Posted in Other Recaps

Recap #251: Spinetinglers #16: We Wish You A Scary Christmas by M.T. Coffin

We Wish You A Scary Christmas Cover
We Wish You A Scary Christmas Cover

Title: Spinetinglers #16 – We Wish You A Scary Christmas, a.k.a. “I’ve Got Santa In My Basement”

Author: M.T. Coffin, a.k.a. George Edward Stanley

Cover Artist: ???

Tagline: Not A Creature Was Stirring…

Summary: It’s Every Kid’s Worst Nightmare!

There’s a rumor going around that Santa Claus will not be making his rounds this year… and worse yet, he may be gone forever! Santa Claus is missing… and no one knows where he is.

But somewhere, deep in a dark basement, a figure lies hidden, helplessly held prisoner by some strange people. And if you dare to try and set the prisoner free… beware! You may be spending your Christmas trapped in that same dark basement… with no New Year in sight.

Initial Thoughts

You guys remember the Spinetinglers review I did for last Christmas, the magnificently underrated “Snow Day?” Well I’m following up with the OTHER holiday-related entry in this series. Unlike “Snow Day” this is explicitly about Christmas and it’s not as dark as “Snow Day.” But I know Wing always has some keen observations to make on Santa-related fiction so I’m wondering how she’ll feel about this one. [Wing: Huh, I’ve never felt like I have keen observations about Santa, but I’m well pleased by this compliment. Thank you! And as always, we’re celebrating specific holidays late around here, but that’s just how we roll.]

The drawing point for this novel for me would have to be the empathy the main characters have for their friend.

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Posted in Graveyard School recaps

Recap #245: The Last Graveyard School Recap: #28 – The Spider Beside Her by Tom B. Stone

Graveyard School #28: The Spider Beside Her Cover by Mark Nagata
Graveyard School #28: The Spider Beside Her Cover by Mark Nagata

Title: Graveyard School #28 – “The Spider Beside Her,” a.k.a. “The End”

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

Cover Artist: Mark Nagata

Summary: Along Came A Spider…

And Sat Down Beside Her…

And They Became Friends?

What has eight legs

And spins webs of silk

And sucks up people

Like they were glasses of milk?

Ask Ari Spinner. She likes spiders. They don’t make her scream. They make her smile. She and the spider are best friends. And there’s nothing she wouldn’t do for a best friend.

Is there?

Initial Thoughts

In all seriousness Wing if you really are able to comment on this recap despite your arachnophobia it really means a lot to me. I was able to add two pictures, one of Ari throwing a spider and another, well…

I swear I’ll make it up to you.

[Wing: If this wasn’t my beloved Graveyard School, and the end of it at that, I doubt I’d even try to make it through this, but since it is, I’m giving it a try. I love this series, and I love Jude’s recaps, and I’m sad to say good-bye to this world.]

So.

Here we are.

The last of the Graveyard School books. I’ve been recapping this series for two years and it’s finally come to an end. No more Park. No more Stacey. No more puke perfect Polly Hannah. No more Dr. Morthouse and Basement Bart. No more recollections about Ms. Stoker or the Skeleton on the Skateboard or the Ghost in the Boys’ Bathroom.

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Posted in Other Recaps

Recap #243: All Hallow’s Eve by Mitchell Perkins, John B. Lang, and Vickie Williams

All Hallow's Eve Cover
All Hallow’s Eve Cover

Title: All Hallow’s Eve a.k.a. “Mighty Morphin’ Pumpkin Rangers”

Writer: Mitchell Perkins

Artist: John B. Lang

Letterer: Vickie Williams (R.I.P.)

Summary:

Nesbitt’s Abbey towered over the tiny village of Wicklow, Ireland. Isolated, the abbey was occupied by a group of farming monks.

For years the villagers of Wicklow felt safe as they slumbered off to sleep — watching the monks’ late-night candles as they kept their nocturnal vigil over their precious books and scrolls.

