Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Even More Tales to Give You Goosebumps

Even More Tales to Give You Goosebumps: Special Edition #3

Back Tagline: Reader Beware-- You're In For Ten More Scares!

Official Book Description:
Can Jeff convince his parents there's a live mummy in the basement? Will Adam escape from a monstrous flying gargoyle? Is Brian's boarding school turning kids into robots?
Find out in these ten creepy Goosebumps short stories guaranteed to make you shiver!

This third short story collection was the first to come without a book light. It was packaged with a one-size-fits-most pair of glow in the dark boxer shorts, in a move that drew many a Joe Boxer enthusiast into the bookstore. As for the other summer "shorts" in question, read on...

the Chalk Closet
Protagonist Travis goofed off and failed the sixth grade, thus he's arrived at Millwood Junior High for summer school classes. Instead of indulging in hilarious antics as in the Marc Harmon comedy classic Summer School, he finds himself faced with unspeakable terror, as in the Marc Harmon cautionary horror classic, Summer School. See, Travis' teacher, the improbably named Mr. Grimsley, has no patience for kids who goof off and fail his assignments. He sternly warns that any students who fail to do their homework or adequately study for class will be sent to the ominous-sounding Chalk Closet. It's too bad his teacher isn't Mr. Grimley, I must say!

Travis is given his first homework assignment and it's a real humdinger: List five reasons why you'd want to be a Pilgrim. He's only able to come up with three though:
1. Get to travel a lot.
2. Eat dinner with some really cool indians.
3. Don't have to recycle.
Take that, Earth.
He's unable to come up with two more reasons (understandably, since no one wants to be a Pilgrim), so I've taken the liberty of rounding out his list:
4. Finally be able to understand all the esoteric jokes in Disney's Pocahontas.
5. Buckles.
Luckily, Mr. Grimsley doesn't lash out at Travis because another classmate, Dooley, shows up with no homework at all. Dooley is led to the Chalk Closet and is never heard from again. The next day, another kid is led. And then another, and so on. It's not hard to figure out that eventually, Travis slips up and gets punished. And if it is hard to figure out, well then whoops I just ruined it for you. Seems Travis spent the previous night watching "a Lethal Weapon movie" instead of doing his homework. I was going to say something about that being pretty inappropriate for a twelve-year-old, but then I remembered my mom taking me to see Lethal Weapon 3 in the theater when I was like eight or nine. So I guess what I'm saying is that Travis is watching baby movies, the big baby.

Mr. Grimsley walks Travis down the hall to the Chalk Closet, which is revealed to be a room where the sound of nails on a chalkboard plays... forever. That's really the twist. Okay, next

Home Sweet Home
So if I tell you this story is about a big sister who always teases her little sister for playing with her elaborate dollhouse, can you figure out the ending? Perhaps. But if I told you the story also involved the big sister breaking a witch's china bowl at a garage sale and facing the witch's revenge via being besieged by large talking spiders that eventually bite Sharon in the head to shrink her to doll-size, what then huh? That's right, next

Don't Wake Mummy
Eleven-year-old Jeff hates getting teased by his big sister Kim about his fear of mummies. So when a mummy gets delivered to their house by accident, Kim probably wishes Jeff was afraid of sacks of money. If you think the idea of a mummy being delivered to a house sounds unlikely, well, did you forget what blog you were reading? Jeff's dad is in charge at the local museum and decides to hold on to the mummy in the basement until he can haul it to work.

Jeff becomes convinced that even though the mummy is chained inside a sarcophagus, it will come and get him. This is probably because on the first night the mummy's in the house, it comes to get him. Thankfully, his mom shows up and scares the mummy away. Wow, what a wuss. My mom stopped fighting my battles against undead Egyptians for me way before age eleven.

Terrified, the next morning Jeff tries to do research at the library on mummies, but is baffled at the lack of How To books on thwarting mummy attacks. However, he did pick up one of those ReadyMade modular dwelling kits for later in case he can't stop the mummy. No basements = No problems.

Luckily, there's a local Sardo-type magic shoppe in town with plenty of ancient spellbooks, amulets, and dishes of hard fruit candies. The proprietor of the shoppe sells Jeff a bag of powder called "mummy dust," and the question of how a magic shoppe stays in business is answered. I suspect there's several idling cars in the magic shoppe parking lot, pulled-up driver's side to driver's side.

