1d4d017b42a0b3a47f1cf110What’s it all about?

Janice Adams is besotted with ‘so fine’ Bobby Walker but has to compete for his affections with cheerleader Caroline Spencer. When Janice is forced to give Caroline a lift home, she realises Bobby has plans for both of them. Not good plans either. Bad plans.

Bad Plans?

Oh yes. You see, Bobby Walker is also The Black Walker – it’s like he isn’t even trying – and he’s gonna use his ‘dark sensual synthesiser’ mixtape to kill both Janice and Caroline.

The Girls

Janice is unlike any Point Horror girl we’ve ever met – she’s the Daria of the horror world and has run out of shits to give. Pike, as we should have expected, nails the teenage experience with lines like ‘her lungs were still virgin, along with the rest of her’ and ‘that may be the reason he doesn’t want to go out with you? Because you’re a slut?’ Although Janice isn’t likeable as such, she’s certainly believable.

Caroline is a little more standard Point Horror. She’s blond, she’s pretty…and kinda stupid…although she redeems herself somewhat in the end with the aforementioned mixtape and a shovel.

I'm the Black Walker, babeThe Guy 

Leather jacket wearing Bobby Walker is unfortunately reminiscent of Dream Date’s Heath. Still, he drives the ladies crazy with his tight, faded jeans. Bobby is a terrible, terrible douche like that guy you knew at university who thought he was the only person who only understood the Manic Street Preachers and knew exactly where Richie is hiding.

Also he doesn’t buy the popcorn when he takes Caroline to the cinema. AWK.

Dialogue Disasters

All Bobby. All cringe. ‘You got it sister.’

‘He laughed and said he like his women cold.’ WHAT? GROSS.

‘I love the full moon,’ he breathed. ‘It brings out the best in me.’

Although Caroline almost gives away the farm on the first date: ‘It’s you that’s going in the hole!’

Special mention to Bobby’s song: ‘Give me the knife and I’ll cut out your eyes.’ OOOOH SHOCKING.

Body Count: 2

Did the best friend do it? No.

Some Mild Peril

Collect Call is genuinely creepy. SPOILERS….the crux of the story revolves around Caroline’s apparent death in a fiery deathtrap car crash (we can only PRAY Belinda from April Fools wasn’t around to see it). As Janice flees the scene, she starts to receive voicemail messages from Caroline and this is where things get really creepy.

Even worse, Janice soon realises something is amiss, and the scene where she finds a body bag marked ‘Janice Adams’ is truly scary. The second half is perhaps less chilling as Caroline takes over the plot.

Is it any good?

It really is. Our Godfather of teen horror doesn’t let us down, I just wish it was longer, although there’s something to be said for brevity. Janice, the first morally dubious character we’ve really encountered (she initially leaves Caroline to die), I wish we could have more like her. Clearly Pike was allowed to get away with things the author PH authors weren’t. Whatever it is, he just has it.

Even if Bobby is naff, you get the feeling that Pike KNOWS he a poser (and potentially a reflection of some of the goth lords of pain he was probably meeting during the 90s at events) and he more than gets his comeuppance at the end…’I didn’t even get to be on MTV,’ Bobby laments before dying.

POINT HORROR BOOK CLUB BONUS ROUND!

I think we need to talk about WHERE THE DEER ARE by Caroline B Cooney. Holy shit. TERRIFYING. I honestly think the Ring 2 stole the concept. I have NOT A CLUE what’s going on (something about environmentalism…and a forest cellar full of baby deer?) but the bit where the horrid leg opens the bathroom door. OH LORDY.

!!d7nnYw!mM~$(KGrHqYOKnUEw89OpVZ3BMRq3YG6gg~~_35Over to you:

Write the second verse of The Black Walker.

Did you read any other tales of terror? Which did you rate?

Outside of PH, what was your favourite Christopher Pike novel?

Next month we explore the book that got me hooked: MOTHER’S HELPER BY A BATES.

