Posted in Goosebumps Recaps

Recap #101: Goosebumps: Haunted Library by R. L. Stine, A.K.A. “The Lost Goosebumps”

Cover of Goosebumps Haunted Library, door and Hershey's welcome mat with title informationGoosebumps Haunted Library back cover

Title: Goosebumps Haunted Library

Author: R.L. Stine

Cover Artist: N/A

Summary: Curly is not only the coolest of ghouls, he’s actually frightfully well read. He “freak”-quents the library often and gives “Goosebumps to all the browsers and loungers who dare to enter. The latest hair-raising additions to his private collection are three titles, “THE HALLOWEEN GAME,” “BAD DOG,” and “DON’T MAKE ME LAUGH” which have been written by R.L. Stine especially for Hershey, Pepsi, and Frito-Lay. Every Boo Dude will want to “check out” this exclusive “Thrillogy” Mini-book collection. Come back again real soon for more of the “Good, Clean, Scary Fun” that is Goosebumps!

Initial Thoughts

In the mid 1990s, Scholastic did a special giveaway partnered with the Pepsi, Hershey, and Frito-Lays corporations. They allowed people to send away for limited edition Goosebumps stories printed in tiny pamphlets, and were also given the opportunity to receive a special cardboard carrying case to store all three stories. The set was called “Goosebumps: Haunted Library,” and I shit you not I had not heard of them until a few years ago when someone updated the Wikipedia page. At first I thought this was some other scrapped project like “Goosebumps Gold,” and was pleased to learn it was not. As a major stroke of good luck, I was able to find and purchase the complete set off eBay. I even went out of my way to contact Troy Steele, the genius behind “Blogger Beware,” and offered to share with him the three stories so he could do his patented style of reviews for them. He never replied back, so like always, it’s now down to me to educate you poor schmucks.

Notice how the “books” in the library are either endorsements for products by the three corporations or are simplistic horror titles like “The Dark Basement” by Jen or “Goblins” by Kari.

Also, I got the set autographed by R.L. Stine at the signing last December. I think he barely remembered Haunted Library.

[Wing: I had never heard of this before. I am now delighted by it.]

Goosebumps Haunted Library signed editionGoosebumps Haunted Library signature close upGoosebumps Haunted Library plate

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Posted in Point Horror Recaps

Recap #100: Halloween Night 2 by R. L. Stine

cover of Halloween Night II by R L Stine, has three figures dressed in skeleton outfits and black cloaks in front of a Halloween night backgroundTitle: Halloween Night 2 by R. L. Stine

Summary: Brenda isn’t really looking forward to Halloween this year. After all, it was only twelve months age that her best friend tried to kill her at a Halloween party and she’d rather not be reminded of that. [Wing: I’d rather not be reminded of that recap either.]

But her friends persuade her to take part in a Halloween revenge prank, guaranteed to scare the victim to death. And soon Brenda realises that she is never going to leave the terror of Halloween night behind…..

Tagline: Trick, treats and…death

Initial Thoughts

Hey guys, how’ve you been? I’m good thank you, a little under the weather-sore throat, headachy that sort of thing but nothing too serious just a typical change of weather cold. Speaking of, the weather has been great here, perfect Autumn weather very mild and breezy, some rain, the type were you can throw on a lovely warm jumper and go for a walk around the Common drinking a hot chocolate or snuggle up in bed with a good book and light rain tapping on the window. Work? Yeah work is going well thanks, except for the ridiculous amounts of stairs I have to walk up and down but at least my ass and legs will get toned-Amirite?

Huh? What’s that? Am I mindlessly rambling on about my daily schedule in order to avoid recapping this book? Now why would you suggest such a thing!? Questioning my work ethic and dedication? Well, yes you’re right I’m doing exactly that. This. Book. Gah. I only vaguely remembered this book before I read it. I don’t know what I was expecting but in retrospect I should have reread Wing’s awesome review of Halloween Night BEFORE I read Halloween Night 2: The EXACT Same Story But Suckier. Everyone in this book is insufferable and Stine has never met a cliff hanger he didn’t want to take behind a shed and get pregnant. That being said, lets all work together and power through. [Wing: NO. I refuse. I did my time. (Seriously, I’m grateful that Tuesday took this one on, because I could not do a repeat of the first book.)]

