Posted in Goosebumps Recaps

Recap #135: Goosebumps: The Surprise On The 13th Floor by R. L. Stine and Cheryl Hotchkiss

 Title: Goosebumps – The Surprise On The 13th Floor, a.k.a. “Walt Disney’s Goosebumps” (Plus Bonus Story)

Author: R.L. Stine and Cheryl Hotchkiss

Artist: Michael Graeney

Summary: N/A

Initial Thoughts

And now it’s time for something very special, possibly even rarer than “Goosebumps Haunted Library.”

Disney Adventures magazine held a contest in the 1990s. In their November 1996 issue, they included the opening segment to a Goosebumps short story called “Surprise On The 13th Floor,” written by R.L. Stine. Contestants were to compose a 1200 word middle and ending for the story. The winner, Cheryl Hotchkiss, got a bunch of cool Goosebumps swag and their entry published in the March 1997 issue.

I purchased the March ’97 issue for the sake of reading and recapping the completed story for Point Horror. The magazine included three illustrations by Michael Graeney, but unfortunately due to the size and the spine of the magazine I wasn’t able to include all of them in the post out of fear of ruining my copy. As a consultation prize, I will include a recap of  a short story published in the November ’96 issue, “Made In Transylvania.”

[Wing: I had no idea this contest existed, despite liking both Goosebumps and Disney Adventures well into the 90s.]

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Posted in Other Recaps

Recap #134: Bone Chillers #23: Romeo and Ghouliette by Betsy Haynes

Title: Bone Chillers #23 – Romeo and Ghouliette a.k.a. “Hail, Hail Sirbania, A Land I Didn’t Make Up”

Author: Betsy Haynes (Ryan Chipman (Based on the script by Regge Bulman and Clay Eide))

Cover Artist: Tim Jacobus

Tagline: What fright through yonder window breaks? [Wing: Okay, that’s kind of delightful.]

Summary: Cooking up trouble…

Lexi knows there’s something weird about Julie, the new girl at Edgar Allen Poe High School. [Wing: I want to go to school there.] Julie was practically drooling over a worm in biology lab. Then Lexi swears she saw Julie snatch a fly out of the air in homeroom – and eat it!

Now Julie is after Lexi’s best friend, Fitz. And Fitz is totally falling for her. He loves everything about Julie – especially the cookies and candies she brings him. Lexi suspects Julie is fattening Fitz up for a feast – and that he’s going to be the main course!

Initial Thoughts

February is the month of LUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUV, and even though I’d already done “The Abandoned” for Valentine’s Day I felt for the extra recap this would be an appropriate addition.

Bone Chillers was another Goosebumps knock-off series from the 90s, one of the few that stuck to the formula of a brand new cast and universe in each book. But what set the series apart is it was the only series besides Goosebumps to get a TV show during its time of publication. With a single season of 13 episodes, the show took place at Edgar Allen Poe High School and focused on the horrifying misadventures of four friends.

The artistic Fitz Crump, gothic Sarah Moss, brainy wannabee casanova Brian Hoseapple, and sunny Lexi Orwell, got into all sorts of terrifying shenanigans at school, alongside the downright evil Principal Pussman, ditzy Ms. Dewberry, and their ally Arnie, the creepy school janitor who knew about all sorts of weird shit. Only three of the episodes (Back to School, Creature Teacher, and Frankenturkey) were based on the books written by Betsy Haynes, while all of them featured educational segments at the end that were narrated by Miss Haynes. Whereas the cheesiness of the Goosebumps TV show was mostly unintentional, Bone Chillers deliberately played up the comedy angle alongside the horror. You’d be amazed at how much the kids scream.

“Romeo and Ghouliette” is special, because in its case, the BOOK was based on the EPISODE. Two years after the show ended, the screenplay was adapted and expanded into an addition of the book series, and was the last entry published. The cover sort of reflects that, featuring a broken TV, and the male character is obviously modeled after Fitz. What also makes this special is that book is fucking expensive (I was lucky to find a cheap copy) and much sought after by fans because there exists no DVD set of the entire show and absolutely NO videos anywhere for sale or online of the episode.

Well, at least until a brave American hero uploaded videos of every episode that hadn’t been put on VHS to Youtube.

