Summary: Thirty spine-chilling stories from around the world provide plenty of shivers in this spooky collection. Curl up with old friends like Washington Irving’s “Guests from Gibbet Island” or Charles Dickens’s “Chips.” Or make the acquaintance of “The Skull That Spoke” and “The Monster of Baylock” – but beware of spectral visitors like “The Blood Drawing Ghost.” This exciting mixture of classic and contemporary tales from Mexico, China, Poland, Nigeria, and other lands near and far is perfect for hair-raising reading!
We’ve reached the midway point of these recaps and we’ll largely be getting a break from the U.S. and Britain (except for one story). (Part One. Part Two.)
For this round of five chilling tales of international terror, we’ll be exploring a haunted house I think Wing may enjoy, an early variation of an infamous creepypasta, a bittersweet Hans Christian Anderson story, and we’ll also meet a witch who saves the day via the power of looking FINE.
Summary: Third-year medical students decide to play with life and death, “flatlining” themselves into death to explore the great beyond. But Death doesn’t like being fucked with and consequences abound.
Note: This film has a metric ton of medical terminology – which I do my best to unpack and explain – as well as dealing with several suicide(s) and/or attempts. It’s not exactly a happy film. It may be too heavy for some in the current 2020 year of the pandemic.
Well, here we are.
Look. Flatliners is one of my holiest of holies: a movie I almost vowed never to recap, because to recap means to pick it apart and show all its faults to the world. I know this movie is flawed as fuck. It is far from perfect. Great concept, not so amazing story execution. It is a time capsule film, staring a bunch of actors that were (unfairly?) lumped in with The Brat Pack, which meant critics could (unfairly) label it a Brat Pack movie and clobber it in reviews. “St Elmo’s Funeral” and “The Breakfast Club Dies” were actually jokes made by Sutherland in a press interview with Fangoria Magazine. Kinda sums it up, really. [Wing: I want to watch The Breakfast Club Dies, honestly.]
Yes, it does star Kevin Bacon (Earth’s mightiest hero?), Kiefer Sutherland (post-vampire, pre-Bauer), and Julia Roberts (oh well), along side one of the lesser Baldwin brothers, William [JC: Lesser? Not . . . really? Billy was a top-tier Baldwin in the 90s. Until he wasn’t. Stephen and Daniel, the true lesser Baldwins, never reached Billy and Alec’s tier.], and (Dove and I share custody of) Oliver Platt [JC: Gee, guys, save some Platt for the rest of us, huh? I’m all good as long as I can stake claim to him in Lake Placid.] [bat: Please, go ahead, I’ve only seen parts of that and I don’t remember it at all. Placid!Platt is all yours, JC!] [Dove: I feel I’ve seen that movie, but can’t remember it. He’s all yours.] [Wing: I love Lake Placid, but could not care less about Oliver Platt, so as long as I get the movie, I’ll bow out of this fight.] Out of all of those, at the time, none were true Brat Pack(ers). Bacon, maybe? To contextualize this for people not born during this particular historical period, the biggest thing to come out of this film was the engagement of Sutherland and Roberts. Literally.
Title: Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989)
Summary: A high school senior class trip turns into Murder Party Massacre and ends with Jason taking out his issues on New York City’s sewer system.
Tagline: New York has a new problem (I would argue that in A.D. 2020, NY has a much different problem then a serial mass murderer, but, then again, a virus without a cure is in its own way a serial mass murderer… never mind.)
Notes: I honestly thought the prior installment would break me, what with its super poor handling of mental health. I was wrong. This was the entry that completely broke me and made me so angry.
Virgin’s back! And so soon after the previous installment! I know, I’m shocked, too. But, seeing that we (as of this writing) have been in some sort of lock down / self-isolation / quarantine mode (future readers, this was written in 2020) I don’t have a lot to do other then recap. Yeah, I could do the dishes, probably do some laundry, but I’d rather spend my day with that lovable scamp, Jason Voorhees! [Wing: After this movie, I’m not sure you would,really.] Who, apparently, gets to go on a wild field trip! Being that half the films seem to be centered around New Jersey, and some confusion on whether some are in California, I guess going to the Big Apple makes sense?
Getting Part VII: The New Blood finished and posted (thanks to Wing’s help) on its release date (the thirtytooth anniversary) [Wing: I still cannot believe I did that. Readers who missed it, my tweet about this said “happy 32th anniversary” because I am an idiot. Virgin saved the day with her pronunciation.] injected, well, new blood (I’m sorry) into my quest. Yeah, I’m on the downhill slope here, sliding towards one of the ultimate crossovers in recent cinematic history, and when this installment is done, I will only have four left, two of which are still considered “in franchise” (Jason takes another field trip and X marks the spot?) then we hit the crossover, then finally the reboot. I’m not sure why this series needed to be rebooted but I guess I’ll understand whether or not that was a good idea when we get there.
