Posted in Nightmare Hall recaps

Recap #103: Nightmare Hall #6: Guilty by Diane Hoh

book cover with window looking into white girl in blue bathing suit drowning in waterTitle: Nightmare Hall #6: Guilty by Diane Hoh

Summary: Katie Sullivan has everything – nice roommate, cool friends, and a great guy. Until the day she and her boyfriend are out on the river and their canoe overturns. She survives. He doesn’t. Katie can’t stop thinking about the accident, weighing the evidence, wondering if it was her fault. But someone else has already reached a decision about Katie. The verdict is guilty. The punishment is death.

Tagline: None.

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

Initial Thoughts

Thankfully, we’re back once again to a Nightmare Hall book actually written by Diane Hoh. Though none of the books so far have been as good as I remember, once again, I have distant memories of liking this one back when I first read it, especially the climax. [Wing: I love the window book covers for Nightmare Hall, but this one cracks me up. Is she drowning inside a room at Nightmare Hall? How is that even possible? If an actual pool, why does the pool have a window? Oh, cover designers. So delightfully ridiculous.]

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Posted in Point Horror Recaps

Recap #100: Halloween Night 2 by R. L. Stine

cover of Halloween Night II by R L Stine, has three figures dressed in skeleton outfits and black cloaks in front of a Halloween night backgroundTitle: Halloween Night 2 by R. L. Stine

Summary: Brenda isn’t really looking forward to Halloween this year. After all, it was only twelve months age that her best friend tried to kill her at a Halloween party and she’d rather not be reminded of that. [Wing: I’d rather not be reminded of that recap either.]

But her friends persuade her to take part in a Halloween revenge prank, guaranteed to scare the victim to death. And soon Brenda realises that she is never going to leave the terror of Halloween night behind…..

Tagline: Trick, treats and…death

Initial Thoughts

Hey guys, how’ve you been? I’m good thank you, a little under the weather-sore throat, headachy that sort of thing but nothing too serious just a typical change of weather cold. Speaking of, the weather has been great here, perfect Autumn weather very mild and breezy, some rain, the type were you can throw on a lovely warm jumper and go for a walk around the Common drinking a hot chocolate or snuggle up in bed with a good book and light rain tapping on the window. Work? Yeah work is going well thanks, except for the ridiculous amounts of stairs I have to walk up and down but at least my ass and legs will get toned-Amirite?

Huh? What’s that? Am I mindlessly rambling on about my daily schedule in order to avoid recapping this book? Now why would you suggest such a thing!? Questioning my work ethic and dedication? Well, yes you’re right I’m doing exactly that. This. Book. Gah. I only vaguely remembered this book before I read it. I don’t know what I was expecting but in retrospect I should have reread Wing’s awesome review of Halloween Night BEFORE I read Halloween Night 2: The EXACT Same Story But Suckier. Everyone in this book is insufferable and Stine has never met a cliff hanger he didn’t want to take behind a shed and get pregnant. That being said, lets all work together and power through. [Wing: NO. I refuse. I did my time. (Seriously, I’m grateful that Tuesday took this one on, because I could not do a repeat of the first book.)]

[Wing: Happy 100 recaps! You, our readers and podcast listeners, are the best part of recapping. You’re smart and funny and engaged, and we appreciate you so much! I’m thrilled we’ve made it this far, and I look forward to 100 more.]

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Posted in Point Horror Recaps

Recap 96: The Cemetery by D. E. Athkins

cover of The Cemetery by D. E. Athkins, has four fingers coming out of dirt with long, sharp silver nailsTitle: The Cemetery by D. E. Athkins

Summary: At a Hallowe’en party with very exclusive guests, the disguised play a game of hide and seek in an ancient cemetery as midnight approaches. When someone is killed, all the partygoers can do is suspect each other – unless there is an unknown player.

Tagline: Don’t look behind you…

Initial Thoughts

Every time I see the name D. E. Athkins, I laugh, which is probably not the intended response. I can’t help it. Deathkins writing Point Horror? Good lord, be more subtle.

Beyond that, I find D. E. Athkins’ work hit or miss, whether under this pseud or as Nola Thacker (who also wrote the Graveyard School series as Tom B. Stone and sometimes filled in as the ghost writer for the Nightmare Hall series under Diane Hoh’s name). (My god, the authors we recap here are an incestuous lot, aren’t they?) (Note: No actually claim or accusation of real incest here.)

All that being said, I love the summary of this book (… minus the Hallowe’en spelling, which just looks twee), and I hope we’ll all enjoy it.

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Posted in Snark at the Moon! recaps

Recap #94: The Howling (1981)

The Howling cover werewolf claws tearing through a solid sheet and a woman's screaming face behind itTitle: The Howling

Summary: After a bizarre and near fatal encounter with a serial killer, a television newswoman is sent to a remote mountain resort whose residents may not be what they seem.