That night, when the mummy returns, Jeff prepares to throw the sack of dust into the mummy's face. Except this is the first fast mummy ever and it pushes Jeff to the ground, spilling his sack of dust. Luckily his mom comes out again and the mummy scampers away. Then his father-- in a scene that proves after 70-odd entries, it's still possible to be dumbfounded by these books-- apologizes for agreeing to buy a living mummy from a rival museum. He knew that if he kept the mummy locked up with the magic chains, it wouldn't get out. But now he knows he must chain the mummy inside the casket for the safety of his family. Did the editors of Scholastic lose a bet?

Sometimes Goosebumps books flirt with a good idea, only to chicken out at the last moment. In a stunning reversal of narrator (in a story told via first person narration, by the way), Kim reveals that she's pretending to be the mummy and the story seems to suggest that she'll hide in the sarcophagus... thus she'd about to be locked forever inside the casket. It would have been a predictable end, but still impressive for this series. But instead, Kim merely starts walking around the dark basement and bumps into the real mummy. Whatever.

PS This story's title is so bad that when I first saw it, I said "Oh Jesus" out loud and went out to eat dinner instead of reading the book. My gyros was three times scarier than this story, and please note that my gyros wasn't scary.

I'm Telling!
Adam is supposed to be doing his homework, but instead he's in the woods, playing pretend. His little sister spies him and utters the titular line over and over, despite Adam's claim that he's pretending to do his homework. There's also a horrible stone gargoyle in the woods who suddenly begins spouting green liquid that turns things into stone. Adam fills up his water pistol with the liquid and sprays a tree, which Missy is also going to tattle about. Frustrated, he sprays Missy with the gun, turning her into a figure carved of stone. On the way home, he decides to enter her in the middle school art show and places first for his "sculpture." Second place: crayon drawing of cat.

Adam wheels his stone sister back into the woods and is surprised to find the gargoyle has come to life. The gargoyle spits the green liquid at Adam's face but Adam doesn't turn to stone because that would involve the ghostwriter going back and reading what they've already written. Adam sprays the gargoyle a second time and it turns back to stone. He sprays Missy again and she turns back into a human. Missy threatens Adam with more tattling about the art show and the tree and the gargoyle and about some other stuff that could never happen. Adam retaliates by spraying her again, keeping her in stone forever. I guess a kid who tells on another kid is a statue.

the Haunted House Game
Finally, a short story that captures all the fun and excitement of playing a board game! Jonathan and his best friend Nadine are babysitting his twin siblings, Noah and Annie, on a dark and stormy night. Jonathan insists on playing the Haunted House Game, even though Nadine wants to play Parcheesi. Jonathan nixes that suggestion because
"There aren't any ghosts in Parcheesi."
The four start to play the board game. When they land on different spooky spots on the board, commands printed on the game come true: "WIND RATTLES THE WINDOWS," "YOU HEAR AN EERIE MOAN," "LIGHTNING CRASHES, A NEW MOTHER CRIES," "YOU PLAY A BOARD GAME." Oh cool, I've seen Jumanji too.

Eventually, Jonathan lands on the "SCARED TO DEATH" spot and the four kids all start screaming until they die. No, really. Then the ghost kids pick up a newspaper from 1942 and read the front page story:
Police were completely baffled when they found four kids dead in an old mansion last night. "It looked to me as if they were scared to death!" declared one police officer.
The story begins again with the kids arguing about playing the Haunted House Game. So did the board game die too or what

Change For the Strange
Jane loves to practice for track. Her friend Lizzy only loves to try on clothes. They're the original Odd Couple! But they do share some common activities-- like, they both watch "The Animaniacs" and dance around to a band called "Fruit Bag," which sounds like the name of some Sub Pop band that would have opened for Paw in 1995. Lizzy talks Jane into visiting the cool new consignment shop around the block, A Change For the Strange. There's a lot of cool stuff at the vintage store, though no baby coffins.

Jane finds a radical red snakeskin jacket and Lizzy finds some totally tubular bunny slippers at the store. Jane is so excited by her new snakeskin coat that she turns into a red snake. Oh good, another of these stories. Jane the snake tries slipping into Lizzy's room so she'll notice she's not really a snake but actually her friend who has been turned into a snake, but somehow this plan doesn't work until Lizzy spies a zipper on the snake and removes the jacket-skin. Well great. The story ends with Jane becoming a rabbit after she puts on Lizzy's bunny slippers-- totally unpredictable!

the Perfect School
Brian's parents are unhappy with him, so he's been sent to the world's speediest boarding school, the Perfect Boarding School. Sessions only last two weeks. As soon as he arrives off the train, all his possessions are taken away and he's told to stand in line according to height. Brian is told he'll be given only a plain gray wardrobe and is assigned a number which will replace his name. A serious question at this juncture: Did RL Stine really feel comfortable borrowing such blatant Holocaust imagery for a Goosebumps story?

