Monday, January 12, 2009

Beach House, or “Let’s Do The Time Warp Again”

Since once again I am running short on Fear Street books, I thought I’d take a look at something that predates the series –Beach House, a Point Horror novel. This book was ... trippy, like acid on the beach. It takes place in two different times, the first being 1956, and the second being “present” summer, so I guess that could mean today, but it was published in 1992, so you do the math. I’ll just break it down the way it is, and hope it’s not too confusing. There are so many f’ing characters in this, I thought I’d help you out with a little character list as well.

Maria – dating two men, therefore doomed to die
Amy – dating Ronnie, looks like a mouse
Ronnie – dating Amy
Stuart – douchey guy with a T-bird
Buddy – mysterious guy with nudity, rage issues
Cops from the 50s – inept

Ashley – dating Ross, and Brad, looks like a model
Ross – dating Ashley, wishes he was having angry sex
Brad – rich guy with mansion, tennis courts, etc.
Lucy – dating a townie
Kip – townie
Denny – no apparent role in plot
Mary – elderly intense housekeeper
Voice on phone – mysterious, claims to be dead


Maria and Amy, best friends, are on the beach, listening to some kickin’ rock and roll records. Shhbop ... They are talking about their best beaus. Amy, who looks like a mouse, is going steady with Ronnie. Maria is single, but things are looking up for her since she’s already met two cute guys in the seaside resort town of Dunehampton (the desert cousin of the Hamptons?) Stuart is friends with Ronnie, so is always around. But there’s something about shy, mysterious Buddy that makes her think twice ... Then there’s the fact that he lives in the creepy old beach house built over the ocean that always looks empty.

The other guys think Buddy is “square,” so they de-pants him and leave him in the ocean, because boys have always been that mature. Hilarity ensues, unless you’re Buddy, who has severe rage issues. Maria goes off with the other kids, and ditches Buddy that night to “take a ride” with Stuart in his “Thunderbird.” That apparently pushes Buddy over the edge. The next day Maria runs into him, and awkwardly tries to explain where she was the night before, but he’ll have none of it. He makes her go for a swim with him in the ocean, and takes her far away from the shore until she can’t see it anymore. Now, I’m just saying, but if some random guy was like: we should swim into the middle of the ocean right now, I might not follow. But what can you do? Maria is a follower. Oh, ya, and the ocean is shark-infested (anyone getting a Sunburn flashback?)

Anyone could guess what happens next. Maria has a panic attack, and Buddy starts to stab her enough to make her bleed, but not to kill her. He leaves when the sharks start arriving. Death by shark is fairly creative, I’ll give Buddy that, but to do so over a little public nudity? Overreaction, Buddy. As the police investigate Maria’s disappearance/death by shark, everyone realizes that no one actually knows anything about Buddy. The kids tag along on the police investigation to the beach house, because that’s how things are done back in the 50s. They’ve read their Hardy Boys and Nancy Drews, and know teenagers are more likely to solve murders than anyone. And now ... to the future.

“Present” Summer

Ashley and Ross are the it couple on Dunehampton beach. Ashley is a beautiful, could be a model, flirt, and Ross is super jealous. I imagine they do a lot of breaking up/making up. Lucy is their single friend, but at the moment she’s dating a townie named Kip. Ashley thinks Kip is icky, and I’m pretty sure it’s entirely a townie thing, as he doesn’t seem so bad. There’s also some big beefy guy who has a crush on Ashley, Denny. He starts the summer by grabbing Ashley and throwing her in the ocean. And then he pulls her hair or something. Maturity reigns in Dunehamptom, as it seems to be an overgrown sandbox. No, actually he asks her out, and she tells him not in a million years.

A man of much more interest for her shows up – Brad, a delightfully rich guy with a mansion. He seems nice, or so Ashley thinks. Ross predictably gets jealous and has some rage issues. Ashley is all afraid of him, but is also happy that he cares enough to be abusive. So, abusive boyfriends aren’t just a Fear Street thing? They make up by sneaking into the old 50’s style beach house to make out, but are interrupted by Lucy and Kip. Kip goes into a gory story about a group of teenagers that were murdered around the beach house. Ashley feels that murdered people do not put her in the right mood, so her and Ross leave. The next morning she gets the news that Lucy and Kip didn’t come home from the night before, and haven’t been seen since the beach house.


Meanwhile, the investigation is still going on re: Maria. Buddy hasn’t been seen for days, until Amy and Ronnie see him in the beach house, covered in blood. He’s like: That’s so weird! I cut myself with a knife! Making a sandwich! And I told Maria not to go swimming that day by herself. Suspicions arise, though, when Amy and Ronnie soon after find Stuart’s body, his head smashed in by a log.

Buddy, meanwhile, is thinking his psycho little thoughts, largely that it’s super exciting that murder is so easy! In Dunehampton, it seems to be. He goes to change his shirt, then is questioned by the police. Amy (just like Nancy Drew) remembers that 5 minutes ago, Buddy had blood on his shirt. And then (just like Nancy Drew) she decides to lie out on the beach and try to forget about the deaths of her two friends, and just enjoy her summer.

A storm blows up, so Amy thinks it’s about time to leave her rest and relaxation, when she sees Buddy running towards her. She tries to flee, but goes nowhere and he tackles her. She assumes he’s just being playful. Buddy confesses he’s been sad since Maria disappears, and wants to talk about it with someone – he asks Amy to go to the beach house with him. She is nervous ...