Tagline: Imagine your worst fear a reality. [Wing: Worst fear. Right.] [Bat: Being a werewolf isn’t my worst fear…]

Initial Thoughts

This was baby!Wing’s first werewolf movie, her first horror movie, and I will forever love it for giving me all that it did: a love of werewolves, a love of horror movies, a love of dramatic full moon shots and cheesy dog and wolf puns and silver bullets, certain iconic images — I watched it at a fairly young age, despite the fact that neither of my parents like horror movies and we weren’t allowed to watch them growing up. [Bat: This explains SO. MUCH. I’ve known Wing ~20 years and now I understand the werewolf love all the better.]

My dad was a truck driver, and I often spent large chunks of my summer and holidays with him on the road. (Why I love road trips and driving to this day and can’t settle down in one place too long before I’m itching to leave and have an adventure.) One night, we had a break at a truck stop. I’m not sure how old I was. Maybe nine or ten? Eight or eleven? I’m not sure. Anyway, we were hanging out in the trucker’s lounge, and The Howling came on. My dad swears he doesn’t remember this at all, and probably he had fallen asleep, but I watched the entire movie, enthralled, and then when we headed out to the truck later, we had to walk through rows and rows of idling eighteen wheelers, and I kept picturing werewolves leaping from trailer to trailer. That thought still makes me catch my breath every time. [Bat: Why haven’t you written a long-haul werewolf trucker story, Wing?] [Wing: That is a very good question.]

Welcome to the first ever Snark at the Moon! recap. Every October and November, Bat and I will be recapping werewolf movies and the recaps will go live on the full moon. This year, October’s moon is the Harvest Moon, one of my favourites. (Why yes, I have a favourite full moon.) Take a look at it tonight, but keep an eye out for werewolves. You never know when you’re living a horror movie life.

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Posted in Nightmare Hall recaps

Recap #93: Nightmare Hall #5: The Scream Team by Diane Hoh

cover of Diane Hoh's Scream Team, top cover is brick building with a window cutout that shows a girl in a cheerleading uniform collapsed on the floor

Title: The Scream Team by Diane Hoh

Summary: Delle has always been a cheerleader. And so she wants more than anything to make the squad at Salem U. Until she hears the horrible truth about what happened to last year’s cheerleaders…

Once Delle thought she would die to make the team. Now she realizes she may have to. Welcome to the scream team, Delle.

[Wing: Well that’s suitably creepy. What did happen to last year’s cheerleaders?]

Tagline: None.

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

Initial Thoughts

Can’t remember a great deal about this one, to be honest, though I can still recall the identity of the Muffin Man. It should be noted that this is another one from Nola “Hack” Thacker, so expectations are not high.

[Wing: I’ve never read this one, but I love horror + cheerleaders, so maybe that will work even if I didn’t much enjoy Thacker’s last Nightmare Hall outing.]

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Posted in Goosebumps Recaps

Recap #92: More Tales To Give You Goosebumps by R. L. Stine

Title: More Tales To Give You Goosebumps

Author: R.L. Stine

Cover Artist: Tim Jacobus

Summary: “Reader Beware – You’re In For Ten Summertime Scares!”

Is Matt’s summer camp being taken over by an evil patch of poison ivy? Will Eric escape from his tank, now that he’s been turned into a fish? Can Tara help the terrified voice she hears inside a beautiful seashell? Find out in these ten creepy Goosebumps short stories perfect for reading around the campfire or under the covers!

Initial Thoughts

This was the first of the short story books I read, and I… I think I actually stole this when I was a kid. No I remember back in elementary school, I found this book in a bag of books inside a closet in one of the classrooms. I think they were going to get rid of these books so I just kept the copy for myself. A few years later when the hardcover collection was released I gave my copy away.

As you could probably tell from the summary and cover art, the stories in this book all take place during the summer and yet surprisingly only two of them involve summer camps. Only one book was adapted for the French Goosebumps illustrated novellas, but none of them were made into TV episodes. One story, “The Cat’s Tale,” genuinely feels like some sort of pilot version for “Cry of the Cat,” the first in the Series 2000 line. I can safely say I found the stories in this one more interesting than the previous one. The original edition also came with a bonus booklight.

For this recap, I’m gonna be doing “3rd Rock from the Sun” jokes for the subtitles. Which means prepare thy selves for a bunch of dick jokes.

I’m also gonna include some of my ideas for potential sequel stories.

[Wing: I don’t know why, but I am so charmed by a creepy summer themed book coming with a booklight. Damn you, Stine!]

