Thursday, July 3, 2008

Cheerleaders: The First Evil


First thing: when I was way young, I thought this cover was the creepiest thing ever – like, hide in the freezer creepy. Now that I’m older and wiser, it actually still freaks me out. What can I say … cheerleaders have always made my skin crawl. Even the ones who AREN’T (spoiler alert!) possessed by an evil ghost are all vacant and ominous. Well done, cover artist.

I think the ‘Cheerleaders’ books are like super chillers, except that they are actually kind of scary. They read more like a horror book than most Fear Streets, and even though I knew what was coming, I still had some ick, gross moments reading this.

The Corcoran sisters, Bobbi and Corky (no, really) have just moved to Shadyside and they are the awesomest cheerleaders ever. They force the squad to have tryouts just for them and nobody is surprised when they make it on, forcing the most junior cheerleader to step down (first potential enemy). The Corcorans are hated especially by Kimmy, the co-captain (vice-captain?) of the squad, largely because Bobbi immediately goes and steals her bf, Chip, but are liked by the all-around perfect captain, Jennifer.

Soon after they join the squad, a bus carrying the cheerleaders is in a horrific accident at the Fear Street cemetery, on a dark and stormy night. Jennifer appears to be sucked out of the bus, and her body is found on the grave of one Sarah Fear. Oh, except she’s not dead, just a paraplegic. People seem to get over this awful quick, as does Jennifer. She’s just peachy in her wheelchair, and makes it out to all the games and provides as much cheer as she possibly can. That girl has spirit!

Meanwhile, Bobbi is made captain of the squad, and terrible things start to happen, leading to murder and worse. Finally, Corky, the younger sister, figures out that Jennifer was killed the night of the bus accident, and her body was possessed by Sarah Fear. Good triumphs over evil, and all is well … or is it?

The plot isn’t what’s important here. What matters in this book are the spine-chilling moments, as well as the super cheesy early 90s moments, so I’ll just focus on those:

Corky comments that the girls in Shadyside were more into fashion than people in Missouri, so the sisters would have to accessorize like mad to fit in. They decide to update their wardrobe with short skirts, tights, and leggings. Now, this book was written in 1991, but sadly, it could have been written last week, based on fashion today. Oh, leggings.

Bobbi’s new boyfriend who she stole from Kimmy seems like the ultimate douchebag. His name is Charles Chasner (call me Chip), football quarterback and handsome like a Ken doll. He asks her out by telling her to wait for him outside his locker room. Oh, swoon. High school can be so romantic. He might as well have told her to wait under the bleachers for him and some of his friends. Bobbi is all about this, though. She tells Jennifer that Chip asked her out, and Jennifer comments that Chip dumped Kimmy two weeks previous to be with the new captain of the cheerleading squad. They sit in horror at the callousness of this, then giggle that he is soooo cute. Oh, high school girls. Clearly Chip is the man for you, Bobbi.

Hot Fear Street sex scene: Chip confesses, ‘I’m really kind of scared’ and kisses Bobbi. She thinks his lips were hard and dry, but he was so needy … let me swoon again. R.L. really seems to have a thing for dry lips. And who isn’t turned on by neediness? Oh, unless you are a teenage girl, I suppose.

There were definitely some creepy scenes in this book, good use of suspenseful foreshadowing, R.L. In one scene, Bobbi is walking alone in the hallways when all the lockers being opening and slamming shut on their own. She hears a girl screaming in horror, but after running through the hallways, she can’t find anyone. Fear Street books are always much creepier when there are ghosts on the loose.

Another scene Bobbi is supposed to catch Kimmy in some big cheer jump, but her body freezes and she can’t move. Kimmy falls and breaks something. This is creepy because it is like a dream where you can’t move fast enough … which is horrifying as you are forced to watch bad things happen around you.

My personal favorite creepy scene, and this is largely because I remember it from when I was ten, was when Bobbi leaves Jennifer’s house one evening, then turns back to see Jennifer’s silhouette pacing in the window. It actually creates suspense, because it isn’t something that is answered in the next two pages, but we keep on wondering about. Is Bobbi crazy? What’s up with Jennifer? And if we’re asking all the big questions, if you are an evil ghost returning to possess a dead cheerleader’s body, why pretend you are a paraplegic? But only during the day. It’s never answered and kind of drives me crazy.
Best use of third person omniscient point of view: ‘Corky might have been more sympathetic. She might have been more understanding. More caring. More believing.
But Corky had no way of knowing that this was the last night she would ever spend with her sister.’ (dun dun DUN!!!)

Bobbi comes to a spectacularly gruesome fate. The doors all lock in the girls shower, and all the shower heads start spraying scaling water. Bobbi screams and flails but there is nothing she can do. The water creeps up above her ankles before … well, Bobbi doesn’t make it.

The final scene, the showdown between Corky and Jennifer/Sarah Fear at the cemetery is alright, I guess. Sarah calls up a tornado of dirt to surround Corky and opens the coffin of her former grave. Corky is almost forced into the coffin, but cheering saves her! She launches herself out of the grave before she is buried, then Sarah belches some rotting breath at her, but somehow she forces the spirit back into the coffin. Jennifer’s body immediately disintegrates to where it would have been if she had died when she in fact died. Classic! Very Indiana Jones.

All seems to be well in the world of Fear Street, until Corky finds Jennifer’s cheer pennant in her bed. And so it continues …

Alright, I counted 5 creepy scenes, so Cheerleaders: The First Evil gets 5 out of something for creepiness. Maybe 5 out of 6, cause why not. If I read this book before any other, I might believe that Fear Street books were actually teen horror books.

L. K. Stine

4 comments:

Drew said...

why are the character names SO stupid. i mean corky, really? it really hurts the books. the lack of plot, characters and interesting moments ALSO hurt the books, but the names, ECH!

nice post L.K.
keep it up! oh and is there a bigger pic of the cover since you consider it a classic?

Anonymous said...

i loved these books they were def. my favorite r.l.stine, and goosebumps. Chris Pike was my real book boyfriend though

Anonymous said...

If I read this book before any other, I might believe that Fear Street books were actually teen horror books.


In Jr. High I literally picked this up w/o having read any of the others and opened it right to the shower-death scene and read just that one scene. Scared the shit out of me. I never read another FS book because I thought they were too intense for my delicate self. ^.^;;

Ryan Sexton said...

Cheerleaders was def my fav of all the fear street booke