Being able to watch the episode made me realize a lot of changes were put in the book adaption. Such as:

  • Part of the plot involves the school’s production of “Romeo and Juliet,” so the name isn’t just a joke. That wasn’t in the TV show.
  • Lexi was the one worried about Fitz in the TV show. Despite what the summary said, in the book it’s Sarah who’s the main character.
  • Ms. Dewberry isn’t ditzy or lovey dovey in the book, instead she looks like someone’s grandmother.
  • While the school appears creepy in the TV show, it retains the Edgar Allen Poe name but feels like a regular school in the book.
  • The antagonists aren’t from “Sirbania” in the TV show.

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Posted in Fear Street Recaps

Recap #133: Fear Street #45: Cat by R.L. Stine

Title: Fear Street: Cat, a.k.a. “I Really, Really, REALLY Hate Barry Allen”

Author: R.L. Stine

Cover Artist: Bill Schmidt

Tagline: C-A-T- spells murder.

Summary: The cat came back… [Wing: Damn it, I have been earwormed.]

Marty never liked the cat – it always got in the way at basketball practice. But he never meant to kill it.

Now Marty thinks he’s going crazy. He sees cats wherever he goes. He has nightmares about them. He knows they want revenge.

Too bad Marty doesn’t have nine lives. Because his first one is almost over.

Initial Thoughts

So, sorry there wasn’t a Fear Street recap in January. I realized too late I was a bit burned out from everything I worked on in December, and asked to put the Fear Street recap off til February.

Cat is another of those entries that sort of lurked in the background for me for a long time. I’ve only read it a couple of times but thought this one would peak Wing’s interest after reading some of her comments on my Goosebumps recaps. Although I was originally planning on doing a different book for her birthday with a similar concept, this one grabbed my attention for a reason I will get into during the recap.

This one was sort of weird for me, because I think the main character might seem the most human of the protagonists I’ve read in these books. He’s not entirely likable, but he’s not someone you hate with every fiber of your being.

And as always, watch out for some ableism.

[Wing: I’ve never read this one before, but based on that cover, I’m going to assume it involves cat shapeshifters, which is something I love. Shocking, I’m sure.]

Content: Obviously, some animal harm.

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Posted in Other Recaps

Recap #132: Last Vampire #2: Black Blood by Christopher Pike

Last Vampire 2 Black Blood by Christopher PikeTitle: Last Vampire #2: Black Blood by Christopher Pike

Summary: Believing that she and her partner, Ray, are the last remaining vampires, five-thousand-year-old Alisa is stunned when she learns about a series of brutal murders in the United States that can only be the work of their own kind.

Tagline: The wave of death spread like a plague…

Initial Thoughts

I know I’ve read this one before, but I have no memory of what happens. Apparently, my memory, like the last book, ends in that cliffhanger of whether Alisa will live or die. I mean, I’m assuming she lives, considering there’s still a number of books to go, but I suppose Ray could be the new last vampire. But I doubt it.

Reminder: Last book ended with Sita: breaking her vow to Krishna and making another vampire; blowing up Yaksha, her creator; accidentally getting impaled by a piece of wood; and potentially dying in true peace because she realises she didn’t actually break her vow to Krishna.

ALISA I’M BETTER THAN ALL Y’ALL PERNE ROUND TWO.

Let’s do this.

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Posted in Other Recaps

Recap #131: The Abandoned by Sophie Campbell

Title: The Abandoned aka “Howard, They’re Zombies”

Creator: Sophie Campbell

Summary: Big-hearted volunteer worker by day, unruly rocker by night, Rylie is one of the most-liked residents of the small island-town of Buffalora. When she sets her sights on Naomi, the new girl in town, love is definitely in the air. Unfortunately for Rylie, so is a storm. The kind in which nothing good ever happens… suddenly all the adults die and quickly rise from the dead! These flesh-craving zombies seek out the last remnants of youth and hope for society. With death in the air and love on their minds, Rylie and Naomi must make their way through the vast swamplands to salvation.

Initial Thoughts

For Valentine’s Day I’ve given you all two things – lesbians and zombies, the gifts that keep on giving.

Seriously though, “The Abandoned” was one of many OEL manga comics published by Tokyopop in the 2000s. This was written and illustrated by Sophie Campbell back when she was still going by the name “Ross” and it’s been out of print for a while. It’s a very gory but not too explicit zombie horror tale, one full of genuine despair and apathy. Sophie colors the pages in very drab tones of grey, white, black, and what might be puce or mauve, with the use of red a shocking apparition throughout the landscape.

