I love horror movies and I love books, together what could possibly be better? Such was the case in the mid 90's. Two different publishing companies sought to thrill and terrify teen readers with young adult series based off of Halloween and A Nightmare on Elm Street. Let's look!
Halloween: The Old Myers Place by Kelly O'Rourke
Released by Boulevard Books in 1997, The Old Myers Place was the second book in the Halloween series and sadly it was the only one I was able to pick up when the series was new. The book still smells like B. Dalton Books though. Goddess I miss bookstores in the mall. The cover art has a thrilling feel to it. Mary and Jeff are just crawling around with a measly candle for light, while a deadly Michael Myers lurks behind them! I loved this series because I was very interested to see how a Halloween entry would translate in book form.
The back of the book had two distinct parts, the main description of the overall series and a description of what the scoop was for the current book. The book totally read like a long lost Halloween movie that never made it to screen. Literally, this story was completely like any regular old slasher flick. Mary White is living in the house that Michael Myers grew up in, and as she is getting used to her new life in Haddonfield, poor Mary doesn't know that she is the next to be on his list! (Actually, wasn't this similar to one of the Halloween movies?) The ending is of course like most Halloween movies, Michael Myers is left for dead, but he takes a lickin and keeps on tickin.
Freddy Krueger's Tales of Terror: Virtual Terror by David Bergantino
Tor Fiction was onto something in 1995. Teens everywhere were interested in a series of novels based off of A Nightmare on Elm Street. I feel like this series lasted a little longer than the Halloween series, because there were five books in the series that I know of. I remember when I first saw this book, I totally flipped out. It was a part of a freakin Freddy Krueger series of books!
The cover art on the inside is very mysterious. It reminds me of the second Nightmare on Elm Street, because this book features a male main character. The cover art for these books were always interesting. There were so many that I liked, but much like all the really cool things in this world, the series was gone before the blink of an eye.
The set up for this book was a far departure from the usual Nightmare on Elm Street movies. First of all, I don't think I have ever read another book where those 3-D optical illusion posters were used as a major plot device. Keith essentially looks into an odd optical illusion poster and starts seeing the future. People start dying. Especially Keith's friend named Skrag. Yes, Skrag. This book was a joy. No really, it was. I also am incredibly in love with the art work for this series.
More importantly though, I have a special love in my heart for the big three: Michael Myers, Freddy Krueger, and Jason Vorhees. These guys scared me to death when I was little. There was something just mesmerizing about them too. I had to watch their exploits and adventures. One way in which I would find the courage to watch these movies was by creating bonds with them.
We had a garden in the backyard growing up and, well, we couldn't keep the garden alive. After awhile the three rows that once contained the promise of vegetated life began to look more like fresh grave sites. So I would pretend that Michael Myers, Freddy Krueger, and Jason Vorhees were buried under each row. I would go out back and talk to them like they were deceased family members. It was very strange. Just a very strange time in the life of Miss M. Ya know what though? I was totally able to watch those horror movies from beginning to end.
Of course there is one more story I must tell regarding these titans of slasher horror fare. I was going to tell this story last week when I was talking about the ingredients for Halloween. It is more fitting now though. Let's rewind the sands of time and look back at middle school. I loathed middle school. I was going through one of the big changes in life: puberty. Just typing the word makes me break out into hives. I was hormonal and beyond emotional. Just a real mess. While my girl friends were developing breasts I was developing the biggest ass in the universe. An ass so huge, it threatened to eat the pockets off of every pair of jeans I owned. Seriously, I had to wear denim with elastic waist bands, because back then regular fashionable jeans had no stretch to them. The only kind of jean I could find that fit my new curvier physique was with an elastic waist band. Believe me, I was a real peach back then.
Truth be told I was scared. My body was changing, I was being shoved into the scary world of young adulthood and I didn't like it. The other girls seemed to be navigating the change better than me, and I just felt like I was adrift. Of course, looking back, I feel like we were all feeling a similar way. We just weren't talking about it to each other. At least I wasn't.
