A Celebration of 90’s Horror: The Decade That’s Better Than You Remember

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Look at all of this good horror! LOOK AT IT!

Hey, folks! Lately I’ve been hearing/reading that a lot of people think horror in the nineties sucked. Different people seem to be referring to different things – quality of movies, or the variety of movies available. I’m baffled by this opinion, as the nineties had so many great movies, and a huge variety of horror sub-genres. Seriously, the nineties couldn’t figure out what they wanted to be, so they threw everything at us. And that’s a good thing! It resulted in a decade that assured that no matter your personal horror tastes, there would be something there to please you. It was the decade that either kicked off or continued dozens of huge horror franchises. Hell, it was the decade of the Stephen King miniseries! A terrible decade for horror? I . . . I don’t understand these words coming out of your mouth. (Or your Twitter, or your Reddit, or your . . . well, you get the picture.)

So, take my hand and join me on this journey through the nineties, year by year, as we explore the best the decade had to offer.

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Recap #52 – 99 Fear Street: The Third Horror by R.L. Stine

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Title: 99 Fear Street: The Third Horror

Author: R.L. Stine

Published: October 1994

Description: Lights . . . Camera . . . Murder . . .

Kody Frasier always swore she’d come back to 99 Fear Street. She knows the spirit of her dead sister, Cally, is trapped there, waiting to be set free. Now Kody is starring in a movie about the evil that murdered Cally, set in the very house that destroyed their family. If she can just find Cally, she can help her . . .

But Cally doesn’t want to be saved. She’s been waiting all this time for revenge. And once the movie camera is rolling, Cally is going to give Kody the surprise ending of a lifetime!

Nostalgia Time!


Well, here we are, closing out the 99 Fear Street trilogy. (Recaps of the first and second books can be found at these links.) This is an odd one. I’m tempted to say it’s the weakest of the trilogy, but then I remember how monotonous the second one is in between the random ridiculous shit. This one doesn’t have anything as off-the-rails bonkers as that one (no zombies; no one fights a raccoon), but it does have long stretches of monotony. I dunno, guys. Let’s get into it and see if my opinion crystalizes as I examine this book more closely.

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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!

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Recap #46 – 99 Fear Street: The Second Horror by R.L. Stine

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Title: 99 Fear Street: The Second Horror

Author: R.L. Stine

Published: Sept. 1994

Description: There’s no place like this home . . .

At first, Brandt McCloy thinks moving to Shadyside is great. He has attracted the attention of three beautiful girls – Meg, Jinny, and Abbie. [The book doesn’t actually put the Oxford comma between the last two girls’ names, but fuck that mess. Also, I hate how Jinny is spelled.] But Brandt hasn’t heard the terrifying stories about his new home – 99 Fear Street. He doesn’t know about the headless bodies, the bleeding walls. [Wait, what? When did the walls bleed? The ceiling bled . . .] He doesn’t know that Cally Frasier still haunts the house and plans gruesome deaths for him and everyone close to him. Poor Brandt – what he doesn’t know will hurt him. [That . . . that’s not the expression at all.]

Note: You can find the recap for The First Horror right here. While it’s probably not absolutely necessary to read it before diving into this one, it wouldn’t be a bad idea. Anyway, it’s there if you want to check it out. I will probably refer to jokes I made in that recap, so it’s best to be prepared. Um, something something, shameless self-promotion.

Nostalgia Time!


Well, here we are, guys. Back to R.L. Stine. It had to happen sometime, huh? Fortunately, I really enjoy (or at least, remember enjoying) this trilogy, so it shouldn’t be too bad. I don’t remember this one as clearly as I did the first one, except for the twist ending. Well, one of the twists. I think there are a couple. Other than that, I remembered nothing about the story. I think this one is the weakest of the trilogy, but I wouldn’t swear to it.

Let’s find out!

