Standard Issue writers are revisiting a film/book/TV series to see if it’s stood the test of time. This week, Miss L goes back to her teens via gory American import Point Horror novels. It gets hairy.
What and why: If you were a teenager in the 1990s, chances are you read at least one Point Horror book. They were launched in 1991 and, despite the vampires, bloodshed and cheesy lines, their sole purpose to a teenager growing up in rural Oxfordshire seemed to be making British kids jealous of their American counterparts. I’ll be honest, I spent a fair whack of the ‘90s fuming that our school didn’t have lockers or school dresses like they had in Home & Away.
The kids in these books went to school with cheerleaders; there were guys who drove cars AND THEY ALL HUNG OUT ROUND EACH OTHER’S LOCKERS… sorry, I’ll get over it. The books in the series all have titles like The Boyfriend, Trick Or Treat (20 years on, I still remember its tagline: Trick or treat, Trick or treat, Candy is dandy, But murder is sweet…), Camp Fear and the book I re-read for this, The Cheerleader.
The Cheerleader (tagline: She wants it all. But he wants blood…) is about Althea, a girl who has no friends. She frees a vampire from, I think, the shutters in her attic and he makes her popular by making other girls at school really tired. I’ll admit now, this is something I would’ve been totally fine with at school. Sorry, huns.
Rated or Dated? It’s awful. I’m embarrassed by how excited I used to get at buying a new book from WHSmith and just how much I coveted the lives of these terribly described characters (the phrase ‘slim blondes and sparkly brunettes’ is used TWICE). One of the characters, Becky, has a whole page dedicated to her hair. It also contains the incredible line:
“Normal people could not have nicknames like Dusty. They would get teased until they actually became dust, or lint, or other under-foot objects.”
“So much time dedicated to describing hair. Sparkly. Silken. Fluffy. Golden. Soft. It’s really no wonder I had such an array of hair mascaras. And glitter sprays.”
But is it actually dated? Well, they have house parties where they put on cassettes and, in one of the rooms, they listen to a recording of a radio show. The pre-internet world really was a horrible place. And, oh God, if you can get through this book without wondering where THE HELL Althea’s parents are in all of this, then you’re clearly less easily distracted than I am.
The female characters are all absolute bores. Basically, you’re either a cheerleader or a non-cheerleader. If you’re the former then you’re pretty and popular; if you’re the latter then you’re plain and have no friends. And it’s just hair. So much time dedicated to describing hair. Sparkly. Silken. Fluffy. Golden. Soft. At one point they even use the phrase “extremely attractive”. About hair. It’s really no wonder I had such an array of hair mascaras. And glitter sprays. And a carpet covered with scorched Vs from my hair straighteners.
To be serious for a minute, though, I genuinely thought that the plain girls would win, but, SPOILER ALERT: they really don’t. I mean, they don’t die but that’s about as good as it gets for them. This is quite the message to send out to young female readers. Maybe it taught 11-year-old me not to cheat and that being popular isn’t everything but really, all I imagine I actually got from it was: GUTTED! YOU’RE UNPOPULAR AND YOU ALWAYS WILL BE. NOW KEEP THOSE AMBITIONS LOW AND MAYBE YOU WON’T BE KILLED.
But, y’know, for one afternoon in 2015, it wasn’t half bad revisiting a world where the only things that mattered were friends, boys, studying… and having a bloody locker.4049 Views