Goosebumps Series 2000 23 Slappy's Nightmare
Front Tagline: Sweet Screams!
The book begins with a depiction of a rowdy theatre audience "eager" for ventriloquism, so already this is one of the more fantastical Goosebumps adventures. A dummist with the unlikely name of Jimmy O'James attempts to share his ventriloquy with the audience, but wouldn't you know it, his dummy Slappy interferes with the ventriloquist's plans for boring the audience by entertaining them with insults, threats, and physical violence. Slappy has lots of gross and insulting things to lob at the kids in attendance and the audience members are more than willing to lend him their ear. Literally. Slappy bites into a child's ear mid-performance and refuses to let go for several paragraphs as the child howls out in pain. When Slappy finally lets the kid's ear go, the child slumps down onto the stage in an unconscious heap. Then Slappy, who's being led offstage by Jimmy, leaves the audience with a siren song of his own: A screeching whistle that leaves all other kids in attendance clutching their heads in agony, with one girl crying out
"It feels like there's a knife in my ears!"Hey, enjoy the free WAVVES concert, kid.
Backstage, Jimmy O'James raises a good point unanswered by this book: Why would Slappy sabotage the reputation of his only outlet for exposure? Slappy argues that his new brand of cartoonish offensiveness and contempt for the audience will be revolutionary, and O'James reminds him that the world already has one Sarah Silverman too many. Slappy tries to come up with a new unfunny way to say someone is ugly before being alerted by O'James to the small wooden box in the dressing room. Slappy opens the carton to reveal a doll identical to himself. Slappy then actually gives a compliment-- to himself, for looking so good. O'James tells Slappy that he went to the same evil toy maker who created him and got another doll named Wally. Because when you're stuck with one horrible thing, a good solution is to double it. O'James reveals that the evil sorcerer / toy maker / other ridiculous identifier revealed how to channel Slappy's evil into another dummy.
Slappy doesn't like the sound of this siphoned sorcery and tears off Wally's head. He then tries to do the same to O'James before being rudely interrupted by a pair of sisters with the even unliklier surname of Boonshoft. Georgia Boonshoft is quite interested in O'James abilities, but her boor of a sister, Stella, has red hair, so of course she's a terrible human being. The two unpleasant girls trade insults so efficiently that they effectively render Slappy more redundant than any sorcerer's spell ever could. Jimmy excuses himself from their sniping and casts a spell on Slappy requiring him to commit three good deeds within a week or face death. He warns Slappy that he'll be watching and then gives the cursed doll to the two girls as a gift. Well, secret monitoring of two preteens by an entertainer can only turn out well.
If only the Biblical warning against casting girls before Stine had been heeded. Unfortunately, once again, the abusive doll is going to be placed in the hands of some young female victims. Only this time it's different, as he's going to be a better man. Yeah, I've seen this Tyler Perry movie and it doesn't end well (for the viewer, at least). Thankfully however, Slappy does not offer pandering relationship advice while dressed as an elderly black matron, but he does try his best to try his best.
His first attempt at a good deed finds him cleaning up Georgia's room while she sleeps. If kids don't want to clean their rooms in real life, why would they escape into a book that depicts such an action in great detail? And of course, after all of Slappy's hard work, he awakes to discover someone has undone his good deed and wrecked the place. Georgia of course blames Stella, who angrily denies having caused the damage. Slappy doesn't back off as easily, as he takes Stella aside and threatens her with a reverse-puppet:
"The next time you ruin my good deed, I'm going to stick my hand so far down your throat, you'll have splinters in your stomach!"Stella runs to tell her mom. Slappy overreacts and resigns himself to having to kill all three now that his secret is out. Frailty, thy name is wooden. Fortunately, the parent in this book behaves the exact same way as every other parent in every other Goosebumps book, several of which Slappy himself should already be familiar with, and he is able to put his murder-spree on pause.
The next morning, Mrs. Boonshoft tells Georgia of poor Mrs. Kramer's daughter, Maggie, who is now confined to a wheelchair, and how much a ventriloquism show would cheer her up. With a subtlety befitting the family's namesake, Stine takes a plotline featuring a character in a wheelchair pretty much exactly where you'd expect. Maggie gets pushed down a hill and hits a van. Well, now disabled women are getting targeted. This is getting specific!
Even though she distracted by a squirrel, Stella insists Slappy must have pushed Maggie's wheelchair. Hey, I like watching some squirrels too
But even I don't such jump to such insane conclusions quite so freely. Slappy knows he didn't push the girl and decides that since Stella is trying to ruin his good deeds, he'll have to kill her. I know it's difficult to see the flaw in the logic here, but try.
Mrs. Boonshoft too is now convinced that Stella pushed the girl in the wheelchair, and around this point I realized that it's pretty hard to even figure which of the girls is the protagonist before it dawned on me that it's supposed to be the doll. Uh, if I wanted to sit through a work of fiction celebrating an insufferable asshole, I'd watch As Good As It Gets, and I would not watch As Good As It Gets.
Slappy enacts his devious plan to kill a preteen girl. He sneaks into Stella's room, only to be greeted with the swing of an axe across his head. Stella chops Slappy to splinters and the doll reacts by... waking up. That's right, this book has a dream sequence from a doll. ARE YOU FUCKING WHAT.-ING ME?
