Recap #67 – The Cheerleader by Caroline B. Cooney

cheerleader

Title: The Cheerleader (Vampire’s Promise trilogy, Book 1)

Author: Caroline B. Cooney

Published: June 1991

Tagline: She would do anything to be popular.

Description: She wants it all. But he wants more.

The cheerleader. The beautiful, popular girl who sparkles with energy and excitement. The girl everyone looks at with envy. The girl Althea longs to be.

Althea is a nobody. Invisible. She gets no phone calls, shares no laughter, has no friends.

Until she meets him.

“Suppose,” he says with an evil smile, “that I could make you popular.” All Althea has to do is agree to a simple bargain. An evil bargain. And she becomes a cheerleader.

But Althea wants more.

And she’ll do whatever she has to do to get it.

Nostalgia Time!


Boy, you wouldn’t think a book called “The Cheerleader” would turn out to be about a vampire, would you? Or, a . . . wishpire? Djinnpire? Vamdjinn? Vajinn? . . . Vagina? . . . I’ll stop now. It’s a goddamn vampire who grants wishes, okay?

This book would have come out around the time I was turning 10, but I’m pretty sure I read the second one in the trilogy first. So I was probably 11 or 12 when I read this series. I used to love this trilogy, and wish for my own wishpire to grant me friends and popularity (and when we get to the second book, add “beauty, brains, and athleticism” to the list). Look, I was a sad kid, okay? Fifth grade was awful, the beginning of sixth was going okay until some girl who hated me started turning my new best friend against me, then we moved from California back to Kansas and I basically just stopped going to school; fell into the throes of debilitating social anxiety and depression . . . it was a dark time in my life, especially from ages 11-14ish. That’s one of the reasons these old books meant so much to me – they were my escape.

As a kid, I read this and wanted some magical being to come fix my life, too. I probably would have done some morally shady shit to be liked, just like the girl in this book. I’ve mostly moved on from that mindset, but that sad, angry tween is still floating around somewhere in the back of my head, popping up every now and then to be angry and sad at me. I remember the wish-fulfillment present in reading this as that kid, but I no longer feel it present in reading this as an adult.

Also, a note on Cooney – her writing style is one of the more challenging ones to get through among the Point Horror authors. Not because it’s an advanced writing style or anything, but because it’s so dreamy-feeling. Some people have described it as “whimsical,” but I describe it as “gauzy.” It’s like reading everything through a warm haze. Like gauzy curtains blowing around you on a hot summer day. This can be either comforting or cloying, depending on your mood, and the particular story. I don’t think this is a thing I noticed as a kid, but as an adult it slaps you in the face. Gauzy curtains whipping around in the hot wind, slapping the living shit out of your grown-ass face.

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15 Favorite Tales From the Crypt episodes: A Primer

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Tell me you don’t read that title in the Cryptkeeper’s voice

Tales From the Crypt was a half-hour anthology horror show that ran seven seasons, from 1989 to 1996. It featured stories adapted from the EC comics of the 1950s, and was like a gorier, more horror-oriented take on The Twilight Zone. Most episodes ended with a twist and/or the villain of the story getting their appropriately ironic comeuppance. And, of course, the Cryptkeeper was there to guide us with his pun-filled intro and outro to each episode.

I started watching Tales as a young teenager, when NBC would show two episodes late Saturday nights, right after SNL. Still later, the Sci-Fi (now, annoyingly, Syfy) Channel used to have marathons I would watch, and even later than that, I had Netflix send me the entire series, three DVDs at a time (look, I’m old, okay?) to make sure I hadn’t missed a single episode. Now, of course, you only have to search YouTube to find most (all?) episodes for free.

Discovering Tales From the Crypt was very exciting for Tween/Teen Me; I cut my baby horror teeth on it. It helped develop my tastes in horror, giving me stories to explore and discover which themes worked for me and which didn’t. But even the “bad” episodes are still Tales From the fuckin’ Crypt, and I’ll still watch them any day of the week.

So, this list is more a list of personal favorites and episodes I feel added something to the series than a list of the “best” episodes of the series. Many of these are among the top-rated of the series; some aren’t; and many of the highest-rated episodes of all time aren’t included here at all. Everyone has a different opinion; it’s all about what hits you in a certain place at a certain time. All of these episodes hit me just the right way at some point in time.

