Posted in Nightmare Hall recaps

Recap #153: Nightmare Hall #12: The Whisperer by Diane Hoh

Diane Hoh - Nightmare Hall - The Whisperer
Diane Hoh – Nightmare Hall – The Whisperer

Title: Nightmare Hall #12: The Whisperer

Summary: Shea Fallon can’t tell anyone what she did. She knows it was wrong. Terribly wrong. But she had to do it – she had no choice. Anyway, she’s sure nobody will find out. Until she hears the whisper on the telephone. “You don’t have to worry. No one will know what you’ve done. I’ve seen to that.” Who is the whisperer, and how does he know? Shea wonders. And even more terrifying…what will the whisperer’s price be to keep her secret?

Tagline: Non.

Notes: I will refer to the bad guy/girl as The Whisperer since, well, that’s what they are!

Initial Thoughts

Welcome back, Diane Hoh. Why do you leave us? Your fill-in’s last contribution was real bottom of the barrel stuff and was almost my Last Date with the series. [Wing: Badumcha.]

As always, I have good memories of this, because it’s from Ms. Hoh. Shea’s big secret is that she cheated on an exam. I’ve never done that. Ironically enough, I’m not clever (or devious) enough to think up a scenario in which I could do so. I did okay, though. I got a degree. For all the good it did in securing a job. (I have had many jobs since university, of course, but my degree had nothing to do with any of them). I’m 38 and still paying the bloody thing off. And I have gone way off course… [Wing: Oh god, student loan debt. I hope this book is better than the last one. I need a distraction from weeping into my budget.]

[Wing: What with this being book 12, we’ve hit a year of Dade recapping Nightmare Hall! I’m glad we have so many books to come, still, because these recaps are a joy and a delight forever, and Dade continues to be a wealth of information about YA publishing in the 80s and 90s. Thank you for all you do, Dade!]

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Posted in Graveyard School recaps

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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Posted in Goosebumps Recaps

Recap #150: Goosebumps #10: The Ghost Next Door by R.L. Stine

Title: Goosebumps – The Ghost Next Door

Author: R.L. Stine

Cover Artist: Tim Jacobus

Tagline: There’s a strange new kid on the block…

Summary: “How Come I’ve Never Seen You Before?”

Hannah’s neighborhood has gotten a little-weird. Ever since that new boy moved in next door.

But when did he move in? Wasn’t the house empty when Hannah went to sleep the night before? Why does it still look so deserted?

Shes not getting any answers from her new neighbor. He just keeps disappearing in the oddest ways. And he’s so pale…

Is Hannah being haunted by…

…the ghost next door???

[Wing: Adorable summary.]

Initial Thoughts

Now we’ve reached one of the true classics of the original series, the tenth of the first twenty books back when Stine was still establishing the trends and style of the franchise. For those who’ve read the early books, you know already a number of them had an atmosphere that hasn’t been properly revisited in any of the later works. They seemed to carry with them a sense of real despair and fear before Stine began to realize the books might’ve been too scary for kids. [Wing: Which is a shame. Kids are better at scary things than adults want to give them credit for handling.] I think he’s mentioned if he got the chance he’d rewrite “Welcome to Dead House” to make it funnier. Which I hope he never does.

This one’s got a twist in it most people might already be familiar with considering it was adapted for the trading card series, the TV show, as well as the movie. Well, I’m not spoiling it for new readers just yet, and since I don’t have any commissions related to this one I’m gonna be scanning the three trading cards depicting certain scenes. Luckily they were illustrated by Walter Velez, who provided some of the best artwork for the card series.

This is also going to be the last post in my series of discussions on my best friend’s death, and I feel like I dragged the discussion on for too long beyond “Magic Fire.” I’m sorry.

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Posted in Fear Street Recaps

Recap #149: Fear Street #31: Switched by R.L. Stine

Title: Fear Street #31: Switched

Author: R.L. Stine

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.]

