Nostalgic Bookshelf

Snarky recaps of nostalgic media, including Making Out, Baywatch, Blyton and Baby-Sitter's Club
23
Jun 2018
Fear Street Super Chiller 6 The Dead Lifeguard by R L Stine

Fear Street Super Chiller 6 The Dead Lifeguard by R L Stine

The Author:

Like RL Stine needs any introduction. The incredibly prolific author of such series as Goosebumps and Fear Street, not to mention the Fear Street Reboot and some adult titles as well, Stine’s been around for a while and integral to the formation of horror love for many people my age. Sometimes ridiculous, sometimes creepy, always some of the most excellent deaths in YA, Stine is a mainstay in the young adult horror world and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

The Blurb:

The lifeguards at North Beach Country Club know they’re lucky. While other kids are flipping burgers, they’re sunning themselves by day and partying by night. So what if some people say the place is cursed, haunted. This is the life!

And then, one by one, the lifeguards start to die horrible deaths. Someone – or something – evil is stalking them. They all know how to save other people’s lives . . . But who will save theirs?

DUN DUN DUN.

The Place:

North Beach Country Club in Random Place, USA, with a cameo appearance of Fear Street for about a nanosecond. Where is Fear Street supposed to be, anyway? I’m under the vague impression it’s Long Island, but I could be really wrong there.

[Wing: There is a lot of debate about this. The consensus seems to be Ohio most of the time, but that often doesn’t make sense in the summer books that involve a beach.]

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22
Jun 2018
Fear Street Super Chiller 12 High Tide by R L Stine

Fear Street Super Chiller 12 High Tide by R L Stine

Title: Fear Street Super Chiller #12 – High Tide, a.k.a. “Wave Race: Blood Storm”

Author: R.L. Stine

Cover Artist: Bill Schmidt

Tagline: A lifeguard’s job can be murder…

Summary: Blood on the water…

Adam Malfitano still has nightmares about the night his girlfriend, Mitzi, died. He sees the blood. He sees her in the water. He is a lifeguard, and he can’t save her. He wakes up screaming.

Even worse, he has begun to see Mitzi while he is awake. He knows it is impossible… but she looks so real. He can see her face decaying. What does she want from him? Why won’t she leave him alone? He tried to save her – doesn’t she know that?

Initial Thoughts

IT’S SUMMERTIME AND YOU KNOW WHAT THAT MEANS GONNA HEAD DOWN TO THE BEACH GONNA DO SOME BEACHY THIIIIIIIIII-

Gaaah!

I, I’m so sorry for that.

Anyway, for the first day of summer I proposed doing a recap for one of the summertime Fear Street novels. I picked “High Tide” because I’ve re-read this one a few more times than the other Super Chiller books, but apparently my memory was shoddy because WOW. The narration is shared by two characters in this book and one of them is about as frustrating as Darryl Hoode from the “Fear Hall” books. Had I remembered him I would’ve suggested something else, but I’d already re-read the book for the recap. And I’ll be honest, the big fight scene at the end is fucking ridiculous and amazing.

And as a special note, for the first time ever I will be using the phrase “The Muffin Man,” a time-honored Point Horror tradition, to refer to a character in an incredibly frustrating segment since they’re never referred to by name.

[Wing: Happy summer! Happy birthday, Sister Canary! Happy Needlessly Dramatic Cliffhanger Chapter Endings. (I assume, I haven’t read it yet at this point.]

READ AT DEVIL’S ELBOW

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21
Jun 2018
Nightmare Hall - Monster by Diane Hoh

Nightmare Hall – Monster by Diane Hoh

Title: Nightmare Hall #13: Monster

Summary: Rumors are flying around Salem U. Stories about a monster roaming the campus. Tales of students viciously attacked in the dead of night. Abby McDonald thinks it’s all nonsense. A fraternity prank. A drama major giving an unusual “performance”. She has too much on her mind to worry about a monster. But she should be worried. Because the truth about the monster is even more horrible than she could have imagined….

Tagline: None

Notes: I will refer to the bad guy as…wait for it…the monster!

