Resurrection High: A Black Comedy

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Resurrection High is like Carrie, but without the telekinetic powers; like Donnie Darko, without the time travel; like The Karate Kid, but our protagonist is training in poetry. A subversive, spooky tale set in the days when America Online, The Smashing Pumpkins, and The X-Files reigned supreme.

At Lestershire High, Eric Verlaine is seen as a freak, even by alt 90s standards. His best friend is dead, his only living friend is tied up with a girl, and a group of vile bullies make his time at school unbearable. Eric would rather spend his days in the local cemetery than go to school, or even home, where he is ignored by his mother and abused by his stepfather. He’s planning one last adventure with his deceased pal, an exhumation to get at the small safe in his friend’s casket, the contents of which Eric believes will provide some form of closure. After visiting the grave of his friend one evening, Eric is shown a curious monument to a trio of artists who died mysteriously a century prior, sparking an investigation into his town’s unsavory past.

Resurrection High is a nostalgic, darkly comic story of a teenager finding a passion for life after insurmountable loss.

Here’s what some reviewers have had to say about RH:

“It was a heart-breaking, rage-inducing and all-around a pretty damn good coming-of-age story about losing a very close friend.” — Sci-Fi & Scary

“The authors did an excellent job of capturing that time when we all struggled, and the mood and feel were right there. It transported me right back to my days in school and I forgot how much I hated most of it..” — The Scary Reviews

Add it to your Goodreads.

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A Look Back at the 1999-2000 Reboot of ‘Are You Afraid of the Dark?’

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Most fans who remember the Are You Afraid of the Dark? Nickelodeon TV series think fondly of the early Nineties Midnight Society. Gary, Frank, Kiki, Betty Ann, and an ever-changing crew of friends sitting around a campfire telling memorable tales like “Old Man Corcoran,” “Watcher’s Woods,” “Laughing in the Dark,” and “Crimson Clown.” There are at least half-a-dozen stories from the original run of the series (1992-1996) that I would argue as ‘the best’ episode, while there is perhaps one story from the 1999-2000 run which I might consider in my personal top ten.

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Are You Afraid of the Dark?: The New Class

The series was revived with an original member of the Midnight Society, Tucker, taking his brother’s place as leader of a new group of kids. Andy, Megan, Vange, Quinn are, most often, pale imitations of the original Midnight Society (Frank, Kristen, Kiki, Betty Ann?), with Quinn perhaps being the only new archetype, although he seems to fill Betty Ann’s role of quiet peacekeeper nicely. Frank really felt like an over-the-top asshole, but it still made sense that he was friends with these people and really enjoyed telling stories; Sam was a tomboyish heartthrob for both Gary and young, male viewer alike. The New Midnight Society had little to offer regarding the stories of the storytellers themselves.

There are a number of good episodes from seasons 6 and 7, episodes that meet the standard set by the original run. There are even a few exceptional episodes that any serious fan of the original series should not miss out on. Unfortunately, many episodes attempted to draw interest by focusing on trends like Giga Pets, lazer tag, computer games, sports, and one even made an Olympic champion figure skater into a pregnant alien. It’s really about what the later seasons seem to be missing. Seasons 1-5 built their success on retelling timeless stories and re-purposing urban legends – the kinds of tales which would’ve appealed to both our parents and grandparents when they were kids.

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Cause virtual pets are scary AF.

The following are my recommendations for revival episodes of AYAOTD? that one should watch, if they enjoyed the original series and don’t want to sort through the chaff that is the majority of the 1999-2000 series. There are certainly episodes worth watching in addition to these six, but these are the stories I believe will feel most similar to the original run of the series.

Season 6

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Like Jumanji, but spooky.

“The Tale of the Forever Game” is a good restart to the series. Tucker tells the story about two friends, Mark and Peter, and Peter’s little sister, Monica, who get lost in the woods while biking. It has the feeling and tone of a story like “Whispering Walls,” while full of moral dilemma for Peter. The trio is hopelessly stuck, and the kids are being hunted down by a beast, while Peter plays a game reminiscent of Jumanji with a boy, Nathaniel, who occupies a tree.

 

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Hunting = bad apparently.

“The Tale of the Hunted” deals with the moral debate over hunting. It’s well-done for a kid’s show, and doesn’t really pick sides at the end. The female protagonist hunts with her father, and one morning she wakes up and discovers what it’s like to be the one who is hunted.

 

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This hip dude liked vampires way before “Twilight.”

