Thursday, January 8, 2009

Fear Park: The First Scream or "Don't Give Teenagers Hatchets"

While reading the first book in the mini-series “Fear Park” I came to realize I remembered this book to a frightening degree. Frightening in the sense that it’s incredibly gory and scary (frightening, if you will) and in the sense that I could not believe how many details I remembered. I practically knew the story off by heart, and I can’t have read it in at least 10 years. So apparently, this book made a big, creepy impact on me.

The cover: I’m a tad disappointed that the cover artist chose to depict the “modern” Fear Street dwellers, rather than the 1935 characters that the book actually focuses on. I assume the girl is Deirdre Bradley, who doesn’t actually appear in the book until 113 pages in. The strapping denim clad man is her boyfriend Paul (who she is cheating on! That can’t end well) Anyways, while Deirdre and Paul DO ride the Ferris wheel, Deirdre isn’t terrified like she’s depicted. But I feel that’s a being a bit nitpicky. So, well done cover artists for not completely fucking it up!


The book starts in the year 1935 where we meet fiery redhead Meghan and her complete asshole boyfriend Richard. Meghan’s lockermate happens to be a member of our favorite family: Robin Fear! Things to know about Robin: he’s pale, with lank dark hair, hangs out by himself, hates sports and anything recreational, never smiles… an Meghan has a big crush on him. What, is he Professor Snape? (FYI: This never happens in real high school. Even if the fiery redhead had a crush on the misanthropist, there is no effing way she would admit it. Did R.L. even go to high school?) We learn pretty quick that the Fear household is a wee bit different than the rest of Shadyside folk: Robin comes home to see his father floating in the air, surrounded by purple smoke. Robin thinks about how his mother died a long time ago, and wonders if he’d be well adjusted if she was alive. Answer: No.

Four of Shadyside’s leading men come to the Fear’s household to visit Robin’s dad, Nicholas (He has safely landed by now). One of the men is Richard’s dad, Mr. Bradley. They ask Nicholas to use some of his huge Fear land so they can build an amusement park. Nicholas says no. Which, to be fair, if someone asked me to donate acres of my land to build an amusement park? My answer would totally be no. Doesn’t that seem like the dumbest idea? They seem to think the Park will pull Shadyside out of the Depression. Anyways, the men don’t like that Nicholas Fear said no, and vow to get the city council to take the land away! Wait, what? Do city councils have that kind of power? I feel like they shouldn’t.

Robin runs into Meghan in the Fear Woods. There’s lots of mooning over each other, and wondering whether the other person likes them. They are ultimately interrupted by Richard while Robin is attempted to get something out of Meghan’s eye. O noes! Richard doesn’t actually beat Robin up but yells a lot until Meghan intervenes. While Robin is leaving, Richard actually trips him and then laughs when he falls in the mud. Real winner there, Meghan.

Robin goes home and finds his father dead on the floor. Just kidding, he’s not dead, he had just left his body for a little while. What? Robin should stop walking in on his father. It apparently never ends well. Nicholas asks Robin if he saw his mother. Yikes! That’s a little … delusional. Just then there’s a cough at the door and Robin spins around to see… his mother! Floating into the room, surrounded by purple smoke. The ghost of his mother … uses the door? Interesting. Nicholas is overjoyed, saying he’s being trying so long to bring her back! Robin is a little pumped too… until they see her face. Which is a rotten skeleton. Traumatic! Robin starts to scream.

And wakes up screaming two days later! He can’t remember what made him scream, but his father tells him it was a nightmare. That lasted two days? Robin inexplicately buys this explanation. It’s never explained by I really want to know how Nicholas got rid of the Ghost-of-Wife-Past. Did he just shoe her out the door?

We cut to Richard’s dad, Ken, who is surveying the Fear Woods with a man and a boy. The boy is pounding stakes into the ground when he accidentally drives a stake into his own foot. That’s a mistake that probably doesn’t happen that often. The other man takes to boy to the hospital, leaving Ken alone to finish up surveying. Which leads to him being eaten alive by invisible bugs. Awesome! He’s actually found by Richard and Meghan, who met up in their secret spot in the woods. When they walk to leave the woods, they run into a skeleton, with its bones picked clean… expect for the head. The head is still fleshy and easily recognizable to Richard. Which kinda sucks for him.

Robin puts two and two together and actually asks his dad whether or not he killed Mr. Bradley. Nicholas admits nothing, but Robin is still super creeped out by his behavior and the coincidence. Robin goes for a walk (is that all these kids do?) and runs into Meghan again. They chat for a while (Robin apparently has ZERO interests. Awesome?) and suddenly, Meghan leans over and kisses him. And they are predictably caught by Richard. Richard proceeds to beat the crap out of Robin while Robin lies down and takes it. Literally! Meghan also does nothing. When the asskicking is over, Robin realizes how weak he just looked in front of Meghan, so he stands up and screams “Noooo!” while fleeing the scene. Hmm… that’s probably not helping your image, Robin.

