Wednesday, October 1, 2008
The invitation arrived in a black-bordered envelope. Inside, the card showed a coffin with the inscription "Reserved For You." It was perfectly fitting for an all-night Halloween party on Fear Street. But Terry and his girlfriend Niki wondered why they had been invited. They barely knew Justine Cameron, the beautiful and mysterious transfer student who was throwing the party. The party was well under way when the lights went out. That's to be expected at a spooky Halloween party. But when the lights came back on, there was that boy on the floor with the knife in his back. Just a Halloween prank? Maybe. Maybe not. For Terry and Niki the trick-or-treating has turned to terror. To their horror, they realize that someone at the costume party is dressed to kill!
Well, after that epic description above I'm not sure if I should even bother, but I've got nothing better to do so let's get it on.
It's Halloween night and Terry and Niki are hanging out in Fear Street Cemetery instead of debauching themselves at a party or some such thing. They finally decide to leave, but Niki remembers that she left her mask behind and runs to retrieve it. Suddenly Terry hears an ear splitting scream and assumes it's Niki so he runs to find her. She's crouched behind a gravestone, brushing dirt off her mask. She didn't hear any screams because she's almost completely deaf. Seriously. They both make their way to the gate (I guess we're just ignoring the banshee wail?) when a flesh eating zombie crosses their path, oh nooooo! Of course it's just some jackass named Murphy Carter wearing an ugly mask. I wish you wouldn't dismiss the zombie storyline, Stine. Fear Street needs a couple brain robbers (and no, your fake zombie book doesn't count).
The next chapter takes place two weeks earlier. Terry is digging through his cluttered locker and comes upon his party invitation. His friend, Trisha (who seems like a pest you just can't get rid of) tells him she got invited to the same party and can you believe it's on Fear Street?! I can, but I wish I couldn't. Or something. They both think it's odd that they were invited because they don't even know Justine Cameron although they've seen her around. Apparently Justine is a blonde hottie who is noticed by all (particularly the boys, natch). Trisha and Terry walk to the cafeteria to eat with Niki whom Terry calls 'Funny Face'. Pet names give me ulcers. Niki says she also got an invitation and they gotta go because she really loves costume parties. Lunch ends with Niki telling Terry that Justine is 'stacked'. Wow. Just...wow.
Justine's party is all anyone is talking about. A girl named Lisa Blume (Shadyside High's biggest gossip) tells Terry the sordid history of Justine's new home on Fear Street: "The last owners of the Cameron mansion were killed in some kind of accident years ago. The story is that no-one could ever live there again because the spirits haunt the place." How very specific. Why can we never get DETAILS about these "accidents"? Anyway, Justine lives in the haunted dump with her uncle. Supposedly the two once lived in Europe. They gave up Europe for Shadyside? Idiots. Some goofball named Ricky Schorr comes over and interrupts the convo, telling Terry that he also got invited. Terry finds that odd because Ricky is a geek who only cares about frogs and such so why would Justine bother with him? Ricky mentions that Murphy Carter is also invited. BOOOOO! Down with the airheaded jocks!
After school, a group of students gather on the sidewalk to listen to Lisa Blume read off a short list of people who have been invited to Justine's party so far. They're confused because Justine has invited jocks and nerds mostly. Does she not understand high school hierarchy? No nerd can have a good time if the threat of some jock giving them a mega swirly/wedgie/wet willy is looming over their head the entire time! Justine comes up and when asked about the list, she replies "I just invited some people I want to get to know better." Simple enough. She goes on to flirt with that jockstrap Murphy and informs everyone that they can't bring dates. Ok. The group disperses a moment later, but Murphy can't resist hanging around to harrass Terry. He keeps calling him a wimp...really putting that brain cell to use, Murph. Then he tells Terry there's no way he could stay all night in a haunted house (I assume we're still referring to Justine's place) and thus begins a stupid "contest" to see who will actually come and stay the entire time. So pointless.