It features some of the stuff Sophie does very well, gore and plus-sized women. You guys really need to check out her work on IDW’s “Jem and the Holograms” series with Kelly Thompson, it saved comics. She’s exceptional when it comes to variety in body types and sizes. Although since this IS one of her earliest works her some of the characters appear a bit off-model in some panels.  There’s also this one sequence in the beginning that has not aged well at all.

Also, I want to ask everyone NOT to tag or send a link for this to Sophie. I think she’d prefer not to look back on this because it’s so old and was made when she was still using her old name. And from what I’ve read, she does NOT have fond things to say about Tokyopop, which is something of a shared sentiment with a lot of people.

Content Note: References to abuse and sexual assault.

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Posted in Graveyard School recaps

Recap #130: Graveyard School #6: Camp Dracula by Tom B. Stone

Title: Graveyard School #6 – Camp Dracula a.k.a. “The Purple Bear Jamboree”

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

Cover Artist: Barry Jackson

Summary: Camp At Your Own Risk!

Welcome to camp – Camp Dracula, as Jeep Holmes jokingly calls it. [Wing: JEEP.] Jeep may be joking, but he isn’t laughing. He can’t take this weird new summer place! Never mind that the counselors always wear dark glasses and the activities are all at night. What bothers him most are the other campers, a bunch of sickly-looking creeps who like to keep bats in the bunks! Why did his parents send him to this horrific place? Will Jeep make it through the summer without going batty?

Initial Thoughts

And now we get back into the chronological order of things (at least for a little bit), but hey, this is a vampire book, and what goes better with February than vampires?

This is the first book in the series to take place outside of the school and Grove Hill, and the first summer-themed story. I mentioned there were only two camp-related books, and it’s interesting it would involve vampires since they’re nocturnal by nature and camp tales take place mostly during the day. This is also the first to have a protagonist who can be genuinely grating on the reader. It’s admittedly one of the few books I haven’t reread as much.

But you’d be surprised at the use of Dracula references.

[Wing: I love summer camp stories and vampire stories and Dracula references, and that cover is adorable. I’m excited.]

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Posted in Graveyard School recaps

Recap #129: Graveyard School #26: Little School of Horrors by Tom B. Stone, a.k.a. “The Most Popular Ghouls in School”

Title: Graveyard School #26 – Little School of Horrors

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

Cover Artist: Mark Nagata

Tagline: N/A

Summary: It’s The Most Horrifying Time Of Year In Grove Hill – Back-To-School Time!

Back to school.

Ghouls rule. Teachers drool.

Dead things walking are nothing shocking.

Blue is new at Graveyard School. But he knows right away that he’s going to class at Creep Central. Just look at the teachers. The principal. Even the janitor. But worst of all, look at the kid who wants to be Blue’s best friend. With friends like these, who needs enemies?

Welcome to Dead Kid 101.

[Wing: This summary made me laugh. I’m delighted.]

Initial Thoughts

Looking at the cover Wing you can guess why I picked this for your b-day month, and lucky for you this is also one of my favorite books in the series.

What’s weird about it is this book has got some world building shit going on, and the way it reads you’d THINK it would’ve been the first in the series. It gives a much better sense of how big the sixth grade class is, even for a small town, which puts it at odds with the Fear Street Seniors series for how it only focused on a handful of the 12th grade class and then made sporadic, frustrating references to all the OTHER kids in the graduating class.

But this is frustrating for me because this was the third to last in the line, and none of the other kids introduced in this book appeared in “Here Comes Santa Claws” or “The Spider Beside Her.” I can’t help but wonder what Thacker might’ve had planned for this series if #28 wasn’t the last. God knows I still have some notes from way back in high school on ideas I had for stories with these guys.

And we also get a look at racism through the eyes of a kids horror book!

[Wing: I do love the surprise on that cover, thank you! It’s strange that this isn’t the first book in the series, or that the world building here wasn’t included in the first book, at least. Though, I did like the pacing on the first book, and this information might have slowed it down.

No matter what, I’m super excited about this!]

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Posted in Other Recaps

Recap #128: Strange Matter #2: The Midnight Game by Johnny Ray Barnes Jr., and Marty Engle, a.k.a. “Remember the Green Devils”

cover of Strange Matter 2 The Midnight Game by Johnny BarnesTitle: Strange Matter #2 – The Midnight Game

Author: Johnny Ray Barnes Jr.

Cover Artist: ???

