It Came From the Multiplex: 80s Midnight Chillers

I miss going to the movies amidst this never-ending pandemic, so I requested this book just to fill in the void just a bit. Clearly ’80s nostalgia is in vogue these days thanks to Stranger Things, and this book delivers on all of those memories of big hair-sprayed bangs, acid wash denim, Walkman radios and Casey Kasem-approved playlists! Oh how I wish I could go back in time for just one day to roller-skate around the rink with my giggling friends to the beats of Tiffany and Janet Jackson…sigh.

That said, if 80s pulp horror movie nostalgia is what you’re looking for, this book’s for you. If you’re solely in it for the scares and psychological horror, get ready to be disappointed. Most of these stories are very tongue-in-cheek, especially when it comes to over-the-top insect monsters. I’m not a big fan of the B-grade movie monsters myself, but I did enjoy the campy atmosphere. Quite a few of these stories have LGBTQ themes, adding a modern twist to the typical teenage prototypes from that bygone movie era devoid of diversity, aside from the token Black kid.

Most of these stories took place in run-down movie houses or seedy drive-ins, so far from the luxurious leather recliner auditorium seats we’re so accustomed to these days. Alamo Drafthouse has ruined me, y’all! Never again can I see a movie at a place that won’t bring me pitchers of beer and gourmet pizzas.

But I digress. Horror movie buffs, do yourself a favor and read this book. You will especially enjoy the one about the strange theater that only serves a special clientele with very refined palettes. It has a Lovecraftian theme and a not-so-happy ending!

Note: I received a free copy via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Two Radical Thumbs UP for ‘My Best Friend’s Exorcism’

If you, like me, are obsessed with the 80s nostalgic goodness/monster movie madness that is Stranger Things, this book is for you! It’s the perfect blend of humor, old school jams and gloriously cliched horror movie tropes. I mean come on, how could I say no to an exorcism story that uses The Go Go’s “We Got the Beat” as a pivotal plot point? This book was so totally bitchen’, I don’t even know where to begin. How about I break it down for you like this?

The gist: It’s true that this is a horror story involving demonic possession. However, Satan takes a second seat because this is really a story about a life-long friendship that was cemented at an ET-themed SkateLand birthday party (a mandatory rite of passage for all 80s kids). Nothing will stop our fearless protagonist, Abby, from saving her BFF, Gretchen, from sinking deep down into the demonic underworld! On her quest, she faces down the legions of evil, including back-stabbing frienemies, oppressive parents and the worst school principal ever! With the power of Phil Collins, VC Andrews and Belinda Carlisle, she and Gretchen are going to beat this demonic bitch! Why? Because together, they’ve got the beat! Sorry not sorry, couldn’t help myself.

“I love you, Gretchen Lang. You are my reflection and my shadow and I will not let you go. We are bound together forever and ever! Until Halley’s Comet comes around again. I love you dearly and I love you queerly and no demon is bigger than this!”

What worked: I loved everything about this book, especially all the totally tubular pop culture references. I had so much fun joining Abby and Gretchen as they sprayed their bangs sky high with AquaNet and tooted along in their super cool VW Rabbit convertible while making up their own lyrics to Phil Collin’s swoony love songs. This was such a fun satanic-themed trip down memory lane and I was so sad when it rolled to a surprisingly tear-jerking stop.

Eighties artifacts aside, Abby is the absolute best part of this book. It’s hard to believe she was created by a dude because I felt like we were soul sisters. I could totally relate to her many trials and tribulations—from criminally-negligent parents to horribly disfiguring acne to her VC Andrews obsession! I was pulling for her every step of the way, and she just kept tugging at my heart as she battled her enemies and sacrificed everything to save the one person she loved. I was expecting a tongue-in-cheek horror spoof, but instead I got a wallop of emotions that have been dormant for more than 20 years! Oops…I just gave away my age, didn’t I?

I also really appreciated the girl-power theme, which is thankfully becoming a current trend in books and movies. Men are no longer needed to save damsels in distress—and to that I say YA, YA, sistas!

What didn’t work: There’s an upsetting chapter involving a dog. Skip that chapter.

Added bonus: I listened to this book on audio and the narrator is totally righteous, dude!