Friday, April 10, 2009

Halloween Night II, or “You’re Still a Shitty Friend”

Sequels, almost by definition, suck. So what happens to the sequel of a not-so-awesome Point Horror book by R. L. Stine? Halloween Night II, that’s what.

First off, let’s talk about this cover. The costumes are fairly creepy, I’ll give you that, but more in a pseudo-religious-cult way than in a crazy-awesome-Halloween-costume way. The scary effect is somewhat ruined by the bags of candy the participants are holding. Bags of candy sounds way more like a pseudo-religious-cult I’d like to belong to. Does Scientology give out candy? I feel they might.

Halloween Night II continues to follow the plight of Brenda, an angry young woman by any standards. She’s choked because cousin Halley is still in her house and will live there forever now, since her actual parents lost custody of her, deemed unfit by a judge. That seems like a random judgment by the family judge. Halley is now going steady with Ted, Brenda’s ex, while Bren has moved onto man-whore-extraordinaire Jake. Her former bff Dina went to a mental institution after trying to stab Bren, and her besties are now Traci, and new girl Angela, who is fat. Are we all caught up now?

The girls are making a video called “Night of the Jack-O-Lantern” and keep playing scary pranks and catching people’s reaction on tape. It’s a school project, or something. It’s like the murder plot they had been writing last year but a little bit different. See what they did they did there? Halloween is once again approaching. In the midst of this movie-making all the girls are surprised by the appearance of Dina in Bren’s kitchen, holding a knife. Stabby Dina has been released from the institution, and wants to be friends again. A hint, Dina? Put the knife DOWN. Bren refuses to be friends with her – trying to kill her puts her solidly in the ‘frenemy’ category.

Jake walks through the door, with a slit throat and blood dripping from his mouth. Surprise – it’s just a gag, makeup that Halley did for him. Bren is super unhappy with Jake spending any time with Halley. She gets over this soon, making out with him, dripping blood and all. Here’s a huge shocker – Jake’s lips are soft and warm! Like an actually pleasant kiss. R. L. always has to put in random details about the kisses. As they kissed, Brenda could taste the makeup. It tasted sweet and powdery.

Next day, Angela and Brenda are shopping in the mall. When Angie complains about her weight, Bren suggests she buy really tight clothes and try them on each night, to inspire her to lose weight. That’s such a bitchy friend comments, I feel Angie must also be somewhat of a frenemy of Bren’s. Brenda loses her wallet, and they search a bit for it, until Brenda notices a fat homeless man eyeing her intently, then run after her. The girls dash away from him, because apparently there’s a fat homeless dude nicknamed “The Maniac” attacking people around town.

They only just escape this peril, when Brenda walks into the food court to see Jake and Halley making out. In the food court? Way low classy. And Halley has got to stop stealing boyfriends, it’s getting old. Brenda agrees with me. They leave through the underground parkade, where the Maniac catches up with them and starts banging on the car door. The only thing to do in a situation like that is to peel out and leave him far behind her.

Brenda drops Angie off at her home, which looks like a haunted house. Angie explains her parents are REALLY into Halloween. Brenda then confronts Halley at her house and they get into a fight. Brenda always has to take things to a physical level. She gets so angry, she forces Halley into a noose she’s rigged from the balcony and lets her hang. Actually, it was for the video, but Halley didn’t know that, and has awful rope rash on her neck. K, Bren? You’re a psycho. Halley agrees with me. She gets back at her by pouring sulphuric acid across her hand, causing the skin to burn off. What? These chicks play for keeps!

A few days later, Brenda gets a card in the mail, of a frowning jack-o-lantern and the words: Happy Last Halloween. She assumes it’s Halley, despite the person who did the same thing last year is out of the crazy house. Brenda continues to be really dumb. I’d say she’s also really self involved, but probs because everyone in her life really do centre around her. They should just stop that, I think everyone would be happier.

Traci and Brenda go to Angie’s house to work on their video. The inside is as Halloween-crazy decorated as the outside, with no furniture but two enormous black coffins in the front room. Wow, overdone? Angie is in one of the coffins and jumps out to scare them. She’s pretty into Halloween, too. The mean jokes keep on coming for Brenda, when someone puts a rotten pumpkin in her locker.

Brenda is pretty fed up, and when Traci decides to tape a major fight Jake and Halley are having in the driveway, she doesn’t warn her Jake hates to be embarrassed by anything. Jake catches Traci and destroys the tape – and their entire video project. Traci is now out for blood, so they decide to get back at him by terrifying him and catching it all on tape. If there was You Tube back then, that’s exactly where the video would end up.

Their plan starts off well when Jake grabs Brenda the next day and tries to make out with her. She decides to coldly play along to better manipulate him. She suggests they go trick or treating on Halloween to Angie’s (all dressed up like cult-skeletons) – where it will be all set up to scare the crap out of him, conveniently caught on tape. Their evil plan decided, Brenda comes home to find Dina in her house, hanging out with Halley. I know they’re fighting, but bringing a would-be murderer into the house of her intended victim is a little cold. They start fighting as Dina quietly leaves. The fight goes on until Brenda sees the Maniac outside her door.

