Monday, November 2, 2015

Disappointment on Fear Street...

I tried. I really did. I wanted to post about ALL the books I had planned for Halloween. But the last week of October was absolute and total crap. I felt mentally and physically like a giant pile of steaming cow dung. I hope you guy's had an awesome Halloween and managed to avoid the haunted masks and the evil pumpkin heads and the murderers who prowl Fear Street like wolves searching for carrion. I've started reading Party Games, the first of the new batch of Fear Street novels. So far, it isn't horrible. But there are so many more pages to go... Anyway, look for the review coming up soon.

Until next time...

P.S. Did anyone enter the giveaways on the Goosebumps Tumblr? I managed to win one day! The contents of the box I got: a copy of Goosebumps: The Headless Ghost DVD, a copy of Goosebumps Most Wanted: Night of the Puppet People (that R.L. Stine SIGNED!), a T-shirt with a picture of the Goosebumps book Welcome To Camp Nightmare on it, a bookmark, and some temp tattoos. I'd love to know what anybody else got...I think each box was different.

Monday, October 26, 2015

The Haunted Mask (Goosebumps #11)

How ugly is Carly Beth's Halloween mask? It's so ugly that it almost scared her little brother to death. So terrifying that even her friends are totally freaked out by it. It's the best Halloween mask ever. It's everything Carly Beth hoped it would be. And more. Maybe too much more. Because Halloween is almost over. And Carly Beth is still wearing that special mask...
Carly Beth and her friend Sabrina are eating lunch and discussing the fact that Carly Beth is scared of damn near everything on this sweet green earth. This fact is proven when she screams twice within five seconds: once when some kid drops his tray and again when this dude Steve (star of The Haunted Mask II!) grabs her shoulder. Steve and his friend Chuck like to scare Carly Beth even though it requires no effort whatsoever. Steve asks Carly Beth if she wants his sandwich and she takes it because the mac and cheese she got is gross and she's still hungry. But of course this sammich is no good: "Then she pulled the bread apart--and saw a big brown worm resting on top of the turkey." She thinks she's going to puke and runs from the cafeteria.

After school, Carly Beth heads home where her mother shows her the Plaster of Paris head she made in Carly Beth's likeness. Her mother also made her a duck costume even though Carly Beth wanted to be something really SCARY this year and ducks are just...quacky (yes, that made plenty of sense). Anyway, Carly Beth remembers the new party store and the creepy masks she saw in the store window. Before she can think anymore about that, her duck costume bursts out of her closet. IT'S ALIVE! QUAAAACK!! But no, it's just her stupid little brother Noah. After Carly Beth's "terrifying" duck encounter is over, Sabrina calls and they talk about their science fair project. I was the QUEEN of shitty, lame, uninspired science projects and even I think their project is pretty damned crappy--the solar system made out of painted ping-pong balls. It's just the planets dangling from strings. How is that a project? Seriously, how could anyone, even a kid, confidently submit that to a science fair? I'm embarrassed for them. I'm even more embarrassed for Carly Beth who nearly wets herself when Steve pinches the back of her leg after some kid announces his tarantula is loose (uh, I'm the science fair happening NOW or did this happen earlier?). Everybody, even the teachers, laugh at her...she responds as she usually does--by running away and silently vowing revenge. AND REVENGE SHE WILL HAVE! Otherwise we wouldn't be reading this...

It's now Halloween and Carly Beth is on the phone with Sabrina. The girls will meet at Sabrina's and then go trick-or-treating, but Carly Beth has to make a stop at the party store first to buy the scariest mask she can find. The HAUNTED MASK, you might ask? Yes. Thank you for paying attention, dear. Carly Beth creeps out into the cold, windy darkness to run to the store which is closed. But the weirdo shopkeep allows her to come inside and browse because she is absolutely desperate and pathetic looking. When he's distracted by the telephone, Carly Beth sees a door at the back of the store. She enters a small room full of the ugliest masks she's ever seen and OF COURSE nearly poops her pants when she thinks a mask cries out after she touches it. The noise came from the shopkeeper who is not pleased to find her in this room. These particular masks aren't for sale because they're "too scary" and "too real". Carly Beth whines until the man gives in and sells her a mask even though he MUST have an idea of what's going to happen to her. Is it possible she's so annoying he just wanted to get rid of her AT ANY COST? Wow.

