Halloween/Full Moon Extravaganza : Trick ‘r Treat (2007) (Recap #77)

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Title: Trick ‘r Treat

Released: Started the film festival rounds in the US on Dec. 9, 2007, with theater release on Oct. 4, 2009 followed by DVD premiere Oct. 6, 2009 (Yeah, this movie got kind of fucked over, distribution-wise.)

Written and directed by: Michael Dougherty

Description: Interwoven stories demonstrate that some traditions are best not forgotten as the residents (Anna Paquin, Brian Cox, Dylan Baker) of a small town face real ghosts and goblins on Halloween. Tales of terror reveal the consequences of extinguishing a Jack-o-Lantern before midnight and a grumpy hermit’s encounter with a sinister trick-or-treater.

Nostalgia Time!


This movie is described as an anthology. And, okay, I guess. It’s an anthology the way Pulp Fiction is an anthology. It’s not an anthology in the way that usually comes to mind when someone says “anthology.” It’s not made up of self-contained vignettes that we stick with from beginning to end. We do jump around some. Apparently the writer/director wanted to do a cut that kept all the stories together like a traditional anthology, but honestly, I think that would take away some of the magic of this movie.

I don’t remember exactly when I saw this for the first time, but I fell in love with it immediately. Whenever I can, I’ve made it annual Halloween viewing, which wasn’t always easy since it seems like it’s rarely streaming anywhere that doesn’t require an extra rental fee. This year, I just said “fuck it” and bought it at the Vintage Stock in one of our local malls. (The mall is struggling, but still alive. For now.) I had actually forgotten what movies I was going to look for when we got there, but fortunately it was prominently displayed on a Halloween shelf when we walked in, and I was like, “Oh, yeah, fucking duh! Trick ‘r Treat!”

Anyway, Happy Full Moon Halloween!

Continue reading “Halloween/Full Moon Extravaganza : Trick ‘r Treat (2007) (Recap #77)”

Recap #72 – Birthday Recap: Zodiac Chillers #3 – In Leo’s Lair by Carol Ellis

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Title: In Leo’s Lair

Series: Zodiac Chillers

Author: Carol Ellis

Published: Oct. 1995

Tagline: Best friends – buried alive!

Description: No one can hear their screams . . .

Nina and Jess . . . Sworn blood sisters – separated by a psycho. One girl is his prisoner. But one isn’t enough, so he lures the other to his lair.

Nina and Jess . . . Gemini twins – in the clutches of a Leo. Now he’s got them trapped together, and Leo’s roaring mad . . .

Nostalgia Time!


First off, that’s a terrible description. I feel like the Zodiac Chillers shot themselves in the foot with terrible descriptions for pretty good books. Also, yes, there’s a lot of calling people “psychos” in this book, unfortunately. That’s what dropped my Goodreads rating, which would have been a 4, down to a 3. Well, 3.5 if I’m being honest, but Goodreads still doesn’t allow half-star ratings, so that’s on them.

Anyway, hi guys! We’re back around to my birthday (God, it seems like only yesterday I decided to do back-to-back recaps of Fright Night and its remake for my birthday! What is time, anyway?), and this year I was able to grab a copy of yet another Leo-themed YA thriller! Spoiler alert, this one is far better than that other Zodiac-themed series by Jahnna N. Malcolm. Even though apparently in the Zodiac Chillers series, the character who possesses the titular astrological sign is always the villain?

I didn’t think I’d read this book before. Honestly, I didn’t. I had even told Boyfriend right before I started reading it that I hadn’t been aware of the Zodiac Chillers series back in the day. Then, as I was reading, things started feeling familiar, and I kept going, “Doesn’t this thing happen in this book? Doesn’t this other thing happen, too?” But it wasn’t until I had about 30 pages left that I suddenly put the book down, turned to Boyfriend, and exclaimed, “Okay, I have definitely read this before!” There were two or three . . . incidents? plot twists? . . . that I remembered vividly. So, I’m pretty sure I must have checked this out from the library at some point, because I don’t remember this book ever sitting on my own bookshelves. I was always checking out whatever teen thrillers/horror I could find at the library, lesser-known and the big names – Point Horror, Fear Street, etc. And Carol Ellis was one of the better Point Horror authors (we’ll just ignore my disillusionment with The Stepdaughter), so I’m not surprised this would be one of the books I picked up during a library visit.

