Thursday, August 14, 2008

Fleeing Shadyside for the Summer

Just a heads up, Fear Street fans ... the Stine sisters will be on vacation for the next 2 weeks. Not together, though. One of us will be exploring some of the most fabulous cities in Europe, and the other will be at a lake near ... Sudbury. Not that I'm jealous or anything. Look back in September, there will be loads new blogs, largely because one of us is going to have a lot of time on her hands.

But no worries if you're thinking what you're going to do for two whole weeks without any Fear Street recaps, because there is another awesome Fear Street blog out there!

Fear Street

The more people involved in this insightful and interesting task of recapping Fear Street, the better, we say!

Bad Moonlight or “Child Bride of the Werewolf”

Another fab super chiller. This time about werewolves! As you can see from the cover, it’s also about a band, with girl singers … and that nighttime is the right time for terror!

Things start off with a bang when protag Danielle is walking around the grocery store, fighting with her little brother. She then apparently blacks out and starts eating raw meat without noticing. When she does realize she’s eating raw meat, the first thing she does is swallow it. Obviously. Then she gets grossed out by it. Pretty random prologue, I think it’s to show that things aren’t going to go well for Danny – although we already knew that, since she lives on Fear Street.

Then we go back to a few weeks earlier. Danielle has just been given the position of lead singer in a nameless band. The other members of the band are Dee (the other singer), Caroline, the pianist, and Mary Beth, the drums. I think Danielle also plays guitar (I hope). So, nobody ever mentions that this is a girl band, which is something I thought would be pointed out – it took me awhile to actually notice. I was actually happy that they didn’t mention it, like it’s no big deal that a bunch of girls are in a band, they’re just like any other band. Only R.L. couldn’t have been that feminist-y, because the band is managed and run by a bunch of men: Billy is the manager, Kit is the veeeeery good looking equipment manager (roadie), and Joey, the sound guy.

More background: Danielle’s parents had been killed in a horrific car accident three years ago, and she’s been raised by her aunt, who encouraged her to take time off school to sing in a band, because she can always go to school later. Very progressive, Aunt Margaret. Or is it? Since her parent’s death, Danielle has had violent hallucinations of people being clawed to death, and has been seeing a psychiatrist, Dr. Moore.

The whole band thing isn’t going great for Danny. Creepy things keep happening, like her hair stands on end when she sees the moon. She has a hallucination and rips the chair she’s sitting in to shreds (and nobody seems to think this is strange. I would find that strange). She also feels the urge to howl when she hears other wolves. The other lead singer, Dee, pretty much hates her and keeps on giving her cryptic messages to leave, and that she’s not safe. Danielle assumes she’s jealous and gives her the cold shoulder.

Much more promising is Kit, who seems really into her, until they start making out one night and Danielle bites his lip so hard it starts bleeding. And she may have drank it a little bit. Embarrassing!

Along with just plain getting it on, Danielle starts to get her musical mojo on, and composes all these songs about the moon, leading to the band naming themselves Bad Moonlight. To share a verse with you:

‘Bad Moonlight, falling down on me,
Bad Moonlight, shining down on me,
Bad Moonlight –
I want to die for you!’

And so on and so forth. They are an overnight smash hit, and everybody’s happy. Danielle’s so happy after a kick ass concert she goes for a run in the woods in her red sequin dress and blacks out. Normally I’d be worried for the girl, but it turns out Joey should have been more careful – he turns up ripped to shreds.

Dee goes crazy that Joey was killed, much to everyone else’s confusion. Typically, they all completely get over the violent murder of their friend in approx. 5 minutes, and wish Dee would just chill. Danielle starts to come undone, once finding herself lapping dirty rainwater from a gutter when she’s thirsty, or finding Billy drunk in a hotel hallway, muttering about evil things. As she’s freaking out, she goes home to her aunt for a few days, and discovers a few things. First, her aunt and her psychiatrist have known each other for years, and discuss her ‘condition’. Second, her parents were not killed in a car accident, but ripped to shreds by animals. Mysterious … But not nearly as gross as when Danielle’s little brother cuts himself, and she starts lapping up his blood. Ugh. Then an awesome bitch fight happens between Danielle and Dee, and Dee quits the band.

