Heh heh heh. Silly ol' me. Im not dead or in prison or anything glamorous like that. Just writing those recaps take such a LONG time, y'know? I guess you could say I've been staging my own one woman-reclaim-the-Sunday-protest. I'm pretty good like that.
I don't want to write any cheques that my butt can't cash but I am planning on pickin' this poor ailing blog up from the dusty corner I threw it into and brushing off all the dust and blood and vomit (don't ask) and somehow, some way, reviving the poor little dear. Maybe with a slightly different mission statement. Consider your eyeballs peeled.
In this entry, I’ll be taking a respite from the 13 Tales of Terror, and looking at one of my favourite EVER point horrors. Imagine a world in which vampires are un-sparkly monsters, and plain, ugly heroines really are plain ugly heroines. Imagine a world in which every single book is written by Caroline B Cooney. Imagine a world in which I get to eat pancakes and ice cream every night of the week and I get sexually harassed by Henry Ian Cusick whenever I damn well feel like it. Sorry, I’m de-railing. I introduce to you….
The Cheerleader is truly divine. It’s one of those rare point horror books that I can actually remember years and years after reading, and still feel a little bit sick when I think of it. I guess that’s what we like to call the Caroline B. Cooney magic.
We dive straight into the hot vampire action. Althea, who is a total drag, is in her attic room being offered a place on the cheerleading squad and a chance to be popular by a recently freed vampire with “skin like mushrooms” and “fingernails like foil.” The only catch is, she has to choose someone whose place she will take as a cheerleading queen bee. That’s a no brainer – Althea despises this broad called Celeste for being all floaty and beautiful and lovely. The vampire promises that Celeste wouldn’t actually die or anything – she’d just be a bit tired.
Althea is totally, utterly, existentially alone. Like, she has zilcho friends. I’m not that surprised given that the first time we see her she’s plotting away with a mushroomy vampire. And all she EVER does is think about how it’s so unfair that nobody likes her. Fucking hell, lighten up. I kind of feel like I want to bully her and she’s not even a real person.
Althea decides that operation Give-Celeste-Up-To-The-Vampire is a gogo. Only problem is, how to lure Celeste back to her creepy old loser house? Well, dumb old Celeste presents the perfect opportunity when she asks Althea if her house is haunted and Althea offers to show her the “shuttered room” in the attic (AKA mushroom vampire’s lair). Celeste complains for a bit that she can’t get to all the parties she’s invited to as she’s too young to drive and then declines Althea’s invitation because she has “cheerleading practice, of course.” This drives Althea into a blind rage. She's so mad she has steam coming out of her ears.
Althea is kind of a psycho actually. She just drives around town stewing over all the stuff Celeste has that she doesn’t. (It’s a real “Marsha, Marsha, Marsha” moment.)Althea then has an evil genius moment and decides to kindly offer to drive Celeste home from cheerleading practice. Althea’s plan works and the vampire does his ting. Not that Althea watches, but supposedly all the vampire needs to do is to migrate into his victims boundaries and put them into his dark path. Whatever the hell that means.
The next day at school, and suddenly all the popular crowd, Celeste’s friends, are all up in Althea’s grill about hot how she looks today etc. They like her hair because it’s “fluffy and sparkly”. Sounds sexy.
Becky, cheerleader extraordinaire, is an especially big fan of Celeste’s fluffy hair look. Ryan, one of the popular guys, wanders over, hears Althea talking about the night sky, and offers to bring his telescope round to Althea’s place.
Ryan flirts with Althea and he and Becky invite her to McDonalds with the gang after school. Althea’s totes happy, because of course this is just what she deserves. She’s brought down slightly when she sees Celeste looking all dull and wheezy and greasy haired and spacka-licious.
At McDonald’s, the gang asks Althea to tell them about her but because she’s some kind of weirdo psychopath she can’t even think of one thing to say. Luckily for Althea, the mushroom vampire mojo is still working and nobody really minds. They start bitching about Celeste and the way she was wandering around like a zombie. Umm, maybe she’s sick guys? Jeez, all these kids are real prizes.
Next day or whenever, a vacancy on the cheerleading squad is announced. Althea tries to make herself look all sad for Celeste but inside she’s like WOOOOO HOOOOOO. This girl is. Mentally. Ill.
Naturally, Althea gets the gig.
The cheerleading teacher, btw, is also a bitcho-mundo. Celeste is kind of hanging around like a bummer to watch the try outs and her face “looks caved in” and she's so weak she can barely stand and Mrs Roundman is all, “Celeste you are upsetting everybody. That’s very thoughtless of you. You’ve surrendered your place on the squad, which in my opinion was the action of a quitter So quit. Leave.” Althea and Mrs Roundman should really get together and swap psycho-tips sometime.
Over the next few days, Althea becomes more and more chummy with the cheerleading squad. She’s also approached by her best friend from junior high, Jennie. Jennie drifted away from Althea at high school when she presumably realised what a sack of shit Althea was, but now she wants to congratulate Althea on the whole cheerleader business. Jennie is also the only one that Althea seems to really like, she’s kind of secretly snooty about her new cheerleader friends.
Mainly to try and make Jennie feel inferior to her, Althea decides to throw a party and invites Jennie along to it. Althea enjoys “smiling generously “ at Jennie’s glee at being invited. The rest of the squad and the football team are also excited to hear about the party. Which is happening on a Sunday, by the way. Somebody really needs to explain to Althea about parties.
Unfortunately, the vampire decides that the party will be the perfect time for him to pick his next victim. Althea is all, “oh no you di’nt.” But then he threatens to take her popularity away and she decides to buy herself a bit of time and pretend to go along with it. The vampire tells Althea that she can even choose the victim for him – she just has to put her arm around the party guest that she chooses. Well, I certainly can’t see any way that THAT plan could go horribly wrong.
Party day – it’s wild. There’s soda, a video, even a radio talk show that someone has taped. Wow, these popular kids sure know how to party. Althea and Jenny get on high saturated fats and chemical sweeteners and have a little chat about how much they’ve missed each other. It all gets real emotional, and it culminates in Althea putting her arm around Jennie. Crap. Looks like the vampire’s having Jennie for dinner.
