DOWN IN FRONT
When you find your dad’s old porn stash and realize you’re following the plot
Title: Deadtime Stories #10 – Grandpa’s Monster Movies, a.k.a. “A Nightmare on Green Acres”
Author: A.G. Cascone, a.k.a. Annette and Gina Cascone
Cover Artist: ???
Tagline: The midnight show is a scream.
Summary: Home movies can be a horror!
C.T. and his cousin Lea are staying at their grandparents’ old farmhouse. It’s Grandpa’s seventieth birthday, and everyone’s celebrating with a big family reunion. All the weird relatives are here, and all they seem to want to talk about are “the good old days.”
C.T. and Lea think the “good old days” are pretty boring – until they find some home movies hidden away in the attic, movies from when their grandfather was just a boy.
The home movies give them a piece of family history that their relatives never talked about.
It seems that horses, cows, pigs, and chickens aren’t the only creatures Grandpa’s been taking care of on the farm. And Uncle Ernie isn’t the only one at the family reunion whose back is covered with hair. [Wing: WEREWOLF?!]
C.T. and Lea discover there’s a monster among them – and this creature is dying to eat a lot more than the birthday cake!
It’s my grandfather’s birthday this month so I felt this would be an appropriate book to recap. Believe me, I wish I’d chosen something else because of all the hillbilly jokes in this one.
“Deadtime Stories” was written by sisters Annette and Gina Cascone under a shared pen name. It was another series where most of the entries were independent of the other, save for the two “Tiny Town” books which inexplicably featured an identical knock-off of Chucky the Killer Doll named “Hurley the Hobo.”
What the hell, Jacobus?
Surprisingly, Nickelodeon produced a short TV adaptation a decade after the original series ended, which of course led to several books being reprinted with new covers. The episodes always featured a framing story of a babysitter narrating the books to the two little kids she was watching, and them always screaming when she gets to the twist ending.
[Wing: That is a serious Chucky knock-off.]
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Blob Loves Thing, Pass It On
Title: Graveyard School #10 – There’s a Ghost in the Boys’ Bathroom, a.k.a. “Okay seriously, who the fuck is watching the door? How did a ghost get in here?”
Author: Tom B. Stone, a.k.a. Nola Thacker, a.k.a. D.E. Athkins
Cover Artist: Cam DeLeon
Summary: Is Graveyard School Going Down The Drain?
Toilets exploding! Paper towels floating in midair! Disappearing soap! There’s no doubt Graveyard School is haunted. But why did this ghost choose the boys’ bathroom, of all places? A few determined students are ready for a ghost hunt? Can they flush it out?
This. This is where it all began for me. A chance purchase at a grade school book sale that evolved into devotion to one of the best and grossly underrated horror series of all time.
For most of the last couple of decades I only put this book in a special place because it was the first I acquired, even though it wasn’t really my favorite. I used to think Alex, the main character, was one of the blander protagonists. However, re-reads over the years have changed my opinion and this is one of the most action packed entries I can think of. And I’m impressed by how much Alex is willing to buckle down when other people are in danger.
[Wing: This series is a blast, and I can’t believe I missed it growing up.]
HELLO. HEL-LO. COME INTO MY HOME. I WILL NOT HURT YOU. YOU ARE SAFE HERE.
Title: Goosebumps #33 – The Horror at Camp Jellyjam, a.k.a. “R.L. <3’s H.P.”
Author: R.L. Stine
Cover Artist: Tim Jacobus
Tagline: Tennis… canoeing… monsters, anyone?
Summary: Sometimes, Winning Is Everything!
Swimming, basketball, roller hockey, King Jellyjam’s Sports Camp has it all. Too bad Wendy isn’t a sports freak like her brother, Elliot. But how excited can you get about softball? It’s just a game, right?
