Posted in Goosebumps Recaps

Recap #277: Give Yourself Goosebumps Special Edition #7: Trick or… Trapped! by R.L. Stine

Trick or Trapped Cover Art
Trick or Trapped Cover Art

Title: Give Yourself Goosebumps Special Edition #7 – Trick or… Trapped!, a.k.a. “A Thing’s Pumpkin Soup”

Author: R.L. Stine

Cover Artist: Craig White

Summary: No Treats On This Street!

Sunshine Court is the best spot for trick-or-treating this Halloween, and it’s all yours! Your mouth starts watering just thinking about all that candy…

But you better save your spit. There are no treats here! Instead, the five little houses are full of horrible tricks! Now you have to collect the right items to find your way out! Choose your house and your weapons wisely – or you could do battle with angry elves, aliens shaped like your parents, or the freezing Arctic…

The choice is yours in this scary GOOSEBUMPS adventure that is packed with over 20 super-spooky endings!

Initial Thoughts

You know me, the fighting freak Jude

And we’re at Sunshine Court

You ready?

Congratulations to those who managed to make it to October this year with everything being thrown at us. While I started working on this special recap in July, I’m assuming by now there’s no way any of us (at least those of us in America) can have a regular Halloween due to the pandemic. [Wing: But we’re going to celebrate it up around here, like always! Especially with that Halloween full moon that is also a blue moon and, of course, October has two of my three favourite full moons, Harvest and Hunter’s. Werewolf recaps are coming your way, culminating with this year’s Snark at the Moon. Let’s kick this month off right!]

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Posted in Friday the 13th movies, Let's Do It! recaps

Recap #270: Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989)

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.

Initial Thoughts

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.

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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.

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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?”]

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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 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 Goosebumps Recaps

Recap #225: Give Yourself Goosebumps Special Edition #8: Weekend at Poison Lake by R.L. Stine

Weekend at Poison Lake Cover by Craig White
Weekend at Poison Lake Cover by Craig White

Title: Give Yourself Goosebumps Special Edition #8 – Weekend at Poison Lake, a.k.a. “Aliens and Jewel Thieves and Moss-Men OH MY!”

Author: R.L. Stine

Cover Artist: Craig White

Summary: Come On In – The Water’s Slime!

It’s the weekend and your family’s vacationing at an awesome lake. The water’s cool, clear and downright deadly!

Rumor has it this lake is filled with poison! Or are those aliens? And what’s that nasty smell? Better pick a lucky number to help you out, or this nature trip could really go wild! If you pick the right number you’ll be chillin’ on the beach without a care. But if your number’s unlucky, you’ll come face-to-face with evil jewel hunters, ice-cream-craving aliens, and all sorts of freaky wildlife!

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

Initial Thoughts

Since “Chicken Chicken” hasn’t been finished yet that means two Goosebumps recaps as well as two Graveyard School recaps this month. This is going with June’s water theme.

“Poison Lake” was the last of the GYG Special Edition books and from what I’ve read it’s one of the most loathed. I can sort of understand why yet I do love this one.

THE BAD: The whole “Lucky Number” shtick this book employs is extremely frustrating in figuring out a proper path to take. See, the numbers aren’t really “Lucky” because you’re just as likely to die from using the number to determine a choice than if you’d voted not to use it at all. And yet when you get the bad endings from not using the number, the book mocks you for it. Hell, it’ll mock you even if it doesn’t immediately lead to death by asking why you don’t want to utilize it.

THE GOOD: The four stories Stine’s crafted are incredibly endearing, and are totally independent of one another. Once you pick a path, you’re stuck on it. Which actually made recapping this much easier. My favorites are “The Missing Jewels” story and “The Moss-Man” story, the former because of the presence of competent adults and the latter because Stine’s able to create real tension and a dreamy atmosphere similar to “The Ghost Next Door.”

Also I love the monster on the cover despite its lack of appearance in the actual stories.

Poison Lake Monster by Jesus Marquez
Poison Lake Monster by Jesus Marquez

THE OTHER BAD: We get a return performance of, UGH, Jude as the main character. God he sucks.

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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 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 Other Recaps

Recap #196: Spellbound by Christopher Pike

Spellbound by Christopher Pike
Spellbound by Christopher Pike

Title: Spellbound by Christopher Pike

Summary: No one knew how the girl had died.

