Thursday, November 25, 2010

R.L. STINE BOOK OF THE WEEK: Cheerleaders: The Third Evil

Fight, fight, fight or die, die, die!

From the back cover:


Did the evil spirit really leave Kimmy's body? The cheerleaders of Shadyside High can still feel its dark presence, and Corky knows that it is out there, somewhere close. And getting closer.

Corky is tormented night after night by dreams of her dead sister, Bobbi. What terrifying message is Bobbi trying to tell her? When the evil begins again - more horrible, more gruesome than ever - Corky knows it is up to her to learn the century-old secrets and destroy the evil spirit's power for good. But so many have died already - will Corky be next?

My thoughts:

I know it's Thursday and usually I do my R.L. Stine Book of the Week on Sunday, but I didn't have time to post it until now.

Cheerleaders: The Third Evil is probably the goriest of the series - just read the excerpt below for a sample. It's probably the most gruesome thing I've read from R.L. Stine so far. Except the body count is surprisingly low for a book with tons of gore. In fact, it's nonexistent. Not a single person dies in the book (excluding the flashback from the excerpt below, which I don't count). There a lot of bloody accidents, but nothing too serious, which was a disappointment.

The happily ever after ending was also a letdown. I guess you can't expect a book for teens to have lots of death and a not so typical, happy ending, but I thought this one was different since it had so much gore. Oh well, it's still an enjoyable Stine book.

Rating: 4/5

PG-13 gore: She saw herself murdering the man at the mill, the man who had caused her husband's accident. She saw the expression of utter disbelief on the man's face as she grabbed him and shoved him from behind. And she heard the crack and splat as she pushed his head under the mill wheel. And his head was ground up as fine as the corn.

The woman who lived in the big house on the hill was even easier to murder. And what pleasure Sarah had taken in the crime. What delight. After all, the woman insulted the Fears, insulted Simon Fear, insulted Sarah's dead husband, insulted the entire family.

She couldn't utter any insults with that length of clothesline wrapped around her neck. Sarah had pulled the clothesline tighter and tighter, until the woman's face was bright purple, as purple as the violets in her garden. So tight that the rope actually disappeared under the woman's skin. And the blood had flowed out in a perfect ring.

How lucky that Sarah was boiling up an enormous pot of potatoes when the young police officer arrived. She had only to shove his head deep into the boiling water, and wait.

What a struggle he'd put up. Thrashing his arms.

But Sarah had held his head under until the thrashing stopped. Until his breathing stopped, until he was dead, and he slumped lifeless over the black cast-iron stove.

All of his hair had floated off, floated to the top of the pot. And when she finally pulled him up, his head was as white as a boiled potato and nearly as soft.

Body count: 0

Next week: Cheerleaders: The New Evil

Sunday, November 14, 2010

R.L. STINE BOOK OF THE WEEK: Cheerleaders: The Second Evil

Cheers - from the grave!

From the back cover:


Corky Corcoran is sure it's just her imagination when she sees her dead sister rise from the grave. Or is it?

Corky is trying to put the nightmare of Bobbi's death behind her - she's back on the Shadyside cheerleading squad and has become friends with Kimmy and Debra. But everything is not back to normal for Corky - she hears horrible screams in the gym, her friend has become obsessed by the occult, and a strange young man is following her. And then the murders begin again....

Has the evil spirit from the Fear Street cemetery returned to destroy them one by one?

My thoughts: 

The second book in the Cheerleaders series is less cheerleading, more evil spirits, so I was a little disappointed because I found the cheerleading scenes to be the most entertaining parts. But there were still a few awful cheers to keep me interested:

We've got razzmatazz!
Pep, punch - and pizzazz!
Hey, you - you've been had.
Shadyside Tigers got razzmatazz!

I wasn't sure what razzmatazz was so I looked it up in the dictionary, and to my surprise, I learned it isn't a made-up word. It's another word for razzle-dazzle, which is also a real word apparently. Anyway, the Shadyside Tigers has razzmatazz in spades.

But one thing I hate is how Stine recycled scenes from the first book in this one. Kimmy fell during her pyramid flip in the first book, and the same thing happened to Corky in this book. In the first book, Corky happened to drive past the Fear Street Cemetery and see Jennifer dancing on Sarah Fear's grave. In this book, the same thing happened to Corky, except she saw Sarah Beth Plummer dancing on the grave. It's pretty disappointing when several climactic scenes in a sequel are just repeats of scenes from the original.

But the ending was exciting and original, and I was surprised by who the evil possessed. So, overall Cheerleaders: The Second Evil is entertaining, although not as much as the first book.

Rating: 4/5

PG-13 gore: She could tell that he was dead.

Sprawled there in his own blood.

She had to look away. She couldn't keep on staring at him.

She glanced up - and saw the power saw. And realized the steady whirring sound came from the power saw. The blade was spinning loudly.


Even louder.

And then Corky's ear-piercing screams drowned out the roar of the whirring saw blade as she caught sight of his severed hand. His hand, cut off at the wrist, rested like a glove beside the blade.

