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

Recap #138: The Last Vampire #3: Red Dice by Christopher Pike

Red Dice by Christopher PikeTitle: The Last Vampire #3: Red Dice by Christopher Pike

Summary: Alisa and her former FBI partner, Joel, learn of a government plan to capture them in order to steal and analyze their vampire blood for the purpose of duplicating it, and when Joel is caught, Alisa risks her life to free him.

Tagline: This time the world hunted her…

Initial Thoughts

I remember nothing about this book. I know I’ve read it. I’ve probably even read it multiple times, though not since my early 20s, if not even before that. But I have no idea what the plot is here, or even who, besides Alisa, is around.

ALISA NEVER GONNA DIE BECAUSE I’M GODDAMN PERNE IS BACK.

Let’s do this.

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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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Recap #128: Strange Matter #2: The Midnight Game by Johnny Ray Barnes Jr., 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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Recap #121: Goosebumps #45: Ghost Camp by R.L. Stine, a.k.a. “When Harry Met Lucy”

Title: Goosebumps #45 – Ghost Camp

Author: R.L. Stine

Cover Artist: Tim Jacobus

Tagline: Be all that you can’t see!

Summary: The Joke’s On Them!

Harry and his brother, Alex, are dying to fit in at Camp Spirit Moon. But the camp has so many weird traditions. Like the goofy camp salute. The odd camp greeting. And the way the old campers love to play jokes on the new campers.

Then the jokes get really serious. Really creepy. Really scary.

First a girl sticks her arm in the campfire. Then a boy jams a pole through his foot.

Still, they’re just jokes… right?

Initial Thoughts

This has been my all time favorite Goosebumps book since, like forever. I adore everything about it. I love the characters. I love the villains. I love the setting. I love the cover and that one single human girl who has got no idea what the fuck she’s gotten herself into. This is one of those rare books where you like the main character on purpose AND you manage to feel bad for the villains even though you know they can’t win. It’s also one of the more truly fucked up entries in the original series, and I wrote about it for “Endangered Bodies” via discussing the surprising sexual assault undertones.

I still have a completed jigsaw puzzle of the cover downstairs in my basement, and I remember when I was younger how I wanted the sneakers that had the girl ghost and camper on them. Of course, since those were the “Girl” sneakers, my parents sure as hell weren’t letting that happen. At the very least, I was lucky to get my copy autographed by Stine AND Tim Jacobus.

The reason I didn’t begin my Goosebumps recaps with this book right off is because I was waiting on a commission of the main characters, Harry and Alex Altman, from a dear friend who is also one of my absolute favorite artists. I refused to begin this recap until I was able to include the commission in this post, alongside another awesome piece I won in a tumblr art giveaway.

 

And now, that time has come.

[Wing: When I saw the cover, I could have sworn I’d read this one before, but the summary doesn’t sound familiar at all. We’ll see how this goes.]

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Recap #120: Spinechillers Mysteries #6: Not A Creature Was Stirring? by Fred E Katz A.K.A. “The Gospel of Bergen”

Title: Spinechillers Mysteries #6 – Not A Creature Was Stirring?

Author: Fred E. Katz

Cover Artist: Mike Harper

Tagline: N/A

Summary: Yule Mania

Just before leaving with his parents to go skiing before Christmas, Conner Morgan breaks his leg. Fortunately, Great Aunt Bergen is coming to watch the house, and Conner can stay with her. [Wing: What, there’s nothing he can do at the ski lodge or wherever his parents are staying? They have to leave him behind because he can’t ski now?]

But there is something very strange about Aunt Bergen, and strange things start to happen when she arrives.

(Looks can be deceiving when fear backs you into a corner. Enjoy thrills and chills with the kids in this story who have fun as they demonstrate Christian character based on love for God, parents, and one another. You’ll share a scare… but, of course, ghouls and ghosts are strictly in the imagination.)

Initial Thoughts

Surprise! I’m giving you the best Christmas gift of all! JESUS.