Then, on a fog-shrouded night, something foul and nasty entered the abbey. One by one the old monks were driven from Nesbitt’s Abbey.

Now Nesbitt’s Abbey is haunted by Sam O’Hain and his evil hobgoblins. Will the evil goblins ever be driven from the old abbey?

John the McCormley children: Lauren, Trey, Ashley, and Rachel as they are told the story of the very first Jack O’lantern.

It’s a tale for…

All hallow’s eve.

Initial Thoughts

All Hallow's Eve Introduction
All Hallow’s Eve Introduction

Mainstream comics have been pretty awful lately. I still haven’t been able to reach my therapist to discuss how badly I reacted to DC’s “Heroes in Crisis” and Marvel’s currently a bunch of assholes for firing Chuck Wendig because he wasn’t “Civil” to those Comicsgate morons. So I felt like focusing on some obscure and independent stuff to try and take my mind off things.

The above was written last year when I started this draft and, honestly, things haven’t changed that much so I stand by my previous statements.

“All Hallow’s Eve” is another obscure gem I discovered back in the 2000s, created by Forest Light Productions through Innovation Comics. Innovation was a company that did a lot of interesting stuff like adaptations of Anne Rice’s books, the Child’s Play movies, comic tie-ins for Quantum Leap and Lost in Space, and they even did the phenomenal “Nightmares on Elm Street” miniseries. It was a six issue comic that bridged the gap between “The Dream Child” and “Freddy’s Dead.” That’s not even mentioning the gorgeous graphic novel they did of “Phantom of the Opera.”

All Hallow's Eve Back Cover
All Hallow’s Eve Back Cover

When I purchased this, I had no idea what it was going to be about. I couldn’t find any information about the plot or any scans of the interior pages. Nothing! All I had to go on was the name and cover. This has a very 1980s animated movie vibe to it and offers a rather unique take on the jack o’lantern myth. It feels like the sort of thing Don Bluth would’ve worked on, of course I’m not an expert on his work.

I’ve tried to find out more about this graphic novel, but there’s virtually no information anywhere. I got in contact with former Innovation president, David Campiti, to see if he could direct me to the creative team. Unfortunately he said he lost touch with Mitchell Perkins and John Lang, and poor Vickie Williams died a few years ago. So once again it’s down to me to tell the world about stories like this, because God knows no one else will.

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Posted in Other Recaps

Recap #242: Halloween Extravaganza – Fillmore!: Episode #21, “The Unseen Reflection”

Fillmore Title Card
Fillmore Title Card

Title: Fillmore! – The Unseen Reflection

Director: Christian Roman

Writer: Madellaine Paxson

Summary: Vampirita, a series of novels about an astronaut vampire, has attracted a huge following at X – and none more so that Torrey and Terri. The next installment of the series will be released in a fortnight, and until then, fans can audition to star in the next book! Terri and Torrey start to build projects to win the auditions, but every time one is finished, it gets sabotaged. Naturally, the main suspects are two members of a rival novel’s fanclub – TQ, a mysterious and riddle-talking guy with an affinity for multicultural cuisine, and Trace, a girl who never seems to be happy with the color of her hair. But evidence points to neither… so just who could have enough knowledge about the projects to find the perfect way to sabotage them?

Initial Thoughts

Now it’s time for a very special recap on Devil’s Elbow, featuring that cult classic Disney show “Fillmore!”

Airing in the early 2000s, “Fillmore!” was an animated series done in the style of 1970s crime and detective shows set within a middle school. Specifically it was set within X Middle School, one of the biggest middle schools in America. That’s not even hyperbole because X Middle School is fucking HUGE. It’s practically a city. To put this in perspective, they have clubs for everything including a field for bocce ball, a corn maze so large they had to send a rescue team to save some poor kid who came out screaming “IT ALL LOOKS THE SAME!!!!”, an expo center for science fairs, and a fucking JAI ALAI STADIUM. An entire stadium SOLELY for jai alai.

