Monday, December 17, 2007

#33 the Horror at Camp Jellyjam

#33 the Horror at Camp Jellyjam

Front Tagline: Tennis...Ping-Pong...Monsters, anyone?
Back Tagline: It's Not Whether you Win Or Lose -- It's How You Stay Alive!

Official Book Description:
Swimming, basketball, archery. King Jellyjame's sports camp has it all. Too bad Wendy isn't a total sports freak like her brother, Elliot. But how excited can you get over a game of softball. It's just a game, right?
Because Camp Jellyjam is no ordinary sports camp. And Wendy's about to find out why. Why the counselors seem a little too happy. A little too obsessed with winning. And why the ground is always rumbling late at night...

Brief Synopsis:
The Horror at Camp Jellyjam takes a long, long time to approach any event or scenario that could be skewed even slightly towards "horror." It does however immediately capture the excitement of a four hour drive through farmlands. Wendy and her younger brother Elliot are en route to a family vacation with their parents. The Wyoming countryside does very little to excite the two kids, so Wendy suggests that maybe they could ride in the trailer hitched behind to their car. Because what's boring in a car becomes thrilling in a smaller car? Once inside the trailer, the two kids merrily pass the time as the trailer accelerates down the highway. Wendy thinks they're going awfully fast but then figures that maybe her mom is driving. Wow, sticking it to women drivers? Cross your fingers that before the book's over, we'll hear Stine's take on how the red man likes to drink.

The trailer races off the road and finally tumbles to a stop on the outskirts of a campground. The two kids are unscathed, and Elliot cheerfully declares that the experience was "better than Space Mountain!" Granted, even walking through a sliding glass door is more fun than Space Mountain, but there's a little blurb in the book that came with the Goosebumps pogs wherein Stine reveals that his favorite place on Earth is Disney World. Can you imagine how upset Stine was when he read the dig the ghostwriter included-- Assuming of course that the trivia from the pog book wasn't also ghostwritten.

They hear a knock at the door of the trailer and assume it's their parents. However, upon opening the door, they are greeted by a smiling blonde man dressed all in white. His t-shirt is tucked into his shorts, so already there's trouble here. He introduces himself as Buddy and directs their attention to the camp banner above their heads: King Jellyjam's Sports Camp. He cheerfully tells the kids that they can wait for their parents in the camp! This works out perfect for the kids because they've always wanted to be murdered by a stranger.

Buddy informs the kids that he's Head Counselor of the camp. Wendy asks what the little cartoon purple glob on the banner is supposed to be and Buddy tells her that's the mascot, King Jellyjam. You can tell he's the king because he's wearing a crown and is purple. Buddy shows them the campgrounds. There are two long, two-story white dorms on either side. In between are various courts and sports diamonds and two swimming pools. Wendy and Elliot are excited about the prospect of playing sports, killing the last chance any kid reading this book had of relating to the characters. As Buddy leads the way through the camp, a little redhead girl pops out from behind a treetrunk and tells Wendy to run away, then disappears.

The camp's slogan, "Only The Best," is slapped everywhere around the grounds, appearing right below the blobby face of King Jellyjam. Numerous cheerful counselors roam the grounds, including one named Scooter, who welcomes Elliot to the boys dorm. No, I'm not entirely sure that this isn't slash fiction.

Wendy makes small talk with Buddy on the way to the girls dorm, casually asking him where he's from. Buddy can't remember. Don't worry, as they walk, they pass a lot of kids playing a lot of sports. There are so many sports in this book. There are kids bowling in outdoor bowling lanes and marble tournaments and gymnastics and croquet. We get it. But just in case, there's also chess and baseball and biking and swimming. Sports, sports, sports.

Wendy's new female counselor, Holly, greets her. Sporting purple lipstick and fingernails, she asks if Wendy's ready for to play some sports. Wendy says she is and Holly shows her to her room, which might be a sport. The room is decorated with nothing but some bunk-beds and a framed photo of King Jellyjam. Holly tells her that her new roommate, Deirdre, is busy playing sports. Holly leaves Wendy by herself in the room. Wendy wonders where she's supposed to go next (I have a guess: To go play sports?). Before she can give it too much thought, she hears several hushed voices outside her door. The voices cry out, "Let's get her!" Three preteen girls bust into the room giggling. They were just joking. I guess it's one of those "You had to be there" jokes. Wendy is a good sport however and doesn't just roll her eyes like I did while reading that particular chapter break.

