Category Archives: Goosebumps

Goosebumps #07: Night of the Living Dummy

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He walks. He stalks...

I don’t really intend on making such a yak out of Goosebumps #07: Night of the Living Dummy (the first, you got that right), but it is outright genius. This is the book that made the nine-year old me really afraid of ever owning a dummy, and taught me the word “ventriloquist” at such a confused age. After Let’s Get Invisible (we all know how “well” that went), I thought I better recline from reading Goosebumps for a while. But when I found out that the next one on the shelf was going to be Night of the Living Dummy, I gave it a careful consideration – and I didn’t regret my choice. I still am in love with the Dummy installments, I admit. I have all three of them in fact (the second one is only the Goosebumps TV Series Episode Five companion book though; a condensed version), and I can still remember watching the third one on VHS (that’s right!) as a kid.

It all sets in motion when twins, Lindy and Kris wander off to the knocked-down house next door. In some such way, Lindy finds a ventriloquist dummy in a dumpster and starts playing with it; even giving it a nickname: Slappy. Kris then starts to become envious – for they really are rather jealous girls and constantly argued with one another. And because Lindy is extremely good at ventriloquism, she often catches the attention of people around her, and even manages to get herself a few gigs – and gets paid for them. Kris then decides to get a dummy of her own, and she calls him Mr. Wood. Following Mr. Wood’s arrival to the Powell household, strange things begin to happen, and somehow the girls always seem to find Kris’s dummy (literally) in the center of them all. Mr. Wood’s character is frightening, all right. I remembered most of the events that ensued in the book, but even so I still received a few prickles at the back of my neck while reading. It’s a shame that what I really actually forgot was the most important part of the book: when Kris reads the words that would have brought Mr. Wood to existence; the very words I (still) refuse to say out loud!

I can’t help but give a little character evaluation. Okay. I have a twin sister – and trust me arguments come and go time and again, but the twins in this book are irritating. Lindy is the irksome one. Because she is so much better than Kris at almost everything, she has this erratic realization that she must always put her sister down through any means possible. I never believed how resentful and vain she could really be until I reached the end of Chapter 15, in where her spitefulness clearly appeared like a bitch-slap from hell. Kris on the other hand is the more dispirited twin. She always has to prove that she is better than Lindy when clearly she might not be. RL Stine writes from both twins’ points-of view, but usually just Kris’s. So the horrors and the truths behind them are very much kept preserved until the later parts in the book. I was a little displeased that Kris hadn’t had the chance of ever avenging herself from Lindy’s vindictiveness. If I were in her position I would have done a backbreaker on Lindy, just kidding now.

Seriously, this is a scary installment. The scariest I’ve read since Welcome to Dead House, I think. But in my honest opinion, this one is definitely more interesting. It was worth my time (one and half day), that’s for sure. It almost seemed not very kid-friendly (perhaps it’s just the way I can never imagine twins do things like these to one another). The time I started reading Night of the Living Dummy again, I just couldn’t stop as though I were sucked inside the book itself. And once I do cease to proceed with my daily doings, I get some kind of paranoia especially every time I enter a shaded place. The ending is classic; the logic suddenly took over me as soon as I closed the book. There still is two more Night of the Living Dummy paperbacks after all. I can’t wait to read them and have that thrilling sensation again. It’s the best Goosebumps on the shelf so far. And quick verity: the new cover art version is different from the one released in 1993. I just noticed that in the old version, Slappy’s (I think it’s Slappy on the cover) head is tilted on the side, as seen on the photo above. Whereas in the updated edition – which I have – his countenance stares straight ahead.

4 out of 5.

Goosebumps #06: Let’s Get Invisible

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Now you see him. Now you don't.

With strange elements sucking unsuspecting kids’ souls, secret doors, tensed protagonists, and annoying girls, Say Cheese and Die and Let’s Get Invisible are practically the same book. Except, I actually liked Say Cheese and Die. When I first grabbed Let’s Get Invisible off my shelf, I thought I was actually going to enjoy it. I thought, finally, an actual copy from 1992! Time to get comfortable. But oh boy…

Okay, so the story begins on Max’s twelfth birthday. After the party, he along with his friends, brother and dog decide to come up to the attic – under the request of Erin whom Max has a big goopy crush on. Whitey scratches by a hidden door, the kids open it, they see an old mirror, they turn on the mirror light – Max gets invisible! The story mostly sets in Max’s attic too, so every chapter is almost basically all “mirror”. His friends competing for the title of “the person with the longest time to be invisible” can get really annoying as well.