Initial Thoughts

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)

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Posted in Other Recaps

Recap #148: Shivers #24: The Ghosts of Devil’s Marsh by M.D. Spenser

The Ghosts of Devil's Marsh by M. D. Spenser

Title: Shivers #24 – The Ghosts of Devil’s Marsh

Author: M.D. Spenser

Cover Artist: Eddie Roseboom

Summary: BIG GHOULS DON’T CRY…

Samantha should keep smiling. Otherwise, tears of fear might ruin her summer and probably her life. But the summer was already bad news. There she was on the coast with her cousins. Boy cousins, always around, acting like—well, boys. But cousins can be cool!

Especially when you might need them to save your life. Is that cozy coastal town they’re on really haunted? Could be! That might explain all those strange things Samantha sees and hears.

It gets stranger and stranger when Samantha discovers the shocking truth behind the terror. Will all the cousins stay safe and sound or is it the beginning of the end for everyone?

LISTEN FOR THE VOICE OF DOOM!!!

Initial Thoughts

You guys will remember the previous “Shivers” recap as one of the darkest books I’ve reviewed so far for this website. While this book isn’t necessarily as dark as “Weirdo Waldo’s Wax Museum,” I chose it because its primary theme is regret. And with the theme I’ve worked on for April 2017, an attempt to do some self-analyzing about my best friend’s death,  the regrets in this book obviously hit close to home, otherwise I wouldn’t have chosen to recap it.

The villain in this feature has got to be one of the most understandable and relatable villains I’ve found in these books. Saying anything further would spoil what comes next.

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Posted in Other Recaps

Recap #146: Magic Fire by Christopher Pike

Title: Magic Fire

Author: Christopher Pike

Cover Artist: Franco Accornero

Tagline: He loved to burn.

Summary: He just had a thing about fire.

Mark Charm is a pyromaniac. Since the time he was a child, he loved to watch fires. But it is only in his senior year at high school that he takes his personal obsession citywide. It is a dry autumn in Southern California and the desert winds are blowing. Mark has a box of matches, and it is late at night. Would it be so bad, he thinks, if the whole state burned?

Initial Thoughts

My first Christopher Pike recap! I ran it by Wing and made sure this wasn’t one of the books she plans to recap for the website. [Wing: I’ve never actually read this one before! Excited to see what it’s like.]

[Wing: We encourage recappers to tie the personal to their recaps if they’re comfortable doing so, because, as you may have noticed, we bring different perspectives and experiences to the table, and that’s a part of what I cherish about this site and this community, recappers and readers and podcast listeners. Jude talks about quite a personal story in this recap, and he wrote an introduction to why. For length and site design purposes, I have moved that to the end of the recap, where the bulk of the discussion takes place.]

This book is strange, because the online summaries didn’t do it nearly enough justice. This is one of those books like “Fear Hall” which I tend to cling to. A lot of you may feel the twist at the end comes from out of nowhere, but as I’ll discuss in the final thoughts, I believe there were clues from the beginning.

Also, I’m not sure how to feel about usage of the term “Pyromaniac,” if that falls under ableism or not. That type of thing’s never really been something I’ve thought about in regards to mental illness, so if anyone wants to start a discussion I wouldn’t argue against it. [Wing: That is an interesting point. It is an actual diagnosis, and I don’t think “pyromaniac” and “pyromania” themselves as words are ableist, no more than “mania” or “manic” is. To me, ableism comes in how the word is used, particularly whether it is being used pejoratively, whether it is being used in a way that causes harm to or others the people to whom it is applicable.] (more…)

Posted in Nightmare Hall recaps

Recap #145: Nightmare Hall #11: Last Date by Diane Hoh/Nola Thacker

Diane Hoh - Last Date
Diane Hoh – Last Date

Title: Nightmare Hall #11: Last Date by Diane Hoh

Summary: A night you’ll never forget. Call me. Demi does it on a dare. She places an ad in the personals column of the Salem Chronicle. Lots of guys call. And the nights are everything she advertised. Unforgettable. Unforgettably frightening. Because one by one, Demi’s dates start having nasty little accidents. Disappearing. Even…dying.

