Monday, March 23, 2009

Halloween Night, or “Being a Shitty Friend Can Be MURDER”

Halloween Night starts off with Brenda, bitching with her besties Dina and Traci. Dina is tall, boyish, and morose. Traci is dark and dramatic. And Brenda, as the main character, is a fiery redhead, with the bitch personality to match.

Bren is bitching about her cousin Halley, who has recently moved in with her family due to her parent’s horrific ongoing custody battle over her. Halley even displaced Brenda from her room/shrine-to-Luke Perry, and Brenda now lives in a closet with a bed. Brenda’s new room also has a vent on the floor that is directly situated over the living room, and everything that is said can be heard by pretty much everyone in the house. Keep this in mind, as it is important to virtually every plot twist in this book.

Anyways, back to Halley, who comes off as a real bitch as well … and she’s spending way too much time with Bren’s boyfriend Ted. Bren knows she should be nice to Halley, or at the very least feel very sorry for her (because that’s what everyone wants – pity!), but Halley’s not making it easy. Cue to Halley and Ted (the previously mentioned boyfriend of Bren) in Ted’s car, presumably so he can give her a driving lesson. She’s flirting up a storm, inappropriate touching abounds, until Ted accidentally knocks over her purse in a wave of spastic lust, and finds Halley’s driver’s license. Ted’s a little slow on the uptake: … but why do you need a driving lesson? … but Halley deals with this by making out with him. Ted helplessly goes along with it, because he is a douche. Moving in to your cousin’s room, then stealing her douchey boyfriend, that is pretty low. And not conducive to incurring sympathy, although maybe that was the point.

On to the major plot device in the story. Brenda, Dina, and Traci have an English assignment: Plot out the perfect murder. Am I a total dork, or does that actually sound like a lot of fun? It’s due just after Halloween, which is a few weeks away. Halley is the obvious victim of their plot, and Bren decides to throw in Ted as well, the cheating cad. Although she hasn’t actually discovered anything yet. Dina is actually on Halley’s side, since a few years ago she went through a similar experience with her parents splitting up, and thinks everyone should be nicer to Halley. Brenda had totally forgotten about those horrible months in Dina’s life (um, so she’s an awesome friend). Dina is apparently the “nice” friend, you can tell because she works with animals at a vet’s clinic. They are all ready to forgive Halley, until Brenda spots them making out in Ted’s car. Parked in her driveway. Wtf, that’s not very stealthy of them! Again, probably not the point, but that’s pretty ballsy. Brenda has a total hate-on for Halley, and is ready for revenge.

Just one day later, Brenda catches Halley hitting on Noah, Traci’s boyfriend. SLUT! Noah’s all uncomfortable and tries to play it off, but Bren knows. She also won’t speak to Ted, because they are OVER. She stomps around in a fit all day, then comes home to her cozy closet that night, and has the shit scared out of her by a Halloween monster mask taped to her window. Sounds lame, but I’m pretty sure if that just caught my eye, and it was dark out, I’d have a little heart stopping moment too. Perhaps even more creepy is the message written on the back: See You on Halloween.
How mysterious. Bren is going to have a huge Halloween party for the whole school, and the prep work is already started. She has her best girls over for a “practice jack o lantern carving” night – um, anal? While they are carving away, a gorilla lumbers into the kitchen. Brenda stupidly thinks: “It’s a gorilla.” This girl is dumb. In fact it is NOT a gorilla, but Halley in her Halloween costume. K – this never would happen. Halley is a teenaged tramp out for attention. She’d wear underwear to the Halloween party, but not a sweaty ape suit. Unless Halloween was different in the 80s?

The girls continue to discuss their murder plot: Halley at Bren’s Halloween party, in a gorilla costume, and is stabbed with a carving knife and propped up, so that no one knows as she bleeds to death inside her costume. Sounds pretty ingenious. Brenda goes upstairs to her bedroom to find blood smeared all over the wallpaper, spelling out: See You On Halloween. So, she’s being hounded by a psychotic prankster. Blood smeared messages are not cool.

Traci and Brenda go out to the local pizza place (NOT Pete’s Pizza) and run into Halley and Noah on a date. This girl has no idea how to be inconspicuous. Traci joins the we-hate-Halley club, and they plot to destroy her. Meanwhile, Ted shamefacedly makes up to Bren, wanting to go to Homecoming with her, and claiming he knows nothing about Halley now dating Noah. Bren is sorta ready to take him back, but is infuriated when he makes it conditional – he wants to see over people (aka Halley). What a douche. She takes him back anyways (!!) He kisses her and his lips are dry and SCRATCHY (!!?!!) R. L., we really need to talk about this. Lips are not meant to be dry, and scratchy is not a good thing. That is why we invented Chapstick. Please give some to your leading men, please, before I have to have an intervention. To any men reading this: lips that are hot, dry, scratchy, or any combination of the above are not okay. Do us all a favour, and buy some balm.