Aside from Lefty’s arrogance, Erin’s competitiveness, and Zack’s silliness, the mirror actually is the only thing I can focus on. Who made it? How can people become invisible? Why does your reflection seem to come to life? RL Stine never revealed. Of course, logically, not every question has an answer. But I would have believed it more if only RL Stine had not created a Grammy and a Poppy. I thought those were their stuffs stored in the attic – yet Max never asked them about the mirror when I thought he had the chance! The scary thing about getting invisible is that after ten minutes or so, the kids starts to become light-headed “as though a force is pulling them into the mirror itself”. The only sane kid in the group was April. While everyone wanted to beat records, she was getting cynical, irritated and constantly gets the urge of going outside to do something else – like I was.

There were parts that really irked me. Like that night before their trip to Springfield and Max was still wide awake. He actually went up to the attic because he wanted to know what causes them to disappear. I just read about him sitting there for at least fifteen minutes. The he hears a faint voice call name. I didn’t even get to find out what or whose tone was that. But that part was definitely strange. Another one was Max’s chasing scenario with his reflection. It was short-lived and undeniably ineffectual. Accidentally or purposely, it doesn’t matter – but Lefty was actually the one to “break” the mirror. And it is a bit odd because Lefty’s fate is actually the most surprising of all.

I just don’t like this edition; I was constantly bored reading it. I only liked two things in this book. Primarily, I enjoyed the first person narration. And second, the eighth paragraph on page 117. I also didn’t like RL Stine’s writing here. I mean, when it comes to the attic and the mirror, everything seems to happen slowly. And again with the “I couldn’t sleep so I counted sheep”, the storming and… ehh, scratch that, I’m getting used to those anyway. Over all, I just really wanted to refrain from the attic and the mirror and the competition and Max’s friends, and the attic and Lefty’s hubbubs and the mirror and the bright mirror light and the competition and the attic and the mirror and the competition. And repeat.

2 out of 5.

Goosebumps #04: Say Cheese and Die

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One picture is worth a thousand screams.

I actually don’t have the third book (yet), so I just proceeded to this one. In Say Cheese in Die, I think RL Stine easily portrayed not only the dim-witted things kids do when they’re bored, but also the petrifying costs of these acts. Living in a small, old town like Pitts Landing (“Pitts Landing is the pits”), all Greg, Shari, Bird and Michael ever wanted was to do something. But they can’t because it’s a boring town (very much like My-Subdivision-Which-Shall-Not-Be-Named). So they challenged each other to go into the deserted Coffman House; enter then leave – nothing would have been simpler than that. But then Greg finds the old camera and all hell breaks loose.

The camera isn’t broken, but it was definitely creepy. It was one of those automatic-developing cameras, and the four friends thought it was really kewl. But when Greg takes a picture of his father’s new Taurus station wagon, the photograph showed a wrecked car – and some days after, it did get totaled! Strange outcomes also resulted when Bird’s and Michael’s pictures were taken. Bird got smacked in the head with a baseball and Michael fell off the banister. What’s worse was the annoying Shari asking Greg to take her picture during her birthday party when Greg was very much against it. And when the photo came out, she wasn’t in it – then she mysteriously vanishes without a trace! It’s as though the camera knows the future or – as written on the back cover – “maybe it makes the future”. Anyway, that camera has some issues, and Greg knew it. The only problem was that, no one wanted to believe him.

If there was one character in the story who definitely made things more complicated, it has to be Fritz Fredericks, whom we’ve known as “Spidey” up until the last three chapters. Spidey is your typical neighborhood hobo; an old vagabond, wearing black clothes; allegedly sneaks into the Coffman House to keep himself sheltered. The camera belonged to him, period. And because Greg was the one to steal the camera, Spidey suddenly starts stalking him. One time, Greg even came home and found his room trashed (Spidey’s doing, as the book wanted us to presume), as though someone had been looking for something. Now, I never would have guessed that Spidey was a scientist. An evil one at that, too. And it was quite a story he told. If Shari and Greg hadn’t escaped from his clutches that night at the Coffman House, I can only wonder what Spidey would have done to them. His demise was a shocking one, of course. After years of anguish and seclusion, the camera has finally taken his soul.

