Monday, September 15, 2008
The Babysitter or "Sting Stalks Drew Barrymore"
While “The Babysitter” isn’t a true Fear Street novel, it is 100% awesome. Don’t believe me? Have a peek at that cover. Is the character Jenny not the doppelganger of Drew Barrymore!? Since this book was written in 1989, Drew would have been around 14-15: perfect babysitter age. Did the cover artists have a fascination with Drew? That would be … unsettling. So those photos were taken by me of my own copy. I felt the ones online did not adequately showcase the Drew Barrymore-ness of the cover. I hope you all appreciate the time and effort that just took me. (Whew, 3 minutes?!)
Also, the tagline? GOLD. “Every step she takes, he’ll be watching.” So good! Police lyrics are not used nearly enough in R.L. Stine books. You know who else isn’t used enough? Frank Sinatra. The back cover tells us about “A Stranger in the Night”. Man, this book is like a treasure trove of pop culture references! …from previous decades…
Alright, truthfully? This book IS a Fear Street book, except the creepy house were Jenny babysits is on Millertown Road instead of Fear Street. That is the sole different between Fear Street books and pre-Fear Street books. So Jenny, our “heroine” took on a babysitting job for the Hagen’s to look after their precious little Donny every Thursday and Saturday. Mr. Hagen is totally paranoid and frantic at all times, while Mrs. Hagen is calm and reasonable. I like Mrs. Hagen.
Jenny is totally creeped out by the old Victorian style house and all the creeks and moans. O yeah, she’s also creeped out because there is an attacker on the loose who preys on babysitters! Well I think that would end my babysitting career! It doesn’t help Jenny’s nerves when the Hagen’s neighbour “Willers” comes over and tells her there’s been a prowler stalking their neighbourhood. Jeez Jenny, is the 5$ an hour really worth it??
So Jenny has this sort-of thing with the new boy (must the boy always be new??) at school, Chuck. Jenny kinda likes him, but kinda doesn’t because he can never be serious with her. And he’s totally obnoxious and rude. Well, that’s my opinion of him, but I’m sure his rudeness sexually excites Jenny. You know how the Shadyside girls are. Anyways he basically tells her he’s going to come over to her next babysitting gig even after she begs him not to. What a prince!
So Saturday rolls around and Jenny is hanging out with Donny, whose hair feels as “soft as feathers”. Ummm… Okay. First Laurie and her hospital boy and now Jenny? These girls seem to get a little too attached to young boys. She also gets a kinda-obscene phone call. Someone calls the house but just breathes into the phone. Ugh, obscene phone calls seem so gross, even if you know it’s probably just your 10 year old neighbour having a sleepover party. Thank goodness for *69 and caller ID!
Jenny gets another call, and this one is wildly more scary/kinda ridiculous. The Man/Boy (she can’t tell which) calls her Babes and asks if she’s alone because “company’s coming”. Ick! So Jenny decides not to call the police because she thinks they won’t believe her (wtf? Why not?) or tell the Hagen’s because she doesn’t want to make Mr. Hagen worry more so then he already does. Okay… those are crap reasons. Call your local police when threatened, girls!
So she runs into Chuck at the mall and he kinda charms her a little bit. They end up seeing a movie together and Jenny thinks about how shy and cute Chuck is. O and also wonders if he’s the one who made the terrifying call the night before. Dear LORD, what is up with these girls!? If you think the boy you like may be: a murderer, an obscene phone caller, your attacker, your poisoner, the person who pushed you into traffic, the person who killed your dog, cut your losses and RUN.
Next time she babysits, Jenny continues to creep ME out by thinking weird thoughts about Donny. “… it was so hard to get angry at someone that cute. Girls had better watch out for him in a few years!” Ummm, I think Donny needs to watch out for Jenny, right now. So Jenny gets another scary phone call from the “Babes” guy and finally does the right thing and calls the cops. And unsurprisingly, they believe her! Considering there is a babysitter attacker on the loose, and she’s babysitting I don’t know why she ever thought the police wouldn’t believe her.
