DOWN IN FRONT
When you find your dad’s old porn stash and realize you’re following the plot
Title: Deadtime Stories #10 – Grandpa’s Monster Movies, a.k.a. “A Nightmare on Green Acres”
Author: A.G. Cascone, a.k.a. Annette and Gina Cascone
Cover Artist: ???
Tagline: The midnight show is a scream.
Summary: Home movies can be a horror!
C.T. and his cousin Lea are staying at their grandparents’ old farmhouse. It’s Grandpa’s seventieth birthday, and everyone’s celebrating with a big family reunion. All the weird relatives are here, and all they seem to want to talk about are “the good old days.”
C.T. and Lea think the “good old days” are pretty boring – until they find some home movies hidden away in the attic, movies from when their grandfather was just a boy.
The home movies give them a piece of family history that their relatives never talked about.
It seems that horses, cows, pigs, and chickens aren’t the only creatures Grandpa’s been taking care of on the farm. And Uncle Ernie isn’t the only one at the family reunion whose back is covered with hair. [Wing: WEREWOLF?!]
C.T. and Lea discover there’s a monster among them – and this creature is dying to eat a lot more than the birthday cake!
It’s my grandfather’s birthday this month so I felt this would be an appropriate book to recap. Believe me, I wish I’d chosen something else because of all the hillbilly jokes in this one.
“Deadtime Stories” was written by sisters Annette and Gina Cascone under a shared pen name. It was another series where most of the entries were independent of the other, save for the two “Tiny Town” books which inexplicably featured an identical knock-off of Chucky the Killer Doll named “Hurley the Hobo.”
What the hell, Jacobus?
Surprisingly, Nickelodeon produced a short TV adaptation a decade after the original series ended, which of course led to several books being reprinted with new covers. The episodes always featured a framing story of a babysitter narrating the books to the two little kids she was watching, and them always screaming when she gets to the twist ending.
[Wing: That is a serious Chucky knock-off.]
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Blob Loves Thing, Pass It On
Title: Graveyard School #10 – There’s a Ghost in the Boys’ Bathroom, a.k.a. “Okay seriously, who the fuck is watching the door? How did a ghost get in here?”
Author: Tom B. Stone, a.k.a. Nola Thacker, a.k.a. D.E. Athkins
Cover Artist: Cam DeLeon
Summary: Is Graveyard School Going Down The Drain?
Toilets exploding! Paper towels floating in midair! Disappearing soap! There’s no doubt Graveyard School is haunted. But why did this ghost choose the boys’ bathroom, of all places? A few determined students are ready for a ghost hunt? Can they flush it out?
This. This is where it all began for me. A chance purchase at a grade school book sale that evolved into devotion to one of the best and grossly underrated horror series of all time.
For most of the last couple of decades I only put this book in a special place because it was the first I acquired, even though it wasn’t really my favorite. I used to think Alex, the main character, was one of the blander protagonists. However, re-reads over the years have changed my opinion and this is one of the most action packed entries I can think of. And I’m impressed by how much Alex is willing to buckle down when other people are in danger.
[Wing: This series is a blast, and I can’t believe I missed it growing up.]
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?
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.]
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.]
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.
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.]
He’s still not as scary as Michael Keaton
Title: Graveyard School #9 – The Abominable Snow Monster, a.k.a. “Where’s Global Warming When You Need It?”
Cover Artist: Came DeLeon
Summary: There Must Have Been Some Magic…
Kyle’s convinced – he’s created a monster! But what else is there to do when Grove Hill gets hit with thirteen snow storms?
Now his sinister snowman is on the loose, and Kyle has to figure out a way to melt him down. If Kyle fails, the snow monster is sure to go on a rampage – and he won’t be a jolly happy soul!
Nothing puts you in the mood for summer than a nice story about a killer snowman. It’s interesting to me that Kyle Chilton would only be the main character in two books that are both about winter, but the placement is odd because I have to believe this takes place AFTER “Here Comes Santa Claws.” The book explicitly ends during the last few days of winter when spring is around the corner. For some reason, online bookstores like Amazon made it sound like “Here Comes Santa Claws” was a sequel to this book, even though it’s NOT. There’s mention of a great aunt’s funeral, but it definitely didn’t sound like Mab’s.
So take your mind off the July weather by imagining all the trimmings of winter. Roaring fires in the hearth, delicious mugs of piping hot chocolate, thick wool socks on your feet, plush and cuddly quilts and comforters to keep you nice and toasty, and the sound of hot radiator steam fogging your windows.
[Wing: You son of a bitch.]
The scrapped version
The published cover
Title: Ghosts of Fear Street #31 – Escape of the He-Beast, a.k.a. “Hecula the He-Beast #32 – Death by Dying”
Author: Page McBrier
Cover Artist: Happy Boy Pat (Published), Mark Garro (Original)
Tagline: This Monster Is Real – Real Hungry!
Summary: He’s hairy. He’s scary. He’s escaped.
He is Hecula the He-Beast – the coolest monster in comic book history. And Jamie Kolker is his number-one fan. Jamie loves the He-Beast’s horns. His teeth. His claws. And especially the way he hunts his prey.
Then one day Jamie manages to get his hands on the computer program of the artist who draws Hecula. Somehow the program releases his comic book hero into the real world.
Suddenly Jamie isn’t a fan anymore. He’s monster chow!
It’s Comic Con International time, so for this month I decided to do some recaps focusing on comic related horror (except for Graveyard School, which sadly never had a comic-based book). Comics are as important to me as the books I read for Point Horror, but they are a never-ending source of stress for me because it seems like the two major companies are run by complete morons. Word of warning: When you make statements about wanting your favorite character back or for a current writer to stop writing your favorite title, BE AS SPECIFIC AS POSSIBLE BECAUSE THE WORLD OF COMICS IS LIKE A LIVING MONKEY’S PAW AND YOU WILL GET FUCKED OVER.
