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

Recap #229: Sweet Valley Twins Super Chiller #2: The Ghost in the Graveyard by Francine Pascal

Sweet Valley Twins Super Edition #2: The Ghost in the Graveyard by Jamie Suzanne

Sweet Valley Twins Super Edition #2: The Ghost in the Graveyard by Jamie Suzanne

Title: Super Chillers 2: The Ghost in the Graveyard by Francine Pascal

Tagline: Is Sweet Valley Haunted?

Summary: Strange things have been happening to Sam Sloane ever since he moved from San Francisco to Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield’s neighborhood in Sweet Valley. He can’t work out why everything in town looks so familiar—or why he’s mysteriously drawn to a crumbling old mansion in town. When he visits a cemetery in the dead of night and sees a ghost who looks just like him, he turns to Elizabeth and Jessica for help.

At first the twins think Sam is imagining things. After all, who believes in ghosts? But the more the girls get to know their new friend, the more they feel he’s telling the truth. Something is out there. The twins are going to have to do a little ghost hunting of their own. But what happens if they do discover the ghost? Or worse, what happens if it discovers them?

Initial Thoughts:

Although my chosen moniker is suitably gothic, I do not have a horror pedigree.

Sure, I like horror films. They are fun, and scary. And horror books? I love me a bit of Stephen King. I’ve screamed at Freddie and Jason, cowered from Samara, laughed at Chucky and was Finally Destined to face down Fate itself.

I enjoy it… but I don’t live and breathe it.

Both Wing and Dove have a much more visceral pull into the fright genre. They devour it whole, consuming all they can in a search for more thrills and for the love of the form. It’s a long love, from childhood, and it informs their nostalgia for this very site. Go check out all the fine work on point horror dot com for proof. [Wing: Well, he’s not wrong. Even our names come from a Point Horror book.]

But me? I’m a fairweather frightmeister. If pushed, I prefer a belly laugh or a pewpewpew space epic.

The point of this confession?  A mere FYI.

This Super Chiller isn’t really in my wheelhouse. So take all you read with a hefty pinch of salt.

Onward!

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Recap #228: Sweet Valley Twins Super Chiller #1: The Christmas Ghost by Francine Pascal

Sweet Valley Twins Super Chiller #1: The Christmas Ghost by Jamie Suzanne

Sweet Valley Twins Super Chiller #1: The Christmas Ghost by Jamie Suzanne

Title: The Christmas Ghost by Francine Pascal

Tagline: This year Jessica is in for a very scary Christmas

Summary: Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield are looking forward to the most glorious Christmas ever. The tree is decorated, the presents are wrapped, and movie star Beau Dillon is coming to town! The actor, who’ll be in Sweet Valley to publicize his new movie, has agreed to help Elizabeth raise money for the children’s wing of the local hospital. But when the teen star arrives at the Wakefields’ house, it’s Jessica, not Elizabeth, he meets.

What’s the harm in pretending to be your twin? No harm, Jessica thinks – until strange things start happening and three ghostly visitors appear. Is Jessica’s imagination working overtime or have the spirits of Christmas past, present, and future come to teach Jessica the lesson of a lifetime?

Initial Thoughts:

[Wing: A couple years ago, Dove and I, along with our secret evil triplet, Raven, started recapping Sweet Valley Twins over at sweetvalley.online. We’ve recapped a handful of the Super Chillers, and Dove suggested that we cross-post them here, considering the subject matter. I’ll be doing that over the next few weeks.]

Ok, first of all, I think if you’ve listened to the podcast you may know this, but I don’t assume that everyone does: I LOVE THE SUPER CHILLERS. Actual ghosts are here.

Before I was confident enough to ask Wing to take on this gigantic recapping project, I used the “mentionitus” method of testing the waters. While we sat on PointHorror.com, griping about how rarely the bad guy (known on that site as the “Muffin Man”) was supernatural, I would say lightly-casually-oh-I’m-not-hinting, “It’s funny, Sweet Valley Twins has a much younger audience, but they always had real ghosts in their ghost stories.” Wing would raise a scathing eyebrow and say that she’d never read Sweet Valley. Ever. And she was sort of proud of that.

