Posted in Goosebumps Recaps

Recap #266: Goosebumps #4: Say Cheese And Die! by R.L. Stine

Say Cheese And Die Cover Artwork by Tim Jacobus
Say Cheese And Die Cover Artwork by Tim Jacobus

Title: Goosebumps #4 – Say Cheese And Die!, a.k.a. “Greg Banks Won’t Eat His Cereal”

Author: R.L. Stine

Cover Artist: Tim Jacobus

Tagline: One picture is worth a thousand screams.

Summary: Every Picture Tells A Story.

Greg thinks there is something wrong with the old camera he and his friends found. The photographs keep turning out wrong. Very wrong. Like the snapshot Greg took of his father’s new car that shows it totaled. And then Greg’s father is in a nasty wreck.

But Greg’s friends don’t believe him. Shari even makes Greg bring the camera to her birthday party and take her picture.

Only Shari’s not in the photograph when it develops.

Is Shari about to be taken out of the picture permanently?

Who is going to take the next fall for…

the evil camera?

Initial Thoughts

It’s time again for another of my childhood faves, and it’s one of the first Goosebumps books I ever bought with my own money.

“Say Cheese And Die!” is one of the original ten, and it’s one of the most well remembered due to Tim Jacobus’ striking cover artwork. I used to own a t-shirt with that image when I was a kid. Apparently, R.L. Stine had to go back and include a sequence in this book based on the cover after it was finished.

(more…)

Posted in Goosebumps Recaps

Recap #262: Goosebumps #1: Welcome to Dead House by R.L. Stine

Welcome to Dead House Cover by Tim Jacobus
Welcome to Dead House Cover by Tim Jacobus

Title: Goosebumps #1 – “Welcome to Dead House” a.k.a. “They’re Coming To Get You, Amanda!”

Author: R.L. Stine

Cover Artist: Tim Jacobus

Tagline: It will just kill you.

Summary: Look Alive!

Amanda and Josh think they old house they have just moved into is weird. Spooky. Possibly haunted. And the town of Dark Falls is pretty strange, too.

But their parents don’t believe them. You’ll get used to it, they say. Go out and make some new friends.

So Amanda and Josh do. But these new friends are not exactly what their parents had in mind.

Because they want to be friends…

forever.

Initial Thoughts

This is one recap I definitely have the energy for, because this is where it all began. The very first Goosebumps book by R.L. Stine, commissioned back when Scholastic didn’t believe the series would sell enough. Boy were they wrong! [Wing: Stine did an excellent job of creating stories people love even now and reaching kids with horror, and I love that, no matter how strong our feud.]

As the beginning of the franchise, “Welcome to Dead House” gives us a look at how Stine originally established many of the tropes he’s run into the ground over the last three decades, but before he exaggerated the shit out of them. Our main character and narrator, Amanda Benson, is a girl dealing with her bratty brother Josh and her parents not believing them about the weird shit going on in their new home.

(more…)

Posted in Fear Street Recaps

Recap #261: Fear Street #44: The Rich Girl by R.L. Stine

The Rich Girl Cover by Bill Schmidt
The Rich Girl Cover by Bill Schmidt

Title: Fear Street #44 – The Rich Girl, a.k.a. “Capitalism Stinks!”

Author: R.L. Stine

Cover Artist: Bill Schmidt

Tagline: Would you kill to be rich?

Summary: Whom can you trust?

Emma Naylor and her best friend Sydney Shue always share their secrets. And now they have a big one. They found a duffel bag stuffed with money.

They swore never to tell anyone. But Sydney broke her promise. She told her boyfriend, Jason, about the money.

Now Emma is terrified. She doesn’t trust Jason – and she thinks he would do anything to get the money for himself. Even kill…

Initial Thoughts

It’s finally spring, which means it’s time to think green. And what could be greener than money!

Money, the root of all evil and the root of this later entry Fear Street book. “The Rich Girl” was one of the earliest Fear Street books I can remember purchasing and a point of small interest for me over the years. As of this recap, it’s the first time I’ve re-read the book from beginning to end since middle school.

Despite what the summary says, Emma’s best friend Sydney is technically the main character since most of the action is happening from her point-of-view. The implications of this book are definitely rather uncomfortable to think about and there’s a lot of ableism going on near the end. Sorry, Wing.

[Wing: Eh, I’m never surprised by that around here. Also, no matter how many times I see that tagline, I first read it as “Would it kill you to be rich?”]