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Recap #33 – The Seance by Jo Gibson

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Title: The Seance (the cover up there is from the omnibus 3-in-1 collection, as it seems it’s near-impossible to find The Seance by itself anywhere)

Author: Jo Gibson (aka Joanne Fluke)

Published: I’ve got conflicting reports here. Google Books says March 1996; the collection I have has the copyright date for The Seance as 2014. 1996 feels right, but why would a Halloween book be published in March . . . ?

Description: There’s nothing like a killer party on Halloween – especially when it’s in a secluded lodge in the woods. But when Jennifer Larkin’s friends insist on holding a seance – in spite of the warnings of a local psychic – it’s anything but a game. For the spirits are vengeful. The partiers are prisoners. And no one gets out of here alive . . .

Nostalgia Time!


Well, I’ve got nothing. I’ve never read this one before. I’m hoping it’s going to be as ridiculous as Slay Bells but less boring than My Bloody Valentine.  Since those two followed the same template, I’m going to assume this one does as well, and make some predictions based on that template. First, our protagonist will be in love with someone who “doesn’t know she exists,” but then end up with her friend’s brother. Second, there will be terrible threatening poems sent to people before they’re murdered. Third, the main girl will be painfully clueless and naive about boys, and all wide-eyed ignorance about, well, everything really. Fourth, the killer will have some completely convoluted plan that may or may not end with trying to kill the main girl to keep some other dead girl company. Fifth, the motive will probably end up being some variation of “he’s crazy, and crazy people don’t make sense lol amirite?” Which, to be fair, ends up being the driving force of most of these books.

Once again, I’m going to recap this as I read it, one chapter at a time, so I have no better idea of what’s about to happen than you do. I’m sure I’ll make some embarrassing assumptions that will be proven wrong, but I’m willing to take that bullet for y’all.

Note from Future Me: Trigger warning for rape. I won’t recap it graphically, but it’s unavoidably there. I had no idea this was where the story was going to go, since Jo has never had any sexual content in previous books I’ve recapped. This shit caught me by surprise, y’all.

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Recap #29 – The Dollhouse Murders by Betty Ren Wright

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Title: The Dollhouse Murders

Author: Betty Ren Wright

Published: 1983

Tagline: The dolls didn’t forget . . .

Description: It was just an old dollhouse. Hidden away in the attic – collecting dust. Amy didn’t know that the dollhouse held a secret. A deadly secret that hadn’t been talked about in years. And now, the dolls have decided that Amy should be the one to know the truth. The truth about the night of the murder . . .

Nostalgia Time!


While I’m sure I’ve read other Betty Ren Wright books (the cover of Christina’s Ghost in particular looks far too familiar for me not to have checked it out of the school library around 3rd grade or so!), I had never read this one before. I got it a while back at the used book store down the street when they were having a warehouse sale – they opened up their back room and sold people however many books you could cram into a plastic bag for $5. This was one of the books I picked up, based on the cover and the fact that, well, it’s a creepy dollhouse, right? That’s gotta be good!

Spoiler alert: It was good!

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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.)

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Recap #8 – 99 Fear Street: The First Horror – R.L. Stine

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Title: 99 Fear Street: The First Horror

By: R.L. Stine

Published: 1994

Description: Twin sisters Cally and Kody Frasier aren’t thrilled that their family has moved to Fear Street. They’ve heard the strange stories. They know about the centuries of nightmarish terror. But what they don’t know is that they’ve moved into the one house that even their neighbors on Fear Street are afraid to enter. The house that has stood mysteriously empty for the past thirty years. They moved to 99 Fear Street.

Now they must learn the secret of 99 Fear Street or they will become the next victims of the house of evil.

Nostalgia Time!


