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

Recap #181: Deadtime Stories #10: Grandpa’s Monster Movies by A.G. Cascone

Original Cover

DOWN IN FRONT

Re-release cover

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!

Initial Thoughts

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.”

Terror in Tiny Town by Tim Jacobus

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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Recap #176: Goosebumps #25: Attack of the Mutant by R.L. Stine

Original cover

You can tell this one’s about comics because the proportions on that cover are AWFUL

I wish I knew who the Hell did the British covers

Title: Goosebumps #25 – Attack of the Mutant, a.k.a. “Crisis of Infinite Mutants”

Author: R.L. Stine

Cover Artist: Tim Jacobus (U.S.), ???? (U.K.)

Tagline: He’s no superhero. He’s a supervillain!

Summary: Read at your own risk…

Skipper Matthews has an awesome comic book collection. His favorite one is called The Masked Mutant. It’s about an evil supervillain who’s out to rule the universe.

Skipper can’t get enough of The Mutant. Until one day he gets lost in a strange part of town. And finds a building that looks exactly like The Mutant’s secret headquarters. A building that appears and disappears.

Has Skipper read one too many comic books? Or does The Masked Mutant really live in Riverview Falls?

Initial Thoughts

Guys, again I have to apologize for screwing up the schedule. That virus I contracted at the beginning of July completely threw off my schedule for writing alongside all the hours I’ve put in at work. This was supposed to cap off July’s “Comic Con” theme with my recaps, and I hope the lateness doesn’t mess up my recaps for August.

Penguins! Gangsters! Villains! Whatever the fuck that thing with the horns is!

“Attack of the Mutant” is one of the most popular of the first 62 books. During the original run it got a two-episode adaptation (featuring the legendary Adam West) plus a computer game that delved more into the Masked Mutant’s fictional realm. Unfortunately, the character’s been totally neglected ever since the “Goosebumps Horrorland” reboot and has been replaced by two other “Comic villain come to life” characters, the annoying Dr. Maniac (whose first appearance wasn’t so bad but the way he got overused pissed me off) and the Ooze (who only had one appearance).

For a TV show with questionable acting and effects, their portrayal of comics in the 90s is perfect down to every detail

Skipper, the main character, pisses me off because he is SUCH a 90s comic snob, and it is people like him who ruined comics for everybody. However, I will say the TV show did such a good job at capturing his character it’s impossible not to imagine him wearing a baseball hat even if it’s not mentioned in the book. Watch as I pepper the recap with as many of comic references as I can.

Oh and apparently Stine hates “Archie” comics for some reason.

[Wing: Because Stine is terrible sometimes.]

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Recap #175: Sweet Sixteen by Francesca Jeffries

Sweet Sixteen by Francesca Jeffries

Sweet Sixteen by Francesca Jeffries

Title: Sweet Sixteen by Francesca Jeffries

Summary: Leslie can’t wait to turn sixteen. She’s planning a huge birthday Party. Everyone’s invited. Her gorgeous boyfriend, Rick. Her best friend, Deborah. Her cousin, Trish. It’s going to be the biggest bash ever. [Wing: That … that is a list of three people. THREE.]

But out of the blue, weird things start happening. Scary things. She nearly gets knocked down by a runaway car. People start getting hurt. It seems like someone doesn’t want Leslie to make it to sweet sixteen.

But a few little accidents won’t scare Leslie. She is going to have her party. Even if it kills her…

Tagline: Sweet sixteen and never been…killed

Initial Thoughts

Hi guys! How’ve you been? I’ve been great, lots of exciting stuff happening (to any American readers with Arthritis you may see my face advertising your medication very soon [Wing: Well that’s interesting!]), but I’m so happy to be back doing a recap which I hope y’all enjoy!

As a child I really liked this book and really wanted a huge sweet sixteen….I’m going to be honest, while reading this book I kept trying to remember what I did for my sixteenth and I have absolutely no memory of even turning 16. I think I went for a meal with my friends? Or we snuck out and went clubbing? But I did that a lot so it wasn’t a sixteen thing, it was more like a Saturday thing. I remember when I turned 13 I went to the cinemas with a bunch of friends and my mum. In my family, it was more of a celebration to turn eighteen or twenty-one. I definitely remember my twenty-first, I don’t remember my eighteenth.

I may need to see someone…..

Anyway I did enjoy this book, it wasn’t as awesome as I remember but I didn’t hate it (Side eyes Halloween 2) The ableism was annoying as hell but there wasn’t a lot of it and Leslie was a solid character who was easy to empathise with.

[Wing: Aaaah, Sweet Sixteen. Mine was a party, but it was in that weird time where I wasn’t quite out of the church cult yet but I was involved with decidedly non-church-cult-friendly people like Ostrich, so the party was mostly church cult people (surprisingly enough, because church cult didn’t believe in celebrating birthdays, though it had loosened up a bit by then), but then later on there was drinking. Fun times.]

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Recap #171: Confessions of a Teenage Vampire: The Turning by West and Ellis

The Turning Cover

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.

Initial Thoughts

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.

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Recap #165: Fear Street Super Chiller #12: High Tide by R.L. Stine

Fear Street: High Tide

Damn Adam is FOYNE. I mean I don’t usually go for muscles but woof

Title: Fear Street Super Chiller #12 – High Tide, a.k.a. “Wave Race: Blood Storm”

Author: R.L. Stine

Cover Artist: Bill Schmidt

Tagline: A lifeguard’s job can be murder…

Summary: Blood on the water…

Adam Malfitano still has nightmares about the night his girlfriend, Mitzi, died. He sees the blood. He sees her in the water. He is a lifeguard, and he can’t save her. He wakes up screaming.

