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

Recap #196: Spellbound by Christopher Pike

Spellbound by Christopher Pike

Spellbound by Christopher Pike

Title: Spellbound by Christopher Pike

Summary: No one knew how the girl had died.

They found Karen Holly in the mountain stream, her skull crushed. There was only one witness to the tragedy, Karen’s boyfriend, Jason Whitfield. He said a grizzly had killed her. But a lot of people didn’t believe him. They thought Jason had murdered her in a fit of rage.

And now weeks have passed, and Jason has another girlfriend, Cindy Jones. And there are the new kids in town, Joni Harper, the quiet English beauty that Cindy’s brother, Alex, cannot get out of his mind. And Bala, the foreign exchange student from Africa, the grandson of a powerful shaman.

Together they will return to the place where Karen was killed.

Some will die.

The others will come face to face with a horror beyond imagining.

Tagline: You can close your eyes….It won’t help. [Wing: Except, spoilers, that’s exactly what it does.]

Initial Thoughts

This is one of my favourite Pike books, though not my absolute favourite. There are monstrous women and full moons and hunger, and it is all pretty great — except for that girls fighting over boys and boys fighting over girls and racism everywhere. /o\

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Recap #195: The Upturned Stone by Scott Hampton

It’s the Haunted Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!

Title: The Upturned Stone, a.k.a. “The Haunted Pie”

Writer/Artist: Scott Hampton

Tagline: “Ghosts aren’t frightening, really.”

“What’s frightening is the thought of them.”

Initial Thoughts

It’s like “Stand By Me” but with ghosts and sexual abuse.

I first discovered this tale a few years back when Comic Book Resources did a countdown of “Scariest Comics of All Time,” and being the sucker that I am for Halloween and pumpkin related horror tales, I immediately sought to hunt this book down and acquired one of the original print copies.

This story isn’t all plot, and while Halloween is what sets off the chain of events, the entire book doesn’t take place solely on the holiday itself. What starts off with a pumpkin growing on top of the grave of an unnamed child becomes a journey into adulthood and a quest for revenge.

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Recap #193: Quiet House by Norman Prentiss

Rock on, dudes

Title: Quiet House, a Halloween short story, a.k.a. “That Got Dark REALLY Fast”

Author: Norman Prentiss

Cover Artist: N/A

Tagline: N/A

Summary: On October 29, the Halloween decorations disappeared from the Myrick lawn. Instead, an official sign appeared at the edge of the property: “Quiet Zone: Death in the Family.”

This year, Jeremy would finally be allowed to trick or treat without his parents’ supervision, and he’d been looking forward to visiting the neighborhood’s most famous October attraction. Now, after all his anticipation, it felt like Halloween had been cancelled. To his young mind, even a grieving family deserves some version of the traditional “trick” but Jeremy’s impulsive act of revenge has far-reaching, terrifying consequences.

Initial Thoughts

I came across this digital short story last year on Fantastic Fiction while I was doing a search for a random story I once glimpsed on Amazon a couple of years ago. You have to understand I’m prone to doing that if I have some bare trace of memory for a book or story and I’ll sometimes dedicate too much time on Amazon and Fantastic Fiction to try and locate it.

I came upon this story in my searches and thought the title sounded interesting. I purchased it through Amazon Kindle for a dollar, which is where I suggest you buy it as well to show support because this story, this, this is… I did not come into this story prepared for how dark it goes, and was assuming it’d be some “Tales from the Crypt” esque journey where the neighbors get revenge on Jeremy for his trick.

You aren’t prepared for how brutal this goes.

You can find more of Norman Prentiss’s work on his website here: http://normanprentiss.com/

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Recap #192: Confessions of a Teenage Vampire: Zombie Saturday Night by West and Ellis

All that money and she couldn’t buy a lock on the door?

Title: Confessions of a Teenage Vampire – Zombie Saturday Night

Writer: Terry M. West

Penciller: Steven A. Ellis

Inkers: Richard Perrota and Ravil Lopez

Letterer: Fred Van Lente

Colorists: Kent Marquart, Ryan Dunlavey, Leon Allen, Michelle Wulfson

Cover Art: Steve Ellis and Stew Noack

Editor: Bonnie Bader

Summary: My life has really changed since I became a teenage vampire. I can’t stand bright lights and bad smells. I’m so strong I’ve got to be careful not to hurt anyone in gym class. And I’m on a strict diet of Serum V – a special protein product that was invented so vampires don’t have to kill to eat.

But my biggest worries are Sang and Rosie – two vampires who think that all vampires should prey on humans. I haven’t heard from them lately, but I know they’re out there somewhere. I need to be ready when they come…

Initial Thoughts

This past summer I reviewed the first entry in this two book series, and I promised Wing I’d review the second for Halloween this year. Luckily for Wing, it’s got werewolves! Unluckily for the rest of us, while it sheds more light on the vampire mythology of this world, the ending is pretty rushed and there was no third entry.

Still, I hope you enjoy this piece of 90s comic cheese as an early Halloween treat instead of a trick.