Initial Thoughts

Diane Hoh is missing in action again this round, but thankfully, so is Nola Thacker! This time our ghostwriter is none other than Barbara Steiner, who released a few Point horror books (The Phantom, The Mummy, Spring Break) back in the day, but was actually quite prolific in teen YA horror fiction, with a bunch of titles written for the publisher Avon Flare (The Dreamstalker, The Photographer, The Photographer II: Dark Room, Night Cries, Deathline, The Coffin, and the Dark Chronicles trilogy, The Dance, The Gallery and The Calling). I’ve read them all, except for The Coffin and The Calling, and have always found her to be a rather “meh” writer. I remember “meh” being my overall reaction when I read this for the first time in my teens, although I can’t remember much else about it. She can’t be worse than Thacker, though, can she?

[Wing: I liked most of The Phantom, which may be the only book of hers I’ve read, but she did not pull off the ending, so I don’t have high hopes. Especially because with a title and a summary like that, I want this to be a werewolf book. It’s probably not a werewolf book. I’m already primed to be disappointed.]

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13
Jun 2018
Friday the 13th A New Beginning

Friday the 13th A New Beginning

Title: Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1985) (aka Part V)

Summary: Still haunted by his past, Tommy Jarvis – who, as a child, killed Jason Voorhees – wonders if the serial killer is connected to a series of brutal murders occurring in and around the secluded halfway house where he now lives.

Tagline: The mindless, murderous fury that was buried with Jason has been reborn. And suddenly, terror has become child’s play! 

Notes: If we had looked at that poster in a design class in art college, it would have been unanimously voted as totally shitty. Wow, didn’t try very hard, did you, graphic design department. I’m not just haunted by Jason; I’m haunted by that terrible typography!

Initial Thoughts:

Hey, remember when we watched Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter and this experiment in terror was all over and I could move forward with my life?

Oh… wait…

[Wing: If there’s one* horror media rule that holds up it is this: The final chapter is never the final chapter.]

[Wing: *exaggeration, I know.]

Welcome back for yet another stimulating round of Let’s Do It!: A Virgin Does Horror! What was a “dead” franchise last entry has now been revived, because the world at large missed Jason Voorhees and his murderous hi-jinx. It wouldn’t have been the 1980s without beating a dead horse in an attempt to cash in further on a franchise that had utterly run out of steam. Or the 1990s, the 00s, and the 2010s…

I have actually read that this installment is akin to “a fucking porno in the woods […]. You wouldn’t believe the nudity they cut out,” which comes directly from the director’s mouth. So, thanks, Danny Steinmann, this will be horrible and awkward as hell, or more so than previous entries.

Because I have committed myself to the cause, as it were, I have no choice but to ride this chapter out. Oh well. At least I’m nearing the halfway point in this franchise, so there’s a dim light at the end of the tunnel but it’s probably a flood light Jason turned on to draw me closer to my own death. Yay!

(Save me, Kevin Bacon! Save me!)

Let’s see. Again, can’t read too much on the wiki or IMDb entries because SPOILERS and I honestly have ZERO MEMORY of this installment’s release. In March 1985, I would have been 3 years old, so that’s probably why. Also, the use of the hockey mask with the light blue triangles instead of the red triangles – way to screw shit up, costume department / graphics department! I know, I know, continuity is often a hopeless failure in this series. I ask too much. STOP SETTING THE BAR SO HIGH, VIRGIN.

Corey Feldman did reprise his role as Tommy Jarvis for this film, which is great since it means no shitty “we used stuff we filmed in the previous entry to insert said character into this film!” From what I’ve read he was busy shooting The Goonies (A VASTLY SUPERIOR FILM IN MY HUMBLE OPINION AND THAT’S NOT JUST BECAUSE I LITERALLY LIVE IN THE ACTUAL STATE WHERE IT WAS FILMED, THEREFORE I AM AN OFFICIAL GOONIE BY BIRTH) so on his day off, Feldman filmed his scenes in his family’s backyard in California, with a helpful rain machine. Huh. Movie magic, yo.