After the party, Althea freaks out at the vampire for being mean and migrating into her friend's boundary and she's all throwing china and paintings everywhere, she’s so damn maddddddd. (I hate you more than anything in this damn wooorrllld!). Jennie getting mongified is enough for Althea to actually realise that she has done a terrible thing and she almost tries to send the vampire back to the shutters but then he reminds her how much of a loser she is without him and she stops.
Monday morning, and Althea is more popular than ever, but she’s still all angsty about the people that she has effectively killed (it's a "my teenage bullshit has a bodycount" moment). She's mainly upset about Jennie, who’s absent from school, so presumably the vampire brain-rot has set in.
Then Ryan comes up and flirts with Althea and everything’s cool again. This girl really needs to get laid. She goes out for pizza with Ryan, and fellow football player Michael. Michael is the ultimate catch I guess, but he also has the perfect girlfriend, Constance. Althea starts daydreaming about Ryan and Michael both being her boyfriend.
They arrive at Pizza Hut (McDonalds AND Pizza Hut…why Caro B., with this product placement you are really spoiling us). Some of the other girls start arriving and it’s soooo amazing and Althea’s having soooooo much fun blah blah blah.
Michael’s beeyatch Constance arrives and drives back with the three of them. Althea gets kind of a lesbo crush on Constance and decides that the vampire would definitely want a girl like Constance, and she must definitely not hand Constance over to the vampire. Ryan finally kisses Althea and she’s overjoyed, but the stupid stinky vampire has to spoil her good mood by waiting up for her so he can hiss about how she belongs to him. Jeez, change the record and eat some garlic already, Nosfertau.
Althea and Becky have a little chat on the phone and the vampire decides that he wants Becky next. Althea goes to Becky’s house for a sleepover, and as a little surprise Ryan shows up with his telescope.
Break me off a piece of that!
Anyway, Becky goes outside to leave the lovebirds alone and Althea is all scared because she’s sure she saw the vampire rustling around in the bushes or something and she doesn’t want anything to happen to Becky. But Becky’s fine after coming back inside, Althea’s the one who’s all tired and sluggish.
Until the next morning, when Althea is bright eyes and bushy tailed and Becky is suddenly too tired to even pick up the juice. Ah, Cooney, I see what you did there, the old switcheroo eh.
Now that Becky has also had her brain juices sucked out by the vampire, Althea is FINALLY filled with a sense of purpose. She marches home and tells the vampire that he can fuck off and die. She shuts all the shutters in the shutter room to trap the vampire back in the shutters (?) but the last one gets stuck, and then the door to the room slams closed and Althea is the one who’s trapped.
She can feel the vampire closing in on her with his foily fingers and she’s resigned to joining the mushroom brain brigade, when a car horn sounds from outside. The horn kind of breaks the spell and Althea opens the windows again and sees Ryan standing outside. She tells him to turn up his car radio and dance to “hard rock.” He obliges. This succeeds in driving the vampire away for now. So I guess that’s a useful tip to take away from this book.
Althea goes downstairs to Ryan and they drive to Pizza Hut. On her way down, the vampire lets Althea know how PO’d he is, and she lets him know that she could care less. Weirdly, Becky is at Pizza Hut with the gang and she really does feel fine. Althea stupidly thinks she’s won and managed to beat the vampire. I know otherwise because I am a) much smarter than Althea b) there are still about twenty pages of the book left and c) I have read this book many, many times before.
Althea’s so happy that she dances with Ryan in the aisles at Pizza Hut. This is meant to be a joyous moment, but personally I’m struggling to think of anything that would be more depressing.
A few days later, Althea is on the bus to a football game with all the others and just basking in her happiness. She’s even generously decided that she doesn’t want Michael as well as Ryan because she thinks that Michael and Constance go together so well. How magnanimous of her.
A week later, the vampire comes back. Althea’s feeling so puffed up and pleased with herself that she’s decided she doesn’t need the vampire anymore, she has friends on her own merit now, and she tells him to go away. Uh Oh. Althea just made an even bigger mistake than those salesladies who refused to serve Julia Roberts.
The next morning things start badly when he car won’t work, and it gets worse when nobody stops to offer her a lift. At school, people either ignore her or act mean and she finds out her place on the cheerleading squad is being auditioned again. Also, her nails have gone all long and red and ghastly looking – she’s worried that this might mean she’s becoming a vampire herself.
All the other cheerleaders are indifferent to Althea, even good old Becky has lost interest in her and finds her annoying. Ryan arrives and makes it clear that he’s not bothered about her either.
Althea goes home and cries. The vampire pops up and comforts her and offers to give it all back if she only promises to feed him again. And this time he wants Constance. And he promises that he’d never ask for anyone ever again. Yeah, yeah, I've heard that one before.
The vampire restores Althea’s popularity whilst she considers his offer and everyone comes up to Althea to apologise for being weird the day before. Ryan even invites Althea to the Winter dance.
Constance is all sweet to Althea and wants to get to know her better in a foursome with Michael and Ryan. Althea caves and invites them round to her house, promising to let Constance see the shuttered room in the tower.
As they approach the house, Constance starts to get spooked. Althea starts to really think about what she’s done and to hate herself for it. She tells Michael to turn around and uninvites them. She actually acts pretty crazy to stop them going to her house, but it works. They dump her out the car and go to Pizza Hut without her.
Althea gets home and the vampire is waiting for her. The vampire is ready to eat her now. She begs him to let her be popular for one teensy more time, so she can savour the memory of it. Kindly Uncle Vampire lets her feel what it was like to be popular for a few moments. She decides to take the vampire down with her, so he can’t prey on any more vulnerable young girls.
To defeat him, she rejects his final gift of popularity: She takes her popularity and “wipes” and “mops” it on him. Ewww. You can buy creams for that you know.
Anyway, it works. She defeats the vampire and decides that she will be popular again one day, but next time she’ll be popular on her own merit. It’s nice that she’s so optimistic but I kind of doubt that will happen.
And the vampire is back in the tower again, waiting….and I know he definitely gets out because I’ve read two sequels to this book.