Brenda calls the police, then runs to protect Halley. Aww, she DOES love her deep down. The police show up and are like: Fat and homeless, you say? Sounds like our guy – good detecting skills there. After that scare, Brenda just wants to go to bed, but finds her pillow stuffed with worms. She runs to Halley’s room and attacks her. The girls decided that Halley must be involved in their scare-party, as she is crazy (although, to be fair, in no way crazier than Brenda.)

Jake comes over Halloween in his skeleton costume, and he, Brenda and Traci go trick or treating, and Jake behaves like an ass. They come to Angela’s house, and outside the door is a big frowning pumpkin – like the ones she’d been getting in her threatening cards. They walk into Angela’s creepy house, all done up with coffins, candles, and funeral music, and can’t find her, as per the plan. The room is extra scary, with all the jack-o-lanterns arranged with knives in their heads. Jake goes to open the coffins and … finds them both empty. Traci and Bren get nervous, because the plan was for her to jump out of one. Jake disturbingly tries to get Brenda to join him in one of them, but she turns him down in disgust and goes to find Angie.

She doesn’t find Angela, but she does find … Dina and Halley. Un-oh, probs not good for Brenda. But they had been invited by Angela too, so they all go on a search to find her in the haunted house. They find there way back to the coffin room, where an arm is dangling out of one. It’s Jake, a knife through his chest.

Much freaking out ensues. Some want to leave, others want to find Angela. Some well-timed thumping occurs upstairs, and they rush to find Angela tied to a chair and gagged. She screams the Maniac got her, and is still in the house. Traci yells she’ll get the camcorder, which would have taped the murder. This stops Angela cold, and she turns on everyone, knife in hand. It was the fat girl all along! And she did it for the sole reason that she’s fat and lonely.

And crazy. She believes some plastic skeletons are her parents. Angela goes after Brenda with a knife (because it’s ALWAYS about Brenda), only to be stopped by Halley slamming a jack-o-lantern over her head, so that it covered her like a helmet. How … comical. Although, really, Pumpkin-Head could probably still swing a knife, right? Brenda and Halley hug, because they remember they love each other. Apparently it takes an annual near-death experience to keep these two together!

Next day, angry fat homeless man bangs on Brenda’s door. Oh, no! Actually, he’d found her wallet at the mall that one day, and was hoping for a reward. Brenda’s dad gives him $10. The end.

Meh. I think the best part about this book is the in-fighting between Brenda and Halley. I mean, boyfriend stealing? Fake hangings? Sulphuric acid? Their relationship SO belongs in a soap opera, especially with all the boyfriend exchanges. You know that 20 years down the road, they’ll both have stolen and married each other’s husbands several times. Now THAT’S a book I would read. Halloween Night II, not so much. 8 acid spills out of 20.


Whitney G said...

Wait, I thought Brenda and Halley were friends by the end of the first book? Damn you, Stine.

Also, color me unimpressed by the big $10 reward Brenda's dad gives the non-Maniac. His daughter tried to sic the police on this guy, and all he can spare is 10 bucks?

Anonymous said...

Totally called the wallet thing. Otherwise, I'm glad that the murderer was actually a different person this time, but this book seems strangely straightforward for a book about Hallowe'en pranks. Jake really was dead? Angela is foiled so easily? And Dina seems to have been underused.

Anonymous said...

Also, that tagline, is it really "Never take candy from a stranger"? Did the person who wrote that even read the book?

Anonymous said...

i rly liked it! lol anyways $10? PATHTIC it should be $50 like 15 for wallet rest 4 the homedude to get a desent meal

HelenB said...

Lol@Anon#2 - I didn't notice that. I'm trying to decide if this book would have been even more offensive if the fat girl was out for revenge not because she wasn't pretty and popular but because they'd once stolen her candy.

Sadako said...

Wow, intense. Sounds like Brenda and Halley are the Brenda and Kelly of R. L. Stine books.

So does Brenda's b/f Ted ever really appear in the book, or is he just mentioned?

L. K. Stine said...

Ooh, I forgot to mention Ted. The book begins with Halley dating him, but she drops him as soon as she can dig her claws into Brenda's new man.

I was also pretty impressed by the $10 reward. Was that a lot of money in the 90s? I don't remember.

Devika said...

I don't really understand why everyone hates Brenda when Halley is the boyfriend stealer/new girl. Seriously, these books are like "Mean Girls" but instead of a Burn Book there's half-ass murders.

Anonymous said...

I know this post is 5yrs later but in case anyone reads this, I was wondering if anyone else noticed that the kids were all seniors in the first Halloween Night and then they're seniors again in part II. Did they all fail? lol

RecallerReminder said...

This sequel is horrible. I just cant take it. Is like over repeating almost everything of the first book, until get a stupid ending.
Brenda is stupid or has a bad taste on men? Since her other bf cheated on her with Halley and the new one has actually some reputation, cant understand why she thoung it was gonna last or mean something serious? I know Halley is a bitch (with a lame excuse for this behavior in both books) but is Brenda the stupid one.
Dina was completally useless in this book, since she didnt do anything relevent except made Brenda uncomfortable. And the new potential (well, she ends up being a real) killer has pathetic reasons to justify what she done.
Terrible, terrible sequel.

Anonymous said...

Brenda is a lot like Reva Dalby