Thursday, October 15, 2015

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




PUMPKIN POWER!

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 everyone...do 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 things...so 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

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