The three girls are Ivy, Jan, and Deirdre. One of the girls massages her calf muscles while Deirdre gives Wendy one of her swimsuits so she can participate in the four-lap race. When Wendy tells the girls that she's not interested in competing, they get very irate and repeat the camp slogan, "Only The Best."

Wendy and about a dozen other girls stand on the cusp of the Olympic-size swimming pool. Deirdre tells Wendy that she should have tied her hair back so it won't slow her down in the water. Once the race begins, Wendy is actually on her way to winning when she sees Deirdre working really hard to come in first. Since Wendy doesn't care, she lets her win. Deirdre is awarded a gold King Coin for coming in first. Apparently when a camper accumulates six King Coins, they get to walk in the Winners Walk. Deirdre is very excited, as she only needs one more King Coin to achieve this goal.

Holly runs up to Wendy and scolds her for not following the camp slogan. Wendy pretends she didn't throw the race but Holly knows better and tells her that the slogan is a threat, not a promise, and warns her against doing it again. Looks like Holly just won a King Coin for the sport of Threatening Children!

Elliot shows up and invites Wendy to watch him play ping pong in a ping pong tournament. Now, ping pong is boring to play. It's boring to watch. And yes, you'd better believe it's boring to read about. Elliot really wants to win and gets very worked up. In the past when he gets overexcited, Wendy performs a special whistle to alert him to calm down. She is forced to use the whistle on Elliot during the tournament. He gives her a big thumbs up. Elliot wins the ping pong tournament and hopes to win another King Coin before the night's over.

The ground starts to shake and Wendy freaks out, thinking it's an earthquake. But no one else in the camp even seems to notice. Buddy tells her that the ground shakes so often that everyone just gets used to it and to not worry.

Wendy is getting concerned that her parents might be worried about her and her brother. She decides to call their home answering machine and leave a message for them. Before she does though, Deirdre shows up with her sixth King Coin: She'll be in the Winners Walk that night! Wendy gets very excited about Deirdre's excitement and decides she is going to try to win a King Coin of her own. She gets so excited that she forgets to make the phone call. Everything is so exciting!

That night, Wendy, Ivy, and Jan watch the Winners Walk ceremony outside in the dimly lit evening. The counselors really go all out for this ceremony, and Wendy is told it is a big deal. Two counselors come out holding torches and the kids who won their sixth coin follow them single file into the darkness as marching band music plays from the loudspeaker. Well, now I can see why everyone is so motivated to be a part of the Winners Walk.

The girls scrounge up some snacks for Deirdre's celebration party back in their dorm room. Ivy and Jan and Wendy pass around a bag of tortilla chips and share a can of Diet Coke while they wait for Deirdre to show up to her own party. When she never arrives, the girls decide to break the camp's curfew and go out looking for her.

The three girls wander around in the dark for a while. Some bats show up to drink from the swimming pools and pad the page count. Suddenly, the girls hear a cry for help-- it's the little redhead girl from earlier. She tells the girls that her name is Alicia and she followed the counselors to see where they go. What she saw was so horrible that she insists they all must to leave the camp while they still can. Then the little girl disappears again.

Safely back inside the dormitory, the girls discover all of Deirdre's belongings have been removed. The next morning at breakfast, Wendy accosts Buddy, who tells her that Deirdre left, as did Alicia. She tries to tell Jan and Ivy, but they're rushing off to play more sports. Thank God the book has returned to the promise of more scenes of sports! Wendy reattempts her foiled phone call to her parents, but is shocked to discover that the pay phones are not functional. Readers of the blog however are not, because they've already read the classic entry on Welcome to Camp Nightmare. Buddy watches her from afar and then approaches to tell her that she must find a sport to participate in. Since she's not a self-starter he's lined up an itinerary for her. First tennis, then softball.

