Sunday, October 31, 2010

Still More Tales To Give You Goosebumps

* I meant to post this hours ago, but it's still technically Halloween so let's get on with it! *

Reader Beware--You're In For Ten Halloween Scares!

Will Charlie's recipe for pumpkin juice cause him some hair-raising terror? Are Dave's awesome ants biting off more than they can chew? Can Max's Halloween wish turn him into an endangered species?

1. Pumpkin Juice

"I screamed when I opened the kitchen door." Too bad it's only Charlie's friend Frank in his goofy alien costume and not something SCARY. They're going trick-or-treating together soon, but first Frank wants to show Charlie a recipe he found in Monster Brews to Bring out the Best in You on Halloween. He flips to a page with a recipe for something called Pumpkin Juice Supreme. He brought a pumpkin with him so they could make this disgusting concoction. Ingredients: flesh of ripe pumpkin, milk, molasses, butter, garlic, and chicken broth. (I'll give my copy of this book to anyone who tries that.) Barf-o-rama. They mix it all together, trash the kitchen in the process, and each have a couple cups. They both thoroughly enjoy because they're dirty little monster boys. Eventually they set out for a night of trick-or-treating. Charlie suddenly feels like he's starving and begins devouring his candy like it's going out of style. He notices Frank doing the same thing. Frank's insatiable hunger causes him to shove open a woman's door for more candy because she didn't give him enough the first time. At the next house, Charlie gets pissed at a little boy who tried to give him a stinking LOLLIPOP so Charlie shoves past him, runs into the kitchen, and starts gobbling eggs and raw liver. GAG. He stops only when he sees thick black hair sprouting out of his hands. As the little boy's enraged mother swats Charlie out of her kitchen with a broom, Charlie has an epiphany: "The booklet didn't promise to bring out the best in me. It promised to bring out the beast in me. And it worked!" Outside, Charlie slurps a worm right off the ground before getting into a fight in an alley with an incresingly furry Frank over a stupid cookie. They eventually stop fighting, go to Charlie's house, nearly eat his cat, and realize there must be something in the book to cure them. Of course there is and the cure is basically the ingredients for pumpkin pie which Charlie's mom has just baked. What a coincidence. After eating some pie, the boys are back to normal. Unfortunately, Charlie's mom drank some Pumpkin Juice and is now devouring raw hamburger.

Trick or treat? A stomach churning TRICK.

2. Attack of the Tattoo

No joke. That's really the title. Anyway, Jeannie is really disappointed in her Halloween haul. The only thing of any interest in her trick-or-treat pillowcase (NO BAGS!) is a temporary tattoo of an evil looking snake. "It was the coolest tattoo I'd ever seen." Then you obviously haven't seen many. She runs to the bathroom for a wet washcloth to apply the tattoo (this is really taking me back to the years when I thought Lisa Frank temp tattoos were the shizz. Rainbow unicorn rocks.) but the directions say "To apply, use water scorched by the sun." This is the morning after Halloween so the sun is shining bright. Jeannie takes a bottle of water outside, lets the sun shine through it, and dumps the entire thing on her arm to apply the tattoo. It works. What a waste of water. She's incredibly excited and bikes to her friend Maggie's house to show it off. On the way over, she feels something slithering over her legs. She screams and pulls the bike over, but sees nothing and continues peddling. Maggie takes a break from wolfing chocolate to admire the tattoo: "Jeannie, that is the coolest thing I've ever seen!" What is it with these kids? Turns out Maggie also got a tattoo, but hers is just a centipede. A centipede. A CENTIPEDE. Which is why she didn't bother applying it.

That night, Jeannie wakes up to three black snakes slithering through her bed. She freaks out, wads them in the sheet, and tosses them out the window. She runs to the bathroom to scrub the eeeeeevil tattoo off, but it stays put.

