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

Recap #196: Spellbound by Christopher Pike

Spellbound by Christopher Pike

Spellbound by Christopher Pike

Title: Spellbound by Christopher Pike

Summary: No one knew how the girl had died.

They found Karen Holly in the mountain stream, her skull crushed. There was only one witness to the tragedy, Karen’s boyfriend, Jason Whitfield. He said a grizzly had killed her. But a lot of people didn’t believe him. They thought Jason had murdered her in a fit of rage.

And now weeks have passed, and Jason has another girlfriend, Cindy Jones. And there are the new kids in town, Joni Harper, the quiet English beauty that Cindy’s brother, Alex, cannot get out of his mind. And Bala, the foreign exchange student from Africa, the grandson of a powerful shaman.

Together they will return to the place where Karen was killed.

Some will die.

The others will come face to face with a horror beyond imagining.

Tagline: You can close your eyes….It won’t help. [Wing: Except, spoilers, that’s exactly what it does.]

Initial Thoughts

This is one of my favourite Pike books, though not my absolute favourite. There are monstrous women and full moons and hunger, and it is all pretty great — except for that girls fighting over boys and boys fighting over girls and racism everywhere. /o\

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Recap #184: Witch by Christopher Pike

The Author:

Christopher Pike is a prolific writer of teen horror-ish novels, with a few sprinkled in there for adults. He is the literary horror to RL Stine’s gore porn/B-movie-type novels. But that’s putting him a bit high up there, isn’t it? Sometimes he overwrites, sometimes his stories are just outright ridiculous. But there’s no doubt he at least tried to insert some depth into these schlock teen horror novels of the 90s.

The Blurb:

Julia is a young woman with extraordinary powers. She has the ability to heal people with her touch. She can also know things that are happening in far off places when she looks in water that has sunlight shining on it. She comes from a tradition of witches, of good witches. But before Julia’s mother died, she warned her daughter never to look in the water that had moonlight shining on it.

Unfortunately, almost by accident, Julia does so. What she sees is a vision of the future, a scene in which a young man she doesn’t know is shot in a hold-up and dies in her arms. Only later, when Julia attends a football game at school, does she meet the young man.
He is her girlfriend’s new boyfriend.

Julia immediately falls for the guy, but it is an ill-fated love. He does not belong to her and he is supposed to die. Or does he have to die? Julia doesn’t know if her vision of the future is set, or if it can be changed. She doesn’t know why the gunmen in her vision evokes such hatred in her, and why she feels she must destroy him at all costs. But using the supernatural powers at her command, and risking her own life, plus the lives of her friends, Julia will find the answers to all these questions, at a terrible cost.

The ridiculous over-wordiness of this blurb is spot on with the wordiness of the book itself. Plus it reads like a first draft blurb. Like re-reading it makes me cringe a little for its awkwardness.

The Place:

Indian Pole, Idaho, population negative six. I think it’s passed off as not a middle of nowhere type of town, but it is. People need to drive a half hour in any direction just to get anywhere worthwhile, like shopping areas or whatever. Everyone knows everyone and has grown up with everyone. Those kinds of towns, but Pike doesn’t much dwell on the place. Not really. And for someplace that doesn’t really bear any significance to the story the name of the town is sure bandied around a lot. [Wing: A half hour in any direction? That’s basically a suburb. Julia, come talk to me when you have to drive 2+ hours just to buy clothes.]

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Recap #182: After the Hole by Guy Burt

After the Hole by Guy Burt

After the Hole by Guy Burt

Title: After the Hole by Guy Burt

Tagline: Death is always to be found beneath the ground.

Summary: On a bright spring day in England, six teenagers laugh and joke as they make their way to a neglected part of the institution they mockingly call Our Glorious School. Hidden in the dark hollow of a buttress is the door to a small windowless cellar. Behind the door, the old stairs have rotted away. A boy unfurls a rope ladder and five descend into The Hole. The sixth closes the cellar door, locks it from the outside, and walks calmly away down the flagstone path.

The idea is simple. While their parents think they are on a field trip, and the school thinks they’re at home, Frankie, Geoff, Alex, Mike, and Liz will spend three days locked in The Hole. Martyn will remain above ground, promising that when the five emerge into daylight, they’ll have been part of the greatest prank the infamous schemer has ever engineered.

The three days pass predictably: a lot of talking, some booze, flirting, a few friendly fights. At five P.M. on the third day, they drink a celebratory bottle of vodka and wait for the mastermind to arrive and release them. Thirty hours later, they realise that Martyn is not coming to let them out… ever.