[Wing: Happy 100 recaps! You, our readers and podcast listeners, are the best part of recapping. You’re smart and funny and engaged, and we appreciate you so much! I’m thrilled we’ve made it this far, and I look forward to 100 more.]

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Posted in General

Halloween Extravaganza: Atypical Halloween Films

I, for one, welcome our new overlord: the Great Pumpkin!

It’s October! It’s Fall! It’s the best season of the year!

Each year about this time, there’s always the general consensus list post of “Halloween” films – among them Halloween, Friday the 13th, the Universal Monsters movies, Hocus Pocus, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Halloweentown (and its three sequels, though that fourth film is purely awful) – and there are the staples that several generations have grown up on, i.e. It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!, which is the one film that still airs on a major network every year (or twice in the same month, some years.)

I don’t want to write one of those lists.

So, instead, I decided to pick some of my favorite spooky and/or horror-themed films that always seem to put me in the mood for Fall and its haunted delights. Join me and check this list of atypical not-exactly-Halloween films you should check out for the Fall season! Spookiness, ahoy!

It meeeeeeeeee!

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Posted in Fear Street Recaps

Recap #99: Fear Street: Halloween Party by R. L. Stine, A.K.A. “Niki Meyer Is Stunning And Brave”

Title: Fear Street – Halloween Party

Author: R.L. Stine

Cover Artist: Bill Schmidt

Tagline: There is going to be an uninvited guest at this Halloween party on Fear Street…

Summary: WELCOME TO FEAR STREET

Don’t listen to the stories they tell you about Fear Street. Wouldn’t you rather explore it yourself… and see if its dark terror and unexplained mysteries are true? You’re not afraid, are you?

Invitation To Terror

The invitation arrived in a black-boarded envelope. Inside, the card showed a coffin with the inscription “Reserved For You.” It was perfectly fiittng for an all-night Halloween party on Fear Street. But Terry and his girlfriend Niki wondered why they had been invited. They barely knew Justine Cameron, the mysterious transfer student who was throwing the party.

The party was well under way when the lights went out. That’s to be expected at a spooky Halloween party. But when the lights came back on, there was that boy on the floor with the knife in his back. Just a Halloween prank? Maybe. Maybe not.

For Terry and Niki the trick-or-treating has turned to terror. To their horror, they realize that someone at the costume party is dressed to kill!

[Wing: That is a very dramatic blurb.]

Initial Thoughts

This is by far one of the best Fear Street books, if not THE best. The cover artwork alone is stunning (despite floating pumpkin skulls aren’t actually involved in the book itself), and even with my love of holiday-themed horror, I’ve read enough reviews to indicate this is an Ensemble Darkhorse in the original series. The atmosphere and locations are vivid, and its heroine, Niki, is genuinely one of the best main characters Stine’s created in a sea of unlikable whiny, shallow, self-centered, hypocritical assholes. And not just because she’s “Special.” I even got my copy, which thankfully had the original artwork and not the dull reprint version, autographed by R.L. Stine. Seriously, this book is so good I never want it adapted into a movie or TV episode because I don’t think any other format could do it appropriate justice.

[Wing: I’m thrilled for this recap. All the Halloween recaps this year. All of them. Such a great time.]

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Posted in Point Horror Recaps

Recap #98: The Forbidden Game #2: The Chase by LJ Smith

The Author:

Who uses really oddball descriptions of things, repeatedly. Seriously. What the hell are spaniel eyes?

Maybe? I don’t know. But one character, Michael, always has some kind of spaniel eyes going on. And Audrey with her spiky lashes and bangs. The same thing. All the time.

