Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Series 2000 #14 Jekyll and Heidi

Series 2000 14 Jekyll and Heidi

Front Tagline:
Half human. Half beast.
(That tagline is Half-assed)

Brief Synopsis:
As if going Greyhound wasn't horrible enough, poor protagonist Heidi is riding the bus to Vermont because her parents recently died in a car accident. Given the immediately somber details, perhaps you've scrolled back up to the awful cover just to make sure this is the right book. Well, it is and it's a good one at that. Until one of Stine's patented witticisms popped up (Someone saying "Thrills," which no ghostwriter would knowingly reuse), I was convinced this was the product of farming the series out to someone who hated the series but still wanted to show how it could be done right. The book has the triumvirate of Goosebumps cliches-- staying with distant relatives, a scientist, and a werewolf-- and somehow still makes these tired elements work.

Heidi gets off alone at the tiny village bus station and finds herself without an escort. Her Uncle, the scientist Dr. Jekyll, was supposed to pick her up, but he's nowhere to be found. While waiting, Heidi gets spooked by some cawing birds outside the station. Um, wrong Jeckle:

While she waits for her uncle, Heidi chats up a cute boy hanging around the empty seats, Aaron. His mother works in the bus stop's cafe and he's killing time until she gets off work by providing valuable background material to girls who get off busses. It seems a horrible beast is stalking the village at night, and the townspeople know her uncle is to blame-- though their evidence seems at best to be that they know his last name. I mean, that's pretty damning stuff, but somehow Heidi isn't convinced.

Tired of waiting, Heidi trudges up the snowy hill to her uncle's ominous-looking mansion. She's greeted at the door by her grumpy cousin Marianne, who tries to get Heidi to leave at once. And go where exactly, her parents are dead and she's alone in Vermont. "Leave at once-- and go tour the Ben and Jerry's factory!" Heidi's Uncle Jekyll however is pleased to see her, and apologizes for getting so caught up in his lab experiments that he forgot to pick her up. Now, guess which one is the werewolf and which one is the scientist.

And then most of the book becomes about the tension of escalating attacks in the village and whether her Uncle is living up to his namesake. In one of the book's great visuals, Heidi's bedroom overlooks the entire village and she sees the beast wreak a path of destruction from a bird's eye view, ending with the lights of the patrol cars shining through the night. Heidi then feels her suspicions growing when shortly thereafter, Dr. Jekyll returns from "a walk" covered in dirt. Maybe he was doing something even more horrifying than werewolfing.

Heidi decides to spy on her Uncle and witnesses him downing several concoctions in the lab. I guess that settles it: either he's a werewolf or thirsty. When she tries to escape, she's confronted by Dr. Jekyll, who locks her in her room for her own good. She shimmies down a drain pipe and goes out to stop the beast's destruction. While she witnesses the general destruction of the village, she sees something far worse: the beast. Aaron shows up and foolishly attempts to protect his friend. The beast merely throws the boy into a fire. He survives, but that doesn't change the amazing fact that this is a book where a werewolf throws a boy into a fire.

Heidi discovers that the entire village is fed up with being terrorized by a werewolf, as if they had anything else to do. A string of angry villagers descends (ascends?) on her uncle's mansion, just as she learns the secret: Marianne was bitten by a werewolf on vacation several years ago and ever since, Dr. Jekyll has been working on a cure. As the villagers arrive, Dr. Jekyll leads Marianne and Heidi down below into the basement, where there is a secret tunnel leading away from town. The three get halfway down when Heidi remembers an old diary she'd found in her room. She insists that the old artifact is worth saving and abandons her family to go brave the kill-crazy bunch and retrieve it. Upstairs, she sneaks past the vigilantes, who luckily are too busy setting fire to curtains and breaking things to bother killing monsters. The bedroom furniture had it coming though. I mean, just look at the way it was dresser.