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Posted in Other Recaps

Recap #91: Prom Date by Diane Hoh

Cover of Prom Date by Diane Hoh, white teen girl dancing with a white guy, back to the reader, entire cover done in reds and blacksTitle: Prom Date by Diane Hoh

Summary:  It’s the biggest event of the year at Toomey High-Prom Night. But Margaret and her friends wont be going. After all you need a date to go to a Prom…

All they can do is envy the lucky girls who will be there. Popular girls like Stephanie and Kiki always get dates…

Then Stephanie is found murdered. And Kiki has a nasty accident. Is someone trying to kill off the competition?

Margaret is determined to find out the truth-even if it kills her…

Tagline: She’d kill for a date

Initial Thoughts

Ah Prom Night, I remember absolutely LOVING this book as a child for so, so many reasons-first of all Prom. I never even had a school disco so the whole concept of Prom was just delightful to me. I did have a ‘Leavers Do’ at the end of 6th Form, we invited our parents and had a sit down meal before having a party then heading to the school’s members only pub (In my school once you got into 6th Form you automatically became a member to a private pub opposite the school which obviously led to so much underage drinking….my school was weird) But that was the only type of celebration we had except for birthday parties. Proms were a foreign concept to me but they sounded so glamourous, grown up and such a huge part of high school, like in a lot of American YA books I read and ‘teenage’ films I watched everything centred around Prom, popularity and, of course, electing Prom Queen and King. Plus ‘Carrie’, PLUS Crowns. I love crowns, I have quite a few, whenever I have a bad day I pop one on and have a cup of tea. I feel better in no time. Growing up in a city I think I romanticised ‘small town America’ thanks to Point Horror books so the fact that this book was, based on my memory, in a small seaside town was another positive. These days I can’t function if I’m not in a city. Also I remembered this book starting with an actual murder so the stakes felt a lot higher from the get go. When I read this book as a kid I loved Margaret, her mum, her friends and I adored Mitch the hot, popular yet sensitive jock (I was 11) So I wonder how it holds up all these years later? Tuesday Out!

[Wing: Welcome back, Tuesday! I loved your recap of Freeze Tag, and I am so excited about this one. I’ve never read the book before, but I did attend a prom or two in my day. (Or six. Three in high school, two during undergrad, and one during grad school.) Also, I grew up in small town America (though not a small seaside town — I wish!), so let’s see how this goes.]

Content: Non-explicit but unexpected (to me, at least) animal death.

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Posted in Other Recaps

Recap #88: The Scarecrow by R. T. Cusick

cover of The Scarecrow by R T Cusick, has a scarecrown set against a cloudy full moonTitle: Scarecrow by R. T. Cusick

Summary: Beware the kindness of strangers

After crashing her car, Pamela Westbrook awakens to find that she has been rescued and cared for by the Whittakers, a family living on a remote farm in the Ozark hills. Still reeling from her accident and haunted by a tragic loss, Pamela takes comfort in the farm’s quaint setting and the family’s peaceful ways.

But soon, Pamela becomes wary of her surroundings. Micah, the strange, silent son, is treated cruelly and seems desperate to convey a message to Pamela. Girlie, the youngest child, possesses frightening, unnatural powers. When it’s time for the ritual burning of the scarecrows, Pamela comes face to face with a terrifying evil. She is ready to get away from the family’s dark rituals – but the Whittakers don’t want her to leave.

Tagline: N/A

Initial Thoughts

I’ve never read this one before, but after revisiting Silent Stalker for the recent podcast episode, I am not feeling very generous to Cusick or excited to read more of her writing. Which is a shame, because this, too, sounds like a fantastic setting with an interesting, creepy story. I love the Ozarks, I love kids with unnatural powers, and I love the idea of a ritual burning of the scarecrows.

Unfortunately, this is Cusick, so I am not holding my breath.

[Note from the future: I SHOULD HAVE BRACED MYSELF BETTER.]

Content Note: Rape discussion inside.

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Posted in Friday the 13th movies, Let's Do It! recaps

Recap #87: Friday the 13th, Part 2!

cover image of Friday the 13th Part 2 with font in white on a black background. Red partially covers "Part 2"Title: Friday the 13th Part 2 (I guess we’re not into Roman numerals yet?) [Wing: Well, the cover image I have is into Roman numerals, but there are a bunch out there without it.]

Summary: Get ready for twice the terror with Friday the 13th Part 2: Deluxe Edition! Fives years after the massacre at Camp Crystal Lake, the nerve-wracking legend of Jason Voorhees and his diabolical mother lives on. Despite ominous warnings from the locals to stay away from “Camp Blood”, a group of counselors at a nearby summer camp decide to explore the area where seven people were brutally slaughtered. All too soon, they encounter horrors of their own and the killing begins again. You’ll be at the edge of your seat for this gruesome thriller about 24 hours of bone-chilling fear!