(more…)

Posted in Nightmare Hall recaps

Recap #260: Nightmare Hall #15: Truth or Die by Diane Hoh/Nola Thacker

 

Title: Nightmare Hall #15 Truth or Die

Author: Diane Hoh (Nola Thacker)

Summary: It begins as a game.

When first-year student Parrie Moore meets the other girls at a party, joining them in their harmless game of Truth or Dare sounds like fun.

And at first it is. The dares are silly pranks that make them all laugh.

But gradually the dares become stranger, more dangerous. The game is taking on a life of its own.

Parrie is frightened. But it’s only a game . . . or is it?

 

*Note: That ^ is not the cover I remember, and I hate it. THIS is the cover I had as a kid, with the see-through window that opened to another part of the picture, although by this point they might have been one solid cover. Much more nostalgic.

 

Initial Thoughts

Well, first things first, we have a Thacker! *sarcastic jazz hands* That means I’m not holding this to the same standard I would were it actually Hoh writing. I generally find Thacker’s writing to range from “meh” to “I’m going to build a time machine to go back and punch you in the throat as you’re writing this.”

I like the premise, even though it’s not one I’m a total sucker for; it reminds me of a writing prompt I saw on reddit and am actually currently writing a story based on. So, I hope there’s nothing in this book that I accidentally plagiarize for my own. Anyway, there are a lot of “truth or dare gone wrong” stories out there, even in current day, and this one doesn’t stand out at all. Unfortunately.

Regardless if this one is good or bad, I’m happy Wing welcomed me into the Nightmare Hall recapping fold. I remember loving these books, although after reading the recaps of them here, so far I’m questioning my teenage judgment. I doubt this is going to be the book that makes me gasp, “My God, they are as good as I remember!”

Anyway. Onward!

[Wing: I had the window covers, too, and I loved them so damn much. And many thanks to JC for stepping in when I couldn’t get my hands on a copy of this one. More JC recaps is always a good thing!]

(more…)

Posted in Other Recaps

Recap #259: Black Orchid #14 – “Glamour’s End” by Dick Foreman and Rebecca Guay

Title: Black Orchid #14 – “Glamour’s End” a.k.a. “Annis Get Your Gun!”

Writer: Dick Foreman

Penciller: Rebecca Guay

Inker: Stan Woch

Colorist: Digital Chameleon

Letterer: Clem Robbins

Editor: Lou Stathis

Assistant Editor: Alex Alonso

Cover Artist: Dave McKean

Summary: In England, Black Orchid encounters a formidable foe who ensares her with a powerful “glamour” spell.

Initial Thoughts

So it feels like I’ve been on creative burnout for I don’t know how long and I’m freaking sick of it. It took me forever to finish a couple of other non-Point Horror related projects, and with this ear infection thing I’ve been dealing with I haven’t had any energy to do anything. I think I’m having a depressive episode and have to get in touch with my therapist.

I’m starting to believe my problem is I’m still expecting too much of myself with this website and am forcing obligation on myself to have stuff prepared for holidays and shit, even if I don’t have the energy or particularly care about a certain book.

That out of the way, I found it’s been easier to focus on minor stuff so I’m doing a recap of one of my favorite issues from one of my favorite titles about one of my favorite heroines.

(more…)

Posted in Nightmare Hall recaps

Recap #258: Nightmare Hall #16: Book of Horrors by Diane Hoh

cover of Nightmare Hall Book of Horrors by Diane HohTitle: Nightmare Hall 16: Book of Horrors by Diane Hoh

Summary: Horror book author Victoria McCoy, the new Salem writer-in-residence, knows how to make horror come to life. So Reed is thrilled when McCoy hires her as her new assistant…until she finds out that McCoy’s previous assistants have all disappeared.

Then frightening things start happening to Reed…things straight out of McCoy’s famous horror books.

And McCoy’s next tale of terror has an ending worse than Reed’s worst nightmares.

Initial Thoughts

Apparently Kindle Unlimited doesn’t have #15 Truth or Die, so we’re going to skip straight on to Book of Horrors. I know nothing about this book. I don’t think I’ve read it before, and if I have, I don’t remember a goddamn thing about it.

Randomly, I’m playing 5 Seconds of Summer “Teeth” on repeat while writing this. Not because it has anything to do with the story, I have no idea at this point, but because I sometimes obsess over a song and listen to it for hours, days, weeks at a time. My brain is so much fun. Honestly, this is one of the least terrible things it does to me.

