Tag Archives: R.L. Stine

“Doritos, No Doz, bennies, crystal meth.”

25. Thirteen – T. Pines, ed.

While we wait for climate change enhanced hurricanes or nukes to kill us all, I’m keeping in theme with short stories – for the summer! It’s YA Megamix Summer V: The Revenge, now featuring short story collections and a lot more art promos because I’m taking to the other states this summer and bringing my guinea pig art and generally melancholic demeanor to SUPERCON in Fort Lauderdale, July 12-15th and the Geekcraft Expo St. Louis July 28-29. If you want to come tell me how little you enjoy my longer posts in person, be sure to buy a postcard or threeve while you’re at it. Yay!

So, Point Horror, best imprint ever, did three short story collections of thirteen stories each and the first one is called Thirteen…yep. It features such Point luminaries as Lael Littke, D.E. Athkins (to me, it will always be Deathkins), A. Bates, and, um, some dude who wrote about a painting called Jay Bennett. Yes, Jay, paintings can be terrifying but the process of painting is the true source of horror.

We begin with the first in a set of bookend stories by Christopher Pike which may be the best work of his I’ve read. It weirds me out when short stories are better than novels; even though it shouldn’t *cough* Stephen King. In this case, it might have to do with the phone being involved so much. I’m very nostalgic for a time when we didn’t have the ability to constantly get a hold of each other and I like handset and answering machine-based intrigue. Yes, I’ve seen Bells, apparently known in the U.S. as Murder by Phone, a way too obvious title. I think there could’ve been a happy medium between “Bells” which says nothing and “Murder by Phone” which says too much.

Pike did a great job of making the annoying girls competing over some greaser-dressing new dude with his own mixtape both fun and really bitchy, so I was all for “Collect Call.”

Most of Christopher Pike’s novels don’t make “the sense,” at least, they’re just as sound in my Danger parodies as they are in book form. Danger might even be a bit more serious. Here he is with Horace at a rollicking party for two on my couch. They’re both pretty serious about partying and my couch.

The second story in the collection is by author of Prom Dress, The Watcher, and like nothing else, Lael Littke. “Lucinda” involves a sunken town, some graduation day regrets, and a love triangle. It was decent and a little murky.

“The Guiccioli Miniature” by the aforementioned Jay Bennett reminded me a lot of the movie version of Don’t Look Now. It’s set in Venice and involves some weird dude accosting the main character on the street, so that might be why. It is an extremely short entry, and was just, well, not very much in the usual vein of Point Horror, also like Don’t Look Now. I didn’t manage to get mad about the mention of painting theft, which tells you a lot about how engaging this was. As a painter, if someone stole any of my paintings, I’d consult some psychic sisters staying nearby, put on a red hooded coat, and stalk through all those canals until I got it back…

Horace and Danger Crumples are in quite a few of my paintings, so they fully support me going Don’t Look Now on hypothetical painting thieves.

“Blood Kiss” – Deathkins! – Well, sometimes people give vampires bad names. This one’s name is Ken. This story was fun and I know Deathkins could’ve done better than to name a vampire Ken. The immortal Ken. Yeesh.

“A Little Taste of Death” – Patricia Windsor – Bizarre little tale about a bad girl staying with her grandmother. When I stayed with my grandmother during many summers, I did not take candy that would seal my fate from strangers. Granted, on a farm the strangers are mostly cows, so it was easy to accomplish this. We also played the Dastardly and Muttley in their Flying Machines game. And Smess.

“The Doll” – Carol Ellis – Little hands killing people in your dreams…that’s exactly what I’d expect if a doll just randomly showed up in my house. Especially one of those porcelain numbers with the blank facial expressions. Give me Ginny with her gorgeous pout or give me her pony! Or death, I think that’s how that was supposed to go, but I love my Ginny pony and now my secret is out. It’s really cute.