I found out about Spinechillers, well, honestly I can’t remember. I WANT to say TV Tropes, when I was looking at the page discussing “Christian, family friendly alternative knock offs” of existing properties. Oh and I should mention there’s a Babysitters Club knock off called “The Twelve Candles Club.” [Wing: WHAT. THERE IS A BSC KNOCK OFF. WHAT.] When I learned there was a Christmas-themed book I immediately ordered a copy a couple of years back.

But, you know, I would like to get a bit serious, even a little heavy handed. Stuff like this intrigues me, not a lot, but enough to make me wonder. See, I was raised in a semi-devout Catholic household (my mom’s cousin is a priest and my dad works in a nursing home connected to a convent) so religion’s had a permanent residence in my life… whether I wanted it or not. I did communion and confirmation even though I hated attending those Wednesday classes because I had to miss art class in elementary school. I was put in two different all boys Catholic school through 6th to 12th grade, where I was humiliated, isolated, bullied, physically assaulted, made fun of by at least a couple of teachers, and sexually assaulted and harassed on two separate occasions by FOUR different people (and not in the same school). That I’m queer and had to listen to people telling me people LIKE me can’t have relationships did nothing to help my questioning sexuality. So for all intents and purposes I’ve had every justifiable reason to turn my back on organized religion, yet I haven’t. Well, the organized part yes, but I still believe in God and Jesus. I pray at night when I feel comfortable enough to do so (I haven’t done it in a while, feeling I’ve asked for too much lately and want to give God a break). I want to believe there’s a Heaven, but I have a hard time feeling I’m not going to Hell someday. Prayer does help sometimes.

Don’t get me wrong, I know Catholicism and Christianity and all its derivatives have been shamelessly used and exploited by hate groups, bigots, extremists, Republicans, what have you, and pretty much every other religion out there has suffered in some way because of Catholics and Christians. If you don’t believe in Jesus you don’t matter as a person, is what they seem to say. But then, what does it mean for the people who have genuine faith, the ones who don’t use the Bible for a hidden agenda or to propagate hate speech? What happens when we come across some media format that wants to talk about those values yet it gets lumped together with the hackneyed, poorly written, fear mongering bullshit meant to scare people into loving God? Hell, even a show as bad as “Drawn Together” offered a viewpoint of the Bible being meant to serve as a guide for people instead of a contradicting rule book (and they even said they weren’t admitting their interpretation was the right one).

I’m not trying to hype this book as some eye opening look into the Christian faith. I do plan to make a few jokes about how heavy handed it is, but there ARE a few points about it I do like. I even sent a copy to a dear friend of mine who’s deeply religious, and I did NOT mean for it to be an ironic gift. Candace is one of my dearest friends and I don’t pull that shit on her.

I just wonder, how do we draw the line between legitimate faith and a desire to do good, and bible-thumping hamfisted hypocrisy?

But hey, I didn’t count on this before, yet this is a perfect foil for “Here Comes Santa Claws.”

[Wing: Religion can bring out strong feelings in people, pro and con. I’m open for discussion here, but I will be keeping a close eye on the comment section (across the board, here and on social media). No personal attacks allowed.

I’ve mentioned this briefly here before, I think, but I grew up in a religious cult, one based on Old Testament faith. It was basically fake Judaism, but with Jesus and with a ton of racism against actual Jewish people. Long story, which I won’t go into super detail here, but I’m coming at Christianity from a very biased perspective, and I am aware of this.]

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Recap #118: Spinetinglers #7: Snow Day by M. T. Coffin, a.k.a. “Is This The Book You Wished For?”

Title: Spinetinglers #7 – Snow Day

Author: M.T. Coffin, a.k.a. Robert Hawks

Cover Artist: ???

Tagline: The Weather Outside Is Frightful…

Summary: LET IT SNOW!