They found Karen Holly in the mountain stream, her skull crushed. There was only one witness to the tragedy, Karen’s boyfriend, Jason Whitfield. He said a grizzly had killed her. But a lot of people didn’t believe him. They thought Jason had murdered her in a fit of rage.

And now weeks have passed, and Jason has another girlfriend, Cindy Jones. And there are the new kids in town, Joni Harper, the quiet English beauty that Cindy’s brother, Alex, cannot get out of his mind. And Bala, the foreign exchange student from Africa, the grandson of a powerful shaman.

Together they will return to the place where Karen was killed.

Some will die.

The others will come face to face with a horror beyond imagining.

Tagline: You can close your eyes….It won’t help. [Wing: Except, spoilers, that’s exactly what it does.]

Initial Thoughts

This is one of my favourite Pike books, though not my absolute favourite. There are monstrous women and full moons and hunger, and it is all pretty great — except for that girls fighting over boys and boys fighting over girls and racism everywhere. /o\

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Posted in Other Recaps

Recap #192: Confessions of a Teenage Vampire: Zombie Saturday Night by West and Ellis

All that money and she couldn’t buy a lock on the door?

Title: Confessions of a Teenage Vampire – Zombie Saturday Night

Writer: Terry M. West

Penciller: Steven A. Ellis

Inkers: Richard Perrota and Ravil Lopez

Letterer: Fred Van Lente

Colorists: Kent Marquart, Ryan Dunlavey, Leon Allen, Michelle Wulfson

Cover Art: Steve Ellis and Stew Noack

Editor: Bonnie Bader

Summary: My life has really changed since I became a teenage vampire. I can’t stand bright lights and bad smells. I’m so strong I’ve got to be careful not to hurt anyone in gym class. And I’m on a strict diet of Serum V – a special protein product that was invented so vampires don’t have to kill to eat.

But my biggest worries are Sang and Rosie – two vampires who think that all vampires should prey on humans. I haven’t heard from them lately, but I know they’re out there somewhere. I need to be ready when they come…

Initial Thoughts

This past summer I reviewed the first entry in this two book series, and I promised Wing I’d review the second for Halloween this year. Luckily for Wing, it’s got werewolves! Unluckily for the rest of us, while it sheds more light on the vampire mythology of this world, the ending is pretty rushed and there was no third entry.

Still, I hope you enjoy this piece of 90s comic cheese as an early Halloween treat instead of a trick.

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Posted in Goosebumps Recaps

Recap #191: Give Yourself Goosebumps Special Edition #4: One Night In Payne House by R.L. Stine

GYG Special Edition #4 Cover
Hi, doggie!

Title: Give Yourself Goosebumps Special Edition #4 – One Night In Payne House

Author: R.L. Stine

Cover Artist: Craig White

Tagline: There’s Only One Way Out!

Summary: Talk About Being In The Doghouse!

It’s Halloween. And you’ve just taken the Ultimate Challenge. You’ve entered the town’s most horrifying haunted house – Payne House.

So ready or not, you’ve got exactly one chance to survive. All other paths point to THE END. Your end! Because roaming through Payne House is a giant dog-beast who wants to put a choke-chain leash – on you! Not to mention the drooling Tongue Thin that’s having a major snack attack!

The choice is yours in this scary GOOSEBUMPS adventure! It’s packed with over 20 super-spooky endings – but only one way out!

Initial Thoughts

For this year’s Halloween Extravaganza, join me in my very first recap of the Give Yourself Goosebumps sub-series.

I’ve been on the fence about how to recap these entries for months because they aren’t straightforward tales like the usual Goosebumps books. But when thinking about recapping this particular book for Point Horror, I had an idea. I’ve come up with a system where, instead of recapping the books like a game with a system of lives if I get a bad ending I will review straight through into one of the good endings. If a book branches off into two storylines, I’ll review both in the same article.

As you guessed from the summary, this book claims to have only one good ending out of dozens of bad ones. However, even the supposed good ending is debatable. Like the other special edition stories, these rely on an inventory system as you pick things up along the way. When I first bought and read this, I ALMOST made it to the good ending and then died.