Tagline: 2x The Fear… 2x The Carnage… 2x The Terror! [Wing: By god, the tagline on the cover version I have is so freaking much better, and it is boring as hell: The body count continues…] [Virgin: Clearly, the creativity died with the first installment, Wing.]

Note: I don’t honestly know what’s actually “deluxe” about this version, but thank Odin it’s not the damn uncut version! Finally, a break!

Initial Thoughts

Oh, I got a whole bunch!

Firstly: this is supposed to take place five years after the first Friday the 13th but in fact was released in reality April 30th, 1981. Yeah, this happened a lot with movies, jumping forward in time as opposed to staying current with the period of release, but still. That’s frustrating.

Also, way to release it on Walpurgisnacht! (Google it, kids.)

Secondly, this film is as old as I am. Wild.

Thirdly: is there a state comprised of nothing but summer camps, each spaced five miles down the road from one another? Is it somewhere in Maine? Are they secretly run by Stephen King? Because, damn. I know, and maybe this isn’t true but it seems to be, that summer camps are/were a big thing in the Northeast, because you’re all crammed in like sardines in the concrete jungle back there. (Greetings from the open spaces of the wild, wild West!) I know we have camps here; in another life I was a participant in Camp Fire and took a couple trips to Camp Namanu, which had a pond full of salamanders but it wasn’t a proper *lake*. (The salamanders succeeded in making us scream, holding onto our oars as we rowed the tiny canoe around. We were suburban-dwellers not good with nature, okay.) I think the scariest thing that ever happened on any of those trips was when the rope snapped while we were climbing a trail up the side of a mountain and then that morning when we weren’t allowed outside the cabin because the caretaker’s dog had died outside the front door and the adults didn’t want us to see the corpse.

Really, putting a dozen pre-teen girls in a giant cabin is a far scarier situation then being stalked by a deranged killer. I’m not sure how I survived. Oh, wait, I am Virgin! I always survive camp!

Now that I have completely finished digressing! In reality, I am picking this recap up not long after viewing Friday the 13th, but you readers won’t be reading this until, uh, September? So just pretend that there’s not a giant gap (ha ha! I’ve time-jumped, like the film has! See what I did there?) and let’s see if I can play “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” with any of the cast members.

Still can’t believe he was in the first film. Seriously.

Important note! Remember, I am rolling over the body count from the first film, so that will be reflected in the counter and final tally.

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Posted in Nightmare Hall recaps

Recap #84: Nightmare Hall #4: The Wish by Diane Hoh

cover of The Wish by Diane Hoh has a woman behind a window with the title in green font

Title: Nightmare Hall #4: The Wish by Diane Hoh

Summary: Alex is the first to notice the strange little booth at the back of the campus pizza place. Wishes granted, fortunes told says the sign on the glass. Inside sits The Wizard – an eerie wooden figure with sinister blue eyes. Alex’s friends make wishes. And one by one, they come true – in terrifying, twisted ways. Is The Wizard behind the horror?  Or is someone else to blame, someone with a deadly wish all his – or her – own…

Tagline: None

Notes: I will use “Bad Guy” throughout my reviews to refer to the anonymous killer/prankster/whatever. Doesn’t mean it’s a guy.  I will now refer to the bad guy as “Muffin Man” because of The Mall.

Initial Thoughts

Wishmaster is one of my favourite guilty pleasure horror movies. The Buffy episode “The Wish” introduced us to Anya, possibly my favourite character in that show. I’ve yet to check out Wish Upon, which hit cinemas this year, but it’s safe to say I enjoy the premise of an entity making wishes go horribly wrong. This book came before all of those, so although it’s much tamer and simpler, I still remember having a good time with it. And thankfully, Hoh herself is still at the helm.

[Wing: I also love that Buffy episode, and monkey’s paw type situations are one of my favourite horror tropes, so I’m excited about this book.]

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Posted in Fear Street Recaps

Recap #81 Fear Hall: The Conclusion by R. L. Stine A.K.A. “And You Thought Student Loans Were Scary!”

Title: Fear Hall: The Conclusion (obviously follows Fear Hall: The Beginning)

Author: R.L. Stine

Cover Artist: Franco Accornero

Tagline: “Welcome back to the most terrifying dorm on campus!”

Summary: “A Special Message From R.L. Stine”

Dear Readers:

I hope you’ll join me for the conclusion of Fear Hall. I think it’s one of my scariest finishes ever!

Where will Hope go now that her secret has been revealed? Does she realize that her friends aren’t real friends? Does she know who the vicious killer really is? Are there more shocking surprises in store for her?

Find out the answers in FEAR HALL: The Conclusion. I had so much evil fun writing it, I scared myself!

[Wing: I am still both charmed and confused by Stine’s special message on these books. Why? How? … Why?]

Initial Thoughts

Back to Fear Hall for the last time. Were you guys scared by R.L. Stine’s take on mental illness? I know I was!