Tagline: None

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

Initial Thoughts

I didn’t even like this one when I first read it 24 years ago. 24 years. Bloody hell. If that weren’t bad enough, Nola “Hack” Thacker is back in the driver’s seat for this ride, so I’m anticipating severe bouts of carsickness and a strong urge to nap. (Note from the future: and a lot of swearing, too). [Wing: Another one I don’t remember reading. Somehow, I think I missed most of the Thacker ones, even though at the time, I didn’t know they were being ghostwritten.]

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Posted in Goosebumps Recaps

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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Posted in Point Horror Recaps

Recap #142: Driver’s Dead by Peter Lerangis

Title: Driver’s Dead by Peter Lerangis

The Author:

A rather prolific author, Peter Lerangis has been writing for decades, although if you go to his website the farthest back you’ll find is his The Watchers series. No mention of his Point Horror writing that I can find. Seriously. Not even his Wiki page goes beyond his Watchers series. Don’t worry. I believe I’ve found them. Titles include DRIVER’S DEAD, THE YEARBOOK, and X-ISLE. Seems like he doesn’t want the taint, maybe? Or it’s just that his various other series have done so well there’s no need to put that retail work on his resume any longer. [Wing: Those the books I’ve found by him, too (with X-Isle being a two book series). He also ghostwrote some of the Baby-Sitters Club books.]

Anyway, he has a weird thing for the Vietnam War in this book, and I don’t know why. The premise seems to hinge on a “crazy” Vietnam vet and one of the characters being a refugee from the area and trying to find his parents. It’s just the date seems really off. The book was published in 1994. That’s a big, lingering gap for Vietnam relevance. It was just weird. It didn’t necessarily seem forced, but the timing was off enough that it really stood out.

Also every. Single. Chapter. Ends on a cliffhanger. All of them.

The Blurb:

Nightmare – dead ahead.

Kristen’s not a very good driver. And the driver’s ed classes aren’t helping. No matter how hard she tries, she just can’t get the hang of being behind the wheel.

Rob’s a very good driver. And he wants to give Kirsten a few tips on how to improve her driving. But after the first session, Rob turns up missing.

Kirsten is beginning to realize that this class may be a little more than she bargained for. A class that may drive her crazy – or to death.

#

That is . . . Really bad. One, it’s vaguely relevant to the plot. It just leaves out a whole shit ton of applicable details like Rob being a shitbag, the fact that he doesn’t turn up missing, but dead, and the story actually doesn’t center around the class itself. Driver’s ed precipitates a lot of the events, but the class is really more of a passing thing. The contest is really the driving force behind this (pun intended), along with, you know. Being haunted by a dead kid that’s screwing with her head.

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Posted in Other Recaps

Recap #141: Mermaid Saga Part 3-4: The Village of the Fighting Fish by Rumiko Takahashi

Title: Mermaid Saga Part 3-4 – The Village of the Fighting Fish

Author/Artist: Rumiko Takahashi

Initial Thoughts

This immediately isn’t one of my favorites stories in the series. While two of the characters are pretty cool, it doesn’t really have the same horror feel as the other tales. The tone and setting comes across similar to Takahashi’s other series, “Inuyasha.”

It also seems weird she’d do a story about Yuta’s past, long before Mana was in the picture, as the immediate second tale after the opening two parts.

I’m not sure how you’re gonna feel about this one, Wing. I don’t think you’ll like the ending, but I do think you’ll like the bad guy.

[Wing: It does seem like a strange choice to do a backstory so soon after the series begins.]

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Posted in Nightmare Hall recaps

Recap #140: Nightmare Hall #10: Sorority Sister by Diane Hoh

Diane Hoh Nightmare Hall 7: Sorority SisterTitle: Nightmare Hall #10: Sorority Sister by Diane Hoh

Summary: When Maxie McKeon pledges Omega Phi Delta, she figures she’s got it made. She loves her new sisters. And everyone knows Omegas throw the best parties and go out with the cutest guys. But someone on campus isn’t crazy about the sorority. That person is just, well, crazy. And he – or she – is determined to destroy the house, and everyone in it. Joining Omega won’t change Maxie’s life. It will just shorten it.