I just have no memory of when or where I read this for the first time.

Anyway, this book (aside from some very annoying crazy = dangerous ableism) is pretty damn great. So far, the Zodiac Chillers series is not letting me down – I reach a certain point where all I can do is laugh hysterically while exclaiming “what?!” and scrambling for “Well, that escalated quickly” memes.

So. Here we go!

Continue reading “Recap #72 – Birthday Recap: Zodiac Chillers #3 – In Leo’s Lair by Carol Ellis”

Recap #70 – The Dead Girl by Jo Gibson (Scream #4)

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This cover? Has not a single thing to do with anything that happens in the book

Title: The Dead Girl

Series: Scream

Author: Jo Gibson (Joanne Fluke)

Published: Nov. 1993

Tagline: She’s pretty . . . she’s popular . . . she’s dead!

Description: MIRROR, MIRROR ON THE WALL
WHO’S THE DEADEST ONE OF ALL?

It was amazing the way Julie Forrester resembled her cousin Vicki. She could have practically passed for her twin.

Too bad Vicky isn’t alive anymore.

But even though she’s dead and buried, Vicky is still a part of Julie’s new life in Colorado. Everywhere Julie goes, she’s mistaken for her dead cousin. And late at night, she has dreams of Vicky reaching out from beyond the grave… trying to come back…

Now, with each passing day, Julie fears she’s losing her own identity and becoming someone else.

Someone dead.

Nostalgia Time!


No. Nonononononono.

That description is total fucking bullshit. I was expecting a story about a girl getting possessed by her dead cousin, or just taking over the personality of the dead cousin, or anything like that. That is not even remotely what this book is about. Also, you may have noticed Vicki’s name changes to “Vicky” after the first time it’s mentioned, which is . . . about the level of proofreading you can expect with this book. The Scream series must not have had a good editor, because this book was riddled with typos.

Anyway, I’m back to recapping my old pal Jo “Slay Bells” Gibson. Which I mistakenly thought would be fun. I was very wrong. Her other books have at least been entertaining to read and snark on, but this is the first one that actually made me angry. I know I had some issues with a couple things in The Seance, but the rest of the book was fun. This was just awful. And not in the usual fun “yes, human, I am also human, writing about the way humans interact with other humans” way. (I have a theory that Jo Gibson is really an alien who hasn’t quite figured out how humans interact with each other, you see. Hence why her characters are always shocked by everyday things and phrases.)

This book managed to be both boring as hell and brain-explodingly offensive, so congrats, Jo. Congratu-fucking-lations.

Trigger warnings for the way suicide is discussed; mental health ableism; and completely inappropriate relationships that I guess everyone is just fucking okay with, because being statutory raped was the goal of every teenage girl or some fucking gross thing.

Prepare for much rage from me, if that’s the kind of thing you’re into.

Continue reading “Recap #70 – The Dead Girl by Jo Gibson (Scream #4)”

Recap #60 – April Fools by Richie Tankersley Cusick

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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?

Continue reading “Recap #60 – April Fools by Richie Tankersley Cusick”

Recap #59 – Identity Theft by Anna Davies

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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”

Recap #57 – The Stepdaughter by Carol Ellis

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Title: The Stepdaughter

Author: Carol Ellis

Published: April 1993

Tagline: Daddy’s little darling . . . is dead.

Description: Having a new father can be murder.

He’s kind and thoughtful. He wants them to be a happy family. He’s her stepfather.

And he may be a murderer.

From the day Livvie meets him, she knows she’s not going to like her new stepfather. But when she tells her mother and her best friend, they both think she’s crazy not to like such a wonderful man.

