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Hi, everyone! Welcome to Oh God Why?! Nostalgia Reviews! I’m your snarky recapper/reviewer, JC. I grew up on all things horror, thriller, chiller, suspense, and all combinations thereof – a healthy dose of 1990’s teen thriller novels and all manner of scary movies, but now I’m wondering: Are they as good as I remember them being? (Spoiler alert – no. No, they are not.) So join me as I recap and review the teen chillers and horror movies of my youth, and laugh along with me as I lament what bad taste 12-year-old me had.

The handy helpful Master Recap List  is posted here, containing current and future recaps.

Thanks for visiting, and if you enjoy these recaps, tell a friend, like, share, and comment.

Upcoming recaps:

Twin Terror by Janice Harrell

Whisper of Death by Christopher Pike

Stage Fright: Leo (Zodiac #1) by Jahnna N. Malcolm

Full Moon Blowout Werewolf Media Recap

 

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Birthday Recap – Leo: Stage Fright (Zodiac #1) by Jahnna N. Malcolm (Recap #26)

leostagefright

Title: Leo: Stage Fright (Zodiac #1)

Author: Jahnna N. Malcolm (Actually wife/husband team Jahnna Beecham and Malcolm Hillgartner – Jahnna ‘n Malcolm, get it?)

Published: July 1995

Tagline: The stage is set for danger

Description: Break a leg, Lydia.

First she falls into the open trapdoor on the night of her high school play’s cast party. Then she finds a creepy, voodoo-like doll in her locker. And then a car tries to run her down in the park. It looks as if someone wants seventeen-year-old Lydia out of the picture, but who? Sure, Lydia loves the spotlight, but that’s what Leos live for.

When auditions for the production of Evita get under way, Lydia’s usual confidence is gone – her best friend isn’t speaking to her, another friend accuses her of being jealous of the new girl in town, and her audition is sabotaged. Lydia knows that someone is out to get her, but by the time she discovers who it is, it may be too late.

Nostalgia Time!


I’ve actually got nothing for this. I know I read this book as a teenager, but other than one tiny little nothing scene, I didn’t remember a single thing about it. It didn’t even come back to me as I reread it, which is kind of unusual. This book is pretty unremarkable, though, so it’s not too hard to see why I didn’t remember it. Also, I’m a little confused as to why this series starts with Leo. I can’t find a single instance of Leo being listed first in any zodiac chart. I mean, I’m cool with it, it’s just confusing.

I wanted to do this recap for my birthday, since I am also a Leo. (August 13th, yo!) I am nothing like our protagonist, Lydia, however. I considered taking a shot every time she mentioned being a Leo, but a couple chapters in I realized I would have died of alcohol poisoning long before the end of the book, so I (reluctantly) scrapped that idea.

One last thing – the female half of this writing duo was born right here in my hometown of Wichita, Kansas, so that’s kind of cool. You know, even though I’m not really a fan, I’ve still gotta shout out my famous (???) Wichita peeps.

Continue reading “Birthday Recap – Leo: Stage Fright (Zodiac #1) by Jahnna N. Malcolm (Recap #26)”

Recap #25 – Twin Terror by Janice Harrell

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Title: Twin Terror

Author: Janice Harrell

Published: 1996

Tagline: Murder . . . times two

Description: If at first you don’t succeed . . .

An urn of ashes labeled “Isabel Herrick” sat in a closet upstairs, and a police report on my twin’s murder had been filed at the beach town of Duck Cove. In spite of that, I found Isabel waiting for me when I went to the house.

Elizabeth can’t believe it when her murdered twin sister turns up alive and well. Isabel has just been hiding, hoping that Elizabeth’s presence will flush out the mysterious person who’d tried to kill her.

But now Isabel really is dead – and the police think Elizabeth is the killer. Trapped in a terrifying world where nothing is what it seems, Elizabeth struggles to solve her twin’s murder and save herself in this page-turning thriller.

Nostalgia Time!


Well, we finally made it, folks. The exciting conclusion to Twin Sisters, that I’ve waited over twenty years to read. (Seriously, if you haven’t read the recap of Twin Sisters, please do so now. This book is incomprehensible without knowing what happens in the first part, and I’m not going to waste time recapping my previous recap.)