Summary: Tyler Webb has been invited to attend a very special football game – a final showdown between two teams from Fairfield’s past. The only problem is, the game is scheduled for midnight and there’s no way Tyler’s parents will let him go. Curiosity gets the better of him and Tyler sneaks out to see the game. Now he’s sitting in the moonlight, waiting for the teams to run out.

But they don’t. They crawl out… from the ground.

Initial Thoughts

I sent Wing the first book in the Strange Matter series as a Christmas gift. I’ve known of the series for years but I only own two books, this one and “Frozen Dinners,” which is book 5. From what I’ve seen online and what I gleamed from the fifth book, it looks like this series had an ongoing storyline spread throughout the different volumes concerning the strange things happening in Fairfield. I’m trying to avoid buying books in the latter half until I’ve read the first ten. Unfortunately, a few books were cancelled, which has me really intrigued and frustrated because I’d really like to know what “Stamped” was gonna be about.

When I told Wing about these two she sounded super excited so I offered to recap this entry for her birthday.

[Wing: Football! Zombie players! How could I resist? I love how Jude always brings new series to Devil’s Elbow, and I’m particularly excited about this one. Can’t wait to read this recap.]

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Posted in Goosebumps Recaps

Recap #127: Goosebumps Series 2000 #17: The Werewolf In The Living Room by R.L. Stine, a.k.a. “Are You There God? It’s Me, Aaron”

Title: Goosebumps Series 2000 #17 – The Werewolf in the Living Room

Author: R.L. Stine

Cover Artist: Tim Jacobus [Wing: That is one of the creepier werewolves I’ve seen in cover art, and that includes on adult horror novels.]

Tagline: Home sweet horror.

Summary:

The creature had the face of a wolf. And the back and chest of a man.

He stared at me with those black, gleaming eyes. He curled back his thick lips. I stared in horror at long, curved fangs.

Then – before I could run – the werewolf leaned back on his haunches.

Raised his head in a fierce howl.

And sank his fangs deep into my skin.

Initial Thoughts

Surprise, Wing! It’s your favorite thing! WEREWOLVES. I know you mentioned reading “The Werewolf of Fever Swamp,” but I decided to go with one of the books you were less likely to have read before. At least, I hope so. [Wing: Good call! I’ve never read this one before, and I am so, so excited about it.]

The Goosebumps 2000 books were Scholastic’s attempt to revitalize the series for the new century, even though they were published three years before the actual millennium. [Wing: … strange.] The books definitely have a tone and feel independent of the original series, but overall were a bit disappointing compared to the first 62 books. They were more heavy on stuff like blood and vomit, and many of them were broken into separate parts. They got two Slappy books, an official sequel to “One Day at Horrorland,” and a spiritual sequel to “Ghost Camp.” Two books, “Bride of the Living Dummy” and “Cry of the Cat” were adapted into TV episodes, and “Invasion of the Body Squeezers” got a follow up under the “Give Yourself Goosebumps” line. The last book in the series, “The Incredible Shrinking Fifth Grader,” was cancelled before it got released, and R.L. Stine re-purposed the script for a separate book. Thankfully, Tim Jacobus sent the Goosebumps wiki the unused but completed cover art.

The 2000 books as a whole have largely been ignored following the revitalization of the franchise, with one or two exceptions. The Body Squeezers, the Haunted Car, and the Graveyard Ghouls were featured in the movie, so the books including the latter two got reprinted in the “Classic Goosebumps” line. Meanwhile, “Creature Teacher” got a sequel in “Goosebumps Most Wanted.”

So why did I choose this for you, Wing? First off, admittedly, it’s a seasonal thing. One winter a couple of years ago I began acquiring more entries in the 2000 line, this one, “Full Moon Fever,” “The Haunted Car,” “Horrors of the Black Ring,” and it sort of, I dunno, I get comfortable reading them during the last week of December and the earlier weeks of January. Beyond that, well, before you walk into this unwarned, there’s plenty of talk about how one of the characters is crazy. I know you won’t like that, but I really think you’re gonna love the implications of the ending.

[Wing: We will see. I am damn excited about the werewolves, though. I’ve never read any of the Series 2000 books.]

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Posted in Other Recaps

Recap #126: The Last Vampire by Christopher Pike

Cover of The Last Vampire by Christopher PikeTitle: The Last Vampire by Christopher Pike

Summary: Alisa Perne is the last vampire. Beautiful and brilliant, she hunts alone, living among humans, living off humans. But someone is stalking her. Someone wants her dead. And Alisa has a choice to make – to keep a long held promise or protect the mortal she seems to be falling for.