Note: As before with the movie, I will take scenes at their face value and comment on them, and then loop back if they are contradicted/expanded. I’ll actually use footnotes for this though – it will be a number in square brackets. They may even be links if WordPress lets me. This makes it a very hard book to recap, so bear with me.

[Wing: I’m scheduling this post to go public on the first day of fall in the Northern Hemisphere, because it is the start of my favourite season, and this is a creepy and twisty way to start it, and it is also a sad family day from which I want to be distracted.]

Warning: There is a rape in this book. I’ve tried to keep the language I use as non-threatening as possible, and keep discussion of it down to a minimum. However, it’s there. You have been warned.

Initial Thoughts:

This is less initial thoughts and more a warning. If you want to read the book, go read the book. It’s a lot easier now than it was in 2003, when I read it. I had to get an out-of-print second-hand copy from a seller on Amazon marketplace, using a friend’s account (my ex got me blacklisted for six years from 2001 onwards), because eBay didn’t have it.

It’s on the kindle now. It’s £3.99. Go read it, because if you’re interested you’ll enjoy the book much more if you just read it, rather than read my recap (which is spoilerific), and then the book.

The book doesn’t have much in common with the movie, so seriously, this is your last chance, go buy it and read it. It’s about the length of the average Sweet Valley Twins, so it’s like an hour out of your day. And you might enjoy it.

(Oh, and forgive some of the prose. Guy Burt was seventeen when he wrote it.)

Also, I’m actually going to note the chapters in this, because it becomes very significant later, and you may want to check something. You’re welcome.

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Recap #174: The Hole (2001)

The Hole (2001)

The Hole (2001)

Title: The Hole

Summary: Four teenagers at a British private school secretly uncover and explore the depths of a sealed underground hole created decades ago as a possible bomb shelter.

[Dove: Yeah, no, sorry imdb, but that makes it sound like a caving adventure. What happens is four teenagers are locked in the bunker, with no means of escape, and the film explores what put them there and what happened in the hole.]

Grade: B

Note 1: In England, public school means publicly funded, e.g., the parents of the students, the public, pay for its running costs. I know this means the opposite in America. [Wing: Americans, it’s a private boarding school. It’s great.]

Note 2: I’m trying to recap the story as it unfolds, and if you’ve seen this you’ll know that what you see in one scene can well be contradicted in another. So my comments take the scene at face value. I’ll loop back to anything on the contradicting scene, rather than “spoiling” what comes next. [Wing: Smart plan! And so is the one below.]

Note 3: I won’t mention the contents of the book. However, when I recap the book, I will definitely mention the contents of the film.

Initial Thoughts

Just FYI, this is one of my favourite movies. Please note the difference between “favourite” and “best”. If you want my “best” movie, it’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest or Stand By Me. This falls firmly in the guilty pleasure category.

It was one of the first movies Raven and I watched when we moved in together. It was so early on in our relationship that we didn’t have a TV licence (we were waiting for payday) and so we were very naughty by watching it.

Also, I will be recapping the book. If you’ve always wanted to read the book but never got around to it, go buy the book now. The book is a very different entity to the movie, and it really should be read if you enjoy this story or any variation of it.

Also, I did screen caps of this entire movie for the cap_it community at LiveJournal. Who knew that 12 years later, it would save me a task when I came to recap the movie? [Wing: I remember people frantically asking you to screen cap Kiera Knightley’s tits, and you refusing, like the A+ person you are.]

[Wing: I love this movie so much. Dove introduced me to it, and the book, as she does many things, and I adore it to this day.]

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Recap #166: Fear Street Super Chiller #6: The Dead Lifeguard by R. L. Stine

Fear Street Super Chiller 6 The Dead Lifeguard by R. L. Stine

Fear Street Super Chiller 6 The Dead Lifeguard by R. L. Stine

The Author:

Like RL Stine needs any introduction. The incredibly prolific author of such series as Goosebumps and Fear Street, not to mention the Fear Street Reboot and some adult titles as well, Stine’s been around for a while and integral to the formation of horror love for many people my age. Sometimes ridiculous, sometimes creepy, always some of the most excellent deaths in YA, Stine is a mainstay in the young adult horror world and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

The Blurb:

The lifeguards at North Beach Country Club know they’re lucky. While other kids are flipping burgers, they’re sunning themselves by day and partying by night. So what if some people say the place is cursed, haunted. This is the life!

And then, one by one, the lifeguards start to die horrible deaths. Someone – or something – evil is stalking them. They all know how to save other people’s lives . . . But who will save theirs?

DUN DUN DUN.