“House of Horrors” – J.B. Stamper – Sometimes it’s not a bad thing to not have friends at work. Especially if your “friends” are really just locking you in a horror house overnight to be dicks. If your making friends story seems like it might have any chance of ending with “and they were never seen again after hanging out with wax figures,” avoid that. Friends who just want to scare you are not real friends, they’re insecure jackasses.

Horace and Danger, real friends to the end.

“Where the Deer Are” – Caroline B. Cooney – A trippy kind of subdivision horror.

“The Spell” – R.L. Stine – “I hypnotized all three of you that day at the Pizza Palace.” NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.

“Dedicated to the One I Love” – Diane Hoh – Another thing that used to cause so much heart fluttering – having a song dedicated to you on the radio. While your friends were totally listening. So they knew. And then like, the whole school would know. Because everyone who was anyone listened to certain shows on the radio. But like with anything that can cause heart fluttering or public humiliation, watch out for when the dead start doing it.

“Hacker” – Sinclair Smith – Sometimes I feel like Sinclair Smith is a bit of a hack, so, I wasn’t surprised by anything in this story other than the ingenious use of plants. My problem is that once the villain is found out, they tend to get really loud and crazy, like they’ were holding back until this teenager found them and they have no clue about being arrested or not admitting how obvious your evil plan was even though you were all covert and smart throughout the rest of the story… The typing in all caps is really the kicker here, though. Quit yelling at everyone. Quit.

Danger and Horace make ingenious use of the back of my couch. They never type in all caps. There is no preferred typing scheme for whistles, wheeks, rumbly purring, and little chuckles.

“Deathflash” – A. Bates – I like A. Bates. I feel like when I’m reading an A. Bates story, some level of control is being exercised over the concept. Even in this weirdo entry about an amorphous thing. I’m glad the main character was concerned for the cats, and it is unfortunately realistic to name them “Sunshine” and “Sparkle.” My guinea pigs are lucky my disposition is not so light. Danger Crumples totally would’ve ended up being “Star Beast.”

“They Boy Next Door” – Ellen Emerson White – This was a pretty kickass story and I liked it a lot. I’ve been around the kind of guy who thinks taking out their insecurities on you is a good idea and as I told one of them, “Don’t powertrip at me, I’m not going to do anything you tell me to and you chose the wrong lady to be insecure at.” It did not go over well, but then again it didn’t go over well to me when he tried to tell me I’m supposed to tell him when I’m going to desensitize a book. Not even, son. I will do what I have to when I need to. Don’t take your shit out on other people. Especially women.

And the other bookend, “Collect Call II: The Black Walker” (slash missed opportunity for a way better subtitle). Quit trying to get girls to tell you you’re such a great musician! Let them come to you and tell you. If you’re good, they will. I never directly lie about what I think about someone’s music. If I don’t like it, I’ll say it’s interesting and not explain why. I had to do that once when a song without words or anything resembling musical form was played for me by my drunk boyfriend and he told me it was “for me.” I wish that hadn’t been for me. But I said it was “interesting” because it was interesting to me that he would make something “for me” that involved nothing about music I actually enjoyed. I should’ve taken it as a bigger omen.

Mixtape:

1. “The Otherworld” – All of Them Witches
2. “Feel Good Hit of the Summer” – Queens of the Stone Age
3. “Tales of Mystery & Isolation” – Wolfmen of Mars
4. “Electric” – Boris
5. “Diabolos ’88” – Samhain
6. “Ghosts of Victims Past” – Terrortron
7. “You Don’t Own Me” – Lesley Gore
8. “Wind up Toys” – Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats
9. “Destruction Makes the World Burn Brighter” – Chelsea Wolfe
10. “Holy Christos” – King Dude
11. “Hamlet Pow Pow Pow” – The Birthday Party
12. “Age of Oil & Wax” – Live Skull
13. “Kiva” – Burning Tapes
14. “Dance with Dark Forces” – Electric Six
15. “Killer in the Streets” – The Raveonettes
16. “The Trouble with Being Born” – The Great Tyrant
17. “All Murder, All Guts, All Fun” – Samhain

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Late 1800s newspaper front pages are like: murder, murder, accident, murder, Druids, somebody’s running for office, fire, a boat sank, murder.

