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 #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 #57 – The Stepdaughter by Carol Ellis

stepdaughter

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.

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Movie cover for Bride of Chucky (1998)

Bride of Chucky (1998) (Recap #56)

Movie cover for Bride of Chucky (1998)
Bride of Chucky (1998)

Title: Bride of Chucky (1998)

Tagline: Chucky gets lucky!

Summary: Chucky hooks up with another murderous doll, the bridal gown-clad Tiffany, for a Route 66 murder spree with their unwitting hosts, two eloping high-school graduates.

Grade: B-

Initial Thoughts

I actually loved this when it came out. I jumped so hard on the bandwagon of horror movies being witty as well as creepy. The Scream trend was something I appreciated. Of course, witty is subjective, and more often than not it ended up being a lot of irritating people saying a lot of dumb shit that the writers thought was funny, but for me Bride worked. [JC: I had the Fangoria issue with this movie on the cover. I was hyped for this movie . . . and then didn’t end up seeing it until it came to video. For some reason. Anyway, I absolutely loved it when I finally did end up seeing it. And since my thing seems to be providing the critic scores (except I think I forgot to add them into either Child’s Play 2 or 3, oops), this movie has a 5.4/10 on IMDb, and 46% on Rotten Tomatoes. Which seems criminally low, btw.]

And I’ve adored Jennifer Tilly since the first time I saw Bound. And, this has fuck all to do with the recap, I think she seems like a cool person. Like, if you bumped into her somewhere, she’d be nice to talk to. Please don’t disabuse me of this notion if that’s not true. (Please do if she’s done something so awful I need to reconsider my stance because I will miss stuff. The only celeb I follow with any enthusiasm is Trey Parker.) [JC: As far as I can tell, she’s an absolutely adorable human being.] [Dove: Oh, thank goodness. Raven has a few friends who play poker professionally, and I keep hoping that they level up enough to meet her so they can tell me how awesome she is. So far no luck.]

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Recap #54 – Whispers from the Dead by Joan Lowery Nixon

whispersfromthedead

Title: Whispers from the Dead

Author: Joan Lowery Nixon

Published: 1989

Tagline: Who is trying to reach Sarah? And why?

Description: Only Sarah senses the horror.

The minute she steps through the doorway of her family’s new home, Sarah feels a smothering cold mist, and hears the echo of a scream and a heartbreaking whisper in Spanish, “Help me!”

Sarah feels compelled to find out who is trying to reach her. But can she uncover the mysteries of the past before terror strikes again?

Nostalgia Time!


I remember reading this when I was ten years old. I was reading a ton of Joan Lowery Nixon around that time, I think because the school library had a ton of her books. This was one of my favorites, and whatever Spanish I knew as a ten-year-old was because of this book. I think I figured out the mystery pretty quick as a kid, but reading this as an adult, it was infuriatingly obvious, and I spent a good portion of time screaming at the main character about how stupid she was being. I still enjoyed it (hell, I gave it four stars on Goodreads when I was done facepalming), but make no mistake – Sarah should have died from stupidity a hundred different times. Also, JLN clearly knew she was writing for babies, and it shows. She doesn’t miss any opportunity to over-explain simple concepts.

Having said that, I actually have nostalgia about her books, so I’m probably going to be biased about how good I think this is.

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Recap #50a – Fright Night (1985)

frightnightOG

Title: Fright Night

Director: Tom Holland

Released: August 2, 1985

Description: Meet Jerry Dandrige. He’s sweet, sexy, and he likes to sleep in late. You might think he’s the perfect neighbor. But before inviting Jerry in for a nightcap, there’s just one thing you should know. Jerry prefers his drinks warm, red – and straight from the jugular! It’s FRIGHT NIGHT, a horrific howl starring Chris Sarandon as the seductive vampire and William Ragsdale as the frantic teenager struggling to keep Jerry’s deadly fangs out of his neck. Only 17-year-old Charley Brewster knows Jerry’s bloodcurdling secret. When Charley can’t get anybody to believe him, he turns to TV horror host Peter Vincent (Roddy McDowall), who used to be the “Great Vampire Killer” of the movies. Can these mortals save Charley and his sweetheart Amy (Amanda Bearse) from the wrathful bloodsucker’s toothy embrace? If you love being scared, FRIGHT NIGHT will give you the nightmare of your life!