In a twist worthy of RL Stine, Slappy then enters Stella's room and is hit over the head with a metal baseball bat. I don't really know much about sports, but now that's what I call a Slam Dunk! Stella claims she thought the walking dummy was a burglar. What is a 20" burglar going to get away with besides shoes and any valuables left on the bottom shelf of bookcases? While the girls argue, Slappy debates whether or not killing Stella would take up too much time. Given that his track record with killing people still stands at zero, he's probably right to reconfigure his time management.
Slappy gets another chance to not kill Stella when Georgia takes him across the street to babysit two-year-old Robby. Later that night, Slappy overhears a strange sound from Robby's room and discovers his blanket tied around his neck. Slappy first pauses to delight in the infant's accidental strangulation, because it's been a couple pages since I've read something really horrible, then proceeds to do a good deed by untangling him. Slappy walks away knowing he finally did his first good deed. Unfortunately, when Robby's parents arrive home, they find their son hung up in the drapes. What personal issues was the author of this book working through, exactly?
Slappy, faced with sabotage yet again, tries to figure out why Stella is behaving like him. He admires her work, but reasons that it's not normal for a kid to act like an evil ventriloquist doll. I don't think this counts as an epiphany, because duh. Slappy reasons that yes, he does have to kill her so that he may live. After all:
Evil is live spelled backwards.I don't think that counts either.
Slappy decides to smother Stella in her sleep. His plan is interrupted by the victim, who snaps a Polaroid of the dummy in action. Unfortunately the blurry photo looks like Slappy is at worst short-sheeting her bed. Stella freaks out and starts kicking Slappy all over the room as her sister and mother watch with a mixture of confusion and embarrassment.
Mrs. Boonshoft asks Georgia to lock Slappy in her closet, but Georgia reminds her mother that she's taking Slappy to school with her tomorrow. I've heard of Show and Tell, but Show Her Hell? Hahahhahahaa sorry, I let Slappy write that one for me. It's no worse than the over abundance and over indulgence of the jokes Georgia practices with her dummy, such as
Q: Why are you so bad?That's so funny I forgot to Lagerstroemia.
A: Because I'm made of naughty pine!
Georgia is nervous about performing her act for her classmates during their lunch, as only last week the school jazz band received a great response at the same venue. A great response from middle schoolers to a jazz band during lunch has to be indifference, right? Also, how could something that could never exist get any response at all? Nevertheless, Georgia begins her act and receives mostly awkward silence from the eating audience. Slappy isn't really paying attention to Georgia even though her hand is inside him, as he's just spotted Stella's trademark purple hat and knows she's there to sabotage him yet again.
Slappy loses it and then loses Georgia's hand as he leaps off her and into the crowded lunchroom. This effectively freaks everyone out and the walking dummy pursues the purple-hatted figure only to discover that it's Wally, the identical dummy from earlier. Because a ventriloquist dummy and a twelve-year-old girl are roughly the same build. Also, the purple hat is definitely an additional faux pas, as Slappy/Wally are definitely not a Winter with that complexion, gurl!
Slappy and Wally start to argue in the lunchroom's kitchen, and Wally cops to all the nefarious deeds. He did it because he wanted to live. Slappy starts to reply with a biting comment about him being stupid or ugly or fat or Polish or a woman, but before he can get it out, Wally gets his anger out by slamming Slappy's head against the tile floor. Slappy evades his grasp and jumps up on-top of the stovetop and pushes a boiling pot of soup onto Wally. Wally writhes around in pain as the boiling concoction scalds him, which makes less sense the more you think about it, and if you think about it at all you've already devoted more time to the plot point than Stine.
Georgia runs into the kitchen and sees Slappy is alive. She steps between him and Wally and demands to know what's going on. Slappy responds by grabbing her midsection and hurling her into a wall. He then throws a vat of spaghetti at her. That's something less than amore.
Georgia finally stands up for herself and grabs each of the dolls. She carries them across the kitchen and throws them into the trash compactor. Now that's what I call taking out the evil ventriloquist dummies!
But the Twist is
Slappy wakes up. He is greeted at the airport by Jimmy O'James, who has with him Slappy's two children. Slappy spins the top on the kitchen counter and the book ends before the reader can discern whether it fell or kept spinning.
Speaking of Spinning
You can spin on my dick for ending a book with "It was all a doll's dream," whoever actually wrote this.
The Platonic Boy-Girl Relationship
There isn't any, because boys don't play with dolls, and any boys who read about dolls will turn gay halfway through the book.
(I kid, but I do wonder if the off-putting violence towards the female characters in the Slappy books is there to compensate for the lack of perceived masculine interest in books with no male characters. But, in that case, why not have Slappy's owners be occasionally male? Or would that screw up the next Mad Lib-crafted Slappy adventure?)
Mrs. Boonshoft really took her husband's name?
Jessica Valenti Alert
Slappy attacks another female victim by telling her she's "hisssstory."
Not Worth the Wait Alert
Memorable Cliffhanger Chapter Ending
Jimmy O'James tells the girls to wait outside his dressing room for a moment, as he has a big surprise for them. Really, the resolution of this being an evil doll is still something of a relief.
Great Prose Alert
The toy maker that made you was an evil sorcerer. There's no other way to describe him.
Slappy? More like crappy! I'VE STILL GOT IT, FOLKS!