7. One Evil Summer – R.L. Stine

A long time ago, in a land about one hundred miles away from the land I am currently occupying, I settled in to a long afternoon of playing while sort of watching TV and stumbled upon a movie where this weird lady took a baby into the woods and gave the baby to a tree. It seemed interesting and so I watched the rest of it -and this was before the internet, before the little guide on the television, and we had no subscription to TV Guide, and so it took me a REALLY long time to figure out that it was The Guardian. Bastard film of William Friedkin who would scare me half to death by creating a relatable situation in The Exorcist – he took his name off The Guardian for cable, not that I saw the beginning where it also explained that Druids worshipped trees (but- but- when were they building henges in danger of being crushed?). I saw some wolves, I got confused, and I am now never surprised by evil nanny stories. One Evil Summer is an evil nanny/babysitter story and it needed more wolves. And a creepy tree.

Mixtape –
1. I Am the Sun – Swans
2. Black God Forest – Those Poor Bastards
3. Are You Okay? – Dum Dum Girls
4. Anything, Anything – Dramarama
5. Jinx – Snakefinger
6. Lady Shoes – Jesus Lizard
7. 1985 – Kvelertak
8. Cat Claw – The Kills
9. Vacation – Absolutely Not
10. The Serpent & The Pig – Zebras
11. Two Hearted Woman – Electric Citizen
12. Drawing Down the Moon – Blood Ceremony
13. Nothin’ – Rowland S. Howard
14. Charmer – Kings of Leon
15. Superstition – The Kills
16. Wide At Midnight – The Wytches

When they film Ozymandias’ story, which might involve creepy trees prior to my having acquired him, it’s likely that Sam Raimi will sign on to direct initially, but then we’ll have to settle for William Friedkin.

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Camp isn’t just a row of tents.

62. Lights Out – R.L. Stine

Stine getting epistolary up in here. Yes, villain of the piece, it is amazing that you think turning “Camp Nightwing” to “Camp Nightmare” is a clever bit of wordplay. I don’t know how anyone overlooked your genius. I know main character Holly was too busy being scared shitless by virtually every outside-based beast that could be at a summer camp. Suck it up, Holly, solving the mystery is going to require more than startled screams. Or…maybe not.

I went to two summer camps in my time as a youth. At the first one, my cabin was awoken in the night by mating wild turkeys – that was loud and also confusingly terrifying. Plus we had to walk danceably to “Tears in Heaven” and put up the flag. When we were voting on songs I had not heard “Tears in Heaven” and if I had I would have vetoed that so hard. At the second one, I was awoken by a mouse running sideways up the plywood between bunks (not my bunk, I was in the middle, terrified) and into, then back out of one camper’s sleeping bag – it was one of the most terrifying things I have ever seen. My fellow witness and I never told her.

Mixtape –
1. Young Men Dead – The Black Angels
2. We’re All Swine – Those Poor Bastards
3. Sin Is In 10 – Bass Drum of Death
4. Hallucinations – The Raveonettes
5. Deep in the Woods – The Birthday Party
6. I Remember – Suicide
7. Houses in Motion – Talking Heads
8. In Your Wildest Dreams – Reverend Horton Heat
9. Girl Afraid – The Smiths
10. Treat Her Like a Lady – Cornelius Brothers & Sister Rose
11. Suffer No Fools – The Sword
12. Been a Son – Nirvana
13. Running Joke – Queens of the Stone Age
14. Moonlight – Lonesome Wyatt & the Holy Spooks
15. Angelfuck – The Misfits
16. My Buried Child – Swans
17. Bad Blood – Ministry

It’s not her fault she can’t hold a flashlight to tell spooky stories.