Mental health: with tact and sensitivity: 1 point. Right in the back cover synopsis! Although, to be fair, Hoh didn’t write the synopsis.

Tagline: None.

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

Initial Thoughts

I don’t remember ever disliking a Diane Hoh book, but Deadly Attraction and The Wish in this series have shown me they’re occasionally not as great as I recall (albeit a lot better than most of the YA thrillers at the time). This book has the misfortune of coming after The Night Walker, a tight, taut, complex little humdinger of a thriller that I could barely find fault with. So it has a lot to live up to. But I’m always optimistic when it comes to Hoh (unlike Nola Thacker), and I do have memories of this at least being fun. Note: I have no knowledge of how fraternities and sororities work, because we don’t have them in Australia. Any idea I have is based solely on books and B-grade movies.

[Wing: That cover makes me think of Dawn Schafer and Abby Stevenson from the Baby-Sitters Club, which cracks me up. I’d not read this one before, so had no nostalgic thoughts going into it, but I was a part of a music fraternity for awhile at university (yes, I said fraternity), but it wasn’t a social Greek organisation, and I assume much different than whatever we have going on here.]

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Posted in Graveyard School recaps

Recap #139: Graveyard School #7: Slime Lake by Tom B. Stone

Title: Graveyard School #7 – Slime Lake, a.k.a. “Protect The Environment! Or I’ll FUCKING KILL YOU!”

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

Cover Artist: U.S. – Cam DeLeon, U.K. – ??? [Wing: That UK cover is something else!]

Tagline: “You’ve Been Slimed!” (U.K. Version)

Summary: Don’t Go In The Water!

Marc and his twin sister, Terri, are excited about spending the summer at their uncle Nicholas’s lake house. Even though their uncle is an old grouch, Marc and Terri enjoy the lake and their summer friends in Grove Hill.

But this summer is different. Suddenly the once placid lake has motorboats, fishermen, and crowds. Even worse is the gross green slime that’s been popping up on boats and docks and swimmers. When Terri goes for a swim and doesn’t return, Marc wonders what exactly is lurking under the water…

Initial Thoughts

Hey Wing, so a little good news/bad news for you. The bad news is this book doesn’t have werewolves. The good news is it’s got your other favorite thing, twins!

(Terri and Marc by zackdoesalotofstuff)

[Wing: I think you may be overestimating my excitement for twins at this point, thanks to Sweet Valley, but Terri and Marc are super cute!]

This is the first and only book in the series to have twins as the main characters, and it’s also one of the books that heavily feature a message about environmentalism.

Slime Lake was previously referred to in the last book, “Camp Dracula,” but now we’re gonna find out just how gross it really is!

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

Recap #137: Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter

Friday the 13th The Final ChapterTitle: Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984) (aka Part IV)

Summary: After being mortally wounded and taken to the morgue, murderer Jason Voorhees spontaneously revives and embarks on a killing spree as he makes his way back to his home at Camp Crystal Lake.

Tagline: Jason’s Back, and this is the one you’ve been screaming for.

Note: The more I look at this poster, the more I remember it from childhood. It makes sense, because along side Nightmare on Elm Street, this was one of the major horror franchises that did huge home viewing business in the 1980s when I was still of an impressionable age. It’s weird how I didn’t recall that until I went looking for the poster for this recap, but it’s true. Independent video rental stores were everything when I was little and they always had posters displayed of new and/or popular titles. I will stop now before I start a “kids these days…” style rant about digital downloads and Redbox. [Wing: In contrast, I don’t remember this poster at all. How in the world did I miss it? We rented movies often.]

Initial Thoughts

If only I could quit you, Jason Voorhees. But no, I committed myself to this goddamn series and I’m going to see it through! [Wing: And we appreciate it greatly!]

Hello and welcome again to the fourth round of Let’s Do It! Yeah, I know, we’re only part way into the deep, twisty franchise that is Friday the 13th, and you’re all wondering how I can possibly not know what goes on in all the films by now, being that this is 2018 and we have The Internet™ to tell us everything.

