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.

Continue reading “Recap #54 – Whispers from the Dead by Joan Lowery Nixon”

Random Review: Hellbenders (2012)

Hellbenders

Title: Hellbenders

Year: 2012

Writer/Director: J.T. Petty

Starring: Clancy Brown, Clifton Collins Jr., Larry Fessenden

Tagline: Deliver them to evil (There’s also “They’re going to hell so we won’t have to.” I picked the one I liked better to feature here.)

Description: The Augustine Interfaith Order of Hellbound Saints, a team of blasphemous ministers who live in a constant state of debauchery, work to drag the worst of demons back to Hell. (From IMDb.)

So, hi guys! You might have noticed that my title up there says “Review” rather than “Recap,” and you might further be wondering what the hell I’m doing here, changing up formats and such. (Unless this is your first visit to this site and therefore you have no fucking clue what I’m blabbering about, in which case, Welcome! and how dare you accuse me of blabbering.) To which I respond that every now and then I watch a movie that I want to talk about, but don’t really have the desire to do a full recap of, for whatever reason. So, this marks the first time I’m going to attempt a review with more substance to it than what I write on Letterboxd, but less involved than a full recap. And you get to take this wild ride with me, as I work out all the kinks and bullshit! Lucky(???) you!

Note: because I’m me, there will definitely be spoilers ahead. There are movies/books I’ll review spoiler-free, but this ain’t one of them, y’all.

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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 #12 – The Best Friend by R.L. Stine

bestfriend

Title: The Best Friend

Author: R.L. Stine

Published: December 1992

Tagline: Sometimes friendship can be murder . . . [But I thought friendship was magic!]

Description: Best friends . . . to the end! [Oh. Is Honey actually Chucky? Hidey-ho! I’m your friend to the end! My name’s Honey and I like to be hugged! Ha ha ha!]

Who is Honey Perkins? She’s been telling everyone in Shadyside that she’s Becka Norwood’s best friend. But Becka’s sure she’s never met Honey before.

Honey systematically moves in on Becka’s life, copying her in every way. But when Becka presumes to have more than one “best friend,” the horrible accidents begin. [“Accidents.” Riiiiiight.]

Does Honey just want a friend? Becka wonders. Or does she want more – much more! [Like . . . lovers?]

Nostalgia Time!


Okay, full disclosure here: I fucking hate this book. Not because it’s badly written – it’s actually one of the better entries in the Fear Street series. My hatred of it is personal – it came out when I was 11 and in a very dark place, depression-wise. The gaslighting storyline in it hit a little too close to home, and still does. I have a visceral reaction to gaslighting due to someone in my life constantly pulling that kind of shit on me, albeit generally more subtly than Honey does to Becka. I’m not gonna go all out and say I’m triggered by it, but it’s definitely something that affects me on a deep level. Also, there’s a fair bit of ableism here, with Becka questioning her sanity and constantly thinking she’s going crazy, but I’m pretty inclined to give it a pass since that’s the whole point of gaslighting someone – to make them question their reality and sanity.

I remembered the end of this book, but the rest of it was refreshed by listening to the RetRead Podcast episode of it. Fun fact – apparently so many kids hated the ending of this book and wrote to Stine to tell him that, that he ran a contest giving people the chance to come up with an idea for the sequel, where Honey gets her comeuppance. I can’t remember if I read The Best Friend 2 or not. I probably did, but I have no memory of it. Maybe I’ll try to get my hands on it to recap at some point.

Continue reading “Recap #12 – The Best Friend by R.L. Stine”

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

firsthorror

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 . . . )

Continue reading “Recap #8 – 99 Fear Street: The First Horror – R.L. Stine”

Recap #5 – Pet Sematary 2 (1992)

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Title: Pet Sematary 2

Directed by: Mary Lambert

Released: 1992

Tagline: Raise some Hell

Description (from back of box)Sometimes dead is better. But the shocking terror that plagued Ludlow, Maine in Pet Sematary is still very much alive in this heartstopping sequel to the 1989 hit film written by Stephen King.

After the death of his wife, veterinarian Chase Matthews (Anthony Edwards) and his 13-year-old son Jeff (Edward Furlong) move to Ludlow to rebuild their lives. Antagonized by the neighborhood kids, Jeff befriends another outsider, Drew Gilbert, who lives in fear of his cruel stepfather Gus (Clancy Brown). After Gus cold-bloodedly shoots Drew’s beloved dog, the boys bury the body in the local Indian burial grounds – a place rumored to have powers of resurrection. When evil is awakened, the boys realize that sometimes you should just let sleeping dogs lie.

Nostalgia Time!


This is one of my favorite bad movies, so I’ve seen it an embarrassing number of times at this point, although it’s been several years since my last viewing and I’ve never examined it as critically as I’m going to have to for this recap. Even loving it as much as I do, there is so much gristle for the snark mill. Or . . . snark for the gristle mill? Erm . . . yeah. Something like that. Oh, also? Sheriff Gus. That is all.