Tagline: This time someone is hunting her…

Initial Thoughts

Oh god, here we go. Five years into recapping on Devil’s Elbow, and I’m finally spending an entire year focused on my favourite of the 80s and 90s teen horror authors, Christopher Pike. I’m saving my absolutely favourite books for the end of the year, but first, I’m taking on The Last Vampire series, which is significantly longer now than the first time I read it.

Note: There’s a lot of religion throughout this, particularly centered around Krishna and Vishnu. I do some basic research as I read, but I have very little knowledge here. My guess is that Pike’s taking a ton of liberties. I think that reading this as an adult, it’s going to smack of cultural appropriation, so keep that in mind when you read the book and this recap.

I loved this series growing up, especially the first book, but oh my god, does it get weird. So weird. Complicated and twisty and fun, but weird.

Though I’ve reread a lot of my Pike books often, this is not a series I read more than the first couple books obsessively, so I’m excited to go through the entire thing again.

2018: The Year of Christopher Pike. Let’s do this.

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Posted in Other Recaps

Recap #125: Mermaid Saga Parts 10-11: Mermaid’s Scar by Rumiko Takahashi

Title: Mermaid Saga Chapters 10 & 11 – Mermaid’s Scar

Author/Artist: Rumiko Takahashi

Cover Summary: N/A

Initial Thoughts

For Wing’s birthday I’m recapping the best part of Mermaid Saga by far. I know it’s my favorite, certainly. It gets to showcase how freaking awesome Mana is. [Wing: This month is full of fun recap surprises for me. I’m thrilled!]

This is the second story besides Mermaid’s Forest to be adapted more than once, receiving an OVA in the 90s and included in the TV series from the 2000s. Personally, I feel the OVA is the better of the two adaptions, sporting rather beautiful early 90s anime art.

I only defer to this version when I need commission reference for Mana and Yuta.

I’ve watched the English dub, which used to be on Youtube, but you can still find the original version online somewhere. They still haven’t released it on an official DVD, but luckily I’ve got the complete soundtrack on CD. What shocked me about the dub was learning Yuta’s voice actor was Jason Gray-Stanford, who also voiced Sherlock Holmes in “Sherlock Holmes in the 22nd Century,” and was RANDY DISHER, the dorky police detective, on “Monk.”

This is also one of the bloodiest stories in the series. And, keep in mind, this is one of those stories where we, the readers, know more about what the villain is really up to before the main characters do. Also, a bit of clarification. One character never got a name in the actual story, but the OVA dubbed her “Misa,” so I’ll be referring to her by that name.

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Posted in Nightmare Hall recaps

Recap #124: Nightmare Hall #8: The Experiment by Diane Hoh (Nola Thacker)

cover of Nightmare Hall - The Experiment by Diane HohTitle: Nightmare Hall #8: The Experiment

Summary: Professor Maximillian DeLure. Award-winning poet, scientist, and professor at Salem University. Dark, sexy, attractive…dangerous. Caryl Amberly is excited to be one of the few students specially selected for his new seminar. Until she finds out what his previous students think of him. Everyone says he’s a real killer. And they’re not talking about his exams….

Tagline: None.

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

Initial Thoughts

I’ve been procrastinating when it comes to this recap. We’ve once again got Nola Thacker doing ghost-writing duties, and I’m simply not a fan of her work in this series so far. Possibly in general. Sigh. Here we go.

[Wing: Normally, I try to go for the original cover, but I’ve been dreading this cover, which has a spider in that window frame part. So … have this cover instead. I couldn’t handle seeing the other one over and over. Sorry.]

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Posted in General

Happy 5th Anniversary!

2018 brings the fifth anniversary for Devil’s Elbow. I can’t believe we’ve been recapping here for so long, and that you keep coming along for this ridiculous, terrible, wonderful ride. We’re bringing all the regular series recaps you’ve come to love (or loathe; we certainly have a love-hate relationship with a lot of what we recap), as well as some fun surprises throughout the year.

Keep an eye on this space for a couple of contests with fun prizes, lots of celebratory posts, some special events revisiting old recaps, and a whole lot more.

Thanks for five years of cheesy YA horror fun. You guys are the best part of it by far.