The murder plot progresses. The idea comes up that the murderer should be in costume, but change their costume with someone else without anyone knowing, so as to keep their identity safe. This murder plot seems to be taking a long time to come up with – I hope it’s worth it. Brenda goes to bed that night, and finds a jack o lantern lit in her room – inside is a decapitated bird, and a note: You’re next. On Halloween. Brenda immediately blames Halley, as they now have open hatred for each other, but Halley plays victim. “What did I ever do to you?” Um, steal my boyfriend, bitch. To make everything all better, the next day Halley takes Brenda’s beloved car without asking, and totals it. She claims it wasn’t her fault that she didn’t see the stop sign.

Brenda goes psycho and attacks Halley. A little intense. I mean, sure, she’s taken her room, her boyfriend, and her car, which is pretty much all the important things to a self centred teen, but c’mon Brenda. Wait a year, then move out of your terrible house. This isn’t the end of the world. She gets even more upset when her family sides with Halley, who’s going through so much right now. That’s kind of unfair too, though. Halley has been horrible to Brenda, and Brenda is dealing with a psycho who keeps spreading blood and dead animals around her room. Some sympathy for her as well.

We go to a conversation between Traci and Dina, about how they think Bren has totally lost it. They also gossip that Ted and Halley were spotted making out the night before. Dina hangs up and repeats: Poor Brenda, over and over again. Not unlike a psychopath herself.

Everyone is tense and uncomfortable around Brenda, and she feels like she’s lost her friends and family too. She goes to bed all downtrodden, only to find herself lying on wet chunks of rotting meat, covered in maggots. I’d probably snap after that. Brenda’s about to completely lose it, then something clicks. “I know” is all she says. How cryptic.

Brenda and Ted go to the Homecoming Dance together, despite him being scratchy-lipped and a douche. She loses him while they’re dancing, and finds him making out with Halley. That’s harsh! I imagine Brenda is some pouffy, pretty-in-pink taffeta number for this scene. As she watches, Noah runs up and starts fighting with Ted over Halley. They take the fight to the parking lot, and Halley is in ecstatics over this. Bren just feels weird and out of it, so she simply leaves, walking home in taffeta. When she gets there, she calls Traci.

The murder plot takes a new twist now. Brenda decides she’s actually going to play out the scene at her Halloween party, and really kill Halley. I mean, bitch must die, right? I’m just wondering, though, wouldn’t it be a little suspicious when they hand their paper in right afterwards? Or maybe no one would ever connect the two! Brenda was going to go as a clown, Traci as a peacock, and Dina as a monk. Bren suggests they all switch costumes, but whoever does the actual stabbing will have an entirely different costume on (Frankenstein), so that no one will know who is who.

Dina backs out, stating passionately she could never do anything like that, then runs from the room. Bren shrugs and carries on with her cold-hearted murder planning. After she stabs Halley, she’ll ditch the Frankenstein costume down the laundry shoot, because no one will ever think to look there! Except the police, you dumbass.

Perspective switches to that of Halley, standing in the living room, standing paralyzed, listening to every word through the air vent. Dun dun DUN! Not very covert of them at all, is it?

Bren goes to pick up her costume supplies of death for her party, and runs into Noah and Ted, joking around at the mall. This infuriates her since just last night they were fighting to the death practically over Halley. Ted never even called her after hooking up with her cousin at the dance. However, Ted is a douche, so he runs over to her and tries to make up again. Bren gives him a wicked cold shoulder, of which I am impressed, but then changes her mind suddenly and tells him to come to her Halloween party … as Frankenstein.

At home, Halley confronts Brenda, sobbing about how she overheard all the murder plans. She opens up, and tells B she didn’t mean to be such a bitch, but was afraid, insecure, upset about her parents – the usual teen angst – and she could tell that Bren was not happy to have her around. She stole her boyfriend to get back at her, and knows she’s been awful, but she asks for forgiveness, and the chance to start over, as friends and cousins. Brenda’s all “too bad I still have to go through with the plan.” That’s pretty cold.

After this little outburst, Halley and Brenda get along swell, prepping for the party. Brenda goes to shower and finds her little bro Randy on her floor, in a pool of blood. Fake out, it’s plastic blood. Hmm, I wonder if the pool of plastic blood will be used again in this book?