Willpower, my friends. That and total lack of interest. I’d rather not know, because that’s half the fun. And I’m supposed to be a virgin (duh) when I watch these. I’m actually actively going out of my way to avoid spoilers at this point. It’s really hilarious. I read something last Halloween and instantly was like “NO NO STOP” and had to close the tab because it gave a big plot point away.

Because it’s been 34 years since this was released and I’m expected (at my age) to have seen this by now. Whatever. What about all the teens that weren’t born in the last century, huh? You just fill Wikipedia with spoilers for them so they never have to sit down and suffer through it like I did back in the Dark Ages??

Ahem. Moving on.

Let’s glean what we can without getting into the plot. This installment was released in theaters on April the 13th, 1984. Ooo, bummer, I’m a month early! Roger Ebert hated it. Good to know.

The more I read, the more I have to stop, because spoilers everywhere. Guess I’ll just come back to that stuff in the Final Thoughts part. Damn it.

Oh, and this is pointedly meant for me: Corey Feldman (who I knew was in one of these films but not which one) and Crispin Glover (who I didn’t know was in this film or that he was in this franchise what so ever) both went on to act in films with Kiefer Sutherland in 1986. (Stand By Me and At Close Range, respectively.) I’ve never seen At Close Range but I know the two-bit part that wasn’t really a part was the reason Schumacher called Kiefer in to read for The Lost Boys.

AND THAT’S HOW YOU PLAY SIX DEGREES OF KEVIN BACON!!

Wait, where am I? Oh, right, Camp Crystal Lake! Here we go. Again. For the fourth time.

(Save me, Kevin Bacon! Save me!)

Important note! Remember, I am rolling over the body count from each of the previous films recapped, so that will be reflected in the counter and final tally.

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Posted in Goosebumps Recaps

Recap #135: Goosebumps: The Surprise On The 13th Floor by R. L. Stine and Cheryl Hotchkiss

 Title: Goosebumps – The Surprise On The 13th Floor, a.k.a. “Walt Disney’s Goosebumps” (Plus Bonus Story)

Author: R.L. Stine and Cheryl Hotchkiss

Artist: Michael Graeney

Summary: N/A

Initial Thoughts

And now it’s time for something very special, possibly even rarer than “Goosebumps Haunted Library.”

Disney Adventures magazine held a contest in the 1990s. In their November 1996 issue, they included the opening segment to a Goosebumps short story called “Surprise On The 13th Floor,” written by R.L. Stine. Contestants were to compose a 1200 word middle and ending for the story. The winner, Cheryl Hotchkiss, got a bunch of cool Goosebumps swag and their entry published in the March 1997 issue.

I purchased the March ’97 issue for the sake of reading and recapping the completed story for Point Horror. The magazine included three illustrations by Michael Graeney, but unfortunately due to the size and the spine of the magazine I wasn’t able to include all of them in the post out of fear of ruining my copy. As a consultation prize, I will include a recap of  a short story published in the November ’96 issue, “Made In Transylvania.”

[Wing: I had no idea this contest existed, despite liking both Goosebumps and Disney Adventures well into the 90s.]

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Posted in Other Recaps

Recap #134: Bone Chillers #23: Romeo and Ghouliette by Betsy Haynes

Title: Bone Chillers #23 – Romeo and Ghouliette a.k.a. “Hail, Hail Sirbania, A Land I Didn’t Make Up”

Author: Betsy Haynes (Ryan Chipman (Based on the script by Regge Bulman and Clay Eide))

Cover Artist: Tim Jacobus

Tagline: What fright through yonder window breaks? [Wing: Okay, that’s kind of delightful.]

Summary: Cooking up trouble…

Lexi knows there’s something weird about Julie, the new girl at Edgar Allen Poe High School. [Wing: I want to go to school there.] Julie was practically drooling over a worm in biology lab. Then Lexi swears she saw Julie snatch a fly out of the air in homeroom – and eat it!