So. This book was a thing. A frustrating letdown of a thing. Since I’d never read it before, the only nostalgia story I have is what I wrote in my Twin Sisters recap, but I was hoping it would be at least as good as the first book. It was not. It has this weird feeling of being both too rushed, and somehow also very padded out. These two books could have easily been one slightly longer book if the pacing had been a bit more evened out. I’m disappointed that Ms. Harrell is back to shitty Murder Game form for the conclusion of this story.

Oh, and just for shits and giggles, here’s the book I actually own, rather than the pristine cover up there:

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12/10 would also black out Liz’s teeth in person

Continue reading “Recap #25 – Twin Terror by Janice Harrell”

Recap #24 – Twin Sisters by Janice Harrell

twinsisters

Title: Twin Sisters

Author: Janice Harrell

Published: 1995

Tagline: No one can tell them apart . . . no one

Description: And then there was one . . .

I took over my sister’s life after she died, slipped into her place without missing a beat. I wore her favorite fuzzy sweater, kissed her boyfriend, inherited her friends . . . and her enemies.

Elizabeth and Isabel hadn’t seen each other since their parents divorced when they were three. Isabel stayed with her father, a brilliant and reclusive author. Elizabeth ended up with her mother, a jet-setting socialite who hopscotched her young daughter all over the world. Then Isabel is murdered – and her twin wants to find out why. Because she was out of town when it happened, Isabel’s friends don’t know she’s gone. And if Elizabeth has her way, they’ll never find out. Only Elizabeth will know – and the killer.

Nostalgia Time!


So, I must have been around 14 when I read this for the first time. I don’t know why I trusted Janice Harrell after reading her beyond-awful The Murder Game, but I did, and this one is actually pretty good. Completely contrived, but at least it’s entertaining and I don’t immediately recall anything that makes me want to kill it with fire. So, this is the first of two books (I’m loathe to use the term “duology” for reasons I can’t quite explain), and after I read this one (which ends with a cliffhanger – nothing is resolved at all), I immediately went back to the bookstore to try to find the second book. They didn’t have it, or it wasn’t out yet. Okay. Cool. I waited a while, looked again, no second book. For a while I checked back with the bookstores regularly, no joy. The time between checking the stores got longer and longer, until it no longer occupied my thoughts. At some point I figured maybe Ms. Harrell hadn’t written a second book, and I was doomed to never know how the saga of Iz and Liz ended. Then I discovered the second book did in fact exist, but I still couldn’t find it anywhere.

As I write this, I still have not read the second book, Twin Terror.

But! Thanks to modern times, I found it online and bought it. It sits two feet away from me as I type these words. I still have not read it. I don’t plan to read it until I finish the recap of this first book, Twin Sisters. See, I want to be able to speculate about who the killer is and what the fuck is going on during this recap, and I won’t be able to do that organically if I read the second book and know all those spoilers before finishing this recap. Does . . . does that make me a method recapper? Ah, well. Let’s do this thing, because I’ve been waiting over twenty damn years to find out how this ends!

Continue reading “Recap #24 – Twin Sisters by Janice Harrell”

Recap #23 – Wait Till Helen Comes by Mary Downing Hahn

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Title: Wait Till Helen Comes

Author: Mary Downing Hahn

Published: Nov. 1987

Description: Beware of Helen . . .

Heather is such a whiny little brat. Always getting Michael and me into trouble. But since our mother married her father, we’re stuck with her . . . our “poor stepsister” who lost her real mother in a mysterious fire.

But now something terrible has happened. Heather has found a new friend, out in the graveyard behind our home – a girl named Helen who died with her family in a mysterious fire over a hundred years ago. Now her ghost returns to lure children into the pond . . . to drown! I don’t want to believe in ghosts, but I’ve followed Heather into the graveyard and watched her talk to Helen. And I’m terrified. Not for myself, but for Heather . . .

Nostalgia Time!