[Wing: “Scared” might not be the right word for my response last time… I do hope this goes better. I doubt it will. Also, student loans are terrifying.]

The ending of this tragedy follows directly after the last book’s climax, and believe me, everything that can go wrong, does go wrong. If you haven’t read the recap for the first book, I insist you do so because otherwise it’s gonna be difficult to understand what’s going on and why, even with the short recap.

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Posted in Other Recaps

Recap #77: The Reading Buddy by Bryce Gibson

cover of The Reading Buddy by Bryce Gibson, has a figure in a black coat with its hood up carrying an ax, with the title and author information printed over itTitle: The Reading Buddy by Bryce Gibson

Summary: A SET OF keys jangled in my hand. The keys were my lifeline. One of them would be what saved the day. I held onto them as tightly as I could.

I was being followed. The man running behind me was my stepdad, Morris Heyward. He was holding an axe.

AFTER THE DEATHS of his best friend and stepdad, seventeen-year-old Blake Thomas can’t escape the memories of that night…the screams…the blood…the axe.

Now, Blake suffers from social anxiety and making friends at his new home seems impossible. With his therapist’s suggestion, Blake joins a social media site called The Reading Buddy. It is supposed to be a way for him to slowly step back into social relationships, and it doesn’t take long for him to become online friends with someone known as Charley17.

Recovery seems to be within reach, but once the school year starts, three local teens quickly pull Blake into their own circle, and soon it appears that Charley17 doesn’t want to share his new friend with anybody else.

The Reading Buddy is a Southern-set throwback to the teen horror and thriller novels from the 1990s and will keep you guessing until the very end!

[Wing: Oh dear. We’re kicking this off with yet another summary that is not so much with the accuracy, and is trying too hard to be Point Horror-esque for a book that really isn’t.]

Tagline: None

Initial Thoughts

Disclosure: A copy of the book was provided by the author in exchange for an unbiased review. Or a lovingly snarky recap that may not be quite so loving, depending on how the story goes. Congratulations on book release day, Gibson!

This is the first time an author has reached out to us to have their book recapped, and I am both charmed and delighted by the opportunity and a little surprised. The author and publisher call it a book that will appeal to readers of retro teen horror from the 90s, which, you know, is pretty much our jam around here. I love a good southern horror, and I have high hopes for this one. I do worry that the marketing push to compare it to Point Horror and similar books is going to be a detriment; I’m going in with some solid expectations because I obviously know very well what teen horror and thrillers were like in the 90s. It’s kind of a specialty of mine. The summary and the marketing plan have driven home that this book will be that, and if it’s not, well … we’ll see.

Spoiler-Free Review

Because this is a new book, and you may want to read it without the spoilers of the recap, I’m going to start with a brief, spoiler-free review.

In short, I loved the first ¾ of the book, but found the ending badly paced, with whiplash characterisation. The book itself is very slowly paced, which is something I actually love, particularly in horror stories where the writing establishes the characters very well. That doesn’t not really happen here, but I still enjoyed the slow pace for a long time, until it finally because too slow, with too little happening. Spent a great deal of time adoring the main character and at least one of the side characters. Mostly handles mental health very well, until it veers sharply off track.

I think it’s a fun, entertaining read, but it makes a lot of style choices that I think you’ll either love or loathe, with very little in between. Like I said, it is slow, and at times almost seems to be leaning heavily into southern Gothic, but it never quite makes it. In the end, I think that’s my biggest problem with the book (except for the moment where Wing Goes Boom finally over mental illness); it starts to be a lot of things, and starts to have a lot of things, like strong characters and great relationships, but it never quite gets there. There’s a lot of build up for very little payoff (and I don’t mean in the plot, necessarily, but more in the writing style itself); it feels very surface level at times, when it was leading into a deep, profound setting and character-driven story.

I wanted more from it, and though I really did enjoy reading it, I’m also left unsatisfied and wanting more depth, more description, more characterization, more transitions — just more.

Per the marketing campaign from the publisher, it is being targeted to readers of retro teen horror — so, you know, us — and I can see why. It doesn’t quite feel the same as Point Horror or Fear Street or Nightmare Hall or Christopher Pike, etc. In some ways, it’s better. In some ways, though, it feels even more surface-level than they do. It certainly did invoke a ton of nostalgia in me, but not a lot related to the 80s and 90s teen horror. Mostly, small towns and high school football and marching band and werewolves. (You’ll see.)

I liked it. I’m glad I read it. I’ll reread it. But I am left not quite satisfied, and since the early part of the book was great enough it set my expectations high, that is even more frustrating than if it had been bad from the beginning.

Let’s do this.