Terry and his friends start thinking up ways to get back at the jocks instead of taking the higher ground and moving on with their lives. Seriously, a prank war? If this were a movie (or perhaps even reality) the jocks would've already kicked the nerds' asses. That's more likely than them bothering with a bunch of pranks. Anyway! The pranks are incredibly lame: rubber snakes in someone's locker, filling someone's shoes with shaving cream. Not terribly creative. Niki tells Terry that the entire thing is getting ridiculous and she heard the jocks are planning some really heavy stuff for the Halloween party. If the crap they've pulled so far is any indication of what they're gonna do at the party, I wouldn't be too worried. Terry refuses to back down and Niki gets pissed, storming off down the hall. Terry heads to the cafeteria where he finds two wannabe thugs harrassing Justine because she didn't invite them to that stupid party. Terry tells them to back off and they do, but not before threatening him: "...as for you, wimp, if you don't stay out of my face, you won't need a Halloween mask." Oooo! Assholes. Of course Justine is falling all over herself to thank her knight in shining armor. *BARF* She then brings up the party and says she thinks all the drama surrounding it is ridiculous. Shut up, Justine. I think you're really enjoying all the attention you're getting!
At the end of the day, Terry and Niki make up beside Niki's locker. Terry grabs Niki's books to put them away for her, but he drops her geography book. A piece of paper flutters out and Niki is horrified at the message scrawled on it: "You'll wish you were blind, too." Why? Why would anyone wish that? The note is tepid and idiotic so it's safe to assume that a jock wrote it (probably Murphy). Terry automatically thinks it's Alex, his ex-best friend/current enemy who is on the football team and has it out for Terry because he wants Niki for himself. But Niki protests that Alex likes her and would never do anything to hurt her. She says it's just a joke and they should forget about it. Terry reluctantly agrees and they head off to Pete's Pizza for a cheesy good time.
Since Pete's is so popular with Shadyside youngsters, the place is packed to the brim when Terry and Niki arrive. They finally find a place to sit and Terry starts babbling about his biology project. This is one of the few times in which Niki probably thanks God she's mostly deaf. Anyway, she abruptly interrupts Terry because she spotted Justine outside on a pay phone. Niki tells Terry that she read Justine's lips and it seems like she was saying "They'll pay. Every one of them will pay." For WHAT? These vague messages are supposed to be scary or ominous or some shit like that, but they aren't. They're irritating and usually amount to nothing!
The next chapter is titled "Halloween Night". Finally. Some baaaad stuff better happen or I'm setting this book on fire. As we read in chapter one, Murphy just scared the crap out of Niki and Terry in the cemetery with his zombie costume. Boring? Quite. They follow everyone (all guests were commanded to go through Fear Street Cemetery to get to Justine's house. Why? There's no reason.) to Justine's house. Terry briefly admires Niki's costume: "She was dressed as an old-fashioned carnival reveler." I don't really know what that is...on the cover, she looks like Snow White's deaf cousin so I'm just gonna pretend that's what she is. At least she looks better than Terry: "His mother had helped him dress up as a greaser from the 1950s." Yeah...he's wearing black pants, saddle shoes, a dark jacket, and a pound of Vaseline in his hair (why would any of that require help from his mother?) He thinks he looks real cool, man. No comment. When he and Niki reach Justine's porch, Murphy springs a big fake hairy spider on them and laughs at their reaction. Lame! Can you people start acting like you're 17, not 7?
When they go inside, Terry is amazed at the decor. It's described as "an eerie wonder, the ultimate fantasy of the ultimate Halloween dream...or nightmare. Artificial cobwebs hung in every corner and cutouts of skeletons, witches, and bats dipped and swooped from the ceiling." That isn't an eerie wonder. That sounds like a kid's Halloween party. I'm beginning to think that Stine meant for this to be a Goosebumps book, but at the last second decided to make it a Fear Street novel. Anyway, Justine comes to greet them. She's a vampire: "She was dressed all in black, in a body-hugging, low-cut satin gown and high spiked sandals. Her thick blonde hair was piled high on her head and she had powdered her face and throat so they were dead white except for a slash of red on her full lips and the glittering green irises of her eyes." Terry thinks she looks like Elvira...
Justine compares Niki's costume to one she saw in Venice, Italy when SHE LIVED THERE. You traded Italy for fucking Shadyside?!? I can't think about this much longer. It hurts. Then the children get to meet Uncle Philip. He's been lurking in the shadows, but steps out when Justine calls to him. We get the following description: "A very skinny man stepped out of the shadows beside the fireplace. He was wearing a blue satin clown costume and his face was covered with grease-paint in a sad clown mask. A single sparkling tear was glued below his right eye." A creepy freak in a clown costume? This book just got a whole lot better. We get introductions all around...blah blah blah.