This is one of my favorite books from childhood. I remember reading it when I was about eight years old and loving it. I think I owned it but lost it over the years, so when I was a young teen I decided I wanted it back, but none of the local bookstores had it in stock. I had the Walden Books in the mall special order it for me, because Amazon wasn’t a thing yet. I remember being slightly embarrassed as a teenager ordering what is essentially a children’s book, but I was so happy when it came in, and upon rereading it, it was as good as I’d remembered from when I was eight. On this reread . . . guys, it’s still good!

There’s a movie version that came out in late 2016/early 2017 starring Callum Keith Rennie (whom I adore) and Maria Bello as the parents, and I’m considering watching and recapping it as well. However, most of the reviews were lukewarm at best, and I guess it premiered on the Lifetime channel (with the title Little Girl’s Secret, which makes it sound like a whole other type of movie altogether), so I don’t have high hopes for it. It might make for a snarkier recap, though. If I can find it as a rental I have more than 24 hours with, it may end up as a companion piece to this.

Finally, I just need to talk about this cover for a second. I love it! Helen looks creepy as hell; if she or Heather have any peripheral vision at all, then they already know Molly is spying on them, and can we talk about Heather’s fabulous mullet? I. Love. It. This is the perfect 1980s cover, guys! (But also, it’s summertime, so why is everyone wearing sweatshirts . . . ?) Boyfriend saw the cover and called it the most eighties thing he’s ever seen (not wrong), and then when I told him what it’s about, he was like, Damn, that’s pretty heavy for a kids’ book. (Again, not wrong.)

Continue reading “Recap #23 – Wait Till Helen Comes by Mary Downing Hahn”

Recap #22 – Hit and Run by R.L. Stine

hitandrun

Title: Hit and Run

Author: R.L. Stine

Published: June 1992

Tagline: Look before you cross . . . .

Description: License to drive. License to kill.

Eddie, Scott, Winks, and Cassie. They went out for a drive one night. Just to practice, so Eddie would be sure and get his license.

Then Eddie had a little accident. Now four friends share a terrible secret.

Because Eddie hit someone and killed him.

Didn’t he?

Nostalgia Time!


This came out a couple months before my 11th birthday, and I’m pretty sure I remember reading it around that time, but I had only the vaguest recollection of the book itself. It started coming back to me as I read it, but I think I would have figured this one out pretty quick even if it hadn’t. It wasn’t hard, especially taking into account the fact that R.L. Stine was almost vehemently opposed to anything supernatural going on in his Point Horror novels. Rule of thumb? If it appears to be zombies, it’s really just an elaborate prank set up by your shitty friends. (Spoilers.) Which is why I thought this recap would be perfect for April Fool’s Day. I considered doing Richie Tankersley Cusick’s April Fools, but I couldn’t handle another RTC so soon after recapping The Lifeguard. I’m still scarred by that one, guys.

So, apparently the copy of this book I bought at a used book sale a few months ago belonged to Thelma. I hope Thelma enjoyed it more than I did.

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You go, Thelma

 

Continue reading “Recap #22 – Hit and Run by R.L. Stine”

Recap #21 – Full Moon Blowout: The Cat-Dogs by Susan Price

cat-dogs

Title: The Cat-Dogs

Author: Susan Price

Collection: The Cat-Dogs and Other Tales of Horror

Editor: A. Finnis

Published: August 1995

Description: What are they? They’re not exactly dogs. They’re not really cats. They have teeth like a dog’s and claws like a cat’s. They’re the perfect combination of two of our best-loved pets. There’s only one problem: Cat-dogs love to hunt. Humans.

[And now I have the Misfits’ “Hunting Humans” stuck in my head. Thanks a lot, whoever wrote that description.]

Nostalgia Time!


Okay, so this full moon we’re not getting werewolves – we’re getting cat-dogs. I ran out of time to recap anything but a short story, and I didn’t have an actual werewolf story immediately at hand. Next month we’ll go back to the regular format, but for now, the concept of cat-dogs intrigues me. They sound absolutely beautiful, but I’m getting ahead of myself. And just to get things out of the way, no, the cat-dogs are not this:

CatDog
Although they’re obviously an unstoppable killing machine

I must have read this once or twice back when it first came out – I have the copy I bought back in the day, and it’s in near-perfect condition. I don’t remember the specifics of the story, but I always remembered what the cat-dogs looked like, except I remembered them being bigger. Oh, well. And just so you know, the cover art isn’t exactly how they’re described, and not exactly how I pictured them in my head. Okay. Onward!