The next day at school, Jeannie runs to Maggie to tell her about the sun water, the snakes, and how she can't remove the tattoo. Maggie tells her to read the directions. Genius! After school, Jeannie finds the paper which reads "To remove, use water struck by the full moon." Original. Jeannie calls Maggie to tell her and asks when the next full moon will be. Maggie checks the calendar...the moon will be full TONIGHT.

Once the moon is out, Jeannie goes outside where a snake begins working its way out of the tattoo. Then another and another until Jeannie is surrounded. And the tattoo is STILL there even though it just gave birth to a bunch of full grown snakes. Hm. Jeannie kills the snakes with her potent moon water and rinses her tattoo away. Yay. The next day at school, Jeannie finds that everyone has applied their evil tattoos. Some dude named Zach has two sun water soaked tattoos for Maggie (a tarantula) and Jeannie (a rat) and he immediately slaps them on their arms. "Maggie, is the moon still full tonight? Or do we have to wait a full month?"

Trick or treat? A slimy, itchy, creepy, crawly trick.

3. The Wish

Max's shitty 15 year old brother Eugene has locked Max in a closet. He's screaming for help because he's going to be late for trick-or-treating with his friend Alex. Max's mom lets him out of the closet and laughs when he says Eugene locked him in. Parent of the year. Finally Max and Alex leave and Max thinks about how cool his mask is: "A long scar ran down one side, dripping with blood. Warts and boils covered the other side. Totally gross." Indeed. The boys cover the whole neighborhood and end up with loads of candy. Unfortunately for Max, Eugene knocks the bag out of his arms and candy spills all over the street. He walks off eating Max's favorite treat, a jelly apple. Max spots a house he and Alex must have missed so he runs over to get a little candy (some is better than none...although he could have just gathered it off the street). A nasty old lady who is nearly bald and closely resembles a skeleton answers the door and drags Max closer. She gives him a jagged rock as his "treat" and tells him "Don't throw away the power!" before cackling and slamming the door. A mental patient escapee. Always a Halloween favorite. Max runs home and throws the rock out the window after wishing he was an only child.

When Max wakes the next morning, things are very off. Eugene's room is a study and Max's school is missing and every person that Max comes into contact with runs away screaming! A group of angry adults begin chasing him so he dives into Ms. Greenway's pet store. He tells her he needs help, but she immediately lets the adults in and they trap him in a net. He sees the weird old lady holding her rock of power and Max realizes his wish came true and he should never have thrown away the power. Max is the only child on planet earth and now resides in a cage labeled 'Endangered Species'.

Trick or treat? A trick of epic proportions.

4. An Old Story

Tom's neglectful workaholic parents forgot to go the store again so he and his brother Jon have resorted to fighting over a few Oreos. The doorbell rings and Tom peeps out a window to get a look at the visitor. It's a tall old woman in a blue coat and floppy black hat pinned with a rose. Jon says not to answer the door because that old hag is a STRANGER! But Tom says she's just a defenseless old lady and opens the door. The windbag seems to know them both and introduces herself as Aunt Dahlia. She says they probably don't remember her because they were little when she last deigned to make a visit. She barges in and makes them cookies with giant prunes in the center. "Don't skip the prunes. That's the best part." LIAR! Dahlia sticks around for weeks which gives Tom's parents permission to work even more than usual since they now have a crazy lady who babysits for free and makes sure their sons are getting their nutrition by shoving prunes down their throats every day. One morning, Tom and Jon wake up feeling stiff and elderly. They're also balding and going deaf. Prunes really are the devil. Tom wants to go to the doctor to flush the old out of his system, but Aunt Dahlia says he isn't going anywhere. Her crusty friends have arrived for a rousing game of bridge and they're going to teach Tom and Jon how to play. The old crones flirt with the youngish oldish boys and when Dahlia asks if one of them will run out for some milk, Tom quickly volunteers. The cashier at the corner store offers Tom a senior's discount on antacids, but he refuses. He catches his reflection and sees that he's extremely wrinkled now. "I was turning into an old man!" It's the demonic PRUNES! Jon is also changing rapidly. "His face was wrinkled up--like a prune." NOOOOOO! Jon and Tom decide to search Dahlia's room for proof that she made them old. They overhear one of the old ladies say that she wants to marry Tom. "Aunt Dahlia was turning us into old men--so these old ladies could marry us!" EW. They still have the minds of kids, no matter how wrinkled and decrepit they become! The boys hear Dahlia say the old ladies can have them after they pay her fee. "Aunt Dahlia is selling us to those old ladies! She turned us into old men so they could marry us and move to Florida!" Where old boys go to die. The two find some anti-wrinkle cream; Aunt Dahlia enters the room and attempts to take it, but they smear it on and instantly become young again. After a heated chase, the boys end up splashing prune juice on Dahlia which causes her to disintegrate. Later, Tom's stupid parents figure out that Dahlia was in no way related to this family. *sigh*