Scholastic: Write us a book with some sports in it.
RL Stine: What kind of sport?
Scholastic: Every sport!

Wendy loses her tennis game to a girl who wins her sixth King Coin. After tennis she is hustled down to the softball diamond. She practices her swings with the bat and accidentally slams the bat right into Buddy's chest. The bat hit has no effect on him, despite it making a sound "like eggs breaking." Buddy cheerfully recommends she try another, lighter bat.

That night, another Winners Circle ceremony. The next morning, another revelation that the winners have disappeared. Wendy tells her brother that they have to run away from the camp that night, but Elliot's in no rush: he's won his fifth King Coin and wants to acquire the sixth so he can march in line behind a torch.

Wendy covertly follows the counselors after nightfall after she notices all of them heading towards the woods. In the woods, positioned in a clearing, she finds a small white domed building. She enters the igloo-like structure.

Inside the building she finds a small theatre. Wendy ducks into a broom closet and watches as Buddy hypnotizes the rest of the counselors and himself. He tells the counselors that they must always serve The Master.

Wendy uses the brief pause in Buddy's ceremony to sneeze loudly twice. Panic-stricken, she discovers that she's not hiding in a broom closet but a passageway and escapes. She hoofs her way downstairs, noticing a foul stench rising up the stairwell.

Well, once below the ground, Wendy sees dozens of kids working hard. All of the Winner Circle champions and Alicia are moving furiously with mops and hoses around an enormous purple gelatinous creature. Wendy spots Deirdre and runs over to her. Deirdre explains that only the best workers get to be King Jellyjam's slaves. The creature can't stand his own stench so he makes the kids constantly rinse and mop him clean. Small things fall from the heights of his being onto the kids: snails. The creature sweats snails. The creatures face is covered in snot and its wearing a gold crown. When it belches, the ground shakes. This is disgusting beyond all redemption.

Deirdre tries to get Wendy to flee, because King Jellyjam had already eaten three kids that day. Wait, three kids really got murdered in a Goosebumps book? By purple snot?

Wendy runs out of the igloo and sneaks into the woods, where she falls asleep. When she wakes up she hears the sound of the track meet. Elliot was going for his sixth King Coin! Wendy has to stop him so she tries the whistle, but he ignores her. So she simply tackles him to the ground just as he approaches the finish line. He grasps that she's desperate and agrees to follow her down to see the horrible creature. Once beneath the ground again, Wendy reveals that she has a plan. She tells all of the slaves to get down on the floor. Wendy watches as the creature flails and tries to pick up the children to eat them. Her "plan" is working, except that from her position on the stairwell, she isn't laying flat on the ground. The creature picks her up and lowers her towards its gaping maw. However, the monster quickly begins to melt. Wendy's plan was to stop washing the creature, making it choke on its own stench. The creature melts down to purple goo.

The kids rush out of the igloo and face a group of the counselors, who are about to attack when-- the police show up. Apparently the stench was so bad that the cops came to investigate.

But the Twist is:
Wendy and Elliot are reunited with their parents. Two weeks after the events of the camp, Buddy knocks on their door. He gives Elliot his sixth King Coin, telling him he earned it. Wendy is nervous about Elliot accepting his sixth coin. Suddenly, a foul odor fills the room-- but it's not a monster but mom's terrible cooking. Haha women can't drive or cook! Take that, Diane Fuss!

the Platonic Boy-Girl Relationship:
Wendy and the recreational activity of sports, which never ever disappears from this godawful novel.

Questionable Parenting:
Wendy's parents took at least a week to make a connection between the trailer in front of the camp and the camp itself in the search for their missing children.

Minority Alert:
Wendy plays tennis against Rose, an African-American girl. Rose has a deep guttural laugh and wears a single hoop earring. You can't see me but I'm shaking my head in mortified disbelief.
I'd like to make a public wager for readers of the blog. If RL Stine ever presents a black character who is not reducible to a stereotype, I will donate $100 to the NAACP in Stine's name.

Early 90s Cultural References:
Denim short-shorts, Slurm, sports.