Then curiosity would overcome her. “Really? Because in Babysitters’ Club, it was always the Scooby Doo villain – a human pretending to be a ghost. So you have actual ghosts?”

“Actual ghosts,” I would say. “And it’s odd, they seem to act up the most over Christmas.”

And that is the groundwork of how you get someone who clearly is going to hate something, to do it anyway. [Raven: I have such an inappropriate comment here.] Mention that one thing they like. (Also, there will be werewolves in Sweet Valley High.) [Wing: I feel like I should be more upset that my BFF so blatantly exploits my weaknesses, and yet.] [Dove: I do realise that the above is basically “how to brainwash your friends”. But I had an agenda. And here we are.]

Second of all, I adore A Christmas Carol. I know most people do, but I feel like I might go the extra mile. I feel like I’ve seen every fandom-variation of this story – heck, I’ve even written one. I adore this story.

I’ll admit The Carnival Ghost is a better story on its own merits, because it’s not fanfic of an iconic tale, but this one holds a special place in my heart.

The Cover: Why is the ghost awkwardly pointing to the left? Jessica looks great, but the ghost looks like it wasn’t happy to be modelling for the cover.

[Wing: Tis truly the season for Christmas Carol retellings. We did a few over at the Devil’s Elbow (Fright Christmas and The Fright Before Christmas), and yet somehow this has the best versions of the ghosts. I mean, come on: an angry flying unicorn? Clearly this was going to win.]

[Dove: … seriously? I win?]

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Recap #227: Graveyard School Final Five Countdown: #19 – The Gator Ate Her by Tom B. Stone

Graveyard School #19: The Gator Ate Her Cover by Mark Nagata

Graveyard School #19: The Gator Ate Her Cover by Mark Nagata

Title: Graveyard School #19 – The Gator Ate Her, a.k.a. “When The Alligators Cry”

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

Cover Artist: Mark Nagata

Summary: What’s Big And Green And Mean All Over?

Algernon is about the find out. He’s spending summer vacation with his relatives, the “Swamp People.” They live near a swamp, and Algie hates swamps. He htes the smell. He hates the insects that hover aroud. But mostly he hates the dark, murky water. Below the muddy surface, Algie knows something is lurking. Something wicked… watching… waiting. He’s right!

Initial Thoughts

It had to end someday guys, and we’re down to the last five books in the series. If all goes as I hope it will, the last book, “The Spider Beside Her” will be done in time for the next Halloween Extravaganza.

Algie Green returns after having a co-starring role in “The Dead Sox,” but is back to being a main character. Continuity problems persist as Algie plans to spend the summer visiting his cousins in the South, despite having just spent the entire summer playing baseball and under the ghostly possession of Coach Geist.

This was one of the last books I needed to complete my collection after acquiring most of them in 2004. Thankfully, Thacker doesn’t pander to the lowest common denominator by shilling out a bunch of hillbilly jokes with Algie’s cousins like A.G. Cascone did with “Grandpa’s Monster Movies,” and she’s back to drop some hard environmental truths via Algie’s Great Aunt Marie.

[Wing: I’M NOT READY FOR IT TO END. I love the Graveyard School; I’m surprised by how much, actually, considering I’m only vaguely fond of Goosebumps. It’s the characters here, really. They’re G R E A T.]

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Recap #226: Short And Shivery by Robert D. San Souci – Part 3

GHOUL evening, boils and goops

It’s like if Tim Burton hosted an international buffet

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

Author/Editor/Reteller: Robert D. San Souci

Illustrator: Katherine Coville

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

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

Initial Thoughts

We’ve finally reached the end of the first “Short And Shivery” collection after six long months. In August I’ll start a recap for the second book.

Luckily this book’s got three different water-related tales to fit in with my June theme, and luckily for YOU Wing we’ve finally reached the werewolf story. UNluckily for you this is also the portion with the giant spider story. Sorry. [Wing: Werewolf outweighs giant spider, mostly. Though: WHY IS IT ALWAYS GIANT SPIDERS? I just had to talk someone out of doing it as a decoration at work this fall, too.]

[Wing: Editing to add a link to this great comment from Sarah about the golem story in this recap, the use of mythology versus theology versus folk tale (her suggestion and the best one) and the history of the golem as a response to anti-semitism. I really appreciate her taking the time to share her perspective and want to highlight it.]

