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

 

Recap #118: Spinetinglers #7: Snow Day by M. T. Coffin, a.k.a. “Is This The Book You Wished For?”

Title: Spinetinglers #7 – Snow Day

Author: M.T. Coffin, a.k.a. Robert Hawks

Cover Artist: ???

Tagline: The Weather Outside Is Frightful…

Summary: LET IT SNOW!

The kids all cheer when the bus driver tells them the schools have just been closed because of the snow. But the bus can’t make it through the blinding blizzard, and soon they are trapped in the freezing cold school bus. Through the wind and the snowflakes, someone sees lights on in an old farmhouse – and it looks warm and cosy. But what they find inside doesn’t make them feel safe at all! Strange portraits with glistening red eyes stare down at them. And when the kids go to the kitchen for something to eat, they have to pull open the heavy steel door of the freezer… and that’s just when the lights go out!

Initial Thoughts

Here we have another of the supposed Goosebumps knock offs I mentioned, but much like Shivers the Spinetinglers series is much more darker and slightly geared towards a more older audience than the Goosebumps books were. I found out about this series when searching through Mark Nagata’s website and discovered one of the covers he did for this line. The first entry I ever bought was “Camp Crocodile,” but I’ve only read that book once. I have a modest number of books from this series, but “Snow Day” is currently my favorite.

M.T. Coffin is a pen name shared by a number of different authors, though.

I got this book in 2008 as a Christmas gift alongside “Weirdo Waldo’s Wax Museum,” which was appropriate because this is also one of the darkest YA horror novels I’ve ever read. I was instantly drawn to this book because, snow days and haunted houses, I live for those kind of stories, but that summary didn’t prepare me for the true horror behind it all. And none of you are prepared either. You think I’m being cute for drama, but I am NOT.

Thankfully the book isn’t all plot. A lot of it is geared towards the characters interacting with one another and their responses to the situation they find themselves trapped in. But that means this can be a slightly difficult book because you need to really focus on reading it. The author went through a lot of trouble to make sure the readers paid attention to what’s going on.

Just so you know, even if you can see the ending coming, that doesn’t make it any less horrible.

And it begins, appropriately enough, with the apocalypse.

[Wing: I’ve never heard of this series, either, but it sounds amazing so far.]

OMG! What happens next??? Read on… »

Categories: Other Recaps, Recaps
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Recap #117: Graveyard School #27: Here Comes Santa Claws by Tom B. Stone, A.K.A. “Krampus 0”

Title: Graveyard School #27 – Here Comes Santa Claws

Author: Tom B. Stone/Nola Thacker/D.E. Athkins

Cover Artist: Mark Nagata

Tagline: N/A

Summary: This Year, Santa Doesn’t Care If You’ve Been Naughty Or Nice!

If Kyle knows what’s good for him, he’ll block up the chimney and lock all the doors. He’ll close all the windows and turn on all the lights. He won’t go to sleep and enjoy happy dreams. And he won’t hang up his stocking. Because this year…

Santa Claws is coming to town. [Wing: So many “claws” references in Christmas books, so few damn werewolves.]

Initial Thoughts

I got this book for Christmas in 2004, and it was the only enjoyable part of my 14th birthday. No, that holiday season. Things started off poorly the last day of school before break, when I had to leave early because I was sick. I wasn’t able to stop shivering, I’d never felt like that before. I thought I was going to die. On Christmas Day/my birthday I was still sick, and for dinner I ended up eating McDonalds in front of my Grandpa’s TV, alone, while my family ate dinner upstairs. For the next few days I was not only sick, but miserable and depressed. I couldn’t stop thinking about the fact that I was getting older and how much I hated that. I was terrified. But I still read this book every holiday season because it’s one of my favorites in the series.