Now Julie is after Lexi’s best friend, Fitz. And Fitz is totally falling for her. He loves everything about Julie – especially the cookies and candies she brings him. Lexi suspects Julie is fattening Fitz up for a feast – and that he’s going to be the main course!

Initial Thoughts

February is the month of LUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUV, and even though I’d already done “The Abandoned” for Valentine’s Day I felt for the extra recap this would be an appropriate addition.

Bone Chillers was another Goosebumps knock-off series from the 90s, one of the few that stuck to the formula of a brand new cast and universe in each book. But what set the series apart is it was the only series besides Goosebumps to get a TV show during its time of publication. With a single season of 13 episodes, the show took place at Edgar Allen Poe High School and focused on the horrifying misadventures of four friends.

The artistic Fitz Crump, gothic Sarah Moss, brainy wannabee casanova Brian Hoseapple, and sunny Lexi Orwell, got into all sorts of terrifying shenanigans at school, alongside the downright evil Principal Pussman, ditzy Ms. Dewberry, and their ally Arnie, the creepy school janitor who knew about all sorts of weird shit. Only three of the episodes (Back to School, Creature Teacher, and Frankenturkey) were based on the books written by Betsy Haynes, while all of them featured educational segments at the end that were narrated by Miss Haynes. Whereas the cheesiness of the Goosebumps TV show was mostly unintentional, Bone Chillers deliberately played up the comedy angle alongside the horror. You’d be amazed at how much the kids scream.

“Romeo and Ghouliette” is special, because in its case, the BOOK was based on the EPISODE. Two years after the show ended, the screenplay was adapted and expanded into an addition of the book series, and was the last entry published. The cover sort of reflects that, featuring a broken TV, and the male character is obviously modeled after Fitz. What also makes this special is that book is fucking expensive (I was lucky to find a cheap copy) and much sought after by fans because there exists no DVD set of the entire show and absolutely NO videos anywhere for sale or online of the episode.

Well, at least until a brave American hero uploaded videos of every episode that hadn’t been put on VHS to Youtube.

Being able to watch the episode made me realize a lot of changes were put in the book adaption. Such as:

  • Part of the plot involves the school’s production of “Romeo and Juliet,” so the name isn’t just a joke. That wasn’t in the TV show.
  • Lexi was the one worried about Fitz in the TV show. Despite what the summary said, in the book it’s Sarah who’s the main character.
  • Ms. Dewberry isn’t ditzy or lovey dovey in the book, instead she looks like someone’s grandmother.
  • While the school appears creepy in the TV show, it retains the Edgar Allen Poe name but feels like a regular school in the book.
  • The antagonists aren’t from “Sirbania” in the TV show.

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Posted in Fear Street Recaps

Recap #133: Fear Street #45: Cat by R.L. Stine

Title: Fear Street: Cat, a.k.a. “I Really, Really, REALLY Hate Barry Allen”

Author: R.L. Stine

Cover Artist: Bill Schmidt

Tagline: C-A-T- spells murder.

Summary: The cat came back… [Wing: Damn it, I have been earwormed.]

Marty never liked the cat – it always got in the way at basketball practice. But he never meant to kill it.

Now Marty thinks he’s going crazy. He sees cats wherever he goes. He has nightmares about them. He knows they want revenge.

Too bad Marty doesn’t have nine lives. Because his first one is almost over.

Initial Thoughts

So, sorry there wasn’t a Fear Street recap in January. I realized too late I was a bit burned out from everything I worked on in December, and asked to put the Fear Street recap off til February.

Cat is another of those entries that sort of lurked in the background for me for a long time. I’ve only read it a couple of times but thought this one would peak Wing’s interest after reading some of her comments on my Goosebumps recaps. Although I was originally planning on doing a different book for her birthday with a similar concept, this one grabbed my attention for a reason I will get into during the recap.

This one was sort of weird for me, because I think the main character might seem the most human of the protagonists I’ve read in these books. He’s not entirely likable, but he’s not someone you hate with every fiber of your being.

And as always, watch out for some ableism.

[Wing: I’ve never read this one before, but based on that cover, I’m going to assume it involves cat shapeshifters, which is something I love. Shocking, I’m sure.]