Continue reading “Recap #21 – Full Moon Blowout: The Cat-Dogs by Susan Price”

Recap #20 – Spring Break by Barbara Steiner

springbreakBS

Title: Spring Break

Author: Barbara Steiner

Published: 1996

Tagline: Sun, surf . . . murder?

Description: Five high school kids get their dream vacation—which soon turns into a nightmare.

Angie, her brother, and her three best friends anticipate the perfect spring break when their prayers are answered—a beach vacation without parents! The only problem is finding somewhere to stay—turns out every hotel is filled with other spring breakers. They luck out when they find a three-story beach-house rental, which happens to be run by the incredibly handsome Val. Is it too good to be true?

Soon, Angie starts hearing strange noises—footsteps, a mysterious sound of crying. Her friends say her imagination is getting the best of her, but when one by one, they go missing, she knows the danger is real . . . and this vacation could be her last.

Nostalgia Time!


Um, I got nothing, guys. I would have been about 15 when this book was published, and it’s certainly the sort of thing I would have read, but even after reading it for this recap I have no idea if I’ve ever read it before. (I bought it cheap on Kindle; it didn’t come out of my basement box of old books.) This book is so forgettable that it’s absolutely possible I read it back in the day and don’t remember it. Hell, I’m looking at the surfboard on that cover and desperately trying to remember if anyone surfs in this book. Incidentally, that’s not the cover art that came with my Kindle version. The Kindle art is boring as fuck; there’s another cover that is basically one big spoiler for what happens at the end of the book; then there’s this cover that I feel is the best one. I just can’t fucking remember if anyone surfs, so I can’t call out if this cover is a lie. [Note from Future Me: It’s a lie. Nary a surfboard to be found.] The description is a lie, though! Val is not the caretaker or landlord or whatever that description is trying to make you believe. He’s a cute guy Angie meets on the beach, who’s camping somewhere down the coast. Who writes these lying descriptions, anyway? I won’t lie to you, y’all!

Continue reading “Recap #20 – Spring Break by Barbara Steiner”

Recap #19 – The Lifeguard by Richie Tankersley Cusick

lifeguard

Title: The Lifeguard

Author: Richie Tankersley Cusick

Published: 1988

Tagline: Don’t call for help. He may just kill you.

Description: A summer of sun, sand – and murder. Kelsey’s summer should have been paradise: An invitation to rich and famous Beverly Island, complete with sun-drenched beaches and three gorgeous lifeguards on duty.

But Kelsey’s summer is the opposite of paradise. It starts with the note under her pillow from a girl who’s missing. Then there’s the crazy man in the lighthouse who won’t leave Kelsey alone. And there have been a number of suspicious drownings . . .

At least she has the lifeguards around to protect her . . .

Poor Kelsey. Someone forgot to tell her that lifeguards don’t always like to save lives.

Nostalgia Time!


Well here we finally have it, folks – a book I have actual nostalgia about on my nostalgia recap site! This is the one that kicked it all off for me, but before we get to that, can we talk about this cover for a hot minute? The lifeguard on the cover looks about thirty-five; is he supposed to be one of the boys in the book? He looks like Harry Hamlin. What the fuck.

