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

Recap #222: Tales for the Midnight Hour by J.B. Stamper Part 1

Tales for the Midnight Hour Original Cover

Tales for the Midnight Hour Original Cover

Tales for the Midnight Hour 1986 Cover

Tales for the Midnight Hour 1986 Cover

Title: Tales for the Midnight Hour

Author: Judith Bauer “J.B.” Stamper

Initial Thoughts

As part of my attempt to start off Year Three on the right foot, I’ll be reviewing one of my favorites of the Point Horror collection. Though this book was originally published back in 1977, which I believe predates the inception of the original Point Horror line. Nevertheless its three follow-up books were published under Point, as were the two reprint collections (which are the copies I own).

Much like “Short & Shivery” these tales were a big inspiration on some of my earliest attempts at fan fiction. I adapted “The Furry Collar” and “The Velvet Ribbon” as two DC Comics fan fics which you can still read online on fanfiction.net and DeviantArt.

The one story I’ve ever read by J.B. Stamper before I got this collection was her short tale in the first “Thirteen” collection. My only real problem with J.B.’s writing is she tends to abuse ellipses too much at the ending of some of the stories, not helped by her blatantly stating the obvious and making it hard to take the final shock seriously. [Wing: Oooh, she’s the predecessor of Dove’s nemesis, R.T. Cusick!]

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Recap #221: Detective Comics #49: Clayface Walks Again!

Detective_Comics_49

Detective Comics 49 Cover

Title: Detective Comics #49 – “Clayface Walks Again!”

Writer: Bill Finger

Penciller: Bob Kane

Inkers: Bob Kane, Jerry Robinson, George Roussos

Letterer: George Roussos

Editor: Whitney Ellsworth

Initial Thoughts

Last year I reviewed Detective Comics #40 as part of my attempt to freshen the air in May since I spent all of April 2018 talking about my best friend’s death in my recaps.

Honestly I’m still not sure it did much to help.

Anyway, I figured it’d make since to review the follow-up story in May 2019.

Detective Comics #40 was the debut of Basil Karlo, the first Batman villain to call himself Clayface. Rather than being a shapeshifter as most people know the later Clayfaces to be, Karlo was a famous horror actor driven over the edge when one of his old movies was being remade and he wasn’t asked to star in it. Donning the guise of Clayface, one of his previous characters, Karlo tried to kill off the cast of the remake but was stopped by Batman and Robin.

I mentioned Karlo has all the earmarks of a prototypical slasher movie killer, so it’s especially fitting the follow-up story feels like a typical slasher sequel. Karlo’s back and out for revenge against the people who thwarted him, Batman and Robin. He also wants to kill Julie Madison, the actress who survived his previous killing spree and thus serves the role of the prototypical Final Girl. Out of all the Batman love interests, Julie’s remained my favorite and it’s disappointing this story was her final appearance in the Golden Age Batman stories.

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Recap #219: The Witching Hour #1

Witching Hour #1 Cover

The Witching Hour #1 Cover by Nick Cardy

Title: The Witching Hour #1, a.k.a. “Anne, this isn’t about you”

Creators: Neal Adams, Pat Boyette, Dick Giordano, Dennis O’Neill, Alex Toth

Cover Artist: Nick Cardy

Summary: During DC’s latest foray into the horror / mystery arena, editor Dick Giordano conjured up a triumverate of witches to host an anthology series produced by some of comics’ biggest names. In this first issue, writer / artist Alex Toth provided a framing sequence (with an epilogue drawn by Neal Adams) that introduced readers to the cronish Mordred, motherly Mildred and beautiful Maiden Cynthia – as well as their bumbling pet zombie, Egor. Each witch then brewed a potent blend of horror and dark humor crafted by Toth, writer Denny O’Neil and artists Pat Boyette and Jack Sparling. It was an effective spell that would entrance a loyal audience long into the next decade.

Initial Thoughts

Wow Jude’s actually writing about DC Comics and it’s NOT incoherent ranting, who’d have guessed?

As part of my attempt to start Year Three off strongly, I’m including a review of my favorite of DC’s old horror anthology comics from the 60s, 70s, and 80s. Well, it’s up there alongside “Dark Mansion of Forbidden Love.”

DC had a whole slew of horror comics, “House of Mystery,” “House of Secrets,” “Tales of the Unexpected,” “Ghost Castle,” “Doorway Into Nightmare,” “Sinister House of Secret Love,” etc. “The Witching Hour” was first published way back in 1969 and ran for 85 issues before the main characters were transplanted to “The Unexpected” upon the book’s cancellation.