“Present” Summer

Okay, Lucy and Kip are still missing. I think the official line is that they ran away together, no biggie. Ashley and Ross are arguing over Brad, because Ross thinks Ashley wants to be with Brad. He’s right, but that appears to be beside the point. In his anger, he trips over a crab (a constant hazard!), and then pulls Ashley down to kiss her angrily, as it starts to storm around them. And ... no, they don’t have angry sex in the rain, although that’s very much what this story is missing. They run to the nearest shelter, which happens to be ... the beach house. While there, Ashley finds Lucy’s scarf in an overly large closet. She does nothing about it.

Next day, they go to Brad’s to play a little doubles tennis on his private court. He also has an elderly housekeeper, Mary, who seems just a little too intense. Brad is all over Ashley, and Ross stomps off in a huff. Ashley is through with him, with little dollar signs in her eyes, and tells him to get away from her at the beach. Soon after, she gets a call from a mysterious person, whose voice she can’t quite recognize. The voice tell her to stay away from Brad. The logical assumption is that Ross is calling, but the voice explains to Ashley that it (the voice) is actually dead.

Ashley ignores warnings and ex-boyfriends to be with Brad and his money. She finds him to be shy and serious, and maybe a little boring, until he starts to kiss her needily. Well, that will do it for any girl in a horror book, right? They go to the beach house together.


Amy goes to the beach house with Buddy. Once in, though, he gets pretty over the top menacing, saying no one lives in the beach house, they all die. He confesses to killing Maria, Stuart, and Ronnie as well, and was going to kill her, because they hurt his feelings. Like I said, an overreactor. Amy plays the good little blond-in-horror part, and flees. Buddy comes after her with a shovel, and makes contact. When Amy comes to, she’s tied up in the ocean under the beach house, waist deep. And the tide is coming in ...

“Present” Summer

Ashley, as a modern girl, doesn’t actually really want to go the beach house with Brad, due to the bad vibes she gets from it. They sit on the steps and he goes into some really long boring explanation about how everyone in his family had at some point been an explorer, so he’s an explorer too, and he found something in the beach house. He starts kissing her needily again, to the point that he’s assaulting her. Then he forces her into the overly large closet in the beach house.

Ashley is freaking out, as this is all prime serial killer behaviour, but it’s going to get so much weirder. The closet seems to go on forever, it’s actually a tunnel. Someone is coming along from the other side, carrying a kerosene lamp – it’s Mary, the elderly intense housekeeper. Mary rips off her clothes, revealing an (elderly) body covered in scars from a shark attack, and calls Brad Buddy. That’s right – Mary is actually Maria. The big secret of the beach house is that ... there is a tunnel in it that goes back in time to 1956! Brad (aka Buddy) discovered this in the “present” day, and went back in time to murder a bunch of people. Apparently it’s super easy to walk back in time (obvs), but much harder to go forwards. The implication is that Lucy and Kip walked back to 1956, and are now stuck there forever.

Maria finally figured out how to come through, but in the process she aged 30 years. (Note: I think this would have been much cooler if she didn’t figure out how to come through, but rather spent 30 some years stewing about this, waiting for the right time and place to get revenge on Buddy. But that’s just me.) Maria wants to force Brad back to the 50s, to face the consequences of what he did.

She tries to do this by setting him on fire, which I’m quite sure will not have the intended effects. Ashley manages to get away and run the right way, out of the beach house and into Ross’ loving arms. The beach house is destroyed by the fire, along with Maria and Buddy/Brad. Ashley and Ross drive off into the sunset together.

Now while I love (LOVE) the total trippiness of this entire concept, my concerns lie with Lucy and Kip. What happens to them, stuck back in 1956? Are they doomed to a life of Elvis and sock hops? Do they purchase shares in IBM and live the good life? Does Lucy ever get over the shame of ending up with a townie? I want to know their story. For the time warping story alone, I have to give this book 17 out of 18 tunnels of time.


Anonymous said...

hi again--"Twisted" is an awesome pre-Fear Street novel along similar lines...and super creepy. Good luck finding a copy, though!

Anonymous said...

I was also assuming that Maria had just hung around for decades and grew old naturally, so it's sort of a shame that she just came through a magical tunnel which is just there for no reason. But Point Horror can be screwy like that.

Anonymous said...

I have a copy of 'Twisted'.

I tried to read it the other day, but I just couldn't seem to get into it. It didn't seem partically special to me. Just the usual Stine thriller type book.

Since I have seen you mention it several times on here. I'm definitely going to have another shot at reading it. If it's anything like 'Beach House'. I hopefully won't be disappointed. (fingers crossed)

LAK said...

I was never a big reader of the non-Fear Street books, and now I don't know why as they sound awesome! Why wasn't there a sequel to this?

Anonymous said...

you should find "high tide" it's a GREAT Fear Street book i just got down reading it and it was AWESOME!

Anonymous said...

It has a silly title, so that's gotta be a plus. Better than "The X," "The Y." Although, actually, I take it back. "The Ex" would be a pretty funny title for that reason.

Anonymous said...

I have a question to ask.

Could anybody make some 'Fear Street' avatars?

I've looked on the Internet, but there's nothing.

I'd really love to have a bunch of really nice 'Fear street' avatars to choose from.

It would make my day. :)

I'm sure we have some talented avatar maker out there. Who just happens to be reading this.(fingers crossed)

RecallerReminder said...

This sounds like a nice plot for a film (tv) its interesting and not too pretencious.