(more…)

Posted in Child's Play Movies

Recap #256: Bride of Chucky (1998)

Bride of Chucky (1998)

Title: Bride of Chucky (1998)

Tagline: Chucky gets lucky!

Summary: Chucky hooks up with another murderous doll, the bridal gown-clad Tiffany, for a Route 66 murder spree with their unwitting hosts, two eloping high-school graduates.

Grade: B-

Initial Thoughts

I actually loved this when it came out. I jumped so hard on the bandwagon of horror movies being witty as well as creepy. The Scream trend was something I appreciated. Of course, witty is subjective, and more often than not it ended up being a lot of irritating people saying a lot of dumb shit that the writers thought was funny, but for me Bride worked. [JC: I had the Fangoria issue with this movie on the cover. I was hyped for this movie . . . and then didn’t end up seeing it until it came to video. For some reason. Anyway, I absolutely loved it when I finally did end up seeing it. And since my thing seems to be providing the critic scores (except I think I forgot to add them into either Child’s Play 2 or 3, oops), this movie has a 5.4/10 on IMDb, and 46% on Rotten Tomatoes. Which seems criminally low, btw.]

And I’ve adored Jennifer Tilly since the first time I saw Bound. And, this has fuck all to do with the recap, I think she seems like a cool person. Like, if you bumped into her somewhere, she’d be nice to talk to. Please don’t disabuse me of this notion if that’s not true. (Please do if she’s done something so awful I need to reconsider my stance because I will miss stuff. The only celeb I follow with any enthusiasm is Trey Parker.) [JC: As far as I can tell, she’s an absolutely adorable human being.] [Dove: Oh, thank goodness. Raven has a few friends who play poker professionally, and I keep hoping that they level up enough to meet her so they can tell me how awesome she is. So far no luck.]

(more…)

Posted in Other Recaps

Recap #255: The Castle by Yoko Matsumoto

Constellations That Sing Of Death Cover by Yoko Matsumoto
Constellations That Sing Of Death Cover by Yoko Matsumoto

Title: The Castle, or The Mansion of Time

Creator: Yoko Matsumoto

Scanner/Translator: Luchs

Editor: Tama-Neko

Summary: A young girl has recurring nightmares about a castle and a woman who tries to kill her. She is sent to stay with relatives in the country for a change of scenery. En route she glimpses a mysterious but vaguely familiar castle surrounded by fog on the other side of the lake. What dark secrets does the castle possess and who was that woman in her nightmares?

Initial Thoughts

I didn’t discuss this one with Wing ahead of time, but I haven’t done a manga recap in a while and this creator’s been a low-key interest for me for a couple of years.

Yoko Matsumoto’s a lesser known creator of horror manga to the point I do not believe any of her works have been officially distributed by English publishers. That’s sad, because she offers something different from the majority of Japanese horror creators I’ve come across. Matsumoto’s stories are rather deceptive for a horror writer. The art style is very shoujo and doesn’t utilize typically exaggerated horror imagery, things such as bulging eyes and grotesque body horror, like what can be found from creators Kanako Inuki, Junji Ito, or Kazuo Umezu.

From what I’ve read of Matsumoto, her stories rely on tragic/cruel irony, sometimes with no real explanation behind the cause of the horrific phenomena. Or maybe I haven’t read enough of her works to properly explain what she’s about.

This was the first tale I’d ever read by her, and it’s initially part of a collection called “Constellations That Sing Of Death.” However, several of the stories printed in her anthology collections have been put online as separate entries. The two translations online refer to this story by different titles.

I decided to do this spur-of-the-moment recap because in a couple of months I’ll be starting a Census job, and with that plus Yankee Stadium and my comic job I have no clue how much time I’ll have for writing. I’ve gotta do what I can while I have the time, space and energy.

(more…)

Posted in Goosebumps Recaps

Recap #253: Goosebumps Series 2000 #20: Be Afraid – Be Very Afraid! by R.L. Stine

Be Afraid Be Very Afraid Cover by Tim Jacobus
Be Afraid Be Very Afraid Cover by Tim Jacobus

Title: Goosebumps Series 2000 #20 – Be Afraid – Be Very Afraid! a.k.a. “YOU FINISH THE RECAP”

Author: R.L. Stine

Cover Artist: Tim Jacobus

Tagline: There’s a new beast on the block…

Summary: The dragon’s wings stretched… stretched like a ship’s sail unfurling… and cut through power lines over the side of the street. Electricity crackled and sparks flew as the lines came down.

I watched, frozen in terror, as the dragon turned its massive body toward my house. It pulled back its head in an angry roar of attack.

