Friday the 13th, Camp Crystal Lake #4: Road Trip – Eric Morse

Spoilers Ahead!

It is a dark and stormy night and time for revenge of the nerd, Friday the 13th style. Teddy Bateman is Buzzy the Bee, Carville Hornets’ team mascot. He has a crush on Summer but has never had a girlfriend. This short, geeky senior is understandably angry about being the target of bullying.

He’s on the way back from a football game with the players, cheerleaders and coach that contribute to his misery. Good on him for being the one who finds the mask. It’s a pity the mask wearer usually winds up a corpse in this series. Jason himself is still a no show.

“You’re going to die”

The potential Voorhees victims in this book:

Carville Hornets (a school football team):
Coach Wardell – if you don’t play sports then you’re of no interest to Coach, unless he’s taking out his frustration on you.
Russ Johnson – linebacker star on the field and boyfriend of Belinda off the field.
Slick Chambers – top receiver and the fastest player. He’s a serial cheater and doesn’t say ‘no’ to drugs, so not even his “sexy eyebrows” will be enough to save this player.
Dave Myers – quarterback and captain of the team, who also does drugs. Dave has put a limit on the amount of times his ditzy but loyal girlfriend is allowed to tell him she loves him each day, so I’m not sure we‘re cheering him on to survive.
Billy Raymond – centre. He travelled back on the bus so, although we’re briefly introduced to him, he’s irrelevant to this story.
Tommy Bartlett – kicker. He took the bus as well. Therefore, he’s irrelevant too.

The Cheerleaders (there are ten but we’re only introduced to four):
Missy Lowe – cheerleading captain. Missy is tall and blonde. She’s enthusiastic, especially about her love for Dave (who she knits for) but we constantly reminded how dumb she is.
Summer Stone – has four older brothers and is a cynic. She’s tall, with dark hair and blue eyes. Her weakness is Slick, who has no doubt cheated on her a lot more times than she knows about.
Belinda Karras – a control freak, Belinda is short and pretty.
Arlene Kerdell – the top girl of the cheerleading pyramid, Arlene takes the bus, so we didn’t really need to learn her name.

The Locals:
The Trooper – for someone who plays a larger role in the story than I initially expected, I thought he had earned a name. I was wrong; he’s the Trooper the entire time. Although law enforcement don’t usually fare well in horror stories he does warn some randoms about the town’s history, so there’s a slim chance he’ll survive.
Tina – other than being the trooper’s wife, the only other piece of information I have about this woman is spoilery in nature. She’s unlikely to survive.
Cliff – an architect and the trooper’s best friend. His character is essentially only there to help tell Tina’s spoilery story so we may as well dig his grave now.

The Randoms:
Donny Borelli – as far as I can tell, Donny and his friend, Stu Bergman, served their purpose in this book as soon as they introduced the trooper, the cave and the vampire bats.
Mr Morrisey – bus driver. It appears they are smart enough not to take the Crystal Lake detour.

“You’re going where?

While I wasn’t invested in any character enough to hope they lived (or died) I did have to give most of the characters some credit. Other than Donny, Stu and the locals, no one actually planned on spending any time in Voorhees-land. The Carville Hornets are actually the only ones in this series so far that didn’t reserve their death day in advance.

“BEHIND YOU!”

With spelunking, strange hybrid vampire bats, cheating partners and too much time spent at the football game, this is definitely not my favourite slaughter fest of the series. The mask has once again added more magic to its repertoire, with a newly found ability to remotely operate a car, even before it’s attached to someone’s face. The introduction of the cave, especially minus a backstory, felt like a weird choice although it did provide a semi-legitimate reason for the inclusion of the vampire bats.

A series of unanswered questions relate directly to the bats, the most pressing of which is: What is their backstory and why are we not told about it?

It took quite a while for the hockey mask action to commence. This is a short book, yet it wasn’t until page 96 that someone put the mask on and the first kill by the person wearing the hockey mask didn’t happen until page 116! Even then, one of my biggest disappointments of the third book was repeated here: the hockey mask guy wasn’t even directly responsible for about half of the kills.

The Death Toll: a spider, bat and somewhere between 9 and 11 people.

The spider got squished by a car in the prologue and then I had to wait around for a while before I got to the first human kill.

Of those not killed by the person possessed by the hockey mask, three people were shot (Tina, Coach and Cliff), Slick was sucked dry by vampire bats and Teddy got roasted. The hockey mask guy was only directly responsible for four deaths (unnamed trooper, Missy, Belinda and Dave).

