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More Stephen Gammell: The Eerie Series & Halloween Poems

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Well, despite the elevated temperature outside, the sudden abundance of jokes about pumpkin spice-flavored food and beverages tells me that it is fall once again. Yaaaay! Of course, this means that I barely wrote anything all summer, but I think that the one-two punch of a V.C. Andrews smörgåsbord and the sprawling final installment of my Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark Power Rankings would knock anyone out of commission for a while.

     Speaking of Scary Stories, since Halloween is right around the corner (it's a very lengthy corner that takes a couple weeks to get around), the time is right to discuss something related to this august series of horror folklore. Popular opinion holds that the most memorable aspect of these books is the collection of ghoulish illustrations by Stephen Gammell, which manage to walk the nightmarish line of simultaneously surreal and hideously visceral. Now, Gammell is an accomplished illustrator apart from the Scary Stories series, having won…

The V.C. Andrews Experiment

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It all started one day when I was browsing the recent headlines on The A.V. Club. I was stopped dead in my tracks by the following: "Lifetime Seeking to Gross Everyone Out with a New Adaptation of Flowers in the Attic." Now, I had heard of Flowers in the Attic, and was familiar with the most basic aspects of the plot: kids get locked in an attic by their psychotic relatives. Every once in a while, in a social situation, I'd even used it as an esoteric reference/punchline. I recall getting some odd reactions to this, which never made a lot of sense to me. Perhaps this article would explain why! That element of mystery, plus my shameful fascination with the grotesque & with Lifetime movies (redundant?), made me click on that link lickety-split. I had no idea what path this fateful decision would lead me down.
     The first sentence of the article was about as perversely fascinating as they come: "Lifetime is bringing terrifying incest back to the small scr…

The "Official" Scary Stories 3: More Tales to Chill Your Bones Power Rankings

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The generally accepted rule of trilogies is that the third installment is almost inevitably the weakest. This makes sense: the first installment is bursting with new creativity, the second is able to refine things and boost them to new heights, and by the time part three rolls around, some degree of repetition sets in, and the excitements tends to wear off. Still, there are some advantages to being the third in a series: the groundwork has been laid, there is a certain comfort in the series' familiarity, and there is still plenty of room for improvement and exploration. And so, in this vein, we have Scary Stories 3: More Tales to Chill Your Bones. It's definitely the weakest of the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark series (for reference, see my POWER RANKINGS of the first and second books in the series), but it's still wholly enjoyable. There are some uninspiring elements, to be sure, but the good parts more than make up for it. It's Return of the Jedi. And there's…