“The Witching Hour” stands among one of my favorites due solely to the hosts that narrated its stories. Every, well, most of the issues, had a framing device focusing on three witch sisters, Cynthia, Mildred, and Mordred. The issues would take place at midnight, where the sisters would welcome the reader and try to see which of the three had the most gruesome tale to tell.

I only own about a couple dozen or so issues ranging from most of the first ten to a few sporadic numbers throughout the run. From the handful I own I can clearly see the formulaic rot that set in, when the humorous framing stories were reduced to a one page joke opener that lacked the style and panache of the earliest comics.

The Three Witches In Sandman

Cynthia, Mildred and Mordred in The Sandman

The three witches were later incorporated as part of Neil Gaiman’s “The Sandman,” alongside many of the other horror host characters like Lucien from “Ghost Castle” and the brothers Cain and Abel. Cynthia, Mildred and Mordred were introduced as aspects of the Fates/Furies dubbed “The Three-In-One.” Cynthia was established to be the Maiden of the trinity, while Mildred was the Mother and Mordred (who acknowledges her name’s wrong) is the Crone.

They repeatedly appeared at least once per story arc but in different forms before becoming the antagonistic Kindly Ones in the comic’s penultimate tale.

As of recently, they’ve been popping up in some newer DC works. Cynthia appeared in 2018’s Valentine’s Day anthology as a love interest for DC’s version of the Bride of Frankenstein. The three were later antagonists in a Catwoman/Sylvester and Tweety crossover by Gail Simone and have been bedeviling Harley Quinn in her solo series.

The witches are truly the only reason why “The Witching Hour” remains my top fave of the horror anthologies, and they’ve been especially prominent in some of my DC story ideas. Onto the recap!

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Recap #217: Short And Shivery by Robert D. San Souci – Part 2

GHOUL evening, boils and goops

It’s like if Tim Burton hosted an international buffet

Title: Short & Shivery a.k.a. “The Wide World of Horror”

Author/Editor/Reteller: Robert D. San Souci

Illustrator: Katherine Coville

Summary: Everyone loves a spooky story. Don’t you?

Welcome to a chilling world of hair-raising tales! The thirty stories in this book were gathered from around the world, selected for their ghastly details and terrifying twists. Come inside and meet the young miller’s daughter in “The Robber Bridegroom,” who may have discovered too late that she has been betrothed to a madman; the dancing skeleton who returns from the dead to haunt the friend who betrayed him in life; the Golem, who tires of serving his greedy master and suddenly turns evil; and intriguing characters in stories from the Brothers Grimm, Washington Irving, and other world-famous authors. But before you settle down in your cozy reading chair, check behind you… and keep all the lights on!

Initial Thoughts

Here’s the second of the three installments for the first “Short & Shivery” collection by Robert D. San Souci. Unfortunately Wing we still haven’t reached the werewolves yet, but we DO have a vampire story and one of my favorite monsters of all time, the Nuckelavee.

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Recap #216: Deadtime Stories #17: Faerie Tale by A.G. Cascone

GOT ANY SCABS?! They could be worth gold
Why HELLO, it’s me! The Scab Fairy!

Title: Deadtime Stories #17 – Faerie Tale, a.k.a. “Reject Ridge High”

Author: A.G. Cascone, a.k.a. Annette and Gina Cascone

Cover Artist: Mark Fredrickson

Tagline: This is no tooth fairy!

Summary: Who’s watching while you sleep?

The first time Colin saw the tooth fairy was after he’d lost his first baby tooth.

His parents laughed when he told them. They said it must have been his imagination. Kids never really see the tooth fairy.

But Colin kept seeing her every time he lost a tooth. And even though it was a little spooky to actually see a fairy, he still kind of liked it and felt pretty special.

But now that he’s older, Colin is starting to see other fairies in his room at night. Some of them are pretty scary looking. And they’re starting to take a lot more than baby teeth!

Before he knows it, Colin finds himself stuck in a truly grim fairy tale. And he doesn’t have much time to figure out how to escape.

Initial Thoughts

This month for Point Horror I’ve planned out a small fairy tale theme for my recaps. I decided on this months ago when I realized this month’s “Graveyard School” would be “Jack and the Beanstalker.” Well, even though with all the delays I’ve stuck to my decision. I never really get to talk about my interest in fairy tales so I saw this as a fun change of pace and a good way to start the new year.

“Faerie Tale” is the last of the Deadtime Stories series and it’s one of the more difficult entries to find. People used to charge ridiculous prices for it on Amazon, but I got lucky last summer and found a cheap copy. Now I’m sure you all remember how awful “Grandpa’s Monster Movies” was, but this book is a delight. In fact it’s one of the funniest YA horror books I’ve ever read. I’m sure part of that comes from my fascination with fairy tales, yet I won’t spoil all that happens.

