carolyn Crimi’s writing, other than she possibly ghostwrote “Fun With Spelling,” a Goosebumps short story.

I decided to pick a later entry in the series because no one ever reviews or talks about them. All the recaps I’ve found have only focused on the first ten or fifteen books in the series, so I thought it’d be more productive to shed light on the more obscure titles.

This is the first one to feature the redesigned logo and cover layout, with the title banner of haunted houses and ghosts similar to the revamped look the “Fear Street” books received. However, the new designed only lasted until the next entry, and then they were redesigned again with the CGI art up until the series ended. I have to say, the “Ghosts” series did a better job with the redesign than the Fear Street books did.

I didn’t expect to fall in love with this book the way I did because it’s so off the walls. I should mention for some reason the summaries given by the online book stores mention something about Luana really being a giant and I don’t know where that came from because nothing like that happens here.

Oh, Wing, you’re really not gonna enjoy the penultimate battle sequence. For about eight reasons.

[Wing: EWWWW WHY WHY WHY WHY IS IT ALWAYS THAT. (I really do appreciate your warnings!) I’d never even heard of this series until recently, and up until this moment, was tentatively excited, because I like Fear Street and Goosebumps (generally). NOT SO DAMN EXCITED NOW THOUGH, AM I.]

OMG! What happens next??? Read on… »

Categories: Fear Street Recaps, Recaps
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Devil’s Elbow Podcast #11: Don’t Eat the Mystery Meat by Tom B. Stone and The Roommate by Diane Hoh

Wing recaps Graveyard School series #1, Don’t Eat the Mystery Meat, by Tom B. Stone (aka Nola Thacker aka D. E. Athkins) and Nightmare Hall series #2, The Roommate, by Diane Hoh (ghostwritten this time by Nola Thacker [aka D. E. Athkins aka Tom B. Stone]). What sort of author shenanigans are these?

Links mentioned in the podcast:

Written Recaps: pointhorror.com

Episode Media: Don’t Eat the Mystery Meat by Tom B. Stone and The Roommate by Diane Hoh

Recap of The Bride by D. E. Athkins

Meat Loaf as Eddie in Rocky Horror Picture Show

Facebook: Devil’s Elbow

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Patreon: Devil’s Elbow

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Recap #84: Nightmare Hall #4: The Wish by Diane Hoh

cover of The Wish by Diane Hoh has a woman behind a window with the title in green font

Title: Nightmare Hall #4: The Wish by Diane Hoh

Summary: Alex is the first to notice the strange little booth at the back of the campus pizza place. Wishes granted, fortunes told says the sign on the glass. Inside sits The Wizard – an eerie wooden figure with sinister blue eyes. Alex’s friends make wishes. And one by one, they come true – in terrifying, twisted ways. Is The Wizard behind the horror?  Or is someone else to blame, someone with a deadly wish all his – or her – own…

Tagline: None

Notes: I will use “Bad Guy” throughout my reviews to refer to the anonymous killer/prankster/whatever. Doesn’t mean it’s a guy.  I will now refer to the bad guy as “Muffin Man” because of The Mall.

Initial Thoughts

Wishmaster is one of my favourite guilty pleasure horror movies. The Buffy episode “The Wish” introduced us to Anya, possibly my favourite character in that show. I’ve yet to check out Wish Upon, which hit cinemas this year, but it’s safe to say I enjoy the premise of an entity making wishes go horribly wrong. This book came before all of those, so although it’s much tamer and simpler, I still remember having a good time with it. And thankfully, Hoh herself is still at the helm.

[Wing: I also love that Buffy episode, and monkey’s paw type situations are one of my favourite horror tropes, so I’m excited about this book.]

OMG! What happens next??? Read on… »

Categories: Nightmare Hall recaps, Recaps
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Recap #83: Even More Tales To Give You Goosebumps by R. L. Stine

Title: Even More Tales To Give You Goosebumps

Author: R.L. Stine

Cover Artist: Tim Jacobus

Tagline: N/A

Summary:  Reader Beware– You’re In For Ten More Scares!

Can Jeff convince his parents there’s a live mummy in the basement? Will Adam escape from a monstrous flying gargoyle? Is Brian’s boarding school turning kids into robots? Find out in these ten creepy Goosebumps short stories guaranteed to make you shiver!

[Wing: Stine is making a lot of guarantees with these books!]

Initial Thoughts

I’m not really sure what to say the theme for this collection is. The cover would have you think it’s summer related, but not really. It feels like some sort of middle ground between the first collection and the fifth, which was also the strangest. I think I can safely say you don’t really know what to expect from some of these titles, and they certainly are a bit more imaginative.

One story was adapted for the French novella line, and three of them got turned into TV episodes (one was a two-parter!). I think my favorite would have to be the last because it’s got a twist ending that’s definitely a lot of fun and won’t have you screaming in frustration.

Oh, and apparently this book came with a pair of actual boxers! [Wing: … what.]

For these subtitles I’ll be doing riffs on stereotypical anime and manga episode titles, like from Sailor Moon.

Oh and, Wing, hon, you’re really not gonna like the second story. [Wing: Greaaaaaaaaaaaaaat.]

OMG! What happens next??? Read on… »

Categories: Goosebumps Recaps, Recaps
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Recap #82: Song of the Vampire by Carmen Adams

cover of Song of the Vampire by Carmen Adams, dramatic image of white dude vampire holding a fainting white woman

[Wing: OH NO THAT COVER. We’ve come a long way from the fun of The Band.]

The Author

I stand corrected with now knowing that Adams also wrote THE CLAW, a Point Horror addition that the lovely ladies at The Devil’s Elbow already recapped. I’d never heard of it, but should I stumble across it in my used bookstore wanderings I’ll have to grab it.

Remember how I said Adams wrote level-headed and realistic characters that weren’t caricatures of humans? Well, that’s still true, but where Adams’s development was a little better in THE BAND, in SONG OF THE VAMPIRE we got some major plot-serving going on served with a tall Dumbass Daiquiri, complete with a tiny umbrella. She got significantly better with descriptions in this book, throwing down on page two what Megan and Iris look like, however, she does bleed a little more into making Megan look a little more than average in this book.

I had a harder time separating my Lost Boys love from this book, and maybe it’s just me, but I ultimately felt her descriptions were a little lacking here. Where she really amped up the setting of Blue Mesa and ambiance as their own characters in THE BAND, here, while she didn’t short on description, it definitely didn’t feel as involved. There was a moment, and I’m pretty sure it was just the one, where her grasp of feeling and setting really came back to life. But I found myself really looking for that mood-setting tone that Adams has throughout the book and didn’t find it.

Still, she watched The Lost Boys and was like I WANT TO WRITE THAT. And she did. And despite the flaws I still love her for it.

Fair warning: this recap is going to be gif-heavy to supplement the heinous eye roll moments and to throw down the epic Lost Boys love that is this story.

[Wing: This is legitimately the most Lost Boys story I’ve ever read, and I own the damn movie novelisation. It is fucking amazing. And sometimes terrible, because COME THE FUCK ON, MEGAN, YOU ARE BETTER THAN THIS.]

OMG! What happens next??? Read on… »

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