The reason I referred to this as “Krampus 0” because if you read this book before you saw the horror flick “Krampus,” you’d feel yourself wondering if the director read this book before the movie was conceptualized. [Wing: I watched Krampus for the first time earlier this year, and now I get a book version (ish) too? This is delightful.] I’m not going to lie, Kyle, the main character in this book, is a little shit. He acts like a brat and it’s easy to see he brings this on himself. But you’ll be surprised when the big showdown occurs at the end, and Kyle shows a lot of backbone. The real draw to this is Kyle’s slick aunt Mab, who just happens to share her name with a Shakespearean fairy queen. Gee I wonder why that could be? Oh also the giant mutant rats on the cover.

Now, I should mention Kyle first appeared in the ninth book, “The Abominable Snow Monster,” and that was his only appearance before this entry. For some reason, the summaries on Amazon and other book sites make it sound like this is a sequel to the “Snow Monster” book when it is not.

[Wing: God, I love this series so damn much. Enough that I was filled with joy over a bonus recap this month.]

OMG! What happens next??? Read on… »

Categories: Graveyard School recaps, Recaps
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Recap #116: Class Trip II by Bebe Faas Rice

Cover of Class Trip 2 by Bebe Faas Rice, shows an open door and a traveling bag on a porch in a sliver of lightTitle: Class Trip II by Bebe Faas Rice

Summary: Hallie and her friends are lost, stranded in Holyoake—a small town deep in the mountains. A town isolated from the rest of the world. A town that time has forgotten.

At first, Hallie is charmed by Holyoake’s odd customs and old-fashioned ways. [Wing: LIES.] The townspeople are warm and friendly, and they’re eager to make Hallie and her friends feel right at home. They want to make sure that Hallie and her friends stay in Holyoake. Forever.

Tagline: Pack your bag…

Initial Thoughts

Way back when I first recapped Class Trip, I talked about how I’d read Class Trip II and really enjoyed it, but had never read the first book. Had never even considered finding the first book, despite the fact that Class Trip II is very clearly the second book in a series.

So finally, years later, I read Class Trip. I enjoyed it — sort of. And now I’ve come back to Class Trip II, which I loved when I was a teen. Here’s hoping it holds up. (I’m reading an updated version, I think, so who knows how that will compare.) [Wing: Note from the future, I didn’t actually notice any differences, because I was so enthralled.]

OMG! What happens next??? Read on… »

Categories: Nightmares Recaps, Recaps
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Recap #115: Friday the 13th, Part III 3D

Title: Friday the 13th Part III-3D (Out of eleventy-billion, am I right?) [Wing: Pretty much.]

Summary: A carefree summer becomes a deadly nightmare for another group of naïve counselors who choose to ignore Camp Crystal Lake’s gruesome legacy. They find themselves in a bloody game of cat-and-mouse with the maniacal Jason who stalks their every move… and ruthlessly kills them off one-by-one. [Wing: Why do they keep going back? Why do they keep ignoring recent deaths? Why?]

Tagline: Meet Jason… In a whole new dimension!

Note: I know this says “in 3D”, but I am not watching it in 3D. Yeah, no. My eyeballs don’t like 3D.

Initial Thoughts

Well. Here I am. Again.

Fall, which was hot and weird for my region, not to mention choked with smoke from forest fires, is now sliding quickly towards Winter. Why not make myself all the more unhappy by watching yet another installment in the Friday the 13th series?!

I kid. I wouldn’t say snarkily recapping my way through a horror franchise makes me unhappy. But, man, after that last installment, I’m struggling with the stupidity of the writing and the glaring lack of Kevin Bacon.

Wait… when did Kevin freaking Bacon become my touchstone for this series? Dude’s character died in the first film, he’s not coming back! (Really, I’d rather watch him in Flatliners… maybe I should recap Flatliners at some point… uh, point of clarification: the ORIGINAL Flatliners.)

Let’s see, a bit of run down before we start in. The third film in the franchise was released August 13th, 1982 (ironically, that’s the month I’m wasn’t scheduled to post in, bummer) and I would have been about a year old, so I have no memory of this. [Wing: Boo, next time maybe we’ll switch up the posting schedule to hit something like that.]

It did well at the box office, no surprise.

Gleaning what I can from websites without being totally spoiled on a 35 year old film, this installment was the first to use a David Bowie song as its fake title during production, which also led to an “on-again, off-again tradition” of using Bowie songs for fake titles during production. Bowie was involved in everything, people, everything. Whether he knew it or not.