So! New York City! Everything I know about the Big Apple is either through films from the 70s-80s-90s or TV shows that are “set” there but really filmed in Canada. I can say, with honesty, that it’s never been my desire to go there. Like, I wouldn’t pass up the opportunity but I wouldn’t say it’s in my top ten. Or my top 50, either. Just thinking about the city makes me feel claustrophobic. [Wing: I like NYC, but I would never live there. Even if it were more affordable, the sheer number of people and gigantic buildings is just too much. I love cities, but that one doesn’t work for me. (Also, I will never live east of the Mississippi River again if I have my way.]
This installment dropped July 28th, 1989. Which is not remotely a Friday or the 13th of a month. After the fiasco that was The New Blood, Paramount knew it needed to cover its sins tracks as fast as possible. The wiki tells me this was the most poorly-performing film in the franchise in box office take (uh oh) and people really love or hate it. Sounds like The New Blood all over again. I think, honestly, that could be said of almost ALL the sequels. People either love or hate ’em.
Okay, put on your life vest, it’s time to take a sea cruise with Jason Voorhees! Let’s Do It!
Important note! Remember, I am rolling over the body count from each of the previous films recapped, so that will be reflected in the counter and final tally.
Summary: Sexy after-hours party held by employees in a goddamn mall is interrupted by murderous mall security robots. Hi-jinks ensue.
Tagline:Buy or Die (Well, that’s… succinct.) …Half off is just thebeginning! (Oh! It continued on! How… odd. For a tagline.)
Notes: Something tells me this film has become something of a cult classic and will either be very good (bad) or very bad (bad). [JC: Considering whose production company this is, it is going to be campy schlock. Because that’s what he does. (I’m not name-dropping it yet, because bat came to the realization eventually, and I actually cheered when she did.)]
Hi and welcome to “how bat is trying to spend time during social distancing amid a global pandemic” portion of 2020. Seriously, it’s not like I really left the house a lot when there wasn’t a virus plague going around but shit is starting to get to me. It sucks being a empath. I think I need a tinfoil hat because I feel worn out.
But anyway, you’re not here for that. You’re here to read another recap about a horror movie! Distraction, yay! I’ve been looking to find some really bad horror movies that I’ve never seen and so far I’ve found some doozies. Today’s selection is 1986’s Chopping Mall!
So, somehow – this may be a theme(?) – I found another “horror comedy” but this one also has the distinction of being “sci-fi” as well. Unlike My Demon Lover this film seems to know exactly what it is – sci-fi/horror – with a dash of poorly written comedy thrown in because 1986. Er, technically, 1985.
I’ve heard about this film through Twitter and I think it’s been making the rounds on those pay-for subscription horror movie channels – apparently for sure on Shudder right now – but I only like things I have to spend hours trying to track down through moderately nefarious means. This is the age of the internet, you know. Why make it easy for myself?
Just watch the trailer:
Okay, trailer lies. No one broke into the mall. And it gives way too much away. For fun, I’ve invited JC to join me with commentary. This is not just because she confessed to peeking at my post as I was writing it but because I think I mentioned this film quite a while ago and she replied to my tweet about it. Maybe I’m misremembering but anyway. It’s fun to bring a new victim friend along for a recap ride! [JC: I have no memory of a Twitter convo about this, but it’s completely possible. My memory is very unpredictably hit-or-miss when it comes to conversations. Anyway, I’ve been wanting to watch this movie for the last couple of years, ever since I listened to the How Did This Get Made podcast episode about it (which I was going to link, but it is unfortunately behind the paywall right now. Boo.). I never got around to it until bat gave me the incentive with the offer to comment on her recap of it. Which I had peeked at long enough to determine what she was working on next. I mean, it was labeled “[redacted recap]”! How could I resist seeing what it was!] [Wing: I’m pretty sure there was a Twitter convo, because the movie’s been sitting on my list of things to watch so I can comment and up until y’all talked about it, I hadn’t even heard of it. I can’t say I was missing out. Mostly.
Note from the future: Apparently I mixed up two different twitter conversations about movies to recap, so I have rudely inserted myself into this recap, but since I didn’t learn this until after all my comments, well, I’m here! Enjoy surprise!Wing.]
Geez. I guess it’s time to spend an arm and a leg. Let’s go Chopping!
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…
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?”]
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.
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.
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…
“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:
Tagline: Stories To Enjoy From October Through December
Summary: You’d Better Watch Out…
Sixteen gripping tales inspired by classical horror and urban legends twist holiday themes into chilling cautionary tales.