So Chuck predictably shows up at the door, wearing a messed-up mask to scare the living bejeezus out of Jenny. Which he does, and she’s reasonably pissed. He comes in for a little while and Jenny finally grows enough lady-balls to ask Chuck if he’s the one that’s been calling her. And he was! They make out because knowing Chuck is a total creep really turned Jenny’s crank. The End.
Okay, not really. He does admit to calling, but only the heavy-breathing-obscene call, not the scary-threatening-Babes calls. He claims innocence to all the rest of the calls, but Jenny isn’t sure she believes him… Well yah, that would be a turn off if Chuck wasn’t trying to kill her, wouldn’t it? But she’s still getting threatened as she finds out the next day, only this time in the form of a note! In her gym bag? And Chuck was the only person to have access to her bag! Jenny has to sit down she’s so dizzy. From lust?
When Chuck calls her, she’s still all in a tizzy. He asks if he can come over to the Hagen’s on Thursday night to study and claims innocence about the note. Jenny thinks: “She wanted to trust him. She wanted to be with him. But she just couldn’t get rid of her suspicions.” UGH!
So Chuck comes over on Thursday as well as Jenny’s friend Laura and her boy toy. Of course Jenny gets scared over something, but Chuck calms her down by sticking his tongue down her throat. Mmmm high school. Unfortunately, Mr. Hagen comes home early and finds the teenage make-out fest! He’s pissed and tells her he’s going to take her home now. When she goes to get her jacket, she finds a box of newspaper clippings all about the babysitter attacks. That is NOT a good sign. Jenny realizes this and tries to go home with her friends (good Jenny) but can’t weasel her way out of getting driven home by Mr. Hagen (baaaaaad Jenny). This is an elementary school lesson Jenny. Don’t get into a car if you don’t feel comfortable with the driver. Like say, you think he might murder you.
Which Mr. Hagen tries to do. Of course. Although it takes Jenny a while to catch on. Mr. Hagen locks all the doors once they get in and Jenny thinks “Funny, he’s never done that before.” O my GOD, Jenny, how dense are you? Mr. Hagen finally puts Jenny out of her dumbass misery by confessing to the phone calls and the attacks on the other babysitters. You see, he had a baby girl that a babysitter either killer or let die by accident. He actually doesn’t specify. But he’s still pissed off at babysitters in general! Mr. Hagen has taken Jenny out to the old rock quarry and pushes her to the edge. Mr. Willers (the weirdo neighbour?) shows up with a gun and tries to reason with Mr. Hagen, but he’s just not having it. Then something happens that ONLY could ever work in a book or movie. Mr. Hagen tries to push Jenny over the cliff but she moves and so he just runs off the cliff himself. REALLY? That doesn’t happen in real life! Why didn’t Mr. Willers just shoot him? That would actually make more sense than Mr. Hagen running off the cliff all cartoon-y style. Did he also run onto thin air, stay there for a little while until his eyes bulged out of his head and he started to fall?
Mr. Willers was apparently an undercover cop who had suspicions that Mr. Hagen was the babysitter attacker. So he just kinda watched Jenny get obscene phone calls and messages. That’s … kinda lame police work there, Willers! Chuck is waiting for Jenny when she gets back to her house, to tell her some inappropriately timed jokes. Who wouldn’t want to hear some babysitting jokes after her night? Jenny leads him to the door to say goodnight and hopefully goodbye forever. What an asshole.
Alright, for how creepy this book was, it could have used so more gore. I’m always disappointed when no one dies in these books. The Hagen’s had a cat, it could have been a victim! Or Chuck, I probably wouldn’t have minded his death. I enjoyed learning that even before the Fear Street series, R.L. Stine’s girls had messed up outlooks on boyfriends and reactions to trauma. It’s … somewhat comforting. In a strange way, I’ll admit. 14 feather-haired angel children out of 19!