Mark Nagata was the original cover artist for the series (well Tim Jacobus did the first cover), but when the layout got redesigned Craig White was hired as the new artist. I think both are amazing, though.

Oh, and I’ll be referring to the player character as “Jude.”

[Wing: I love Choose Your Own Adventure style books, and am thrilled to have Jude taking on Give Yourself Goosebumps. I used to mark spots in CYOA style books where I wanted to come back and take another path, until pretty much every option was flagged, which was useless, baby!Wing. Happy Halloween, all!] (more…)

Posted in Other Recaps

Recap #184: Witch by Christopher Pike

The Author:

Christopher Pike is a prolific writer of teen horror-ish novels, with a few sprinkled in there for adults. He is the literary horror to RL Stine’s gore porn/B-movie-type novels. But that’s putting him a bit high up there, isn’t it? Sometimes he overwrites, sometimes his stories are just outright ridiculous. But there’s no doubt he at least tried to insert some depth into these schlock teen horror novels of the 90s.

The Blurb:

Julia is a young woman with extraordinary powers. She has the ability to heal people with her touch. She can also know things that are happening in far off places when she looks in water that has sunlight shining on it. She comes from a tradition of witches, of good witches. But before Julia’s mother died, she warned her daughter never to look in the water that had moonlight shining on it.

Unfortunately, almost by accident, Julia does so. What she sees is a vision of the future, a scene in which a young man she doesn’t know is shot in a hold-up and dies in her arms. Only later, when Julia attends a football game at school, does she meet the young man.
He is her girlfriend’s new boyfriend.

Julia immediately falls for the guy, but it is an ill-fated love. He does not belong to her and he is supposed to die. Or does he have to die? Julia doesn’t know if her vision of the future is set, or if it can be changed. She doesn’t know why the gunmen in her vision evokes such hatred in her, and why she feels she must destroy him at all costs. But using the supernatural powers at her command, and risking her own life, plus the lives of her friends, Julia will find the answers to all these questions, at a terrible cost.

The ridiculous over-wordiness of this blurb is spot on with the wordiness of the book itself. Plus it reads like a first draft blurb. Like re-reading it makes me cringe a little for its awkwardness.

The Place:

Indian Pole, Idaho, population negative six. I think it’s passed off as not a middle of nowhere type of town, but it is. People need to drive a half hour in any direction just to get anywhere worthwhile, like shopping areas or whatever. Everyone knows everyone and has grown up with everyone. Those kinds of towns, but Pike doesn’t much dwell on the place. Not really. And for someplace that doesn’t really bear any significance to the story the name of the town is sure bandied around a lot. [Wing: A half hour in any direction? That’s basically a suburb. Julia, come talk to me when you have to drive 2+ hours just to buy clothes.]

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Posted in Other Recaps

Recap #182: After the Hole by Guy Burt

After the Hole by Guy Burt
After the Hole by Guy Burt

Title: After the Hole by Guy Burt

Tagline: Death is always to be found beneath the ground.

Summary: On a bright spring day in England, six teenagers laugh and joke as they make their way to a neglected part of the institution they mockingly call Our Glorious School. Hidden in the dark hollow of a buttress is the door to a small windowless cellar. Behind the door, the old stairs have rotted away. A boy unfurls a rope ladder and five descend into The Hole. The sixth closes the cellar door, locks it from the outside, and walks calmly away down the flagstone path.

The idea is simple. While their parents think they are on a field trip, and the school thinks they’re at home, Frankie, Geoff, Alex, Mike, and Liz will spend three days locked in The Hole. Martyn will remain above ground, promising that when the five emerge into daylight, they’ll have been part of the greatest prank the infamous schemer has ever engineered.

The three days pass predictably: a lot of talking, some booze, flirting, a few friendly fights. At five P.M. on the third day, they drink a celebratory bottle of vodka and wait for the mastermind to arrive and release them. Thirty hours later, they realise that Martyn is not coming to let them out… ever.

Note: As before with the movie, I will take scenes at their face value and comment on them, and then loop back if they are contradicted/expanded. I’ll actually use footnotes for this though – it will be a number in square brackets. They may even be links if WordPress lets me. This makes it a very hard book to recap, so bear with me.

[Wing: I’m scheduling this post to go public on the first day of fall in the Northern Hemisphere, because it is the start of my favourite season, and this is a creepy and twisty way to start it, and it is also a sad family day from which I want to be distracted.]