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Posted in Goosebumps Recaps

Recap #76: Tales To Give You Goosebumps by R. L. Stine

cover of Tales to Give You Goosebumps by R. L. Stine with a ghost in front of a background image

Title: Tales to Give You Goosebumps

Author: R.L. Stine

Cover Artist: Tim Jacobus

Tagline: N/A

Summary: “Reader Beware — You’re in for ten scares!”

From an evil baby sister, to a remote control that can control more than just the television set, to a teacher who’s obsessed with snakes, to a cute, cuddly teddy bear gone bad, here are ten creepy, spooky stories guaranteed to give you Goosebumps all night long!

Initial Thoughts

So this is the first of the six short story collections and, honestly, it’s kind of boring. It’s clear that most of these are ideas Stine had that he just wasn’t able to convert into full length novels. While most of the other collections had themes, this one’s kind of all over the place in terms of genre, with one that’s not supernatural or science fiction-based at all. Four of the stories managed to get turned into TV episodes, which is more than the other collections could say (and a bit of a waste since the one really good story wasn’t), while two were adapted into illustrated novellas for the French Goosebumps line. [Wing: Now that’s interesting! I wonder what the illustrations are like.]

I never read this book on its own, just after it was reprinted alongside the following two collections in hardcover format. I will say it’s interesting that this entry seems to be the birth place of Curly the Skeleton, the original Goosebumps mascot. You might remember him from the merchandise that appeared in the mid to late 90s when the series got popular. He was the skeleton with the buzz cut, bandana, and sunglasses who often had a big pit bull by his side. On the cover he was depicted with long hair and tattered white robes, more like a ghost, and Scholastic supposedly asked Tim Jacobus to redesign him. He’s sadly forgotten by the current young Goosebumps readers, discontinued like so many of the monsters like Amaz-O, Cuddles, and the Masked Mutant to make way for the disappointing likes of Madame Doom, Murder the Clown, and *ugh* Dr. Maniac. But he will forever live on in the goosebumps of our hearts.

To add a bit of fun, for subtitles this time I’m taking a page from one of my favorite animes, Revolutionary Girl Utena, and adding “Duel” with each recap entry. The French words translate to a trait shared in the stories. I’m on a small Utena kick lately.

[Wing: Again, I’ve never read this, I’m excited for the recap, and I’m grateful that someone else is recapping a Stine book.]

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Posted in Fear Street Recaps

Recap #74: Fear Hall Part 1 – A.K.A. “Fear Street: The College Years”

cover of Fear Hall The Beginning by R. L. Stine shows a white girl behind a window looking out and appearing scaredTitle: Fear Hall: The Beginning

Author: R.L. Stine

Cover Artist: Franco Accornero

Tagline: The first part of a shocking two-part special!

Summary: “A Special Message From R.L. Stine”

Dear Readers:

Come with me to FEAR HALL. That’s the creepy college dorm built many years ago by the cursed Fear family.

Hope and her roommates live in Fear Hall. Hope’s boyfriend lives there, too. They’re all good students and best friends. Everything is going great… until one of them becomes a murderer!

Now Hope is about to find out that life at Fear Hall can be a real scream!

I hope you’ll join me for FEAR HALL. This story has so many scares, it took me two books to tell it all!

P.S. You’ll never believe what I came up with for the next book…

Initial Thoughts

I only read this story once when I was in middle school, and I barely remembered what happened after I was finished. I did that sometimes, skimming through a book so that I read it but I didn’t retain anything. This didn’t leave much impact on me at first, but I still found and purchased the two volumes as part of my unfinished effort to collect all the Fear Street books. Then, in the summer of 2011 I decided to re-read the Fear Hall books. I remember that summer. I discovered “Jem and the Holograms” and DC Comics was in the middle of their “Flashpoint” event which ended up ruining the DC Universe for six years and counting. Imagine my surprise when I re-read these books and ended up falling in love with them.

I mean, don’t get me wrong, it’s not a perfect story. It’s basically “Fear Street At College” which Stine already did with “College Weekend,” and Stine’s take on mental instability is… well, it is what it is. But I enjoyed it because I really liked the main characters, Hope and her roommates, and the setting. I’ve re-read these books so many times over the last few years they’re all scruffed up and worn. I practically refuse to put them back on my book shelves. I even got Stine to autograph them at that signing last year.

The story is split up in several parts and is one of those books where the narration shifts between different characters.

[Wing: I’ve never read these before, and am, of course, always leery of how Stine (and the other Point Horror and similar authors) handle mental illness, but I love a good horror at college story. Stine is setting the bar for the next book pretty high with his little introduction note, though.]