Heidi retrieves the book. Unfortunately, the angry townspeople have run out of things to destroy and finally notice her. There hasn't been a mob this angry at Heidi since the Raiders/Jets game of '68. Luckily, a remarkably well-healed Aaron shows up to rescue her (this time without being thrown into a fire in the process) and the two escape downstairs. Tragically, her uncle and cousin have already left, never to be seen again.

But the Twist is:
Well, I guess if it's a werewolf book, someone who wasn't a werewolf has to turn into a werewolf. Safe at Aaron's house, Heidi begins reading from the old journal, only to discover it contains modern writing. Apparently Marianne liked the vintage journal and began charting her transformations within it. Heidi reads through the pages until she reaches the end and reads the entry about how one night Marianne bit her while she slept. Is it possible Heidi grabbed the wrong book?

the Platonic Boy-Girl Relationship:
Heidi and her friend Aaron, who gets burns halfway through his body.

Questionable Uncling:
I know it's sad when someone's parents die, but maybe you don't invite orphan girl to live with werewolf girl, huh?

Memorable Cliffhanger Chapter Ending:
Ch. 16/17:
The door to Heidi's room swings open, revealing: a draft.

Great Prose Alert:
"I don't know what I'm doing," she mumbled into her tuna casserole.

Turns out you really can't judge a book by its cover. Except for Chicken Chicken of course.

Come back Friday for the traditional Halloween update. If you know your Goosebumps, you can probably guess what it'll be.


Groggy Dundee said...

Interesting. Good that you got a book worth reading for once.

The only remaining book that I know takes place on Halloween is Full Moon Fever. Perhaps you're tackling another short story collection?

Anonymous said...

I'm predicting that it'll be the Tim Jacobus book, along with a retrospective of the worst (and best) Goosebumps book covers.

Anonymous said...

I hope you're reviewing The Haunting Hour or some other crappy RL Stine made-for-DVD movie.

Speaking of made-for-DVD, how awesome is the DVD cover for One Day At Horrorland? Infinitely better than the books, I'm sure.

Zak said...

I say Still More Tales to Give You Goosebumps... those are the Halloween ones, IIRC.

And great update. The Werewolf in the Living Room is way better though... at least as far as I remember, we'll have to wait and see.

Anonymous said...

"...just look at the way it was dresser."

Haha that surprised me, almost made me choke.

Still, can't blame the villagers. They go up to wreck some furniture, it's not even that late yet, how dare it be closet already?

Anonymous said...

Wasn't there a scene in this where Heidi accidentally squeezes Marianne's hamster to death? I was sure that'd get a mention. Maybe it was a different book.

I thought I remembered this book being... I don't know, unusual in some way. It sounds to me a bit more like a classic Goosebumps than a 2000. Personally, I adore all the clich├ęs - not just the Goosebumps ones, but, you know, the creepy old mansion on top of the hill where the mad scientist carries out his deranged experiments...

As for Hallowe'en, yeah, I've no idea. Anything besides another 2000 book would make a nice break from the norm. Wouldn't be surprised if the cover retrospective took a break until after 2000 was done, though. Jacobus did all those, I think. Oh man, make sure you review the art for The Haunted Mask Lives! and Happy Holidays From Dead House that are on Jacobus's website despite the books never being published. They're great.

Loving that HorrorLand DVD cover; shame the books are nowhere near as creepy. And neither was the TV episode, I'm guessing.

troy steele said...

Marianne squeezed her own hamster to death. I either forgot or wanted to forget to include it in the entry

Anonymous said...

Honk honk! Comedy gold!

Incidentally, that reminds me of something completely unrelated.


Do you have any Halloween costume plans yet, Troy? You should consider being the scaremeister himself, R.L Stine, for Halloween. :O


Anonymous said...

So wait, a boy gets thrown into a fire and is then well enough to continue starring in teh book and not require medical attention?

Anonymous said...

Yeah but it was a werefire, so when Marianne changed back to a human then the fire turned back into nothing, reversing the injuries it caused and leaving Aaron just mentally scarred.

tremor said...

"just look at the way it was dresser"...you deserve to be written into a goosebumps book,perhaps even the main character

Groggy Dundee said...

