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

Recap #102: Teen Wolf (1985)

Title: Teen Wolf (1985)

Summary: What’s a high school kid got to do to be popular? Just let down his hair and howl! Starring Michael J. Fox, Teen Wolf is an outrageous comedy about a shy teenager with more than a changing voice to contend with… he’s a budding young werewolf! And when his new-found powers help him score at basketball – and with the popular girls – he has some pretty hairy decisions to make.

Tagline: He always wanted to be special – but he never expected like this!

Note: I am watching the Bluray edition, which I don’t know why that matters but I’m still noting it. We’ll see how well the special effects hold up under the digital transfer. (Spoiler: they don’t.)

Initial Thoughts

Happy Beaver Moon, everyone! This is my half of the initial Snark At the Moon! recaps; Wing published a recap of The Howling on the Full Harvest Moon in October. There’s a reason she gave me the Beaver Moon… and not just because I reside in the Beaver State.

I am not unfamiliar to this film, or its sequel, Teen Wolf, Too. In fact, I am more partial to the cheesy story, bad acting, and over-all shameful antics of the sequel, probably because I had a crush on Jason Bateman for all of five minutes when I was 10. It was the movie character I had eyes for, really; I don’t think I ever watched the sitcom that made him famous back in the day. (Y’know, before Arrested Development revitalized his career.) Anyway.

Teen Wolf was released during the heady days of Michael J. Fox mania, which was already in full swing because of Family Ties and the release of Back to the Future in July of 1985. Again, I wasn’t exactly the target age group at the time, at least not in the sense of thinking him a teen heartthrob or some such. (I was 4 years old when this film hit theaters.) So I didn’t see it, properly, until several years out from its initial release. Nor was I really into werewolves. The sequel was more responsible for spurring that interest in weres, since I’m a vampire girl at heart. I think I also had trouble identifying with the story line that is steeped in popularity cliques, underage drinking/partying, and ‘fitting in’. Plus most of the film involves basketball, which is a sport and I have zero interest in those. (I only know what I know about boxing because, again, of the sequel. Being a super athlete with preternatural abilities is the driving story line in both films. At least Todd, Scott’s cousin, had brains to fall back on!)

Still, this film would trigger the sequel I’ve spent a lot of time talking about, a Saturday morning cartoon series, and a whole MTV scripted series “reboot” decades after its release (which was a whole other beast, honestly, but one I deeply loved, and I have FEELINGS now that it’s ended.) I’m sure it’s safe to say that Teen Wolf is embedded in collective pop culture memory for at least another couple decades.

[Wing: So, here’s the thing. I’d say it’s a secret, except I’ve mentioned it around here before: despite my well-known love of werewolves, I have never seen either of these movies or the cartoon series (and only season one and part of season two of the MTV reboot, which I mostly marathoned over a few days after my mom’s funeral, so don’t remember much about). How I missed this movie, when I love werewolves and horror and horror-comedy and Michael J. Fox? Who the fuck knows. But here I am, all these years later, finally remedying it. I’m so glad y’all are along for the ride.]

Okay, let’s just get to recapping, shall we.

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Recap #100: Halloween Night 2 by R. L. Stine

cover of Halloween Night II by R L Stine, has three figures dressed in skeleton outfits and black cloaks in front of a Halloween night backgroundTitle: Halloween Night 2 by R. L. Stine

Summary: Brenda isn’t really looking forward to Halloween this year. After all, it was only twelve months age that her best friend tried to kill her at a Halloween party and she’d rather not be reminded of that. [Wing: I’d rather not be reminded of that recap either.]

But her friends persuade her to take part in a Halloween revenge prank, guaranteed to scare the victim to death. And soon Brenda realises that she is never going to leave the terror of Halloween night behind…..

Tagline: Trick, treats and…death

Initial Thoughts

Hey guys, how’ve you been? I’m good thank you, a little under the weather-sore throat, headachy that sort of thing but nothing too serious just a typical change of weather cold. Speaking of, the weather has been great here, perfect Autumn weather very mild and breezy, some rain, the type were you can throw on a lovely warm jumper and go for a walk around the Common drinking a hot chocolate or snuggle up in bed with a good book and light rain tapping on the window. Work? Yeah work is going well thanks, except for the ridiculous amounts of stairs I have to walk up and down but at least my ass and legs will get toned-Amirite?