Conclusion: you know what would be awesome? If they made some hidden camera TV show and tricked some kid into thinking they’d met a vampire and they were feeding schoolmates to the vampire in return for stuff, and everyone could pretend to like them one day and then be all cold the next day. It would be super elaborate, like the Truman Show with vampires I guess. I’d definitely watch that. Someone would probably end up killing themselves but on balance I think it would still be worth it.
Over to Amazon: One reviewer comments that “This book was brilliant, if you don't like vampires you will after reading this.” Whilst I agree with part one of that statement, part two intrigues and worries me. I wouldn’t exactly mistake this book for propaganda written by the Department for Fair Treatment to Vampires – We’re Nice Guys Too You Know (DFTVWNGTYK for short).
Next time – I’ll either do more of 13 Tales, or something else entirely. Any suggestions? I know someone mentioned The Invitation, and I like the look of that one, it seems nice and old school.
Aww, just look at the little guy's face. How could I say no? This blog is still the first thing I think of when I wake up and the last thing on my mind before I fall asleep. But as a wise man once said - "Jesus H., writing about point horror books can get really fucking tiresome." Although since all that money went missing I'm not sure how much I should trust that particular wise man anymore.
Point is - my guilt baby has nearly reached full term, so I'll be updating soon.
(Gross. What do you reckon a guilt baby would look like? I'm thinking it would be similar to this:
Yoo hoo! I’m back! And I have with me more tales of terror to tingle your spine and freeze your very brain.
A Little Taste of Death – Patricia Windsor
This one is hard to rip into, because it’s super creepy and good. It’s about this girl called Louey (which totally makes me picture some fat, aging bald dude BTW) who’s staying with her grandma. And everyone knows that Grandma is no fun. One day Louey sees an advert in the local newspapers that resonates with her, detailing a man and a white hat and a lollipop. If you’ve met this man, and eaten his lollipop, the advert advises that you visit a local group as it could save your life.
At first Louey’s all, "that was ten years ago I ate that man’s lollipop who the fuck cares right?" But then she gets bored and decides to go along. She meets a boy of her age called Bobby Lee outside, and a bunch of other teens inside, led by another teenager named James. The teens are recounting tales of all the dreadful things they’ve done – sadly we don’t get to hear any of these stories. Louey’s totally not a badass, so the only story she has is the one detailing how she got the lollipop:
She was on a train and her mom fell asleep. A man with a white hat and green eyes and a brown tooth sidled up and gave her a lollipop. Her mom woke up and tells Louey not to eat the lollipop, but Louey was like, FUCK IT, eating lollipop is what I do bitch, and she gobbled that bad boy down.
In the meeting, James confirms that everyone there ate their lollipop and now they’re “going through the change.” I would insert a joke about the menopause here but last time I checked, I’m not Joan Rivers. The other kids start talking about how terrible “the change” is, and all the guilt they feel for the stuff they’ve done and they decide to kill themselves. That is a pretty good solution.
Louey freaks out and runs away from the meeting, stopping only to kick a poor stray puppy on her way home. The next morning, Louey feels like she’s done something she should be ashamed of but she can’t put her finger on what it is. Oh honey, I know that feeling well. She also starts having violent fantasies about her grandma (not like THAT. You people make me sick.)
Later, she goes for a walk and spots loads of police down the street. She finds out it’s because James killed himself. He slit his throat in the tub. Ewww. He slit his THROAT?! At least go for your wrists homeboy. As the newspaper arrives every day, there’s an obituary for another of the teens from the lollipop group that’s killed themselves. All except Bobby Lee.
Louey also starts having nightmares, and Bobby Lee features in all of them. In the dream he asks her weird things, like “what causes you heart the most pain?” How deep. Of course he also rides a motorcycle and he dresses in leathers in her dream. How very Grease 2.
Also in her dreams, he asks her to kill critters for him and then she wakes up with blood on her fingers. Eventually he asks her again what her worst, most private thing is. And she’s like, yeah I’ll do it. And then she falls off the motorbike and wakes up. up.
And hears her Gran screaming downstairs. Because there’s a dog boiling in a pot on the stove. I guess this is her worst, most private thing? I mean, who DOESN’T secretly yearn to kill and par boil a dog?
Louey takes charge and throws the dog away onto the compost heap (?)
Bobby Lee arrives at her door, in real life this time. And this time he has one brown tooth, green eyes and a white hat. Bobby Lee’s all, I’ve got ‘em all except you now, time to go. And Louey’s all doing her Tyra bitch face, like okay okay, nuh – HUH, and he’s all YUH – huh . But then Louey tells him that she remembers that she had one lick of the lollipop and put it away – so she doesn’t have to go with him after all - “Cause I only had a little taste of death.”
In conclusion – is it just me or does it feel like this story is meant to have some sort of a deeper meaning? I’m so distracted by the boiled dog and the slit throat that I can’t concentrate on anything else.
The Doll – Carol Ellis
Abby is 16 years old and she moves into a new house. She finds a creepy old doll that looks kinda like a “small dead child” in the attic. Since “small dead child” s are soooo 2011, she keeps the doll and gives it pride of place in her bedroom. Abby’s 12 year old sister teases her about the doll but Abby’s 12 year old sister is some loser who knows nothing about how chic dead child doll accessories are.
Abby starts having weird dreams (as a side note, if ONE more of these stories involves weird dreams, I swear to God….I mean, come on Point Horror brothers and sisters! These are short stories! You have like 10 pages to make the magic happen. Are you SURE you want to waste precious words on dream sequences?)
Anyway, Abby’s friend Erin comes to visit and she picks up the doll, comments on how creepy the doll is etc. Then Abby dreams about a little girls hand pushing someone down the stairs. She wakes up to screams - Erin has just fallen down the stairs. Don’t worry, though, she’s ok. I miss the boiled dog.
Later, Abby has Erin over, as well as another friend called Holly Roselle. I don’t know what Holly Roslle has done that’s so great to get her surname included. Maybe that famous Point Horror casting couch isn’t an urban myth after all – Carol Ellis, you sly old dog.
Then a giant lamp falls on Holly’s head. There’s blood and a gash (tee hee) but that’s pretty much it. Abby remembers that she’d dreamed it happening. Nice work, mystic Meg. Woulda been just swell if you coulda remembered that dream about 5 minutes ago.