Anyways, Halloween was fast approaching and I was at that age where celebrating Halloween could go either way: I could either embrace it or scream that it sucked and was for babies. My parents really wanted me to get excited as did my brother. He was wanting a partner in candy crime. I didn't care at all. I wanted to watch the world burn and laugh at the misfortune of the bothersome people all around me. Anger could not even describe the feelings searing through my body.
So I decided that I would indeed celebrate Halloween. I wasn't too old and I had the perfect idea for a costume. It was pure inspiration; I would go as Freddy Krueger. My parents asked me who I wanted to be, and I told them Freddy Krueger. They were easily perplexed, but I think they knew what was happening. They also knew to stay out of my way. Nothing was as scary as me in full on bitch mode back then. Either way, I had some pennies saved and I used all those gold coins on a nice Freddy Krueger mask. I had no intention of finding his glove or a red and green striped sweater. I just wanted the mask. My goal was simple, I wanted to shock and disgust people. I was in so much pre-teen angst that all I wanted was to find a way to make people feel the kind of revulsion I felt. They'd look at me and see my truth.
And I loved every second of it! Our neighborhood was full of concern. No one could understand why I was wearing a Freddy Krueger mask with only a Hypercolor tee and elastic waist jeans. "Doesn't Freddy Krueger have a glove?" "Why are you even being Freddy Krueger?" "Are you going as a burn victim? Just so you know, that isn't funny." Nothing made sense to anyone, and the neighbor's confusion made my heart sing. I was having the Halloween of my life.
There was one more stop my brother and I needed to make in our little 'burb. Our grandmother lived down the street from us. Before we were born, my parents had decided to move to the suburbs. My grandmother and papa eventually followed suit. See you must understand this about my grandmother: she has always been a city girl. She was born and raised in the city and grew up as an Italian debutant princess mixing it up with the other members of Italian society. Her motto in life has always been to never walk out of the house without makeup on and leopard print is and always will be a fashion staple. She should know, she has been wearing the print since the 40's.
So when my brother and I knocked on her door trick or treating for her yearly Nestle Crunch giveaway, my grandmother didn't quite know what to do when she saw us. Most notably me. "M? Is that you? Why are you wearing that horrible mask?" She looked frightened. Once she had confirmation that I was the one under that mask, her face began to crumble, "Why would you do that? You're face is so beautiful, why wear something so terrifying? What has happened to my sweet granddaughter?" I was wondering the same thing.
As I stood there with that hot rubbery mask on my head, I looked at my grandmother and all I could think was, "This isn't what I wanted to do. This isn't me." Sure it was one thing to terrify the clueless neighbors and mock in their fear, but to see my kind and hip grandmother looking so sad for me, well dear readers, I felt like the biggest ass hat that ever walked the face of Etheria. Holding back some tears, I removed the mask and went without costume for the rest of the night. I was young. I hadn't quite found a way to voice the turmoil I was feeling. I also didn't think I'd ever feel like myself again. The scariest thing that can happen to a person is the fear that something will change who they are and they will then become unrecognizable. I didn't like that feeling of not knowing how I would turn out in this world. Luckily for me, those angst-filled bitch years lasted for only a little while. I do have the memories to remind me that life is the real scary event. My baggage at that time had nothing on the big three. After going through puberty, watching an old slasher flick with the big three was practically a walk in the park. Of course now, it's just hard to imagine life without them. And that is why we have DVD players and AMC's Fear Fest. It's just better watching nightmares unfold on screen or across pages in a book, isn't it?
So enjoy the Dorkette Book Club! Be sure to stick around though, there's some Halloween sized entries for this month's Heroic Hottie, Woman of Wonderosity, and the Bodacious Baddie that will all culminate in one epic Halloween Party! Take care everyone.