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Recap #224: Graveyard School #18: The Dead Sox by Tom B. Stone

Graveyard School #18 - The Dead Sox Cover by Mark Nagata

Graveyard School #18 – The Dead Sox Cover by Mark Nagata

Title: Graveyard School #18 – The Dead Sox, a.k.a. “The Devil Went Down To Graveyard School”

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

Cover Artist: Mark Nagata

Summary: Three Strikes? You’re Dead!

Park Addams thinks it’s going to be a great summer. He’s just made the all-star team, and it seems like they can’t be beat – until they meet the Belville All-Stars. Shutout? Try wipeout! No-hitter? No one even sees the ball! How do they do it? The Grove Hill All-Stars are suddenly scared to death. Welcome to the field of screams.

Initial Thoughts

Welcome to the last sports-related entry in the Graveyard School series, and just in the middle of baseball season. [Wing: Ugh, baseball season. That long stretch of time between the Stanley Cup finals (#weallbleedblue) and college football.]

Despite what the summary probably has you thinking and despite Algie Green’s role, this is not a direct sequel to “Scream, Team!” even though it features another evil sports team from Belville. No return appearances by Coach Sandman here, folks. This time we’re going less “Cackling scientist” and we’re looking at something a bit more… Faustian.

This book does present something of a continuity problem since it’s a summertime story, but overall its only real downside is the inclusion of Park’s older sister who is a complete bitch. [Wing: #misognyisforpussies] Thankfully she has no real role to play beyond a few insults so she doesn’t drag the story down too much.

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

Detective_Comics_49

Detective Comics 49 Cover

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

Writer: Bill Finger

Penciller: Bob Kane

Inkers: Bob Kane, Jerry Robinson, George Roussos

Letterer: George Roussos

Editor: Whitney Ellsworth

Initial Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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Recap #219: The Witching Hour #1

Witching Hour #1 Cover

The Witching Hour #1 Cover by Nick Cardy

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

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

Cover Artist: Nick Cardy

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

Initial Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

The Three Witches In Sandman

Cynthia, Mildred and Mordred in The Sandman

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

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

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

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

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Recap #218: Graveyard School #16: Don’t Tell Mummy by Tom B. Stone

Graveyard School #16 - Don't Tell Mummy

Graveyard School #16 – Don’t Tell Mummy Cover by Mark Nagata

Title: Graveyard School #16 – Don’t Tell Mummy, a.k.a. “Morton Explains It All”

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

Cover Artist: Mark Nagata

Summary: Please Don’t Feed The Mummies…

Take a Graveyard School class trip to the museum with Park and his friends. Sneak away from the others. Rattle the dinosaur bones. Jump out and say “Boo!” to the museum guard. Play a little hide-and-seek. But whatever you do, don’t go near the mummies. One of those mummies isn’t wrapped right, as Park found out just before he disappeared…

Initial Thoughts

Now we’ve reached a real treat in the Graveyard School franchise, and while it’s not one of my all time favorites I can understand why it’s so great. In this book, we’re introduced to one-shot character Morton who might be the franchise’s Ensemble Darkhorse. How do I know this?

I can say I was the person who created the Graveyard School wikipedia page AND the TV Tropes page, but some time later some person added entries and tropes pertaining to Morton. I know it wasn’t me, and it amazes me that Morton had some fans out there despite how obscure this wonderful series is. But it’s easy to see why because Morton’s awesome. She’s sarcastic and take charge and doesn’t take anyone’s bullshit.

Come everyone, come with me as we appreciate Morton.

Oh and Wing get ready for a surprise appearance from someone we haven’t seen since 2017.

[Wing: I love the sound of Morton, and I already wish she wasn’t just a one-shot.]

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

GHOUL evening, boils and goops

It’s like if Tim Burton hosted an international buffet

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

Author/Editor/Reteller: Robert D. San Souci

Illustrator: Katherine Coville

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

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

Initial Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

Cover Artist: Mark Fredrickson

Tagline: This is no tooth fairy!

Summary: Who’s watching while you sleep?

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

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

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

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

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

Initial Thoughts

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

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

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

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