Posted in Goosebumps Recaps

Recap #76: Tales To Give You Goosebumps by R. L. Stine

cover of Tales to Give You Goosebumps by R. L. Stine with a ghost in front of a background image

Title: Tales to Give You Goosebumps

Author: R.L. Stine

Cover Artist: Tim Jacobus

Tagline: N/A

Summary: “Reader Beware — You’re in for ten scares!”

From an evil baby sister, to a remote control that can control more than just the television set, to a teacher who’s obsessed with snakes, to a cute, cuddly teddy bear gone bad, here are ten creepy, spooky stories guaranteed to give you Goosebumps all night long!

Initial Thoughts

So this is the first of the six short story collections and, honestly, it’s kind of boring. It’s clear that most of these are ideas Stine had that he just wasn’t able to convert into full length novels. While most of the other collections had themes, this one’s kind of all over the place in terms of genre, with one that’s not supernatural or science fiction-based at all. Four of the stories managed to get turned into TV episodes, which is more than the other collections could say (and a bit of a waste since the one really good story wasn’t), while two were adapted into illustrated novellas for the French Goosebumps line. [Wing: Now that’s interesting! I wonder what the illustrations are like.]

I never read this book on its own, just after it was reprinted alongside the following two collections in hardcover format. I will say it’s interesting that this entry seems to be the birth place of Curly the Skeleton, the original Goosebumps mascot. You might remember him from the merchandise that appeared in the mid to late 90s when the series got popular. He was the skeleton with the buzz cut, bandana, and sunglasses who often had a big pit bull by his side. On the cover he was depicted with long hair and tattered white robes, more like a ghost, and Scholastic supposedly asked Tim Jacobus to redesign him. He’s sadly forgotten by the current young Goosebumps readers, discontinued like so many of the monsters like Amaz-O, Cuddles, and the Masked Mutant to make way for the disappointing likes of Madame Doom, Murder the Clown, and *ugh* Dr. Maniac. But he will forever live on in the goosebumps of our hearts.

To add a bit of fun, for subtitles this time I’m taking a page from one of my favorite animes, Revolutionary Girl Utena, and adding “Duel” with each recap entry. The French words translate to a trait shared in the stories. I’m on a small Utena kick lately.

[Wing: Again, I’ve never read this, I’m excited for the recap, and I’m grateful that someone else is recapping a Stine book.]

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Posted in Podcast

Devil’s Elbow Podcast #6: Identity Theft by Anna Davies

And the podcast is back!

Wing recaps the relaunched Point Horror book Identity Theft by Anna Davies (spoilers: the blurb manages to both lie and spoil the twist and Wing goes boom RE mental illness), discusses the changes to the recaps and podcast as well as the new schedule, and shares reader/listener mail.

Links mentioned in the podcast:

Written Recaps: pointhorror.com

Episode Media: Identity Theft by Anna Davies

Facebook: Devil’s Elbow

Tumblr: Devil’s Elbow

Patreon: Devil’s Elbow

 

Posted in Other Recaps

Recap #75: The Band by Carmen Adams

four teens on a black cover; three guys and one girl, all white, wearing leather and pouty expressions, very 80s and 90s vampire style

[Wing: RECAP #75! Thank you all for sticking around for this ridiculous, amazing ride.]

The Author

As far as I can tell Carmen Adams has only written two books, THE BAND and SONG OF THE VAMPIRE. [Wing: Well, she also wrote The Claw, which I recapped in 2016, and despite some lazy writing and the main character carrying the idiot ball, it was a delightful romp, so I have high expectations for her other books. Also, I realize this is where Paul recommended The Band and Song of the Vampire, so I’m glad we’re finally hitting them.] Technically that’s their order, however, they do stand alone. I know because I read them out of order and didn’t even really know THE BAND existed (or cared) until fairly recently. I am whole-heartedly convinced Adams was heavily influenced by movies like The Lost Boys and Near Dark when writing these books. While THE BAND doesn’t deal with vampires per se, it does deal with aimless teenagers trying to recruit unsuspecting victims into their dark lives through a blood ritual. They’re vampire enough without actually having to drink blood. And if you read SONG OF THE VAMPIRE and don’t get Lost Boys feels then we didn’t watch the same movie. [Wing: The Band 100% feels influenced by The Lost Boys and Near Dark. It captures that gorgeous feel of seaside horror-comedy even though it’s set in the desert, and it’s just great. AND LOOK AT THAT COVER. They’re basically the Lost Boys.]