Content: Obviously, some animal harm.

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Posted in Graveyard School recaps

Recap #130: Graveyard School #6: Camp Dracula by Tom B. Stone

Title: Graveyard School #6 – Camp Dracula a.k.a. “The Purple Bear Jamboree”

Author: Tom B. Stone/Nola Thacker/D.E. Athkins

Cover Artist: Barry Jackson

Summary: Camp At Your Own Risk!

Welcome to camp – Camp Dracula, as Jeep Holmes jokingly calls it. [Wing: JEEP.] Jeep may be joking, but he isn’t laughing. He can’t take this weird new summer place! Never mind that the counselors always wear dark glasses and the activities are all at night. What bothers him most are the other campers, a bunch of sickly-looking creeps who like to keep bats in the bunks! Why did his parents send him to this horrific place? Will Jeep make it through the summer without going batty?

Initial Thoughts

And now we get back into the chronological order of things (at least for a little bit), but hey, this is a vampire book, and what goes better with February than vampires?

This is the first book in the series to take place outside of the school and Grove Hill, and the first summer-themed story. I mentioned there were only two camp-related books, and it’s interesting it would involve vampires since they’re nocturnal by nature and camp tales take place mostly during the day. This is also the first to have a protagonist who can be genuinely grating on the reader. It’s admittedly one of the few books I haven’t reread as much.

But you’d be surprised at the use of Dracula references.

[Wing: I love summer camp stories and vampire stories and Dracula references, and that cover is adorable. I’m excited.]

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Posted in Graveyard School recaps

Recap #129: Graveyard School #26: Little School of Horrors by Tom B. Stone, a.k.a. “The Most Popular Ghouls in School”

Title: Graveyard School #26 – Little School of Horrors

Author: Tom B. Stone/Nola Thacker/D.E. Athkins

Cover Artist: Mark Nagata

Tagline: N/A

Summary: It’s The Most Horrifying Time Of Year In Grove Hill – Back-To-School Time!

Back to school.

Ghouls rule. Teachers drool.

Dead things walking are nothing shocking.

Blue is new at Graveyard School. But he knows right away that he’s going to class at Creep Central. Just look at the teachers. The principal. Even the janitor. But worst of all, look at the kid who wants to be Blue’s best friend. With friends like these, who needs enemies?

Welcome to Dead Kid 101.

[Wing: This summary made me laugh. I’m delighted.]

Initial Thoughts

Looking at the cover Wing you can guess why I picked this for your b-day month, and lucky for you this is also one of my favorite books in the series.

What’s weird about it is this book has got some world building shit going on, and the way it reads you’d THINK it would’ve been the first in the series. It gives a much better sense of how big the sixth grade class is, even for a small town, which puts it at odds with the Fear Street Seniors series for how it only focused on a handful of the 12th grade class and then made sporadic, frustrating references to all the OTHER kids in the graduating class.

But this is frustrating for me because this was the third to last in the line, and none of the other kids introduced in this book appeared in “Here Comes Santa Claws” or “The Spider Beside Her.” I can’t help but wonder what Thacker might’ve had planned for this series if #28 wasn’t the last. God knows I still have some notes from way back in high school on ideas I had for stories with these guys.

And we also get a look at racism through the eyes of a kids horror book!

[Wing: I do love the surprise on that cover, thank you! It’s strange that this isn’t the first book in the series, or that the world building here wasn’t included in the first book, at least. Though, I did like the pacing on the first book, and this information might have slowed it down.

No matter what, I’m super excited about this!]

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Posted in Other Recaps

Recap #128: Strange Matter #2: The Midnight Game by Johnny Ray Barnes Jr., and Marty Engle, a.k.a. “Remember the Green Devils”

cover of Strange Matter 2 The Midnight Game by Johnny BarnesTitle: Strange Matter #2 – The Midnight Game

Author: Johnny Ray Barnes Jr.

Cover Artist: ???