Body count: 2

Next week: Cheerleaders: The Third Evil

Sunday, November 7, 2010

T.V. REVIEW: The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror XXI

It's still Halloween on Fox tonight! The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror XXI aired tonight, along with Halloween episodes of The Cleveland Show, Family Guy and American Dad. And since it doesn't feel like Halloween until I see the new Simpsons Treehouse of Horror episode, I'm going to do a belated Halloween post and review the new episode.

The opening segment begins with Homer and Bart having a violent - and bloody - fight. Then Professor Frink warns the audience to use their DVR remote to fast forward through the violent scenes, demonstrating but ending up skipping the entire episode. He then says "I don't deserve to wield the remote," and fast forwards himself into a pile of dust.

Then Frankenstein says "Monster go watch The Office, Dunder Mifflin just like monster's workplace." And a spoof of the opening credits of The Office begins with a sign saying "Transylvania Welcomes You" and a building with the plaque "Monster Mifflin" is shown. Inside the building is a mummy getting his bandages stuck in a paper shredder, a zombie nuking a brain in a microwave and other various monsters.

As a fan of The Office, this was my favourite part of the episode. But don't worry, the rest of the episode is funny as well. Here are the three segments:

War and Pieces

When Marge catches Bart and Milhouse playing a violent video game, she forces them to play a good old fashioned board game. They choose a game called "Satan's Path" because "It's gotta be good if Satan put his name on it." It turns out to be even more violent than a video game when the game comes to life a la Jumanji, bringing all the other board games to life as well.

This segment was pretty funny, especially if you can relate to how much Mouse Trap sucks or ever wondered why Monopoly would include a lame game piece like a thimble.

Master and Cadaver

In a parody of the film Dead Calm, Homer and Marge are having a second honeymoon aboard a yacht when they spot a castaway (Hugh Laurie). After they help him aboard, he tells them how he narrowly escaped being poisoned on his boat, but Homer and Marge think he's the killer and is now trying to poison them.

I didn't find this segment to be funny at all, but I've never seen Dead Calm before, so I didn't understand any of the references.


Lisa falls for the new student, Edmund (Daniel Radcliffe), who is a vampire and wants to turn Lisa into one.

This spoof of Twilight was the funniest of the three segments. I loved the part when they invited Edmund and his father for dinner, much to his dismay:"I'm 400 years old! I don't need a chaperone!" Marge didn't know what to cook, so she killed Ned and served him on a platter. And Homer keeps asking dumb questions: "If a mosquito bites you, does it become a vampire too? If you bite your tongue, does it become a vampire?" I also loved the scene where it shows the vampire area of Springfield, Dracula-La Land, where it shows "every kind of vampire there is." Including Bram Stoker's Dracula, Nosferatu, Count Chocula and The Count from Sesame Street.

Overall, this was a fun episode despite the mediocre middle segment.

Rating: 4/5

R.L. STINE BOOK OF THE WEEK: Cheerleaders: The First Evil

When the cheers turn to screams...

From the back cover:


Newcomers Corky and Bobbi Corcoran want more than anything to make the cheerleading squad at Shadyside High. But as soon as the Corcoran sisters are named to the team, terrible things happen to the cheerleaders.

The horror starts with a mysterious accident near the Fear Street cemetery. Soon after, piercing screams echo through the empty school halls. And then the ghastly murders begin...

Can Corky and Bobbi stop the killer before the entire cheerleading squad is destroyed?

My thoughts: R.L. Stine's Cheerleaders series sparked my obsession with Fear Street books. Being one of the first Fear Street books I read, I was impressed with how suspenseful and creepy it was. Now, re-reading it several years later, it's surprisingly just as entertaining as the first time I read it.

Cheerleaders: The First Evil is like The Exorcist meets Bring It On. It's about a possessed cheerleader who causes several horrible accidents at Shadyside High. There's a lot of cheerleader talk and petty high school girl fights, but I found that quite entertaining. Especially the scene where Kimmy confronts Bobbi about "stealing" her boyfriend, Chip, and starts a fight by pulling her hair.

This book also introduces my favourite R.L. Stine character of all time: Corky Corcoran. I don't know if I like her character or just enjoy saying her name. It definitely conjures up an image of a perky cheerleader. But bitchy, little Kimmy with her permanently crimped hair is a pretty fun character too.

And there are five books in the Cheerleaders series, including a Fear Street Saga explaining the origin of the evil entity. So we'll have plenty more of Corky and the gang, starting next week with Cheerleaders: The Second Evil.

Rating: 5/5

PG-13 gore: Her long hair fell off, strands blowing away in the breeze. Her eyes sank back into her skull, then rotted into dark pits. Her cheerleader costume appeared to grow larger as her flesh decayed underneath it, and her bones appeared.

Body count: 2

Next week: Cheerleaders: The Second Evil

Thursday, November 4, 2010

John Skipp Appreciation Week

This week has been John Skipp Appreciation Week on Brian Keene's website. Keene posted several interesting interviews with Skipp, which I would like to share with you. Keene also posted the introduction he wrote for Skipp's novel, The Long Last Call, which reveals how Skipp's work impacted his career, which you can read here.

A 25th Anniversary Edition of The Light at the End was just released as an ebook by Crossroad Press and Animals will be released as an ebook sometime in November.