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Recap #66 – Cutting Class (1989)

cuttingclass

Title: Cutting Class

Director:  Rospo Pallenberg

Released: July 17, 1989

Description: After spending time at a mental institution, troubled student Brian Woods (Donovan Leitch) returns to class following his father’s death, amid a swirl of rumors about his emotional state. Brian competes for the affections of Paula Carson (Jill Schoelen) with her boyfriend — the school’s resident rebel, Dwight Ingalls (Brad Pitt). When students begin disappearing at an alarming rate, Brian is the obvious suspect, but the real threat may be coming from an unexpected source.

Notes: Although this movie was released in 1989, it was filmed in 1987 and sat on a shelf for two years. I may swing between referring to this as an ’89 and ’87 movie in this recap. *shrug* [bat: Some things that get stuck on a shelf age well, like Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, some… do not…]

Nostalgia Time!


So, I’d never actually seen this one until recently. I remember when I was maybe 13-14ish, and being in some big box store (it was possibly Kmart) with my cousin, and we spotted this VHS on a rack somewhere in the store. My cousin picked it up and begged her mom to buy it for her, on account of it starring a very young Brad Pitt in one of his first movie roles. Her mom (my aunt) looked at it and was like, Yeah right, I’m not buying this shit for you.

Cousin was bummed, but looking back it was probably the right call. This movie is . . . well, it has a 25% on Rotten Tomatoes. I can’t find a single in-depth review that makes it sound worth watching. Which I actually find odd, because I don’t think it’s as unwatchable as people make it out to be. Oh, it’s not good. I’m definitely not saying it’s good. But in my eyes it has enough going for it to land it in “entertainingly bad” territory, rather than “unwatchably bad” territory.

And yes, part of what it has going for it in my eyes is Roddy McDowall. Fuck it, I’m leaning into this now. I joked a few recaps back that Roddy was quickly going to be in the running for the title of most recapped actor on this site, and now I’m apparently endeavoring to make that a reality. I could recap Planet of the Apes, but no, here I am with this dumpster fire instead. I’m not sure what’s wrong with me, but I hope whatever it is is at least entertaining for y’all.

As a special treat (although that’s a dubious term considering how bad this movie is), I’ve invited a new recapping friend, bat, to comment on this recap. Hey, she made invited me to comment on My Demon Lover, and that movie was sincerely painful to watch! bat?

[bat: HEEEEYYYYYY, JC! Yeah, I was invited to this through a message that included the terms “horror/comedy” and “young Brad Pitt” so of course I said sign me up. I am that person who tracked down 1991’s godawful Johnny Suede and watched the whole worthless film yet all I can remember is the leg shaving scene. Basically, it’s a part-time hobby, watching horror-comedy films and/or the original My Little Pony ‘N Friends cartoon and recapping them. I am full of snark and sarcasm. Also, I adore Roddy McDowall in The Planet of the Apes! I even have the Funko Pop of Cornelius!] [JC: I bet that’s adorable as fuck! I don’t think I’ve seen it locally or I’m sure I would have snapped it up!]

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Recap #65 – Zodiac Chillers #4: Twisted Taurus by Ellen Steiber

twistedtaurus

Title: Twisted Taurus

Series: Zodiac Chillers

Author: Ellen Steiber

Published: Oct. 1995

Tagline: She gets what she wants – always!

Description: Micaela wants Darci – and her brother . . .

Darci is the new girl. Dying to get a new life. Fast. Enter Micaela, the ultimate Taurus. So loyal, so devoted – her friendship grows into a poisonous obsession. Darci’s dates are ruined. Her brother is seduced. For Micaela was out to possess him from the very start . . . .

Nostalgia Time!


Okay, nope, I was not aware of this series when it was first published. I was clearly aware of the Jahnna N. Malcolm Zodiac series, because I owned the Leo entry, but I’ve never read any from the Zodiac Chillers series. This series only lasted eight books, and one of them is titled “The Thirteenth Sign,” so that means there are only seven books related to the commonly-known zodiac signs. Also, they’re all out of order, and weren’t published anywhere near their corresponding sign. This one, Taurus (April 21 – May 21), was published in October, for fuck sake. That should be either Libra or Scorpio.

I don’t know why this bothers me so much, but it does.

Anyway, this one seems to be the easiest to get hold of – it’s the one I’ve heard podcasters talk about, and it’s the only one I’ve seen in any of my local used bookstores. A few of them are available online for more than I’m currently willing to pay (meaning over $20 – not too outlandish, but still more than I’m willing to pay for books that I’m not attached to that retailed for $3.99 originally), and a few are available for more reasonable prices. Still others are out of stock and unavailable every time I check.

So. Let’s see what we’re getting ourselves into, shall we?