The kids all cheer when the bus driver tells them the schools have just been closed because of the snow. But the bus can’t make it through the blinding blizzard, and soon they are trapped in the freezing cold school bus. Through the wind and the snowflakes, someone sees lights on in an old farmhouse – and it looks warm and cosy. But what they find inside doesn’t make them feel safe at all! Strange portraits with glistening red eyes stare down at them. And when the kids go to the kitchen for something to eat, they have to pull open the heavy steel door of the freezer… and that’s just when the lights go out!

Initial Thoughts

Here we have another of the supposed Goosebumps knock offs I mentioned, but much like Shivers the Spinetinglers series is much more darker and slightly geared towards a more older audience than the Goosebumps books were. I found out about this series when searching through Mark Nagata’s website and discovered one of the covers he did for this line. The first entry I ever bought was “Camp Crocodile,” but I’ve only read that book once. I have a modest number of books from this series, but “Snow Day” is currently my favorite.

M.T. Coffin is a pen name shared by a number of different authors, though.

I got this book in 2008 as a Christmas gift alongside “Weirdo Waldo’s Wax Museum,” which was appropriate because this is also one of the darkest YA horror novels I’ve ever read. I was instantly drawn to this book because, snow days and haunted houses, I live for those kind of stories, but that summary didn’t prepare me for the true horror behind it all. And none of you are prepared either. You think I’m being cute for drama, but I am NOT.

Thankfully the book isn’t all plot. A lot of it is geared towards the characters interacting with one another and their responses to the situation they find themselves trapped in. But that means this can be a slightly difficult book because you need to really focus on reading it. The author went through a lot of trouble to make sure the readers paid attention to what’s going on.

Just so you know, even if you can see the ending coming, that doesn’t make it any less horrible.

And it begins, appropriately enough, with the apocalypse.

[Wing: I’ve never heard of this series, either, but it sounds amazing so far.]

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Recap #116: Class Trip II by Bebe Faas Rice

Cover of Class Trip 2 by Bebe Faas Rice, shows an open door and a traveling bag on a porch in a sliver of lightTitle: Class Trip II by Bebe Faas Rice

Summary: Hallie and her friends are lost, stranded in Holyoake—a small town deep in the mountains. A town isolated from the rest of the world. A town that time has forgotten.

At first, Hallie is charmed by Holyoake’s odd customs and old-fashioned ways. [Wing: LIES.] The townspeople are warm and friendly, and they’re eager to make Hallie and her friends feel right at home. They want to make sure that Hallie and her friends stay in Holyoake. Forever.

Tagline: Pack your bag…

Initial Thoughts

Way back when I first recapped Class Trip, I talked about how I’d read Class Trip II and really enjoyed it, but had never read the first book. Had never even considered finding the first book, despite the fact that Class Trip II is very clearly the second book in a series.

So finally, years later, I read Class Trip. I enjoyed it — sort of. And now I’ve come back to Class Trip II, which I loved when I was a teen. Here’s hoping it holds up. (I’m reading an updated version, I think, so who knows how that will compare.) [Wing: Note from the future, I didn’t actually notice any differences, because I was so enthralled.]

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Recap #114: Graveyard School #15: The Fright Before Christmas by Tom B. Stone, A.K.A. “I STILL Can’t Believe It’s Not A Christmas Carol!”

Title: Graveyard School #15 – The Fright Before Christmas

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

Cover Artist: Mark Nagata [Wing: That cover is so much cheesy fun.]

Tagline: N/A

Summary: Have Yourself A Scary Little Christmas…

Christopher hates Christmas. He calls it a howl-iday, not a holiday. The fat man in the red suit? Santa Claws. That eight-reindeer vehicle? A slay. And Chris isn’t kidding. Welcome to Christmas at Graveyard School. It’s sure to be very merry. And very, very scary. [Wing: CHRIS YOU ARE TEASING ME WITH WEREWOLVES.]