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Recap #186: Bart Simpson’s Treehouse of Horror #17

Title: The Simpsons’ Treehouse of Horror #17

Summary: Prepare for a trilogy of Halloween treats in this year’s terrifying Treehouse of Horror! First, punk rock pixie and Go-Gos founding member Jane Wieldlin (Lady Robotika) leads Marge down the path of the walking dead; then, Zander Cannon and Gene Ha (Top Ten) offer up a remake, Simpsons-style, of the classic horror flick Nosferatu; and finally, indie artist Jim Woodring (Jim) helps Bart uncover the truth behind the biggest mystery in the history of horror comics.

Initial Thoughts

You’ve all heard of “Treehouse of Horror” the annual Halloween themed episodes done yearly on “The Simpsons.” What you probably don’t know is Bongo Comics, alongside the regular Simpsons Comics, releases a “Treehouse of Horror” issue every year. Or at least they did.

I own nearly all the issues in either trade paperback form or as individual issues. Some of my favorites include:

  • The one where the Simpsons buy an alien Christmas tree that plans to take over the world
  • The one by Jill Thompson that starts off as a Carrie parody before Lisa goes full on Dark Phoenix [Wing: Well that sounds amazing.]
  • The Death Note parody by Nina Matsumoto
  • Oh, and this one ad

YOU GO, KANGFRIEND

I wanted to talk about #17 from 2011, an issue I missed when it first came out and tracked down a couple of years ago. And friends, it’s one of the most legitimately fucked up Halloween-related Simpsons media I’ve seen so far, mainly for its first and last stories.

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Recap #185: Mermaid Saga Part 12: The Ash Princess by Rumiko Takahashi

Title: Mermaid Saga Part 12 – The Ash Princess

Creator: Rumiko Takahashi

Initial Thoughts

Wow, so we’ve reached the final “Mermaid Saga” story to recap. My first completion of an entire series for Devil’s Elbow.

Unfortunately this last chapter is devoid of Mana, so Wing I hope you enjoyed her presence in the last recap. We’re looking at another exploration into Yuta’s past, this time a couple of hundred years after “The Village of the Fighting Fish.” It’s here Yuta has an encounter with a different kind of immortal, but without any romantic overtones. It’s still pretty heartbreaking though.

[Wing: I can’t believe that we’re already done with this series. I’m going to miss it, and Mana, quite a bit.]

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Recap #184: Witch by Christopher Pike

The Author:

Christopher Pike is a prolific writer of teen horror-ish novels, with a few sprinkled in there for adults. He is the literary horror to RL Stine’s gore porn/B-movie-type novels. But that’s putting him a bit high up there, isn’t it? Sometimes he overwrites, sometimes his stories are just outright ridiculous. But there’s no doubt he at least tried to insert some depth into these schlock teen horror novels of the 90s.

The Blurb:

Julia is a young woman with extraordinary powers. She has the ability to heal people with her touch. She can also know things that are happening in far off places when she looks in water that has sunlight shining on it. She comes from a tradition of witches, of good witches. But before Julia’s mother died, she warned her daughter never to look in the water that had moonlight shining on it.

Unfortunately, almost by accident, Julia does so. What she sees is a vision of the future, a scene in which a young man she doesn’t know is shot in a hold-up and dies in her arms. Only later, when Julia attends a football game at school, does she meet the young man.
He is her girlfriend’s new boyfriend.

Julia immediately falls for the guy, but it is an ill-fated love. He does not belong to her and he is supposed to die. Or does he have to die? Julia doesn’t know if her vision of the future is set, or if it can be changed. She doesn’t know why the gunmen in her vision evokes such hatred in her, and why she feels she must destroy him at all costs. But using the supernatural powers at her command, and risking her own life, plus the lives of her friends, Julia will find the answers to all these questions, at a terrible cost.

The ridiculous over-wordiness of this blurb is spot on with the wordiness of the book itself. Plus it reads like a first draft blurb. Like re-reading it makes me cringe a little for its awkwardness.

The Place:

Indian Pole, Idaho, population negative six. I think it’s passed off as not a middle of nowhere type of town, but it is. People need to drive a half hour in any direction just to get anywhere worthwhile, like shopping areas or whatever. Everyone knows everyone and has grown up with everyone. Those kinds of towns, but Pike doesn’t much dwell on the place. Not really. And for someplace that doesn’t really bear any significance to the story the name of the town is sure bandied around a lot. [Wing: A half hour in any direction? That’s basically a suburb. Julia, come talk to me when you have to drive 2+ hours just to buy clothes.]

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Recap #182: After the Hole by Guy Burt

After the Hole by Guy Burt

After the Hole by Guy Burt

Title: After the Hole by Guy Burt

Tagline: Death is always to be found beneath the ground.

Summary: On a bright spring day in England, six teenagers laugh and joke as they make their way to a neglected part of the institution they mockingly call Our Glorious School. Hidden in the dark hollow of a buttress is the door to a small windowless cellar. Behind the door, the old stairs have rotted away. A boy unfurls a rope ladder and five descend into The Hole. The sixth closes the cellar door, locks it from the outside, and walks calmly away down the flagstone path.