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Posted in Other Recaps

Recap #73: Silent Stalker by R. T. Cusick

cover of Silent Stalker by R T Cusick, shows a white girl on a floor in what looks like a cave, cowering away from a bunch of ratsTitle: Silent Stalker by R. T. Cusick

Summary: Trapped in a madman’s castle, a young girl must fight to save her sanity

Thunder bellows as Jenny and her father pull up to the gate of Worthington Hall. As they inch onto the grounds of the ancient estate, a disheveled young woman thrusts her head through the open window. “Leave!” she yells. “Before it’s too late! He’ll kill you. I swear.” Jenny is terrified, but her dad laughs it off. The girl is just an actress – part of the medieval fair being held on the castle grounds. But it’s not long before Jenny wishes they’d heeded the warning.

The house is a drafty maze of narrow hallways and dungeons. Jenny wants to flee, but her father is intent on the work he’s come to do. Soon the Worthington family sets upon young Jenny, playing twisted tricks on her until she forgets what’s real. The Worthingtons play cruel games – and if Jenny loses, it will mean her life.

Tagline: None

Initial Thoughts

WELL THIS IS OFF TO A GREAT START.

[Note from the future: While I don’t remember anything else about this book, and didn’t think I’d read it, the rat scene from the cover seems immensely familiar. Not sure if I saw something similar in another book, though.]

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Posted in Nightmare Hall recaps

Recap #71: Nightmare Hall #2: The Roommate by Diane Hoh/Nola Thacker

cover of The Roommate, with a girl standing in front of a window staring in horror at something offscreenTitle: Nightmare Hall #2: The Roommate

Summary: Four roommates share a suite in the Quad. Danni is beautiful and perfect, from her long blonde hair to her expensive clothes. Margot is mysterious – brutally honest or slyly secretive, depending on her mood. Lacey is a wild woman, who loves to party, party, party. And Maureen is quiet and painfully shy. But the girls are not all what they seem. And soon one of them may be…dead.

Tagline: None

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

Initial Thoughts

The first thing you have to be aware of is that this was NOT written by Diane Hoh. It is extremely obvious it’s a different writer. This was written by Nola Thacker. Nola Thacker also used the pseudonym D.E. Athkins in the Point Horror line. She delivered a total stinker (The Ripper aka The Cemetery), a pile of crap (Secret Santa), and a couple of okay ones (Sister Dearest, Mirror Mirror and The Bride).

[Wing: I thought I hated her work, but then I checked The Bride recap, and no, I actually loved the ending and enjoyed a lot of the ridiculousness. Actually, her short story “Blood Kiss” in 13 Tales of Horror was similar, not bad, but ridiculous.]

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Posted in Graveyard School recaps

Recap #70: Don’t Eat The Mystery Meat! by Tom B. Stone, A.K.A. “Nightmare Cafeteria II – Electric Boogaloo”

cover image for book has plate of spaghetti with eyeballs in it set against a dark background and the words Graveyard School Don't Eat the Mystery Meat!

Title: Don’t Eat The Mystery Meat!

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

Cover Artist: Barry Jackson

Summary: School lunch has always been gross, but lately it’s worse than ever. The salad is soggy; the spaghetti is rubbery. No one knows what the meatballs are made of! When pets start mysteriously disappearing around town, sixth-graders Stacey and Park think they’ve stumbled onto something. The new lunchroom attendant is awfully weird… What exactly has she been cooking up?

Initial Thoughts

This was the last book I needed to complete the set for Graveyard School. It felt weird, finally owning this book, which is why I probably took so long to finally read it. It blew away my expectations, though, not thinking it would go down the route it did.

As a head’s up, I recently discovered Todd Strasser was NOT the writer of this series. Instead, the creative genius belongs to Nola Thacker, who some of you might know as Point Horror authoress D.E. Athkins.

[Wing: I’m really intrigued by these author shenanigans, I must say.]

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Posted in Other Recaps

Recap #69: Up the Airy Mountain by Debra Doyle and James Macdonald

book cover for Up the Airy Mountain by Debra Doyle and James Macdonald, is a snowy woods scene with the title in white lettering on the blue sky and the authors' names in black lettering on the snowTitle: Up the Airy Mountain by Debra Doyle & James Macdonald (Bad Blood series) (podcast)

Summary: Valerie Sherwood is a werewolf. That doesn’t make her high school social life any easier. Good thing her boyfriend’s cool with it. But tonight she’s followed her nose into more trouble than she knows, and the question stops being can she save her friends and becomes can she save herself.

Tagline: None

Initial Thoughts

Considering we only just found these books about a year ago, my excitement over this additional short story is as extreme as if I’d been waiting for more for the past thirty years. I love Val and this series and this world so damn much, and I am thrilled to get to spend one more month recapping it.