Overall I think Adams had her finger on the pulse of teenagers a little better than her counterparts. Her characters aren’t caricatures of teenagers, they’re fairly level-headed and realistic, and she doesn’t rely on over-the-top shock to get her point across. Considering the market at the time it doesn’t surprise me she didn’t have staying power. I think she was a little bit ahead of her time just in the way these two books are written. They actually feel like they transcend time far better than any of the other 90s YA horror I’ve read (aside from mentions of crimped hair and VHS tapes, but that’s neither here nor there).

Really, both of these books are probably some of my favorites. THE BAND goes where literally no other book does: to revenants, not vampires. I’ve never come across revenants in any other book before, probably because they’re not sexy enough. At least Adams’s version of revenants are close enough to vampires that she might as well go with vampires, right? But she didn’t. She does go full tilt vamp in SONG OF THE VAMPIRE, but let’s leave that for the next recap.

For now, let’s get into THE BAND.

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Posted in Fear Street Recaps

Recap #74: Fear Hall Part 1 – A.K.A. “Fear Street: The College Years”

cover of Fear Hall The Beginning by R. L. Stine shows a white girl behind a window looking out and appearing scaredTitle: Fear Hall: The Beginning

Author: R.L. Stine

Cover Artist: Franco Accornero

Tagline: The first part of a shocking two-part special!

Summary: “A Special Message From R.L. Stine”

Dear Readers:

Come with me to FEAR HALL. That’s the creepy college dorm built many years ago by the cursed Fear family.

Hope and her roommates live in Fear Hall. Hope’s boyfriend lives there, too. They’re all good students and best friends. Everything is going great… until one of them becomes a murderer!

Now Hope is about to find out that life at Fear Hall can be a real scream!

I hope you’ll join me for FEAR HALL. This story has so many scares, it took me two books to tell it all!

P.S. You’ll never believe what I came up with for the next book…

Initial Thoughts

I only read this story once when I was in middle school, and I barely remembered what happened after I was finished. I did that sometimes, skimming through a book so that I read it but I didn’t retain anything. This didn’t leave much impact on me at first, but I still found and purchased the two volumes as part of my unfinished effort to collect all the Fear Street books. Then, in the summer of 2011 I decided to re-read the Fear Hall books. I remember that summer. I discovered “Jem and the Holograms” and DC Comics was in the middle of their “Flashpoint” event which ended up ruining the DC Universe for six years and counting. Imagine my surprise when I re-read these books and ended up falling in love with them.

I mean, don’t get me wrong, it’s not a perfect story. It’s basically “Fear Street At College” which Stine already did with “College Weekend,” and Stine’s take on mental instability is… well, it is what it is. But I enjoyed it because I really liked the main characters, Hope and her roommates, and the setting. I’ve re-read these books so many times over the last few years they’re all scruffed up and worn. I practically refuse to put them back on my book shelves. I even got Stine to autograph them at that signing last year.

The story is split up in several parts and is one of those books where the narration shifts between different characters.

[Wing: I’ve never read these before, and am, of course, always leery of how Stine (and the other Point Horror and similar authors) handle mental illness, but I love a good horror at college story. Stine is setting the bar for the next book pretty high with his little introduction note, though.]