I recognize no other cast member’s name in this, so I’m not hoping for high caliber performances. I guess it was filmed under a fake title, so no one really understood/knew they were filming a Friday the 13th installment. Yikes. This whole thing sounds as doomed as the previous installment(s). No bueno.

Without further adieu, because I’m already bored and dreading this… fifth time’s a charm, right?

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.

READ AT DEVIL’S ELBOW

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12
Jun 2018
Graveyard School #8: Let's Scare the Teacher to Death! by Tom B. Stone

Graveyard School #8: Let’s Scare the Teacher to Death! by Tom B. Stone

Title: Graveyard School #8 – “Let’s Scare the Teacher to Death!” a.k.a. “Teaching Ms. Cheevy”

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

Cover Artist: Barry Jackon (US Cover), ???? (Russian Cover), ???? (UK Cover)

UK Tagline: It’s Miss-terious!!

Summary: But We Were Only Joking!

Mrs. Cheevy, the new math teacher at Graveyard School, is totally paranoid! She’s always looking over her shoulder, her voice continually quavers during math lessons, and she jumps when anyone asks a question. This makes her the perfect target for class clown Bentley Jeste, and soon all the kids get in on the act. Math has never been more hilarious, until one day a practical joker goes too far. Could Mrs. Cheevy’s second-period class have scared her to death?

Initial Thoughts

The proportions on the US cover have always bothered me, because how much space is there between the desk and the chalkboard?

This is not one of my favorites in the series, but it’s more that I’m conflicted on how exactly I should be feeling on it. It’s the only book besides the first one that doesn’t have anything supernatural in it, but it’s interesting. It’s a rare event where we get to see things from the “Antagonist’s” point of view and learn their feelings on the situation, yet it’s hard for me to decide if there really IS an antagonist in this book.

Both sides of the conflict give as good as they get, and it’s like the equivalent of going to a race track to watch for car crashes instead of rooting for one particular side. Although, I’ll be real here, had I read this book before “Boo Year’s Eve” and “Escape from Vampire Park” I doubt Jordie Flanders would’ve become one of my faves.

Fair warning Wing, there’s a joke involving a rubber spider.

[Wing: Thanks for the warning!]

READ AT DEVIL’S ELBOW

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31
May 2018
Goosebumps 35: Shocker on Shock Street by R L Stine

Goosebumps 35: Shocker on Shock Street by R L Stine

Title: Goosebumps #35 – A Shocker On Shock Street, a.k.a. “Erin and Marty’s Bogus Journey”

Author: R.L. Stine

Cover Artist: Tim Jacobus

Goosebumps Graphix Illustrator: Jamie Tolagson

Tagline: It’s a real dead end.

Summary: Talk About Shock Treatment!

Erin Wright and her best friend, Marty, love horror movies. Especially Shocker on Shock Street movies. All kinds of scary creatures live on Shock Street. The Toadinator. Ape Face. The Mad Mangler.

But when Erin and Marty visit the new Shocker Studio Theme Park, they get the scare of their lives.

First the tram gets stuck in The Cave of the Living Creeps. Then they’re attacked by a group of enormous praying mantises!

Real life is a whole lot scarier than the movies. But Shock Street isn’t really real. Is it?

Initial Thoughts

“Shock Street” has been a personal favorite of mine for the same reason as “One Day At Horrorland,” and it’s the world building. Because the book is built around a fictional horror movie franchise, I’ve repeatedly gone back for re-reads to devour all the information available on the Shock Street films and creatures. You don’t know how delighted I was to learn it was getting a graphic novel adaption, illustrated by comic artist Jamie Tolagson, from Scholastic’s “Goosebumps Graphix” line, which made up for how disappointing the TV show version was. And hey, it meant reference for commissions! I added a couple of scanned pages from the Graphix adaption; sorry about the quality. Again, I was worried about wrecking the spine.