14 thoughts on “PHBC: Collect Call by Christopher Pike

  • June 14, 2014 at 9:48 pm
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    It astounds me that Herr Pike never joined the PH “gang” as Collect Call was fantastic. The teenagers were the most realistic I’ve come across in a PH book yet – smoking, drinking, drunk driving etc., it beats the teens in Camp Fear letting their hair down by singing a rendition of “You are my sunshine” around the piano!

    Carol’s (IT’s CAROLINE) “death” was genuinely horrific, yet the highlight for me was this thought which raced through Caroline’s mind as she was flirting with death: Why was it that the cutest guys always turned out to be psychopaths? It made me wonder how many sticky situations the poor girl had been in previously!

    I didn’t get a chance to read the other shorts, but will do and comment later!

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  • June 14, 2014 at 9:50 pm
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    Oh, and I actually got a lump in my throat during Caroline and Bobby’s date at the cinema. I felt so bad that she had to buy her own popcorn, and that she got butter on it, despite the fact she didn’t like it, just because she thought he would. That was one of the sweetest things I’ve ever read. My stony heart melted.

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  • June 14, 2014 at 10:47 pm
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    A day late we may be this month, but I knew this one would be worth the wait. Write the second verse of The Black Walker? Oh, I am all over that shit. But first, to business.

    So, the plot of this thing makes zero actual sense, amirite? I mean sure, I’m used to His Majesty Lord Christopher of Pike messing with my head (twenty years on, and I’m still not over THAT reveal from the Eternal Enemy, or the hallucinogenic weirdness of Whisper of Death) but the audacious switcheroo at the end of Collect Call part 1 kind of takes the creepy possessed biscuit. And yet… it’s this exact rug-pulling head-scratchery that sets Pike so far apart from most of the Point Horror posse.

    You’ve hit the nail on the head when you say that Pike’s teens are infinitely more believable than our usual suspects. Plus, they’re way more fun, drinking and swearing and sexing their way through high school like real hormone-riddled teenagers. Nobody writes bitchy nemesis dialogue like CP, and nobody delivers a line like “Janice didn’t expect an all-American apple-pie cheerleader – even a slutty one like Caroline – to reach over and belt her in the face” like him either. We’re given two heroines in Collect Call – one an airhead, one kind of a bitch – yet they come alive in a way that none of our previous protagonists have.

    The whole story reads like a classy episode of the Twilight Zone (which gets a mention at one point) crossed with David Lynch identity-switching spookfest Mulholland Drive. And the post-crash alternate reality nightmare of part 1 is particularly well done.

    It isn’t all perfect, natch: literally nobody but the author is laughing at the baffling Dr Please joke, and I’m at a loss as to how the line “Her head bowed slightly as if she were wearing a fat hat” made the final edit. And as much as I grew to love the resourceful Caroline, part 1 is way better than part 2, which gets a bit over-explainy as it turns into standard serial killer fare.

    But these are small niggles; this is dark, memorable stuff (I became a bit obsessed with this story as a teenager), and with the exception of The Star Group, which was pants, Pike can’t really do any wrong in my eyes – I genuinely believe that Whisper of Death and the Final Friends trilogy should be required reading for teenagers.

    In fact, the odd stinker aside (The Guiccioli Miniature? Seriously?), most of the stories in this collection swim in darker waters than the full-length Point Horror novels we’ve read. A Little Taste of Death by Patricia Windsor (who?) is excellent, with child abuse subtexts up the wazoo, and The Boy Next Door is grubby, witty good fun. Even our old mate Deathkins goes some way to redeeming herself with Blood Kiss. As for Where The Deer Are… I once again have no idea what happened in that story but I know it scared me shitless. Lines like “She felt her body expanding, like the dead deer on the road going bad – felt herself balloon” made me feel genuinely queasy. For sure, I will never look at a deer in the same way again. Shudder.

    Okay, here’s my second verse to the Black Walker *steps up to microphone; clears throat*:

    I like doing murders.
    I will murder you in your face.
    Then bury you in the woods.
    But I look good in jeans.
    I might be the devil.
    Or maybe I just made a pact with him.
    It’s not really clear.
    I’m a black walker, babe.
    Give me that knife.
    No, the other one.
    The one with the jaggedy blade.
    Oh forget it, I’ll get it myself.