Good thing there weren't any werelampposts in this story.

Anonymous said...

"The bedroom furniture had it coming though. I mean, just look at the way it was dresser."

How... how did you do that? I mean, how the hell can your mind create that kind of joke?

Seriously, my respect for you just went to a whole new level.

Anonymous said...

The creature on the cover looks more like a weird ape to me.

I don't have a clue what your Halloween post is going to be about. All I read was the main series and Give Yourself Goosebumps.

Anonymous said...

No point in jumping forward to another Series 2000 book, and I really can't relate the Jacobus book to Halloween. So, it's got to be a short story collection, unless there's some old Halloween-themed title lurking around in the dark underbelly of the Goosebumps universe.

The last Goosebumps book I bought as a child was "The Mummy Walks", just because the rest of the Series 2000 titles and covers were just fucking dull. Haunted cars, more werewolves, and evil jewelry. Yawn.
Unless Troy is planning on tackling the GYG books, there's not much else to look forward to, is there?
It's not like the Horrorland books are anything to write home about: "OMG, these two kids take a submarine down to a ship and OMG there's ghost pirates, and then they end up on an island and rip off the last half hour of 'Pirates of the Caribbean 2'.

Oh, I should probably note that I bought all three of the latest Goosebumps DVDs. I can't really complain considering that they include some of the most memorable episodes ever (FINALLY), but the Horrorland episode was so terrible that I literally had to turn it off from boredom. And the worst part is, I wasn't even sober at the time.

It really kills me that I still find myself buying Goosebumps books and DVDs, yet it's all worth nothing more than a little nostalgia. The only worthwhile Goosebumps purchases I've recently made have been older, used books to fill the gaps in my original collection, and the Graphix books. Those fucking rocked.

It's depressing to know that I just spent $5.99 (plus tax) on "Dr. Maniac vs. Robby Schwartz" and I'll never read it more than once. And I can't even be bothered to read it the first time, yet.

I think I just feel bad for RL Stine. Kids these days are just too dumb to read anymore, and it just breaks my heart to think about poor old RL Stine getting evicted from his apartment and living on the streets of New York City (with his wife, Jane, and Minnie, his King Charles spaniel).

...and I guess part of me also has sick fantasies about Goosebumps reaching the level of quality and popularity it had back in 1995. Hey, I can dream, can't I?

Anonymous said...

What will the halloween update be?
It might be...
A:Still More Tales To give you...(Or More)
B:It came from New Jersey(Or Ohio)
C:A GYG Book
D:A Night Mare Room Book
E:Ghost Of Fear Street
F:The Beast
Also Troy:Do you have a job or anything? That might explain why some of your entrys are late.

Groggy Dundee said...


Full Moon Fever isn't a werewolf story as such, it's a transformation story. Not that that's any better, although it lacks the sadism of Chicken Chicken at least. Never read Werewolf in the Living Room though. Horrors of the Black Ring was actually pretty good by Series 2000 standards, IMO - it had the atmosphere of the earlier books from my recollection, though it had a lot of dumb gross-out moments it could have done without (including the pre-requisite vomiting scene).

I've read all of the Horrorland books so far. The only one I liked was Scream of the Haunted Mask. Revenge of the Living Dummy is really lame because it's a carbon copy of the five other Slappy books, without a glimmer of originality (Slappy even gets called a "Bad dude" several times - gimme a break. I think there was even a replay of the "Slappy on the kitchen table" scene that occurred in all three of the original series books). Creep From the Deep was terrible, although I suppose Stine deserves credit for the keeping the tradition of "Deep Trouble covers with nothing to do with the content" alive. The other ones completed evaporated from my mind upon reading them. Scream of the Haunted Mask at least had a teensy bit of inventiveness to it, which is more than all of the others combined.

We still have a few short-story collections to go, including a collection of camp-themed stories, which I actually think is pretty good compared to the other collections, and the Halloween ones, which I haven't read. The only GYG book I read was Beware The Purple Peanut Butter, which was just dumb - I had no desire to read any more after that. I always chose the decision that I DIDN'T go into the basement, and whilst I was branded a big baby by the author, I escaped with my life and dignity intact.