One of my earliest examples of fan fiction, way back in middle school, was my attempt at writing a story about one of the films mentioned in the book. Of course looking back my story was God awful. I still tried to come up with ideas for what the different Shock Street movies were about, which I’ll get into during the final thoughts alongside a small gallery of commissions of Shock Street monsters.

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28
May 2018

Sweet Valley Twins #50: Jessica and the Secret Star, by Francine Pascal

Title: Jessica and the Secret Star

Tagline: What’s the new girl hiding? [Raven: A cock?] [Dove: That she’s been there all along and the Wakefield twins are just really fucking unobservant?]

Summary: Maria Slater has been an actress since she was three years old, but now that she’s twelve she can’t find any work. So Maria hopes to forget her past and start life again at Sweet Valley Middle School, where she can play the role she has always wanted: the typical sixth-grader.

But for Maria, being typical becomes harder and harder, especially when Jessica Wakefield discovers Maria’s secret past Everyone wants to be friends with a movie star, but will anyone want to be friends with plain old Maria?

Initial Thoughts:

HOLY FUCK JESSICA’S HAND IS FUCKING HUGE.

Also, there’s a black girl in Sweet Valley. Unexpected. I can’t see this ending well.

READ AT SWEET VALLEY.ONLINE

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22
May 2018
The Bailey School Kids #31: Ghouls Don't Scoop Ice Cream by Debbie Dadey and Marcia Thornton Jones

The Bailey School Kids #31: Ghouls Don’t Scoop Ice Cream by Debbie Dadey and Marcia Thornton Jones

Title: The Bailey School Kids #31 – “Ghouls Don’t Scoop Ice Cream,” a.k.a. “Local Children Harass Depressed College Student”

Authors: Debbie Dadey and Marcia Thornton Jones

Illustrator: John Steven Gurney

Summary: There are some pretty weird grown-ups living in Bailey City. But could the new worker at Burger Doodle with very pale skin and sad eyes really be a ghoul spying for a family of vampires? The Bailey School Kids are going to find out!

“Scout said she works for a family,” Liza said with a gulp. “Maybe it’s a whole family of vampires.”

“Don’t tell me you think a whole batty family is going to swoop into Bailey City as soon as a ghoulish spy finds them a nest?” Eddie said.

“That’s it!” Howie shouted. “Mrs. Jeepers is bringing more vampires to Bailey City.”

Eddie rolled his eyes. “That’s a bunch of bat poop. After all, ghouls don’t scoop ice cream.”

Initial Thoughts

And now we venture into a YA horror series slightly better known than the other non-Goosebumps books I’ve recapped. “The Bailey School Kids” was aimed at a reading group one level below the Goosebumps audience, which makes sense given how incredibly short they are along with the use of illustrations.

The broad premise focuses on a group of four children, sensible Melody, smart Howie, scaredy Liza, and annoying Eddie, as they find themselves surrounded by odd and creepy adults who may or may not be monsters and other sorts of creatures.

Is the albino art teacher with braces actually an alien trying to steal color from the planet Earth?

Is the new lunch lady who looks inexplicably like Bette Midler really Cupid serving up love potions in time for Valentine’s Day?

Is Mr. Jenkins, the virile camp counselor with a love for rare burgers and late night strolls, a werewolf?

The thing is, the kids are never able to prove if these people are monsters, ghosts, aliens, or other types of creatures. But then again, they’re never able to prove they AREN’T.

The only other reoccurring character is their teacher, Mrs. Jeepers, a redheaded Eastern European woman with a love for polka dots and who might be a vampire. It’s believed she’s capable of surviving in sunlight because her green brooch she wears on her collar has magical powers.

The series is pretty infamous due to the outrageous covers from the original print run and how utterly scandalized and shocked the kids appear in response to whatever new person they’re investigating.

I used to own a fair number of these back in the day, but at some point I ended up giving them away because it was believed I was too old for them (you wouldn’t believe the fit my mom had when I bought one in Barnes & Noble back when I was in middle school). As of right now, counting this book I own three. I remembered this was one of my favorites mainly because of Scout, the depressed ice cream worker who may or may not be a vampire’s ghoul. I bought the book again a couple of months ago specifically for this recap. And I made sure I got the original print because, no offense to the artist of the reissues, you just can’t beat that level of outrage.