I skim read the next 2 pages because they started with the word “dream” and I got so angry that I forgot how to read. But I think that Abby’s little sister got trapped in a tree-house fire (?)in real life, that Abby dreamed the doll started. And apart from some gnarly burns she’ll be ok.
Abby is now too scared to go to sleep. For some reason she still has the doll in her room. Even though she keeps dreaming about a small , doll like hand carrying out these acts of violence, she doesn’t seem to have put two and two together and noticed that this doll is seriously bad news.
Some dude called Mark comes round and he and Abby kiss. That night Abby dreams about a car crash, JUST GET RID OF THE DAMN DOLL ALREADY!
Mark’s late to pick Abby up and when she calls his house, his mom tells her that Mark is dead – he died in a car crash. He had to swerve cos he saw a little girl in the road and that’s what did it.
Abby hears a creepy little giggle and the penny FINALLY fucking drops that the doll is doing all the bad shit. Abby puts the doll back into its wooden box, and drives it to the cliff. She can hear little tiny fists beating against the inside of the wooden box. She throws the box over the cliff. And there’s some stupid addendum – 9 years later, a man finds the doll ona beach and takes it home to give his daughter for Christmas yadda yadda. What the fuck kind of a lousy parent would give their kid some rotten doll that had been in the sea for NINE years as a Christmas gift? Had that happened to me, I would have had myself legally emancipated.
One sentence synopsis: It’s the creepy doll that’s murdering everyone, Abby. It’s the creepy doll.
Conclusion – I’m always so scathing about these people not realising what’s going on sooner. But that’s kind of worrying. I wonder whether if something weird happened to me, I’d now instantly blame the creepy doll for attempted murder? If so then Point Horror is paying for my psychiatric care. And I'm expensive, baby.
House of Horrors – JB Stamper
Mark works in the House of Horrors as a guide, alongside Lisa, who he has the hots for. Eliot also works there, and Mark is jealous of Eliot’s rugged good looks.
Mark takes a group of teens around the House of Horrors. The House of Horrors is appropriately horrifying. As the working day draws to a close, Mark is excited as he’s going to after hours party with the other tour guides. Eliot instructs Mark to hide amongst the waxwork corpses after his last tour so the boss doesn’t see him and clock on about the illegal after hours party. Once the boss has left, the party starts! Uh oh. I think I can see where this is going.
As instructed, Mark hides amongst the waxworks. That is totally something that I could never do. Waxworks actually terrify me to a ridiculous degree. Mark waits in the library room for his boss to finish doing his rounds. At 10pm, Mark goes looking for the others.
The others are not there.
Mark starts running through all the rooms that make up the House of Horrors with only his flashlight for company as he grows increasingly panicked. Finally, the only room left to investigate is the dungeon.
The dungeon’s pitch black and Mark gets MAADDDD when he realises that he’s been fooled. He turns back to head home, but the only exit is locked, so Marky baby’s going nowhere.
Things get worse when he hears footsteps coming towards him and he runs back to the dungeon. And notices a waxwork of a beautiful vampire woman in the dungeon that was previously in the library. At this point, I would totally have lost my marbles, and therefore had no worries at all.
Mark drops the flashlight, and the footsteps get closer. He runs towards the library now, and hears an evil laugh. He can’t escape – the laugh gets closer and some fangs sink into his meaty neck: “another victim for the House of Horros”.
The next day, Lisa comes to work also excited and chuckling about how scared Mark would have been. Mark’s not there – but there is a new waxwork, A waxwork that looks an awful lot like Mark.
Conclusion: I guess all my fears about waxworks aren’t unfounded after all.
One sentence synopsis: Eliot and Lisa are absolute vaginas.
Where The Deer Are – Caroline B Cooney
This one’s about a girl called Tiffany, which I instantly love because it makes me think about the most beautiful and graceful Tiffany in all the world.
Tiffany lives in a house that’s deep in the woods, and damn but Tiffany hates those darn woods. She goes so far as to compare the trees to teenage anorexics. See – Caroline B Cooney knows about issues and stuff.
( is it just me or does that anorexic tree look an awful lot like Quentin Tarantino?)
Tiff also has issues with the deer that populate the woods. Her house is a particularly favourite hang out spot for the deer, and Tiffany is convinced it’s so they can watch her. Jeez, conceited much? I mean, sure, you were hot in Saved By The Bell, but this is nature we’re talking about here, y’know? And nature is more discerning than AC Slater and Zack "preppy" Morris put together.
One more thing that Tiffany finds shit about where she lives: a part of the woods called Dead Kid Curve from whence two kids disappeared 25 years ago.
Tiffany avoids Dead Kids Curve like she’s Victoria Beckham and it’s a morsel of carbohydrate (zing!) . She walks to school through the woods with four other friends who share the same fear.
Walking to school, Tiffany starts obsessing over the deer and thinking about how humans shoot them and stuff. One of the other kids, Janie, starts predicting that one of them is going to be taken by the dead kid curve today. What a buzzkill.
Tiffany gets “caught in a fever of trees. A paralysis of deer.” We get it, there are shit loads of trees. And deer.
Lest the kids go five fucking seconds without thinking or talking about deer, they start discussing “where the deer go”. Because they never see a trace of them on top of a cliff? I dunno. I don’t want to think about this too hard. Let’s all just agree that the deer are mysterious.
Patrick reminds Tiffany that her father killed a deer last week. These kids need to take up drinking, or sex, or anything. Just take their minds of the deer.
Unfortunately, the path they usually take is blocked by a whole bunch of debris so they have no option but to go the Dead Kid Curve route. Tiffany is still actually FREAKING out. Her skull’s vibrating, she’s crying and shaking, the full works.
They head towards the curve taking Tiffany with them. She has some weird vision of cellar door opening, and she’s convinced that the curve is going to choose to take her.
They reach the school and Tiffany is ridiculously relieved. Except Janie’s missing. Ruh-roh. The kids decide to walk back to the curve to find her. Except Tiffany, who’s to scared and runs straight to school.
At school, still freaking out, Tiffany goes to the bathroom. And in the mirror, she sees the reflection of a deer. The deer daintily climbs out of the mirror. Tuiffany runs out of the bathroom. And the school is suddenly deserted.