At school on Monday, Tom notices that his crush Becca has a prune loaded lunch, courtesy of her old auntie Susan: prune juice, prune cookies, and prune on rye. Tom hands her a ham sandwich and tells her to run for her life.

Trick or treat? This story is a mixture of dirty tricks, mothballs, and PRUNES PRUNES PRUNES! The only thing missing? Any mention of Halloween.

5. The Scarecrow

Darleen, Scott, and Melanie are on their way to school, but have gotten sidetracked by the scarecrow in the hundred dollar scarf on the lawn of the old Swofford place. They think it's strange because no-one lives in the delapidated house. Also, the damn thing has an expensive cashmere scarf tied around its neck. Seriously. It's also wearing a red baseball cap and blue leather gloves. Coincidentally (by 'coincidentally' I mean 'not coincidental in any way') the scarf is just like one that Melanie has been coveting, the hat is like the one Scott has been looking for, and the gloves are the ones that Darleen has been admiring for a while. But the kids think nothing of this and run off to school where they're late and assigned detention. That afternoon, Darleen and Scott realize that Melanie didn't show up for detention. When they pass the scarecrow on their way home, they see that the straw man's designer scarf is missing. A moment later, Melanie jogs up wearing it, not remorseful at all that she stole it. She tells Scott and Darleen to take what they want. After all, anyone stupid enough to put nice things on a scarecrow deserves to get robbed! Neither Scott nor Darleen takes anything. Darleen does, however, get up in the middle of the night to stand in front of the scarecrow and admire the gloves. But her mom yells at her to get inside.

The next day, Melanie calls Darleen and says she has a horrible sore throat and asks Darleen to get her homework for her. Darleen agrees and leaves the house. She sees Scott wearing the red hat and he tells her to take the gloves, but she says she'll wait until after school. At the end of the day, Scott has become very rattled in the brain, confused and forgetful (has he been eating prunes?). Darleen drags him home, drops off Melanie's assignments, and doesn't steal the gloves because the scarecrow is too scary. Booga booga!

The next day, Scott is worse and Darleen decides to steal the gloves because she hasn't been paying attention to the irony of her friends' situations. She takes the gloves, the scarecrow grabs her and she passes out. When she wakes up, Melanie and Scott are standing over her. Everything was just their idea of a Halloween joke. (How the hell did they get the money for leather gloves and a cashmere scarf?!) Except the scarecrow is smiling now...and he wasn't before...and this ending sucks.

Trick or treat? A straw-coated trick.

*We have now reached the mid point and so far, these stories have tragically misfired again and again. Let's have a toast with our smelly cups of Pumpkin Juice in the hopes that the next five stories are a little better.*