Then Livvie thinks she sees her stepfather’s picture on TV – wanted by the police for a murder he committed fifteen years before. The murder of his wife . . . and his stepdaughter.

Is Livvie crazy?

. . . Or is her stepfather?

Nostalgia Time!


Hoo, boy, that’s . . . a lot of “crazy”s we’re throwing around, huh? Not thrilled about that.

I remember this book pretty well. I was eleven, almost twelve when it was published, and although I didn’t realize it at the time, this book is basically the movie The Stepfather. Honestly, the book should have been titled The Stepfather, and I’m willing to bet the only reason it’s called The Stepdaughter is so that it wouldn’t be confused with that movie. But it is. It is totally The Stepfather. It also used to be one of my favorite Point Horrors. I’ve read this book multiple times. I don’t think the ableism regarding mental health is actually as bad as the back-of-book description makes it sound, but it has been a very long time since I’ve picked this one up, so I guess we’ll find out! [Note from Future Me: *stares bleakly into the abyss*]

Also, because it is titled The Stepdaughter instead of The Stepfather, I remember when I bought it assuming the stepdaughter was the murderer. (I don’t know if you can read the newspaper headline in the cover art, but it says “Police search for stepdaughter-killer” which my tween brain insisted meant the stepdaughter was the killer.) I was very surprised to discover it was actually about a girl who suspects her stepfather is a killer.

Continue reading “Recap #57 – The Stepdaughter by Carol Ellis”

Recap #47 – The Listeners by Bebe Faas Rice

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Title: The Listeners

Author: Bebe Faas Rice

Published: March 1996

Tagline: Kathy’s new house hides old secrets that could frighten her to death

Description: Too good to be true.

When the Colby family moved to a suburb of Washington, DC, they found a huge old mansion in a great part of town. But when sixteen-year-old Kathy was alone in the house, she had the strangest feeling that someone was there, listening. Soon she learned that the perfect house had a disturbing past. Ten years before, a family had been murdered there. Although they never caught the killer, the police knew who it was. That killer was supposed to be dead, but Kathy didn’t like the creepy character who hung around the neighborhood doing odd jobs. Kathy didn’t like him at all, but nobody was listening to her.

Nostalgia Time!


First off, whew, that description pretty much gives the whole story away, doesn’t it? Or does it? It’s been so long since I’ve read this, I don’t remember a lot about the story. Still, that description seems like it tells you pretty much everything that happens, huh?

So, I remember lying on the couch in my living room to read this book when I was fourteen. I was enchanted and somewhat obsessed with the snippet of poem that starts us off on the title page – it’s The Listeners by Walter de la Mare, and the snippet goes like this: . . . But only a host of phantom listeners/That dwelt in the lone house then/Stood listening in the quiet of the moonlight/To that voice from the world of men

I loved that bit. (The full poem can be found here. I don’t love it in its entirety as much as I loved that one excerpt, though.) I remember finding this book spooky and beautiful; eerie like that bit of poem. I think there were real ghosts, and I fucking love this cover art. But, then again, I said the same exact things about Rice’s Music From the Dead, and that turned out to be a total shitshow on my revisit. With that in mind, I can’t quite work up the enthusiasm my memory is insisting this book deserves. But the only way to find out is to get to it, right?

Here we go!

Continue reading “Recap #47 – The Listeners by Bebe Faas Rice”

Recap #44 – The Yearbook by Peter Lerangis

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Title: The Yearbook

Author: Peter Lerangis

Published: 1994

Tagline: Most likely . . . to DIE!

Description: According to his IQ test, David Kallas is a genius, even if his teachers think he’s a slacker. His sole extracurricular activity is the yearbook, and he only became editor as an excuse to get close to Ariana Maas. On his way to the printer’s to check on the book, he takes a shortcut to spy on Ariana and her boyfriend—the impossibly perfect Stephen Taylor—and ends up finding something even nastier than two students making out: a butchered corpse floating in the creek. The body leads David to a disturbing secret about his school’s past. When members of the senior class start dying, David is determined to solve the mystery and save the school—even if he has to destroy himself to do it.