Brian made a friend on the train, CJ, and almost immediately he's in trouble for horsin' around with him. Brian's told that his training has been expedited and he must report to the Pattern Room. A child inside the walls of the institute warns Brain against going inside the Pattern Room, but Brian figures it can't be any worse than that scene in Garden State.

A man inside the Pattern Room, which resembles a doctor's office, measures every part of Brian and gradually it dawns on him that they're planning to replace him with a robot. Wow, tuition must've been really expensive to cover that. This plan is confirmed by more children living in the walls. Take your pick: Oh cool, I've seen the Stepford Wives too; or Oh cool, I've seen the People Under the Stairs too.

Brian makes a daring escape, only to be tricked by CJ into joining the other slave children who live in the basement and walls of the institute. CJ reveals that he works for the boarding school. Brian's parents are presented with their son, who is now a robot. Only, the twist is, he's not a robot. He's the real Brian, who escaped at the last moment and is only pretending to be a robot. Oh man, I just found a friend for Adam!

For the Birds
This book certainly didn't need another story about kids turning into things that aren't kids, but here we are. Another character is named Kim, and this Kim's family has dragged her to a massive bird sanctuary to celebrate her parents' wedding anniversary. Kim starts grousing about having to be around birds, as she's the only one in the family not taken by bird-watching. The avian-looking Mr. Dove, the bird sanctuary's curator (and apparently huge Judex buff), takes note of her displeasure. When Kim happens upon a pair of missing hedge-clippers, Mr. Dove offers to let her get revenge on her family.

Each family member is given a different bird-themed room. Kim's room overlooks the massive hedge maze below. Oh cool, I've seen the Shining too. That night, a massive flock of birds flies in unison around the windows of Kim's bedroom, as though trying to tell her something. Perhaps they're trying to get her to drive into town and go door to door collecting the final three or four slices from everyone's loaves of bread.

The next morning, Mr. Dove greets them at the entrance to the hedge maze and shows them his newest hedge: a perfect likeness of the family. The family admires themselves and pays for their vanity by getting tricked into walking into a giant birdcage. Mr. Dove shows up and moves his magic hedge clippers twice. Each time he makes the movement, one member of her family turns into a bird. Mr. Dove keeps his promise to Kim though, and turns her into a cat. Oh good. This story's the real cat's meow-ow-oww-oww-owww (that would be the sound I made after kicking the goddamn wall in frustration)!

Aliens in the Garden
Like every alien story, this one just turns out to be another "But the aliens were actually from Earth" shocker. In lieu of recounting the story in detail, let me just provide everyone's favorite Blogger Beware segment, Out of Context Text Alert:
Jenna gasped. Her green eyes grew huge.
"Kurt!" She whispered. "Please tell me you've got a remote control somewhere."
I pulled the pockets of my shorts inside out. "No remote, Jenna."
"This is unreal!" She murmured.

the Thumbprint of Doom
Well, it took nine solid misses but RL Stine narrowly avoids a complete no-hitter with the collection's final story. Trisha thought she'd have a great summer, but it's been hampered by her friend Jeremy's cousin Harold, who is more interested in reading than having fun. Holy mixed signals Batman!

Harold doesn't even want to go swimming, as he'd rather stay home and read the dictionary. Is the twist going to be that he's either of these two?

Luckily, a new girl has moved onto the street. Her name is Carla and she follows horoscopes and other new age superstitions very closely. She tells her new friends that the thing she fears most of all is the Thumprint of Doom. No, she's not going to start quoting lines about "the Mark of the Beast" from that movie that comes on at 4AM on TBN about the guy who dreams about the Rapture inexplicably taking place in an airport. Rather, it's an ancient spell that curses the person who receives it with death within 24 hours.

Unluckily for Carla's new friends, Carla takes her superstitions very seriously. She won't even let Trisha ride in a blue canoe on a Tuesday. Hey, I've never ridden in a blue canoe on a Tuesday and I'm still okay so maybe Carla's on to something. Trisha and Jeremy talk both Carla and Harold into visiting the local fair. Once on the grounds, they naturally get dragged to a fortune teller who reads Carla's fortune... and then in fear plants the Thumbprint of Doom on her forehead, to "spare" her the horrors she foresaw. Carla sprints out of the tent in terror.

Trisha and Jeremy delight in their awesome joke. They snuck away to the fairgrounds that morning and paid the fortune teller to pull the stunt as a joke. They go out to tell Carla about the gag. Carla snaps at them and reveals that she knew it was a gag, as she's the only one who can give out the Thumbprint of Doom. But now that they know that, she'll have to imprint it on all three of them. She does so and the kids run off into the night, screaming.