R.L. Stine Shows He is Down With the Kids:

Foreshadowing Alert:

California Elementary School Student's Full Report On the Book, With Illustration:
Horror at Camp JellyJam is the story of summer camp horrors.
If you like a scary story, this is a good book for you.

Memorable Cliffhanger Chapter Ending:
Ch. 12:
'"What could happen?"
I didn't know it. But the answer to the question was: A LOT!'

Great Prose Alert:
I've got a real good imagination when it comes to bats.

More like The Horrible of Camp Jellyjam.


Anonymous said...

Haha, I loved the book report part! I think that must be one of the worst Goosebumps books in the series, it was definitely one of the worst I remember reading anyway.

Couldn't stop laughing at the sports references, lol.

Anonymous said...

This is actually my older brother's favorite book. Upon reading it again (actually yesterday), I find that Buddy creeps me out, besides the book cover and baseball incident. He conviently sees a trailer careening down a highway and into the woods. He not only assumes that there are kids inside, but that they don't have injuries serious enough to open the door. He then encourages them to participate in the sports camp for no reason.

I never put much thought into how many sports were at this camp. I mean, come on, CHESS? I'm surprised they didn't cram a tennis court onto the cover art.

Anonymous said...

I actually liked this book back in 3rd grade. You gotta admit, the image of child slaves washing down a giant grape-like monster's bodily waste will stay with you for awhile. It did with me, anyway.

Is this the only Goosebumps book where kids have actually died? (Well, this one and "The Ghost Next Door.") That detail struck me when I read the entry.

And LOL at the "slash fiction." You have to wonder how R.L. Stine would deal with that genre.

troy steele said...

The only one I can think of is Piano Lessons Can Be Murder, which had dozens of murdered children... though there are quite a few titles that end with the implication that the main character(s) die-- but that's not really the same I guess.

Anonymous said...

Welcome to Dead House had that whole dead town, but they died by accident. Of course, there's that ending where the family does NOTHING to warn the family moving in about the town.

Anonymous said...

At the end of Werewolf Skin, to paraphrase (or perhaps directly quote) this blog, its implied that Hannah kills and eats Alex...

Neil Cicierega said...

God, that cover.
"This is Bob..."

Anonymous said...

One day Troy, you should publish these blogs in book form. It could be a comedic guide for any Goosebumps nostalgia seeker.

Also, it is super cool to know that Lemon Demon reads these reviews.

Anonymous said...

This was totally one of my favorite Goosebumps books even though it was completely terrible and laughable.

Love looking back at all this old stuff--it's addicting!

Unknown said...

I think the "horror" is the man (Buddy?) on the cover? 'Hello, where'd my neck go?' Tell him to stop sticking his pelvis out at me.

Question: You didn't really explain, Where does Buddy say their parents are & why they have to wait at the camp? The trailer detached itself & the parents Didn't Notice?? I feel wronged by the premise of this book.

troy steele said...

Yes and Yes. Can you believe we read these books?!

Ryan Ferneau said...

Hey, I just noticed from browsing covers of other editions, that "Decal of Doom" label is covering up another building in the background.

Also, I laugh out loud every time I see that cover or that kid's copy of it, although it may have to do with that "K-Y Jellyjam" edit I saw once.

Dr. Hiroshi Fujiyama, PhD said...

vfdcommander said...

One day Troy, you should publish these blogs in book form. It could be a comedic guide for any Goosebumps nostalgia seeker.

Oh god this.

Groggy Dundee said...

I actually didn't hate this one, but I will say this: it has probably the dumbest cover art of any of the original Goosebumps books.

Anonymous said...

There's a possibility I could be wrong, but I have a distinct feeling that that terrible drawing of the cover is mine. I remember drawing the cover of The Horror at Camp Jellyjam years ago, so it might be an odd coincidence, but the more I look at it, the more it seems familiar. Where did you get that jpg, Troy?

Anonymous said...

Rereleases of this book (and indeed, there is one coming up, if you can believe such a thing) need to change it to include the phrase "Three kids were already fangoriously devoured by a gelatinous monster."

Anonymous said...