Are Danielle’s problems all over, as she believes? Well, probably not, because she celebrates Dee quitting by running away from Kit and killing a rabbit with her teeth. At this point, I would be locking myself up, but Danny keeps on trucking, especially since the lyrics just keep flowing from this girl:

‘I’m howling, howling
Howling my love.
Gotta claw my way back,
Back to you.’

Awesome! Will their string of hits ever end? Actually, it all ends the next night when they play Shadyside, at Red Heat (a club also featured in ‘Haunted’ – I love it when they put in these small attempts at continuity). Danielle finds Dee’s mutilated body in a trunk, and I think reasonably freaks out. Billy, Caroline, and Mary Beth try to stop her from leaving, and end up chasing her into the woods (the Fear Street woods? Probably!) They all turn into wolves, surprising no one because we all knew they were werewolves to begin with, right? Kit runs in to rescue her, and Billy attacks him. Danielle sensibly leaves him to save her own ass, and escapes to her aunt’s.

Only it’s the worst place to go. Aunt Margaret greets her with a creepy smile, and talks about all their big plans for her. Turns out Aunt Margaret is not Aunt Margaret at all, Danielle’s real aunt having been ripped apart by animals around the time her parents were killed. Danielle was being groomed to marry the head of their pack (the alpha male?) who turns out to be Kit. No wonder he got over that embarrassing lip bit so quick! In attempting to escape this knew problem, Danielle discovers that Dr. Moore is in fact Kit’s father, and they’ve all been in on this for ages, including the disturbing violent fantasies. Yikes, I would never trust a single person ever again.

They all get ready for this marriage to take place. This is so creepy. Apparently Kit had seen her at a concert three years ago, and knew he had to have her. Danielle is MAYBE 18 in this book, so oldest she could have been when this all started was 15. Anyways, Kit wanted his child bride, so they went through three years of ‘grooming’, of turning her into a werewolf. And I thought one good bite will do it. Apparently a werewolf bride is like a slave, with no actual thought other than to please her husband. Nope, R. L. was definitely NOT going feminist-y in this one.

Danielle is forced to the altar, and made to sing Bad Moonlight one last time. Billy starts whispering to her that she can save herself, if only she can let the moonlight take her. So she turns into a werewolf, and rips out Kit’s throat. Bet he didn’t see that one coming. Dr. Moore and Aunt Margaret shake themselves to pieces. Like, literally, their body parts come flying off. The rest of them were fine, they were under mind control or something, and now everything would be alright again. Danielle hooks up with Billy, the little tramp, and it’s a happy ending!

Soooo, not bad (except for the lyrics). There were some creepy moments, especially the blacking out and doing violent things, or licking your brother’s blood, and the child bride thing was really disturbing. I give it 5 mutilated bodies out of 7.

L. K. Stine

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Party Summer, or “Psycho Goes to the Beach”

The first Super Chiller of the Fear Street Collection, and a personal favourite of mine. It’s a combination of an Edwardian ghost story and a Hitckcock-ian suspense, although, obviously, not as well done.

It begins with Cari, of supermodel good looks, and her three friends Jan, Eric and Craig, are invited to work at the Howling Wolf Inn for the summer. Cari is the normal one, Jan is a goth, Eric is described as scrawny and alternative (because he has an earring!) and Craig is the preppy one. The Howling Wolf Inn is a luxury resort isolated on its own island, owned by a friend of Jan’s aunt Rose. Rose is a famous author, and wanted to finish her next novel there, so they’re all going to stay for the summer. The Party Summer.

Things go wrong immediately. Rose gets violently ill on the way and has to be left behind. The four teenagers go on alone to the island. There is only one boat a day that goes out to the hotel, and they are the only ones aboard. They arrive at the resort, which is a decrepit old mansion situated on a beach (?) – interesting. In my head, it looks like the Haunted Mansion in Disney World, so lets go with that, although situated on the New England coast. Unfortunately, the resort is shut down and a very rude man tells them to go away. No more party summer.