Nostalgia Time!


Well, it had to happen. After a short run recapping things I actually enjoyed, we had to get back to a book that makes me rage. I might be biased from reading the book, but that description absolutely makes David sound like an incel Nice Guy™ asshole, right? Because he is. Which I unfortunately didn’t remember before buying the Kindle version of this. This character is the fucking worst.

Anyway, I remember owning this book; I didn’t remember the overall story, though. I remembered exactly two oddly specific things – the first was the lead female character tying a cherry stem in a knot with her tongue. The second was the same character talking about Pepsi dissolving a tooth left in it overnight. I remember this leading me to test this out with one of my baby teeth (this book came out when I was 13, so I shouldn’t have still been losing baby teeth, so I’m a little confused where the tooth came from), and finding out it’s bullshit. I’m sure Pepsi will dissolve teeth eventually, but it takes longer than overnight.

Anyway, after reading and refreshing my memory, I have no idea why this book is called The Yearbook, or why that cover up there exists. The yearbook is only a peripheral part of the story, really. I guess it would have been too on the nose to title it “Lovecraftian Monsters in the School Basement.” However, there is a second cover (I suspect it’s the UK cover) that gets to the point much quicker than the US cover.

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Spoilers!

Much more honest. Also much more WTF. They really don’t bury the lede on the UK covers, do they?

Anyway, this book is weird. We have time jumps, secret cults, eldritch horrors, and a protagonist that I want to set on fire. I think the scariest part of this book is the fact that we’re supposed to be on David’s side. Like, he’s the hero. We’re supposed to root for him. We’re, I think, supposed to be rooting for him to get together with the girl he’s stalking and girlfriend-zoning (basically friendzoning, but from the uninterested girl’s perspective). It’s gross and I hate it. Prepare to read 10,000 words of me raging. [Note from Future Me: 10,000 words was way too conservative an estimate.]

Continue reading “Recap #44 – The Yearbook by Peter Lerangis”

Recap #39 – Crash Course by Nicole Davidson

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Title: Crash Course

Author: Nicole Davidson (aka Kathryn Jensen)

Published: July 1990

Tagline: A secluded cabin on the lake was a perfect place to study . . . or to die

Description: As the water closed over his head, he imagined he felt a hand grasping his jacket – pushing him deeper . . . . He thrashed his arms and legs in the irrational hope he might break the surface, his chest tightening, burning . . . . Too soon, a paralyzing lightness overtook him and he gave up to the icy current as the spring below pulled him deeper . . . deeper . . . .

And then there were seven  . . .

The weekend had begun as a crash SAT prep course given by a strict teacher in a secluded cabin at Deep Creek Lake – four boys, four girls, cramming for college entrance. It ended with a bone-chilling scream breaking the silence of the night. For one of them, it was all over . . . forever. For the rest . . .

The terror had just begun . . .

Now, while their teacher goes for help, seven terrified teens wait, not knowing if a lunatic killer lurks in the darkness . . . or sits among them, ready to strike again.

Nostalgia Time!


Jesus Christ, look at all those ellipses. Who wrote this description, Richie Tankersley Cusick?!

Anyway, this was one of those books I remembered vividly, but couldn’t for the life of me remember the title or author. For some reason all that would come to my brain was the title “Class Trip,” which I knew it wasn’t, because that’s a book by Bebe Faas Rice that I also remember vividly, still have in the box in my basement, and definitely also plan on recapping eventually. It took me a while to figure out the title of this one, and I think I finally tracked it down by simply Googling the names of all the authors whose books I still had in my basement box to see what else they’d written. (I still owned Davidson’s book, The Stalker.) As soon as I saw the title I knew that was it, and I finally got around to ordering it on Thriftbooks a while back. I remember liking the story and reading it several times back in the day. Upon reading it as an adult . . . wow, it does not hold up at all.

Note: I was originally planning to have this ready to post around Thanksgiving since it takes place over Thanksgiving weekend, but life happened and I obviously didn’t get it done in time. Story of my life, guys.

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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”