Continue reading “Recap #65 – Zodiac Chillers #4: Twisted Taurus by Ellen Steiber”

Recap #64 – Murder, She Wrote ep. 5.13 Fire Burn, Cauldron Bubble

msw513
Behold the witchy pentagram of witchiness

Title: Murder, She Wrote episode 5.13 “Fire Burn, Cauldron Bubble”

Director:  John Llewellyn Moxey

Writer: Tom Sawyer [lol]

Original Airdate: Feb. 19, 1989 [Wait, this wasn’t a Halloween episode? I am confuse.]

Description: Jessica is suspicious when the appearance of the ghost of a long-dead witch burned at the stake coincides with the release of a book on the very subject.

Guest Stars: Brad Dourif, Roddy McDowall, Bill Maher, Dee Wallace Stone, Christopher Stone

Nostalgia Time!


No, seriously, this wasn’t a Halloween episode? How is that even possible? This was closer to Valentine’s Day?! Whut?

Sorry.

So, this is one of the murder mystery/detective shows I used to watch with my mom all the time starting when I was probably around 8 years old or so. I loved mysteries, and would always try to figure out whodunnit before the end of the episode. I was usually pretty good at it, too. I figured out early on that it was usually the person nobody is suspecting, too, even if that is a cliche.

I don’t remember watching this episode way back in the day, but I definitely sought it out many years ago after I became aware of Brad Dourif (who, thanks to seven Child’s Play movies, is shaping up to be the most-recapped actor on this site). I sought this episode out again more recently due to the presence of Roddy McDowall (who is very shortly going to be challenging Mr. Dourif for the title of Most-Recapped Actor on this site). Anyway, this episode is a ridiculous amount of fun and, well, ridiculousness.

I’m not sure why Murder, She Wrote is enjoying a renaissance among my age bracket and the one just below mine, but I’m happy it is. It makes me feel like less of a dud for enjoying it.

Continue reading “Recap #64 – Murder, She Wrote ep. 5.13 Fire Burn, Cauldron Bubble”

Recap #62 – Girl Talk #2: Face-Off! by L.E. Blair

girltalk2

Title: Face-Off!

Series: Girl Talk

Author: L.E. Blair

Published: 1990

Tagline: Can Katie beat Scottie at his own game?

Description: Will Katie make the boys’ ice hockey team?

When conservative Katie Campbell decides to quit the flag squad and try out for the boys’ ice hockey team, everyone is shocked! Katie’s friends, Sabrina, Randy, and Allison, tell her to go for it. But Katie’s mother and her sister, Emily, totally disapprove. Plus, Stacy the Great, head of the in-group, and Scottie Silver, the gorgeous captain of the hockey team, are giving Katie a very hard time.

But there’s no stopping Katie – except for the fact that she kind of has a crush on Scottie . . .

Nostalgia Time!


I never read this one as a kid. I started with the one after this one, where Allison briefly becomes a model. Actually, that’s the only one I remember reading, and the only one I have real nostalgia over.

The first book in the series, Welcome to Junior High, did a good job introducing us to the characters. That book was from Sabrina’s point of view; this one is Katie. It’s a little strange being in Katie’s head after previously only seeing her through Sabrina’s eyes, and vice versa. But that’s how a lot of these series worked.

I found myself not liking this one as much as the first book, even though I like Katie quite a bit. This book has some substantial pacing problems, but there are things to like about it.

Also, as soon as I see the name Scottie, all I can hear is this:

 

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Recap #61 – Fright Night Part 2 (1988)

frightnightpart2

Title: Fright Night Part 2

Director: Tommy Lee Wallace

Released: May 19, 1989 (US)

Description: Three years after the vampire was destroyed in Fright Night, his sister – in the guise of a mysterious performer – seeks revenge on the heroic duo who carried out the staking.

 

 

Nostalgia Time!


First of all, that description up there doesn’t do this movie the justice it deserves, but it was the best one I could find online. This is a pretty solid horror movie sequel that nobody seems to know about, and I’ll hit some of the reasons for that at the end of this recap.

While I don’t have the same attachment to this one as I do the original Fright Night, I’ve seen it a few times and really enjoy it. In this one, they flip it from Charley screeching about vampires and having no chill, to Peter Vincent being convinced there are vampires and Charley no longer believing. There are some new elements added to the mix, while still keeping the Fright Night vibe going. I can’t say I love this one as much as the original, but it’s still a lot of fun.

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Recap #60 – April Fools by Richie Tankersley Cusick

aprilfools

Title: April Fools

Author: Richie Tankersley Cusick

Published: April 1990

Tagline: It’s no joke . . . it’s murder

Description: You can fool some of the people some of the time . . .