Oh, hell, let’s just start this recap, shall we?

OMG! What happens next??? Read on… »

Categories: Let's Do It! recaps, Recaps
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Recap #114: Graveyard School #15: The Fright Before Christmas by Tom B. Stone, A.K.A. “I STILL Can’t Believe It’s Not A Christmas Carol!”

Title: Graveyard School #15 – The Fright Before Christmas

Author: Tom B. Stone/Nola Thacker/D.E. Athkins

Cover Artist: Mark Nagata [Wing: That cover is so much cheesy fun.]

Tagline: N/A

Summary: Have Yourself A Scary Little Christmas…

Christopher hates Christmas. He calls it a howl-iday, not a holiday. The fat man in the red suit? Santa Claws. That eight-reindeer vehicle? A slay. And Chris isn’t kidding. Welcome to Christmas at Graveyard School. It’s sure to be very merry. And very, very scary. [Wing: CHRIS YOU ARE TEASING ME WITH WEREWOLVES.]

Initial Thoughts

Here we’ve come to the second of the two Christmas Carol bootleg books I’ve reviewed for Point Horror, and I feel this one’s much better than “Fright Christmas.” [Wing: Everyone loves a Christmas Carol retellings, I guess.] For one thing, it’s got something of a meta bent to it. See, this is a rare Christmas Carol copy where it acknowledges the original work as something that exists. In almost every other take on the famous novel by Charles Dickens, the characters never seem to recognize what they’re currently experiencing. Out of the few times where such a thing occurred, there was

  • A Flintstones Christmas Carol, where the cast was actually doing a theater production of the story with Fred cast as Scrooge and turning into a jackass thanks to his inflated ego. Conversely, when the performance finally begins, Fred’s role as Scrooge serves as his wake up call for how poorly he’s been treating everyone.
  • The Simpsons and The Non-Adventures of Wonderella making fun of how much that story’s been utterly sucked dry, with the former doing jokes about “Ebeneezer Urkle,” and in the latter Wonderella pointing out how the last ghost is almost always the Grim Reaper in every knockoff.

This book also gets to demonstrate how smart these kids really are. They’re quite clear on why Christopher, the Scrooge stand-in, pisses them off so much. They don’t dislike him because he doesn’t like Christmas, but they DO dislike him because he’s got such a bad attitude about the holiday. They know lots of people don’t celebrate Christmas, but Christopher’s so pissy about it no matter what culture he comes from they think he wouldn’t celebrate ANY holiday. So look, if you don’t want to participate in some holiday fine, but don’t ruin the fun for everybody else. There’s also the understanding that his dislike of the holiday is coming from somewhere much more complicated.

I could be wrong though, and if any of you feel this is coming from some place of bias feel free to tell me. I’d LOVE to have a discussion on it.

[Wing: Well now I am super interested. Let’s do this.]

OMG! What happens next??? Read on… »

Categories: Graveyard School recaps, Recaps
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Recap #113: Ghosts of Fear Street #15: Fright Christmas by Stephen Roos, A.K.A. “I Can’t Believe It’s Not A Christmas Carol!”

Title: Ghosts of Fear Street #15 – Fright Christmas

Author: Stephen Roos

Cover Artist: John Youssi

Tagline: This Christmas Carol Will Scare The Dickens Out Of You! [Wing: Oooh, I’ll have to flag this one for Dove, if it really has some Christmas Carol aspect to it. Also, that pun is terrible, and I love it.]

Summary: He’d Better Watch Out…

Santa is watching Kenny Frobisher this year. Watching him do rotten, nasty things. Kenny’s the biggest bully in Shadyside. And he’s out to ruin everyone’s holiday.

Until he gets himself trapped in a closet in Dalby’s Department Store on Christmas Eve.

When Kenny finally gets out, the store is locked. Deserted. And Kenny is alone. Until the three most frightening ghosts of Fear Street arrive – to wish Kenny a SCARY Christmas.

[Wing: Well this sounds delightful.]