The Halloween Party. Everyone is referred to as their costume, so you don’t know who is who, as if nobody actually knows in the party as well. I see where R. L. is going with this, it’s kind of an interesting scene: a mummy is dancing with the peacock, the monk and a Frankenstein are talking, the clown is busy laughing with Princess Di. A Frankenstein approaches the gorilla and plunges a knife into it’s chest, and nobody notices. Finally, a scream cuts through the party – there’s a pool of blood under the gorilla. A pool of blood, you say?

They take off the head to find … a dead Brenda. Oops! Traci rips off the clown mask in panic. A monk-robed Dina screams that Traci killed the wrong girl. Halley runs forward in the peacock costume, saying Brenda forced them to change costumes. Traci claims she didn’t stab anyone, that they are looking for a Frankenstein. The two Frankensteins in the crowd step forward, and neither are Ted. A mummy comes forward, reveals himself as Noah, and says Ted is home with the flu. This scene is trippy, I like it.

The gorilla corpse starts moving, and Brenda gets up and spits out a bitter “Happy Halloween.” Guess what? The blood under her is plastic! Halley gets everyone out of the house by Traci and Dina. Brenda confronts them, saying she knows who stabbed her. She rips open Dina’s monk’s robe, revealing a Frankenstein costume underneath. Dina goes ballistic, confused that Brenda didn’t die when she stabbed her. Dina had heard, through the air vent, that Brenda and Halley were changing costumes, so knew to go after the gorilla. Brenda had already figured out that Dina was her psycho stalker, so had sewn a double-thick pad of foam in the chest of the gorilla costume to protect against carving knives. That’s pretty risky, I think. What if Dina stabbed her in the back?

Anyways, she had figured out Dina was tormenting her, because all the pranks involved animal stuff … animal blood, decapitated birds, rotting dog meat, all of which is readily available at a vet’s clinic (I don’t know much about this, but is there really just lots of animal blood hanging around at the vets? I don’t think they store human blood at the doctor’s. Do they?!!) Dina hated Brenda ever since Brenda was a crappy friend to her during her parent’s divorce, and she lost it when she saw how Brenda was treating Halley in the same situation. I still don’t get all these revenge killings. If Brenda pissed you off so much, stop being her effing friend. Revenge killings are stupid, and you deserve what you get. The police come and take Dina away, so she gets what she deserves. The book ends with Halley and Brenda sipping hot chocolate, talking about what awesome friends they are.

A lot of this book was trippy, but I liked the whole Halloween party thing. I actually just love costume parties, so I may be biased. Still, no actual death or destruction (asides from one decapitated bird, and a totaled Geo), which is why Point Horror is never as good as Fear Street. I want some real murder! Too tame. I give it 18 chunks of rotting dog meat out of 28, for being too PG on the violence scale.


HelenB said...

I think R.L. undersells himself every time he writes a book with nothing supernatural in it! I mean, an attempted murder and a psychotic stalker, that's OK, but think how much better it would have been with ghostly spectres and zombies! Or evil Fear-style powers and zombies! Or voodoo rites and zombies!

Anonymous said...

I hope you do these next:

Fear Street Sagas: Circle Of Fire
Fear Street Sagas: The Hand Of Power
Fear Street Sagas: Dance Of Death

I saw from the reviews that those three are supposed to be really good.

Anonymous said...

Great recap!

and unlike Fear Street, apparently this book ends with a nice message about the worth of female friendship taking priority over dry-lipped good-guy weirdos who drop crappy puns before making out over a pile of de-sanguinated friends...or whatever.

As for the question about blood at the vets, my cat needed a special treatment recently involving platelets from dog or cat blood, and the vet actually had a live-in cat just for the purpose of donating fluids when needed. I suppose if Dina took just a little bit every shift it could add up? I'm more curious about all the maggot-ridden rotting meat, do vets really keep that much around past the death date that a person can take a bed-sized pile of it home with them? It would be easier for Dina or any civilian to buy a lot of meat and just leave it in their yard for a few days.

Funny thing is, I had no recollection of having read this book, and I still don't for that matter, but I just remember a teenage girl going to a halloween party as a gorilla and I thought that had wtf-levels of unflatteringness, even though I was an (unfashionable) eight-year old.

Anonymous said...

Oh, so you only like cold dead kisses, L.K.?

L. K. Stine said...

Yes, you've figured me out. I only like my kisses cold. And ... dead. It's the only way to go!

Deathycat said...

I thought this book was pretty good when I first read it. I didn't see all the twists coming. The second one sucked.

RecallerReminder said...

Yay! This book was awesome and of the best Stine ever wrote. Behind all that family drama and the bitchy behavior, the plot goes pretty well to come an unexpected ending, even if no one actually dies.
The part I dont get...the prank of the fake blood. Dunno, but if I find my little brother lying in a pool of blood, I think I will probably have a heart atack. Im start doubting if that thing actually exist and if can be sell to kids...