Summary: Tyler Webb has been invited to attend a very special football game – a final showdown between two teams from Fairfield’s past. The only problem is, the game is scheduled for midnight and there’s no way Tyler’s parents will let him go. Curiosity gets the better of him and Tyler sneaks out to see the game. Now he’s sitting in the moonlight, waiting for the teams to run out.

But they don’t. They crawl out… from the ground.

Initial Thoughts

I sent Wing the first book in the Strange Matter series as a Christmas gift. I’ve known of the series for years but I only own two books, this one and “Frozen Dinners,” which is book 5. From what I’ve seen online and what I gleamed from the fifth book, it looks like this series had an ongoing storyline spread throughout the different volumes concerning the strange things happening in Fairfield. I’m trying to avoid buying books in the latter half until I’ve read the first ten. Unfortunately, a few books were cancelled, which has me really intrigued and frustrated because I’d really like to know what “Stamped” was gonna be about.

When I told Wing about these two she sounded super excited so I offered to recap this entry for her birthday.

[Wing: Football! Zombie players! How could I resist? I love how Jude always brings new series to Devil’s Elbow, and I’m particularly excited about this one. Can’t wait to read this recap.]

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Posted in Goosebumps Recaps

Recap #127: Goosebumps Series 2000 #17: The Werewolf In The Living Room by R.L. Stine, a.k.a. “Are You There God? It’s Me, Aaron”

Title: Goosebumps Series 2000 #17 – The Werewolf in the Living Room

Author: R.L. Stine

Cover Artist: Tim Jacobus [Wing: That is one of the creepier werewolves I’ve seen in cover art, and that includes on adult horror novels.]

Tagline: Home sweet horror.

Summary:

The creature had the face of a wolf. And the back and chest of a man.

He stared at me with those black, gleaming eyes. He curled back his thick lips. I stared in horror at long, curved fangs.

Then – before I could run – the werewolf leaned back on his haunches.

Raised his head in a fierce howl.

And sank his fangs deep into my skin.

Initial Thoughts

Surprise, Wing! It’s your favorite thing! WEREWOLVES. I know you mentioned reading “The Werewolf of Fever Swamp,” but I decided to go with one of the books you were less likely to have read before. At least, I hope so. [Wing: Good call! I’ve never read this one before, and I am so, so excited about it.]

The Goosebumps 2000 books were Scholastic’s attempt to revitalize the series for the new century, even though they were published three years before the actual millennium. [Wing: … strange.] The books definitely have a tone and feel independent of the original series, but overall were a bit disappointing compared to the first 62 books. They were more heavy on stuff like blood and vomit, and many of them were broken into separate parts. They got two Slappy books, an official sequel to “One Day at Horrorland,” and a spiritual sequel to “Ghost Camp.” Two books, “Bride of the Living Dummy” and “Cry of the Cat” were adapted into TV episodes, and “Invasion of the Body Squeezers” got a follow up under the “Give Yourself Goosebumps” line. The last book in the series, “The Incredible Shrinking Fifth Grader,” was cancelled before it got released, and R.L. Stine re-purposed the script for a separate book. Thankfully, Tim Jacobus sent the Goosebumps wiki the unused but completed cover art.

The 2000 books as a whole have largely been ignored following the revitalization of the franchise, with one or two exceptions. The Body Squeezers, the Haunted Car, and the Graveyard Ghouls were featured in the movie, so the books including the latter two got reprinted in the “Classic Goosebumps” line. Meanwhile, “Creature Teacher” got a sequel in “Goosebumps Most Wanted.”

So why did I choose this for you, Wing? First off, admittedly, it’s a seasonal thing. One winter a couple of years ago I began acquiring more entries in the 2000 line, this one, “Full Moon Fever,” “The Haunted Car,” “Horrors of the Black Ring,” and it sort of, I dunno, I get comfortable reading them during the last week of December and the earlier weeks of January. Beyond that, well, before you walk into this unwarned, there’s plenty of talk about how one of the characters is crazy. I know you won’t like that, but I really think you’re gonna love the implications of the ending.

[Wing: We will see. I am damn excited about the werewolves, though. I’ve never read any of the Series 2000 books.]

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