    Until next month, bitches (looking forward to some A. Bates – I remember literally nothing of her work).

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  • June 14, 2014 at 10:47 pm
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    PS. Billy, I love you for getting upset at the popcorn incident.

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  • June 14, 2014 at 11:06 pm
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    Paul, I fear had your second verse been on the tape they’d have still merrily driven off the edge of the cliff. I. Am. Crying.

    I almost tempted to say we should dig out Philip Pullman’s contribution to the range.

    Clearly my favourite Pike novel outside of PH is Weekend. I mean, come on the similarities to my own Cruel Summer are clear, onlyI stayed clear of convoluted dialysis drama and psychic Mexicans. Also Gimme A Kiss because of the herpes.

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  • June 14, 2014 at 11:50 pm
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    I may be going against the grain here……but I really did not like this story in this book (there I said it……phew that feels much better)!

    I here you all thinking what!!!! But I just didn’t click with this story at all. It’s fair to say after I finished collect call and collect call 2, read in one sitting with a glass of wine in one hand , cat curled up on my lap, husband snoring on the seatee, I had to check I had not accidentally downed the whole bottle of wine rather than a glass! I felt mind boggled beyond belief and unfortunately as the husband was asleep the cat got the whole what the hell just happened moment giving me the most disgusting look and running away as fast as possible and probably off the nearest sane house!

    I have to say I cannot be completely unfair to this book mr pike gives us good descriptions for us to think about…..

    “I look like a book mark next to her” Janice thought……..what the Christopher pike! Don’t put yourself down Janice …. My book mark is a lovely heart shaped, butterfly bookmark….bookmarks can be beautiful too!! Picture can be provided as evidence.

    In all seriousness the whole car going off the road was scary for me as I felt mr pike described this in real detail and the name tag in the Mourge did give me a shivery moment I have to admit….

    I do have to agree that Janice is one of our better ph girls and at least had a bit of get up and go in her although a bit psychotic maybe?? After finding out your nemesis who you have just left to die in your car over a boy as you thought she was dead already….”Janice clenched her eyes shut again and prayed that Caroline would just die. Die,. Die. Stop screaming”. Oh my days we know you hated Caroline Janice but it’s a bit harsh …. She’s burning alive….who wouldn’t scream! And Who puts there dirty blood encrusted clothes back on??? This is not correct girl code Janice …no no no!

    As for Caroline…. Our typical point horror girl…cheerleader…pretty (not a book mark) obviously popular airhead who by the end of collect call two has a personality transplant and a brain at least….must have been something in the popcorn…says a lot about butter popcorn! And Caroline I’m with you……been there, done that with the whole trying to impress by buying popcorn you think a guy would like to share with you….big no no, big embarrassment big waste of money….I’m obviously emotionally scared by this event that happened in my life! Lol

    Bobby…where do I start… I imagined him in my mind as a young james dean or skeet ulrich (billy out of scream) just to try and make him a bit more appealing. Yes I know we are not meant to like him, but you don’t have to remind me of my ex…..when handing Caroline her birthday present….
    “I would have wrapped it. But you would have had to open it”…l Caroline I’m with you girl…been there…yep we have been here before (I’m slightly worried about myself)! And let’s not go into bobbys obvious love of plants…..
    “Bobby was at the end of the living room. He was touching a leaf on a plant” and later….”Janice continued to watch bobby. He was still admiring the plant” and later the plant was obviously dead to him ” he removed the cigarette from his mouth and put it in the soil surrounding the plant. She supposed he wasn’t a plant lover after all”. Bobby = has phytomania or maybe not as the case may be?! What a catch … No wonder all the girls at chesterocks high were sweating over him.

    I would like to take this opportunity to remember a forgotten character in this story…..what the night walkers blazes happened to randy claud (this name made me laugh so much *immature*)?. Did he disappear on the hopes he would make it to the sequel??? Big mistake randy….big mistake….you were merely used and forgotten about….no sequel pay out for you….and with such classic lines like “he takes his pants off. He’s in my pe class” and “you were talking about washing bobbys jacket why don’t you go offer to do it now? He’s alone. He might even be lonely” ….no randy bobby is occupying himself with a plant…leave him be! Round of applause for randy claud *sniggers* and shame on you mr pike for missing an award winning opportunity there!