Fortunately, the rude man is only the servant, and our young heroes eventually meet the owner of the hotel, Simon Fear the Third – the great nephew of the original Simon Fear of Fear Street. Awesome time to comment about how creepy Fear Street is at night … Anyway, Simon Fear is tall, handsome, with flowing white hair. Go silver fox! He charms them and asks them to stay the summer to help him with his renovations, since all his workers have disappeared. Awesome! Not suspicious at all! Party summer back on!

The next day they party on the beach. Cari and Eric are all over each other. Every single time Cari looks at Eric, she thinks “my how attractive Eric is, I never noticed before” except she says this EVERY SINGLE TIME she sees him in the book. Cari, just admit you want it, so we can all move on. Jan is being pissy, because everyone keeps making fun of her because they are constantly interrupting her performing séances and trying to contact spirits and such. They think this is weird (it is) and she gets sulky. She insists the Howling Wolf is haunted and will prove it. Just then an ominous shadow falls across them (gasp!) … it’s Simon, with a picnic dinner for them, a little too much build up there.

Simon tells them stories about Simon Fear the First, which I think is the first time the back story of Fear Street is mentioned in the series. It goes into much greater depth in the Sage, although I’m not sure if the story is the same. He talks about how Simon and Angelica Fear moved to Shadyside and built a mansion in the middle of a creepy forest. They used to be rich and have great parties until the day their two daughters were found dead in the woods with all their bones removed, which always grossed me out. Anyways, Simon and Angelica went insane and burnt their mansion down, and Fear Street has been haunted ever since.

Things start getting spookier at the Inn – it’s called atmosphere building. They can’t get in touch with Jan’s aunt. Jan sees the ghost of a woman with burning eyes, and Cari hears Simon arguing with a woman in a locked room – although there are no other women on the island! She is pleading with him to have no party. While removing wallpaper in one room, they find a secret doorway. They follow a long passage underground to a room with a skull on the table. It’s covered in goop. Jan tells them all it is protoplasm, which can only be made by a ghost. This is pure proof there’s a ghost around, so they all believe her of course. Goop = ghost. They’re locked into the passageway, but find another way out onto the beach.

There is also another person in the mansion, Simon’s crazy brother Edward. Cari is the only person who sees him for a long time (another ghost? Is he goopy?), and he is as messy and gross and Simon is charming and silver foxy. Oddly enough, Edward and Simon are NEVER seen in the same room together. Jan decides to try to contact the spirit of the Inn, then goes missing for days. After a few days they start to worry – maybe she just decided to take off for awhile – but things get even worse when Cari and Eric hear Simon, Edward, and the mystery woman fighting in a room together, and Edward shoots Simon. Edward comes out muttering about a terrible accident. Only, somehow, there’s no body, no blood, and no woman in the room after he leaves. They freak out, which I think is a genuinely good idea, and try to get off the island. No go. The one boat has been canceled, the canoes have been hidden, and the telephone lines are down (of course).

There’s an awful lot of screaming and running around at this point, but the essential thing is Edward is batshit crazy, and decides to have a hunting party … where he hunts them. They find a room full of mounted heads – human heads. More screaming and running around ensues, and they try to escape using the secret tunnel. Eric falls into a hole like the spaz that he is, but accidently uncovers a secret room, where Jan and her aunt have been held captive for days. Rose is kinda hungry, so they decide the absolute best thing to do in a situation like this is to go back to the mansion where they can fix a snack, then carry on with the screaming and running around. Predictably, someone finds them there. It’s … Simon Fear the Third!

There is much hugging and shouts of happiness, but Simon is not doing too well. After a lot of muttering and such, he slowly transforms into Edward. Oh noes! He was the same person all along! Who saw that coming? The absolute best is that the transformation that takes place is this: Simon hunches over, untucks one side of his shirt, messes his hair, and puts on an eyepatch. Instant crazy brother. It’s like a really terrible Halloween costume (I’m me … only a little bit messy … and I only have one eye … see?) This really fooled everyone, and they were all shocked. Turns out Simon has three personas, that of his messy brother, and that of his dead wife. All of them are crazy. They argue with each other for awhile, then decide to kill them.

Cari is definitely the heroine of the book, because she steps up and demands he shoot her first. Simon willingly obliges, but the shooting has no effect on Cari at all! Is she a ghost? She’s not goopy … no, she just realized that the hunting rifle was full of blanks. Simon does believe she’s a ghost, then Simon, Edward, and dead wife all have a big argument, where Simon finally wins, and charmingly asks them all for a snack. The end.

