Monday, December 22, 2008

Cheerleaders: The New Evil, or “Bad Santa”

Time for yet another seasonal super chiller sequel. This book follows intrepid Corky Corcoran and her gang of cheerleaders as they are YET AGAIN terrorized by some amorphous evil steam-thingy (for a recap on the Cheerleader series, I blogged most of these back in September, including the origins of the evil, the Awakening Evil). Anyways, several months have passed since Corky last drowned the evil out of her, and in Fear Street time, that’s like 8 years. Pretty much all is forgotten, and the girls have moved on.

The tagline here lacks panache – “Season’s greetings ... the evil is back!” Like something you’d find in a tepid, rather disturbing Christmas card, which, after receiving my Hallmarks this year, is not all that far-fetched! Let’s look at this Santa, though. That Santa is gd terrifying, the cause of many a four-year old’s nightmare, I’m sure. Is he shaking his fist at her, or about to deliver a vicious backhand? My only thought on that is: Please let this scene be in the book. And please let him be shaking his fist at her.

So we begin. Corky, Kimmy and Hannah leave the gym after an exciting evening of cheering, giggling together. I love how Hannah is their best friend now, whereas at the beginning of the year (presumably about 3 months ago) everyone hated her, and Corky chopped her hair off. Teenage girls are fickle! The roads that night are slippery, but Hannah refuses to put on her seatbelt. Kimmy runs into a tree, causing Hannah to launch out the front window from the back seat. No, Kimmy wasn’t just being a bitch, she proclaims the evil is back. Hannah’s okay, she’s just broken both her legs. She’ll get better!

On to more serious problems. Cory luuurves Alex, the school brain, star basketball player and all around player. Only, he seems to be into more than one girl at school. She asks him to the river, then tells him she didn’t bring him there to make out. Hmmm, Corky? This might be your problem hanging on to your man. Instead, she wants to make sure that the river is still frozen over, so that the evil won’t escape. Is that logical in any way? If the ice is the only thing keeping evil steam inside a moving body of water, then what about when Corky drowned in the not frozen river? What was going to happen in the spring? NO sense at all. Unfortunately for Corky’s effed up logic, there is an ice-fishing hole cut into the ice, releasing copious amounts of steam. Evil steam? Corky thinks so.

Alex thinks she’s as deranged as I do, but they still go out to Pete’s later. They are there with Alex’s friend Jay, who Corky also likes (but I assume only as a friend?) He’s described as goofy, and looking like a chicken. So definitely just friends then. Alex is bummed about a bb game or something, but perks up substantially when he sees Deena Martinson walk in the door.

Corky becomes bummed herself because of her cheating boyfriend. She goes to Debra’s to be cheered up, and walks in on Debra and Kimmy chanting. And not cheering-chanting, but occult-chanting. Not the cheering Corky needs. They are trying to call up a protective spirit, but the room starts shaking and they get understandably freaked out. So no more chanting for the time being.

Next day is cheering business as usual. The cheerleaders need to have tryouts to replace poor broken Hannah. They get down to three finalists: Ivy, Lauren, and Rochelle. Rochelle ends up winning – but what do you know. Two seconds later, there’s a screwdriver sticking out of her neck, dropped by some dude working on the bleachers. Another unfortunate accident? Ivy and Lauren (best friends) are really only interested in who gets to be the new fodder. When Ivy is chosen, Lauren flips out, screaming at Corky that it was because she’s been seeing Alex on the sly. Clearly a graceful loser, that Lauren.

Corky calls Alex on this, and he denies everything, saying he’s just helping all the lovely ladies of Shadyside High with their homework. He immediately proves otherwise by lamely ditching on seeing her – for sure not a cheater, right? Lauren begs to be an alternate on the squad, and Corky ends up stuck with her trampy ass since they decided at the rate they’re going, someone else would be picked off soon. And the squad comes before everything, right?

In another exercise in extreme caution, the cheerleaders get cannons that shoot confetti into the crowd. Because nothing’s going to go wrong THERE. Heather, one of the lesser-mentioned cheerers, has her cannon explode all over her. Real explosion, not confetti-explosion – but she ends up being alright with minor burns. While the evil is stomping it’s little evil feet in frustration, the girls figure three cheering-related accidents were not coincidental – no doubt about it, the evil was back.

Corky goes home to find Alex waiting for her, and she bitchily asks him why he’s not helping some skank with her homework, which he DESERVES, I might add. Alex starts to tell her something – she’s sure he’s trying to break up with her – but is interrupted by goofy Jay bursting in on them. I wonder if he does that a lot. She figures she’s saved from pre-holiday humiliation for the moment, and is thankful.

Next day, the big pep rally. The cheerleaders do a fire baton routine, now seriously, wtf is wrong with these girls? They are convinced they are cursed and will slowly be killed in terrible ways, why don’t we play with the kerosene soaked batons? Shockingly, one of the girls, Naomi, sets herself on fire. She doesn’t die, but has a long recovery. So far, still no deaths in this Cheerleaders Super Thriller – I’m waiting, R. L. There’s this really weird scene where Corky, Kimmy and Debra catch Ivy skating around the hole in the ice, with weird (evil) steam pouring out, Lauren watching from the river bank. So – Ivy is the evil?