And who others the crap out of every POC character in her book to extremes. It was really bad in THE CHASE. Really, really bad.

[Wing: Good times, good times. Adorable dog. And I still love Teen Creeps taking on this series. Here’s their episode for The Chase.]

The Blurb: Why is her boyfriend Tom avoiding her – while other boys pursue her as never before? Jenny Thornton has changed. So have her friends. Because of Julian, the Shadow Man, who has returned to terrorize them with a new game, a hunting game, Lambs and Monsters. They’re the lambs, to be stalked, pounced upon, and lost to the Shadow World forevermore. The monsters are the Lurker, a ghostly wolf, and the Creeper, a phantom snake. One by one, Jenny’s friends disappear, leaving behind only a paper doll – and a riddle with clues about who will be next . . . . Jenny must find Julian’s hidden base and save her friends before it’s too late. But how can she resist the predatory prince of darkness who has returned to make her his own?

That entire first sentence can just be erased and it won’t take anything away from the blurb, mainly because it really doesn’t fit and because it’s such an infinitesimal part of the story as to be largely unimportant. Mainly because Jenny knows she’s changed and she figures out on her own why and how. It has nothing to do with boys. Damn YA books.

[Wing: My god, that game sounds amazing. I want to play Lambs and Monsters.]

The Place: This time mostly within Jenny’s neighborhood and home. Julian decides to bring the game to them, to every place they always felt safe he takes it upon himself to violate. Goes along with the mindfucking he does in this book and quite honestly, I kind of love it a little. [Wing: I love the transition from them being in his strange, terrible place to him being in their place, where they are comfortable and safe and happy. Twisting that is a great horror trope.]

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Posted in Graveyard School recaps

Recap #97: Graveyard School #5: Revenge of the Dinosaurs, a.k.a. “Cretaceous Park”

Tom B Stone Revenge of the Dinosaurs cover, t-rex coming through the wall of a schoolTitle: Graveyard School #5 – Revenge of the Dinosaurs

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

Cover Artist: Barry Jackson

Tagline: N/A/

Summary: They’re Back!

“Dino-head.” That’s what David Pike calls his little brother, Richie. This kid eats, sleeps, and breathes dinosaurs. Richie even keeps a terrarium filled with plastic dinosaur figures, and he treats them like they’re real. He feeds them, talks to them, and claims they’re growing!

When Richie says that his Tyrannosaurus rex has escaped, David decides his little brother has finally gone over the edge. It can’t be true that dinosaurs are back and on the loose… Can it?

Initial Thoughts

Guys I am really sorry this was delayed. I was really busy the past few weeks with work at the stadium and the store, and then New York Comic Con. Staying home today because of my flu was the best decision I could’ve made for focusing on finishing my writing.

This is the first and practically only book in the series to be a science fiction story instead of a supernatural horror tale. It’s admittedly one of the books I rarely re-read until I began reviewing for this website.

We’ve got another sibling tag team in the form of David and Richie, and by the end of this post I’m sure you’ll agree with me Richie is by far the greatest threat in the entire series and more dangerous than all of the other monsters and villains combined.

[Wing: Dinosaurs. Not documented here quite as often as my werewolf love, but I have a deep and a biding love of dinosaurs, and I’m thrilled to have this book come up immediately after last month’s werewolf book.]

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Posted in General

Halloween Extravaganza: Favorite Horror and Creepy Podcasts

Welcome to October, my favorite month of the year! Marching band competitions are in full swing, the air here is crisp, the night sky bright with moon and stars, leaves change color and fall and crunch when you walk through them, horror movies are everywhere, and Halloween is coming. Here at Devil’s Elbow, we love horror and scary stories and Halloween (…obviously), and to celebrate, we have a month of bonus posts to go along with our regular recaps.

Sit back with a cup of hot apple cider(1) (liberally dosed with the alcohol of your choice; I recommend rum or vodka) and celebrate the season with us.