Tiffany runs out into the street – which is also empty of humans. But full of deer. Good old deer. The deer are all staring at her, and kind of judging her. Tiffany runs back through the woods towards home, but she’s not feeling too hopeful: “She would disappear. And that would not be man-made. It would be deer-made”
Tiffany sees the boys far in the distance – and Janie with them – she’d just forgotten her lunch bag.
Tiffany’s still running, and she’s all like, it’s not my fault you deers get shot and humans are terrible environmentalists. But it’s too late, and she begins the long fall through the cellar, which she knows will never end.
Wow, was that ever depressing.
Conclusion: Caroline B Cooney definitely does eerie well. Her stories always succeed in making me feel a little bit sick and claustrophobic – in a totally good way.
First off, for the most part, this anthology is fucking awesome and I am extremely grateful it was suggested. Sure there are a few stinkers in here, but I'm pretty sure I had this book and loved it at the time as well. Oh God, I can't even joke about this, it is so seriously good. Let's get into it. Oh, and to keep in the spirit of short stories, I'll provide a one sentence synopsis at the bottom of each recap.
Collect Call – Christopher Pike
Janice Adams likes Bobby Walker. Caroline Spencer also likes Bobby Walker. Caroline Spencer is a cheerleader. Janice Adams is NOT a cheerleader. This one opens at party – most definitely a Christopher Pike party. I mean, the kids are drinking beer and smoking cigarettes and talking about penises. My invite must have gotten lost in the post.
Janice manages to corner Bobby, who is of the slicked back black hair, tight black jeans, leather jacket and deathly cold breath variety of bad boy.
Unfortunately, Bobby calls Caroline over to join their chat, which makes Janice feel , well, feel as if “I look like a bookmark next to her.” Which is sort of weird.
So, it’s Caroline’s birthday and Bobby gives her a tape cassette by a singer called The Black Walker. Aren’t band names in books just the cringiest thing ever? According to Bobby, “The Black Walker doesn’t prostitute himself. You can feel him but you can’t see him. He’s never been on TV.” Sounds like The Black Walker needs a better publicist.
The party ends, Bobby’s left, and circumstances dictate that Janice has to give Caroline a ride home.
Here’s a weird sentence for you to mull over. “Caroline shrugged, staring forward, her head bowed slightly as if she were wearing a fat hat.” What the fuck? A FAT hat?
(that picture is going to give me terrible nightmares)
Anyway, Caroline and Jan decide to listen to The Black Walker tape. According to Christopher Pike, the lyrics are “powerful stuff.” Here’s a sample so you can judge for yourself:
“This is my night, this is your night. I’m a black walker, babe. Touch me softly and you get a fright.”
Oh right, I didn’t realise The Black Walker was, like, a 12 year old girl. The concept of a fat hat has affected me far more deeply and cruelly than these lyrics ever will. Jan starts being nasty to Caroline and, predictably, the girls start arguing over Bobby. Caroline ends up punching Jan in the face, which is pretty stupid considering Jan is trying to drive the car.
They crash off a cliff or something and the tape turns itself on for a second. Spookz. Janice realises that Caroline is totally dunzo and Janice panics about drink driving and the murder and the prison. So Janice decides to move Caroline’s body into the driving seat. Yeah, that always works out well. And then the car explodes. Janice is thrown clear but she hears Caroline’s screams as she burns. Uh oh, should have checked that pulse first eh Janice. You know what they say, assume makes an ass of u and me.
Rather than trying to save Caroline, Janice just feels a bit guilty whilst waiting for her to die. Janice wakes up in hospital being questioned by a police officer. Her doctor is called Dr Please. I’m trying to figure out if this is supposed to be some sort of clever joke?
Rather than being kept in overnight or anything after this horrific accident, Janice gets taken back to her home, which naturally is 100% parent free. Creepily, there’s a message on her answering machine...from Caroline, presumably left earlier in the evening, to ask for a lift to the party. Janice goes to bed to try to forget about it...when the answer machine starts beeping again and there’s a NEW message from Caroline, begging for a ride to the party.
Caroline keeps leaving like a million messages asking for a ride, sounding angrier and angrier.
Janice decides that Caroline must have survived so she gets in her car to drive back to the hospital to check. At the hospital, she meets an old woman with a big droopy nose who tells her that the driver of the car definitely died.
Janice does exactly the same as you or I would in the same situation and heads down to the hospital morgue to double check Caroline’s dead. There’s a body bag in the morgue, but it has Jan’s name on it rather than Caroline’s. Jan isn’t panicking yet though, she’s all, “yeah man, they must have just mixed up our names, shit happens right.” But Jan doesn’t have the guts to look inside the bag and she freaks out and runs away.
In her car, The Black Walker tape has somehow made its way into the player again. Umm, but it’s something like it’s actually the tape from the answering machine? This bit is confusing and if I try and read that passage one more time I’m going to get frustrated and upset with my own limitations and start smashing shit up. I’m not very bright.
OK, so Caroline’s voice starts talking on the tape, giving Jan directions to where she has to drive, which Jan follows. Guess where Caroline directs Jan to? Yeah, that’s right, McDonalds and they eat a Big Mac and Ronald McDonald starts breakdancing and then they all make out. Oh wait, sorry, I was daydreaming about Mac and Me again. Jan actually ends up at the site of the crash.
And she sees her own car crash with her and Caroline inside it. Future Janice runs down to help the girls and pulls Caroline free. She tries to save the other girl as well, but she can’t. So Jan explodes into fire and dies or something.
This time, Caroline wakes up in hospital. And Bobby Walker is waiting outside to see her.
Whilst she waits for Bobby, Caroline decides to check the messages on her hospital phone. One is from Bobby, to check if he loved the tape and saying he’ll see her soon “if she’s still alive.” That old chestnut. Also, Caroline realises that his voice is exactly the same as The Black Walker. The second message is from Janice, blabbing on about how the fire burned off her hands and she's coming for Caroline, who I guess is dead too and this is some big eternal death circle or some other Christopher Pike style pseudo spiritual thing. Caroline starts screaming and Bobby Walker enters the room with a big ol’ shit eating grin on his face.