“The Tale of Vampire Town” is wacky, a callback to the richness of character from a Season 1 tale. A boy, Adder, believes himself to be a great vampire hunter and convinces his parents to take him on vacation to a town with history and lore tied to vampires, specifically a series of catacombs which lie underneath the inn where the family is staying.

 

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Featuring a pre-Star Wars Hayden Christiansen.

“The Tale of Bigfoot Ridge” is the tale I teased as a ‘Top Ten’ AYAOTD? episode. It would fit nicely in seasons 1-4. A boy and his sister are trying to get over the disappearance of their friend, who went off the backside of a mountain while snowboarding. The brother and sister end up searching for her, and get lost themselves during a snowstorm. They find an abandoned cabin and attempt to survive the night, while the storm is the least of their worries. Many of the other episodes focus too heavily on the trendy sport, activity, or product of the time. This episode has snowboarding in it, but, thankfully, doesn’t try to tell a story about snowboarding.

Season 7

“The Tale of Highway 13” is the story of a repetitive haunting, where a truck races a haunted car, driven by two friends who rebuilt the car, to a one-lane bridge. The boys must continually race the truck until they either die trying to win, or solve the mystery and take a different action. This is a timeless tale, really well done.

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Don’t try this at home.

 

“The Tale of the Reanimator” is perhaps only the second time that zombies were done well by AYAOTD?, the first being “Water Demons.” It has some of the flavor of the Reanimator movies, but it feels more like the mad-scientist experiments of Goosebumps: Stay Out of the Basement.

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Like “The Reanimator,” minus the decapitations.

So, if you’re a fan of the original AYAOTD? series and have never seen an episode of the two revival seasons, I believe you’ll enjoy queuing up these six episodes and watching them back to back. Perhaps you’ll even delve deeper into seasons 6 and 7, and catch me up on a gem I overlooked.

Addendum:

I can’t imagine I’ll ever write an episode guide for the first five seasons of AYAOTD? since so much has been written and said about it already. So, I’ll just give my picks for best episodes – in no particular order: “Midnight Madness,” “Old Man Corcoran,” “Dead Man’s Float,” “Laughing in the Dark,” “Water Demons,” “Silent Servant,” “Crimson Clown,” “Dark Music,” “Super Specs,” and “Lonely Ghost.”

Joe Sullivan is the author of spook books, available on Amazon, and a fully illustrated book of horror tales inspired by Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, currently live on Kickstarter.

8 Things That I Loved About Halloween When I Was a Kid

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By John Brhel

Halloween was the best thing ever when I was growing up, right up there with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and playing “the floor is lava” with my sisters. I was ecstatic in the weeks leading up to Oct. 31, daydreaming of that crisp October night, the smell of pumpkin guts, the crunch of dried leaves beneath my BK Knights. It was an event; it was magical. And while I still love the heck out of the holiday, nothing can replace the joy that I experienced during Halloween as a kid. Here are just a few of the many things I loved about Halloween when I was growing up in the 80s and early 90s.

Cheap licensed costumes

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If you wanted to dress up like Hulk Hogan or Batman, or whatever character you were obsessed with that month, for Halloween, you got yourself a cheap plastic costume with an uncomfortable mask, with a rubber band that could dig a permanent scar into the back of your head. I sure did. The costumes rarely looked like the actual characters, but you didn’t mind. That night, you were Hulk Hogan, you were Batman. And I’ll be damned if I wasn’t as cool a Beetlejuice as Michael Keaton that one magical Halloween back in third grade.

McDonald’s Halloween buckets

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These little, plastic pails practically embody Halloween for me. What could be cooler then, instead of taking home your garbage burgers and fries in a cardboard box, like you’d normally get with a Happy Meal, you got a little ghost bucket that you could trick-or-treat with? I’m not sure I even used them very often (they couldn’t really accommodate the massive amounts of candy that I so longed for), but they were still so cool to collect and fill with LEGOs and various bric-a-brac.

Glow sticks

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Things that glow are awesome when you’re a kid, right up there with holograms and light-up shoes. While these sticks were mainly meant to keep us safe while we roamed the streets at night, encumbered my masks we could barely see out of, for me they were just cool to stick in my trick-or-treat bag/bucket and add to the spooky ambiance. “Oooh, they glow.” Yeah, I was dumb.

TV specials

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What’s better than an episode Garfield when you’re a kid? Why a spooky episode of Garfield, of course! There’s something special (and totally not gimmicky) when your favorite TV show takes a shot at horror/scary for an episode or special. Garfield’s Halloween Adventure scared the crap out of me when I was little (that pirate scene still gives me the shivers) and I ate up spooky episodes of shows like Hey Dude! and Salute Your Shorts (Zeke the plumber, anyone?), even if they didn’t originally air on Halloween. And let us not forget the most nostalgic Halloween TV special of all: It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. I literally just carved a Great Pumpkin jack-o-lantern before writing this; it’s that good.