I don't bother buying any new Goosebumps books or material. I have at least half of the original series (and many of the Series 2000 ones) and most of the TV episodes are on YouTube, so there'd be no point.

Anonymous said...

I guess we must not know our Goosebumps, because Troy expected the Hallowe'en update to be obvious. I guess I'm looking forward to the unexpected-ness as much as anything else.

Continuing the HorrorLand criticism, Monster Blood For Breakfast!, apart from having an awful title, is just... cringeworthy. That said, it's probably the quintessential Monster Blood book. The rest were all tied up with magic, backstory, kid scientists, and government experiments. Dr. Maniac vs. Robby Schwartz is a "funny" book, and as such it's horribly ludicrous - but you know, once I realised it was an utter mick-take and that Robby Schwartz was basically young R.L. Stine, I kinda enjoyed it. Shame on me, I guess. Believe it or not, I'm looking forward to the rest of the series. I want to see what the series is like after so many years, and how Stine's handling an ongoing storyline. As has been mentioned, some of us fantasised about Goosebumps continuity. Our secret shame.

Actually, picking up from what groggy said about the covers, not one HorrorLand book so far has had a cover depicting something that actually happens. I don't hold out high hopes for the upcoming ones, either. Some of them you wouldn't expect to come true, though... I mean, a mummy ringing someone's doorbell? Really? Really?

groggy, you picked a bad GYG book to start with - I swear the... the, uh, earlier... well, the first one at least had a dark atmosphere. Maybe. It had a dark cover. At least it wasn't Secret Agent Grandma, dear gods. That's where I gave up. (Although frankly, you bring it on yourself buying any book called "Beware of the Purple Peanut Butter." And yes, I bought it as well.)

Zak said...

I know my Goosebumps and if it's obvious then I'd put my money on Still More Tales.

Which, BTW, I look forward to... ESPECIALLY the Goblins Glare.

More Tales, the other untouched set of stories, is about ten summer/camp stories so maybe he's saving that for the summer.

Zak said...

However, I forgot to say, I hope this doesn't mean an update delay because I forget how Scream School ends and it's really been bugging me. Someone who has it besides Troy want to enlighten me via email?

Anonymous said...

Beware of the Purple Peanut Butter is legendary. GYG, as a series, is utterly ridiculous and off-the-wall. I, for one, love it.

But I have questionable taste.

Haven't read Secret Agent Grandma yet, though. Anyone care to give some examples of things that happen in the book?

Groggy Dundee said...

My mom purchased Beware the Purple Peanut Butter for me for a birthday. I don't recall asking for it, but I was young at the time so my memory's hazy.

I might have liked Dr. Maniac vs. Robbie Schwarz a lot more if it didn't seem like a half-assed cross between The Blob Who Ate Everyone and Attack of the Mutant. I honestly haven't been paying much attention to the actual Horrorland segments. Still, I do read these books, out of curiosity if nothing else. I don't know how much the public is biting though.

Zak said...

Secret Agent Grandma... basically the main choice is between two grandmas which is real and which isn't, so half the book you get taken to space and stuff happens there. The other half takes place on earth and you find she's hatching eggs in a rose garden and shit that's all I remember.

Anonymous said...

Re: Secret Agent Grandma: Oh man. From what I remember, depending on what choice you made, your grandma was either some kind of secret agent (well duh), and this whole scenario happened on a train, I think. Alternatively, she was an alien and was like growing alien plants in her garden or something. In at least one of these situations, Granny was being impersonated, although I forget whether it was by a secret agent or an alien. You understand, I don't want to remember.

Re: The public biting HorrorLand: No idea, but EnterHorrorLand.com boasts over 200,000 members, and the print run of each book has been 100,000 copies. Good performances are expected, professional reviews are good, but I can't find any actual sales figures.

Groggy Dundee said...

