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.

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Posted in Other Recaps

Recap #252: Choose Your Own Nightmare #1: Night of the Werewolf by Edward Packard

Night of the Werewolf Cover by Bill Schmidt
Night of the Werewolf Cover by Bill Schmidt

Title: Choose Your Own Nightmare #1 – Night of the Werewolf, a.k.a. “The Wacky Witchy Werewolf War”

Author: Edward Packard

Illustrator: Bill Schmidt

Tagline: It’s a full moon… beware of howling beasts!

Summary: Who’s Afraid Of The Big Bad Wolf?

Your vacation at your cousins’ house is off to a creepy start. A body – with deep bite marks all over it – has just been found at the local pond.

Is there a werewolf in town?

Even though you’ve been warned to stay away, you and your cousins want to check out the crime scene. Things seem pretty normal. Until you hear branches crashing… and a throaty howl…

What happens next in this bone-chilling story? It all depends on the choices you make. How will your nightmare end? Only you can find out! And the best part is that you can keep reading and rereading, getting new chills and thrills – until not one but all of your worst nightmares have come true!

Give yourself goosebumps… choose your own NIGHTMARE…

Initial Thoughts

It’s the first month of the first year of a new decade, and we’re now forced to admit the 1990s were officially thirty years ago. And I’ll be turning 30 next December…

I’M OLLLLLLLLLLLLLLD!!!!

[Wing: *raises eyebrow* You are the youngest of the regular recappers across Devil’s Elbow and Sweet Valley Online, and possibly all of the Nostalgic Bookshelf collection. Best watch where you step, youngin’.]

To start off the 2020s here at Point Horror, for this first year I want to make it a year of firsts. Each month will feature at least one #1 book from a 90s horror series. I’ll be making an attempt to look at the firsts of series I’ve already offered glimpses into, such as Bone Chillers and Ghosts of Fear Street, and touch on series I’ve never looked at on here such as Choose Your Own Nightmare, Doomsday Mall, P.C. Hawke, and Christopher Pike’s Spooksville. You guys’ll be lucky, because a few of these books I’ve never read until now so it’ll be a learning experience for everyone.

[Wing: I love this book, I love werewolves, I love January’s full moon (it’s my favourite full moon), and I love recapping, and January is my birthday month, so this is a wonderful combination of things. Roll on Wolf Moon.]

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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.

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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.]

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Posted in Other Recaps

Recap #248: Christmas Terror Tales by Kevin Folliard and J.T. Molloy

Christmas Terror Tales Cover by J.T. Molloy
Christmas Terror Tales Cover by J.T. Molloy

Title: Christmas Terror Tales

Author: Kevin Folliard

Artist: J.T. Molloy

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.

Initial Thoughts

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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Posted in Graveyard School recaps

Recap #240: Graveyard School Final 2 Countdown: #20 – Creature Teacher by Tom B. Stone

Creature Teacher Cover by Mark Nagata
Creature Teacher Cover by Mark Nagata

Title: Graveyard School #20 – “Creature Teacher,” a.k.a. “The One Where Nola Thacker Apologizes For ‘Let’s Scare The Teacher To Death'”

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

Cover Artist: Mark Nagata

Summary: A for Awesome. B. for Beautiful. C for Cool. D for… DEAD!

She’s so sweet. So nice. So different from the other monstrous teachers at Graveyard School. Everyone likes Ms. King, the substitute teacher. Even Bentley – who doesn’t like any teacher. But one day Bentley discovers something about Ms. King. Something awful. Something scary. And now he might have to stay after school. Forever!

Initial Thoughts

It’s back to school time and we’ve returned to the hallowed halls of Graveyard School after a four month summer break. Here we are with the penultimate “Graveyard School” recap and I’m still not over the departure of Jordie Flanders-DON’T LOOK AT ME.