“It’s – it’s coming here!” I choked out. “It’s coming after us!”

Initial Thoughts

It’s the beginning of the year and it’s wintertime, which means I’m stepping into the role of recapping another Goosebumps 2000 book thanks to my zeal for seasonal nostalgia.

This is one of the 2000 entries that’s been especially prominent in my thoughts since “Return to Ghost Camp” had a preview for it at its end. The title and summary don’t allude much to the actual plot besides the prominence of dragons, so I’ll explain it’s about a card game that seemingly comes to life as three kids play it. However, the story bizarrely gets rather… meta, near the end, and I can’t tell if Stine is mocking his own writing style or what.

(more…)

Posted in Other Recaps

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

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

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

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

Cover Artist: ???

Tagline: Not A Creature Was Stirring…

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

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

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

Initial Thoughts

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

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

(more…)

Posted in Goosebumps Recaps

Recap #249: Goosebumps #53: Chicken Chicken by R.L. Stine

Goosebumps: Chicken Chicken Cover by Tim Jacobus
Goosebumps: Chicken Chicken Cover by Tim Jacobus

Title: Goosebumps #53 – Chicken Chicken, a.k.a. “The Clucking”

Author: R.L. Stine

Cover Artist: Tim Jacobus

Tagline: It’s a finger lickin’ nightmare!

Summary: Don’t Call Them Chicken Legs!

Everyone in Goshen Falls knows about weird Vanessa. She dresses all in black. Wears black lipstick. And puts spells on people. At least, that’s what they say.

Crystal and her brother, Cole, know you can’t believe everything you hear. But that was before they made Vanessa mad. Before she whispered that strange warning, “Chicken Chicken.”

Because now something really weird has happened. Crystal’s lips have turned as hard as a bird’s beak. And Cole has started growing ugly white feathers all over his body…

Initial Thoughts

“Chicken Chicken” is notorious among fans as the absolute worst of the original 62 books, even more so than the “Monster Blood” books. Reading the book as a kid it wasn’t something I picked up on, given I probably sped through it and put it back with my other books. Re-reading it now I can see why this book is so reviled, though I personally think the worst book out of the entire franchise is “Revenge R Us.”

The problem with “Chicken Chicken” is its villain goes completely overboard in her punishment on the main characters  to the point there’s nothing funny or endearing about it. She’s so borderline sadistic it just makes her awful, and it’s especially hard to stomach the treatment main character Crystal gets. What compounds this is Crystal doesn’t do anything wrong.

But don’t take it from me, here’s what Crystal has to say:

I don't clucking believe this
Crystal by Felipe Smith – Considering she’s apparently turning into a rooster, which are biologically male, she’s got every right to be scared.

[Wing: Okay, that’s adorable, but wow, the premise of this book sounds terrible. I did not read it growing up, but I can see why readers at the time hated it. I doubt it is any worse than the Slappy books, personally, but this is pretty weird.]

(more…)

Posted in Other Recaps

Recap #247: Tales For The Midnight Hour by J.B. Stamper Part Two

Tales for the Midnight Hour Original Cover
Tales for the Midnight Hour Original Cover

Title: Tales For The Midnight Hour

Author: Judith Bauer “J.B.” Stamper

Cover Artist: ???

Summary: N/A

Initial Thoughts

My original plan to cover the second half of this book was to have the recap finished during the summer, preferably August to go alongside “Escape from Vampire Park,” and yet again I was delayed. I’m trying to use November as a catch-up month to finish a few things before December so I can focus on more holiday related recaps.

Looking back I have to say I’m more fond of the stories in the book’s first half, and the only story in this section I favor is “Phobia.” Amusingly, the last tale sets up an ongoing theme Stamper reused for the next three collections featuring the same cast of campers even though the stories aren’t connected by anything else. [Wing: Okay, using the same cast is interesting. I look forward to seeing those stories if we can track down copies.]

(more…)

Posted in Nightmare Hall recaps

Recap #246: Nightmare Hall 14: The Initiation by Diane Hoh

Cover for Nightmare Hall 14 - The Initiation by Diane HohTitle: Nightmare Hall 14: The Initiation by Diane Hoh

Summary: Joining the Others, a group of outcasts whom she thinks are just lonely students like herself, Salem University freshman Molly Keene realizes that there is something very wrong about the group, but finds there is only one way to leave it.