Warning: There is a rape in this book. I’ve tried to keep the language I use as non-threatening as possible, and keep discussion of it down to a minimum. However, it’s there. You have been warned.

Initial Thoughts:

This is less initial thoughts and more a warning. If you want to read the book, go read the book. It’s a lot easier now than it was in 2003, when I read it. I had to get an out-of-print second-hand copy from a seller on Amazon marketplace, using a friend’s account (my ex got me blacklisted for six years from 2001 onwards), because eBay didn’t have it.

It’s on the kindle now. It’s £3.99. Go read it, because if you’re interested you’ll enjoy the book much more if you just read it, rather than read my recap (which is spoilerific), and then the book.

The book doesn’t have much in common with the movie, so seriously, this is your last chance, go buy it and read it. It’s about the length of the average Sweet Valley Twins, so it’s like an hour out of your day. And you might enjoy it.

(Oh, and forgive some of the prose. Guy Burt was seventeen when he wrote it.)

Also, I’m actually going to note the chapters in this, because it becomes very significant later, and you may want to check something. You’re welcome.

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Posted in Other movies

Recap #174: The Hole (2001)

The Hole (2001)
The Hole (2001)

Title: The Hole

Summary: Four teenagers at a British private school secretly uncover and explore the depths of a sealed underground hole created decades ago as a possible bomb shelter.

[Dove: Yeah, no, sorry imdb, but that makes it sound like a caving adventure. What happens is four teenagers are locked in the bunker, with no means of escape, and the film explores what put them there and what happened in the hole.]

Grade: B

Note 1: In England, public school means publicly funded, e.g., the parents of the students, the public, pay for its running costs. I know this means the opposite in America. [Wing: Americans, it’s a private boarding school. It’s great.]

Note 2: I’m trying to recap the story as it unfolds, and if you’ve seen this you’ll know that what you see in one scene can well be contradicted in another. So my comments take the scene at face value. I’ll loop back to anything on the contradicting scene, rather than “spoiling” what comes next. [Wing: Smart plan! And so is the one below.]

Note 3: I won’t mention the contents of the book. However, when I recap the book, I will definitely mention the contents of the film.

Initial Thoughts

Just FYI, this is one of my favourite movies. Please note the difference between “favourite” and “best”. If you want my “best” movie, it’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest or Stand By Me. This falls firmly in the guilty pleasure category.

It was one of the first movies Raven and I watched when we moved in together. It was so early on in our relationship that we didn’t have a TV licence (we were waiting for payday) and so we were very naughty by watching it.

Also, I will be recapping the book. If you’ve always wanted to read the book but never got around to it, go buy the book now. The book is a very different entity to the movie, and it really should be read if you enjoy this story or any variation of it.

Also, I did screen caps of this entire movie for the cap_it community at LiveJournal. Who knew that 12 years later, it would save me a task when I came to recap the movie? [Wing: I remember people frantically asking you to screen cap Kiera Knightley’s tits, and you refusing, like the A+ person you are.]

[Wing: I love this movie so much. Dove introduced me to it, and the book, as she does many things, and I adore it to this day.]

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Posted in Other Recaps

Recap #108: The Forbidden Game #3: The Kill by LJ Smith

The Author:

L.J. Smith, who finally ditched the ridiculous descriptions and probably realized what she did with Dee in the last book was a bit much so she toned it down a ton in THE KILL. The othering is still there, but it’s minimal in comparison. [Wing: Third time’s the charm, I guess.]

The Blurb:

It was Julian’s last challenge before he disappeared into the Shadow World, taking Jenny Thornton’s boyfriend Tom and her cousin Zach: “If you want them, come on a treasure hunt. But remember: if you lose, there’s the devil to pay.”

Jenny, Audrey, Michael, and Dee have burned their bridges, leaving their families behind, to enter the Shadow World with a set of runes, magical letters that open the doors of hell. They’re lost in an amusement park nightmare, at Julian’s mercy as they look for Tom and Zach. Jenny’s only clue it a gold coin, Julian’s gift, and Julian himself, more beautiful, more seductive, and more dangerous than ever. And determined to make her his bride . . .