When I read Say Cheese and Die, I thought it was going to be boring. Some years back, I have perused upon the opening lines one too many times; I have practically memorized them. But it’s not really entirely uninteresting. Yes, some parts were tiring, like Bird’s Little League game in where Shari and Greg just examined the camera, waiting for Bird to get hit by a baseball. Also, I noticed that every time a frightening event occurs, a storm appears. That’s getting rather annoying. Anyway, once I got past those, the story facilitates itself. It’s sort of funny reading about a camera that kills, but at least it’s better than a phone that does the job. It sort of reminded me of the movie Feng Shui. In the movie, the bagua takes the soul of anyone who catches a glimpse of their eye in its mirror. Whereas in Say Cheese and Die, the camera takes the souls of people whose pictures it has taken. I only hoped this book has a little bit of twist It Came From Beneath the Sink has. Also, when Spidey was telling the story of the camera, he mentioned that he pilfered it from his lab partner because it would cost him a fortune. How is that? Did it already develop pictures that would show the future when it was created? Really, it isn’t clear, and it’s not written. And Spidey’s lab partner put a “curse” on the camera? A scientist who was into black magic actually bewitched some thing? Wow, that just sounded even more annoying when I wrote it!

Anyway, despite all the hubbubs of the last three chapters, this book was nice. I thought it was a little exciting, plus the dialogues were graphic. The ending was far better than what RL Stine did in Stay Out of the Basement. The cover must have also been derived from one of Greg’s dream – except there are two boys and two girls when there really are supposed to be … oh well. Too much spoilers. Read it.

3 out of 5. Say sorry, Last Chapters. Could have been a better rating.

Goosebumps #02: Stay Out of the Basement

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Something's waiting in the dark...

In the second Goosebumps paperback, Stay Out of the Basement, RL Stine narrates the story of a scientist’s obsession with plants, undesirable secrets entering a household, and Margaret and Casey’s fright towards their father’s sudden change.

To his family, Dr. Brewer is a sweet intellect whose profession allows him to observe plants and get busy from time to time. His job as a botanist never did serve as an obstruction from having a good time with his kids, or coming out of the lab to say a simple hello. But somehow, quite unexpectedly, Dr. Brewer gets fired from his job at PolyTech, and he keeps the ambiguous reason hidden from the kids. The change that soon occurs in Margaret and Casey’s surroundings would be rather drastic. Margaret realizes that her father never dubs her “Princess” anymore (which I believe she thought odd), and that Dr. Brewer doesn’t even have the time to play Frisbee or Nintendo with Casey any longer. The first chapter easily directs us to this “transformation” when the kids, willing to check up on their father’s work, immediately gets yelled at by Dr. Brewer. Dr. Brewer would also end this admonishment with his threatening words of “stay out of the basement”. Other appalling acts that we may witness in the book are Dr. Brewer’s sudden impulse to devour plant food, green blood surging out of his hand, and LEAVES SPROUTING OUT OF HIS HEAD (that one sickened me, really).

The Brewers’ basement has to be the most irritating location yet. Despite the story having been set in the middle of winter, in snow-less California, the basement was scorching hot, and the kids’ clothes really stuck to their skin. Even Casey found it wonderful to take his shirt off – which result landed them in quite a predicament. The basement actually is Dr. Brewer’s work place, that’s why he always has this OCD of keeping it guarded and locked. And with all those “breathing” plants he’s working on down there, even I wouldn’t dare take a look. But the kids are just obstinate little creatures. At night, the basement would seem even more alive: audible wailing may be heard from inside; and odd noises such as crashing and knocking would often be perceived.

The plants in Dr. Brewer’s work place were “weird”. None of them would have taken a look if Margaret’s annoying friend, Diane hadn’t been so persuasive. And because of that, Margaret and Casey got themselves into even bigger trouble. Most of the plants sure were normal – a little bigger than the usual growth, but normal, nonetheless. Others were sort of shocking. Heck, one of the big ones grabbed Casey by the waist! Ha-ha! The hell was that? I have to be honest though: when I first read about the breathing plants, I thought it was a little corny. I didn’t get what was so interesting about them. But when the kids decided to open the closet door to see what was creating those awful noises inside – BAM! I was scared spitless! Mutated plants; plants with human parts. That has to be the most horrifying part yet. And because I hadn’t remembered much about the book before I started reading it again, the battle of the dads was also rather thrilling. I was evening out clues to defy which my dad pick was. It turned out that I had it correctly after all!