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Posted in General

Halloween Extravaganza: Jude’s NYCC 2017 Goosebumps and YA Horror Sketches

New York Comic Con is my second favorite time of the year, next to Christmas/my birthday. I spend all four days walking around adding more pieces to my already large collection of art commissions and sketches. This year I was only able to do three days, as I was called into work at the stadium on Sunday. That being said, I realized since I would be working and thus earning more money, I decided to splurge the next two days. And thankfully I was smart enough to set up a few pieces in advance of the show.

For the last couple of years I’ve been devoting NYCC towards a sort of horror theme and have been trying to add additions to my Goosebumps-related artwork, as well as other YA horror related art, and added these fine pieces to my collection.

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Posted in Point Horror Recaps

Recap 96: The Cemetery by D. E. Athkins

cover of The Cemetery by D. E. Athkins, has four fingers coming out of dirt with long, sharp silver nailsTitle: The Cemetery by D. E. Athkins

Summary: At a Hallowe’en party with very exclusive guests, the disguised play a game of hide and seek in an ancient cemetery as midnight approaches. When someone is killed, all the partygoers can do is suspect each other – unless there is an unknown player.

Tagline: Don’t look behind you…

Initial Thoughts

Every time I see the name D. E. Athkins, I laugh, which is probably not the intended response. I can’t help it. Deathkins writing Point Horror? Good lord, be more subtle.

Beyond that, I find D. E. Athkins’ work hit or miss, whether under this pseud or as Nola Thacker (who also wrote the Graveyard School series as Tom B. Stone and sometimes filled in as the ghost writer for the Nightmare Hall series under Diane Hoh’s name). (My god, the authors we recap here are an incestuous lot, aren’t they?) (Note: No actually claim or accusation of real incest here.)

All that being said, I love the summary of this book (… minus the Hallowe’en spelling, which just looks twee), and I hope we’ll all enjoy it.

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Posted in Nightmare on Elm Street movies

Recap #95: A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

Title: A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

Tagline: If Nancy doesn’t wake up screaming, she won’t wake up at all.

Summary: Several people are hunted by a cruel serial killer who kills his victims in their dreams. While the survivors are trying to find the reason for being chosen, the murderer won’t lose any chance to kill them as soon as they fall asleep. (from imdb.com)

Grade: A+

Notes: Be warned: I love this movie. I have watched it so often I know it by heart, I own the novelisations, I bought the VHS tapes separately, then in a box set. Then I bought the DVD set of movies 1-4; then the 1-5 box set; then the 1-6 box set; I spent a fortune hunting down Wes Craven’s New Nightmare on DVD (pre-Amazon era). Then I repeated this ridiculous process on Blu-Ray. I own, and frequently re-watch, Never Sleep Again, but I can’t get through I Am Nancy, which seems to just be Heather Langenkamp wandering around talking to Freddy fans. I have retained a lot of trivia, fan theories, alternate timelines (from the books), and my recaps will be filled to the hilt with this nonsense.

The only place where I draw the line is reading the original stories based on Freddy (official book releases). I’ll take (and love) Seven Sweetest Dreams (a compilation of short stories), but the thick, heavy books lose me every time. They’re just far too away from cannon – much like the TV series, which I have watched once from beginning to end, and several episodes more than once, but do not love, and cannot remember much about.

I haven’t read much of the comics, partly because they’re so expensive (to me) for a media type that doesn’t hold my interest. Partly because they’re still quite hard to come by. And if I’m going to get into a bidding war on eBay over something from the 80s, it’s going to be Gen 1 My Little Ponies.

[Wing: Surprise! Dove has returned to help us celebrate this year’s Halloween Extravaganza, and she brings a horror movie, all her nerdy trivia, and a hell of a lot of fun. I hope you all are as excited as I am about having her back for a very special recap.]