A mischievous snowman frames the children who built him for its mistakes. A haughty priest offers shelter to a hideous monster posing as an orphan. A father brings home a cursed Christmas tree resulting in a terrifying haunting experience for his family.
From October through December these stories of devils, spirits, murderers, monsters, and surprise twists will fascinate children and their parents.
I won’t say I do this often, but I’ve enjoyed perusing through the self-published YA horror selections offered through Amazon and have order a few digital and printed editions. I stumbled upon this book at some point last year and because the collection isn’t that long I decided to recap the tales for Point Horror. It sucks the summary spoils a couple but the illustrations are cool and some of the stories are a bit ingenious.
I’m looking forward to this more than I was to finish “Tales for the Midnight Hour.”
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.]
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.
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.]
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.”
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.
Title: Graveyard School #25 – Escape from Vampire Park, a.k.a. “#judedelucalovesjordieflandersSHUTUP”
Author: Tom B. Stone, a.k.a. Nola Thacker, a.k.a. D.E. Athkins
Cover Artist: Mark Nagata
Summary: Take A Ride In The Tunnel Of Blood…
Cover your eyes. Scream your brains out. It’s the scariest ride in the whole amusement park. But brave Nathan isn’t afraid. He knows the ride is one big fake. Except now he’s about to find out how the Tunnel of Blood got its name. He’s about to stop laughing and start screaming. Too late, Nate.
The worst ride of your life has just begun.
We’re down to three and the last summer book before we return to the hallowed halls of Graveyard School. But returning after such a long absence is none other than my favorite, Jordie “The Human Computer” Flanders.
Interestingly, as you could tell from the summary Jordie is not the main character. That role’s taken by newbie Nathan, who had never been mentioned as a member of the sixth grade class until now. Yet Jordie is still the one who does most of the investigating into the creepy things at Vampire Park, and Nathan’s targeted mainly because people think he and Jordie are friends. It works in a way because, since Jordie’s the co-protagonist, we get to see someone else react to her Jordie-isms.
Along the way, we also realize (for those of us who know what happened in “Camp Dracula“) that Jeep Holmes and his family are apparently REALLY bad at their jobs.
So join me as we say goodbye to Jordie.
[Wing: I’m not ready for this series to end. I’m not, I’m not, I’m not. But I am excited to see Jordie again.]
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!
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.
But the hard, bony hand held on, tugging me, tugging me underwater.
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.
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
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:
An escaped mental patient who found work as a school janitor, and then kills the group of boys who humiliate him
Three bikers who rob an elderly Native American man and are turned into old people because of his stash of weed
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.
Title: Short & Shivery a.k.a. “The Wide World of Horror”
Author/Editor/Reteller: Robert D. San Souci
Illustrator: Katherine Coville
Summary: Everyone loves a spooky story. Don’t you?
Welcome to a chilling world of hair-raising tales! The thirty stories in this book were gathered from around the world, selected for their ghastly details and terrifying twists. Come inside and meet the young miller’s daughter in “The Robber Bridegroom,” who may have discovered too late that she has been betrothed to a madman; the dancing skeleton who returns from the dead to haunt the friend who betrayed him in life; the Golem, who tires of serving his greedy master and suddenly turns evil; and intriguing characters in stories from the Brothers Grimm, Washington Irving, and other world-famous authors. But before you settle down in your cozy reading chair, check behind you… and keep all the lights on!
We’ve finally reached the end of the first “Short And Shivery” collection after six long months. In August I’ll start a recap for the second book.
Luckily this book’s got three different water-related tales to fit in with my June theme, and luckily for YOU Wing we’ve finally reached the werewolf story. UNluckily for you this is also the portion with the giant spider story. Sorry. [Wing: Werewolf outweighs giant spider, mostly. Though: WHY IS IT ALWAYS GIANT SPIDERS? I just had to talk someone out of doing it as a decoration at work this fall, too.]
[Wing: Editing to add a link to this great comment from Sarah about the golem story in this recap, the use of mythology versus theology versus folk tale (her suggestion and the best one) and the history of the golem as a response to anti-semitism. I really appreciate her taking the time to share her perspective and want to highlight it.]
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.
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.
Title: Batman The Drowned #1 – “Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” a.k.a. “Holy Zombie Steampunk Pirate Lady Aquaman-Batman, Batman!”
Writer: Dan Abnett
Pencillers and Inkers: Phillip Tan and Tyler Kirkham
Colorists: Dean White & Arif Prianto
Letterer: Tom Napolitano
Cover Artists: Jason Fabok and Brad Anderson
Associate Editor: Jessica Chen
Editor: Phil Kaminski
Group Editor: Eddie Berganza (FUCK YOU!)
Summary: As the events of DARK NIGHTS: METAL rock the DC Universe, the creatures of the Dark Multiverse stand ready to invade our world! How can even the World’s Greatest Heroes stop a horde of deadly beings that appear to be powerful, nightmare versions of familiar figures?