On the night of April 1st, Belinda, Frank, and Hildy are driving home from a party when they get involved in a gruesome car accident. The people in the other car never could have survived the wreck, so Frank insists they take off. After all, what happened wasn’t really their fault.

Two weeks later, Belinda is the only one who still feels guilty about the accident. Then the “pranks” begin. Someone sends her a bloody doll’s head. A car nearly runs her off the road.

Obviously someone witnessed . . . or survived that car accident. And they’re going to make her pay . . . slowly . . . for what happened.

April Fools’ Day is over. But these jokes are for real.

Nostalgia Time!


I’ve been a little hesitant to tackle RTC again, since her previous two books didn’t live up to my memory when I recapped them. I remember this one pretty well, helped along by several other recappers writing/podcasting about it. I remember Frank and Hildy being absolute assholes, but Belinda being a pretty good protagonist.

For some reason, I think I always found this book a little boring when I was younger, but I clearly read it multiple times – the spine on my old copy is pretty well-worn. And clearly my memory of Cusick’s books isn’t reliable, considering how much eight-or-nine-year-old me loved The Lifeguard. (I’m still cringing over that.)

Anyway, maybe third time’s the charm?

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Recap #59 – Identity Theft by Anna Davies

identitytheft

Title: Identity Theft

Author: Anna Davies

Published: May 2013

Tagline: ☠ HAYLEY has a friend request she can’t ignore

Description: Privacy settings can’t hide the skeletons in your closet.

Hayley doesn’t have a Facebook account. As a finalist for a prestigious college scholarship, she can’t afford to flood the Internet with photos of her making duck faces, or write probing, existential updates like “OMG, why is oatmeal so delicious?!” So when someone claiming to be Hayley posts incriminating shots of her online, she assumes it’s the product of clever (but seriously mean-spirited) photo editing.

But then even more scandalous pics appear, including one revealing a birthmark on Hayley’s back – something she’s never shown in public. There’s no plausible explanation, until a shocking discovery reveals dark secrets in her family’s past – skeletons that refuse to stay in the closet.

Suddenly, Hayley realizes it’s not just the scholarship that’s at stake, because her tormentor doesn’t just want to ruin Hayley’s life . . . she wants it for her own.

Nostalgia Time!


Okay, look. This is the second book in the Point Horror 2013 relaunch. I was in my 30s when this was published. There is no nostalgia at work here. So let’s talk about that description. The tagline has nothing to do with the story – Hayley doesn’t receive any friend requests, because she isn’t on social media. There’s no birthmark ever mentioned anywhere in the book. Also, if anyone has ever posted the status “OMG why is oatmeal so delicious?!” please direct me to them so I can dump the bowl of said oatmeal over their head, because that status is obnoxious as fuck. Also also, privacy settings absolutely can hide the skeletons in your closet – that’s what privacy settings are for.

At least this back-of-book description doesn’t give the whole story, twist and all, away like the description for the Kindle edition does.

So, you may be able to tell from my tone that I did not enjoy this book. Not to give all my thoughts away up front, but this is bad. Really, really bad. I mean, at first I was going along all right, rolling my eyes and groaning about how willfully unlikable the protagonist is, but nothing Earth-shatteringly terrible. Then we hit the third act, and my brain melts into a fiery hellscape. So, you’ve got that to look forward to, dear reader.

Because that’s what you really come here for, isn’t it. 🙂

Continue reading “Recap #59 – Identity Theft by Anna Davies”

Seed of Chucky (2004) (Recap #58)

Seed_of_chucky

Title: Seed of Chucky

Director/Writer: Don Mancini

Released: Nov. 12, 2004 (US release)

Tagline: Get a load of Chucky/Fear the second coming/Deliver us some evil (I could have sworn it was “The family that slays together stays together,” but apparently I’m imagining that.) [Dove: Nope. That’s the tagline I remember too.] [JC: Maybe it was in promotional stuff, but never made it to official tagline status, then?]

Description: Gentle Glen (Billy Boyd) is a ventriloquist’s dummy, the offspring of evil doll Chucky (Brad Dourif) and his doll bride (Jennifer Tilly), both of whom are now deceased. When the orphaned Glen hears that a film is being made about his parents, he goes to Hollywood and resurrects them in an attempt to get to know them better. He is horrified when Chucky and his lover embark on a new killing spree, and Chucky is equally horrified that his son has no taste for evil. 