Welcome to Dead House certainly is scarier than this, but Stay Out of the Basement definitely is more exciting. Actually, in terms of storyline, it does make Welcome to Dead House sound weird. I have not much problem with this book. I was only a little disturbed when Casey found Mr. Martinez’s clothes inside the basement. Was it really obligatory to strip him? Maybe Mr. Martinez was getting mutated as well, I’m not sure. But then – why was Dr. Brewer rehired? I mean, his experiments practically got everyone killed! Also, the ending was somewhat unnecessary. I remember getting puzzled and a little frightened by that as a kid. But now, it just didn’t work. I was actually planning for a happy ending – imagine that! The events were intense. I admit that I did get a little carried away reading; I also was a little concerned to know if whether Dr. Brewer was lying or not. And the part in where Margaret and Casey had the sick idea of calling the cops on their father was rather believable, too. They didn’t do it, but I would have.

RL Stine did a great job on this one, that’s for sure. Portraying the hills of California also was realistic. I actually have the 2003 version of the cover. But then I also have the VHS of this and I thought its cover was way bad-ass. 😀

3 ½ out of 5.

Goosebumps #01: Welcome to Dead House

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It will just kill you.

My love for RL Stine’s Goosebumps series is no secret. I am a Goosebumps geek, and I admit that Bet and I have a massive collection of the series itself; it had been my most-prized possession as far back as I can remember, up until I was twelve years old. And because I already finished sauntering over past issues of WWE Magazine and rereading Charles Dicken’s Great Expectations, I was somehow directed towards the immense Goosebumps collection. I greatly wondered how it would be like to read those little ‘uns again. So read I planned. And read I did.

Goosebumps #01: Welcome to Dead House, the first of the many Goosebumps (originally published in 1992) didn’t let down much. I didn’t expect a great deal when I first decided to read this again, of course. After receiving a letter from a deceased (and never-heard-of) Great-Uncle Charles, Mr. and Mrs. Benson eventually jumped at the thought of permanently moving to their inherited real estate. Well mainly Mr. Benson only though, because he wanted to quit his boring office job and pursue a writing career. But their kids, Amanda and Josh weren’t exactly as fond of the idea. And when they actually get to see this “new-fangled” home, their dislike for it augmented even more.

Amanda appears as a first-person raconteur, and would then describe their new home as a “mansion compared to the old house”. It was rather unusual looking, standing so forlorn within an empty street. The trees bordering the property would bend over the mansion, casting utter darkness towards the house itself. And every time they get closer to the settlement, the wind would blow immensely cold despite having been set in the middle of July. To make the long story short, the house was simply “creepy”. The scariest thing that I first read was Amanda seeing the boy with a blond hair running around her house. By the by, she would see more kids inside, and would even receive nightmares about the house. Josh would reveal the same. And at night, the curtains would flutter even though the windows are closed!

But it wasn’t only the house; the town was rather eerie as well. Dark Falls is a four-hour drive from their old home, and is very, very different from what the kids have grown accustomed to. For instance, they didn’t see anyone in the entire neighborhood when they first arrived. Trees also bend over the other houses and the silence was almost deafening. The few kids who showed up were menacing. Two of them had already told Amanda that they used to live in the Benson’s new home.

The first sign to have shown that something was wrong began with Petey – the terrier. Everything with the dog just literally screams “Let’s get out of here!”. The first time the Bensons got to see the inheritance, Petey began yowling and yapping, even growling at the real estate officer. Mr. Dawes however wasn’t the only one who got barked at; everyone Petey saw in the neighborhood was daunting to the dog. And that was very odd because Petey was usually behaved. It even ran off the first day, directing the Bensons to Cemetery Drive. Petey’s demise was as sad as it was spine-tingling. And this was no ordinary death either; it’s the least I had imagined, actually. This incident would eventually lead to a chain of events that surprised me even more.

I never really thought that I would ever be held in suspense anymore when I decided to read this. But I admit I received a few goosebumps (:D) nonetheless. There actually were sequences that I had not remember, and most of them chilled me to my core. I had problems with the ending though, because it seemed a bit rushed. I mean, a yellow gas from a factory killed all those people? What factory? How random indeed! And why do the inhabitants need fresh blood every year? And at any rate, why the Bensons? Ah well. At least I gave it a try. I think people would still enjoy reading this book. It may be a bit cliché (it’s an old book, for heaven’s sake!), but it still hasn’t lost its spark. Also make an effort of looking at the cover illustration (by the very artistic Tim Jacobus) while you’re at it. I just noticed that there is a man looking out the bay window. Hands-down spine-chilling.

3 out of 5.