Initial Thoughts

I’m excited to pick up recapping Nightmare Hall, though I’m not nearly as informed about the history of the books, ghost writers, etc., as Dade was, alas. The Initiation is not one of the Nightmare Hall books I read growing up, and in retrospect, that’s a very good thing, because I hated it, thanks, good times.

Read on to see why, I guess. Or save yourself. Whichever you prefer. Insert evil cackle here.

(more…)

Posted in Graveyard School recaps

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

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

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

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

Cover Artist: Mark Nagata

Summary: Along Came A Spider…

And Sat Down Beside Her…

And They Became Friends?

What has eight legs

And spins webs of silk

And sucks up people

Like they were glasses of milk?

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

Is there?

Initial Thoughts

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

I swear I’ll make it up to you.

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

So.

Here we are.

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

(more…)

Posted in Goosebumps Recaps

Recap #244: Goosebumps Series 2000 #10: Headless Halloween by R.L. Stine

Goosebumps Series 2000: Headless Halloween Cover Art by Tim Jacobus
Goosebumps Series 2000: Headless Halloween Cover Art by Tim Jacobus

Title: Goosebumps Series 2000 #10 – Headless Halloween, a.k.a. “Brandon Did A Bad, Bad Thing”

Author: R.L. Stine

Cover Artist: Tim Jacobus

Tagline: Talk about getting ahead!

Summary: Frozen in silence, I squinted into the eerie, pale light. Hands popped up from beneath the ground. They shook off dirt and stretched. A dozen hands poked up, shimmering yellow and green in the moonlight.

And then heads. Human heads. Hair caked with dirt. Skin loose, hanging from their skulls. They stared at me with pleading eyes, faces twisted, mouths hanging open in pain.

“Take me with you,” one of them called in a dry whisper.

Initial Thoughts

Wow it took me like two years to finally finish this recap I suck.

I started this some time in December 2017 before I figured out a routine for my Goosebumps recaps. I was still excited about recapping for Devil’s Elbow and this was one of the books I wanted to cover first as it’s one of my favorites. Admittedly it’s one of my favorites because that has to be one of the best covers Jacobus ever did for the franchise and I’m a sucker for Halloween stories.

So, you know how Stine has this uncanny ability to create protagonists who turn out to be exceedingly selfish and petty and they’re supposed to be the GOOD guys? Yeah, now imagine what happens when Stine creates a character who’s horrible on PURPOSE and you get our protagonist Brandon. However, because Brandon’s a dipshit it means the book is about him getting put through the wringer for being an unholy little fucker.

Stine also crafts a very suitable environment for Halloween and has one of my favorite settings in the entirety of the Goosebumps 2000 books.

(more…)

Posted in Other Recaps

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

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

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

Writer: Mitchell Perkins

Artist: John B. Lang

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

Summary:

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

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

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

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

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

It’s a tale for…

All hallow’s eve.

Initial Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(more…)

Posted in Other Recaps

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

Fillmore Title Card
Fillmore Title Card

Title: Fillmore! – The Unseen Reflection

Director: Christian Roman

Writer: Madellaine Paxson

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

Initial Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Unfortunately, she’s not in this episode.

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

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

(more…)

Posted in Goosebumps Recaps

Recap #235: Goosebumps Series 2000 #8: Fright Camp by R.L. Stine

Fright Camp Cover by Tim Jacobus
Fright Camp Cover by Tim Jacobus

Title: Goosebumps Series 2000 #8 – “Fright Camp,” a.k.a. “Return of the Go-carts from the Evil Kingdom!”

Author: R.L. Stine

Cover Artist: Tim Jacobus

Cover Tagline: Where the wild things are… out of control!

Ad Tagline: You’re not going to play baseball.

You’re not going to go swimming.

You’re going to get scared!

Summary:

I lowered my head and started to swim slowly, steadily out to the white, floating platform. I was four or five strokes away from it when I felt something wrap around my ankle.

At first, I thought it was a piece of seaweed.

But then I felt it grip me. I thrashed the water with both hands.

“Let go-!”

But the hard, bony hand held on, tugging me, tugging me underwater.

Initial Thoughts

So for this summer I picked one GYG book, a G2000 book, and an original Goosebumps book to review alongside the Graveyard School recaps.

I wouldn’t say “Fright Camp” is one of my favorites but I’m definitely fond of it. It’s one of the oldest of the 2000 books I own, which I acquired from a friend of my brother’s way back when we still lived in the basement apartment of the house.

I enjoy “Fright Camp” for the same reason I enjoy “Shocker on Shock Street” and “One Day at Horrorland,” the world building. There are a number of horror movies mentioned in this book and they’re all fucking ridiculous and I love them all.

