Monday, August 10, 2009

Blind Date or "FISTS OF STEEL"


Here’s another Point Horror that I think you all will enjoy. Because it was totally ridiculous.

The book starts with our main character Kerry breaking another boy’s leg during football practice. He didn’t mean to, but that fact doesn’t stop his teammates from going crazy on him, accusing him of hurting their star player, Sal Murdoch. Even the coach gets in on the whole dumping all over Kerry party, and actually kicks him off the team because the other players are mad at him. What? Isn’t it kinda expected that people would get hurt during football? Isn’t that kinda the point of the game? Things get worse when good ol’ Sal goes into a coma. From a broken leg? Sure, why not.

Later when Kerry is moping around his room, we get a little more insight into his life. Apparently, he looks just like Ralph Macchio: The Karate Kid! I’m a little ashamed to say that I’ve never actually seen the Karate Kid, so I had to go look this kid up on Google.

So The Karate Kid is about a small child’s love affair with a much older Asian man? It seems weird that so many people enjoyed that movie…

Kerry also hates it when anyone talks about his older brother Donald. You see, there was a “tragedy” that happened last year, but Kerry can’t remember it. And his doctors think it’s a good idea that no one else tell him ‘til he remembers it on his own. Blind Date is the male version of The Face! Where did these doctors go to school?? Anyways, Kerry can’t remember anything from the previous year, and since he only has one friend, I guess it’s not a big deal to keep that year a secret.

In addition to his one friend Josh, Kerry has a younger brother Sean (who is 14 and has chips and beer for dinner. A Stine book with BEER in it? Almost unheard of!) and a father, who is awkward around him. Probably because of all the secret keeping. Kerry’s mother left the family soon after the “tragedy”. So that’s cold. No wonder Sean drinks BEER at 14! He’s in a non-nuclear family!

The night after he breaks ol’ Sals leg, he gets a mysterious phone call from his Blind Date. Apparently, she has the sexiest voice Kerry’s ever heard! But when you think that she’s 16 and probably still sounds like a child, that’s a lil’ creepy. She says that his friend Margo gave her his number since she’s moving to town and needs someone to show her around. So he asks her out for Saturday night (before asking for her NAME, might I add) and she says yes, rattles off her name and address and hangs up. He thinks her name might be Amanda. Real smooth.

The next night he gets another random call, but this one is a little less sexy. A pinchy, nasaly voice tells Kerry that “Sticks and stones can break YOUR bones!”, which is pretty creepy. Kerry just assumes that the prank caller is Sal’s girlfriend Sharon and shrugs it off. I guess back before there was caller ID people made a lot more prank/threatening phone calls?

On Saturday night, Kerry takes his dad’s sweet Mustang out to pick up maybe-Amanda. When he gets to her house, he’s a little surprised because its basically a hovel, and there are no lights on. It gets weirder when an old mysterious couple answers the door. When they hear that he’s there to pick up Amanda for their date, the couple freaks out and tells him that Amanda is dead. Then they seem to recognize him, and scream “Why did you come back here to torture us?!”. Well, that’s a little offputting. I would REALLY be wondering what I had been up to for the previous year that I can’t remember, but Kerry doesn’t seem that perturbed. He’s not even that annoyed when he gets home to another prank call with the disturbing children’s lyrics. Weirdo.

His blind date, Mandy, calls him on Sunday evening, asking him where he was. Turns out he mixed up both her name and address. She gives him another chance and they decide to meet at school on Monday before classes start. Kerry goes to shoot some hoops with Josh for the afternoon and ends up getting beat up by some of Sal’s friends who are pissed their friend is still in a coma. Not really an important chapter, but I’ll point out that Kerry had a fantasy about kicking their asses which included yelling “FISTS OF STEEL” while punching one of them. I REALLY want to get into a fight now, just so I can yell that while punching someone. Amazing.

Kerry has to meet up with Mandy while his face looks like garbage, which she kindly points out. She’s not what he expected: she’s all pale, blond and doll-like. Except she’s wearing dark lipstick (which in R.L.’s world = whore). They hang out and Kerry asks her to be his date for the upcoming dance. It just isn’t a 90s teen book until there’s a dance! Kerry’s feeling all good, until he opens his locker and the entire thing is covered in blood red paint. That’s kinda hard to explain to a new girl, hey?