I think one of our two spelunkers (Donny and Stu) was dispatched via vampire bat and the other was never heard from again, but I may be wrong about these guys. It didn’t seem overly specific at the time.

Best Insult:

“You’re the world’s biggest fungus brain”

Kill of the Book: Missy, who was skewered with her own knitting needles, which were attached to the stinger on the mascot’s head.

There are some racist, sexist and homophobic comments and enough discrepancies between the text and cover image to tell me that the artist didn’t read the book. The uniforms on the cover are blue and white but in the book they’re orange and black. The kid in the hockey mask is supposed to have dark, curly hair and the blonde girl is supposed to have her hair in a whole pile of braids. The killer doesn’t wield a machete in the book, the van is supposed to be white and, as I’ve already said, the massacre takes place on a dark and stormy night.

If you are planning on reading this series you should probably read them in order. The second book follows on from the first and the events of the third book are mentioned in this one.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

When the football team van swerves off the road and crashes after the big game, everyone blames Teddy, the class nerd and the team’s mascot. While his tormentors take shelter at Camp Crystal Lake, Teddy trades in his mascot suit for Jason’s hockey mask – and makes this a night his classmates will never forget.

Friday the 13th, Camp Crystal Lake #3: The Carnival – Eric Morse

Spoilers Ahead!

I’ve been waiting and waiting and Friday the 13th is finally here again!

You know what that means! It’s time to spend some quality time with Jason.

Except Jason’s a no show. Apparently he’s still enjoying his slaycation in hell because he doesn’t even make a cameo in this book.

His mask is still at Camp Crystal Lake though, ready for the next set of victims to arrive.

During the first two books we got to know the Boone family. Billy and his friends participated in Camp Crystal Lake’s Mother’s Day massacre. Then Kelly, Billy’s sister, decided it was her turn to experience all of the bloody fun she missed out on the year before. No Boone’s were harmed in the making of this book, although that may just be because there aren’t any left.

Vince Fantana’s Travelling Fun House and Carnival has come to Crystal Lake for the weekend of “the July Fourth blowout”. That probably should have been my first clue that I wasn’t going to enjoy this book as much as the first two in the series. A Crystal Lake massacre that occurs on a day other than Friday the 13th? Sacrilege!

I’m not sure what bright spark thought it was a good idea to set up a carnival on the grounds of Camp Crystal Lake, where the land is most likely still squishy with the blood of the most recent massacre. It’s a good thing sleazeball Vince surrounds his carnival with an electric fence, because that’s not a recipe for disaster or anything.

Some of the carnies who may not live to tell the tale are:

Mitch Deevers – Mitch is in his late 20’s and is the creepy chief mechanic for the carnival. He has tattoos of snakes and the names of all of his conquests on his arms.

Stump – Mitch’s rottweiler. Mitch chopped off his dog’s tail for some reason; hence the name.

Helen, AKA, Madame Xaviera – the carnival’s fortune teller.

Selena Tokar – Helen’s 17 year old daughter.

Molly Meecham – the carnival nurse and the freak show’s “Fat Lady”.

I also wouldn’t place bets on Stu, Karl, Big Joe, Peg O’Neill or Moe the clown living long enough to enjoy the midnight fireworks. I definitely wasn’t a fan of one of the carnies being referred to as a ”midget”.

Attending the carnival on this fateful night are a small group from Holloway, Massachusetts, which is only 30 miles from Crystal Lake. I mention its proximity as it’s close enough for them to have heard all about Camp Crystal Lake on the grapevine. They should know better than to tempt fate.

Our main character, who you will definitely not want to be a final girl, is Maxi (Maxine, but don’t call her that) Wagner. An only child with a troubled home life, Maxi is a shoplifter, hitchhiker and was caught smoking dope at school, which is why she’s a year older than the rest of her class. She’s angry and mean, and I’m not entirely sure why she still has any friends, given the way she treats them. She’s not a virgin so, if Horror 101 has taught us anything, she probably won’t survive.

Maxi is 17, tall, thin and beautiful, with “long legs that seemed to go all the way up to her head.” Of course, every time I imagine this potential victim running away from the killer I see this in my head:

Wendy (Wens) Denberg is 16, short and not pretty. That’s almost all that I know about her.