Even worse, he has begun to see Mitzi while he is awake. He knows it is impossible… but she looks so real. He can see her face decaying. What does she want from him? Why won’t she leave him alone? He tried to save her – doesn’t she know that?

Initial Thoughts

IT’S SUMMERTIME AND YOU KNOW WHAT THAT MEANS GONNA HEAD DOWN TO THE BEACH GONNA DO SOME BEACHY THIIIIIIIIII-

Gaaah!

I, I’m so sorry for that.

Anyway, for the first day of summer I proposed doing a recap for one of the summertime Fear Street novels. I picked “High Tide” because I’ve re-read this one a few more times than the other Super Chiller books, but apparently my memory was shoddy because WOW. The narration is shared by two characters in this book and one of them is about as frustrating as Darryl Hoode from the “Fear Hall” books. Had I remembered him I would’ve suggested something else, but I’d already re-read the book for the recap. And I’ll be honest, the big fight scene at the end is fucking ridiculous and amazing.

And as a special note, for the first time ever I will be using the phrase “The Muffin Man,” a time-honored Point Horror tradition, to refer to a character in an incredibly frustrating segment since they’re never referred to by name.

[Wing: Happy summer! Happy birthday, Sister Canary! Happy Needlessly Dramatic Cliffhanger Chapter Endings. (I assume, I haven’t read it yet at this point.]

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Recap #142: Driver’s Dead by Peter Lerangis

Title: Driver’s Dead by Peter Lerangis

The Author:

A rather prolific author, Peter Lerangis has been writing for decades, although if you go to his website the farthest back you’ll find is his The Watchers series. No mention of his Point Horror writing that I can find. Seriously. Not even his Wiki page goes beyond his Watchers series. Don’t worry. I believe I’ve found them. Titles include DRIVER’S DEAD, THE YEARBOOK, and X-ISLE. Seems like he doesn’t want the taint, maybe? Or it’s just that his various other series have done so well there’s no need to put that retail work on his resume any longer. [Wing: Those the books I’ve found by him, too (with X-Isle being a two book series). He also ghostwrote some of the Baby-Sitters Club books.]

Anyway, he has a weird thing for the Vietnam War in this book, and I don’t know why. The premise seems to hinge on a “crazy” Vietnam vet and one of the characters being a refugee from the area and trying to find his parents. It’s just the date seems really off. The book was published in 1994. That’s a big, lingering gap for Vietnam relevance. It was just weird. It didn’t necessarily seem forced, but the timing was off enough that it really stood out.

Also every. Single. Chapter. Ends on a cliffhanger. All of them.

The Blurb:

Nightmare – dead ahead.

Kristen’s not a very good driver. And the driver’s ed classes aren’t helping. No matter how hard she tries, she just can’t get the hang of being behind the wheel.

Rob’s a very good driver. And he wants to give Kirsten a few tips on how to improve her driving. But after the first session, Rob turns up missing.

Kirsten is beginning to realize that this class may be a little more than she bargained for. A class that may drive her crazy – or to death.

#

That is . . . Really bad. One, it’s vaguely relevant to the plot. It just leaves out a whole shit ton of applicable details like Rob being a shitbag, the fact that he doesn’t turn up missing, but dead, and the story actually doesn’t center around the class itself. Driver’s ed precipitates a lot of the events, but the class is really more of a passing thing. The contest is really the driving force behind this (pun intended), along with, you know. Being haunted by a dead kid that’s screwing with her head.

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Recap #140: Nightmare Hall #10: Sorority Sister by Diane Hoh

Diane Hoh Nightmare Hall 7: Sorority SisterTitle: Nightmare Hall #10: Sorority Sister by Diane Hoh

Summary: When Maxie McKeon pledges Omega Phi Delta, she figures she’s got it made. She loves her new sisters. And everyone knows Omegas throw the best parties and go out with the cutest guys. But someone on campus isn’t crazy about the sorority. That person is just, well, crazy. And he – or she – is determined to destroy the house, and everyone in it. Joining Omega won’t change Maxie’s life. It will just shorten it.

Mental health: with tact and sensitivity: 1 point. Right in the back cover synopsis! Although, to be fair, Hoh didn’t write the synopsis.

Tagline: None.

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

Initial Thoughts

I don’t remember ever disliking a Diane Hoh book, but Deadly Attraction and The Wish in this series have shown me they’re occasionally not as great as I recall (albeit a lot better than most of the YA thrillers at the time). This book has the misfortune of coming after The Night Walker, a tight, taut, complex little humdinger of a thriller that I could barely find fault with. So it has a lot to live up to. But I’m always optimistic when it comes to Hoh (unlike Nola Thacker), and I do have memories of this at least being fun. Note: I have no knowledge of how fraternities and sororities work, because we don’t have them in Australia. Any idea I have is based solely on books and B-grade movies.

[Wing: That cover makes me think of Dawn Schafer and Abby Stevenson from the Baby-Sitters Club, which cracks me up. I’d not read this one before, so had no nostalgic thoughts going into it, but I was a part of a music fraternity for awhile at university (yes, I said fraternity), but it wasn’t a social Greek organisation, and I assume much different than whatever we have going on here.]

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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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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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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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