The next day, Kerry wakes up to his Dad looking like he has some serious bad news: Donald has escaped. From where you ask? So does Kerry. You see, Kerry had forgotten what happened to his brother. “Kerry realized – for the first time – that he didn’t know where his brother was. How could that be? Had he been living in a dream-world for an entire year?” Indeed, how the EFF could that happen? Kerry thinks about Donald ALL THE TIME. I’m not writing about it, because Kerry’s dreams about his older brother make for boring blogs. But he’s always thinking about him, and he never once was like “Gee, where did that guy get to?” Ugh, R.L.

Kerry’s dad finally kinda tells him what happened. There was a car accident with Kerry, Donald and Donald’s girlfriend. Kerry and Donald were both untouched, but the girlfriend was killed. Donald snapped and had to be sent to a mental institution. Kerry asks what the girls name was, even though he kinda already knows: Amanda. Dun dun dunnn!

On Friday night, Kerry meets Mandy in front of the school for their dance date. During a slow song, she totally pushes Kerry into a dark corner and makes out with him so hard that his lips bleed. Then she runs away. Kerry thinks this is hot, which I CANNOT believe, because bleeding lips are not sexy! (I bet his lips were dry)

While searching for his nutters date, Kerry gets chased around by the mean bullies who beat him up at the basketball court. They tell him that Sal got out of his coma, and explained to him that Kerry didn’t break his leg on purpose, so all is forgiven. No hard feelings, right? Ohhh, boys… Kerry finally finds Mandy and they decide to go home. When they get to his car, they see that all his tires have been slashed. Violently. Mandy freaks out and runs across the parking lot and hops on the first bus she sees. Which is seriously WEIRD behaviour, but Kerry’s still all smitten. The creepy death threat that he gets when he’s home doesn’t even bum him out that much! His dad does warn him to watch out for Donald though, which I thought was very cryptic.

The next day, Kerry runs into Margo, the girl that set Kerry up with Mandy. Except she’s never heard of this Mandy girl and has no idea what he’s talking about. Again, all these signs are BAD. When you start dating a new person, and death threats begin at the same time… chances are your new girlfriend is NUTS. Yet he still agrees to go on a car ride with her that night. Aw, I remember when I first got my license and we’d just go out for car rides! And now, my work commute has ruined driving for me.

Kerry gets another threatening phone call that night, but this time from Donald! He says “Be careful, I’m coming.” Which isn’t so much a threat as it is a statement. It’s all in the inflection. Anyways, Kerry freaks out and slams down the phone before he can find out whether or not it was a TRUE threat. Fool.

On their car ride, Kerry discovers that Mandy is a terrible driver, as she’s continually swerving around, almost landing them in the ditch. She’s all skittish, and confesses that she thinks DONALD is following her. Even though she just moved there. And has never met Donald. And Kerry obviously didn’t tell her about him because he can’t even remember where that kid went! But Kerry believes her and promises to protect her.

Mandy again swerves into oncoming traffic after her confession, but the headlights of the oncoming car actually jog Kerry’s memory! He sees the accident and the aftermath of dead Amanda. And he knows why Donald would be so mad at him… because Kerry was driving when Amanda was killed!

Kerry tells his dad about getting some of his memory back as well as Donald’s call. His dad lets him know that after the accident, Donald had tried to strangle Kerry to death, but was foiled when the police arrived! Ooo, that is pretty traumatic.

The next night, Kerry is hanging around his house, thinking about how his brother tried to kill him. Mandy calls him up and says that Donald is IN her house right now! She trapped him in the basement and she’s coming to Kerry’s house. (Call the police.) She gets there and they discover that Kerry’s phone cord has been cut! (Go to the police.) Instead of taking my helpful advice, the two kids decide to head out to Mandy’s hunting cabin in the secluded woods. Face palm!

Of course Mandy feeds Kerry drugged hot chocolate as soon as they get there. When he comes to, he’s tied to the chair and Mandy sings for him: “Sticks and stone will break YOUR bones” and whips out a mallet. Well, that’s potentially the scariest thing I’ve read in a R.L. book in a long time! He asks to at least know what he did wrong (because he thinks this about a bad date??) and she lets him know her secret: she’s Amanda’s sister! Their parent’s named them Amanda and Mandy? That seems … silly.