The girls come up with a foolproof plan to out Ivy as pure evil – an ice skating party! Everyone on the bb team and the cheerleading squad is there, as they skate around the river. Everyone except Alex, who once again mysteriously ditches out. Corky is attacked by an evil Santa with glowing eyes, who comes at her with an icicle. Yes! Not only did the cover scene happen, but he was using an ICICLE! Best cover rendition ever. Actually, the Santa isn’t “evil”, it’s Alex, who wanted to cheer Corky up. By attacking her. With an icicle. It works, because Corky thinks it’s the sweetest thing ever!

Show time. Corky, Kimmy and Debra get out some candles and start chanting to call the evil to them. Their plan is to bring Ivy over, and drown her in front of everyone. Surely somebody will object? Things backfire all over the place, when they realize that the evil isn’t in Ivy, but in fact still in the river. They call the evil up, unleashing it, surrounding everyone with a gross steam. Oops!

After this, apparently everything is good, they all forget about the whole “rampant evil” thing. They go to a cheer tournament in a nearby town, and try to use the confetti cannons AGAIN! This time it fires boiling tar on the spectators. Now that’s more like it, the evil is back! That night, Alex gets Corky to sneak out of her motel room. He confesses his lame ditches are because he has a tutor and is embarrassed. He then starts kissing her needily, rough and hard. *romantic sigh* Corky looks up to see Jay staring at them with glowing red eyes. So Jay is the evil?

Next day, a beautiful cheerleader on the other team starts doing back flips – and can’t stop. She keeps on going over and over again, while screaming for help. She finally has to be strapped down and taking away to ... somewhere. I vividly remember this scene from when I was young, although didn’t know which Cheerleaders book it was in. Super excited to finally get to it, although less creepy now then when I was ten. Anyways, Ivy mentions she hated that bitch. So, Ivy is the evil. But then the bb coach starts yelling at goofy Jay, and Jay flips out at him. And who should end up found dead in the locker room not too long after, but the coach. He was drowned by having a water cooler bottle forced into his mouth and emptied. That’s pretty gruesome. Finally, a real death! So, Jay is the evil?

That night, Ivy sneaks out with Heather and Lauren to meet up with the entire bb team in the woods. Um. No comment on that one. Corky, Debra and Kimmy follow as everyone goes out onto the frozen lake and begin to chant. That’s when they realize – everyone is possessed by the evil! During the skating party, the evil steam went into them all. They are discovered by the mass of evil teenagers, and scatter into the woods. Alex finds Corky and tries to bring her back to the lake. Corky escapes, and inexplicably runs away TO the lake. There she sees Kimmy’s body under the ice, drowned and bloated. Ick. And points for killing off a major character!

Corky hides all night, then the next morning she sees all the evil kids on the school bus. She jumps into the bus, drives it into the lake and jumps out at the last second. The bus full of Shadyside teens slowly sinks and bubbles, drowning them all along with the evil. Corky wanders away, in mild shock she just killed all of her friends. She goes to the bb tournament to tell everyone that she just drowned the team and the majority of the cheerleaders, to find them already there – all drowned and corpsy.

Corky has a full on nervy b, and wakes up in the hospital. It was all a dream ... no, just kidding. Alex is there when she wakes up, and at first she tries to run away from the evil, but he kisses her needily once more, and explains that she hallucinated in the gym. She really had driven the bus full of her friends into the lake (although no one remembers her involvement) and had drowned the evil, but some friendly ice-fishermen were nearby, and saved everyone (except for Kimmy, presumably). Corky shows that remarkable Shadyside talent to cope unexpectedly quick with trauma, and brightly chirps Merry Christmas.

As a Cheerleader Super Chiller, I was expecting a lot, and I wasn’t let down. Gruesome deaths, paranormal steam, and a vaguely explained ending full of needy kisses. That was fulfilling. I give it 24 icicle-wielding Santas out of 25. And on that note: Happy Holidays from the Stine sisters. Check for tons new recaps in the New Year!


Anonymous said...

Bloody Hell. She drives a busful of teenagers into a lake? That's full-on psycho behaviour right there. Were they just sitting there not doing anything at all to stop her? Why would this work? But on the other hand this is great craziness.

LAK said...

The 'needy' kiss at the end is what makes this book good. So what if you drive a bus full of teenagers into a lake, you can still have Lurve. (Yes with a capital L)

Deathycat said...

This book sounds more awesome than I remember. I'll have to go back and read your Cheerleaders recaps. They were my absolute favorite Fear Street books. ^_^

Mandy said...

The part I always remembered from when I was a pre-teen (tween?) was when that girl kept doing the backflips and then they finally manage to get her on the stretcher and wheel her off, her body keeps jerking and trying to backflip off. I was traumatized!