Posted in Goosebumps Recaps

Recap #92: More Tales To Give You Goosebumps by R. L. Stine

Title: More Tales To Give You Goosebumps

Author: R.L. Stine

Cover Artist: Tim Jacobus

Summary: “Reader Beware – You’re In For Ten Summertime Scares!”

Is Matt’s summer camp being taken over by an evil patch of poison ivy? Will Eric escape from his tank, now that he’s been turned into a fish? Can Tara help the terrified voice she hears inside a beautiful seashell? Find out in these ten creepy Goosebumps short stories perfect for reading around the campfire or under the covers!

Initial Thoughts

This was the first of the short story books I read, and I… I think I actually stole this when I was a kid. No I remember back in elementary school, I found this book in a bag of books inside a closet in one of the classrooms. I think they were going to get rid of these books so I just kept the copy for myself. A few years later when the hardcover collection was released I gave my copy away.

As you could probably tell from the summary and cover art, the stories in this book all take place during the summer and yet surprisingly only two of them involve summer camps. Only one book was adapted for the French Goosebumps illustrated novellas, but none of them were made into TV episodes. One story, “The Cat’s Tale,” genuinely feels like some sort of pilot version for “Cry of the Cat,” the first in the Series 2000 line. I can safely say I found the stories in this one more interesting than the previous one. The original edition also came with a bonus booklight.

For this recap, I’m gonna be doing “3rd Rock from the Sun” jokes for the subtitles. Which means prepare thy selves for a bunch of dick jokes.

I’m also gonna include some of my ideas for potential sequel stories.

[Wing: I don’t know why, but I am so charmed by a creepy summer themed book coming with a booklight. Damn you, Stine!]

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Posted in Other Recaps

Recap #91: Prom Date by Diane Hoh

Cover of Prom Date by Diane Hoh, white teen girl dancing with a white guy, back to the reader, entire cover done in reds and blacksTitle: Prom Date by Diane Hoh

Summary:  It’s the biggest event of the year at Toomey High-Prom Night. But Margaret and her friends wont be going. After all you need a date to go to a Prom…

All they can do is envy the lucky girls who will be there. Popular girls like Stephanie and Kiki always get dates…

Then Stephanie is found murdered. And Kiki has a nasty accident. Is someone trying to kill off the competition?

Margaret is determined to find out the truth-even if it kills her…

Tagline: She’d kill for a date

Initial Thoughts

Ah Prom Night, I remember absolutely LOVING this book as a child for so, so many reasons-first of all Prom. I never even had a school disco so the whole concept of Prom was just delightful to me. I did have a ‘Leavers Do’ at the end of 6th Form, we invited our parents and had a sit down meal before having a party then heading to the school’s members only pub (In my school once you got into 6th Form you automatically became a member to a private pub opposite the school which obviously led to so much underage drinking….my school was weird) But that was the only type of celebration we had except for birthday parties. Proms were a foreign concept to me but they sounded so glamourous, grown up and such a huge part of high school, like in a lot of American YA books I read and ‘teenage’ films I watched everything centred around Prom, popularity and, of course, electing Prom Queen and King. Plus ‘Carrie’, PLUS Crowns. I love crowns, I have quite a few, whenever I have a bad day I pop one on and have a cup of tea. I feel better in no time. Growing up in a city I think I romanticised ‘small town America’ thanks to Point Horror books so the fact that this book was, based on my memory, in a small seaside town was another positive. These days I can’t function if I’m not in a city. Also I remembered this book starting with an actual murder so the stakes felt a lot higher from the get go. When I read this book as a kid I loved Margaret, her mum, her friends and I adored Mitch the hot, popular yet sensitive jock (I was 11) So I wonder how it holds up all these years later? Tuesday Out!

[Wing: Welcome back, Tuesday! I loved your recap of Freeze Tag, and I am so excited about this one. I’ve never read the book before, but I did attend a prom or two in my day. (Or six. Three in high school, two during undergrad, and one during grad school.) Also, I grew up in small town America (though not a small seaside town — I wish!), so let’s see how this goes.]