(Val and friends have previously shown up in Bad Blood, Hunters’ Moon, and Judgment Night, all recapped earlier this year. )

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Posted in Friday the 13th movies, Let's Do It! recaps

Recap #68: Friday the 13th (Uncut Deluxe Edition)

Cover of Friday the 13th the deluxe edition

Title: Friday the 13th – Uncut Deluxe Edition

Summary: RIP into a chilling new UNCUT DELUXE EDITION of Friday the 13th. With the addition of unrated footage, and insightful specials features, plunge deeper into the film that spawned eleven sequels and the genre’s unstoppable bad guy, Jason Voorhees. A new owner and several young counselors gather to reopen Camp Crystal Lake, where a young boy drowned and several vicious murders occurred years earlier. They’ve ignored the locals’ warnings that the place has a death curse… and one by one they find out how unlucky Friday the 13th can be as they are stalked by a violent killer. [Wing: They are really trying hard with that first sentence.]

Tagline: Fridays will never be the same again.

Note: The library didn’t have a copy of the DVD I was looking for but it did have the UNCUT version. Am I going to regret this? Probably.

Initial Thoughts

As a child born right smack at the beginning of the 80s, I have failed to see most of the classic 80s horror films that were big franchises while I was growing up. Has this kept me alive? As a “horror virgin”, I’d like to think so. [Wing: I’m grateful you are now risking death just to recap for us, Virgin.]

It’s difficult to tell people yes, I know you’re making a reference, but to what I don’t know. I know Jason is the killer dude in this series; I know Mike Meyers is in Halloween (which, ironically, I have seen the first and third installments of that series, but none of the rest or the reboots), and there was apparently a chainsaw massacre in Texas, but again I haven’t seen that, either.

Somehow I have seen three of the Child’s Play films. God, I hate Chucky.

Look, I love vampires and am generally desensitized to horror stuff, so it’ll be interesting to see not only how this film has aged but if it actually unsettles me in any shape or form.

That’s pretty damn hard for things to do at this point. (Event Horizon is, what, 20 years old but that one scared the shit out of me. And I don’t think I’ve watched it again since I saw it in 1997.) Pretty sure this recap is going to be 99% snark. I will try not to judge it too harshly on its age, as I know I’m viewing it 37 years after its release and a lot has changed in the horror genre since then. But I will be brutal when necessary.

I’m already pre-regretting settling for the “uncut” version of this, because I’ve had run-ins with “uncut” versions. Mostly good but some bad, and some scarred me for life. (True Romance uncut director’s version, I am looking at you. You fucked me up when I was 13.) Oh well, gotta work with what you’re given… or find at the library, I guess.

Oh, and what the hell do you mean there are ELEVEN MORE OF THESE? Shit. What have I gotten myself into…

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Posted in Goosebumps Recaps

Recap #66: Still More Tales To Give You Goosebumps by R. L. Stine

Still More Tales to Give You Goosebumps by R. L. Stine

Title: Still More Tales To Give You Goosebumps

Summary: Will Charlie’s recipe for pumpkin juice cause him some hair-raising terror? Are Dave’s awesome ants biting off more than they can chew? Can Max’s Halloween wish turn him into an endangered species?

Notes: This is the 4th of the six short story collections from the original Goosebumps line, and the second where the stories are connected by a seasonal theme. The original printing included a bonus make-up kit to make your own vampire costume for Halloween, though surprisingly none of the stories involve real vampires.

Initial Thoughts

So my first Goosebumps recap for you lovely juvenile delinquents.

I actually have met R.L. Stine in real life, but just once. Last December he was doing a signing at “Books of Wonder” in Manhattan for his new book “Young Scrooge.” I took with me a few Goosebumps and Fear Street books for him to sign, as well as a copy of a Goosebumps art zine called “Monster Edition,” and a hardbound collection of some of the covers I worked on for “If It Were Stine.” Stine was super nice and I’m glad he didn’t have a problem signing the cover book, but it’s the weirdest thing. He doesn’t seem to have aged at all since the 90s. Remember he would do introductions for the Goosebumps TV show? Between then and now he looks exactly the same.

[Wing: BLACK MAGIC. BLOOD SACRIFICE. I love him so much. This is why we feud.]

Back in the 2000s I was lucky to find a copy of this collection, plus the one that came after it, at a tag sale a church in my neighborhood was holding. The second book still has a library slip inside I’ve kept as a bookmark, although the paper is practically faded by now. I’m a sucker for holiday-themed horror, especially Halloween and Christmas, and I was super happy to find a copy of this book because Amazon sellers tend to jack up the prices on old YA horror books. My favorite stories in this would have to be “The Scarecrow” and “Bats About Bats,” and I’ve previously written about “An Old Story” for a separate blog (I’ll get into the details later). I hope you all enjoy the following, and I hope to have more to show you all very soon. As an added bonus I’ll be including scans from my collection of Goosebumps-related commissions in these posts.

I’d like to dedicate this post and future posts to Jet Wolf, whose Sailor Moon liveblogs and commentary style inspired how I wrote these recaps. This is for you Jet.

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