This is the only other book in the series you could consider a sort of sequel, even though it’s not a direct follow-up to Bent’s previous time as the protagonist. It does deliberately mention the events of “Let’s Scare The Teacher To Death” but not enough to spoil the twist for those who hadn’t read it.

Despite Jordie’s prominent role in the last book, she’s nowhere to be found in here. That sort of makes sense if we’re considering she’s been keeping her distance from Bent and no longer wants anything to do with him. However, Thacker does her best to sort of give Bent… CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT. He’s nowhere near as frustrating as he was in book #8, and whether or not this was Thacker consciously realizing he was too unlikable or accidental, I don’t know.

However, this is the only time you could legitimately call Dr. Morthouse the villain of the story. While she’s always lurked as a threatening background presence, she’s never flat out been the direct antagonist before this one.

[Wing: I’M NOT READY FOR THIS TO END. #resurrectgraveyardschool2019]

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Posted in Goosebumps Recaps

Recap #239: Goosebumps #16: One Day at HorrorLand by R.L. Stine

One Day at HorrorLand Cover by Tim Jacobus
One Day at HorrorLand Cover by Tim Jacobus

Title: Goosebumps #16 – “One Day at HorrorLand,” a.k.a “TW: Pinching”

Author: R.L. Stine

Cover Artist: Tim Jacobus

Tagline: Enter, if you dare…

Summary: The Next Ride Might Be Their Last…

Lizzy’s family got lost trying to find Zoo Gardens Theme Park. But that’s okay. They found another theme park instead.

In HorrorLand there are no crowds. No lines. And the admission is free. It seems like a pretty cool place.

But there was before Lizzy’s heart-stopping ride on the deadly Doom Slide. And that terrifying experience in the House of Mirrors.

Because there’s something weird about the rides in HorrorLand.

Something a little too creepy.

A little too real…

Initial Thoughts

I started the draft for this recap TWO YEARS AGO when I first began writing for Point Horror. I never finished it because there never seemed to be an appropriate time for it, until now with the amusement park and vampire theme I tried to set up for August.

Wing because I know you better now I have to warn you there’s mention of spiders near the end of the book.

This has been one of my favorite books in the original series for as long as I can remember, because I love the concept of HorrorLand. I love it when Stine tries to establish there’s an entire world in his books even though it’s unlikely they’ll be visited again, because it leaves me wanting more. Surprisingly, this book has received a lot of attention over the years. It got a sequel in the 2000 series, a two-episode TV adaption, a board game, a computer game sequel, a graphic novel adaption by JILL FREAKING THOMPSON, a video game adaptation for the PS2 and the Nintendo Wii, AND an entire spin-off series (which was admittedly lackluster). [Wing: Well damn, that’s a lot! I don’t think I’ve read/seen/played this one before, so this should be fun.]

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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.

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Posted in Graveyard School recaps

Recap #234: Graveyard School Final Four Countdown: #24 – Scream Around The Campfire by Tom B. Stone

Scream Around the Campfire Cover by Mark Nagata
Scream Around the Campfire Cover by Mark Nagata

Title: Graveyard School #24 – Scream Around The Campfire, a.k.a. “I Heard The Bigfoot Call My Name”

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

Cover Artist: Mark Nagata

Summary: Who Is The Happy Camper From The Dark Side?

Alex wishes he had stayed home this summer. He hates camp. He hates the goofy songs. He hates the gross food. But most of all, he hates the creepy campfire stories. Is he the only one who notices that they’ve been coming true? And will he be able to stop whoever it is before he becomes just another marshmallow on the campfire of life?

Initial Thoughts

Four, repeat, we are down to FOUR books left before the series is over and we are once again leaving the confines of Grove Hill. This is the second of the two summer camp books and Thacker manages to avoid doing a total retread of “Camp Dracula.”

