DOWN IN FRONT
When you find your dad’s old porn stash and realize you’re following the plot
Title: Deadtime Stories #10 – Grandpa’s Monster Movies, a.k.a. “A Nightmare on Green Acres”
Author: A.G. Cascone, a.k.a. Annette and Gina Cascone
Cover Artist: ???
Tagline: The midnight show is a scream.
Summary: Home movies can be a horror!
C.T. and his cousin Lea are staying at their grandparents’ old farmhouse. It’s Grandpa’s seventieth birthday, and everyone’s celebrating with a big family reunion. All the weird relatives are here, and all they seem to want to talk about are “the good old days.”
C.T. and Lea think the “good old days” are pretty boring – until they find some home movies hidden away in the attic, movies from when their grandfather was just a boy.
The home movies give them a piece of family history that their relatives never talked about.
It seems that horses, cows, pigs, and chickens aren’t the only creatures Grandpa’s been taking care of on the farm. And Uncle Ernie isn’t the only one at the family reunion whose back is covered with hair. [Wing: WEREWOLF?!]
C.T. and Lea discover there’s a monster among them – and this creature is dying to eat a lot more than the birthday cake!
It’s my grandfather’s birthday this month so I felt this would be an appropriate book to recap. Believe me, I wish I’d chosen something else because of all the hillbilly jokes in this one.
“Deadtime Stories” was written by sisters Annette and Gina Cascone under a shared pen name. It was another series where most of the entries were independent of the other, save for the two “Tiny Town” books which inexplicably featured an identical knock-off of Chucky the Killer Doll named “Hurley the Hobo.”
What the hell, Jacobus?
Surprisingly, Nickelodeon produced a short TV adaptation a decade after the original series ended, which of course led to several books being reprinted with new covers. The episodes always featured a framing story of a babysitter narrating the books to the two little kids she was watching, and them always screaming when she gets to the twist ending.
[Wing: That is a serious Chucky knock-off.]
Continue reading »
Nightmare Hall – Monster by Diane Hoh
Title: Nightmare Hall #13: Monster
Summary: Rumors are flying around Salem U. Stories about a monster roaming the campus. Tales of students viciously attacked in the dead of night. Abby McDonald thinks it’s all nonsense. A fraternity prank. A drama major giving an unusual “performance”. She has too much on her mind to worry about a monster. But she should be worried. Because the truth about the monster is even more horrible than she could have imagined….
Notes: I will refer to the bad guy as…wait for it…the monster!
Diane Hoh is missing in action again this round, but thankfully, so is Nola Thacker! This time our ghostwriter is none other than Barbara Steiner, who released a few Point horror books (The Phantom, The Mummy, Spring Break) back in the day, but was actually quite prolific in teen YA horror fiction, with a bunch of titles written for the publisher Avon Flare (The Dreamstalker, The Photographer, The Photographer II: Dark Room, Night Cries, Deathline, The Coffin, and the Dark Chronicles trilogy, The Dance, The Gallery and The Calling). I’ve read them all, except for The Coffin and The Calling, and have always found her to be a rather “meh” writer. I remember “meh” being my overall reaction when I read this for the first time in my teens, although I can’t remember much else about it. She can’t be worse than Thacker, though, can she?
[Wing: I liked most of The Phantom, which may be the only book of hers I’ve read, but she did not pull off the ending, so I don’t have high hopes. Especially because with a title and a summary like that, I want this to be a werewolf book. It’s probably not a werewolf book. I’m already primed to be disappointed.]
Title: Graveyard School #8 – “Let’s Scare the Teacher to Death!” a.k.a. “Teaching Ms. Cheevy”
Author: Tom B. Stone, a.k.a. Nola Thacker, a.k.a. “D.E. Athkins”
Cover Artist: Barry Jackon (US Cover), ???? (Russian Cover), ???? (UK Cover)
UK Tagline: It’s Miss-terious!!
Summary: But We Were Only Joking!
Mrs. Cheevy, the new math teacher at Graveyard School, is totally paranoid! She’s always looking over her shoulder, her voice continually quavers during math lessons, and she jumps when anyone asks a question. This makes her the perfect target for class clown Bentley Jeste, and soon all the kids get in on the act. Math has never been more hilarious, until one day a practical joker goes too far. Could Mrs. Cheevy’s second-period class have scared her to death?
The proportions on the US cover have always bothered me, because how much space is there between the desk and the chalkboard?
This is not one of my favorites in the series, but it’s more that I’m conflicted on how exactly I should be feeling on it. It’s the only book besides the first one that doesn’t have anything supernatural in it, but it’s interesting. It’s a rare event where we get to see things from the “Antagonist’s” point of view and learn their feelings on the situation, yet it’s hard for me to decide if there really IS an antagonist in this book.
Both sides of the conflict give as good as they get, and it’s like the equivalent of going to a race track to watch for car crashes instead of rooting for one particular side. Although, I’ll be real here, had I read this book before “Boo Year’s Eve” and “Escape from Vampire Park” I doubt Jordie Flanders would’ve become one of my faves.
Fair warning Wing, there’s a joke involving a rubber spider.
[Wing: Thanks for the warning!]
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!
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.]
Title: 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…
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.
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.
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.
Title: Strange Matter #2 – The Midnight Game
Author: Johnny Ray Barnes Jr.
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.
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.]
Title: Goosebumps #45 – Ghost Camp
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?
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.]
Title: Spinechillers Mysteries #6 – Not A Creature Was Stirring?
Author: Fred E. Katz
Cover Artist: Mike Harper
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.)
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.]
Title: Spinetinglers #7 – Snow Day
Author: M.T. Coffin, a.k.a. Robert Hawks
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!
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.]
Evil twins, Wing and Dove, and their friends recap Point Horror and other teen genre fiction.
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