This book was released the same month as my 13th birthday, which sounds about right for when I remember reading it. So, mini-story time. My mom was (still is) super religious, and never allowed me to read any of the teen thrillers/horror that had actual supernatural stuff going on in them. She was convinced they brought a demonic presence into the house (don’t even get her started on Harry Potter!) (Future Me just remembered that by the time I was 13 I was actually allowed to watch whatever horror movies I wanted to, so I’m very confused about my mom’s inconsistency here). So if I wanted to read the actual supernatural ones, I basically had to check them out from the library and hide them, or stealth-buy them. I owned this trilogy. Now, these books have some serious haunted/possessed house, Amityville Horror-type vibes going on, and it got to me. I convinced myself that there was an evil vibe around them and got so scared of them that I wanted them out of the house. I didn’t want to get rid of them; I just didn’t want to sleep with them in the same room. So what did my 13-ish year old self do? Why, I locked them in the trunk of my mom’s car, of course! That somehow made sense to me at the time. Anyway, I’m looking forward to revisiting something that scared me so much when I was younger. That means it really must be scary, right? (Future Me: Well . . . )

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Recap #6 – Spring Break – Nick Baron

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Title: Spring Break

By: Nick Baron

Published: 1994

Description: April Mannerly and her friends wanted a spring vacation they’d never forget. And Florida’s historic Isley Inn seemed the perfect place to soak up some rays and do some serious partying. Even cooler, the bed-and-breakfast was rumored to be haunted.

But it’s more than a rumor. The first night there, somebody dies, and April is forced to become party to a secret burial. But at the Isley, bodies don’t stay buried for long. Trapped by a storm, April and her friends face a terrifying nightmare as, one by one, they fall victim to the vengeful spirits of the damned. For the unlucky kids in room 3B, there will be a charge for doom service – their lives . . .

Nostalgia Time!


Doom service? Doom service?! Did the Cryptkeeper write that description? I . . . I haven’t even started this recap and I might be done with it already.

Actually, I remember liking this one a lot and being genuinely scared by it. It was truly a horror novel, with real ghosts/demons/evil spirits, and I know I read it multiple times. (Of course, I was 13 when it was published, so make of that what you will.) And just look at that sandcastle skull on the cover! It’s a total lie, but isn’t it cool? And there’s a character in it somewhere who’s a horror writer, how meta! And lots of scary death scenes!

I might be fooling myself here about how good this book was. It has terrible reviews on Goodreads. (Future Me: . . . yeah . . . I am truly and thoroughly disillusioned with this book. If you need me, I’ll be in the corner drinking and crying.)

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Recap #4 – Goosebumps #1: Welcome to Dead House – R.L. Stine

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Title: Goosebumps #1: Welcome to Dead House

Author: R.L. Stine

Published: 1992

Description: Look alive! Amanda and Josh think the old house they have just moved into is weird. Spooky. Possibly haunted. And the town of Dark Falls is pretty strange, too.

But their parents don’t believe them. You’ll get used to it, they say. Go out and make some new friends.

So Amanda and Josh do. But these new friends are not exactly what their parents had in mind.

Because they want to be friends . . . forever.

Tagline: It will just kill you.

Note: Hey, guys! For even more opinions about Goosebumps, go check out the Nightmare on Fear Street podcast where Zack, Meg, and Ember talk about this book. They’re a ton of fun to listen to, and well worth your time!

Note Part 2: Since this is more of a kids’ book than my previous recaps, I’m going to try to keep the swearing to a minimum. (No F-bombs, at least.) I’m an easily frustrated, very sweary type of person, though, so we’ll see how this goes.

Nostalgia Time!


I started reading Goosebumps when I was already a bit over the target demographic – probably around 15 or so. I used to spend the night at my three-years-younger-than-me cousin’s house and read her Goosebumps books in the morning when everyone was still asleep and I had nothing else to do. I found this one in a box of my old books (along with a couple others that I do remember reading), so I assume I’ve read it, but I just don’t remember anything about it. At all. Even listening to the lovelies at A Nightmare on Fear Street podcast talk about it didn’t jog my memory much (at all, really?), so this is going to be an interesting one. I’m going in blind, guys!

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