Content: Non-explicit but unexpected (to me, at least) animal death.

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Posted in Other Recaps

September Patreon Bonus Recap: Moonstruck by Grace Ellis and Shae Beagle

The Patreon Bonus Recap this month is Moonstruck issue 1 by Grace Ellis and Shae Beagle. Here’s the teaser, and you can read the rest if you become a Patron at the $5 tier or higher.

https://www.patreon.com/devilselbow

QUEER FAT WEREWOLF GIRLS. It’s like this was written for me.

Title: Moonstruck by Grace Ellis (writer) and Shae Beagle (artist)
Summary: A NEW ONGOING SERIES from Lumberjanes creator GRACE ELLIS and talented newcomer SHAE BEAGLE that tells a story of monsters, romance, and magical hijinks!

Fantasy creatures are living typical, unremarkable lives alongside humans, and barista Julie strives to be the most unremarkable of all. Normal job, normal almost-girlfriend, normal…werewolf transformations that happen when she gets upset? Yikes!

Tagline: N/A

Initial Thoughts

Jude bought me the first issue because he thought I would love this. Based on that blurb, he is correct! Queer fat werewolf protagonist? YES PLEASE.

Posted in Point Horror Recaps

Recap #90: The Forbidden Game #1: The Hunter by LJ Smith

The Author:

LJ Smith was never part of my reading repertoire when I was younger. In fact I never even read The Vampire Diaries until earlier this year and it was only the very first book (the original, not the re-releases). That kind of drama never interested me and still doesn’t. I’ve always known who she was thanks mostly to my fellow Lost Boys mailing listers who talked about her work a lot. But hers were never books I picked up.

I stumbled upon The Forbidden Game series completely by accident and I kind of love her style of writing here. Slightly lyrical, much descriptive, and writes pretty relatable, realistic characters (mostly). For the most part, this is what I know of LJ Smith despite her grander library of works. I do have other books of hers on my shelves, including some non-sequential Night World books (all originals, not the re-releases, I avoid those regardless of author, if I’m going to read 90s teen cheese it’s going to be in its original glory). But the impression I do have of her writing, even factoring in book one of The Vampire Diaries, is pretty good.

[Wing: I never read her as a teen, either, though a friend sent me the entire Night World series when I was in my early twenties, and I loved them. I’ve since read other things, including The Vampire Diaries back when I recapped season one for a website, but Night World remains my favourite of her works. 

However, I love the Teen Creeps’ podcast discussions of the books: Teen Creeps and The Hunter.]

The Blurb: He sold her the Game, and Jenny Thornton walked out mesmerized by Julian, the gorgeous cyber-punk with electric blue eyes and frost-white hair. When she and her friends open the plain white box at her boyfriend Tom’s birthday party, she chills to the warning: “Entering the Shadow World can be deadly. Do so at your own risk.” Spellbound, they piece together the cardboard Victorian house and decorate the rooms with their darkest nightmares. Suddenly the game is real! They’re in the house of horror, running from The Shadow Man — Julian himself, who forces them to confront their worst nightmares or be lost in a private hell. It’s Julian’s game, and Jenny is the prize he’s stalked for years. He’ll do anything to win her as she bargains desperately for her body — and soul . . .

Smith has a thing for cyberpunk and mentions it a lot throughout the book, especially in regard to how Julian is described. I’m a child of the 90s but cyberpunk is just a hint too old for me so I did have to look it up. And yeah. Hackers. Black turtlenecks and the blue glow of a computer forever etched onto a person’s face. Okay.

[Wing: Cyberpunk was very popular in my classes in the 2000s.]

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Posted in Other Recaps

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.

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Posted in Other Recaps

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.

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Posted in Podcast

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

 

Posted in Friday the 13th movies, Let's Do It! recaps

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.

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Posted in Graveyard School recaps

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.]

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Posted in Fear Street Recaps

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.]

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Posted in Podcast

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

Tumblr: Devil’s Elbow

Patreon: Devil’s Elbow

Posted in Nightmare Hall recaps

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.]

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