KC (Katherine Carter) is 16 and is sweet and polite. She’s a virgin and considers ‘sleazeball’ a swear word so you’d think she’d be safe, but going to the carnival was initially her idea so her virginity may not save her.

Greg Dillon is a senior from Hawthorn. His parents died in a car accident the day after his 13th birthday so in theory it would be cruel to kill him off. However, he has a huge crush on Maxi so his judgement is not the best. That may be his downfall.

All of these potential corpses have been attending summer school. Graham Newton, who’s 26 and British, goes to the carnival with the three girls. He’s their summer school English teacher. And that’s all I have to say about that.

Also ripe for the picking are Bernard LeBlatt (12), Nick Harris (13) and the Barfield family – James, Mrs (the poor woman doesn’t have a first name) and their three year old son, Bobby.

Liberties really are being taken with this series now. It’s Friday the 13th adjacent at best. While it was still an okay read I was disappointed overall. It takes a while for the action to begin. Early on we have our first casualty, a bug, but then we have to wait until 45% before the human carnage commences. RIP, little bug. Oh, and a rodent dies as well.

The most detailed death scenes seemed to be reserved for minor characters and I only learned of the demise of some of the main characters after the fact. The mask has retained its magical powers from the first two books; tattoos are also magic in this book.

The killer was a huge letdown for me. They couldn’t even take credit for a good portion of the kills. Instead the rides, which are essentially possessed by the invisible evil vapour that’s supposedly wafting up from the ground, and the electric fence are responsible for the most interesting ones.

From the a woman most likely wouldn’t have written this about a 17 year old schoolgirl files: “Naked, she was sitting on the edge of her bed, pressing a cold can of beer against her forehead.” When said 17 year old schoolgirl is in a bad mood it automatically means she must be getting her period. Naturally! There couldn’t be any other reason.

I’m hoping my next Friday the 13th read will be worth the wait.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Four teenagers looking for fun and thrills to break up the boredom of summer school get more than they had bargained for when they visit a traveling carnival that has pitched its tents at the old Crystal Lake campgrounds.

Friday the 13th, Camp Crystal Lake #2: Jason’s Curse – Eric Morse

“You crazy kids want to die tonight, is that the idea?”

After a poorly timed sore throat caused her to miss out on attending last year’s Mother’s Day massacre, Kelly Boone is preparing for her own Camp Crystal Lake slaycation. Jason Some random hunter wearing Jason’s mask killed her older brother in Book 1 and she’s ready to take action.

Unfortunately Jason isn’t the man behind the mask in this book either. I’m guessing he’s still hanging out in Hell; the first book appeared to take place sometime after Jason Goes to Hell in the Voorhees-verse timeline. Jason does have a very brief cameo of sorts in this book; it’s possible he was hallucinated by someone who’d lost a significant amount of blood but I’d prefer to believe it was him somehow briefly reanimated as mist. Since Jason is currently mostly unavailable we have yet another new hockey mask wearer.

So, who are potentially nearly departed?

Kelly Boone – Our hero with the tragic past. Now 18, Kelly has gone from captain of the varsity basketball team to someone who didn’t even apply for college. She has a lot of nightmares and migraines, and is depressed. When she’s not busy smoking she’s in the library researching Crystal Lake. She has a plan. She has a hunting knife. She should be a shoo in to survive. However, she is also the first person to suggest the group split up so my Horror 101 alarm bells are ringing. But someone has to survive, right?

“I mean, our whole lives are at stake, okay? In case you want some motivation.”

Doug Sanderson – Kelly’s boyfriend. This “cool and relaxed” 23 year old drives a beat up Volvo and consistently flunks courses at the local community college. Not the brightest of contestants, he’s a serial flirt and cheater so there’s no way he’s making it out of Crystal Lake alive.

Tina Chen – Miguel’s girlfriend. She’s 17, smart and planning on studying psychology at NYU. Her psychobabble and willingness to cheat on her boyfriend don’t bode well for her.

Miguel Hernandez – Tina’s boyfriend. He’s 18, works at a karate school and is excited to be going monster hunting. His martial arts training could potentially be useful but his annoying Beavis and Butthead impressions may make you wish hockey mask guy would shut him up. His arrogance may be his undoing:

“Actually, mister, we’re going to stick around, see, and kill Jason for you, since no one around here seems like they can do it themselves.”