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She got Swayzed.

35. The Secret Bedroom – R.L. Stine

Every time I switch towns I eventually run into the same old story – there’s that creepy house where somebody got murdered. And you know, in Mississippi, it was my house. It was drugs. No unfinished business. Lea of The Secret Bedroom is not so lucky. I mean, it could’ve been drugs, but, it wasn’t mentioned specifically if drugs were involved in the 100 years ago murderage, so… Lea is not so lucky in many ways. She falls victim to the many tropes – she’s a new kid who spills on the prime bitch at school, then gets asked out as a joke but she doesn’t know until she gets stood up, in her wallowing she hears footsteps upstairs in the boarded up bedroom, the girls she ends up being friends with are either too popular to keep up getting to know her or they found a boyfriend and no longer cared (Friends!), AND her parents keep leaving her alone in their haunted house (Thanks, Lea’s parents.) and she would be okay with it – if it was being haunted by Patrick Swayze. Patrick Swayze, gateway ghost.

Mixtape –
1. School – Nirvana
2. Misery Keeper – Electric Citizen
3. Zero – Smashing Pumpkins
4. Phone Call – The Faint
5. Mother Father – Swans
6. Sick, Sick, Sick – Queens of the Stone Age
7. My Dreams – Electric Six
8. I Only Said – My Bloody Valentine
9. Lost Boys and Girls Club – Dum Dum Girls
10. Your Sins Will Find You Out – Eli “Paperboy” Reed
11. Everybody Dies – Those Poor Bastards
12. I Dreamt – The Black Angels
13. Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now – The Smiths
14. Love Can Destroy Everything – The Raveonettes
15. Noorus – Chelsea Wolfe
16. Ripe – Nine Inch Nails

Pammy and Thaddeus chomp down parsley in an attic bedroom. There’s no corpses in there or anything. Also no Swayze or Swayze-related materials. They’re like the wind.

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They always come back.

67. 99 Fear Street, the House of Evil: The Third Horror – R.L. Stine

Half the population of Shadyside are either dead or about to be dead, which is something they could have included in the brochure- but it’s understandable that they haven’t. Shadyside – highest teen mortality rate ever! Might not end up drawing visitors.

Good thing they have repeat visitors like Kody Frasier. She’s even capitalizing on her sister’s death. Whee! That will end well, it always does.

Peregrine clearly doesn't care if Danger Crumples whispers the true secrets behind 99 Fear Street to her.

Peregrine clearly doesn’t care if Danger Crumples whispers the true secrets behind 99 Fear Street to her.

Mixtape:

1. After School Special – Mr. Bungle
2. Never Be the Same – The Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster
3. Crypt Key – Windhand
4. Empty Room – Arcade Fire
5. Ain’t Fit to Live Here – Graveyard
6. These Spectacles Reveal the Nostalgics – The Hives
7. Ghosts – UNKLE
8. Home Sick Home – Faith No More
9. The Night Creeper – Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats
10. Deconstruction – Witchcraft
11. De Lux – The Duke Spirit
12. Tear You Apart – She Wants Revenge
13. A Song From Under the Floorboards – Magazine
14. I Hear Colors – The Black Angels
15. Dear Prudence – Siouxsie & the Banshees

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The real horror would have been a young, awesome-looking new resident going unnoticed.

66. 99 Fear Street, the House of Evil: The Second Horror – R.L. Stine

Shock horror – Good looking young man moves into haunted house, gains attention from ladies both alive and dead! Brandt’s new and the latest ghost to occupy his new home has taken an interest in him. Whatever happens, Brandt is popular. Yay, Brandt, 90s guy!

Pickles will awaken from her nap when something slightly more interesting happens in this trilogy. Something that doesn't involve a good looking person in distress.

Pickles will awaken from her nap when something slightly more interesting happens in this trilogy. Something that doesn’t involve a good looking person in distress.