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Posted in Other Recaps

Recap #73: Silent Stalker by R. T. Cusick

cover of Silent Stalker by R T Cusick, shows a white girl on a floor in what looks like a cave, cowering away from a bunch of ratsTitle: Silent Stalker by R. T. Cusick

Summary: Trapped in a madman’s castle, a young girl must fight to save her sanity

Thunder bellows as Jenny and her father pull up to the gate of Worthington Hall. As they inch onto the grounds of the ancient estate, a disheveled young woman thrusts her head through the open window. “Leave!” she yells. “Before it’s too late! He’ll kill you. I swear.” Jenny is terrified, but her dad laughs it off. The girl is just an actress – part of the medieval fair being held on the castle grounds. But it’s not long before Jenny wishes they’d heeded the warning.

The house is a drafty maze of narrow hallways and dungeons. Jenny wants to flee, but her father is intent on the work he’s come to do. Soon the Worthington family sets upon young Jenny, playing twisted tricks on her until she forgets what’s real. The Worthingtons play cruel games – and if Jenny loses, it will mean her life.

Tagline: None

Initial Thoughts

WELL THIS IS OFF TO A GREAT START.

[Note from the future: While I don’t remember anything else about this book, and didn’t think I’d read it, the rat scene from the cover seems immensely familiar. Not sure if I saw something similar in another book, though.]

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Posted in Graveyard School recaps

Recap #72: The Skeleton on the Skateboard, A.K.A. “Wes Craven Presents Rocket Power”

cover of Skeleton on the Skateboard by Tom B. Stone, has a skeleton on a skateboard and a creepy black and gray backgroundTitle: The Skeleton On The Skateboard

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

Cover Artist: Barry Jackson

Summary: “Dead Man’s Curve Is Scary Enough…”

Who’s the new hot dog on Skateboard Hill? He’s the only thrasher who can take Dead Man’s Curve alive. Skate and Vickie are determined to meet him – he may be their only chance to beat obnoxious Eddie Hoover in the upcoming skateboarding contest. But if the phantom boarder gives the secret of his awesome moves, will Skate and Vickie have to take the ultimate wipeout in return?

Initial Thoughts

This book is just soooo 90s, but not in an obnoxious completely dated period piece kind of way. The Skeleton is by far the most prolific and noticeable monster of the Graveyard School series, by far the easiest to get a commission of, but the reveal is pretty much obvious during the climax when you remember what the goddamn title is. That said, you come for the Skeleton, you stay for Vickie Wheilson in all her tie-dye, headstrong, neon glory.

[Wing: This sounds like the under 16 version of drag racing, right down to the Dead Man’s Curve, and therefore I am predisposed to love it. That description of Vickie only cements the deal. As long as I don’t think too hard about the real author, I’m excited. Let’s do this!]

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Posted in Nightmare Hall recaps

Recap #71: Nightmare Hall #2: The Roommate by Diane Hoh/Nola Thacker

cover of The Roommate, with a girl standing in front of a window staring in horror at something offscreenTitle: Nightmare Hall #2: The Roommate

Summary: Four roommates share a suite in the Quad. Danni is beautiful and perfect, from her long blonde hair to her expensive clothes. Margot is mysterious – brutally honest or slyly secretive, depending on her mood. Lacey is a wild woman, who loves to party, party, party. And Maureen is quiet and painfully shy. But the girls are not all what they seem. And soon one of them may be…dead.

Tagline: None

Notes: I will now refer to the bad guy as “Muffin Man” because of The Mall.

Initial Thoughts

The first thing you have to be aware of is that this was NOT written by Diane Hoh. It is extremely obvious it’s a different writer. This was written by Nola Thacker. Nola Thacker also used the pseudonym D.E. Athkins in the Point Horror line. She delivered a total stinker (The Ripper aka The Cemetery), a pile of crap (Secret Santa), and a couple of okay ones (Sister Dearest, Mirror Mirror and The Bride).

[Wing: I thought I hated her work, but then I checked The Bride recap, and no, I actually loved the ending and enjoyed a lot of the ridiculousness. Actually, her short story “Blood Kiss” in 13 Tales of Horror was similar, not bad, but ridiculous.]

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