We find out that only nine people were invited. Are you serious? You spent a load of money on a party (the amount of food alone must have cost a pretty penny) that only nine people are invited to? I guess it kind of makes sense...if she invited 100, it would make it a hell of a lot harder for Uncle Philip to kill them all in just a few hours. Plus, people would really notice if 100 kids vanished. I HOPE Uncle Philip goes nuts and kills everyone at least. I'm sick like that. Another quick fact: Justine once lived in the Greek islands. WTF? You travel the world and decide on Shadyside. Explain that to me because I do not comprehend. Anyway, Uncle Philip turns on some fast music and a smoke machine and everybody goes crazy with the dancing. Suddenly the lights go out and the music dies. Philip goes to check the fuse box and when the lights come on, everyone spots a lifeless body lying in the center of the room. AHHH! Don't worry, kids. It's just a nerd named Les Whittle and he's very much alive. The damn prank war is rearing its ugly head AGAIN. The music starts back up, but the good mood doesn't last for long. Two punks on motorcycles come roaring into the room. Did they burst through the wall or let themselves in through the front door? It turns out to be those assholes who were harrassing Justine in the cafeteria. Just wait until Uncle Philip gets wind of this! Philip doesn't do much...he tells the boys that he'll call the police and one of them ends up shoving him into a table and cutting some of the decorations down. Terry tells them to back off, but he gets punched in the face. I would say these guys mean business, but they lose all credibility when they ask where the wine coolers are. Wine coolers? Are you kidding me? I thought bad asses would go for whiskey or something...further proof that these two are nothing more than bored jokers. They end up totally trashing the place and Terry and a guy named David fight with them. The assholes FINALLY get on their bikes and ride, once again threatening Terry: "You're history." And you suck!
To calm everyone down, Justine brings out cider and cookies and plays some '50s music. Wow, I wish I lived in Pleasantville, too! This explains why no-one has kissed or anything yet--the 50s were squeaky clean *eye roll* After a few minutes, Justine announces that it's time for a treasure hunt. A SPOOKY treasure hunt! Mwahahahaha! I'm not too excited. Everyone gets a list of items that are hidden around the mansion. Whoever finds the most items by midnight wins a special prize. A wine cooler? Anyway, Niki uses this opportunity to snoop through Justine's room. She thinks it's weird that Justine doesn't have a desk. Why is that so weird? Oh well. The only picture in the room is of a man and a woman "from the fifties." Hmm. In the closet, she finds a ton of very expensive clothing and she goes through Justine's lingerie. Niki is totally feeling Justine! She finds a picture of Justine and an older man holding one another and gazing lovingly into one another's eyes. She wonders if Justine was having an affair with this guy. Do I detect a hint of jealousy? She also finds a bunch of pill bottles with the name 'Enid Cameron' on them. Ok then. Niki decides to find Terry and tell him about her findings.
Meanwhile, Terry is making his way up to the attic. When he enters, he gets a shock: Alex is hanging from the rafters, his costume covered in blood. David comes up also and he and Terry run to tell Philip. But OF COURSE when he comes up to check it out, the body is gone. Come on! Everyone believes it was just a stupid joke on Alex's part and laughs it off. I hate it when this happens and it happens in EVERY. STINKING. BOOK. The group searches for Alex. When they enter Justine's room, they spot Alex's costume on the bed. It's stuffed with something to make it look lifelike...that's why they thought it was actually him hanging from the rafters. I hope that makes sense. If not, too bad--you're on Fear Street, remember? Alex pops out of the bathroom wearing a bathrobe and laughing his ass off. HATE! He informs them that while they were wasting their time searching for him, the jocks found everything for the treasure hunt and they win! Is this party over yet? The prize is a box of chocolates from Paris. I guess the nerds get ExLax or something. Justine falls and busts her ass on her way towards Alex. Hahahaha.