In conclusion, unless I'm missing something major, that story makes, like zero sense? But who cares right, sometimes it's not about the destination, it's about the journey. And baby, this was one good ride.
One sentence synopsis: These two chicks fight over this greaseball guy but then they die in a car accident and the guy turns out to be the devil or Danny Zuko or something.
Onto short story number two:
Lucinda – Lael Littke
Kate has an older brother called Brandon, whose girlfriend, Lucinda, went missing on her graduation night six years ago. Kate saw Lucinda and Brandon argue over Brandon’s relationship with a girl called Holly that night, then saw Lucinda wade out into a river, and then has blocked out whatever the fuck traumatic shit happened next because her puny human mind couldn’t deal with it.
Now Kate is 16 and Brandon is 23 and they’ve been orphaned and decided to move back to the town where it happened. Brandon is all wracked with guilt, STILL and takes Kate on some ghoulish Lucinda themed tour of the town. The lake where Lucinda presumably drowned is all dried up now, so they go for a little stroll through it. Brandon is hoping to find Lucinda’s skeleton or something. Already, I’m not so sure about Brandon.
Brandon takes Kate to the remains of a house that was under the river that Lucinda used to frequent and shows her Lucinda’s “secret place” in the basement part. It’s all snakey and ghost whispery.
Keith arrives to welcome the pair back to the town. Keith was Lucinda’s brother and supposedly he sorta maybe kinda blames Brandon for his sister’s death. Holly also rocks up, and she still has the hots for Brandon. Holly suggests that Lucinda pulled a Lord Lucan and isn’t really dead.
That night, Kate wakes up to find a puddle of water on the floor. Kate, Kate, there’s no need to be ashamed. We all have little accidents from time to time. The water drops somehow lead Kate out of her room towards the foundations of Linda’s old house. That’s some smart water drops right there.
Kate freaks out and runs away, bumping into Holly. Holly walks Kate home, but not before she points out that she can hear a ghostly voice whispering Brandon’s name. How reassuring.
At home, Kate finds Brandon huddled in the corner like a pathetic baby clutching onto a red graduation robe like the one Lucinda was wearing when she disappeared. He says that Lucinda was at the house all dripping wet and creepy and he managed to grab the robe. Brandon's mental health prognosis is not looking so good right about now.
The next day, Kate goes to search Lucinda’s “secret spot” in the river. And sees Lucinda staring there in her red graduation robe. Lucinda attacks Kate, and Kate cleverly realises that her attacker is too strong and...humany to be a ghost. And that the face is actually a porcelain mask made to look like Lucinda. Ummm OK.
The pair tussle and Kate lands on some icky brown skeleton. Kate realises that “Lucinda” is actually Holly, and Kate’s memory of what she saw 6 years ago returns – Holly attacked Lucinda with an axe in the river. Holly admits it, and says she did it because of her love for Brandon. And now she’s back dressed as Lucinda with her fancy porcelain mask so she can torture Brandon in a similar way to how he tortured her by withholding the good stuff. Jeez, these kids.
Kate manages to escape and luckily Keith also arrives in the nick of time to rescue her. So I guess that Keiths are good for something after all.
Conclusion: this one was boring.
I’ve decided to write my one sentence synopsis for this one in the form of an awesome haiku:
If I saw a ghost
I’d be smart enough to check
That it wasn’t actually a vengeful ex-girlfriend wearing a porcelain mask or something
(You might have noticed that I slightly fucked up the haiku at the end there. But if you say it fast enough it sorta works)
The Guiccioli Miniature – Jay Bennett
This one is set in Venice. You can tell because the first paragraph manages to mention the Piazza San Marco, St Mark’s canal, San Giorgio Island and gondolas. Lots and lots of gondolas.
Jerry is an American tourist in Venice who’s approached by another American man who isn’t looking so hot, eg he’s all stubbly and gross. Stubbly tramp man persuades Jerry to buy a miniature from him that he’s painted. Uh oh. We’re in the second paragraph now and already I fear that this miniature is going to come with some sort of curse that means Jerry will take the Stubbly Tramp’s place wandering the streets of Venice alone for all eternity until he can find another gullible American tourist to buy the miniature.
Anyway, this miniature is a copy of the Guiccioli miniature. It’s of a very beautiful woman, who was apparently Byron’s beezatch number one back in the day.
Jerry goes for a walk and thinks about the miniature and about Bryon and imagines people are following him and starts having a panic attack like a stupid great big girl. So, clearly following the same curse-y line of reasoning as me, he decides to be done with it and throw the painting in a canal (in case you may have forgotten, Jerry is in Venice.)
On the plane back to America the next day, Jerry reads a newspaper article. The old stubbly tramp man is on the front page. He’s dead, because he stole the ACTUAL Guiccioli miniature, which is, like, priceless, and then double crossed his partners and now they’ve tracked him down and killed him. Jerry realises that he is a fucking idiot. The end.
Conclusion – how the hell did this story find its way into a Point Horror anthology.Seriously.
One sentence synopsis:
Yeah, I went there. I used the lolcat.
Blood Kiss – D.E. Athkins
(yessssss, a D.E. Athkins one!)
Elizabeth is with her friends Delia and Valerie, who together are perving over the new boy Ken. He’s aptly named as well, since he apparently looks like a Ken doll.
Ummm, hot, I guess? He also wears dark glass and “long, long coats that looked somehow from another century” so he’s totally rocking Columbine chic.
Elizabeth is totes in love with him, despite the rumours that he’s a vampire. And the fact that she sees herself as kind of a clumsy dweeb. Hmmmm, I wonder if S Meyer is a secret D.E. Athkins fan.
Elizabeth even goes so far as to research vampires, I guess so they could have something to talk about? Like, "hey, you know what I really hate? Garlic. Garlic and crosses." "No way? Me too!" "We have so much in common!" "Let's make out now." *slurp slurp slurp*
Ken gets all these smokin’ girlfriends, but they never last and the break ups are all kind of mysterious. Elizabeth is secretly dying of jealousy but she keeps it quiet so her friends can’t tease her.
Things get worse when her friend Delia starts flirting with Ken until one day Delia arrives at school with a scarf round her neck, although she also denies that Ken got chompy with her. Once those two break up, Ken starts dating Val. Really Elizabeth, he’s totally used goods by now. And there are other vampires in the sea.