I actually found this book really amusing. For a Fear Street book, it had potential. I was a little disappointed in the crappy Simon-Edward costuming, it made me think everyone in this book was an idiot – and the ending was completely wtf, but other than that, I give it 5 fake eyepatches out of 7. Not bad R. L., not bad at all.

L. K. Stine

Saturday, August 9, 2008

The Confession or "Sometimes Roller Blading can KILL you."

Let’s talk Confession. We know from the back of the book that this kid Al dies and one of the main characters confesses to the murder. This seems … kinda straightforward for a Fear Street mystery… O wait the kids are worried their friend will kill again. Well, YEAH, that’s a pretty practical worry once your friend realizes what a liability you are!

The cover: soooo good. Sooo good! They appear to be ROLLER BLADING judging by the heroine’s (Julia) outfit of striped tank, kneepads and helmet. I’m assuming the guy lying on the ground is dead Al. Dead Al is described as a real “goth” who only wears black and Fucks Shit Up all the time. Yet on the cover … Al is wear a plaid long sleeved shirt, rolled up and tucked into his pants, which are held up with a BRAIDED LEATHER BELT. Bad ass. The tagline you ask? “Sometimes the truth can kill you.” What the…? No it can’t!

This one wasn’t a fave of mine, so I’ll try to just hit the awesome highlights. It’s also randomly divided into three parts… who knows why! So basically part one goes like this: Julia, BFF Hilary, Crush Vincent, Friend Sandy (boy) and Sandy’s new GF Taylor sit around at various hangouts and get pushed around by SuperGoth Al. (Goth kids were totally the emo kids of the 90s) For some reason, Al has managed to blackmail ALL of them at different times so they all hate him. And that’s about it. Part one doesn’t even end with the murder of Al! Totally useless.

Part Two isn’t much better (in my opinion). Al finally gets murdered (at the roller rink!). He was strangled to death by the laces of some blaaaades. Of course Julia finds him and everyone thinks that she did it. I’ll let you in on a secret… she didn’t do it! Thanks for some useless chapters R.L.! Anyways, Sandy confesses to the murder of Al, saying he did it for all of them. Now they’re not being blackmailed anymore! BTW, they were being blackmailed for things like: cheating on a test, smoking, driving their parent’s car WITHOUT permission! …Yeah, I’d say that justifies murder. Everyone is understandably skeeved out by Sandy but they decide not to tell anyone. “No sense in ruining TWO lives!” they all say. Well… Al’s life isn’t so much ruined as it is … done. So I think their logic MIGHT be faulty!

Part Three: Sandy pervs around, peering through Julia’s windows and basically creeps everyone out. Hilary, Julia’s BFF, decides to take matters into her own hands and goes to confront Sandy. When she gets back she calls a friend meeting at her house, were she confesses that she just killed Sandy. O noes! Taylor, Sandy’s GF jumps up yelling that Hilary killed the wrong person, because it was SHE that killed Al! Taylor had been sneaking around with SuperGoth Al and then killed him when he tried to bum money off her. WHAT?! Anyways, Sandy jumps out and is all “A HA!” Hilary and Sandy concocted the trick to get Taylor to confess to the murder and to let Sandy off the hook! Taylor goes to jail and the rest of the friends move on with their lives way too fast.

Here’s the thing. Why would Sandy confess to the murder in the first place? He said it was to “protect Taylor” but he obviously didn’t care TOO much about her since he gave her up like 2 days later. He didn’t even do it in a reasonable way, like tell her first, and then quietly go to the police. No, he needed to humiliate her in front of his friends first. WTF Sandy? I also noticed that a character in “Lights Out” is also named Sandy. Same Sandy? Lights Out Sandy ends up being a psycho murderer, so I’m going to guess YES, same Sandy. 4 SuperGoths out of 8, and that’s being nice. And because there was awesome ROLLER BLADE action.

A. M. Stine

P.S. There's a contest on the inside to submit ideas for "The Best Friend 2"! I'm totally going to enter guys!! Contest ends... August 1st, 1996. Dammit.