(Jude: Ah, so you’re the infamous Dove I’ve heard so much about. Hi! I’m Jude. And you better fasten your seatbelt because this ain’t gonna be no cakewalk! Among the famed slasher movie franchises, the Elm Street one became my go-to favorite. I watched the first (and some of the fourth) when I was 9. After spending four years horrified beyond belief by these movies I fell in love with them, but I still can’t really look at any pictures of Freddy Krueger where he’s looking RIGHT at you. I actually HAVE read the comics, but if you were to ask, I by far prefer the ones published by Innovation. The Avatar Comics were awful, and so were the Wildstorm ones. I was especially disappointed by the Freddy Vs Jason Vs Ash comics, if only because of what they did to Alice Johnson and Maggie Burroughs. However, you CAN read the Marvel and Innovation comics on nightmareonelmstreetfilms.com. I look forward to ruining-I mean, enhancing your post with my comments. Yes, enhance. I covered that up pretty good. BTW, one of the first entries I worked on for “If It Were Stine” was this movie.)

[Wing: Is it this one?]

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Posted in General

Halloween Extravaganza: How to Re-Halloween When You’ve Un-Halloweened Halloween (aka Donna’s list of Halloween feels)

I was born and raised in Connecticut. The only way I could get more New England is if I pahk the cah in Hahvahd Yahd. Which I don’t. I don’t paRk my caR anywhere near HaRvaRd YaRd because I always avoided driving in Massachusetts as much as possible. At least in the eastern portion of the state.

I’m used to four seasons even though I absolutely despised one of them and was allergic to another. Humidity always sucked but it was always a thing and I reveled in those days when the humidity dropped to like 50% and it didn’t feel like I was choking on my own lungs in the summer.

And then came September. One: The Big E. It’s the state fair to end all state fairs. Technically it’s a multi-state fair and you can eat your way through that states. And your pants. It’s glorious. Two: Autumn.

OMFG I love autumn. For about five weeks, from September through Halloween the weather is divine. Mid-70s to 60s during the day, 50s at night. Perfect for jeans and sweatshirts, drinking apple cider and eating apple everything and maybe a little bit of pumpkin (I’m not part of that cult). I put out Halloween decorations and carved the shit out of some pumpkins. I burned all the pumpkin spice Yankee Candles (I AM part of that cult) and I absolutely loved cuddling in on those crisp autumn nights and watching scary movies. It was all so perfect.

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Posted in General

Halloween Extravaganza: Jude’s Favorite Horror Flick Heroines and Villainesses

It’s time to put the WEEEEEEE back in HalloWEEEEEEEEN, so I’ve constructed a special article where I get to gush about my favorite heroines, villains, and secondary characters from horror films (including animated ones).

Why? Because I felt like it. I wanted to do something special for the holiday and I relish any chance I get to gush about why I love these characters the way I do. Plus it gives me a chance to show off some of my other commissions I wouldn’t normally get the chance to include in this website.

Some of the characters I get really in-depth on while others I only briefly discuss.

For the month, I will include 31 entries in this list. Some are shared by two or three characters, though, so I’m gonna cheat a little.

These are all characters who left an impact on me in some form or another, and on my writing and views of fiction in general. Admittedly, a lot of them are mothers and motherly figures. I guess I have a type.

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Posted in Snark at the Moon! recaps

Recap #94: The Howling (1981)

The Howling cover werewolf claws tearing through a solid sheet and a woman's screaming face behind itTitle: The Howling

Summary: After a bizarre and near fatal encounter with a serial killer, a television newswoman is sent to a remote mountain resort whose residents may not be what they seem.

Tagline: Imagine your worst fear a reality. [Wing: Worst fear. Right.] [Bat: Being a werewolf isn’t my worst fear…]

Initial Thoughts

This was baby!Wing’s first werewolf movie, her first horror movie, and I will forever love it for giving me all that it did: a love of werewolves, a love of horror movies, a love of dramatic full moon shots and cheesy dog and wolf puns and silver bullets, certain iconic images — I watched it at a fairly young age, despite the fact that neither of my parents like horror movies and we weren’t allowed to watch them growing up. [Bat: This explains SO. MUCH. I’ve known Wing ~20 years and now I understand the werewolf love all the better.]