Carly Beth scurries back home to try out the mask on her brother. He's in his room, checking out his cockroach costume in the mirror. (Yes, the kid's going as a COCKROACH.) Carly Beth scares the crap out of her brother, the roach, which pleases her to no end. She gets the idea to impale her Plaster of Paris head on the end of a broomstick so she can pretend she was decapitated by this evil beast. "I will be the terror of Maple Avenue tonight!" Big dreams do come true! Unfortunately, so do big nightmares...sorry, Carly Beth.

It's time to go out and Carly Beth wants to make a run for it without explaining to her mom why she isn't wearing the homemade duck costume. She bounces outside while her mom is on the phone and dashes to Sabrina's house where she spots Chuck and Steve on the sidewalk and can't resist scaring them. She scares the shit out of the two boys...who aren't even Chuck and Steve. The kids' mother gives Carly Beth a verbal lashing and Carly Beth considers tearing the woman's skin off, but the lady marches off before that can happen. Sabrina comes to the door in her Cat Woman costume and is shocked at Carly Beth's appearance--the mask is as ugly as sin, after all. Sabrina says Steve and Chuck will meet them later and the girls leave.

Carly Beth notices the mask is making her feel odd. She becomes enraged when Sabrina keeps yapping on and on and Carly Beth attempts to choke the life out of her before catching herself and pretending she was joking. At the first house they go to, a mother with two small kids (who are terrified of Carly Beth) answers the door. Carly Beth ends up telling the mom and little girl that she'll eat them up. Nice. She keeps acting crazy and by the time they see Chuck and Steve, she's stolen some kid's candy and thrown apples at an old man's house. "The mask made me do it." Well, yeah, but no matter the reason, YOU'RE BEING AN ASS. Finally, Chuck and Steve show up. Carly Beth hides behind some bushes, jumps out, and scares the crap out of them both. She demands they give her their candy and then...her plaster head speaks. "Help me. Help me." What. The. Hell. The boys lose their minds and run away while Carly Beth dances and runs around in victory. I guess we're just ignoring the fact that the head can talk? Okay then. Eventually Sabrina catches up to Carly Beth and they go back to Sabrina's house to admire their piles of candy. But Carly Beth can't get the mask off. The girls get particularly scared when Sabrina sees that there is no line between the mask and Carly Beth's skin...the mask IS her skin.

Carly Beth panics and runs out into the night. She runs until she remembers the party store man (who knew something was going to happen but sold her the damned thing anyway)--surely his weird ass can help! "The strange man in the cape. He will help me. He will know what to do." Never trust a man in a cape. The man is waiting for her at the party store because he KNEW she would be back! He tells her the mask is a real face, made by him in his lab and part of a collection he calls The Unloved. He calls them that because they're hideous and no-one wants except for the unfortunate souls who venture into the back room and decide to take one. Yes, this asshole has done this before. He tells her the mask can be removed with a symbol of love which means NOTHING to Carly Beth, but before she can beat the answer out of him, the Unloved masks come alive. She runs, but they float after her in the night. She remembers the Plaster of Paris head and realizes THAT is her symbol of love--her mom loved her enough to make a creepy likeness of her that somehow gained the power of speech. Yay! She searches for the head that she dropped earlier when it began begging for help. She finally finds it as the creepy, jabbering, floating masks surround her. She yanks the head down over her REAL head and when she pulls it off a moment later, the floating Unloved are gone and she's able to pull off her own mask. She heads home and has some nice hot cider with her mom. Her stupid brother bursts into the kitchen wearing the mask: "Look at me! How do I look in your mask?" You look like a kid who's about to know HELL.

Thoughts: We need to round up a posse, burn that party store to the ground, salt the earth where it stood, and run that caped nut out on a rail.

Up Next: "The Haunted Mask II" Steve gets his own haunted mask and, well, we already know how that story ends...why the hell does this book exist?

**Note** I'm not going to be doing "Zombie Halloween" or "Wanted: The Haunted Mask" this time around. Those will have to wait until next year to ruin my Halloween. So after "The Haunted Mask II", there will be "Trick Or Treat" and after THAT, you won't be exposed to any more Halloween-y tales. You can stuff your face with candy and watch your scary movies in peace. **End Note**

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Attack of the Jack-O'-Lanterns (Goosebumps #48)


Nothing beats Halloween. It's Drew Brockman's favorite holiday. And this year will be awesome. Much better than last year. Or the year Lee and Tabby played that joke. A nasty practical joke on Drew and her best friend, Walker. Yes, this year Drew and Walker have a plan. A plan for revenge. It involves two scary pumpkin heads. But something's gone wrong. Very wrong. Because the pumpkin heads are a little too scary. A little too real. With strange hissing voices. And flames shooting out of their faces...