The idea is simple. While their parents think they are on a field trip, and the school thinks they’re at home, Frankie, Geoff, Alex, Mike, and Liz will spend three days locked in The Hole. Martyn will remain above ground, promising that when the five emerge into daylight, they’ll have been part of the greatest prank the infamous schemer has ever engineered.

The three days pass predictably: a lot of talking, some booze, flirting, a few friendly fights. At five P.M. on the third day, they drink a celebratory bottle of vodka and wait for the mastermind to arrive and release them. Thirty hours later, they realise that Martyn is not coming to let them out… ever.

Note: As before with the movie, I will take scenes at their face value and comment on them, and then loop back if they are contradicted/expanded. I’ll actually use footnotes for this though – it will be a number in square brackets. They may even be links if WordPress lets me. This makes it a very hard book to recap, so bear with me.

[Wing: I’m scheduling this post to go public on the first day of fall in the Northern Hemisphere, because it is the start of my favourite season, and this is a creepy and twisty way to start it, and it is also a sad family day from which I want to be distracted.]

Warning: There is a rape in this book. I’ve tried to keep the language I use as non-threatening as possible, and keep discussion of it down to a minimum. However, it’s there. You have been warned.

Initial Thoughts:

This is less initial thoughts and more a warning. If you want to read the book, go read the book. It’s a lot easier now than it was in 2003, when I read it. I had to get an out-of-print second-hand copy from a seller on Amazon marketplace, using a friend’s account (my ex got me blacklisted for six years from 2001 onwards), because eBay didn’t have it.

It’s on the kindle now. It’s £3.99. Go read it, because if you’re interested you’ll enjoy the book much more if you just read it, rather than read my recap (which is spoilerific), and then the book.

The book doesn’t have much in common with the movie, so seriously, this is your last chance, go buy it and read it. It’s about the length of the average Sweet Valley Twins, so it’s like an hour out of your day. And you might enjoy it.

(Oh, and forgive some of the prose. Guy Burt was seventeen when he wrote it.)

Also, I’m actually going to note the chapters in this, because it becomes very significant later, and you may want to check something. You’re welcome.

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Recap #181: Deadtime Stories #10: Grandpa’s Monster Movies by A.G. Cascone

Original Cover

DOWN IN FRONT

Re-release cover

When you find your dad’s old porn stash and realize you’re following the plot

Title: Deadtime Stories #10 – Grandpa’s Monster Movies, a.k.a. “A Nightmare on Green Acres”

Author: A.G. Cascone, a.k.a. Annette and Gina Cascone

Cover Artist: ???

Tagline: The midnight show is a scream.

Summary: Home movies can be a horror!

C.T. and his cousin Lea are staying at their grandparents’ old farmhouse. It’s Grandpa’s seventieth birthday, and everyone’s celebrating with a big family reunion. All the weird relatives are here, and all they seem to want to talk about are “the good old days.”

C.T. and Lea think the “good old days” are pretty boring – until they find some home movies hidden away in the attic, movies from when their grandfather was just a boy.

The home movies give them a piece of family history that their relatives never talked about.

It seems that horses, cows, pigs, and chickens aren’t the only creatures Grandpa’s been taking care of on the farm. And Uncle Ernie isn’t the only one at the family reunion whose back is covered with hair. [Wing: WEREWOLF?!]

C.T. and Lea discover there’s a monster among them – and this creature is dying to eat a lot more than the birthday cake!

Initial Thoughts

It’s my grandfather’s birthday this month so I felt this would be an appropriate book to recap. Believe me, I wish I’d chosen something else because of all the hillbilly jokes in this one.

“Deadtime Stories” was written by sisters Annette and Gina Cascone under a shared pen name. It was another series where most of the entries were independent of the other, save for the two “Tiny Town” books which inexplicably featured an identical knock-off of Chucky the Killer Doll named “Hurley the Hobo.”

Terror in Tiny Town by Tim Jacobus

What the hell, Jacobus?

Surprisingly, Nickelodeon produced a short TV adaptation a decade after the original series ended, which of course led to several books being reprinted with new covers. The episodes always featured a framing story of a babysitter narrating the books to the two little kids she was watching, and them always screaming when she gets to the twist ending.

[Wing: That is a serious Chucky knock-off.]

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Recap #179: Mermaid Saga Parts 8-9: Mermaid’s Promise by Rumiko Takahashi

Title: Mermaid Saga Parts 8-9 – “Mermaid’s Promise”

Author/Artist: Rumiko Takahashi

Initial Thoughts

So we’ve reached the last of the stories that feature Yuta AND Mana. The following, which will be the last recap, takes place during Yuta’s past.

I’m not sure how to feel about this because we get a glimpse at what happens when Yuta gets too close a normal human, but unlike with Rin it wasn’t cut off soon enough.

Unfortunately, the story tends to cut back between the present day and the past a LOT, which can be jarring while trying to recap. I apologize if it causes any confusion.

And of course Mana continues to be a badass and a delight.

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