Big Red – the man behind the mask. I felt for this 45 year old with the artificial leg, glass eye and permanent indentation in his bald head. He’s survived a bucketload of awfulness in his life and I probably would’ve still wanted to give him a hug while he was swinging a machete at me. It doesn’t matter how much I want him to be okay though. He’s the guy wearing the hockey mask. He’s toast!

Ma and Pa – Big Red’s parents. Depending on what their backstory is they probably have a 50/50 shot of surviving (at best).

Tuck – Pa’s drinking buddy who runs the fishing store. Horror 101 taught me that alcohol intake is usually enough to warrant a death scene so it’s probably not looking too promising for good ol’ Tuck.

Bud – Pa’s other drinking buddy. He has a son (Bud Junior), daughter-in-law (Jessie) and three grandkids, Cassie (6), James (4) and Little Billy (a baby). The adults are fair game but surely the children will live long enough to grow up to be adults that a new generation hockey mask killer can slaughter.

Darlene – The new waitress. She wears the name tag of the diner’s last waitress, who was previously sliced and diced. This doesn’t seem like a good omen.

Officer Donner – Law enforcement types don’t usually fare so well in slasher type encounters so I’m not holding my breath for this one.

This was a fun read but I didn’t get into the characters as much as I did in the first book. A lot of the death scenes took place off page and as I’ve already mentioned, Jason isn’t the slasher in this story so that was a let down.

Jason’s mask has some weird but kind of cool, leave-your-brain-disengaged powers. After donning the mask, Big Red’s glass eye begins to somehow show him scenes from the past, including one he would have been too young to remember himself. There’s also some unexplained magical connection between the hockey mask and Big Red’s artificial leg.

While I wanted to believe the hockey mask magic was possible, the story pretty much left me behind when Boone (Kelly’s brother), who came back as a sort of ghost, sort of corporeal evil dead guy, started helping out the hockey mask guy! I thought for a while that he may have been Kelly’s sleep deprived hallucination but he didn’t seem to be. Surely Kelly, who’d risked everything to avenge her brother’s death, deserved at least a “thanks for that, little sis” before Boone turned evil, if he absolutely had to.

Body count – 14 people and 1 grasshopper, if I’ve counted correctly. Most, but not all, of these deaths were orchestrated by our Jason wannabe.

Cover image: While this picture is cheesy horror fun, it doesn’t exactly line up with the story. None of our couples take a boat trip together, the guy in the hockey mask is supposed to be bald and wearing overalls, and even he would know better than to hang out in the lake, considering the abundance and size of the leeches that live there.

From the bizarre coincidences department: This book was my 169th read so far this year. The square root of 169 just so happens to be 13. Coincidence or X-File?!

Content warnings include domestic violence, physical abuse of a child and bullying.

I found the awesome artwork near the beginning of this review at dandingeroz.deviantart.com.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Obsessed by the murder of her brother at Camp Crystal Lake, Kelly Boone sets out to put to rest forever the evil legacy of Jason Voorhees, but the curse is reawakened when a backwoods fisherman hooks a surprising catch, Jason’s hockey mask.

Friday the 13th, Camp Crystal Lake #1: Mother’s Day – Eric Morse

No one comes out here. Ever.

So, here we are again at Camp Crystal Lake for another fun game of Who’s Going to Survive This Massacre? The first of five Friday the 13th young adult novels, we appear to begin our killing spree somewhere after Jason Goes to Hell in the Voorhees-verse timeline, with our mate Jason safely tucked away in Hell, a great place for slasher movie villains to hang out, have a barbecue and plan their next outing.

After all, there was safety in numbers.

Our victims contestants in this Mother’s Day special are:

  • Carly – good girl, tragic background, overprotective mother, token virgin.
  • Suzanne – friend of Carly, hippie tie dye meditative type, one half of Kyleandsuzanne (one word).
  • Kyle – drives a dented Volkswagon van, hippie tie dye meditative type, other half of Kyleandsuzanne (one word).
  • Billy Boone – known for wild parties and drinking, older brother of Kelly, bad boy with a motorbike.
  • Kelly Boone – captain of the varsity basketball team, Carly’s friend since she joined the team, younger sister of token bad boy.
  • Monique – transfer student from Paris, has a talent for making guys drool, token tease / is she or isn’t she going to sleep with every guy she meets?
  • Paul Sexton – winner of the Most Appropriate Surname award, brings a different girl back to the dorm at Brown each night, tanned, athletic, no one could ever love him as much as he loves himself. The girls love him almost as much though, as evidenced by the following quote:

He was so handsome, it was hard to look at him directly. It was as if he were this bright light and you had to shield your eyes.