Huh? What’s that? Am I mindlessly rambling on about my daily schedule in order to avoid recapping this book? Now why would you suggest such a thing!? Questioning my work ethic and dedication? Well, yes you’re right I’m doing exactly that. This. Book. Gah. I only vaguely remembered this book before I read it. I don’t know what I was expecting but in retrospect I should have reread Wing’s awesome review of Halloween Night BEFORE I read Halloween Night 2: The EXACT Same Story But Suckier. Everyone in this book is insufferable and Stine has never met a cliff hanger he didn’t want to take behind a shed and get pregnant. That being said, lets all work together and power through. [Wing: NO. I refuse. I did my time. (Seriously, I’m grateful that Tuesday took this one on, because I could not do a repeat of the first book.)]

[Wing: Happy 100 recaps! You, our readers and podcast listeners, are the best part of recapping. You’re smart and funny and engaged, and we appreciate you so much! I’m thrilled we’ve made it this far, and I look forward to 100 more.]

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Recap #75: The Band by Carmen Adams

four teens on a black cover; three guys and one girl, all white, wearing leather and pouty expressions, very 80s and 90s vampire style

[Wing: RECAP #75! Thank you all for sticking around for this ridiculous, amazing ride.]

The Author

As far as I can tell Carmen Adams has only written two books, THE BAND and SONG OF THE VAMPIRE. [Wing: Well, she also wrote The Claw, which I recapped in 2016, and despite some lazy writing and the main character carrying the idiot ball, it was a delightful romp, so I have high expectations for her other books. Also, I realize this is where Paul recommended The Band and Song of the Vampire, so I’m glad we’re finally hitting them.] Technically that’s their order, however, they do stand alone. I know because I read them out of order and didn’t even really know THE BAND existed (or cared) until fairly recently. I am whole-heartedly convinced Adams was heavily influenced by movies like The Lost Boys and Near Dark when writing these books. While THE BAND doesn’t deal with vampires per se, it does deal with aimless teenagers trying to recruit unsuspecting victims into their dark lives through a blood ritual. They’re vampire enough without actually having to drink blood. And if you read SONG OF THE VAMPIRE and don’t get Lost Boys feels then we didn’t watch the same movie. [Wing: The Band 100% feels influenced by The Lost Boys and Near Dark. It captures that gorgeous feel of seaside horror-comedy even though it’s set in the desert, and it’s just great. AND LOOK AT THAT COVER. They’re basically the Lost Boys.]

Overall I think Adams had her finger on the pulse of teenagers a little better than her counterparts. Her characters aren’t caricatures of teenagers, they’re fairly level-headed and realistic, and she doesn’t rely on over-the-top shock to get her point across. Considering the market at the time it doesn’t surprise me she didn’t have staying power. I think she was a little bit ahead of her time just in the way these two books are written. They actually feel like they transcend time far better than any of the other 90s YA horror I’ve read (aside from mentions of crimped hair and VHS tapes, but that’s neither here nor there).

Really, both of these books are probably some of my favorites. THE BAND goes where literally no other book does: to revenants, not vampires. I’ve never come across revenants in any other book before, probably because they’re not sexy enough. At least Adams’s version of revenants are close enough to vampires that she might as well go with vampires, right? But she didn’t. She does go full tilt vamp in SONG OF THE VAMPIRE, but let’s leave that for the next recap.

For now, let’s get into THE BAND.

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Recap #47: Halloween Night by R. L. Stine

Halloween Night I by R. L. Stine

Halloween Night I by R. L. Stine

Title: Halloween Night by R. L. Stine

Summary: Brenda hates her cousin, Halley, and she’s not the only one. Halley shouldn’t go around stealing other people boyfriends, it could get her into trouble.