When I first heard of this particular entry back in 2004, my interest got peaked at the discovery the main character was none other than Alex Lee. Alex being the protagonist of the first “Graveyard School” book I read, I was eager to see what he would do in his next protagonist role. However, upon reading said book for the first time…

Guys I gotta level with you, this book is rather strange. Mainly, it’s the reveal behind what is causing the different campfire stories to come to life. But Thacker also includes a couple of unique ghost stories shared by the campers, although we see a retread of the infamous “Hook” urban legend.

At the very least, one thing to enjoy is the return of Alex’s pragmatic moral backbone and how he doesn’t strive to be some perfect angel yet is openly disgusted when other people are being hurt.

Also, the supporting character is named Garth which I fucking love because one of my favorite comic characters of all time is named Garth.

[Wing: No idea how the book is going to come across, but I love that book blurb up there. It sounds GREAT and makes me want to go to summer camp again.]

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Posted in Other Recaps

Recap #219: The Witching Hour #1

Witching Hour #1 Cover
The Witching Hour #1 Cover by Nick Cardy

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.

Initial Thoughts

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 In Sandman
Cynthia, Mildred and Mordred in The Sandman

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!

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Posted in Graveyard School recaps

Recap #218: Graveyard School #16: Don’t Tell Mummy by Tom B. Stone

Graveyard School #16 - Don't Tell Mummy
Graveyard School #16 – Don’t Tell Mummy Cover by Mark Nagata

Title: Graveyard School #16 – Don’t Tell Mummy, a.k.a. “Morton Explains It All”

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

Cover Artist: Mark Nagata

Summary: Please Don’t Feed The Mummies…

Take a Graveyard School class trip to the museum with Park and his friends. Sneak away from the others. Rattle the dinosaur bones. Jump out and say “Boo!” to the museum guard. Play a little hide-and-seek. But whatever you do, don’t go near the mummies. One of those mummies isn’t wrapped right, as Park found out just before he disappeared…

Initial Thoughts

Now we’ve reached a real treat in the Graveyard School franchise, and while it’s not one of my all time favorites I can understand why it’s so great. In this book, we’re introduced to one-shot character Morton who might be the franchise’s Ensemble Darkhorse. How do I know this?

I can say I was the person who created the Graveyard School wikipedia page AND the TV Tropes page, but some time later some person added entries and tropes pertaining to Morton. I know it wasn’t me, and it amazes me that Morton had some fans out there despite how obscure this wonderful series is. But it’s easy to see why because Morton’s awesome. She’s sarcastic and take charge and doesn’t take anyone’s bullshit.

Come everyone, come with me as we appreciate Morton.

Oh and Wing get ready for a surprise appearance from someone we haven’t seen since 2017.

[Wing: I love the sound of Morton, and I already wish she wasn’t just a one-shot.]

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Posted in Other Recaps

Recap #206: Scary Godmother: Holiday Spooktakular by Jill Thompson

Santa who?
Merry Solstice from the Fright Side

Title: Scary Godmother in “The Search For Mister Boogeylegs”

Writer/Artist: Jill Thompson

Summary: N/A

Initial Thoughts

Last year I did a review of Jill Thompson’s “Dead Boys Detectives” manga from Vertigo, and decided to follow up with another work by the greatest comic creator of all time (Scott Snyder, eat your fucking heart out). Originally I planned to finish this last year but there simply wasn’t enough time.

I’ve been hyping up Scary Godmother for a while now in some of my other posts, so I figured now was the time to finally do a proper recap to share the magnificence of these stories with y’all.

[Wing: That cover is so much fun.]

But first, before we get into all that, let’s take a look at our intrepid cast.

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Posted in Goosebumps Recaps

Recap #205: Give Yourself Goosebumps #3: Trapped in Bat Wing Hall by R.L. Stine

Na-na-na-na BATMAN
“‘Join the Horror Club’ she said. ‘It’ll be fun’ she said.'”

Title: Give Yourself Goosebumps #3 – Trapped in Bat Wing Hall, a.k.a. “Tales from the Krupnik Crypt”

Author: R.L. Stine

Cover Artist: Mark Nagata

Tagline: Going Batty!