  • Albert – loveable nerd who appears to live his life in the friend zone, Paul’s unfortunate roommate who’s designated to the couch whenever Paul is entertaining the ladies (so always), token fat kid who is bullied for his weight (I seriously have no idea why this kid is at this weekend away when he could have been enjoying some quality alone time while he packed his stuff and changed dorm rooms).

Our contestants are so white they may glow in the dark (well, except maybe Paul who probably does glow in the dark, but from his tan instead) and they’re all hormone laden heterosexuals. So where’s the diversity? My thoughts are that everyone from the LGBTQIA community and those who don’t glow in the dark, along with every other human who doesn’t fit our stereotypical cast, were all too smart to apply to be contestants in this blood bath.

“The only time you’re safe – really safe – is when you’re dead.”

So who has a chance of surviving?

  • Carly – As the token virgin she should be a shoo-in, except she did drink some beer which lowers her chances significantly.
  • Suzanne – As one half of Kyleandsuzanne (one word) she has sex with Kyle so she’s a goner.
  • Kyle – As the other half of Kyleandsuzanne (one word) he has sex with Suzanne so he’s also toast.
  • Billy Boone – Bad Boy. Enough said. Start digging his grave now.
  • Kelly Boone – She’s at home sick so doesn’t venture anywhere near Camp Crystal Lake … until the second book which I haven’t read yet. As she appears to play the lead in the second book I guess we’ll assume she will survive this one.
  • Monique – Considering how much of a tease she is, how much she whinges and how readily the guys fall into a drooling mess at her feet, we can be fairly confident she won’t make it. However, as she’s of the ‘is she or isn’t she going to sleep with every guy she meets’ variety, there is the question of whether she’ll be having sex or not when she meets her maker.
  • Paul Sexton – Sorry, buddy. You’ve had too much sex and love yourself too much to have a hope of surviving this game.
  • Albert – If anyone other than the main character is going to survive, my bet’s on nerdy, loveable, overweight, friend zoned Albert. He’s adorable. The only thing standing in his way of survival is his ability to whinge.

“Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean there isn’t an enemy hiding behind every tree.”

Unfortunately Jason doesn’t even get a cameo in this book but his hockey mask and its supposed power (which comes from who knows where) plays a starring role, complete with thick white worms crawling out of the eyeholes when we first see it. Our psycho killer is a hunter who makes the poor decision to hunt when it’s not hunting season (hasn’t he ever seen Bugs Bunny?) and ends up finding a soggy cardboard box that contains the head of Mrs Voorhees, who proceeds to direct him and he does as he’s told. Would you dare say “no” to Mrs Voorhees’ animated head, especially when Friday the 13th is two days before Mother’s Day?

This turned out to be one of those guilty pleasure books for me. As a young adult book from the 90’s there was kissing (but not enough to be nauseating), sex (but off the page) and violence (but not drawn out and graphic like a Saw movie). It reminded me of maybe a step up from a young adult trashy romance novel combined with what I remember of the Point Horror books I used to devour (and probably should reread as I bought a whole pile of them while doing some nostalgic op shopping a few years ago).

They had done nothing wrong, nothing to deserve this brutal horror.

That is, except for applying to be a contestant in a slasher novel. I did have a few disappointing moments while reading in addition to Jason’s no show.

  • It failed Horror 101 by having a character say, “Be right back” and then returning alive.
  • After the initial slaughter I had to wait around 100 pages for more bloodshed.
  • I can’t imagine Jason ever wanting to use a gun to kill people but our hunter does.
  • My biggest disappointment was a scene that could have easily been mistaken for having taken place in Psycho-world rather than the Voorhees-verse. I’m not specifically calling it plagiarism but if you’ve got a grown man talking to the corpse of his mother it can’t bring to mind anything other than the Bates family.

This book was never going to be a literary masterpiece but it was a lot of fun and I look forward to reading the rest of the young adult series. When I started reading I thought I’d aim to read the second book on the next Friday the 13th but because of the guilty pleasure I felt with this short, kinda trashy read (I mean that with no disrespect), I want to keep reading.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

With Mother’s Day just around the corner, Billy Boone and his friends set out on a camping expedition to Crystal Lake, unaware that Jason’s mother continues her quest for revenge and that a hunter is stalking the teenagers at the camp.