Initial Thoughts

Why is it when it comes to horror and Christmas the default setting is to do a Christmas Carol knock-off? Granted the original’s incredibly versatile, but so many of the copies come across as simply fill in the numbers tales. That doesn’t necessarily mean ALL of them are bad, like the Bill Murray one, the Muppets one, the “Ms. Scrooge” flick with Cicely Tyson, and even the Flintstones version is kind of ingenious.

This one, however, the only thing it really has going for it are the ghosts and their designs. I’ll give Roos credit he put some effort into making them stand out. Kenny is an incredibly obnoxious character and doesn’t have the tragic backstory Ebeneezer Scrooge does, and the conflict focuses more on him trying to avoid the ghosts. I decided to recap this one along with Graveyard School’s “The Fright Before Christmas” because they’re both versions of “A Christmas Carol,” but I think the latter is much better.

[Wing: Dove loves Christmas Carol derivative works. I’m not as big a fan, but I am excited about this.]

OMG! What happens next??? Read on… »

Categories: Fear Street Recaps, Recaps
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Recap #112: Nightmare Hall #7: Pretty Please by Diane Hoh

Title: Nightmare Hall #7: Pretty Please by Diane Hoh

Summary: Johanna Dunn is strikingly beautiful, just like all her friends. Until the accident. Now her perfect face is scarred and bandaged. She’s embarrassed by the strange looks she gets on campus – even from her closest friends. A pretty face isn’t everything, is it? Somebody thinks it is. Some thinks she’s plain old ugly now. Too ugly to live…. [Wing: Well damn, that escalated quickly.]

Tagline: None.

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

Initial Thoughts

Love the cover of this one, with the bandaged face looking back out of the mirror. Once again, I remember the identity of the Muffin Man all these years later. The concept of a killer going after a person they consider “ugly” may sound thin, but I think it’s quite unique, living as we do in a very looks obsessed society. Diane Hoh usually delves deeper into hot button issues than other YA thriller writers did at the time, so I’m hoping she finds some time for some light social commentary in amongst the thrills.

[Wing: I’ve never read this one before, but I like the idea that Hoh is going to take on the power of beauty in our society. I hope this goes well. And I don’t think it’s too far fetched for a killer to go after someone they consider ugly; just look at how fat people, for example, are treated. People casually call for their deaths all the time.]

OMG! What happens next??? Read on… »

Categories: Nightmare Hall recaps, Recaps
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Coming Soon: Nostalgic Bookshelf

In January 2018, Devil’s Elbow celebrates its 5th anniversary and Sweet Valley Online its 1st. We’ve had a blast recapping, podcasting, and connecting with all of you over the years. We’ve had readers tell us it’s like one big, opinionated book club, and that’s part of the joy for us too.

Devil’s Elbow and Sweet Valley Online will be holding their own celebrations in January, but we want to announce our next big venture: Nostalgic Bookshelf (www.nostalgicbookshelf.com). We’re expanding the recap empire, and boy do we have some fun things in store for you.

Both Devil’s Elbow and Sweet Valley Online will continue with their current schedules, but we’re adding additional content and new recappers. In January 2018, Nostalgic Bookshelf will launch. In addition to the ongoing content at Devil’s Elbow and Sweet Valley Online, we will be recapping and discussing the Baby-Sitters Club series by Ann M. Martin, the Making Out series by Katherine Applegate, the world of Enid Blyton, and the Game Box, which will include Choose Your Own Adventure books and games, tabletop games, and classic console and computer games.

There will be many more surprises to come, and more information as we get closer to our January launch.

We’ll introduce the new recappers with their first recaps, and we know you’re going to love them.

(If you have ever wanted to be a part of this nostalgic recapping, podcasting, and discussions, or if you have any comments or questions, email us at management@nostalgicbookshelf.com. We’re open to nostalgic media from at least 10 years ago or earlier.)

We’ve had a great time building this community with you, and we hope you’ll enjoy the additional content and new areas of nostalgia. Be sure to tell your friends!