Treat bags

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Who cares if they were usually stuffed with the candy that you didn’t really want (e.g. Tootsie Rolls, those little peanut chews in the orange and black wrappers). These little bags take me back, especially this specific design with the scarecrow on it. The feeeeels.

Mystery boxes

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I can remember quite vividly walking through a makeshift “haunted house” on the stage inside my elementary school gymnasium and sticking my hand into these weird “feel boxes,” which were full of food meant to emulate creepy, crawly things. Are those real eyeballs?! Nah, just peeled grapes. Brains? Spaghetti. Teeth? Popcorn kernels. You knew they weren’t real, but it still felt pretty gross, nonetheless. And when you’re 8 years old, gross = awesome.

Radio stations playing “spooky” songs

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I haven’t listened to pop radio much in the last few years, so I’m not sure if this still happens, but I remember being so excited when FM stations started playing “scary” songs on Halloween. Where you might normally hear nothing but Paula Abdul or Boyz II Men, all of a sudden the radio stations were playing stuff like the “Ghostbusters” theme, Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” and CCR’s “Bad Moon Rising.” It was a little thing, really, but it helped get me even more amped up for the day.

Endless gobs of candy

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Sure, I could go out right now and buy one of those $20 mixed bags of candy — I’m a grown-ass adult, sort of — but it’s not the same thing. There was something special about coming home from trick-or-treating with what seemed like two million pounds of candy, and sorting through the treasure trove. Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and Kit Kats were like gold, with raisins and pennies (yes, people seriously gave us pennies) earning nothing but disdain.

What did you love about Halloween when you were a kid? Leave a comment and let us know!

John Brhel is the author of paranormal and fantasy books, available on Amazon, and a fully illustrated book of horror tales inspired by Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, currently live on Kickstarter. Follow him on Twitter at @johnbrhel.

New book of illustrated spook stories inspired by ‘80s and ‘90s horror launching on Kickstarter on Sept. 30

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EMBARGO DATE: SEPT. 30

New book of illustrated spook stories inspired by ‘80s and ‘90s horror launching on Kickstarter on Sept. 30

Corpse Cold: New American Folklore to feature 17 fully illustrated campfire tales

BINGHAMTON, NY — Corpse Cold: New American Folklore, a new book inspired by horror from the 1980s and 1990s, is coming to Kickstarter on Sept 30.

Corpse Cold: New American Folklore features 17 chilling campfire-style legends, written in homage to classic horror series like Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark and Fear Street, intended for adult readers. The book is co-written by authors John Brhel and Joe Sullivan, and each story is accompanied by a macabre illustration by artist Chad Wehrle.

“We grew up watching Twilight Zone and Are You Afraid of the Dark? and reading books like Washington Irving’s The Sketch Book and various American horror anthologies,” said Brhel. “The unsettling stories and imagery found in books like Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark made an impact on Joe, Chad, and myself, all the way back in elementary school. In fact, those books are one of the biggest reasons why we write today. With Corpse Cold, we hope to provide that same sort of reading experience for people like us — readers who are grown up, but still nostalgic for creepy art and new takes on well, and lesser known, urban legends and folktales.”

Brhel and Sullivan have co-written several books of paranormal and weird fiction, including Tales From Valleyview Cemetery (2015) and At The Cemetery Gates: Year One (2016). They are launching their Kickstarter campaign to cover production costs for the book, as well as artist fees.

A selection of stories to be included in Corpse Cold: New American Folklore:

“Moss Lake Island”

A carefree getaway in the Adirondacks takes a terrifying turn when two friends stumble upon an island inhabited by witches…

“Two Visions, 1984”

A journalist on his way to cover an event with President Ronald Reagan picks up a hitchhiker with a series of visions regarding his future…

“The Woman on the Campus Green”

A college student with a dark family history finds himself the subject of a strange secret admirer…

“Black Dog”

Two teenage brothers encounter the strange creature that their father had warned them about since childhood, while hunting in the woods near their home…

“Autoplay On”

A man falls asleep watching a playlist of internet videos and ends up playing a clip he was never supposed to see…

To view a preview of the Corpse Cold Kickstarter campaign, visit http://bit.ly/corpsecold.

For more information on Brhel and Sullivan, visit the following pages.

Facebook: facebook.com/cemeterygatesmedia

Instagram: instagram.com/cemeterygatesm

Website: cemeterygatesmedia.wordpress.com