Big trouble…

Brenda is determined to have her revenge – the perfect finale to her Halloween party She’s going to stop Halley’s evil games once and for all, and give her just what she deserves… Come party time, Halley’s in for a nasty surprise…

But does Brenda really hate Halley that much? Surely she only having a little Halloween fun… isn’t she?

Tagline: This party is a killer…

Note: As Dove requested, I’ve updated my template, because we now apparently call the Bad Guys Muffin Man. Hey, it makes as much sense as most Point Horrors.

Initial Thoughts:

I’m pretty sure I read this back in the 90s because the US cover looks familiar (and is much better than the UK cover), but I have absolutely no memory of the characters or what happens, so it will be like I’m reading it anew. I love Halloween, I love horror, and I feud with R. L. Stine. What could possibly go wrong?

Happy Halloween, guys!

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Recap #31: Home Before Dark by Beverly Hastings

Home Before Dark by Beverley Hastings

Home Before Dark by Beverley Hastings

Title: Home Before Dark by Beverly Hastings

Summary: HURRY HOME…
“This isn’t the way to my house,” she said, with uncertainty in her voice.

“Yes, it is,” he reassured her. Already his heart was thumping a little faster in anticipation.

“It’s getting late,” she told him. “I’m supposed to be home before dark.”

She felt his heavy forearm across his throat. She screamed, but he just laughed.

At first, a year in Ohio with her aunt and uncle seems like a jail sentence to teenager Sara Langdon – after all, she’s from sunny L.A. The kids accept her with no problems, though, and she soon starts dating the captain of the football team. Then terror strikes, as a killer begins stalking high-school girls.

Tagline: No one is safe when the sun goes down…

Note: As Dove requested, I’ve updated my template, because we now apparently call the Bad Guys Muffin Man. Hey, it makes as much sense as most Point Horrors.

Initial Thoughts: 

I’ve never read it before. I didn’t know much about it, though when I chose it, Dove warned me that it was about rape, at the same time she warned me about the good times I’d have with Help Wanted.

This recap is a little different. For one thing, there will be no counters. I tried to add them in after I wrote the first draft, but they felt frivolous and distracting from the main point, which is: this book is at times a pointed commentary on rape culture, and the recap expands on that theme. A lot. Nearly 16,000 words worth of a lot. This is a recap of Home Before Dark. It points out all the things we love and hate about Point Horrors and its ilk, as always. But Home Before Dark actually handles the rape aspect fairly well, and certainly better than Help Wanted did. This is more than a recap.

The timing on this is important as well. Rape is in the news in the USA because Brock Turner, a convicted rapist, was given six months in the Stanford rape case. SIX FUCKING MONTHS. Judge Aaron Persky gave him a lenient sentence because, and I fucking quote, “a prison sentence would have a severe impact on him.”

Let that sink in. A prison sentence, as punishment for a crime he has fucking been convicted for months ago, would have a severe impact on him. The criminal. Who cares about the impact on the survivor, right?

This is rape culture. We live in rape culture. It is constantly stewing all around us. Slut shaming. Victim blaming. It mixes with racism and white supremacy. Letting white rapists off because punishment will hurt them, and they were just drunk, and boys will be boys. Punishing black rapists because they are thugs and dangerous and We Must Save the White Women From Dangerous Black Men. Asking girls and women what they did to not be raped, how much they fought, but didn’t you really like it a little. She was asking for it. Look at what she was wearing. She was drunk, it’s her fault versus he was drunk, it’s not his fault.

The most shocking part of all of this actually isn’t that he got six months, and will likely be out in three. It is that he was charged and found guilty and sentenced at all. It is that the media covered it at all. Most rapes go unreported, or if they are reported, they aren’t investigated, or if they are investigated, no one is ever charged, or if they are charged, they are not convicted. Most rapes do not receive media coverage, particularly if it involves women of color, queer women, queer women of color, men as the victims — rape is endemic to our society.

So yeah. We often get serious around here, but this even more serious than usual, even more of a social commentary than usual, even more a shout of rage than usual. I am Wing, and I am a rape survivor, and I am angry.