Continue reading “Recap #5 – Pet Sematary 2 (1992)”

Recap #3 – Music From the Dead – Bebe Faas Rice

musicfromthedead

Title: Music From the Dead

Author: Bebe Faas Rice

Published: 1997

Description: When Marnie’s father decided to rent an old summer house on the rocky coast of Maine, Marnie never imagined he’d choose Stoneycraig – a creepy-looking mansion miles from town. Her dad isn’t scheduled to arrive for a week, but there’s a housekeeper . . . who refuses to spend the night.

Marnie and her cousin Peter figure they can handle a week alone. But maybe not. Weird things begin to happen in the dead of night; they hear the chilling echoes of a woman crying and ghostly music drifting in from the piano room. Then Marnie learns of Stoneycraig’s tragic past sixteen years ago, involving a woman’s broken heart and horrifying death. Wanting to know more, Marnie and Peter move ever closer to the shattering truth, only to find a shocking secret that could kill them both.

Tagline: Marnie never believed in ghosts – until now.

Nostalgia Time!


I don’t remember this one very well, partly because in my mind it’s all mixed up with Rice’s The Listeners and Ritchie Tankersley Cusick’s Trick or Treat – all books I remember liking. I love a spooky ghost story, but I can’t remember if this one went full-on supernatural or not. (Future Me: Ghosts! We get for realsies ghosts! Ghooooooosts!) Either way, I’m really excited to reread this! A spooky isolated house with a possible haunting is right up my alley.

Continue reading “Recap #3 – Music From the Dead – Bebe Faas Rice”

Recap #2 – The Mangler (1995)

mangler

Title: The Mangler

Directed by: Tobe Hooper

Released: 1995

Description (from Netflix because I found it absolutely fucking hilarious): Machines aren’t made to rise up against humans, but in this sci-fi thriller, one does. But why? Police detective John Hunton (Ted Levine) is on the case, as he begins to unravel the strange mystery of a folding machine that seems to yearn not for clothing but for flesh. What’s behind this lust for blood, and just who is responsible for turning it into a mangling creature? The answer may lie with the gadget’s owner, Bill Gartley (Robert Englund).

Tagline: There is a fate worse than death.

Note: For another perspective on this movie, I’ve provided a link to Sean and Joe at The Horror Show podcast, episode three of their Tobe Hooper series. I don’t share their weird hate-on for Ted Levine (hell, I like the guy), but they’re funny as fuck. Check ’em out!

Nostalgia Time!


Wow, that description, though. “But why?” is what I was asking throughout this entire movie. Also, the fate worse than death mentioned in the tagline? Pretty sure it’s referring to watching this movie. So, The Mangler came out in 1995, and I’m pretty sure I saw it when it was fairly new on VHS (kids, ask your parents), so I was maybe 15 or 16? I remember renting it when I was at the height of my Robert Englund/Freddy Krueger kick, so maybe more like 16 or 17. Whatever. Moving on. I don’t remember hating it back then. I didn’t remember much about it at all, really, except that I didn’t love it, didn’t hate it . . . and I always thought it was going to be a bit ridiculous, because if you’ve read the original Stephen King story, you have to know it’s not going to translate well to the screen. It’s just not. I mean, it’s a possessed laundry machine that at the end of the story comes to life and becomes mobile, ripping itself off its moorings and killing people (spoilers?), so of course that was never going to play well on screen! So I never really had nostalgia glasses on with this one, since upon rewatching it I realized I barely remembered anything about it from my first viewing. Now I’m pretty sure that was my brain trying to protect me by blocking it out so that I didn’t have to spend the rest of my days obsessing over how magnificently awful it was. Like I’ve been doing ever since I rewatched it, after I asked myself, “It couldn’t have been that bad, could it?”

Spoiler alert: yes. Yes, it could. Continue reading “Recap #2 – The Mangler (1995)”

Recap #1 – The Murder Game – Janice Harrell

murdergame

Title: The Murder Game by Janice Harrell

Published June 1993

Description 

It was no game.

The ad read “You’re invited to a murder . . .” It was to be a party, complete with a pretend corpse and plenty of clues. Only Meg Redding knew the host’s real motive: Dusty Ellis was determined to catch his twin sister’s killer – even though the police had ruled her death an accident.

The guests are gathered at an isolated cottage out by the reservoir where the stage is set for murder. But when the corpse is found – it’s real. Now Dusty’s a prime suspect and Meg’s out to clear his name . . . unaware that the killer is following her, step by step . . .

Tagline

Come to party and catch a killer – if you dare!

Nostalgia Time!


This was published in June of 1993, so I was probably around 12 or 13 the first time I read it. I didn’t remember too many details, but I remembered who the killer was and why. And the worst motive ever. Seriously, this motive is the weakest weaksauce to ever sauce. Even at 12 I was well aware of that. This was maybe the first time Rocky Horror Picture Show came onto my radar, and the first time I’d heard of Kewpie dolls. I also remembered the 16 or 17 year old girl and her 30-year-old “boyfriend.” Oh, boy, we’re gonna have a time with this one, folks. Not necessarily a good time, but some kind of time.

Continue reading “Recap #1 – The Murder Game – Janice Harrell”