The main characters are Cornelius C. Fillmore (Orlando Brown) and Ingrid Third (Tara Strong). Fillmore was once the worst juvenile delinquent to ever attend X Middle School until he turned over a new leaf and joined the Safety Patrol. Ingrid, a goth girl with a photographic memory making her the smartest kid in school, was another former delinquent who transferred to X from a school in Nepal following a prank with a stink bomb and a pinata.

As partners in the Safety Patrol, Fillmore and Ingrid have gone around solving a number of bizarre crimes, including:

  • The destruction of an entire model train expo
  • The kidnapping of X Middle School’s beloved mascot, Lobsty the Lobster, during Spirit Week
  • A serial shredder going around destroying school projects with a handheld paper shredder
  • The tagging of a graffiti artist going by the handle “Stainless,” whose antics lead Fillmore and Ingrid to seek the aid of another tagger put in permanent detention ala Hannibal Lector for something unspeakable he drew with only a mini golf pencil
  • The theft of EVERY SINGLE BOOK in the school’s massive library
  • A group of students forming a vigilante squad to get revenge on the school’s bullies by traumatizing them for life
  • A counterfeit baseball card ring organized by a visiting Canadian diplomat’s son who has “Diplomatic immunity” and thus can’t be touched by the Safety Patrol
  • Threats made against the school’s star chess player, Checkmatey, who’s inexplicably a white gangsta kid who churns out cringeworthy raps

Every single crime in the series is treated with the same amount of ridiculous seriousness, the exact way shows like “Starsky & Hutch,” would handle them. It’s got chase sequences up the ying-yang, interrogations, and Fillmore and Ingrid getting chewed out by their superior officer, Chief Vallejo.

So yeah, the “X” probably stands for “Xtra” because everyone in this show is operating at 75 out of 10. The best is probably the school’s principal, Dawn S. Folsom, voiced by Wendie Malick giving a delightfully hammy performance. She spends most of her time either sweetly complimenting the Safety Patrol when she’s not threatening to have them all shipped to Kazakhstan, or she’ll turn their HQ into her own personal sauna. She’s such an egotist the school’s drama club did a musical about her life story. My favorite scene involves her ranting about making sure Checkmatey brings glory to the school while she’s vocally changing the settings on her massage chair.

“And then the void in our trophy case, and the VOID in my HEART, WILL BE FILLED! DEEP TISSUE!!!

Unfortunately, she’s not in this episode.

No I picked this episode to review on Devil’s Elbow because the conflict involves sabotage being inflicted against members of a fan club for a book series about a vampire astronaut. The main suspects are members of a rival fan club for a different franchise. The episode offers a look into fandom wars, toxic fandoms, and what happens when creators stop giving a shit. [Wing: Well this should be interesting.]

As luck would have it, back when the show was still on Toon Disney (or Disney XD, at the time) they once did a marathon of all the episodes that hadn’t yet aired on this channel. I recorded all of them on a video tape I still own and still works. This episode’s the last one on the tape, so I’ve known about it for years.

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Posted in Graveyard School recaps

Recap #240: Graveyard School Final 2 Countdown: #20 – Creature Teacher by Tom B. Stone

Creature Teacher Cover by Mark Nagata
Creature Teacher Cover by Mark Nagata

Title: Graveyard School #20 – “Creature Teacher,” a.k.a. “The One Where Nola Thacker Apologizes For ‘Let’s Scare The Teacher To Death'”

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

Cover Artist: Mark Nagata

Summary: A for Awesome. B. for Beautiful. C for Cool. D for… DEAD!

She’s so sweet. So nice. So different from the other monstrous teachers at Graveyard School. Everyone likes Ms. King, the substitute teacher. Even Bentley – who doesn’t like any teacher. But one day Bentley discovers something about Ms. King. Something awful. Something scary. And now he might have to stay after school. Forever!

Initial Thoughts

It’s back to school time and we’ve returned to the hallowed halls of Graveyard School after a four month summer break. Here we are with the penultimate “Graveyard School” recap and I’m still not over the departure of Jordie Flanders-DON’T LOOK AT ME.