Well, that seems to indicate a success. You wouldn't happen to know the figures for the original series would you (or at least the equivalent number up to now)?

Anonymous said...

I don't know exact figures for the old Goosebumps books, but I know some of them - for individual books, even - reached into the millions. In fact, I just checked my classic series reissues - the HorrorLand tie-ins, you know - and each of them, Night Of The Living Dummy, Deep Trouble, Monster Blood, The Haunted Mask, claims to have sold more than two million copies worldwide. Goosebumps is the old Harry Potter.

Anonymous said...

And since we're on this subject: I just found an old article from way back in 2000 announcing the cancelled Goosebumps Gold series. It's kinda sad; they had so much planned. ...And all of it sounds an awful lot like HorrorLand, seven years earlier. Listen to this:

"GOOSEBUMPS GOLD is planned as a limited series of 12 books for a new generation of GOOSEBUMPS fans.

Both series [Gold and Nightmare Room] will be launched with an extensive marketing campaign -- a Year of Horror -- that includes trade and consumer advertising, retail events, major publicity, and an aggressive on-line campaign that will include an on-line destination designed specifically for Stine's fans. R.L. Stine will host live chats, discuss stories in progress, provide fans the opportunity to star in future books."


Anonymous said...

Awful is definitely the word. :)

I have a copy of 'Secret Agent Grandma'. Basically the split goes like this: if you follow the grandma on the train, she's a secret agent who fights aliens. If you stay with the one at home, she IS the alien. :)

Also - there is an ending where you get a Hollywood picture deal!

I'm hoping the Hallowe'en surprise is 'It Came From Ohio'. It'd be interesting to see Troy's take on that. The twist ending sucks, though! >:(

Anonymous said...

My favorite GYG is Tick Tock, You're Dead, mostly because I could time travel to the distant future, which the sci-fi nut in me has wanted to do all my life.

Anonymous said...

Is this the one where someone crushes a hamster in their hand?

Anonymous said...

Comment #30, read the full comment list. We've established that this book does indeed feature pet-squishing action.

Groggy Dundee said...

I remember that Scholastic reissued the original series with covers that were slightly modified but generally the same around 2003/2004. (I have a few of these books, including The Horror of Camp Jellyjam and The Ghost Next Door.) They bolloxed Night of the Living Dummy's creepy cover, but otherwise I think the re-releases were pretty close to the originals. Why do we need another reissue with horrible, awful, hideous new cover art? It pisses me off.

The Harry Potter analogy is very apt - Goosebumps also had a lot of controversy centered around the book's "scary" content - although I don't think anyone would argue they were in the same literary class. Still, it was definitely a phenomenon, and I loved being a part of it.

Anonymous said...

It would have really been something if they'd gotten Jacobus to do the new HorrorLand books. The art on his site for Goosebumps Gold is terrific. The new covers for HorrorLand and the Classic reissues are kind of like a confession that yes, Goosebumps is pretty cartoony. Although, of the latter, One Day At HorrorLand, Say Cheese And Die, and even Camp Jellyjam aren't so bad. And I give points to How I Got My Shrunken Head for having clear reference to the original cover. ...Yes, those last two really are being reissued. Heaven knows what Shrunken Head is doing there, we were expecting Let's Get Invisible!

Anonymous said...

Whats The Last line of this one troy?

Anonymous said...

r u goin 2 do a list of all the ghostwritten gooebumps books

Anonymous said...

I have a feeling that he already did a good chunk of ghostwritten Goosebumps books...

Also, did I miss the required vomiting scene somewhere?

Anonymous said...

I was actually expecting Aaron to be the werewolf that bit Marianne in the first place, so I was kind surprised (and a little let down) when the twist turned out how it did. (Come on, the kid gets thrown into the fire and escapes apparently unscathed? There's SOMETHING supernatural about him.)

Groggy Dundee said...

I did enjoy this one. Very predictable story but it helped that things were a bit heavier this time around - characters/things actually die, which makes the threat of the beast a bit more believable. The twist ending was stupid but when aren't they?