At this point the kids are like, “Best of seven?” And Julian’s like

Because dude. You lost twice already. Just take your toys and go home.

The Place:

A little bit in Jenny’s grandfather’s house but mostly in an amusement park of nightmares. BE STILL MY HEART. [Wing: I am so damn excited. Best location yet.]

The Players:

And then there were four. And Julian.

Jenny – Who’s gone all BAMF and isn’t taking shit lying down and is [mostly] not having any of Julian’s crap and GODDAMNIT GIVE HER BACK HER MENS.

Dee – Who has largely stopped being othered (largely) but her personality changes pretty heavily in this book. I guess the amusement park really gets to her.

Audrey – Is basically looking like a crisped out Tri Pi from Sorority Boys hanging out in a life raft at this point. She’s frazzled, unkempt, and so incredibly over this shit.

Michael – Still a useless coward and I’m not even really sure what he’s doing in the story. He’s effectively dead weight.

Julian – Also looking like a haggard Tri Pi because Jenny’s beaten his ass twice and he doesn’t know when to fuck right on off.

Tom and Zach don’t show up until the end and as if you couldn’t see it coming, Summer shows up too.

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Posted in Point Horror Recaps

Recap #98: The Forbidden Game #2: The Chase by LJ Smith

The Author:

Who uses really oddball descriptions of things, repeatedly. Seriously. What the hell are spaniel eyes?

Maybe? I don’t know. But one character, Michael, always has some kind of spaniel eyes going on. And Audrey with her spiky lashes and bangs. The same thing. All the time.

And who others the crap out of every POC character in her book to extremes. It was really bad in THE CHASE. Really, really bad.

[Wing: Good times, good times. Adorable dog. And I still love Teen Creeps taking on this series. Here’s their episode for The Chase.]

The Blurb: Why is her boyfriend Tom avoiding her – while other boys pursue her as never before? Jenny Thornton has changed. So have her friends. Because of Julian, the Shadow Man, who has returned to terrorize them with a new game, a hunting game, Lambs and Monsters. They’re the lambs, to be stalked, pounced upon, and lost to the Shadow World forevermore. The monsters are the Lurker, a ghostly wolf, and the Creeper, a phantom snake. One by one, Jenny’s friends disappear, leaving behind only a paper doll – and a riddle with clues about who will be next . . . . Jenny must find Julian’s hidden base and save her friends before it’s too late. But how can she resist the predatory prince of darkness who has returned to make her his own?

That entire first sentence can just be erased and it won’t take anything away from the blurb, mainly because it really doesn’t fit and because it’s such an infinitesimal part of the story as to be largely unimportant. Mainly because Jenny knows she’s changed and she figures out on her own why and how. It has nothing to do with boys. Damn YA books.

[Wing: My god, that game sounds amazing. I want to play Lambs and Monsters.]

The Place: This time mostly within Jenny’s neighborhood and home. Julian decides to bring the game to them, to every place they always felt safe he takes it upon himself to violate. Goes along with the mindfucking he does in this book and quite honestly, I kind of love it a little. [Wing: I love the transition from them being in his strange, terrible place to him being in their place, where they are comfortable and safe and happy. Twisting that is a great horror trope.]

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Posted in Nightmare on Elm Street movies

Recap #95: A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

Title: A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

Tagline: If Nancy doesn’t wake up screaming, she won’t wake up at all.

Summary: Several people are hunted by a cruel serial killer who kills his victims in their dreams. While the survivors are trying to find the reason for being chosen, the murderer won’t lose any chance to kill them as soon as they fall asleep. (from imdb.com)

Grade: A+

Notes: Be warned: I love this movie. I have watched it so often I know it by heart, I own the novelisations, I bought the VHS tapes separately, then in a box set. Then I bought the DVD set of movies 1-4; then the 1-5 box set; then the 1-6 box set; I spent a fortune hunting down Wes Craven’s New Nightmare on DVD (pre-Amazon era). Then I repeated this ridiculous process on Blu-Ray. I own, and frequently re-watch, Never Sleep Again, but I can’t get through I Am Nancy, which seems to just be Heather Langenkamp wandering around talking to Freddy fans. I have retained a lot of trivia, fan theories, alternate timelines (from the books), and my recaps will be filled to the hilt with this nonsense.