(more…)

Posted in Other Recaps

Recap #231: Campfire Stories #1 by Don Oriolo and Vincent Scarpelli

Campfire Stories Cover
Campfire Stories Cover

Title: Campfire Stories #1 – “An Evening With Ranger Bill,” a.k.a. “Ranger Bill Says ‘No Means No Or He’s Gonna FUCKING KILL YOU'”

Writer: Don Oriolo

Artist: Vincent Scarpelli

Initial Thoughts

Get ready guys, because this introduction is gonna be a doozy. This comic has got to have the weirdest history of any individual comic I can think of.

It was supposedly published in 1992 by a company called “Global Comics,” yet seems to be the only title the company released besides an adaption of “Thirteen Something” which included early artwork by famed “Archie” artist Dan Parent. The next time I see Dan I need to ask him about all this.

Yet the reason I ever heard of this comic was a low budget, direct to video horror movie from the early 2000s called “Campfire Stories.” Made about a decade after the comic was released, the plot involved two teenage boys, a female hitchhiker, and the creepy Forest Ranger Bill. Ranger Bill tells them three stories:

  1. An escaped mental patient who found work as a school janitor, and then kills the group of boys who humiliate him
  2. Three bikers who rob an elderly Native American man and are turned into old people because of his stash of weed
  3. Two roommates who decide to pull a prank on their boyfriends that ends with one of the roommates possessed by her grandmother’s spirit

The movie ends with the three escaping from Ranger Bill and making their way to a nightclub, only to realize the people in said nightclub are the characters from the stories. The boys are murdered while the hitchhiker escapes and flags down another car asking for a ride the exact same way she approached the boys…

The third story’s the only one I ever held an interest in, but once I was able to watch the entire movie I saw the opening credits mention a “Campfire Stories” comic book. However, said comic that I’ll be reviewing has little to do with the movie. The setting’s totally different, it doesn’t feature the same stories, and instead of being a forest ranger, Ranger Bill is a camp counselor. Yet the end credits of the movie feature pages from the ACTUAL comic.

As a side note, there was a different movie called “Campfire Stories” that came out in 1991, a year before the comic was published. They don’t seem to be connected although except they both tell a standard urban legend (the same one in fact).

Compounding all this weirdness, the comic AND the movie were co-created by Don Oriolo. Don’s a writer and musician and apparently worked with both Bon Jovi AND discovered Meat Loaf. He’s also the son of Joe Oriolo, the creator of the “Felix the Cat” TV show and co-creator of “Casper the Friendly Ghost.” Don’s well known for producing the “Felix the Cat” movie of the 1980s, one of the most infamously bizarre animated films in existence. Of course it’s also got a great soundtrack.

Weird, right??? So much packed into one comic.

Because I’ll be reviewing “Scream Around the Campfire” this month I chose to do a recap on this title to go with the camp theme.

(more…)

Posted in Graveyard School recaps

Recap #224: Graveyard School #18: The Dead Sox by Tom B. Stone

Graveyard School #18 - The Dead Sox Cover by Mark Nagata
Graveyard School #18 – The Dead Sox Cover by Mark Nagata

Title: Graveyard School #18 – The Dead Sox, a.k.a. “The Devil Went Down To Graveyard School”

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

Cover Artist: Mark Nagata

Summary: Three Strikes? You’re Dead!

Park Addams thinks it’s going to be a great summer. He’s just made the all-star team, and it seems like they can’t be beat – until they meet the Belville All-Stars. Shutout? Try wipeout! No-hitter? No one even sees the ball! How do they do it? The Grove Hill All-Stars are suddenly scared to death. Welcome to the field of screams.

Initial Thoughts

Welcome to the last sports-related entry in the Graveyard School series, and just in the middle of baseball season. [Wing: Ugh, baseball season. That long stretch of time between the Stanley Cup finals (#weallbleedblue) and college football.]

Despite what the summary probably has you thinking and despite Algie Green’s role, this is not a direct sequel to “Scream, Team!” even though it features another evil sports team from Belville. No return appearances by Coach Sandman here, folks. This time we’re going less “Cackling scientist” and we’re looking at something a bit more… Faustian.

This book does present something of a continuity problem since it’s a summertime story, but overall its only real downside is the inclusion of Park’s older sister who is a complete bitch. [Wing: #misognyisforpussies] Thankfully she has no real role to play beyond a few insults so she doesn’t drag the story down too much.

(more…)