Mixtape:

1. House on Fire – Hanni El Khatib
2. The Suburbs (continued) – Arcade Fire
3. Cul de Sac – Tomahawk
4. Love Thing – The Melvins
5. Winter ’68 – The Black Angels
6. Truth in the Dark – Dax Riggs
7. Ghosts House – Witchcraft
8. Nattesferd – Kvelertak
9. Who Was In My Room Last Night? – The Butthole Surfers
10. Evil Ways – Graveyard
11. Midnight Creeper – Eagles of Death Metal
12. Crying Lightning – Arctic Monkeys
13. Friday Night – The Darkness
14. Heartbeats – The Knife
15. Cheap and Cheerful – The Kills
16. The Air-Conditioned Nightmare – Mr. Bungle
17. Ungrateful Are the Dead – Graveyard
18. If I Live of If I Die – Cuff the Duke

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“He is so annoying, he is so frightening, and he doesn’t wear a shirt.”

65. 99 Fear Street, the House of Evil: The First Horror – R.L. Stine

Moving happens. Moving into haunted houses happens. Moving into angry haunted houses that spurt green vomit from the sink happens…in this book. Plus, the ceiling drips blood. It seems as though Glenn Danzig was the house’s preferred tenant as opposed to the Frasier family – although he wants the blood to run UP the walls, which is a tall order. Anyway, I guess the lesson for this family is that they never should have left New York.

Thaddeus and Pammy moved with me three times. We never managed to move into a haunted house.

Thaddeus and Pammy moved with me three times. We never managed to move into a haunted house.

Mixtape:

1. Life Fades Away – Roy Orbison
2. The Suburbs – Arcade Fire
3. Thea – Goldfrapp
4. The Clerkwell House of Detention – Gallon Drunk
5. Blade in the Black – UNKLE
6. Dead Sound – The Raveonettes
7. Funeral for a Great Drunken Bird – All Them Witches
8. Too Young to Love – The Big Pink
9. TV Set – Spoon
10. I Think I’m Paranoid – Garbage
11. Evidence – Faith No More
12. Home – Hanni El Khatib
13. Lost in the Supermarket – The Clash
14. A Perfect Place – The Raveonettes

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Oh, the old “shove them in a ravine.” If ladies really want to kill someone, Deadly Women has taught us that they use poison.

64. The Overnight – R.L. Stine

OMG Suki Thomas is such a skank! Like, how many dudes at Shadyside High has she gone out with? Did you hear that she’s fast? Her clearly terrible hookeryness has to be the reason why Della ends up killing a man. Damnit, Gary, why couldn’t you just stay a couple? Why did you have to move on so quickly? Why? Della didn’t even have time to listen to side one of her Pretty on the Inside tape before you were with Suki.

I know that whenever my relationships have ended, I’ve been able to reignite them by joining an outdoors club with my ex and his new girl, wandering off into the wilderness once I get pissed off at their canoodling, and killing some random dude. It’s very endearing, not at all insane. A stress reliever, really. In other news, this is the third Fear Street book and it takes place mostly on an island.

Mixtape 5:

1. So Hard – The Panderers

2. Wall of Death (cover) – Dax Riggs

3. Crab – Weezer

4. The Sweater – Meryn Cadell

5. Tonight – Basement Jaxx feat. Phoebe

6. I’m On Fire – Dwight Twilley Band

7. Sing – Blur

8. When the Lights Go Out/We Own the Night – UNKLE

9. Down in the Park (cover) – Foo Fighters

10. Teenage Disease – Black Rebel Motorcycle Club

11. Mediocrity Rules – Le Tigre

12. Perhaps Vampires Is a Bit Strong But… – Arctic Monkeys

13. Tropical Pets – The Diableros

14. It’s Not Right – The Creeps

15. You Really Wake Up the Love in Me – The Duke Spirit

16. Howlin’ for You – The Black Keys

17. Like Calling Up Thunder – The Gun Club

18. Chaw – Spirit Caravan

It’s just funny to me that several of the early Fear Street books only have tenuous ties to the street. When did R.L. Stine decide that he should figure out its history and start cultivating some weird evil and misspellings?