[Wing: That cover is adorable. I’ve never read any of these books, so I’m excited to see what this series brings to the table.]

READ AT DEVIL’S ELBOW

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11
May 2018
Diane Hoh - Nightmare Hall - The Whisperer

Diane Hoh – Nightmare Hall – The Whisperer

Title: Nightmare Hall #12: The Whisperer

Summary: Shea Fallon can’t tell anyone what she did. She knows it was wrong. Terribly wrong. But she had to do it – she had no choice. Anyway, she’s sure nobody will find out. Until she hears the whisper on the telephone. “You don’t have to worry. No one will know what you’ve done. I’ve seen to that.” Who is the whisperer, and how does he know? Shea wonders. And even more terrifying…what will the whisperer’s price be to keep her secret?

Tagline: Non.

Notes: I will refer to the bad guy/girl as The Whisperer since, well, that’s what they are!

Initial Thoughts

Welcome back, Diane Hoh. Why do you leave us? Your fill-in’s last contribution was real bottom of the barrel stuff and was almost my Last Date with the series. [Wing: Badumcha.]

As always, I have good memories of this, because it’s from Ms. Hoh. Shea’s big secret is that she cheated on an exam. I’ve never done that. Ironically enough, I’m not clever (or devious) enough to think up a scenario in which I could do so. I did okay, though. I got a degree. For all the good it did in securing a job. (I have had many jobs since university, of course, but my degree had nothing to do with any of them). I’m 38 and still paying the bloody thing off. And I have gone way off course… [Wing: Oh god, student loan debt. I hope this book is better than the last one. I need a distraction from weeping into my budget.]

[Wing: What with this being book 12, we’ve hit a year of Dade recapping Nightmare Hall! I’m glad we have so many books to come, still, because these recaps are a joy and a delight forever, and Dade continues to be a wealth of information about YA publishing in the 80s and 90s. Thank you for all you do, Dade!]

READ AT DEVIL’S ELBOW

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10
May 2018
Tom B Stone - Graveyard School - Tales Too Scary to Tell at Camp

Tom B Stone – Graveyard School – Tales Too Scary to Tell at Camp

Title: Graveyard School #13 – Tales Too Scary To Tell At Camp, a.k.a. “1001 Graveyard School Nights”

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

Cover Artist: Cam De Leon (U.S. Cover), ???? (Lithuanian Cover)

Summary: Warning: Don’t Read This Book In Your Bunk!

These thirteen chilling stories will send you screaming for cover. From howling heads to shrieking stalkers to larger-than-life lice – read about the unnatural, the bizarre, and – worst of all – the unexplained.

Stay near the campfire. The scariest creatures of all might be right behind you!

Initial Thoughts

As thanks for putting up with my depression last month, I’ve chosen to do recaps focusing on some of my favorite books which means another short break from the chronological order. I just wish I had some commissions to add to this one.

“Tales Too Scary” is special in the Graveyard School series because it’s the only entry that’s an anthology of stories. Unlike the “Tales To Give You Goosebumps” books, this one has a framing story encompassing the first and last chapters, and a features an eclectic grouping of the GS cast including my favorite, Jordie “The Human Computer” Flanders. The situation’s a cross between “Hansel and Gretel” and “1001 Arabian Nights” which of course captured my interest right away.

One of the stories is interesting because it’s told in three parts by three different storytellers.

You wanna believe I began the draft for this last year after I was officially made a recapper by Wing? I couldn’t wait to share this with all of you.

Also, I simply had to include the Lithuanian adaption’s cover artwork because I can’t tell if it’s horrible or amazing.

As a head’s up Wing, there IS a story with bugs, but it doesn’t include spiders.

[Wing: Thanks for the head’s up. I personally adore the Lithuanian cover, though that doesn’t really answer the whole horrible or amazing question, because either, both, whatever, I would still adore it.]

READ AT DEVIL’S ELBOW

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