Suffice to say though, the summaries aren’t exactly truthful over what happens in this book. I was always under the impression “Faerie Tale” was about a kid who could see fairies all his life, and as he got older they started to turn more malevolent and creepy looking. That’s not what happens at ALL.

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Recap #212: Goosebumps Series 2000 #22: Full Moon Fever by R.L. Stine

Dee Wallace Stone to the rescue!
The Howling 2000

Title: Goosebumps Series 2000 #22 – Full Moon Fever, a.k.a. “The Worst Goosebumps Ever 2000” [Wing: Spoilers: LIES AND DAMN LIES IT’S GREAT.]

Author: R.L. Stine

Cover Artist: Tim Jacobus

Tagline: Hairy Halloween!

Summary: The blankets. The sheets. They were shredded.

Claws to bits.

Grunting, my chest heaving up and down. Raspy breaths escaping from my open mouth, I staggered across the bedroom to my mirror.

And stared at even more horror.

Tufts of short black fur grew from the back of my neck. Monstrous and ugly…

Initial Thoughts

So I was having a lot of trouble deciding what book to pick for this fairy tale theme I decided on. “Legend of the Lost Legend” involved folk tales, “Beware, the Snowman” a nursery rhyme (sort of), and “A Night In Terror Tower” was about a prince and princess. What made me decide to recap “Full Moon Fever” is because it involves what might be considered a folk tale or a ghost story, it’s another entry most people don’t talk about, I had a commission from a friend I wanted to show off, AND I knew Wing would enjoy more werewolves.

Well, they’re sort of werewolves.

I should mention this book’s reputation of being the worst of the Goosebumps 2000 books, which already doesn’t have a stellar rep. In fact, this is essentially considered a rehash of “Chicken Chicken” which is considered by many to be THE worst Goosebumps book. But hey, I went with it because of my seasonal nostalgia for some of the 2000 books, the same reason I recapped “The Werewolf in the Living Room” last year.

[Wing: That is the weirdest werewolf illustration I’ve ever seen, so I hope they are only sort of werewolves. That looks more like were … I don’t even know what. Some sort of weremarsupial?

Also, huge thanks to Dove who handled our recent site hack. She’s a rock star.]

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Recap #210: Rumic World: The Laughing Target by Rumiko Takahashi

Rumic World Cover
And you thought Glenn Close was bad

Title: The Laughing Target, a.k.a. “Yandere Saga”

Writer/Artist: Rumiko Takahashi

Summary: Yuzuru was an average teenager who had almost forgotten that he was betrothed to Azusa when he was only 6! Now arriving to claim what she feels is rightfully hers, only Satomi (Yuzuru’s current girl friend) stands in her way… and with the mysterious and frightening powers that Azusa brings, Satomi won’t stand in her way for long!

Initial Thoughts

(TW: Sexual Assault)

Just because “Mermaid Saga” is over doesn’t mean I’m done with Rumiko Takahashi, which is why I’ve picked another of her earlier horror works for February and Valentine’s Day.

Surprisingly there isn't much laughing
God Takahashi’s men all look alike but her artwork is still GORGEOUS

“Laughing Target” is a one-shot story from 1983, not as well known as her other works, but still a prominent example of her solo stories. It was one of the most highly promoted of the “Rumic World” banner, and one of the three solo tales adapted into an OVA.

Please keep in mind I have NO idea how I’m able to type the following information with a straight face, as this is the first time I’ve ever had to use the word “Yandere.” God I’m a nerd.

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Recap #203: Goosebumps #61: I Live In Your Basement! by R.L. Stine

It’s Very David Lynch

Title: Goosebumps #61 – I Live In Your Basement! a.k.a. “Egg Yolkeo’s Revenge”

Author: R.L. Stine

Cover Artist: Tim Jacobus

Tagline: Talk about a MONSTER nightmare!

Summary: He’s Got The Basement Blues!

“Don’t do this! Watch out for that!” Marco’s mom thinks the whole world is a danger zone. She won’t even let Marco play softball.

But Marco just wants to have fun. So he sneaks off to a game. And that’s when it happens. He gets hit in the head with a baseball bat.

Now things are getting really fuzzy. Really scary. Because when Marco gets home he gets the strangest call. From someone who says he lives in Marco’s basement…

Initial Thoughts

I promised someone on tumblr I would do a recap of this book come November. I just hope they’re still on the site after tumblr deleted all those blogs. INCLUDING MINE.

(UPDATE: My blog has been restored, although who knows what’ll happen after December 17th.)