A convention sketch of Hecula by Guy Dorian, one of my con regulars
So, funny story. “Escape of the He-Beast” was originally going to be book #28 in the Ghosts of Fear Street series, following “Parents from the 13th Dimension.” There was even a preview for it and, as you can see, Mark Garro completed a cover for the original release. For whatever reason, the book must’ve been pushed back when the Fear Street series was transferred over to Gold Key, with the published #28 being “Hide and Shriek II.” I own all of the Gold Key-published books and they’re my favorite of this series because I LOVE the early 90s CGI cover artwork.
[Wing: Awww, fear of technology setting things free into the world goes back for ages, and I love it.]
Title: Goosebumps #35 – A Shocker On Shock Street, a.k.a. “Erin and Marty’s Bogus Journey”
Cover Artist: Tim Jacobus
Goosebumps Graphix Illustrator: Jamie Tolagson
Tagline: It’s a real dead end.
Summary: Talk About Shock Treatment!
Erin Wright and her best friend, Marty, love horror movies. Especially Shocker on Shock Street movies. All kinds of scary creatures live on Shock Street. The Toadinator. Ape Face. The Mad Mangler.
But when Erin and Marty visit the new Shocker Studio Theme Park, they get the scare of their lives.
First the tram gets stuck in The Cave of the Living Creeps. Then they’re attacked by a group of enormous praying mantises!
Real life is a whole lot scarier than the movies. But Shock Street isn’t really real. Is it?
“Shock Street” has been a personal favorite of mine for the same reason as “One Day At Horrorland,” and it’s the world building. Because the book is built around a fictional horror movie franchise, I’ve repeatedly gone back for re-reads to devour all the information available on the Shock Street films and creatures. You don’t know how delighted I was to learn it was getting a graphic novel adaption, illustrated by comic artist Jamie Tolagson, from Scholastic’s “Goosebumps Graphix” line, which made up for how disappointing the TV show version was. And hey, it meant reference for commissions! I added a couple of scanned pages from the Graphix adaption; sorry about the quality. Again, I was worried about wrecking the spine.
One of my earliest examples of fan fiction, way back in middle school, was my attempt at writing a story about one of the films mentioned in the book. Of course looking back my story was God awful. I still tried to come up with ideas for what the different Shock Street movies were about, which I’ll get into during the final thoughts alongside a small gallery of commissions of Shock Street monsters.
Title: Ghosts of Fear Street #23 – “Why I’m Not Afraid Of Ghosts,” A.K.A. “Let’s Scare Oliver To Death!”
Author: Nina Kiriki Hoffman
Cover Artist: Broeck Steadman
Tagline: Boo Who?
Summary: The Ghosts With The Most!
Robbie and Dora are the spookiest ghosts on Fear Street. At least, they think they are.
Until Oliver Bowen moves into their house.
Oliver can’t be scared! The kid has an explanation for everything. The sheet rising off a chair all by itself? Only the wind. The howls and moans at midnight? His sister having a nightmare. The horrible face in the attic window? Just a weird reflection.
But Robbie and Dora have a plan. A plan to scare Oliver out of his socks – and out of their house for good!
I’ve had a recap in mind for this one since last year but I had trouble fitting it into the schedule. I managed to purchase this book back when there were a handful of “Ghosts of Fear Street” volumes still in-stock at Barnes & Noble. I remember ordering this one because it’s the only one that seemed interesting.
It truly is one of the best in the series because it’s one of the few books told from the point of view of the villains, even though Robbie and Dora aren’t really that bad. There’s a whole set of rules established for what they can and can’t do as ghosts that’s not really explored in the other books.
Nina Kiriki Hoffman is believed to have also ghostwritten two entries in the Goosebumps franchise, specifically “Return of the Mummy” and “Deep Trouble II,” even though Stine claims he wrote all of the books himself. I haven’t found any info that denies or confirms that info, but I do know she also wrote “I Was A Sixth Grade Zombie,” a later entry in this series which I also love and will be recapping in September.
Fair warning Wing, Oliver has a pet tarantula, but it doesn’t feature too heavily into the plot.
[Wing: Did Stine have a pet tarantula or something? They keep showing up in his books.]
Title: Fear Street #31: Switched
Cover Artist: Bill Schmidt
Tagline: A mind is a terrible thing to lose.
Summary: She traded places with a killer…
There’s a little cabin in the Fear Street woods where a girl can really lose her mind. In fact, she can change it into someone else’s. That’s what happened to Nicole and Lucy. Now Lucy is in Nicole’s body and Nicole is in Lucy’s. What a trip!
But for Nicole, what a trap! Because Lucy is using Nicole’s body to get away with murder!
[Wing: Why oh why oh why do people ever think switching bodies intentionally (or letting someone else take over their body) is a good idea in these books? Why? I’m looking at you, The Accident.]
I’m really not sure what I can say about this book right now without spoiling things or making blatant hints about how it will end. I can’t compare it to the other entries, other than I can safely say the main character might qualify as one of the few genuinely depressed protagonists in these books.
In the meantime, enjoy this awesome commission.
(Nicole Darwin and Lucy Kramer by Jerry Gaylord – I got this from Jerry several years ago at New York Comic Con. His wife Penelope did a commission of Holly Flynn from “Fear Street: Lights Out” for me at the same show. The two are awesome artists and they’ve become semi-regulars for me. I love the lightning bolt effect Jerry carried over from the cover)
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)
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!]
Evil twins, Wing and Dove, and their friends recap Point Horror and other teen genre fiction.
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