Mortemer’s leaving. He doesn’t like gossip and he’s not going camping with you. Not now, not ever. No matter how many people you kill.

 

 

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You don’t want to go down that run. That run’s got a history.

28. Ski Weekend – R.L. Stine

Icy roads, teenagers, and stranger danger all come to play in this tale from Fear Street. Well, it’s labeled as Fear Street, but it’s quite a stretch to consider an out of the way ski resort and creepy middle of nowhere cabin to be part of Shadyside, it would almost be nice to start the story via a meeting of Fear Street’s version of the Midnight Society – flashlights up! Anyhow, there is some decent tension in the story once the teenagers run off the icy road and end up shacking up with some weirdos in their hilltop lodge. As much as I like a good supernatural twist, sometimes in R.L. Stine books those seem like a total reach and it works better to stick to just people. I am a little pissed that there was virtually no skiing in the book though. I blow at skiing, but I do enjoy a good 80s ski movie parody and I wish someone would have foreshadowed at them about how they’re “gonna have a bad time.”

Mixtape 3:

1. Montage – Team America

2. Acceptable in the 80s – Calvin Harris

3. Five Seconds – Peeping Tom

4. Temple Music – The Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster

5. Cold War – Death from Above 1979

6. Let the Poison Spill from Your Throat – The Faint

7. Wannabe in LA – Eagles of Death Metal

8. Handsome Devil – The Smiths

9. Den Frusna Munnen – Finntroll

10. Laboramus – The Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster

11. Weapon of Choice – Black Rebel Motorcycle Club

12. Romantic Rights – Death from Above 1979

13. Running Fire – The Duke Spirit

14. Leaves – Bass Drum of Death

15. Twisted Nerve – The Damned

16. The First Vietnamese War – The Black Angels

17. Alaska Highway – Dan Bern

Asspen is frankly one of the greatest South Park episodes of all time. Of all time.

Pickles knows that hibernating in a down quilt is the best possible way to get through winter.

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Twist ending, shmist ending

39. Twisted – R. L. Stine

For the most part, I have been enjoying acquiring and re-reading the work of luminaries of the 1980s and 1990s YA pulp-paperback-size book boom. It’s been fun finding the patterns that R. L. Stine, Caroline B. Cooney, and Richie Tankersley Cusick (especially these three, oh, the 90s) use and reliving some of my own middle school patterns of devouring stories rather than really engaging with them. As I may have mentioned previously, I spent a long period reading practically nothing but literary fiction. When I started working at a public library, I was reminded that I enjoy genre fiction and that I had a shitload of reading options and I’ve gone back to the devouring pattern – although the two books I’m reading right now necessitate some concentration. Spooky. Anyway, Twisted was my first hop back into the “Really? This is all there is to this story?” feeling. Some stuff happens that’s vaguely interesting, but I called the twist on the first page. And I can be kind of an oblivious reader because of the devouring pattern, so I am always surprised when I get the twist…especially on the first damn page. Bummer.

Oh, and speaking of pulp-paperback-sized book booms, guess what? Point Horror is back! With Defriended, ooh, ominous and timely… If Scholastic and I were friends, surely they would hire me to write some of these and I would kick ass at it and be so, so terribly committed. The random horror story is practically my reason for living. And I’ve managed to lampoon or honor nearly everything I like about random horror in the two books I have available from the Night of the Squirrels trilogy – Dawn of the Interns and Day of the Robots (the last in the trilogy will take care of the rest).

Soon, a picture of Pammy riding a mammoth will appear on Etsy. Soon.

“Is the call coming from inside the house?” – Pammy, inquisitive, sort of bearded.
“It always is if the writer’s phoning it in.” – Twiglet, hiding her face because I assigned her this technically sad-joke dialogue.

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