My dad was a truck driver, and I often spent large chunks of my summer and holidays with him on the road. (Why I love road trips and driving to this day and can’t settle down in one place too long before I’m itching to leave and have an adventure.) One night, we had a break at a truck stop. I’m not sure how old I was. Maybe nine or ten? Eight or eleven? I’m not sure. Anyway, we were hanging out in the trucker’s lounge, and The Howling came on. My dad swears he doesn’t remember this at all, and probably he had fallen asleep, but I watched the entire movie, enthralled, and then when we headed out to the truck later, we had to walk through rows and rows of idling eighteen wheelers, and I kept picturing werewolves leaping from trailer to trailer. That thought still makes me catch my breath every time. [Bat: Why haven’t you written a long-haul werewolf trucker story, Wing?] [Wing: That is a very good question.]

Welcome to the first ever Snark at the Moon! recap. Every October and November, Bat and I will be recapping werewolf movies and the recaps will go live on the full moon. This year, October’s moon is the Harvest Moon, one of my favourites. (Why yes, I have a favourite full moon.) Take a look at it tonight, but keep an eye out for werewolves. You never know when you’re living a horror movie life.

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Posted in Nightmare Hall recaps

Recap #93: Nightmare Hall #5: The Scream Team by Diane Hoh

cover of Diane Hoh's Scream Team, top cover is brick building with a window cutout that shows a girl in a cheerleading uniform collapsed on the floor

Title: The Scream Team by Diane Hoh

Summary: Delle has always been a cheerleader. And so she wants more than anything to make the squad at Salem U. Until she hears the horrible truth about what happened to last year’s cheerleaders…

Once Delle thought she would die to make the team. Now she realizes she may have to. Welcome to the scream team, Delle.

[Wing: Well that’s suitably creepy. What did happen to last year’s cheerleaders?]

Tagline: None.

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

Initial Thoughts

Can’t remember a great deal about this one, to be honest, though I can still recall the identity of the Muffin Man. It should be noted that this is another one from Nola “Hack” Thacker, so expectations are not high.

[Wing: I’ve never read this one, but I love horror + cheerleaders, so maybe that will work even if I didn’t much enjoy Thacker’s last Nightmare Hall outing.]

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Posted in General

Halloween Extravaganza: The children of the night. What music they make.

Welcome to October! This month (my favourite month) we’re going to celebrate Halloween (my favourite holiday) while some of us, at least, enjoy gorgeous autumn weather (my favourite season, though I hate being cold). What better way to kick it off than with Wing’s Werewolf Playlist (at least as of this very moment).

I’ve put together a list of some of my favourite werewolf (or werewolf adjacent) music? Note: I interpret “werewolf adjacent” fairly loosely; mostly, if it makes me think of werewolves, it’ll probably make a werewolf playlist at some point. For the most part, I’ve only included one version, though for more than a couple, I love many, many cover versions, but I couldn’t help make one exception.

Tell me your favourite werewolf or monster or horror songs in the comments.

Amanda Siefried – Little Red Riding Hood (cover)

Blind Black – Black Dog Blues

Bowling for Soup – Little Red Riding Hood (cover)

The Pack A.D. – Wolves and Werewolves

Rainbow – Run with the Wolf

Robert Johnson – Hellhound on My Trail

Shakira – She Wolf

Skillet – Monster

I listened to Skillet’s music for a long damn time before I learned they’re a Christian rock band. Let me tell you, Christian rock has changed a hell of a lot since I was a kid!

Thea Gilmore – Bad Moon Rising (cover)

Type O Negative – Wolf Moon (live)

Warren Zevon – Werewolves of London (live)