Justine goes upstairs to compose herself while everyone else watches "Bride of Frankenstein." Interesting. NOT. This party is a fucking snooze! If it wasn't for that stupid bet, they all would've left already. The electricity goes out again for no reason whatsoever. Justine comes downstairs and tells everyone that it's time for a new game: "The idea is that you tell everyone the worst thing you've ever done. Then everyone votes on whether you told the truth or not. If they think you're lying, you have to pay a penalty." Zzzzzzz. And what will the penalties be? 20 minutes in the closet with Uncle Philip? Reading this stupid book over and over again until you finally commit suicide to end the pain? Ricky goes first and everyone thinks he's lying. His penalty? He has to balance on one foot. *sigh* Terry thinks the game is stupid (it is) and he realizes Niki isn't in the room so he breaks away from the group to find her. He opens a closet door in the attic and finds Les Whittle's corpse, a big carving knife protruding from the chest. And this time, it's all real, man! Finally something is as it seems. Terry hurries back downstairs and tells David to come with him. When David opens the door, the body is gone. NOOO! But there IS a huge puddle of blood on the floor. They also spot blood smeared on an open window...Les is lying on "the peaked roof of a second story dormer." Crap. They realize they have to get him, but how? Instead of calling the freaking cops, they tie a rope around Terry's waist and David lowers him down. By some miracle, they manage to get Les' body back into the attic. They cover him with a blanket and run downstairs to find Philip. No-one knows where he is and Terry suddenly realizes that Niki is also still missing. David and Terry go into the kitchen intending to call 911, but someone has cut the line. Predictable much? Terry happens to gaze outside and sees Uncle Philip's clown costume lying in the mud. Creepy naked man running through Fear Street woods? NOW it's a party! The boys tells the group that Les is dead, Philip is gone, and someone around here is a murderer. David decides to leave and get help. But when he reaches his car, he sees that his tires have been slashed. Everyone's car is equally screwed up. David assumes that the two thugs (their names are Bobby and Marty) did it. As soon as he turns to walk back to the house, they pull up on Marty's motorcycle. Shit. They chase him through the cemetery and when he slips and cracks his head on a gravestone, they drag him away. Poor David...
Back at the house, everyone is searching for Niki. Terry goes down to the basement and finds her stuffed into a closet. She's confused and says someone knocked her out cold. She hands Terry an article she found. It describes an accident in Shadyside. A couple named Edmund and Cissy Cameron were killed; they had a daughter named *gasp* Enid (remember the pill bottle?) Niki also found a driver's license with the name Enid Cameron and a picture of Justine. She says Justine is really Enid and Philip is a creepy drifter who escaped from the circus. Just kidding...about Philip at least. Niki also points out that there were teenagers involved in the accident and those teenagers grew up to be parents...I think you see where I'm going with this. Another interesting fact: the article is over 30 years old which means Justine is actually a grown woman. Shocker! Philip is probably her freaky husband. Wow. I wish we could end the book now, but no.
Terry and Niki go back upstairs and accuse Justine of murdering Les, but she just laughs and tells them they're such good actors. Then she announces that she has one more surprise for everyone. They all file into the dining room. Les' corpse is propped in a chair at the head of the table. Holy shit, this chick really is crazy. Everyone (except Terry and Niki) actually believes he's alive...until his sunglasses fall off and they see his dead, glassy eyes. Justine flees the room and locks them all in. She goes outside and starts talking to them through the window. She tells them to sit down and open the gifts she's set out for them. Inside each box is a picture of her parents. She tells them that THEIR parents are the reason that HER parents are dead and she's going to get revenge by killing all the party guests. Oh good. She informs them that she's going to set the house on fire so they can burn just like her parents did. Smoke begins swirling beneath the door, slowly filling the room. Niki notices a handle on the wall and pulls it, revealing a small door and a dumbwaiter behind the door. She tells Terry and Alex to help her out. They boost her inside and start pulling the ropes so she'll go up. Unfortunately she's too heavy and the thing stalls before plunging all the way to the basement.
Niki desperately searches for a way out, but the windows are boarded up and the doorknob is red hot. Looks like Justine might get what she wants after all! Niki begins pulling at the boards on the window when she feels someone pulling her ankle. It's the elusive Philip! He's tied up on the floor and begs Niki to help him. She unties him and he finds a crowbar to pry the boards off a window so they can escape. They run to the side of the house and Philip pries the grating from a window so the others can escape. I underestimated you, Uncle Philip. Clowns DO serve a purpose after all.
Everyone stands outside and David comes stumbling out of the woods. He explains what happened and tells them he managed to call the police after regaining consciousness. Philip apologizes for everything that happened. Justine's father was his older brother and he wanted to avenge his death. He only wanted to put a scare in the party guests...he didn't think Justine would try to kill everyone. Speaking of Justine, she comes running up to Philip, screaming that he betrayed her. Jump into the burning house, Justine. Do it! Surprisingly, she tries to, but Alex pulls her out just in time. Boooo! Paramedics arrive and drag Justine away, mercifully. The groups realizes that it's now morning and no longer Halloween. As they walk away from the house, Niki says "It's always Halloween on Fear Street." A little too true.
Conclusion? The thought of a crazy naked man in clown makeup running through Fear Street woods makes me laugh. When are you gonna write THAT book, Stine?
Up next: "The Best Friend"