To coincide with the three Graveyard School books for June, July, and August, I wanted to do recaps featuring similar themes. Since June’s will be “The Gator Ate Her,” that meant I wanted to do recaps on water-based horror tales.
So what, exactly, are all of you looking at and why is there a lady pirate version of Batman is what most of you are probably wondering. Well…
Last year I reviewed Detective Comics #40 as part of my attempt to freshen the air in May since I spent all of April 2018 talking about my best friend’s death in my recaps.
Honestly I’m still not sure it did much to help.
Anyway, I figured it’d make since to review the follow-up story in May 2019.
Detective Comics #40 was the debut of Basil Karlo, the first Batman villain to call himself Clayface. Rather than being a shapeshifter as most people know the later Clayfaces to be, Karlo was a famous horror actor driven over the edge when one of his old movies was being remade and he wasn’t asked to star in it. Donning the guise of Clayface, one of his previous characters, Karlo tried to kill off the cast of the remake but was stopped by Batman and Robin.
I mentioned Karlo has all the earmarks of a prototypical slasher movie killer, so it’s especially fitting the follow-up story feels like a typical slasher sequel. Karlo’s back and out for revenge against the people who thwarted him, Batman and Robin. He also wants to kill Julie Madison, the actress who survived his previous killing spree and thus serves the role of the prototypical Final Girl. Out of all the Batman love interests, Julie’s remained my favorite and it’s disappointing this story was her final appearance in the Golden Age Batman stories.
Title: The Witching Hour #1, a.k.a. “Anne, this isn’t about you”
Creators: Neal Adams, Pat Boyette, Dick Giordano, Dennis O’Neill, Alex Toth
Cover Artist: Nick Cardy
Summary: During DC’s latest foray into the horror / mystery arena, editor Dick Giordano conjured up a triumverate of witches to host an anthology series produced by some of comics’ biggest names. In this first issue, writer / artist Alex Toth provided a framing sequence (with an epilogue drawn by Neal Adams) that introduced readers to the cronish Mordred, motherly Mildred and beautiful Maiden Cynthia – as well as their bumbling pet zombie, Egor. Each witch then brewed a potent blend of horror and dark humor crafted by Toth, writer Denny O’Neil and artists Pat Boyette and Jack Sparling. It was an effective spell that would entrance a loyal audience long into the next decade.
Wow Jude’s actually writing about DC Comics and it’s NOT incoherent ranting, who’d have guessed?
As part of my attempt to start Year Three off strongly, I’m including a review of my favorite of DC’s old horror anthology comics from the 60s, 70s, and 80s. Well, it’s up there alongside “Dark Mansion of Forbidden Love.”
DC had a whole slew of horror comics, “House of Mystery,” “House of Secrets,” “Tales of the Unexpected,” “Ghost Castle,” “Doorway Into Nightmare,” “Sinister House of Secret Love,” etc. “The Witching Hour” was first published way back in 1969 and ran for 85 issues before the main characters were transplanted to “The Unexpected” upon the book’s cancellation.
“The Witching Hour” stands among one of my favorites due solely to the hosts that narrated its stories. Every, well, most of the issues, had a framing device focusing on three witch sisters, Cynthia, Mildred, and Mordred. The issues would take place at midnight, where the sisters would welcome the reader and try to see which of the three had the most gruesome tale to tell.
I only own about a couple dozen or so issues ranging from most of the first ten to a few sporadic numbers throughout the run. From the handful I own I can clearly see the formulaic rot that set in, when the humorous framing stories were reduced to a one page joke opener that lacked the style and panache of the earliest comics.
The three witches were later incorporated as part of Neil Gaiman’s “The Sandman,” alongside many of the other horror host characters like Lucien from “Ghost Castle” and the brothers Cain and Abel. Cynthia, Mildred and Mordred were introduced as aspects of the Fates/Furies dubbed “The Three-In-One.” Cynthia was established to be the Maiden of the trinity, while Mildred was the Mother and Mordred (who acknowledges her name’s wrong) is the Crone.
They repeatedly appeared at least once per story arc but in different forms before becoming the antagonistic Kindly Ones in the comic’s penultimate tale.
As of recently, they’ve been popping up in some newer DC works. Cynthia appeared in 2018’s Valentine’s Day anthology as a love interest for DC’s version of the Bride of Frankenstein. The three were later antagonists in a Catwoman/Sylvester and Tweety crossover by Gail Simone and have been bedeviling Harley Quinn in her solo series.
The witches are truly the only reason why “The Witching Hour” remains my top fave of the horror anthologies, and they’ve been especially prominent in some of my DC story ideas. Onto the recap!