This is the only other book in the series you could consider a sort of sequel, even though it’s not a direct follow-up to Bent’s previous time as the protagonist. It does deliberately mention the events of “Let’s Scare The Teacher To Death” but not enough to spoil the twist for those who hadn’t read it.

Despite Jordie’s prominent role in the last book, she’s nowhere to be found in here. That sort of makes sense if we’re considering she’s been keeping her distance from Bent and no longer wants anything to do with him. However, Thacker does her best to sort of give Bent… CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT. He’s nowhere near as frustrating as he was in book #8, and whether or not this was Thacker consciously realizing he was too unlikable or accidental, I don’t know.

However, this is the only time you could legitimately call Dr. Morthouse the villain of the story. While she’s always lurked as a threatening background presence, she’s never flat out been the direct antagonist before this one.

[Wing: I’M NOT READY FOR THIS TO END. #resurrectgraveyardschool2019]

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Posted in Goosebumps Recaps

Recap #239: Goosebumps #16: One Day at HorrorLand by R.L. Stine

One Day at HorrorLand Cover by Tim Jacobus
One Day at HorrorLand Cover by Tim Jacobus

Title: Goosebumps #16 – “One Day at HorrorLand,” a.k.a “TW: Pinching”

Author: R.L. Stine

Cover Artist: Tim Jacobus

Tagline: Enter, if you dare…

Summary: The Next Ride Might Be Their Last…

Lizzy’s family got lost trying to find Zoo Gardens Theme Park. But that’s okay. They found another theme park instead.

In HorrorLand there are no crowds. No lines. And the admission is free. It seems like a pretty cool place.

But there was before Lizzy’s heart-stopping ride on the deadly Doom Slide. And that terrifying experience in the House of Mirrors.

Because there’s something weird about the rides in HorrorLand.

Something a little too creepy.

A little too real…

Initial Thoughts

I started the draft for this recap TWO YEARS AGO when I first began writing for Point Horror. I never finished it because there never seemed to be an appropriate time for it, until now with the amusement park and vampire theme I tried to set up for August.

Wing because I know you better now I have to warn you there’s mention of spiders near the end of the book.

This has been one of my favorite books in the original series for as long as I can remember, because I love the concept of HorrorLand. I love it when Stine tries to establish there’s an entire world in his books even though it’s unlikely they’ll be visited again, because it leaves me wanting more. Surprisingly, this book has received a lot of attention over the years. It got a sequel in the 2000 series, a two-episode TV adaption, a board game, a computer game sequel, a graphic novel adaption by JILL FREAKING THOMPSON, a video game adaptation for the PS2 and the Nintendo Wii, AND an entire spin-off series (which was admittedly lackluster). [Wing: Well damn, that’s a lot! I don’t think I’ve read/seen/played this one before, so this should be fun.]

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Posted in Graveyard School recaps

Recap #237: Graveyard School Final 3 Countdown: #25 – Escape from Vampire Park by Tom B. Stone

Graveyard School #25: Escape from Vampire Park Cover by Mark Nagata
Graveyard School #25: Escape from Vampire Park Cover by Mark Nagata

Title: Graveyard School #25 – Escape from Vampire Park, a.k.a. “#judedelucalovesjordieflandersSHUTUP”

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

Cover Artist: Mark Nagata

Summary: Take A Ride In The Tunnel Of Blood…

Cover your eyes. Scream your brains out. It’s the scariest ride in the whole amusement park. But brave Nathan isn’t afraid. He knows the ride is one big fake. Except now he’s about to find out how the Tunnel of Blood got its name. He’s about to stop laughing and start screaming. Too late, Nate.

The worst ride of your life has just begun.

Initial Thoughts

We’re down to three and the last summer book before we return to the hallowed halls of Graveyard School. But returning after such a long absence is none other than my favorite, Jordie “The Human Computer” Flanders.