Mandy starts in on her promise of breaking all of Kerry’s bones. She smashes the toes on his right foot! To make the next mallet hit more exciting, she puts a stuffed moose head over Kerry’s face so he won’t know when the hit is coming. That’s just cruel! FYI the head is full of bugs too. Mandy is a stone cold bitch.

Luckily, who comes to rescue Kerry? Brother Donald! He subdues Mandy (Kerry doesn’t see how, but I like to think it was a FISTS OF STEEL punch) and takes the buggy moose head off. Apparently, Donald had called Kerry to warn him about nutters Mandy, who is actually named Nancy. Nancy was a fellow patient in the hospital, and Donald told the whole car accident story to her. Since she’s REALLY crazy, she took on the role of Amanda’s sister (with a poorly thought-out name) and decided to extract some revenge. She couldn’t have taken on the role of Amanda’s sister and quietly grieved? Does everything HAVE to be crazy with this girl?

The book ends with Kerry and Sal meeting on crutches and having a laugh about their bad luck. Then Josh asks Kerry if he wants to be set up with his new cousin that’s moving to town… dun dun dun!

Okay, Blind Date wasn’t terrible, but there seemed to be some gaping plot holes that were just ignored. Like Kerry not caring where his brother disappeared to. Or what happened to Donald after he saved Kerry, because I think escaping from a mental hospital is frowned upon. My most burning question: did they let him back on the team now that the bullies like him again?!

I give Blind Date 38 ½ bleeding lips out of 77. Exactly mediocre.

10 comments:

HelenB said...

FISTS OF STEEL!

Yeah, I got nothin'.

Anonymous said...

"FISTS OF STEEL!" is amazing and this book sounds great. I think it might also be one of the first horror books R.L. wrote? I heard that his editor just told him to write a book called "Blind Date" one day, and that's how he got into the business.

marcelrochester said...

Yeah, the book doesn't really make sense. And looking at my running list of top 10 Fear Street books (Well, there are 9, but 10 soon hopefully.), all of them have female protagonists. More points off.

Hmm, I thought Mandy would be Zombie Amanda...or at least pretending to be (rather than pretending to be her sister).

612.

A. M. Stine said...

I know, how much better would Mandy be if she was a zombie? I think the Point Horror had less supernatural and more psychotic teens.

I also hope that story about Blind Date is true, because that would really help explain this book. But I checked the front and this book was after a bunch of Point Horrors, so it definitely wasn't his first horror book.

FISTS OF STEEEEEEL!

Anonymous said...

"So The Karate Kid is about a small child’s love affair with a much older Asian man? It seems weird that so many people enjoyed that movie…"

many lulz

Anonymous said...

okay, so the almost death scene sounds much scarier than the usual attempted burnings/stranglings/stair pushes, et cetera, and also much more inventive. Would you put it up there with the infamous cheerleader gym shower scalding death?

Lastly, I figured that, being a guy, R.L. might have better insight into the teenage male mind and group dynamics...disgustingly, it does sound like he understands females better.

Oh, and the crappy doctor reference for the win =)

Anonymous said...

Re: Blind Date as R.L.'s first horror: Point Horror is written by a bunch of authors, not just R.L., and in fact I'm pretty sure it might reissue titles they'd already had published independently. Wikipedia doesn't have it on its list of Point Horrors, so I'm trying to pinpoint when it was written... looks like 1986. I've also found the reference for the story I read, which comes from R.L. himself:
http://www.reluctantlyinformed.com/?p=264
LINKS OF STEEL!

Shawn said...

I love how RL claims to have written every book his name is on. The 5 sentence plot synopsis doesn't count, Stine.

A. M. Stine said...

Well Anon, I stand corrected! Blind Date was his first horror book. Apparently, it was also his first bestseller. What can we learn from this? That teenagers in 1986 had zero taste.

RecallerReminder said...

This plot its pretty similar the one used in The New Girl and The Perfect Date...Jeez, Stine just likes to repeat the same story over and over sometines...