Summary: Join The Horror Club…

Being the new kid in school is no picnic. At your old school you had tons of friends, but now you don’t even have one. Then you meet Nick. He asks you to join the Horror Club.

The Horror Club meets in an old mansion known as Bat Wing Hall. It’s dark. It’s spooky. And it’s where your adventure begins.

The members of the Horror Club are going on a scavenger hunt. If you join the red team, you find out the truth about your new friends – they’re actually monsters! One is a green-skinned reptile. Another is a hulking giant! If you join the blue team, you get turned into a furry-faced vampire bat!

The choice is yours in the scary GOOSEBUMPS adventure that’s packed with over 20 super spooky endings!

[Wing: UMMMM. Does this summary really spoil the paths? WTF, editors.]

Initial Thoughts

Happy birthday to me. [Wing: Happy belated birthday!]

Following up from last year’s “Ghost Camp” review (and you guys probably expected me to cover the sequel) I decided to recap another of my lifelong favorite Goosebumps.

“Trapped In Bat Wing Hall” was one of the earliest GYG books I ever read. Back in elementary school it was one of the few Goosebumps books that consistently remained in my homeroom back in 4th or 5th grade. It took me years, if not decades, before I finally purchased a copy of my own. I loved it so much I even attempted to write a sequel that ultimately went nowhere.

I’m implementing the system I came up with when I reviewed “One Night In Payne House” this previous Halloween. Since the book diverges into two different storylines, the recap will consist of me covering both of them as far into a good ending as I can.

I feel Wing will very much enjoy some of the first storyline, but unfortunately there ARE spiders in this story. Not a giant, two-headed sentient ghost spider, but spiders nonetheless.

[Wing: I guess it could be worse… For other arachnophobes, right after the first path begins, there’s a drawing of the spiders. It’s not super detailed, but still.]

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Posted in Goosebumps Recaps

Recap #203: Goosebumps #61: I Live In Your Basement! by R.L. Stine

It’s Very David Lynch

Title: Goosebumps #61 – I Live In Your Basement! a.k.a. “Egg Yolkeo’s Revenge”

Author: R.L. Stine

Cover Artist: Tim Jacobus

Tagline: Talk about a MONSTER nightmare!

Summary: He’s Got The Basement Blues!

“Don’t do this! Watch out for that!” Marco’s mom thinks the whole world is a danger zone. She won’t even let Marco play softball.

But Marco just wants to have fun. So he sneaks off to a game. And that’s when it happens. He gets hit in the head with a baseball bat.

Now things are getting really fuzzy. Really scary. Because when Marco gets home he gets the strangest call. From someone who says he lives in Marco’s basement…

Initial Thoughts

I promised someone on tumblr I would do a recap of this book come November. I just hope they’re still on the site after tumblr deleted all those blogs. INCLUDING MINE.

(UPDATE: My blog has been restored, although who knows what’ll happen after December 17th.)

This is one of most diverse entries in the original series, and serves as the penultimate volume before #62 and the end of the run. Troy Steele on “Blogger Beware” claimed this, alongside the two that preceded it (Werewolf Skin, The Haunted School) felt like last minute strokes of genius for Stine. And I agree with him.

Of course, I kind of wish Stine had saved some of that genius for “Monster Blood IV” which is such a clusterfuck.

“I Live In Your Basement” is bizarre, confusing, and rather endearing. It depends upon a more primal fear yet at the same time a rather unexpected fear. This idea that there is a total stranger living inside your home but you have no way to prove it. Coupled with the fact the main character is having a hard time keeping track of what’s real and what’s not due to the aforementioned stranger and his head injury.

BUT DON’T WORRY this isn’t a split personality thing.

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Posted in Fear Street Recaps

Recap #201: Fear Street #17: The Best Friend by R.L. Stine

A gift from Becka's BBFF
Maybe she can get store credit?