Richard calls Meghan to apologize for beating up Robin. He seems pretty unconcerned that Meghan was kissing another boy though. He begs Meghan not to leave him, and she feels bad for him because his dad just died. Richard has good news for Meghan though: The town council decided to go ahead with the Park and they’re going to hire all the high school students to chop up the tree stumps. Meghan is overjoyed at the mere thought of a dollar a day of her own! (Gawd, the thirties must have sucked) Later that week, Robin meets up with Meghan and tells her that he’s going to join the tree stump crew to screw over his father!

The first day of work. Meghan wears pants and is happy! Robin shows up and they are both happy! They swing hatchets at the same stump! Richard is not happy. He rushes towards Robin’s back, hatchet raised and slices his head off! Just kidding, Robin dodged it (from the back?) Richard keeps swinging at Robin until some other kids intervene. So Richard slams his hatchet into one of their chests. Yikes.

This is the super disturbing scene that always stayed with me. The teenagers suddenly turn on each other and start hacking away. Arms, legs, heads and torsos fall to the forest floor and cover it with blood. The forest is also filled with a purple fog. For some "weird" reason, no one attacks Robin and Meghan. Robin tells Meghan to run for it, and flees towards his house. He needs to stop fleeing all the time. He rushes home and … tells his father that the spell went perfectly! Robin is his father’s protégée!

This Year (Pssst: 1996)

Deirdre Bradley’s father is finally opening up Fear Park. Which means that the Bradley family failed to open an amusement park for SIXTY years. Seriously guys, the Depression is over. Give it up. Deirdre is hanging out with her boyfriend Paul, who is so loyal he decided to give up an awesome job out of town to work at Fear Park so he could be near her. So Deirdre feels a little bit guilty about cheating on him. After Deirdre ditches Paul, she meets up with her male-mistress. Rob. That’s his name. Rob. They make out, and then she goes to catch the Hatchet Reenactment. Which is exactly what you think it is. Insensitive?

Paul is in the show, which consists of teenagers hacking at each other with rubber blades. After the show, everyone gets up and takes a bow. Except for Paul, who remains limp over a tree stump. Deirdre freaks out and rushes to his aid. When she gets there he moans... “Cramp in my side”… What?! He had a CRAMP? That’s why he lay completely still, with eyes closed, onstage, while everyone was taking bows? That’s the least plausible event of this entire book. Including Robin believing his dad’s crap.

The next day, Deidre goes to meet Paul at the Ferris Wheel, which he is running for the summer. As she walks up, she notices that the ferris wheel isn’t running very smoothly. It seems to be hitting something… which turns out to be Paul’s headless body! His head is resting nearby. So the ferris wheel decapitated him and then continued to hit the body? I’m not sure how that would work…. Anyways, Paul is dead, so are Deirdre’s boy problems over? Considering that Rob rushes up to Paul’s dead body and takes Deirdre into his arms I would say yes. Heartless bitch.

The next week, we find out that the police are almost done their investigation and the park can open soon. They’re aren’t many people to work there though, as most of the workers quit since the Park is obviously cursed. Deirdre introduces her father to her friend Rob (or “penis partner” as I see it) and he volunteers to work at the park. He introduces himself as RobIN FEAR (gasp!) and says that he’s been waiting a long time for this job! Bwahaha!

And that’s the end of the first Fear Park book. This book was super gory. And also kinda ridiculous. But the gore/ridiculous ration was pretty good so therefore The First Scream = Awesome. I give it 13 decapitations out of 13! (There were a lot of decapitations hey?) Hope you all are looking forward to Fear Park: The Loudest Scream. Who am I kidding? I know you are :)


Deathycat said...

This book does sound awesome. Why do I remember not caring for this series?

Anonymous said...

It was the thirties! They had nothing to do but take walks. Especially if they were misanthropes with no interests. Hell, I still do it.

L. K. Stine said...

It's funny - I don't remember a thing about this book, other than maybe there's a scary ferris wheel. Glad you did the recap. Although I do hope there's some ferris wheel cheating coming up!

LAK said...

I never read this one. I think I had given RL up...or it wasn't available at my local book fair.

It ends rather abruptly it seems. The second one had better pick up where this one ended and not recap for 100 pages!

M.H Stine said...

doesnt the girl on the cover look like Mila Kunis? from That 70's Show? i mean really!

Anonymous said...

she totally looks like Mila Kunis!!

RecallerReminder said...

What a great start ^_^