6. Awesome Ants

Dave is at home with his friend Ben. They're doing homework when the doorbell rings. It's a deliveryman with Dave's giant ant farm from Awesome Ants Inc. The glass case is bigger than a pool table and Dave is concerned that he won't be able to observe the ants for his science project. Because ants are the most fascinating creatures in the world. Except not. You'd be better off watching the grass grow, Dave. The farm came with a box of blue gel capsules with instructions to ONLY feed the ants the capsules and nothing else. For some kids, this wouldn't be a problem, but Dave is a character in a shoddy Goosebumps book so you know he's going to do something stupid and instantly regrettable. The following day, sure enough, Ben and Dave begin feeding the ants people food such as cookies. A few days later, Dave realizes that the ants have shifted into overdrive. They're bigger and constantly moving. He feeds them some of his Halloween candy...and that is the only mention of Halloween in the entire story. Dave gathers a few ants in a cup to take to school to show his science teacher. The day after THAT, Dave arrives at school to find nothing in the classroom except a few giant ants. Yes, the ants have mutated and are now larger than the average human. Dave flees the school, runs home, and finds his yard infested with giant ants. One of them picks him up and places him in the center of a circle of ants. They force feed him a blue pill which puts him to sleep. When he wakes, he realizes he's been shrunk and placed inside the ant farm. His teacher Mr. Lantz and kids from his science class are also in there. Mr. Lantz says they better get busy building rooms and such. He tells Dave that this will be a great learning experience and Dave agrees that it will be "Awesome."

Trick or treat? Are you kidding me?

7. Please Don't Feed The Bears

Sarah is pissed because her family is taking a trip over the Halloween weekend to Cuddle Bear Land instead of Monster Mansion. Monsters are too scary for her little sister Katie, but Cuddle Bears are just right. When they arrive at the park, Sarah cheers up a little because her parents allow her to go on the Roarin' Roller Coaster by herself. She rides five times and on the fifth time, she gets the privilege of sitting next to a Cuddle Bear on his lunch break. After riding, Sarah goes off down Honey Comb Lane to meet up with her parents and sister. But she gets sidetracked by the pathetic, horrible wails of terrified children! Never mind--it turns out to be some kids on the roller coaster having FUN. Sarah feels like an idiot and keeps walking. She seems to be lost and ducks into 'The Cave: Caution. Employees Only' to ask for directions to the Hibernation Rest Center where her parents are hanging out and growing ever more furry-ous (see what I did there?! I can be a Cuddle Bear, too!) A Cuddle Bear named Kira says she'll help Sarah, but first Sarah will have to eat a bag of Honey Crackers (also known as graham crackers) so she does...and instantly begins sprouting hair on her elbows. She screams and flees the Cave. She didn't eat enough Honey Crackers to become a full on Cuddle Bear so she simply covers her hairy elbows and keeps walking. She finds her parents and sister and they all go home. Sarah's little sis finds a bag of Honey Crackers in Sarah's backpack (bad Kira!) and eats them all. Sarah realizes she'll have own Cuddle Bear soon.

Trick or treat? A honey flavored treat. Who doesn't love cuddly bears with an evil streak?

8. The Goblin's Glare

Mike is a great artist who has made the most realistic, repulsive goblin ever! If you consider construction paper to be realistic. Mike plans to hang the goblin by the front door to terrify trick or treaters. Me thinks he is overestimating the power of construction paper. He keeps saying it will give people nightmares, but he's the one who ends up having a nightmare. The goblin comes to life and tries to steal his soul or something. The goblins motives are unclear. Mike has the same nightmare the following day in class. Everyone laughs at him for freaking out. On Halloween night, Mike makes some changes to make the goblin seem less insane. It obviously doesn't work. As Mike and his friend Karen are trick-or-treating, Mike gets a very bad feeling and runs home to find the goblin standing in the front hall. We know it's waiting for him because it says it's been waiting for him. Magical prose. Mike runs upstairs, away from the goblin's gurgling laughter and brittle yellow fingernails, only to find HIMSELF asleep in bed which means this yet another dream. The GOBLIN'S dream and Mike is about to be eaten...

Trick or treat? What the HELL was this? It makes no sense! Trick!