Okay, so I’m pretty well convinced that this is the first Point Horror I ever read, at the tender age of 8 or 9 years old. I had a friend at the time who lived across the street and was three years older than me, so she had all the creepy books. I borrowed this from her and read a good portion of it before she knocked on my door and told me her mom was making her get it back from me because she thought I was too young to be reading it. Baby Me was frantic – I had to find out who the killer was! This was not fair! So I did something I haven’t done since – I flipped to the back of the book and read the end so I would know who the bad guy was. The shame still burns bright. Also, it didn’t make a lot of sense without reading all the chapters that came before the end. So, some number of years later (I’ll be damned if I can remember how many), I got hold of The Lifeguard again and read the whole thing, without any nosy friends’ moms telling me I couldn’t! Ha! I have great affection for this book, so I was thrilled to read a recap of it at The Devil’s Elbow recap site, and then listen to a Teen Creeps podcast episode on it. None of these ladies seem to have the same affection for it that I do, however, which was quite an affront to my inner 8-year-old self. (Don’t worry, I’ve gotten over it. We’re all friends here.) Clearly nostalgia is a key factor in enjoying this one. As of this very second of me typing these words you’re reading with your very own eyes, I’m exactly halfway through rereading the book, and . . . yeah, not gonna lie, it’s kinda rough. I’m sure 8-year-old me would be punching 36-year-old me in the face right now, but . . . this book is not the fine piece of literature it was in my memory. Ah, well. Onward and upward, right? (Note from Future Me: Nope. There’s nowhere to go but down, straight into the deepest reaches of Hell. Pray for me.)

Continue reading “Recap #19 – The Lifeguard by Richie Tankersley Cusick”

Recap #18 – My Bloody Valentine by Jo Gibson

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Title: My Bloody Valentine

Author: Jo Gibson (Joanne Fluke)

Published: Feb. 1995

Description: Be mine . . . and die. It’s Valentine’s Day at Hamilton High. [Pretty sure it’s Valentine’s Day everywhere, but okay.] Everyone’s excited about this year’s big dance, especially the six girls competing to be Queen of Hearts.

One student at Hamilton High is paying extra close attention to the contest. Because it takes a very special girl to be queen . . . and if her heart isn’t pure and good, she doesn’t deserve to win.

In fact, she doesn’t deserve to live.

Poor Amy Hunter. Five girls down . . . one to go.

Nostalgia Time!


Well, guys, once again we have a book that I didn’t remember at all. Like, nothing sparked a memory, except when a certain character showed up I was like – it’s him! He’s the killer! And he was. (Saying “he” isn’t a spoiler – we get killer POV scenes that flat-out state the killer is male.) So, I would have been about 13 and a half when this book was released, chances are I bought it around that time. Probably only read it once since it’s pretty unremarkable and I obviously remembered nothing except who the killer was. This is the same author who wrote Slay Bells, which was one of the most fun recaps I’ve ever written, so I was hoping for something similarly over-the-top bonkers, and . . . I was pretty disappointed. This book was released a couple months after Slay Bells, and it’s like Gibson kept the template from that one to write this one (the similarities are ridiculous), but forgot how to make it fun. Which is sad for me, but hopefully not for y’all. My recap will probably make the book sound more fun than it is. Don’t be fooled though. This book is solidly “meh.”

Also, it has nothing to do with the slasher film of the same name. Just throwing that out there so there’s no confusion.

Continue reading “Recap #18 – My Bloody Valentine by Jo Gibson”

Recap #17 – Broken Hearts by R.L. Stine

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Title: Broken Hearts

Author: R.L. Stine

Published: Feb. 1993

Tagline: Valentine’s Day can be a killer

Description: Roses are red, corpses are blue. On Valentine’s Day, you’ll die too!

There’s someone out there, someone who kills on Valentine’s Day. Josie and Melissa are scared—especially when they receive threatening valentines. Then the murders begin. Who is sending these horrible valentines to the girls of Shadyside High? And who will be the next to die?

Nostalgia Time!


I wanted to recap Valentine’s books for February, and I caught this one for sale cheap on Kindle, so I thought to myself, perfect! The cover and description were familiar, so I knew I’d read it back in the day (I was eleven when it was published, so probably sometime around then), but I couldn’t for the life of me remember anything about this book . . . until I read the first couple of pages. Then it all came flooding back and I remembered who the killer was and why, although there was one surprise that I didn’t remember at all. Having said that, it’s never a good sign when I’m three pages into a book and suddenly remember, Oh, yeah, this book sucks. I’m pretty sure I thought it sucked the first time I read it, although I have no memory of the first time I read it. Hey, one of these days, this section might actually contain fond memories of actually reading the damn book I’m recapping on my nostalgia recap site, right?

Continue reading “Recap #17 – Broken Hearts by R.L. Stine”