[Dove: I can’t remember who said it, but I’ve seen it going around the internet: rape and crimes of that ilk are the only ones where the victim gets questioned so thoroughly. The example they gave is that when someone says, “I’ve been robbed, someone’s nicked my TV,” nobody replies with, “Oh. Are you sure you didn’t just give the TV away?”

Additionally, I find it particularly distasteful that his father referred to the rape of an unconscious non-consenting woman as “20 minutes of action”, which, no matter what his intention was regarding word choice, reads to me as “Look, he had a crap shag, and he’s off his food, pity him.” Actually, I find it utterly disgraceful that his father was trying to defend his actions in any way, shape or form. The wording just made it worse.

Obviously, given the subject matter, there probably won’t be much flippant goofing off in this recap. So my comments may be sparse.]

[Wing: Dove makes a great point. And not only has his father spoken out in his defense, so have his friends. I say this later in the recap, and I say it extensively, but to sum it up here: I can almost guarantee that (a) you know someone who is a rape survivor, and (b) you know someone who is a fucking rapist, no matter how nice or kind or good you think that person is.]

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Recap #25: 13 Tales of Horror Part One

13 Tales of Horror

13 Tales of Horror

Title: 13 Tales of Horror edited by T Pines

Summary: Can you face your worst nightmare? These thirteen horror stories guarantee to chill you to the bone. Read about the mysterious Black Walker and discover his grim secret. Shiver in fevered anticipation as Mark enters the House of Horrors, perhaps for the last time… And uncover the truth of the murder who leaves a message on his victim’s computers before he leaps in for the kill. Each take draws you further into a web of horror exquisitely woven by thirteen master storytellers. Prepare to be terrified!

Tagline: No tagline.

Note: As Dove requested, I’ve updated my template, because we now apparently call the Bad Guys Muffin Man. Hey, it makes as much sense as most Point Horrors.

Initial Thoughts:

I’ve never read this before, and we’ve never recapped a short story collection. I guess each story will be its own mini-recap, plus its own counter totals and final thoughts. I’m splitting these into a couple different posts, though, because in just the first three stories, I was already approaching 6000 words. No way do I want to subject you guys to 50k of snark in one post.

If the editor’s introduction is anything to go by, we are in for a world of pain.

We are, shall we say, thrilled to “death” that you’ve decided to join us on this trip into darkness. Ask any vampire, it’s so much easier to see once your eyes have become adjusted to the dark, and we have so much to show you….

This anthology is a compilation of the best horror writers of the young-adult thriller genre. With the overall success of horror novels and “thrillers,” it was just a matter of time before this book became a reality.

What we have here is true horror: everyday occurrences gone awry. The supernatural is frightening, what with ghosts, zombies, witches, and ghouls. But when you discover that your best friend has a nasty habit of doing away with the people he or she no longer likes – that is horror.

We read horror because we like to be frightened. It is a way to delve into other people’s fears and feelings, knowing all the while that if it gets too scary we can always close the book. But what happens when we can’t close the book? That is horror.

The authors who have contributed to this anthology have mastered the art of conveying horror through the written word. In Christopher Pike’s “Collect Call,” the going rate is a little too costly – it will make you think twice before accepting the charges. Patricia Windsor’s “A Little Taste of Death” is a compelling tale explaining why your parents told you never to take sweets from strangers. R. L. Stifle spins a story of a self-defeated young man who decides to let his hypnotic gate help erase his problems… but it gets a little out of hand. Similarly, Ellen Emerson White tells of an average girl in a quiet New England town, neither of which are what they appear to be.

So sit back and relax. Don’t worry, that creaking noise you hear is only the house settling, and that soft fluttering noise is nothing more than the turning of the pages of this book. And those footsteps…

–T. Pines

Everything is going to hurt, and nothing will be good. Deep breath, grab your alcohol, and let’s do this.

[Dove: Thanks to Wing’s decree that all short stories need counters in there, my recap isn’t even close to finished. Thank god Wing’s on fire here.]

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Recap #14: The Window by Carol Ellis

The Window by Carol Ellis

The Window by Carol Ellis

Title: The Window

Summary: It should have been the skiing holiday of a lifetime. But Jody sprains her ankle and finds herself alone with nothing to do but gaze out of her cabin window.