    And dr please?!? *sniggers*

    And breathe…… (And deal with my issues!)

    As you can tell….not a big fan of this story at all…..although I have read other Christopher pike books many years ago with master of murder (I think it was called) being a favourite. I’m starting to wonder whether I like my point horror a bit more slasher movie esque with a female character running up the stairs rather than out the front door ( mind you this did not help Drew Barrymore in scream!)

    On the train to london I managed to read dedicated to the one I love by Diane hoh….reminded me a bit of one missed call…and gets better as you read with a twist to keep you going….

    On a final note ….2nd verse to the number 1 hit that is the night walkers song… Yeah baby…..

    I come from the past
    Randys seen me in my pants
    I knew you saw me checking out the plants
    I tell you my story
    But I sleep in the bushes
    That is my night, this is your night
    I’m the black walker babe
    Touch my plant and I will break your nose
    Just like the guy in pe…….

    You can see where I’m trying to go with this…it obviously not working,…no number 1 hit for me any time soon…..my excuse…it’s late….now where did that old cassette tape………

    Reply
  • June 14, 2014 at 11:56 pm
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    Oh Paul …after posting my comments I noticed yours had gone up and I have literally just wet myself laughing (well not literally literally) at your verse of the black walker song…..classic and hilarious! Round of applause.. Here’s your trophy *hands fake trophy to Paul *

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  • June 15, 2014 at 8:59 am
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    Excellent plant-fetish observations! I loved Randy Claud too – would’ve been nice to have more of him in part 2.

    James, yes I think you were wise to steer clear of dialysis-related complications in Cruel Summer, and I agree that the Gimme a Kiss herpes twist is a Pike highlight. I completely forgot about Philip Pullman’s contribution to the tales of terror series. 13 More is, I think, the ONLY PH I don’t own, but looking at the contents it seems that it was mostly made up of British authors (like the later Point Horror Unleashed series.) Interesting.

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  • June 15, 2014 at 2:43 pm
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    PPS. Billy, I’ve just discovered your retrospective comments on previous Book Club posts, and have done a little hysterical weep at some of them. Bravo.

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  • June 15, 2014 at 4:57 pm
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    Hi Paul – I accidentally posted my reply to you in the April Fools thread… not sure how I managed to do that.

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  • June 15, 2014 at 4:57 pm
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    BTW tonight I’m having buttered popcorn as a tribute to Caroline.

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  • June 15, 2014 at 5:03 pm
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    Love it billy!! Rip Caroline…may you forever be remembered every time we eat buttered popcorn.

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  • June 15, 2014 at 5:29 pm
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    Billy I didn’t see you’d caught up on old posts – major brownie points (or indeed buttery popcorn) for you! I think you’re now pretty much up to speed. You’re not missing much with Dream Date, seriously.

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  • June 18, 2016 at 6:25 pm
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    I love this book. LOVE IT. As a child my parents renamed our flowering cactus “Hacker’s Plant”.

    Collect Call 1&2 great.
    Bobby W. started off my love for all psychopathic PH boys. With his cryptic statements and his sick sense of humour, he made my knees go weak(er).
    There was no Black Walker at all.
    He lived a fantasy life.

    He WISHED he was a rock star, so in his mind he was –- that was why the Black Walker had never been on TV. I don’t need to write 2nd verse. ‘Night Prowler’ [AC/DC] says it all better than I ever could.

    I think I might be more messed-up than I thought I was.
    Caroline’s date with Bobby where she is forced to watch horror films sounds EXACTLY like my ideal date.
    If there is such a thing.
    Caroline wasn’t forced to watch those films; she has 2 legs, they both work (I’m wheelchair-bound), she could’ve walked out of the cinema to call the police.

    The rest of the book….there’s more stories?? i didn’t notice, sorry. i was too busy thinking of said date. I reckon, & I could be wrong, that the PH Boys were really a nod to the sort of r’ship the writers dreamed of but never got.

    Reply

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