We begin this pumpkin headed story with Drew getting pissed at her dad for calling her Elf (because she has positively elfin features, see?) before going outside to wait for her friends to come over, admire the scent of autumn air, and contemplate how much she hates Tabitha Weiss and Lee Winston, the corroded pieces of crap who keep ruining Halloween. Two years ago, perfect little Tabby ("perfect creamy-white skin and perfect green eyes that sparkle a lot") and the oh-so-cool Lee ("struts when he walks and acts real cool, like the rappers on MTV videos") invited Drew and her BFF Walker to a Halloween party. They agree to go even though they hate the assholes who just invited them and vice versa. (Really, they should have seen what was coming.) Lee and Tabby got two high school dudes to crash the party by pretending to be burglars (I guess?). They burst in, one wearing a ski mask and the other a gorilla mask, and make push-ups. That's it. Finally everybody looks up and sees Lee and Tabby laughing at them because they're evil little goblins. Unfortunately, Tabby and Lee screw over Drew and her friends the following year, too, by failing to show up to a party where Drew and the gang were going to mess with them. Their ideas were kind of lame, though--covering Lee and Tabby with slime, playing a tape with a creepy voice beckoning them to the grave, rubber snakes, a giant papier-mache monster, etc. It doesn't matter, though, because Lee and Tabby decide to go trick-or-treating with Lee's cousin. Another Halloween down the sloppy, slime covered drain.

Interrupting all the MIND BLOWING ACTION of this book is a nice little daydream sequence that Drew has. In the dream, she, Walker, Tabby, and Lee are trick-or-treating. They've got one more house to go. Unfortunately, it belongs to an elderly couple who plan on keeping all of the children that came to their home for candy. The old lady leads Drew and the other three to a room where her wrinkly husband can see their costumes. The room is full of sobbing trick-or-treaters. Has no-one in this (dream) town taught their kids NOT to go skipping into a stranger's house? I don't care how cute and old they are! Drew really enjoys the thought of Tabby and Lee disappearing forever (in the dream, she and Walker manage to get out of the house...what exactly was keeping the others there then?).

Drew snaps out of it when Walker arrives with their other friends, Shane and Shana (twins whom Drew's charming father refers to as "roly poly"). The twins have the perfect plan for revenge this Halloween, a plan we just have to assume is good because we get ZERO details. The twins promise they'll take care of everything. Walker and Drew just have to get Tabby and Lee to come trick-or-treating. This plan is almost derailed like all the others when Drew's mom says she doesn't want her going trick-or-treating because a bunch of people around town have disappeared. Drew says all those missing people are adults so there's nothing for a young girl to worry about! Yes, I'm sure a small group of 12 year olds wandering around alone after dark wouldn't be a target AT ALL. Eventually, a few days later, Drew's dad thinks it'll be okay if she goes out on Halloween because getting candy is so important it's worth the risk of getting kidnapped. Drew goes over to Lee's house where he and Tabby are working on his bumblebee costume ("He looked really stupid.") and gets them to agree to go trick-or-treating with Drew and Company. 

Halloween FINALLY rolls around. Drew is going as "Super Drew", a superhero who wears boxers on the outside instead of stretchy underpants. There's absolutely nothing else to say about this costume. Drew doesn't give a shit about the costume anyway--this night is about REVENGE. Walker shows up and his costume is far worse than Drew's--he's dressed in all black, even his face is painted black (no comment). He's a dark and stormy night. The stormy part comes in when he sprays you in the face with a squirt gun. If this were real life, Walker would've gotten his ass kicked about ten times by now. 

While Walker and Drew are waiting on the corner for Tabby and Drew to show up, they're attacked by vicious wolves!!! Oh. Never mind. It's just those fuckwits that made them do push-ups that time. Yes, these high schoolers are still doing this. Shouldn't they be getting wasted at a party or something? Maybe they're CONSTANTLY wasted...that would possibly explain why they're so easily talked into doing this crap by a couple of kids. It's also possible they're just plain stupid. Of course Tabby and Lee are close by and pop up laughing while the two morons run away in their wolf masks. They all finally start trick-or-treating even though Shane and Shana never showed up. They don't get too far before two robed figures with jack-o-lanterns for heads block their path. Lee and Tabby automatically assume it's Shane and Shana even though Drew and Walker start screaming like banshees (they also think it's the twins; they just wanted to scare Tabby and Lee which didn't work because they're a wee smarter than that). The pumpkin people lead them to a new neighborhood where they all get boatloads of candy. Eventually, Tabby gets tired and wants to stop, but the pumpkin heads say nay: "You can't quit! You can't EVER quit!" They force the kids to keep going. Drew finally has had enough and screams that the pumpkins can't be Shane and Shana, but Tabby and Lee think they are and in an attempt to prove it, they yank the pumpkin heads off...only to find NOTHING UNDERNEATH! BWAHAHAHAHA! Everybody screams as the pumpkin heads start to giggle: "Hee hee hee heeeeee." Dude. Seriously.

