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

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.]

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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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Recap #75: The Band by Carmen Adams

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

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

The Author

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

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

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

For now, let’s get into THE BAND.

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

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

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

Cover Artist: Barry Jackson

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

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

Initial Thoughts

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

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

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Recap #67: Nightmare Hall #1: The Silent Scream by Diane Hoh

Silent Scream book cover, shows a window into a dorm room with a girl's body on the floorTitle: Nightmare Hall #1: The Silent Scream

Summary: Jess is eager to start college – until she arrives at her off-campus dorm. She can see why everyone calls it Nightmare Hall. Especially when she learns the dark secrets hidden within the house. A girl named Giselle hanged herself there. In Jess’s room.  But was it really suicide? Or was Giselle murdered? Echoing through the house, Jess can still hear the sound of Giselle’s last scream….

Tagline: There isn’t one! The early Nightmare Hall books had one of those covers with a window, and you could open the front to see the bigger picture behind the window. Groovy! In the intervening 24 years, however, the window frames have broken off my copies! [Wing: The window covers remain some of my favorite covers of any book. It’s such a simple idea, and yet it charms me to no end. Only one of my cover windows broke, I think, but I’m always afraid the others will too.]

Notes: I will now refer to the bad guy as “Muffin Man” because of The Mall. Could still be either male or female, however. And heads up – I still remembered going into this who the killer was. [Wing: I don’t! This is awesome.]

Initial Thoughts

I have very fond memories of this series. I actually still remember reading this first entry, for the first time, back in 1993, at home on the weekend with the basketball on TV in the backgroud. Diane Hoh is also my favourite Point Horror author, so there are a lot of ticks in the plus box for this one. Strangely, it was one of only a few books actually set at Nightingale Hall – the rest just took place at Salem University. There were 29 books in all. Although all were credited to Hoh, she only wrote 22 of them – which is still a mighty effort!

[Wing: This was not my first Nightmare Hall, which means by the time I came back to it, I was shocked that it was actually set at Nightingale Hall. Most of the other books only reference it.]

(Podcast episode)

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Recap #65: The Hitchhiker by R. L. Stine

The Hitchhiker by R L Stine book cover, right hand with thumb raised up in front of two headlightsTitle: The Hitchhiker by R. L. Stine 

Summary: He wants a ride. She wants a thrill. So, in spite of her best friend’s arguments, Christina stops to pick up the handsome hitchhiker. He’s everything she thought he’d be. And more. Much, much, more. Enough to thrill Christina and Terri… to death.

Tagline: Don’t stop now

Note: As Dove requested, I’ve updated my template, because we now apparently call the Bad Guys Muffin Man. Hey, it makes as much sense as most Point Horrors.

Initial Thoughts

I don’t remember ever reading this one before, but I love road trips and road horror and hate the torture porn that now comes with this type of story. We’ll see where Stine falls in that spectrum. I don’t have high hopes, considering our feud.

(Here’s the podcast episode for this book.)

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Recap #47: Halloween Night by R. L. Stine

Halloween Night I by R. L. Stine

Halloween Night I by R. L. Stine

Title: Halloween Night by R. L. Stine

Summary: Brenda hates her cousin, Halley, and she’s not the only one. Halley shouldn’t go around stealing other people boyfriends, it could get her into trouble.

Big trouble…

Brenda is determined to have her revenge – the perfect finale to her Halloween party She’s going to stop Halley’s evil games once and for all, and give her just what she deserves… Come party time, Halley’s in for a nasty surprise…

But does Brenda really hate Halley that much? Surely she only having a little Halloween fun… isn’t she?

Tagline: This party is a killer…

Note: As Dove requested, I’ve updated my template, because we now apparently call the Bad Guys Muffin Man. Hey, it makes as much sense as most Point Horrors.

Initial Thoughts:

I’m pretty sure I read this back in the 90s because the US cover looks familiar (and is much better than the UK cover), but I have absolutely no memory of the characters or what happens, so it will be like I’m reading it anew. I love Halloween, I love horror, and I feud with R. L. Stine. What could possibly go wrong?

Happy Halloween, guys!

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Recap #46: The Claw by Carmen Adams

The Claw by Carmen Adams

The Claw by Carmen Adams

Title: The Claw by Carmen Adams

Summary: The mark of death…

Kelly is excited about her summer job at the local zoo – even after the threatening phone calls warning her away.

Nothing can dampen Kelly’s resolve to work with animals.

But wild animals can be very dangerous and someone has left the door to the black leopard’s cage open. Who could be that careless… or that malicious? As the leopard leaves a trail of terror all over town, Kelly soon realizes that the bloody claw marks are leading straight to her…

Tagline: The mark of death…

Note: As Dove requested, I’ve updated my template, because we now apparently call the Bad Guys Muffin Man. Hey, it makes as much sense as most Point Horrors.

Initial Thoughts

I’ve never read this one before, but it’s right up my alley. (Creature feature, potential shapeshifters, man-eating animals — I love them all.) I am already entertained by the fact that, per the summary, no one can catch a rogue black leopard. Come on, people! What kind of zoo are you?

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Recap #33: The Waitress by Sinclair Smith

The Waitress by Sinclair Smith

The Waitress by Sinclair Smith

Title: The Waitress by Sinclair Smith

Summary: The food is great. The service is deadly. Dying for a good meal? Come on over to the Dog House, where Paula works after school. It’s a great place to meet friends – if they are still alive. At the Dog House accidents can happen, and they often do. You could wind up with more than just an upset stomach. You might just wind up dead. Of course, when things go wrong everybody always blames the waitress. Now Paula’s first job might be her last.

Tagline: The customer is always … wrong. Dead wrong.

Note: As Dove requested, I’ve updated my template, because we now apparently call the Bad Guy the Muffin Man. Hey, it makes as much sense as most Point Horrors.

Initial Thoughts:

That is very clearly ketchup smeared on the plate, not blood. The scariest thing on this cover is the spilled salt. Salt is gross.

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Recap #28: The Baby-Sitter III by R.L. Stine

The Baby-Sitter III by R. L. Stine

The Baby-Sitter III by R. L. Stine

Title: The Baby-Sitter III by R. L. Stine

Summary: The third in R L Stine’s terrifying BABY-SITTER trilogy

Bad Company…

Jenny is desperate to forget Mr Hagen – the maniac who terrorized baby-sitters, including her.

Even when she goes to stay with her cousin Debra for the summer, she is still plagued by the same nightmares. Because Debra is a baby-sitter too, and now she’s getting terrifying phone calls, just like the ones Jenny used to get…

“Hi Babes. I’m back. Company’s coming…”

But Mr Hagen’s dead now, isn’t he…?

Tagline: He still wants her… alive or dead.

Note: As Dove requested, I’ve updated my template, because we now apparently call the Bad Guys Muffin Man. Hey, it makes as much sense as most Point Horrors.

The Baby-Sitter III by R L Stine - Scan by Mimi

The Baby-Sitter III by R L Stine – Scan by Mimi

Initial Thoughts: I’ve never read it before, but based on book one and book two, I am in for a miserable ride. Thank fuck you all are strapped in next to me, and we’re speeding too fast down this twisty road, at night, in the rain, for you to be able to leap free.

… That metaphor might have gotten away from me, but you won’t.

(Oh dear god, this feud is breaking my brain. Damn you, Stine. Damn you!)

[Dove: My initial thoughts? Wing is going to explode and you guys will see the resulting mushroom cloud, no matter where you are in the universe.

Also: Who the buggery puts a bassinet right behind the front door?]

[Wing: Surely that’s supposed to be the door into the baby’s room?]

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