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The Midnight Club and why my inner 15-year-old is FREAKING OUT

When I found out that Netflix was coming out with a show based on Christopher Pike’s 1994 novel The Midnight Club, I was SO EXCITED. Christopher Pike was my absolute favorite author as a teenager. Every three months I’d go to the bookstore and buy his newest book. I even wrote him a letter! I aspired to be an author just like him, writing spooky thrillers with the most insane plot twists ever.

So, The Midnight Club finally dropped and I binge-watched the whole thing. For the uninitiated, here’s a summary of the plot: A group of teens living in a hospice house form a group called The Midnight Club that meets in the basement to tell scary stories.

There were SO MANY EASTER EGGS, guys! Because this was not just an adaptation of The Midnight Club book. I’m going to have to give the book a re-read, but in this series, the stories told by the members of the club are often the plots of OTHER CHRISTOPHER PIKE BOOKS. This was basically like getting several Christopher Pike adaptations rolled into one! I think there was only one actual adaptation before this one, Fall into Darkness, WHICH IS A CRIME, because it was a TV movie and impossible to find.

[I stand corrected: Pike’s series for the younger set, Spooksville, was also made into a TV series, but I never read those.]

[UPDATE: Fall Into Darkness is available to watch on Youtube!! Guess what I’ll be doing later…]

Before I get into spoilers, I just have to say that I loved that this story was set in the 90s, and the soundtrack is full of 90s classic hits that occasionally don’t fit but upped the nostalgia factor.

For those who haven’t watched the series yet, I’m going to reveal as many of the Easter eggs that I recognized! I’ll also say that some of these aren’t massive spoilers, since the episode titles often reveal the title of the novel. But I would highly recommend watching the series before reading on!

The first Easter egg I noticed is when Natsuki is reading to Tyler. I immediately recognized the book as Road to Nowhere, because of the ridiculous names: Poppy Corn and Freedom Jack, which is another Pike novel about telling stories, and because I re-read this one in 2019. This is a very common theme for him, also used in my favorite Pike novel, Whisper of Death, as is the car ride through purgatory. Road to Nowhere also appears in Episode 8, as Natsuki’s story – does this make her a plagiarist? The story involves a favorite actor of director Mike Flanagan, Henry Thomas (aka Eliot from E.T.). Unfortunately, we don’t get to hear any of the memorable stories told by Jack and Poppy, such that of a guy named John who loses his fingers in a hot dog machine. Alas, in the TV series Teresa’s car does not have fuzzy dice hanging off the rearview mirror like on this very memorable cover.

Kevin’s story in episode 3 was the first major Easter egg. He tells the story of Dusty, a teenager serial killer, which is of course The Wicked Heart. I recognized this story almost immediately. The story spans a few episodes as Kevin, like he does in the book, often leaves the group with a cliffhanger, telling them to stay alive for the next installment. The most memorable things about this book were how Dusty killed (with a claw hammer) and another of Pike’s common themes, reincarnation. Not included in the TV series is that somehow Nazis were involved, but Dusty’s story ends with him listening to Richard Marx’s “Hazard,” a song about a man accused of murdering his girlfriend. (On a personal sidenote, this song is the inspiration for one of my longtime works-in-progress, Rumors.)

Sandra’s story in episode 4 felt both familiar and not, because I recently re-read Gimme a Kiss and wrote a rather length and spoilery review (recently being 2012, don’t judge me). As I mention in my review of the book, I didn’t think that Jane revealing that she had lost her virginity would be the kind of secret you’d kill over. But in this adaptation, there are some gender swaps that make this a bigger deal, because it also outs a character. One of the more memorable parts of this book that made it into the TV series was how one character’s dad was a dentist which allowed not one but two plot twists.

Episode 5 brings us See You Later, one of Pike’s books which I don’t really remember. Apparently it has something to do with time travel and video games and the end of the world. I was sure this was based on The Starlight Crystal, but apparently that’s just the name of the video game – or was that detail changed to give us another Easter Egg? Christopher Pike has a lot of Easter eggs in his novels, so this could be the case here. Another thing I noticed in this episode was another of Mike Flanagan’s favorite actors, Rahul Koli, as the adult Amesh.

Witch is the story revealed in Episode 6, and while the main character looks different from the book’s protagonist Julia (yay diversity!), she has the same healing powers, which ties into Ilonka’s search for a cure for her terminal diagnosis. The moment I remember most from this book is the cover moment when Julia looks into the pool of water and sees a vision of the future. I always loved how the book covers actually depicted a scene from the story!

Episode 7 gets a little trippy as Anya has a vision of the future, and walks into the stories that have been told already, with appearances from Dusty (The Wicked Heart), Luke (originally named Mark in See You Later), and herself (from her own story told in Episode 2, “The Two Danas,” which was apparently the only story told that was from The Midnight Club novel).

For a while I thought Anya’s story was going to be The Eternal Enemy, but that comes later, in Episode 9. Again there’s a gender swap with the main character. I had forgotten about this particular plot twist, but it’s so classic Christopher Pike, starting with a horror premise and turns into sci-fi (cyborgs and time travel) and ends with an emotional message.

The last Easter egg may not really be one. In the final episode, in which Ilonka completes the story of Witch, she says the words, “Remember me” – another Christopher Pike novel title.

Bonus Factor: Dr. Stanton is played by Heather Langenkamp, best known for her role as Nancy in the Nightmare on Elm Street movies.

In my opinion, Mike Flanagan was the perfect person to make this adaptation. His other films are also emotional as well as being labelled as “horror,” much as Pike’s “horror” books often explored topics of spirituality. I don’t think I caught all of his favorite actors’ appearances in this series, there were definitely more than listed above, but I thought this was a good addition to Mike Flanagan’s other Netflix series, somehow capturing both the same feel as those while still keeping the Christopher Pike-ness.

I can only hope that other Christopher Pike novels will get Netflix adaptations. My vote is for Whisper of Death, although that line in the last episode makes me wonder if it’s a hint that Remember Me might be the next (a trilogy would mean more material to work with – oooh, they could do Final Friends!). Just please not The Last Vampire. Or Scavenger Hunt. Unless they’re a story within a story as part of Whisper of Death.

Did you watch The Midnight Club yet? Are there any Easter eggs I missed? What Christopher Pike book do you want to see on Netflix next?

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