9. Bats About Bats

This is becoming unbearable (another bear joke? Hell no.) ... Suzanne and Liz are walking to Suzanne's house for a sleepover. It's dark out and a bat swoops out of nowhere and dive bombs the girls. They make a run for Suzanne's house, but the bat stops swooping and the girls see a very pale blond girl standing there watching the bat flutter away. She introduces herself as Dorrie Morrow and says her family just moved into the neighborhood. Her parents are "bat scientists" which is why she's so interested in bats. The girls become friends and begin spending a lot of time together. One afternoon, Liza and Suzanne go to Dorrie's house. For some reason, they're shocked at the amount of bat paraphenalia in Dorrie's room. On the way home, Liz and Suzanne discuss how gross bats are and how much they hate them. This leads to the two hatching a plan to scare Dorrie at their next sleepover. The plan: Liz's brother Mike (the goblin artist?) will dress up as a vampire to spook Dorrie. Wow. Great idea. Or something. They have the sleepover and Mike scares Dorrie. Dorrie cries wee wee wee all the way home. But she forgives them the next day.

Halloween comes and the three go trick-or-treating together. Liz is dressed as a clown, Suzanne as a gypsy, and Dorrie as a praying mantis. Kidding--she's a damned bat. At the end of the night, they go back to Dorrie's house to sort through their candy. A bat flies in through the open window and attacks Suzanne's head. Dorrie grabs the bat and cuddles with it while berating Suzanne for scaring it. Then she tells the girls there's something in the basement that she wants to show them. It's her parents. When she said they were bat scientists, she meant it--they're giant bats in lab coats.

Trick or treat? Zzzzzzzzz

10. The Space Suit Snatcher

Laura is a psychopath who believes she can transmit messages into space with her homemade "superpower transmitter". She's at a yard sale with her sister Tammy who is pissed because Laura is wasting time looking at a bunch of junk that she believes will make her superpower transmitter even more super. *sigh* The man who's selling the crap also believes in aliens and takes Laura to his garage to see his old radios and canvas space suit. He gives the suit to laura and tells her aliens gave it to him when he was younger. The aliens told him if he ever wanted to see them again, he should just put the suit on and they would come. I think he made the suit of his old straitjacket.

That evening, Laura sends out her nightly radio broadcast for people of the stars, signing off by saying "Peace to all" in different languages. Suddenly she's interrupted by an alien. He tells her she will be kidnapped and taken far away to Ebulon. Laura freaks out, but her dad just yells at her to go back to bed. Is he not at all worried about her? Not because of the aliens, but because his daughter genuinely believes she's going to be taken away from her home to another planet. Again, another case of extremely crappy parenting. That's the most horrifying thing about this book.

The next day, all Laura can think about is the impending alien invasion and whether or not she should wear her spacesuit on Halloween. That night, Laura spies an ugly green alien scratching at her window. She screams for her parents and the alien disappears. Laura accidentally broke her radio when she jumped back in fear from the window and her dad says he's really sorry about it. Then he says the alien was just a dream. Or possibly the weirdo from the yard sale, sending transmissions through Laura's window. Right.

The next night is Halloween and Laura is too freaked out by the space suit to wear it so she goes as a praying mantis. Kidding--she's a damned radio. She goes out and is almost immediately accosted by a nutty alien in a space suit identical to her own.Laura runs, falls down, and looks up to see the alien revealing itself as Tammy who is laughing her ass off. She says everything (including the alien on the radio and the one at the window) was just a joke played by her and her friends. In the next moment, Tammy is gone and the purple blob who replaced her tells Laura that Tammy put on the suit therefore she volunteered. For WHAT? Before vanishing, the alien thanks Laura for the radio broadcasts and requests rock music for the next one.

Trick or treat? An intergalactic trick even though I found myself laughing through most of it. It's completely ridiculous!

Well, it's over. And I can state with certainty that this is the WORST Goosebumps book I have ever read. Someone actually got PAID for this.

~~~HAPPY HALLOWEEN to the beasts, snakes, young children, old children, scarecrows, ants, bears, goblins, bats, and space cases of the world!~~~

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 ...