Interestingly, as you could tell from the summary Jordie is not the main character. That role’s taken by newbie Nathan, who had never been mentioned as a member of the sixth grade class until now. Yet Jordie is still the one who does most of the investigating into the creepy things at Vampire Park, and Nathan’s targeted mainly because people think he and Jordie are friends. It works in a way because, since Jordie’s the co-protagonist, we get to see someone else react to her Jordie-isms.

Along the way, we also realize (for those of us who know what happened in “Camp Dracula“) that Jeep Holmes and his family are apparently REALLY bad at their jobs.

So join me as we say goodbye to Jordie.

[Wing: I’m not ready for this series to end. I’m not, I’m not, I’m not. But I am excited to see Jordie again.]

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Posted in Other Recaps

Recap #236: The Last Vampire #8 | Thirst #4: The Shadow of Death by Christopher Pike (Part Three)

Cover of The Last Vampire #8 | Thirst #4 Shadow of Death by Christopher Pike
The Last Vampire #8 | Thirst #4 Shadow of Death by Christopher Pike

Title: The Last Vampire #8 | Thirst #4: The Shadow of Death

Summary: I have returned to life, but it’s to a suddenly lonely world.

Alisa is a five-thousand-year-old vampire, stronger and more cunning than her adversaries. But now she’s trapped in the body of a newborn vampire and at the mercy of a terrible thirst. Worst of all, she’s facing enemies whose fierce desire for domination grows ever stronger. The immortal race the Telar is threatening to release a virus to decimate humanity. But Alisa and her friends can’t take down the Telar on their own, and they must turn to the mysterious organisation the IIC for help. But the IIC has secrets of its own and may have ulterior motives. With two rivals and no one to trust, Alisa must rely on her dark side to defeat them. But it could cost her life, or her soul… [Wing: How many goddamn times is she going to die?]

Tagline: Tortured Soul. Final Judgment. [Wing: Yeah, right. I’ll believe this is the end when I see it.]

Initial Thoughts

Previously on Sita-has-a-new-body-and-the-world-may-end-soon-whoops: Sita was in Teri’s body. Sita’s back in Sita’s body. Teri’s body is dead. The Telar want to use a virus to end the world. The IIC wants to use their Array to at least control the world and possibly end it. Sita’s off to IIC to try to blackmail and bribe them into being used to take out the Telar. Good times, good times.

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Posted in Graveyard School recaps

Recap #234: Graveyard School Final Four Countdown: #24 – Scream Around The Campfire by Tom B. Stone

Scream Around the Campfire Cover by Mark Nagata
Scream Around the Campfire Cover by Mark Nagata

Title: Graveyard School #24 – Scream Around The Campfire, a.k.a. “I Heard The Bigfoot Call My Name”

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

Cover Artist: Mark Nagata

Summary: Who Is The Happy Camper From The Dark Side?

Alex wishes he had stayed home this summer. He hates camp. He hates the goofy songs. He hates the gross food. But most of all, he hates the creepy campfire stories. Is he the only one who notices that they’ve been coming true? And will he be able to stop whoever it is before he becomes just another marshmallow on the campfire of life?

Initial Thoughts

Four, repeat, we are down to FOUR books left before the series is over and we are once again leaving the confines of Grove Hill. This is the second of the two summer camp books and Thacker manages to avoid doing a total retread of “Camp Dracula.”

When I first heard of this particular entry back in 2004, my interest got peaked at the discovery the main character was none other than Alex Lee. Alex being the protagonist of the first “Graveyard School” book I read, I was eager to see what he would do in his next protagonist role. However, upon reading said book for the first time…

Guys I gotta level with you, this book is rather strange. Mainly, it’s the reveal behind what is causing the different campfire stories to come to life. But Thacker also includes a couple of unique ghost stories shared by the campers, although we see a retread of the infamous “Hook” urban legend.

At the very least, one thing to enjoy is the return of Alex’s pragmatic moral backbone and how he doesn’t strive to be some perfect angel yet is openly disgusted when other people are being hurt.