The Place:

North Beach Country Club in Random Place, USA, with a cameo appearance of Fear Street for about a nanosecond. Where is Fear Street supposed to be, anyway? I’m under the vague impression it’s Long Island, but I could be really wrong there.

[Wing: There is a lot of debate about this. The consensus seems to be Ohio most of the time, but that often doesn’t make sense in the summer books that involve a beach.]

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Recap #152: Graveyard School #13: Tales Too Scary to Tell at Camp by Tom B. Stone

 Title: Graveyard School #13 – Tales Too Scary To Tell At Camp, a.k.a. “1001 Graveyard School Nights”

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

Cover Artist: Cam De Leon (U.S. Cover), ???? (Lithuanian Cover)

Summary: Warning: Don’t Read This Book In Your Bunk!

These thirteen chilling stories will send you screaming for cover. From howling heads to shrieking stalkers to larger-than-life lice – read about the unnatural, the bizarre, and – worst of all – the unexplained.

Stay near the campfire. The scariest creatures of all might be right behind you!

Initial Thoughts

As thanks for putting up with my depression last month, I’ve chosen to do recaps focusing on some of my favorite books which means another short break from the chronological order. I just wish I had some commissions to add to this one.

“Tales Too Scary” is special in the Graveyard School series because it’s the only entry that’s an anthology of stories. Unlike the “Tales To Give You Goosebumps” books, this one has a framing story encompassing the first and last chapters, and a features an eclectic grouping of the GS cast including my favorite, Jordie “The Human Computer” Flanders. The situation’s a cross between “Hansel and Gretel” and “1001 Arabian Nights” which of course captured my interest right away.

One of the stories is interesting because it’s told in three parts by three different storytellers.

You wanna believe I began the draft for this last year after I was officially made a recapper by Wing? I couldn’t wait to share this with all of you.

Also, I simply had to include the Lithuanian adaption’s cover artwork because I can’t tell if it’s horrible or amazing.

As a head’s up Wing, there IS a story with bugs, but it doesn’t include spiders.

[Wing: Thanks for the head’s up. I personally adore the Lithuanian cover, though that doesn’t really answer the whole horrible or amazing question, because either, both, whatever, I would still adore it.]

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Recap #143: Goosebumps Live On Stage: Screams in the Night by R. L. Stine

Title: Goosebumps Live On Stage – Screams In The Night, a.k.a. “Hello, Slappy!”

Author: R.L. Stine (Based on stage play by Rupert Holmes)

Cover Artist: Tim Jacobus

Summary: N/A

Initial Thoughts

Time for another long lost Goosebumps treasure, though this one’s slightly better known than “Haunted Library” and “Surprise on the 13th Floor.”

In the late 90s there was briefly a Goosebumps stage show, though I was barely aware of this since I was like 8 or 9 at the time. I’ve never seen a performance, and I don’t know how long the show ran. Hell, I’m not even sure how I got this book. I think it originally belonged to my sibling back in elementary school, but like so much of their shit, it ended up in my possession because they stopped caring about it.

There are four stories in this book, a wraparound tale and three short stories that feature the same cast of characters. The first and third stories are weird, the first coming across like a rehash of “Stay Out of the Basement” and the third some prototype for the “Goosebumps Horrorland” series. I prefer the second story out of the bunch.

The book came with some illustrations by Tim Jacobus. Unfortunately, due to the size and spine of the book I’m unable to make scans without doing serious damage.

[Wing: I’m still boggling over it getting a stage show. What I wouldn’t give to see it today!]

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Recap #126: The Last Vampire by Christopher Pike

Cover of The Last Vampire by Christopher PikeTitle: The Last Vampire by Christopher Pike

Summary: Alisa Perne is the last vampire. Beautiful and brilliant, she hunts alone, living among humans, living off humans. But someone is stalking her. Someone wants her dead. And Alisa has a choice to make – to keep a long held promise or protect the mortal she seems to be falling for.

Tagline: This time someone is hunting her…

Initial Thoughts

Oh god, here we go. Five years into recapping on Devil’s Elbow, and I’m finally spending an entire year focused on my favourite of the 80s and 90s teen horror authors, Christopher Pike. I’m saving my absolutely favourite books for the end of the year, but first, I’m taking on The Last Vampire series, which is significantly longer now than the first time I read it.

Note: There’s a lot of religion throughout this, particularly centered around Krishna and Vishnu. I do some basic research as I read, but I have very little knowledge here. My guess is that Pike’s taking a ton of liberties. I think that reading this as an adult, it’s going to smack of cultural appropriation, so keep that in mind when you read the book and this recap.