The only place where I draw the line is reading the original stories based on Freddy (official book releases). I’ll take (and love) Seven Sweetest Dreams (a compilation of short stories), but the thick, heavy books lose me every time. They’re just far too away from cannon – much like the TV series, which I have watched once from beginning to end, and several episodes more than once, but do not love, and cannot remember much about.

I haven’t read much of the comics, partly because they’re so expensive (to me) for a media type that doesn’t hold my interest. Partly because they’re still quite hard to come by. And if I’m going to get into a bidding war on eBay over something from the 80s, it’s going to be Gen 1 My Little Ponies.

[Wing: Surprise! Dove has returned to help us celebrate this year’s Halloween Extravaganza, and she brings a horror movie, all her nerdy trivia, and a hell of a lot of fun. I hope you all are as excited as I am about having her back for a very special recap.]

(Jude: Ah, so you’re the infamous Dove I’ve heard so much about. Hi! I’m Jude. And you better fasten your seatbelt because this ain’t gonna be no cakewalk! Among the famed slasher movie franchises, the Elm Street one became my go-to favorite. I watched the first (and some of the fourth) when I was 9. After spending four years horrified beyond belief by these movies I fell in love with them, but I still can’t really look at any pictures of Freddy Krueger where he’s looking RIGHT at you. I actually HAVE read the comics, but if you were to ask, I by far prefer the ones published by Innovation. The Avatar Comics were awful, and so were the Wildstorm ones. I was especially disappointed by the Freddy Vs Jason Vs Ash comics, if only because of what they did to Alice Johnson and Maggie Burroughs. However, you CAN read the Marvel and Innovation comics on nightmareonelmstreetfilms.com. I look forward to ruining-I mean, enhancing your post with my comments. Yes, enhance. I covered that up pretty good. BTW, one of the first entries I worked on for “If It Were Stine” was this movie.)

[Wing: Is it this one?]

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Posted in Point Horror Recaps

Recap #90: The Forbidden Game #1: The Hunter by LJ Smith

The Author:

LJ Smith was never part of my reading repertoire when I was younger. In fact I never even read The Vampire Diaries until earlier this year and it was only the very first book (the original, not the re-releases). That kind of drama never interested me and still doesn’t. I’ve always known who she was thanks mostly to my fellow Lost Boys mailing listers who talked about her work a lot. But hers were never books I picked up.

I stumbled upon The Forbidden Game series completely by accident and I kind of love her style of writing here. Slightly lyrical, much descriptive, and writes pretty relatable, realistic characters (mostly). For the most part, this is what I know of LJ Smith despite her grander library of works. I do have other books of hers on my shelves, including some non-sequential Night World books (all originals, not the re-releases, I avoid those regardless of author, if I’m going to read 90s teen cheese it’s going to be in its original glory). But the impression I do have of her writing, even factoring in book one of The Vampire Diaries, is pretty good.

[Wing: I never read her as a teen, either, though a friend sent me the entire Night World series when I was in my early twenties, and I loved them. I’ve since read other things, including The Vampire Diaries back when I recapped season one for a website, but Night World remains my favourite of her works. 

However, I love the Teen Creeps’ podcast discussions of the books: Teen Creeps and The Hunter.]

The Blurb: He sold her the Game, and Jenny Thornton walked out mesmerized by Julian, the gorgeous cyber-punk with electric blue eyes and frost-white hair. When she and her friends open the plain white box at her boyfriend Tom’s birthday party, she chills to the warning: “Entering the Shadow World can be deadly. Do so at your own risk.” Spellbound, they piece together the cardboard Victorian house and decorate the rooms with their darkest nightmares. Suddenly the game is real! They’re in the house of horror, running from The Shadow Man — Julian himself, who forces them to confront their worst nightmares or be lost in a private hell. It’s Julian’s game, and Jenny is the prize he’s stalked for years. He’ll do anything to win her as she bargains desperately for her body — and soul . . .

Smith has a thing for cyberpunk and mentions it a lot throughout the book, especially in regard to how Julian is described. I’m a child of the 90s but cyberpunk is just a hint too old for me so I did have to look it up. And yeah. Hackers. Black turtlenecks and the blue glow of a computer forever etched onto a person’s face. Okay.

[Wing: Cyberpunk was very popular in my classes in the 2000s.]

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