Title: Fear Street #17 – The Best Friend, a.k.a “Baby’s First Fear Street”

Author: R.L. Stine

Cover Artist: Bill Schmidt

Tagline: Sometimes friendship can be murder….

Summary: Best friends… to the end!

Who is Honey Perkins? She’s been telling everyone in Shadyside that she’s Becka Norwood’s best friend. But Becka’s sure she’s never met Honey before.

Honey systematically moves in on Becka’s life, copying her in every way. But when Becka presumes to have more than one “best friend,” the horrible accidents begin.

Does Honey just want a friend? Becka wonders. Or does she want more – much more!

Initial Thoughts

This is where it all began for me. I remember like it was yesterday. Me, a young child, with my mom and Nana in K-Mart looking at the book section. When suddenly I saw a small paperback with the image of a teenage girl horrified by a Christmas present in her lap. Upon closer inspection, I saw the present had a knife sticking out of it.

Even though I didn’t know what the title was, the memory of that cover stuck with me for a while. It was a couple of years later when I learned I was looking at “The Best Friend” in R.L. Stine’s teen series, “Fear Street.” I had no idea at the time Stine wrote this book, so it was an amazing coincidence that the book I remembered was also written by the guy who wrote “Goosebumps.”

Coincidence? Or maybe fate?

As you can guess, people have described this book as “Single White Female on Fear Street.” Of course I’ve never seen the movie myself.

Re-reading this book for the first time in years, I found myself feeling genuinely unsettled and disturbed by what went on. I knew of course the plot and what happened, but not from repeated re-reads. For some reason, the reviews I’ve seen of this book have derided Becka, the main character, as annoying and a bad friend. Honestly, I don’t see it. Becka’s probably one of the biggest victims in the entire franchise because of what Honey Perkins does to her life in this story.

Best BEST friends
Becka Norwood and Honey Perkins by Nanihoo – Nanihoo has been an absolute joy to commission this past year. She’s done numerous design commissions and helped me flesh out one of my comic ideas farther then I’ve ever gone in years

[Wing: That is such a fun piece of art!]

Oh and FYI, when R.L. Stine signed my copy last year, he told me everyone HATED the ending when it came out. Which probably explains how “The Best Friend 2” happened.

[Wing: Damn it, Stine, stick to your guns!]

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Posted in Other Recaps

Recap #200: Jingle Belle: Grounded by Paul Dini and Stephanie Gladden

Title: Jingle Belle – Grounded

Writer: Paul Dini

Line Art and Cover: Stephanie Gladden

Colors: Felix Serrano

Letterer: Troy Peteri

Editor: Rob Levin

Summary: A fan favorite holiday character returns! When Jing again breaks her parents rules, she is forced to spend Christmas Eve GROUNDED. But when Santa is also caught in a lie, he has to share the same punishment! Neither father nor daughter can leave the North Pole until they apologize, and with the contentious Kringles not speaking to each other, Christmas is doomed!

Initial Thoughts

Last year I reviewed the “Santa Claus Vs Frankenstein” Jingle Belle one shot, and I promised to follow up by doing the Krampus story this year.

For those who don’t recall, Jingle Belle is Santa’s incorrigible teenage daughter (technically 151, which comes out to 16 in elf years). Jing often gets into a lot of ridiculous misadventures and finds herself put on the Naughty List, much to her father’s eternal frustration. Along for the ride is Jing’s best friend and fellow holiday icon Polly Green, the official Witch of Halloween.

Now last year, Wing got a bit peeved by how the complaints on the Santa Claus myth were brought up by a strawman political character whose arguments turned out to be part of a ploy to go after Santa because he’s an easy target. Well Wing, if you were disappointed over the resolution in last year’s comic, I’m certain you’ll be rather fond of what happens this time.

[Wing: Recap #200! It’s been a great time. Thank you all for reading and commenting and recapping. I love this snarky little book club.]

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