The fortune teller sticks her head out of her tent and asks her daughter, Carla, how long it'll take her friends to realize that Carla didn't actually have any powers and was playing a trick on them. See, that's how you do one of these stories. Not, "Oh but then she turns into a thumb."


Anonymous said...

The TV adaptation of "Don't Wake Mummy" is actually more action packed and interesting than the short story. Also, though the mummy does come to life, it was never a "live mummy". You can watch it on youtube and...well, won't be as disappointed.

Anonymous said...

Was that an "Are you Afraid Of The Dark?" reference? Got to love Sardo.j

Paigealicious! said...

I love that you mentioned "Sardo." Sar-DOH.

Anonymous said...

Those stories were terrible, but at least the boxers would make you look cool reading them.

Nice reference to The Baxter, even though it wasn't that great of a movie. You should check out Michael Ian Black's book My New Van.It's hilarious.


Anonymous said...

Oh cool, I've read Goosebumps too!

More lame stories with lamer twists, except for the horribly-named "Thumbprint of Doom".

Anonymous said...

Wait, what?
Love the Sardo reference. How can so many small towns support so many magic shops?

Big Bob said...

Not good enough to be intrigued by its quality, and not terrible enough to be funny. Dull.

Anonymous said...

Yay for the Ed Grimley reference?

And seriously, what were they thinking with the Holocaust stuff...

Zak said...

The adaptation of the Perfect School was my favorite of all time. It was one of those hour-long specials (despite being a short story) and was actually done well.

Anonymous said...

Did the Perfect School episode act like a concentration camp too?

So I was walking home from work, and I notice a homemade sign taped to a stop sign. What does this sign say?


Zak said...

No it actually didn't. More like a prison with guards, and community service, no numbers or lineups or anything.

But for a Goosebumps episode it was actually suspenseful to a degree, watch it on youtube.

Boomtax said...

"And seriously, what were they thinking with the Holocaust stuff..."

Probably banking on the fact that 10 - 12 year olds don't know about the holocaust, if i had to speculate.

Reminded me of 'The Prisoner' to some degree.

Anonymous said...

Haha "Lightning crashes, a new mother cries"

I re-read that three times to make sure I didn't imagine it. Drop-ins like that are why this blog is hilarious.

On a related note, hopefully no one's placenta subsequently fell to the floor.

Ryan Ferneau said...

I don't get it... Who's the mother that's crying?

Anonymous said...

It's a reference to the song Lightning Crashes by Live. Not to be confused with Lightnin' Strikes by Lou Christie.

I still don't get the black and white photo from the Tower of Terror...someone's gotta explain the more esoteric references to me!

Reepicheep-chan said...

I do not get that stupid episode about The Perfect School. I mean, clones? Really?

Unknown said...

I remember back in '97 when I went to a bookstore and wanted to get this book/boxer shorts combo but I didn't have enough allowance to buy it. On the way home 'Gangsta's Paradise' by Coolio played on the radio. True story.

Groggy Dundee said...

>I remember back in '97 when I went to a bookstore and wanted to get this book/boxer shorts combo but I didn't have enough allowance to buy it. On the way home 'Gangsta's Paradise' by Coolio played on the radio. True story.

How nineties, Christopher.

I read this one recently (like, within the last year or so). Except for The Perfect School, this has to be the lamest of all the short story collections. Liked the Are You Afraid of the Dark? reference, and did you manage to sneak in a Rocket Power joke too?

Anonymous said...

Holy crap, I suddenly got hit by an "I've read one of those!" realization. I pretty much only remember reading like the first three books of Goosebumps, but I read the word "Chalk room" and remembered that we had a "horror" project week in sixth grade, and that we were read this story up until the point the guy (although he was a girl in our book or something? and his friend was a girl too? It was a Dutch translation so maybe the translator was smoking something) was lead to the Chalk room.
We had to write the rest ourselves. All the entries were pretty lulztastic (I remember one guy writing about the army dropping through the roof or something). Mine is pretty embarrassing (though at the time I thought it was teh awesome) and has nothing to do with chalk.

Love the blog by the way, just felt the need to comment because of the sudden flash back.

Unknown said...

How did he keep the liquid in his gun without that turning to stone as well?

Also, isn't the first story the one where there's a character named "Drake, Josh"?

Necroman said...

You turned out OK? Do you not realize what this blog makes you do? :V

Oliz said...

Wait--"4 Kids Die In Mysterious Death"? That newspaper needs a proofreader.

Anonymous said...

I remember reading these in the fourth grade and thinking, "Man, this is weak."