Whilst her friends are out getting laid, Elizabeth returns to the library and discovers that some folks believe a vampire needs to bite you more than once before you can be turned. She wonders how vampires kiss each other – “Like, what did they do with their teeth? Was it like wearing glasses or having braces? Could a vampire write to Ann Landers about it?”
Elizabeth decides that Ken is just nibbling all these girls, waiting for his one true love, that he will then bite and turn into a vampire properly.
Val and Ken eventually break up, and, like all the other girls before her, she refuses to talk about it. So Elizabeth approaches Ken and he asks her out on a date. Ugh, Ken is such a man whore, forget vampirism, I’d be more scared of catching the clap.
After watching a movie, they drive up to Point and Elizabeth asks Ken if he’s really a vampire. In response, he gives her a “schoolboy nibble” on her neck. Elizabeth is crushingly disappointed, so she starts getting mad at Ken, asking if he led all the girls on by pretending be a vampire and then refusing to bite them properly. Can I just interject to say two things here – firstly a rousing What The Fuck, and secondly, I love the world that D.E.Athkins lives in. It’s just so....fabulous.
So Ken gets mad back and tells Elizabeth that all the girls liked dating a vampire at first but then they got weird about it and treated him like a pervert once he got serious. Ken is angry because he feels used. The vampire is angry because teenage girls used him. The vampire is upset by being labelled a pervert.
And Ken realises that Elizabeth is different to the other girls and she won’t be such a haemoglobin tease, so she bites his neck and drinks his blood and then is all “gimme a kiss.” Very Angela Carter...if Angela Carter were fabulous.
Conclusion - D.E.Athinks is literally the best writer that ever lived, ever. I can’t even really snark her, she’s just so damn good.
One sentence synopsis – You know Twilight? Imagine if it was actually, like, funny. And didn’t have all those uncomfortable messages about abortion and sex before marriage. And it was only 17 pages long. Yeah, it's that good.
As you may have noticed, so far I have only covered four out of the thirteen promised tales of terror. Come back soon for the remaining nine. ( I actually had to count out on my fingers to figure that out.)
No, your eyes do not deceive you...it really is a new entry. And this time I've gone for an author I have never covered before, the gloriously named Carol Ellis with her magnum opus The Body.
First things first, the silver snake stick on the front cover is bitchin.’ It’s pretty much the perfect finishing touch to my pimp suit.
So, this basically a book about tapping. Tapping and Jane Eyre. I shit you not. A significant portion of this book is passages directly quoting Jane Eyre. Hey, guess what Carol Ellis? If I wanted to read Jane Eyre, I’d have read Jane Eyre. Or maybe watched the TV serialisation.
ANYWAY, Melanie is our heroine and she’s new to town and therefore has no friends (apart from Trina but she’s boorrrriiing). Melanie gets a job reading to Lisa – Lisa is an invalid who lives in a super creepy mansion. Lisa is the same age as Melanie but she’s paralysed, confined to a wheelchair and unable to speak after a cliff falling accident she had a few months ago or whenever.
Lisa’s dad is kind of an absentee father and the housekeeper Ms Hudson is a massive bitch and she only started working at the house after Lisa had her accident. I reckon that Lisa’s dad is secretly boofing the housekeeper, you read it here first.
Melanie decides to read Lisa Jane Eyre. Here begins the wholesale copy and pasting of Jane Eyre to reach a minimum word count. Nice one, Ellis. Melanie read out the bit where Jane Eyre suspects someone is plotting against Rochester after the fiery bed incident (SPOILER ALERT!) and Lisa manages to move her arm and narrow her eyes at this passage. I fear this is going to be a very slow paced book.
Melanie discovers that the house is riddled with CCTV, so at any point, pretty much anyone could be watching them. This is probably important. Melanie also meets Jeff, Lisa’s buff gardener. He’s also new to town. HOW CONVENIENT.
Jeff tells Melanie that Lisa had the accident by falling off a cliff. But he acts all weird and shifty about it and won't go into detail. Like, yawn.
On her way out, Melanie nearly collides with another car in the driveway. The driver is Garrett, and he’s Lisa’s boyfriend. Naturally, he is also super cute. Jeff and Garrett evidently hate each other, but I sense some sexual undercurrents between them.
Melanie goes to see her boring friend Trina in the diner where Trina works. (ps, I HATE this name, every time I type it out my spell check changes it to train. CURSES.) Trina is good for something and tells Melanie that Jeff was the one who discovered Lisa. Oooh, secrets and lies.
Garrett arrives at the diner with his crew. The only other important ones are Neil and Kim, who are a couple. Neil is a jerk and he makes a big deal out of flirting with Melanie and Kim is blates jealous and staring daggers at Melanie.
Melanie finds out one more important tidbit of information from Trina – last year this college guy backpacker called Peter passed through town and indulged in some light flirting with Kim – the goss is that Neil flipped out with jealousy and punched him. Oh, and this Peter kid also had a walking stick with a silver snake curled on the top – JUST LIKE ON THE COVER! (hehe, I almost typed “snail” instead of “snake” – now that would be pretty sweet.) Anyway, I cant believe these kids still even remember this one random dude. Also, Lisa’s accident happened whilst this mysterious Peter was in town.
Next day, Melanie is back at Lisa’s place reading Jane Eyre to her. Again, Lisa starts flipping out at one of the passages, Well, I say “flipping out”. For Lisa, flipping out pretty much consists of slightly moving her hand. Which, frankly, is less exciting than it could be.
Melanie and Lisa also work out a code: Lisa will blink once for yes and twice for no. When Melanie starts blabbing to everyone she knows about the code, Lisa’s friends fail to believe it. In fact, Garrett seems pretty pissed off about this whole communication thing and basically tells Melanie to back off.
Melanie agrees to go get something to eat with Jeff. Like, a DATE! And because of some stupid dream she had that I didn’t bother to bore you with she feels like she’s doing something incredibly dangerous and exciting.
Jeff tells her about when he found Lisa after her fall off the cliff. How romantic. It’s pretty standard, but Melanie is sure that he’s holding something back.