Because Camp Jellyjam is no ordinary sports camp. And Wendy’s about to find out why. Why the counselors seem a little too happy. Why they’re a little too obsessed with winning. And why the ground is always rumbling late at night…
Since it’s now summertime I wanted to surprise everyone with one of the legendary summer camp Goosebumps books. But I couldn’t decide which to choose from. I’d already recapped “Ghost Camp” last year on my birthday, but I decided to go with one of the classic books since I reviewed a 2000 book earlier this summer.
This is one of the most bizarre books from the first 62, and looking back on it as an adult I’ve come to realize this is probably R.L. Stine’s attempt at doing an H.P. Lovecraft-style tale, but for reasons I’ll have to explain in the Final Thoughts. Unfortunately, the big twist in this story has been spoiled numerous times by the various international additions’ covers and the Classic Goosebumps reprint. Even the Goosebumps Graphix adaption (drawn by the legendary Kyle Baker), has the twist spoiled by the cover.
[Wing: Stine doing Lovecraft? I’M SOLD.]
She’s just a vampire girl, living in an ordinary world
Title: Confessions of a Teenage Vampire #1 – The Turning
Writer: Terry West
Penciller: Steve Ellis
Inkers: Rich Perrota and Ravil Lopez
Letterer: Fred Van Lente
Colorist: Michelle Wulf and Ryan Dunlavey
Summary: I used to be a pretty average teenager. True, I didn’t haprves tons of friends, and I liked studying history, but I was basically not very unusual.
But that all changed when I met Phillip Lemachard. You see, Phillip is not like the rest of the kids in my high school. He’s not like anyone I know, in fact. When Phillip tells stories about history, it sounds as if he was really there. And he has this skin condition that keeps him indoors during daylight.
Now I’m beginning to change, too. And these changes are, well, really unusual.
Here’s a special little treat from a story I haven’t read since middle school. This is the first of a two-part, stillborn series of YA horror graphic novels published by Scholastic in the late 90s. It definitely shows in both the setting (the characters mention “Surfing the net”) and the artwork (it’s got that high-waisted, long thigh Rob Liefeld/Art Adams look to it).
I thought it’d be fun to pull up this old jewel for Comic Con month, and I’m planning on reviewing the second book in October for Halloweenus.
He’s still not as scary as Michael Keaton
Title: Graveyard School #9 – The Abominable Snow Monster, a.k.a. “Where’s Global Warming When You Need It?”
Cover Artist: Came DeLeon
Summary: There Must Have Been Some Magic…
Kyle’s convinced – he’s created a monster! But what else is there to do when Grove Hill gets hit with thirteen snow storms?
Now his sinister snowman is on the loose, and Kyle has to figure out a way to melt him down. If Kyle fails, the snow monster is sure to go on a rampage – and he won’t be a jolly happy soul!
Nothing puts you in the mood for summer than a nice story about a killer snowman. It’s interesting to me that Kyle Chilton would only be the main character in two books that are both about winter, but the placement is odd because I have to believe this takes place AFTER “Here Comes Santa Claws.” The book explicitly ends during the last few days of winter when spring is around the corner. For some reason, online bookstores like Amazon made it sound like “Here Comes Santa Claws” was a sequel to this book, even though it’s NOT. There’s mention of a great aunt’s funeral, but it definitely didn’t sound like Mab’s.
So take your mind off the July weather by imagining all the trimmings of winter. Roaring fires in the hearth, delicious mugs of piping hot chocolate, thick wool socks on your feet, plush and cuddly quilts and comforters to keep you nice and toasty, and the sound of hot radiator steam fogging your windows.
[Wing: You son of a bitch.]
Title: Mermaid’s Saga Parts 13-14 – Mermaid’s Gaze
Author/Artist: Rumiko Takahashi
We’ve come to one of my favorites in the series, but it’s sad because this story’s never gotten an animated adaption.
We’ll also be visiting another twisted sibling dynamic like the Kannagi Sisters from “Mermaid’s Forest,” but this goes much differently than you’d think.
There is, however, talk of suicide in this.
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.]
Evil twins, Wing and Dove, and their friends recap Point Horror and other teen genre fiction.
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