Neil, I am dying laughing at your Bob reference! I kind of thought he looked like Ernest.

I loved this book in fourth grade, but now that I have a son of my own, I have to question what the hell these parents were thinking. Who lets their kids ride in a trailer that could easily detach, and then apparently not call a sheriff's office to investigate where the trailer became detached near the camp?? Call me a square, but methinks the government needs to take some kids away from their deadbeat parents....

Anonymous said...

what is it with RL Stein and child slaves? they're in all the Slappy books, plus this one, at least. what the hell, Stein?

JoshBee said...

Buddy and Enzyte Bob were seperated at birth. One would make kids, one would make kids play sports.

Neither would be very popular, though.

Anonymous said...

What, no "MANOS: The Hands of Fate" references? Because with slaves, interminable car rides, mind control...being absolutely dreadful...

Konata Kizuke said...

Oh, man...havent seen this in a while! Interesting

Necro Critic said...

That cover scared me more than any of the actual books did.

Buddy is still glaring at me... in my dreams, in my nightmares. Always watching. As though he is staring into my soul. "I'm coming for you, Necro..."

Anonymous said...


Don't bother winning sport competition :-)

Millie said...

"I'd like to make a public wager for readers of the blog. If RL Stine ever presents a black character who is not reducible to a stereotype, I will donate $100 to the NAACP in Stine's name."

According to the fact files in the Horrorland books, Sabrina from the Haunted Mask books is in fact African-American. Does she count, or (since she was played by a white girl in the TV adaptations) did the publishers insist on a diversity quota for Horrorland so Stine had to retcon her ethnicity?

Anonymous said...

benny here. this one just like the previous book is good. people got killed yay?! weird thing in these books. they should've had it as a tv episode, but they probably would have changed the twist though. 8/10 great

Anonymous said...

This is one of the books I distinctly remember reading as a child, especially the sweating snails part. I think my mother only let me read this because she read it herself and decided that these books are too stupid to do any lasting damage.

Anonymous said...

I remember reading this book in the awesomest box fort. I guess that's why it's close to my heart.

Tom said...

Thought it said fecal of doom lol

Jacob Dunstan said...

Jellyjam further attests to a burgeoning suspicion of mine that Stine just made stuff up as he went on. The descriptions and scenarios in this book are just too ridiculous. I know this conflicts with Stine's claim that he thoroughly outlines each book beforehand...but this has something perspiring mollusks in it, you can't seriously plan that shit.

Anonymous said...

A giant blob monster with dozens of slaves. (*cough* Jabba the Hutt *cough*)

If the slaves displease him, they get eaten. (*cough* Rancor pit *cough*)

The heroes eventually kill the monster with something in their environment that the monster is responsible for the existence of. (*cough* Leia's slave chain *cough*)

And most of the slaves we meet are female.

Man, the only way Stine could up the Return of the Jedi parallels is to replace the kids with college-age girls in metal bikinis. And to have Buddy using Jedi mind tricks on the other counselors instead of a hypnosis watch. And replacing Alicia's warning to Wendy with Admiral Ackbar screaming "It's a TRAP!"

Anonymous said...

Benny here. Once again not made into an episode. I probably would have LOVED it because I think this is a really really good book.

Anonymous said...

i have just finished the horror at camp jellyjam and i absolutely loved it. i loved the fantastic twist at the end and i would reccomend it to anyone !!!

Kraas said...

King Jellyjam just raises too many questions, all of which I asked whe reading this book as a grade schooler. Where did he come from?Just what the hell IS he? How is he strong enough to shake the ground when belching? Why the fuck does he sweat snails? If he can't survive without slaves to clean him, how did he exist before he obtained slaves? And being a giant blob monster, how did he get slaves in the first place? Where did he get his crown? I need to lie down, my head hurts...

The Millennium Museum said...

@ Kraas:

I like to think of King Jellyjam as some kind of Eldritch of the Great Old Ones, perhaps.

Benji said...

Oh lord. Your reviews are great, but this book was so dull that even your humorous blog was a chore to read. How you managed to not only get through the book, but then to blog about is beyond me. Kudos!