Initial Thoughts

Here we’ve come to the second of the two Christmas Carol bootleg books I’ve reviewed for Point Horror, and I feel this one’s much better than “Fright Christmas.” [Wing: Everyone loves a Christmas Carol retellings, I guess.] For one thing, it’s got something of a meta bent to it. See, this is a rare Christmas Carol copy where it acknowledges the original work as something that exists. In almost every other take on the famous novel by Charles Dickens, the characters never seem to recognize what they’re currently experiencing. Out of the few times where such a thing occurred, there was

  • A Flintstones Christmas Carol, where the cast was actually doing a theater production of the story with Fred cast as Scrooge and turning into a jackass thanks to his inflated ego. Conversely, when the performance finally begins, Fred’s role as Scrooge serves as his wake up call for how poorly he’s been treating everyone.
  • The Simpsons and The Non-Adventures of Wonderella making fun of how much that story’s been utterly sucked dry, with the former doing jokes about “Ebeneezer Urkle,” and in the latter Wonderella pointing out how the last ghost is almost always the Grim Reaper in every knockoff.

This book also gets to demonstrate how smart these kids really are. They’re quite clear on why Christopher, the Scrooge stand-in, pisses them off so much. They don’t dislike him because he doesn’t like Christmas, but they DO dislike him because he’s got such a bad attitude about the holiday. They know lots of people don’t celebrate Christmas, but Christopher’s so pissy about it no matter what culture he comes from they think he wouldn’t celebrate ANY holiday. So look, if you don’t want to participate in some holiday fine, but don’t ruin the fun for everybody else. There’s also the understanding that his dislike of the holiday is coming from somewhere much more complicated.

I could be wrong though, and if any of you feel this is coming from some place of bias feel free to tell me. I’d LOVE to have a discussion on it.

[Wing: Well now I am super interested. Let’s do this.]

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Recap #110: More & More Tales To Give You Goosebumps by R. L. Stine, A.K.A. “It Just Doesn’t Die!”

Title: More & More Tales To Give You Goosebumps

Author: R.L. Stine (And possibly Carolyn Crimi)

Cover Artist: Tim Jacobus

Tagline: N/A

Summary: Reader Beware – You’re In For Ten More Scares!

Will Aunt Vera’s book of magic spells spell scary trouble for Kari? Is Jeffrey a musical genius or is the old guitar he stole truly haunted? Are Mike and his brother Ray house sitting for a monstrous ghost?

[Wing: Haunted guitar? Sign me up immediately.]

Initial Thoughts

This is one of the two short stories I was able to find at a church tag sale near my house. It still has its last check out slip from the library. I use it as a bookmark.

This one’s by far the most eclectic collection of short stories Stine has done for the franchise. The antagonists are also far more colorful than the first three books. But Wing, hon, I’m sorry to say there aren’t any werewolves in this book. [Wing: We had a really great October. I suppose that will carry me through the end of the year with few werewolves. I suppose.]

As a side note, this one originally came with a hat (like the ones the skeleton frogs on the cover are wearing). So far the most disappointing bonus of the short story books. [Wing: I would find a hat a weird bonus, except I STILL REMEMBER THE BOXERS.]

For this recap, I’ll be including music, having selected a different track from the soundtrack to “Umineko: When They Cry” for every short story recap, including name and artist.

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October Patreon Bonus Recap: Are You Afraid of the Dark? 01×01 The Tale of the Phantom Cab

Submitted for the approval of the Devil’s Elbow Patreons, I call this post: The Recap of the Tale of the Phantom Cab.

INITIAL THOUGHTS

Are You Afraid of the Dark? was a horror anthology tv show that aired in the early 90s. The premise was that a group of teens are brought together by their love of horror and meet up each week to take turns telling scary stories. They call themselves the Midnight Society, and though they are all very different, their stories keep bringing them back together.

Baby!Wing loved the hell out of this show when it first aired in the USA, and adult!Wing loves the hell out of it to this day. Revisiting it with you, amazing Patrons, is going to be fun.

You can read this bonus recap by supporting our Patreon at the $5 level or higher, and receive access to our Patron-only feed, bonus recaps, bonus episodes, and more. Click here to support the Devil’s Elbow.
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