Also, the supporting character is named Garth which I fucking love because one of my favorite comic characters of all time is named Garth.

[Wing: No idea how the book is going to come across, but I love that book blurb up there. It sounds GREAT and makes me want to go to summer camp again.]

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Posted in Other Recaps

Recap #233: The Last Vampire #8 | Thirst #4: The Shadow of Death by Christopher Pike (Part Two)

Cover of The Last Vampire #8 | Thirst #4 Shadow of Death by Christopher Pike
The Last Vampire #8 | Thirst #4 Shadow of Death by Christopher Pike

Title: The Last Vampire #8 | Thirst #4: The Shadow of Death (Chapters 8-14)

Summary: I have returned to life, but it’s to a suddenly lonely world.

Alisa is a five-thousand-year-old vampire, stronger and more cunning than her adversaries. But now she’s trapped in the body of a newborn vampire and at the mercy of a terrible thirst. Worst of all, she’s facing enemies whose fierce desire for domination grows ever stronger. The immortal race the Telar is threatening to release a virus to decimate humanity. But Alisa and her friends can’t take down the Telar on their own, and they must turn to the mysterious organisation the IIC for help. But the IIC has secrets of its own and may have ulterior motives. With two rivals and no one to trust, Alisa must rely on her dark side to defeat them. But it could cost her life, or her soul… [Wing: How many goddamn times is she going to die?]

Tagline: Tortured Soul. Final Judgment. [Wing: Yeah, right. I’ll believe this is the end when I see it.]

Initial Thoughts

Previously on Sita-has-a-new-body-and-the-world-may-end-soon, well, that pretty much says it all. Basically, half the team is off trying to come up with an actual working cure for that Telar virus that the Telar might use to end the world and half of them are off trying to learn more about the IIC and their Array which the IIC might use to end the world. Sita hopes to make the IIC an ally instead. Matt thinks that’s a terrible idea. I bet you can see who is leading which sub-team.

And away we go, picking up right where we left off, looking for Frederick, Freddy, who can tell them more about the Array and the newly mentioned Cradle.

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Posted in Other Recaps

Recap #230: The Last Vampire #8 | Thirst #4: The Shadow of Death by Christopher Pike (Part One)

Cover of The Last Vampire #8 | Thirst #4 Shadow of Death by Christopher Pike
The Last Vampire #8 | Thirst #4 Shadow of Death by Christopher Pike

Title: The Last Vampire #8 | Thirst #4: The Shadow of Death (Chapters 1 -7)

Summary: I have returned to life, but it’s to a suddenly lonely world.

Alisa is a five-thousand-year-old vampire, stronger and more cunning than her adversaries. But now she’s trapped in the body of a newborn vampire and at the mercy of a terrible thirst. Worst of all, she’s facing enemies whose fierce desire for domination grows ever stronger. The immortal race the Telar is threatening to release a virus to decimate humanity. But Alisa and her friends can’t take down the Telar on their own, and they must turn to the mysterious organisation the IIC for help. But the IIC has secrets of its own and may have ulterior motives. With two rivals and no one to trust, Alisa must rely on her dark side to defeat them. But it could cost her life, or her soul… [Wing: How many goddamn times is she going to die?]

Tagline: Tortured Soul. Final Judgment. [Wing: Yeah, right. I’ll believe this is the end when I see it.]

Initial Thoughts

Yet another one I’ve never read before and after the end of the last one, The Eternal Dawn, I’m not exactly looking forward to this one because W T F PIKE?! In case you have blocked this from your mind, I’ll sum up: Alisa. is in. someone else’s. body. Teri’s body. Teri her granddaughter-with-too-many-greats-to-count’s body. YUP.

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Posted in Sweet Valley recaps

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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Posted in Sweet Valley recaps

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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Posted in Graveyard School recaps

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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Posted in Other Recaps

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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Posted in Graveyard School recaps

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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Posted in Other Recaps

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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Posted in Other Recaps

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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Posted in Graveyard School recaps

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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Posted in Other Recaps

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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