I loved this series growing up, especially the first book, but oh my god, does it get weird. So weird. Complicated and twisty and fun, but weird.

Though I’ve reread a lot of my Pike books often, this is not a series I read more than the first couple books obsessively, so I’m excited to go through the entire thing again.

2018: The Year of Christopher Pike. Let’s do this.

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Recap #121: Goosebumps #45: Ghost Camp by R.L. Stine, a.k.a. “When Harry Met Lucy”

Title: Goosebumps #45 – Ghost Camp

Author: R.L. Stine

Cover Artist: Tim Jacobus

Tagline: Be all that you can’t see!

Summary: The Joke’s On Them!

Harry and his brother, Alex, are dying to fit in at Camp Spirit Moon. But the camp has so many weird traditions. Like the goofy camp salute. The odd camp greeting. And the way the old campers love to play jokes on the new campers.

Then the jokes get really serious. Really creepy. Really scary.

First a girl sticks her arm in the campfire. Then a boy jams a pole through his foot.

Still, they’re just jokes… right?

Initial Thoughts

This has been my all time favorite Goosebumps book since, like forever. I adore everything about it. I love the characters. I love the villains. I love the setting. I love the cover and that one single human girl who has got no idea what the fuck she’s gotten herself into. This is one of those rare books where you like the main character on purpose AND you manage to feel bad for the villains even though you know they can’t win. It’s also one of the more truly fucked up entries in the original series, and I wrote about it for “Endangered Bodies” via discussing the surprising sexual assault undertones.

I still have a completed jigsaw puzzle of the cover downstairs in my basement, and I remember when I was younger how I wanted the sneakers that had the girl ghost and camper on them. Of course, since those were the “Girl” sneakers, my parents sure as hell weren’t letting that happen. At the very least, I was lucky to get my copy autographed by Stine AND Tim Jacobus.

The reason I didn’t begin my Goosebumps recaps with this book right off is because I was waiting on a commission of the main characters, Harry and Alex Altman, from a dear friend who is also one of my absolute favorite artists. I refused to begin this recap until I was able to include the commission in this post, alongside another awesome piece I won in a tumblr art giveaway.

 

And now, that time has come.

[Wing: When I saw the cover, I could have sworn I’d read this one before, but the summary doesn’t sound familiar at all. We’ll see how this goes.]

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Recap #118: Spinetinglers #7: Snow Day by M. T. Coffin, a.k.a. “Is This The Book You Wished For?”

Title: Spinetinglers #7 – Snow Day

Author: M.T. Coffin, a.k.a. Robert Hawks

Cover Artist: ???

Tagline: The Weather Outside Is Frightful…

Summary: LET IT SNOW!

The kids all cheer when the bus driver tells them the schools have just been closed because of the snow. But the bus can’t make it through the blinding blizzard, and soon they are trapped in the freezing cold school bus. Through the wind and the snowflakes, someone sees lights on in an old farmhouse – and it looks warm and cosy. But what they find inside doesn’t make them feel safe at all! Strange portraits with glistening red eyes stare down at them. And when the kids go to the kitchen for something to eat, they have to pull open the heavy steel door of the freezer… and that’s just when the lights go out!

Initial Thoughts

Here we have another of the supposed Goosebumps knock offs I mentioned, but much like Shivers the Spinetinglers series is much more darker and slightly geared towards a more older audience than the Goosebumps books were. I found out about this series when searching through Mark Nagata’s website and discovered one of the covers he did for this line. The first entry I ever bought was “Camp Crocodile,” but I’ve only read that book once. I have a modest number of books from this series, but “Snow Day” is currently my favorite.

M.T. Coffin is a pen name shared by a number of different authors, though.

I got this book in 2008 as a Christmas gift alongside “Weirdo Waldo’s Wax Museum,” which was appropriate because this is also one of the darkest YA horror novels I’ve ever read. I was instantly drawn to this book because, snow days and haunted houses, I live for those kind of stories, but that summary didn’t prepare me for the true horror behind it all. And none of you are prepared either. You think I’m being cute for drama, but I am NOT.

Thankfully the book isn’t all plot. A lot of it is geared towards the characters interacting with one another and their responses to the situation they find themselves trapped in. But that means this can be a slightly difficult book because you need to really focus on reading it. The author went through a lot of trouble to make sure the readers paid attention to what’s going on.

Just so you know, even if you can see the ending coming, that doesn’t make it any less horrible.

And it begins, appropriately enough, with the apocalypse.

[Wing: I’ve never heard of this series, either, but it sounds amazing so far.]

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