Nostalgia Time!


So, we’re back around to August, which means it’s time for my birthday again, which also happens to coincide with my 50th recap. This year, I decided to do something I’ve never done before, which is to recap a movie and its remake back-to-back. Hence why this is labeled Recap #50a instead of just 50. The 2011 version of Fright Night will of course be Recap #50b.

This movie was released eleven days before my fourth birthday. I can’t for the life of me remember when I saw it for the first time. I was super obsessed with vampires between the ages of about 16-19, so it was probably sometime in there. This movie is 80s as fuck. The effects are cheesy as hell. But it’s a vampire classic, and deservedly so. I’ve seen it an obscene number of times at this point, and I still love its cheesy, goofy ass.

I also love these back-of-box descriptions that are basically acting as hype man for the movie. Eighties. As. Fuck. (Except the box description for the 2011 version also kind of does this, so I guess I can’t completely blame the 80s. *shrug*)

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Recap #49 – The Lost Mind by Christopher Pike

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Outside view
lostmindinside
Inside flap view

Title: The Lost Mind

Author: Christopher Pike

Published: August 1995

Tagline: Someone had stolen her memory . . .

Description: She didn’t know what she had done.

She awoke in the woods beside a dead body. There was a knife in her hand, blood on her clothes. Had she killed the young woman who lay beside her? She couldn’t remember.

She couldn’t remember anything.

Not even her own name.

It was as if someone had stolen her mind.

Stolen her soul.

Nostalgia Time!


Guys! I’m really excited to recap this book! This used to be one of my absolute favorite Pike books. I’m a sucker for this type of story, with amnesia and . . . something that’s a spoiler. This story had concepts in it that I became obsessed with for years after reading it.

I don’t remember when I read this; I would have turned 14 the month it was released, but I could have sworn I was a few years older than that when I read it. Maybe it took me a while to get around to it, I don’t know. Anyway, I went ahead and reread this one before I started recapping this time around, and it turns out I still love this book! It’s not without its issues, as most of these books from the 90s aren’t, but it’s still pretty great, y’all.

Note from Future Me: I really struggled and procrastinated with this recap. Apparently I’m only excited and good at recapping things I hate. *tries to figure out how to give myself the side-eye*

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Recap #47 – The Listeners by Bebe Faas Rice

listeners

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 #45 – The Monkees – “Monkee vs Machine” ep 1.3

monkee-vs-machine

Series: The Monkees

Episode: Monkee vs Machine (Season 1 Episode 3)

Original Airdate: Sept. 26, 1966

Writer: David Panich

Director: Bob Rafelson

Description: After Peter fails a job interview at a toy factory conducted by a computer, Mike makes the same machine short circuit and is promptly hired. Soon all four Monkees take a stand against the technology minded Mr Daggart in favor of old fashioned, hand made toys. (From IMDb)

Nostalgia Time!


I unashamedly and unironically love the Monkees, guys. About 10-15 years ago I started really diving into the music and watched all the episodes on DVD. Before that, I remember watching them with my cousin when the show was rerun on MTV in the 80s. There was only one specific episode I remember from then, and this isn’t it, but this one is one of my favorites. Reportedly it was also one of Peter Tork’s favorites, and when I heard he had died in February of this year (2019 if you’re reading this in the future) I decided to recap this as soon as I could. It took me a while to get to it, because I was in the middle of recapping the ever-so-shitty book, The Yearbook, but we’re here now, folks.

Also, for some reason I always think this episode is more Peter-centric, but then it turns more into a Mike episode, and I always somehow forget that.

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