This is one of most diverse entries in the original series, and serves as the penultimate volume before #62 and the end of the run. Troy Steele on “Blogger Beware” claimed this, alongside the two that preceded it (Werewolf Skin, The Haunted School) felt like last minute strokes of genius for Stine. And I agree with him.

Of course, I kind of wish Stine had saved some of that genius for “Monster Blood IV” which is such a clusterfuck.

“I Live In Your Basement” is bizarre, confusing, and rather endearing. It depends upon a more primal fear yet at the same time a rather unexpected fear. This idea that there is a total stranger living inside your home but you have no way to prove it. Coupled with the fact the main character is having a hard time keeping track of what’s real and what’s not due to the aforementioned stranger and his head injury.

BUT DON’T WORRY this isn’t a split personality thing.

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Recap #202: Graveyard School #14: The Tragic School Bus by Tom B. Stone

Graveyard School #14 Cover

The Magic School Bus Has A Midlife Crisis

Title: Graveyard School #14 – The Tragic School Bus, a.k.a. “Skip Wolfson in: ‘Screaming Yellow Honkers’”

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

Cover Artist: Cam DeLeon

Summary: The Next Stop May Be Skip’s Last…

Skip Wolfson can’t believe he almost missed the bus again! One more late morning and he’ll be in big trouble at Graveyard School. But as he walks down the aisle to find a seat, something tells Skip that he got on the wrong bus. The unbelievably wrong bus. Is it because the driver looks like a skeleton? Or is it that the other passengers seem to have been dug up out of a grave? Skip finds himself wishing for detention instead. Anything but a one-way trip to the terminal of the undead!

Initial Thoughts

I referenced this book last year in my recap of “Boo Year’s Eve” when Jordie Flanders brings up Skip’s fear of buses. And now has come the day when we learn how that fear started.

Not one of my favorite books but I’m sure Wing’s gonna love it because it features the return of Skip Wolfson as the protagonist! And to that end, because this has one of the funniest scenes in the entire series, I’ve prepared a little something extra as a gift to Point Horror.

The amazing thing about this book is that it can be viewed as a follow-up to “Little Pet Werewolf” without being a direct sequel. Thacker works in sly nods to Skip’s previous role as the main character without blatantly spoiling the last book.

[Wing: SKIP! I love you, Skip!]

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Recap #201: Fear Street #17: The Best Friend by R.L. Stine

A gift from Becka's BBFF

Maybe she can get store credit?

Title: Fear Street #17 – The Best Friend, a.k.a “Baby’s First Fear Street”

Author: R.L. Stine

Cover Artist: Bill Schmidt

Tagline: Sometimes friendship can be murder….

Summary: Best friends… to the end!

Who is Honey Perkins? She’s been telling everyone in Shadyside that she’s Becka Norwood’s best friend. But Becka’s sure she’s never met Honey before.

Honey systematically moves in on Becka’s life, copying her in every way. But when Becka presumes to have more than one “best friend,” the horrible accidents begin.

Does Honey just want a friend? Becka wonders. Or does she want more – much more!

Initial Thoughts

This is where it all began for me. I remember like it was yesterday. Me, a young child, with my mom and Nana in K-Mart looking at the book section. When suddenly I saw a small paperback with the image of a teenage girl horrified by a Christmas present in her lap. Upon closer inspection, I saw the present had a knife sticking out of it.

Even though I didn’t know what the title was, the memory of that cover stuck with me for a while. It was a couple of years later when I learned I was looking at “The Best Friend” in R.L. Stine’s teen series, “Fear Street.” I had no idea at the time Stine wrote this book, so it was an amazing coincidence that the book I remembered was also written by the guy who wrote “Goosebumps.”

Coincidence? Or maybe fate?

As you can guess, people have described this book as “Single White Female on Fear Street.” Of course I’ve never seen the movie myself.

Re-reading this book for the first time in years, I found myself feeling genuinely unsettled and disturbed by what went on. I knew of course the plot and what happened, but not from repeated re-reads. For some reason, the reviews I’ve seen of this book have derided Becka, the main character, as annoying and a bad friend. Honestly, I don’t see it. Becka’s probably one of the biggest victims in the entire franchise because of what Honey Perkins does to her life in this story.

Best BEST friends

Becka Norwood and Honey Perkins by Nanihoo – Nanihoo has been an absolute joy to commission this past year. She’s done numerous design commissions and helped me flesh out one of my comic ideas farther then I’ve ever gone in years

[Wing: That is such a fun piece of art!]

Oh and FYI, when R.L. Stine signed my copy last year, he told me everyone HATED the ending when it came out. Which probably explains how “The Best Friend 2” happened.

[Wing: Damn it, Stine, stick to your guns!]

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