Later that night, Melanie gets her Jane Eyre on again and marks the passages in the book where Lisa was trying to communicate with her. Oh God, please don’t make me describe them.
Next time at Lisa’s, there’s a message inside Jane Eyre: “If you want to keep reading, be careful who you talk to.” Maybe it’s from Charlotte Bronte and she’s pissed that her novel is being used in this shitty little book for teenagers. But Melanie reckons it's Kim, the jealous girlfriend. Melanie also finally realises that whatever Lisa is trying to tell her, Lisa needs it to be kept secret.
Just before going on a bowling date with Jeff, Melanie goes through the Jane Eyre clues AGAIN, using her mad sleuthing skillz to figure out that Lisa was trying to tell her that a stranger with large black eyes had plotted against her and frightened her. Melanie decides that this may refer to Jeff. Melanie sure is keen to write Jeff off.
At home, Melanie gets a crank call from the note writer. The voice starts off high, thin and breathy like a little girl, before becoming deep and guttural. That’s so hot.
Jeff picks up Melanie up and Melanie is shitting herself that he’s going to kill her because of the random crappy little clues that she’s managed to use her one functioning brain cell to string together.
Back at home there’s a message for Melanie painted in red nail polish across the door: “Be careful Melanie, I know what you’re doing.” Naturally, despite worrying that the mystery author MAY ACTUALLY STILL BE IN HER HOUSE, Melanie doesn’t call the police. And she still thinks Kim is responsible.
Melanie sees Kim at the diner and confronts her. Kim does not appear to know what the hell Melanie is talking about.
Melanie tells Trina that Lisa is trying to tell her a secret, private message. Gee, for something that’s so private and secret, Melanie sure does tell an awful lot of people about it.
Later, at Lisa’s house, Melanie and Lisa sit outside and through the power of blinking, Lisa confirms that She DOES indeed want to tell Melanie something, and that it IS indeed top secret information. Melanie realises she’s left her book in the car and runs back to get it. And a tree branch nearly falls on Lisa that Jeff is sawing down. Melanie only just manages to move Lisa out the way. Umm, that was lucky I guess.
Jeff is all, ooooopsie, sorry, I was up the tree with the chainsaw and I didn’t see where the branch was going to land. This shit is like catnip to Melanie.
Garret shows up, as usual and Melanie is all, why do you always show up during reading time? Maybe YOU’RE the one leaving all these hideoso messages. Garrett denies it convincingly, and points the finger of blame towards Jeff. Because Melanie is incapable of thinking for herself she decides that Jeff is suspect number one.
At home, Melanie read though the Jane Eyre quotes again. AGAIN! FUCK!
On her way home from a babysitting job, someone tries to run Melanie over. Tragically, they fail. Trina shows up and once again Melanie confides in her. Trina comes up with a plan for Melanie to get more info AND foil the security cameras – tape some questions inside a magazine and show them to Lisa, then let the blinking do its magic. The first question she has is “Was there a crime?” That is such a dumb question that I think it’s actually just given me renal failure.
Next day, there’s a mudslide by the cliff (?) so Melanie has to go some weird long way around to get to Lisa’s house. Her car breaks down and she decides to walk through the forest to the house. As you can no doubt imagine, it is a jittery journey. Eventually Melanie comes to a clearing and finds the remains of a campfire, which is evidently where that guy Peter with the silver snake stick camped.
Melanie realises this as she finds the silver snake stick. Melanie reckons that Peter must have been killed and he’s buried somewhere round here. Well, I guess that’s as good a hypothesis as any. Melanie figures out that Lisa had been running from something in the forest when she fell off the cliff. I sure am glad that the police obviously did such a thorough examination of the area where Lisa was found. Oh wait a minute. This is a Point Horror book. Who calls the police?! Losers that’s who! Losers and fatties.
Melanie arrives at the house and Garrett is there. In the room with Lisa and Garrett, Lisa starts frantically doing her tapping thing and Melanie realises that Garrett is the one that Lisa is afraid of. Garrett basically admits that yes, he is the villain.
Garrett tells Melanie that after Neil punched snake stick Peter, Lisa offered to let him sleep on her property since its so big and all. Garrett and Neil went to visit him to try and get him to leave. Neil was still angry about Peter flirting with Kim and Garret was in a lousy mood since Lisa had told him that she wanted to break up with him. So Neil and Garrett ended up beating Peter to death. Oh Peter, we barely knew ye.
Lisa witnessed Garrett deliver the fatal blow with a rock, and Garrett needs to make sure she keeps her damn fool mouth shut.
Garret pulls out a knife , forcing Melanie to wheel Lisa outside so he can push them both off the cliff. Melanie outwits him outside by braking the wheelchair on the slope above Garrett and whispering to Lisa that she needs to release the brakes when Melanie tells her to. Melanie walks further away down the hill and tells him she’s not willing to cooperate in her own murder. Lisa is behind Garret on the hill and at Melanie’s command she releases the brakes and goes zooming towards Garret in her wheelchair. Wooo hoooo! This speeding wheelchair is probably the most exciting moment thus far. Mainly because it reminds me of that scene in The Witches with the speeding buggy. Let's just take a moment to picture it.
Anyway, Garrett gets knocked over and Melanie grabs the knife.
Conveniently, Ms Hudson and Lisa’s dadda show up with two policemen, which dad explains by saying he was worried because he tried calling and didn’t get an answer. Wait, you call the police for THAT? Oh well, its pretty handy anyway. Everything is happily resolved and Melanie completely forgets about all Jeff’s weird mood swings and suspicious behaviour that made her think he was a psycho and decides that he’s The One.
From this book I mainly learned that a stick with a silver snake on the top of it is a highly fashionable backpacking accessory. And that Jane Eyre is a much, much better book than The Body.
I must admit that one of the main reasons I chose The Body was the glowing reviews it received on Amazon. Glowing! You let me down Amazon, you let me down. But then one of the reviewers does spell the word "psychotic" as "cycotic" so perhaps I shouldn't have been too surprised when this wasn't a great piece of literature, like, say, hmmm....Jane Eyre?
I haven't decided what to do next time yet...any excellent suggestions? I really need a good one, preferably involving ghosts/zombies/icky monsters.