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Recap #111: The Dead Boy Detectives by Jill Thompson

Title: The Dead Boy Detectives

Author/Artist: Jill Thompson

Publisher: Vertigo Comics

Summary: They’ll do anything to solve the case.

Rowland and Paine, the dead British detectives who first appeared in Neil Gaiman’s THE SANDMAN: SEASON OF MISTS, travel stateside to investigate a strange missing-persons case at a posh International Academy for Girls.

Naturally, the inquisitive duo is forced to go undercover – in drag – if they’re to have a hope in hell of solving the case. It’s time for dark secrets, food fights, and spies as the Dead Boy Detectives learn a lot about life from the precocious daughters of rich ambassadors and rebellious rock stars.

Initial Thoughts

OH IT’S CHRISTMAS TIME AND IT’S CHRISTMAS TIME, CHRISTMAS, CHRISTMAS, CHRISTMAS TIIIIIIIIIME!

Finally, December, my favorite month of the year because it’s both Christmas AND my birthday. I love doing stuff for Christmas. I love shopping, I love decorating, I love the music and the God awful Christmas specials, and because I love doing stuff for people on Christmas, I’m going to be doing a bunch of extra recaps for Point Horror, all for yous.

First off, we’re starting with a little something written and drawn by Jill Thompson, my all time favorite professional comic person. Jill’s done just a little bit of everything, she’s done pencils in Wonder Woman, Sandman, Black Orchid, Simpsons, GOOSEBUMPS (that she did the comic adaption of “One Day In Horrorland,” one of my faves, makes me love her more), Batman, X-Men, Thor, Beasts of Burden, and of course there’s her phenomenal “Scary Godmother” series.

(Indrina, Michiko, Frederika, Kanene, Fiorenza, Vanya. And in the back, Dream of the Endless)

“The Dead Boy Detectives” is an OEL (Original English Language) manga one-shot story published by DC’s Vertigo imprint. It’s a sort of follow up from “Death: At Death’s Door,” another OEL manga that served as an interquel for Neil Gaiman’s “The Sandman” and is one of several works Jill has done for the Sandman franchise. Jill’s an incredibly versatile artist and knows how to express her art in several different styles. I wish DC would hire her to write and draw something Titans related because she’s also one of the few comic artists out there who knows how to draw teenagers that don’t look like porn stars (looking at you, Ed Benes).

[Wing: Though my siblings want to smack me for this, I’m not much of a fan of The Sandman (or of much of Gaiman’s work), but this sounds like a great addition to that franchise. I love Thompson’s art, and I can’t wait to see how this goes.]

OMG! What happens next??? Read on… »

Categories: Other Recaps, Recaps
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Recap #110: More & More Tales To Give You Goosebumps by R. L. Stine, A.K.A. “It Just Doesn’t Die!”

Title: More & More Tales To Give You Goosebumps

Author: R.L. Stine (And possibly Carolyn Crimi)

Cover Artist: Tim Jacobus

Tagline: N/A

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

Will Aunt Vera’s book of magic spells spell scary trouble for Kari? Is Jeffrey a musical genius or is the old guitar he stole truly haunted? Are Mike and his brother Ray house sitting for a monstrous ghost?

[Wing: Haunted guitar? Sign me up immediately.]

Initial Thoughts

This is one of the two short stories I was able to find at a church tag sale near my house. It still has its last check out slip from the library. I use it as a bookmark.

This one’s by far the most eclectic collection of short stories Stine has done for the franchise. The antagonists are also far more colorful than the first three books. But Wing, hon, I’m sorry to say there aren’t any werewolves in this book. [Wing: We had a really great October. I suppose that will carry me through the end of the year with few werewolves. I suppose.]

As a side note, this one originally came with a hat (like the ones the skeleton frogs on the cover are wearing). So far the most disappointing bonus of the short story books. [Wing: I would find a hat a weird bonus, except I STILL REMEMBER THE BOXERS.]

For this recap, I’ll be including music, having selected a different track from the soundtrack to “Umineko: When They Cry” for every short story recap, including name and artist.

OMG! What happens next??? Read on… »

Categories: Goosebumps Recaps, Recaps
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