Gazing into the cabin of a beautiful neighbor she witnesses the fight, the murder and the killer… or does she?

And if the murder is real, has the killer been watching Jody?

Tagline: She’s seen the killer. Has the killer seen her?

Note: I will use “Bad Guy” throughout my reviews to refer to the anonymous killer/prankster/whatever. Doesn’t mean it’s a guy.

The Window by Carol Ellis - Scan by Mimi

The Window by Carol Ellis – Scan by Mimi

Initial Thoughts:

I remember this being one of my favourite Point Horrors of all time, right up there with Funhouse and Camp Fear. Camp Fear is still a lot of fun, so I have high hopes for this, since both are by Carol Ellis.

[Wing: Muahahahahahahahahahaha.]

[Dove: *cries*]

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Recap #12: Arcadia 4: The Attic by T.S. Rue

Arcadia 4: The Attic by T. S. Rue

Arcadia 4: The Attic by T. S. Rue

Title: The Attic by T.S. Rue (Part 4 of the Nightmare Inn/Arcadia series)

Summary: Tessa and her three best friends are planning a weekend of total fun. They even get a special deal at the New Arcadia Inn. But taking it is their first mistake, for this is the Nightmare Inn. And checking out the screams coming from the attic may be their last mistake.

Tagline: Afraid of the dark?

Note: I will use “Bad Guy” throughout my reviews to refer to the anonymous killer/prankster/whatever. Doesn’t mean it’s a guy.

Counters: Dove and I have started counters for the tropes we run into over and over again. You can read all the definitions in this sticky post. I’m going to try to define them the first time they are used in each post, too, if I can remember.

Initial Thoughts:

WHY IS IT ALWAYS SPIDERS?!

I know I read this when I was younger, but basically all I remember is that THERE’S A GIANT FUCKING SPIDER IN THE ATTIC. Which you can tell from the cover. So basically, I remember nothing.

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Recap #3: Trick or Treat by Richie Tankersley Cusick

Trick or Treat by Richie Tankersley Cusick

Trick or Treat by Richie Tankersley Cusick

Title: Trick or Treat by Richie Tankersley Cusick

Summary:

From the beginning Martha knew there was something evil about the house. It was so cold and sinister. And it wasn’t just the house that was giving her the creeps. Martha was sure someone was following her, watching her every move.

Then the practical jokes began – the scarecrow with the carving knife in its head, the fire. And, worst of all, the phone calls…

Tagline: Trick or Treat, trick or treat, candy is dandy, but murder is sweet

Note: I will use “Bad Guy” throughout my reviews to refer to the anonymous killer/prankster/whatever. Doesn’t mean it’s a guy.

Note II: Electric Boogaloo: There are 584 instances of ellipses used to end a sentence. I would say 572 of them would be better suited to the single full stop. Then she goes mad with dashes instead of full stops. In total there are 863 badly ended sentences in this book. Seriously, no more than 20 of them need either ellipses or dashes. The rest is just… unnecessary – to give the impression… of atmosphere – I wouldn’t have noticed… if I hadn’t been scanning in my copy… for my… kindle – Argh.

[Wing: It is a sad, sad thing that you counted.]

[Dove: I didn’t count, Word did when I did a find and replace. Is that still sad?]

Note 3 (3D): Ok, new format, see if I can make these things a bit shorter while retaining the information. [Note from the future: I can’t.] I’m going to read a chunk, recap, read a chunk, recap, etc. Rather than recapping as I read.

Initial thoughts

This was the first Point Horror I ever read, it had a great picture on the front cover, an interesting summary and I was ready to be terrified.

I’m still waiting. I remember powering through it and finding it to be a jumbled mess at the end. I remember feeling that it was quite a dull book, and although I read it cover to cover, probably in about one sitting, I never really got into it. Let’s see how it pans out 20 years later…

Also: Wing, did you see that there’s another twee poem! This time it’s the tagline. *happiness* … *coughs* … *evil happiness*

[Wing: That is not evil happiness, that is pure, good happiness.

It is a good cover though. Minus the horrible twee poem.]

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