 The pumpkins, now back with their respective bodies, surround the kids and inform them that they will be trick-or-treating forever. They try to tell a couple of adults that they're being held captive by horrifying pumpkin creatures and being forced to trick-or-treat forever, but the grown ups only laugh because they are sane and believe it's just a joke. The kids start complaining to the pumpkins about how heavy their treat bags are. The pumpkin solution: "Start eating." So they do until they're nearly puking their intestines up. Once they stop eating, they beg for their freedom again which is pointless because these pumpkin monsters are really intent on these kids getting all the Kit Kats and Jujubes their little bags can carry. None of this makes any damn sense, by the way. You can't really trick-or-treat forever. People aren't going to keep coming to the door with candy day after day. And what would the pumpkins do if the kids just sat down and refused? So far, they've done nothing but swirl around and harass them with their annoying hissy voices. Then again, it's pointless to search for logic in a book about flying jack-o-lantern creatures so back to the story!

The kids have reached a new neighborhood...and every person who answers the door has a jack-o-lantern for a head. Swing low, sweet chariot... Yes, there are more of these freaking many more. Drew, Walker, Tabby, and Lee soon find themselves inside a circle of flying pumpkin heads who keep chanting "Trick or treat!". Four of the creatures step inside the circle carrying a pumpkin each. "These are for you!" Yeah, no shit, Columbo. They ram a pumpkin on Tabby's head and then Lee's. Both of them run down the street, screaming. Drew and Walker...start laughing as their two pumpkin captors transform into Shane and Shana. All four laugh and laugh because they finally got their revenge on the devils known as Tabby Weiss and Lee Winston. Shane and Shana are literally aliens from another planet who agreed to use their powers to scare their enemies. All those other pumpkin heads are relatives. Drew makes a joke about how she and Walker will get to eat all that candy and she wonders aloud what Shane and Shana eat. Remember those missing adults? "People from our planet only like to eat very plump adults. So you don't have to worry for now." It's always nice to threaten your friends with imminent death.

Thoughts: I really liked this one as a kid, but the story is pretty ridiculous reading it as an adult. That might be one of the craziest Goosebumps twists ever. Damn jack-o-lanterns...WHY JACK-O-LANTERNS, OF ALL THINGS?!

Costumes Found in This Book: princess, Klingon, snowmen, mummy, Silver Surfer or Statue of Liberty (no-one can decide which one this person is supposed to be...), Batman, pirate, "blobby creatures", space princess, Superman, ghosts, milk carton, ballerina, bumblebee, generic superhero, "dark and stormy night", monsters, goblins, skeleton, robots, gorilla, "chubby clown", and about 10,000 giggling pumpkin headed aliens. *sigh*

Hee hee hee heeeeee

Up Next: The Haunted Mask

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Hello? Is It Me You're Looking For?

I can see it in your eyes...

Ahem. ANYWAY. I'm back! Yeah, you look real excited. And you should be because after almost an entire year of doing diddly squat here, I'm going to make an actual effort to update this month. Because this is October! It's the month of Halloween and Stine's birthday and such and such. I'd like to do at least some miniature reviews. The books I plan on reading/reviewing: The Haunted Mask, The Haunted Mask II, Wanted: The Haunted Mask, Attack of the Jack-O-Lanterns, Zombie Halloween (Goosebumps Most Wanted Special Edition #1), and Trick or Treat (a Point Horror novel from 1989 by Richie Tankersley Cusick). There could be more. I know there's a Halloween Night II by Stine that I never got around to reviewing. Unfortunately, I don't currently have a copy, but if I get my greedy, greasy paws on one, I'll definitely be throwing that into the mix as well.  I'm also going to update the design around here...something pumpkin-y.

So...yeah. Stick around. If you want. I'll try not to lie to you anymore by promising reviews and then disappearing for a few light years. I SAID I'LL TRY!

Also: if you're interested in f*&!ing awesome giveaways--the Goosebumps Tumblr is having a prize pack giveaway every single day this month. The list of things you could win is pretty cool...if you love Goosebumps which I assume you do if you're here. If you don't...well, I can't help you, buddy, you're too far gone.

I'll see you ghouls soon...