Initial Thoughts


You know, before I rewatched this for this recap, I thought my biggest problem was going to be the fear of misgendering Glen/Glenda the doll. Then I rewatched it, and realized I was going to have to recap a scene with a turkey baster full of cum. We recappers lead charmed lives. [Dove: JC texted me that phrase about sixteen times during her recap session.]

So, this movie has a 4.8/10 on IMDb and a 33% on Rotten Tomatoes. Interestingly, Child’s Play 3 has a 5.1 on IMDb but a 29% Rotten Tomatoes. Which means that there are people who think this movie is better than Child’s Play 3. I don’t know how that’s possible, but there we have it. (Brad Dourif himself dislikes 3 the most, but now I’m wondering if that quote was from before this movie was made. Because holy shit, dude. Holy shit.) [Dove: Or possibly he was made aware of the tenuous connection I mentioned to the murder of James Bulger? I know it didn’t make major news in the US, but apparently Michael Jackson heard about it and contact the family, so perhaps Dourif was made aware as the lead in the movie in question? If so, that could explain how an average movie is more disliked than a genuinely terrible one.]

Okay, so I said in an earlier recap that I have some affection for this movie, which stems from it being the only Chucky movie I’ve ever seen on the big screen. I’m now thinking of the missed opportunity I had to see the original Child’s Play a few years ago, and getting more and more annoyed about it. Seed doesn’t deserve to have the distinction of being the only Chucky movie I’ve experienced in the movie theater! It’s not fair!

Let me explain. Several years ago, I was online dating. I started talking to a guy we’ll call Major Tom. Now, I liked to (and still do) ask people what their favorite bad movie is as a conversation starter. When I asked Major Tom this question, he hemmed and hawed a bit, at least as much as you can over email, then finally named Child’s Play. Okay, I thought that answer was a little strange since the general consensus on the first movie at least is that it’s pretty good. But whatever; we hadn’t even met yet, and I didn’t see the point in arguing. Cut to us deciding to meet, and trying to decide on an activity for our first meeting/date. It was October, which I basically treat as Halloween all month long, and the local second-run theater (that has since been torn down; there’s a Cracker Barrel there now) was showing Friday and Saturday late night showings of Child’s Play. Now, I would never normally suggest a movie as a first meeting, but this was fucking perfect! It’s Major Tom’s favorite “bad” movie; I would fucking love to get to see it on the big screen (since I was 7 when it was first released, that was never really an option before); let’s go! Right?

So, I text Major Tom and tell him, hey, you said you like Child’s Play, right? The Palace is showing it as their “midnight” movie (they would usually have a showing at 8 or 9 pm, then again at 10 or 11pm), what do you say we do that? And the text I got back was . . . weird. I don’t remember exactly what Major Tom said, but the impression was along the lines of “Um . . . okayyyyyyy . . . why are you suggesting this?” along with a strange emoticon I neither remember nor can describe. (Helpful, I know.) So, confused, I ask him what this reaction is all about, and he responds that, well, when I’d asked about bad movies, he’d thought that was a bad movie. Still confused, I replied that no, I’d asked what his favorite bad movie was and that was what he’d said. FAVORITE. Anyway, he started backpedaling and saying well, it had been a long time since he’d seen it, he didn’t remember it, and we could still go if I wanted to. But since watching something I love with someone who’s hating every minute of it is a thing that makes me horribly uncomfortable and miserable, I declined. We ended up eating sushi and playing pool instead. And then dating for three of the most miserable months of my life. But that trainwreck is another story.

Anyway, that’s how this trainwreck remains to this day the only Chucky movie I’ve caught on the big screen. I’m sure it’s probably someone’s favorite bad movie, but that person is not me.

[Dove: Asking that question also led you to watching Necromentia. This question, while interesting and engaging, is bringing you nothing but bad things.] [JC: I wish I had a brilliant, glowing example to counter this, but the best I’ve got is Shakma – a “killer baboon runs amok in Roddy McDowall’s laboratory while Tina from A Nightmare on Elm Street and her friends have a LARPing game session in this building for some fucking reason” movie. It was recommended to me through that question, and all in all was quite a bit of fun.] [Dove: I can’t remember what the movie was called, but there was a movie on LoveFilm (remember them?) that had a summary along the lines of “Suzy is sick of her abusive father. She comes home from work and he beats her up and steals her money. He storms out and comes back with a BENGAL TIGER. Now she’s home alone, during a storm, with A TIGER.” And Raven and I were just like, “wow”.]

Continue reading “Seed of Chucky (2004) (Recap #58)”