Friday, October 23, 2015

Ghosts of Fear Street #20: Spell of the Screaming Jokers (R.L. Stine)


Brittany is Kristy from the BSC, while her best friend Louisa is like Stacey or Claudia. Louisa cares about fashion, hair, and makeup, and she wants her best friend to look better, which is why she keeps trying to “fix” her hair. Brittany is extremely unhappy because their principal volunteered them to go visit some new kid Max who is too sick to come to school but new in town. He picked them because he caught them petting a rat in the band room. Even though this kid Frankie brought the rat to school, they got in trouble too. Her little brother Jimmy then runs in and does a card trick, which is his favorite thing in the world.

Brittany, Louisa, and Frankie head over to Max's house, which is on Fear Street. Frankie suggests they cut through the yard of Mrs. Marder, an older woman everyone calls Mrs. Murder. Brittany tells them that she cursed a girl named Gina. Gina went in her yard and was never seen again. The older lady also has a ton of black cats hanging around.

Jeff, the other kid tasked with visiting Max, shows up, and he and Frankie cut through the yard. The girls follow, Brittany trips over a cat, and knocks over the woman's herbs. The woman starts shouting at them, so Frankie comes back and kicks over her wheelbarrow. I tell you, kids today.

When they get to Max's house, they find that he's small, quiet, and a little weird. The only thing he wants to do is play hearts. After dealing cards, Frankie starts screaming so loud that Max's mom comes running back in the room. He denies that he screamed and blames it on a gruesome looking joker in his hand. Brittany swears that she sees the joker move too. On the way home, a random guy bumps into Frankie and mumbles something about a joker.

The next day, Frankie has a bruise on his arm that looks just like a card club. He and Brittany start hanging posters in the hallway for a club they're both in when he tells her that the bruise doesn't hurt and that he thought it was dirt but it wouldn't wash off. She leaves him to get some more tape, hears a thud, and then hears him scream.

Brittany finds Frankie on the ground with the posters and ladder on top of him. He tells her that he heard this weird noise, which he also heard the night before. He then saw these two small kids come racing down the hallway and knock the ladder over. Brittany then notices a new mark on his arm in the shape of a red diamond. The diamond and club both look exactly like tattoos, but Jeff and Louisa both claim that they just see normal bruises.

The next time they go to see Max, Frankie cuts through the Murder house yard again. Brittany and Louisa go to get him out, but the little punk knocks over the woman's bird bath and laughs when she runs out and screams at him. Mrs. Davidson, Max's mom, tells them that there's a rumor about Mrs. Murder. She supposedly cursed these kids for cutting through her yard and made little gremlins come after them. Mrs. Davidson calls and tells the older woman about how the kids are helping Max so much but admits the woman is still unhappy.

Cut to Max saying he doesn't like playing cards but wants to play cards again. Louisa screams after getting her hand, Mrs. Davidson rushes in, and takes away yet another joker. Brittany screams when she gets another joker and again when she sees a black cat in the window. By the time everyone else looks, the cat is gone.

Louisa is so unsettled that she asks Brittany to walk her home. When she goes upstairs to look for a magazine, Brittany hears her screaming. She runs to the stairs just in time to see three little figures in black run away and Louisa come tumbling down the stairs. Louisa sprains her ankle and tells Brittany that the little figures said something to her. When she puts it together with what Frankie heard, Brittany realizes that it's a nod to the skull on Mrs. Murder's bird bath.

Brittany decides that the older woman really did curse them. Louisa develops a mark on her elbow that looks like a black club. She believes it even more when she sees a hat sitting on top of a bush on her way home. The hat rises up and she sees Mrs. Murder looking back at her.

The next day, she tells everyone what she saw while they play basketball. Jeff finally tells them that he actually knows the old lady. He delivers groceries to her and while she's cranky, she's not a witch. They convince him to make a fake delivery to her house so they can get inside. Before they can though, the little gremlins come back and push Frankie into the street where he almost gets hit by a big truck. When he gets up, they see a black spade on his arm.

Frankie and Brittany find her bedroom and see a telescope that she's been using to spy on them while they play with Max. All the black cats start coming at them as the woman comes home. They get away and tell Mrs. Davidson what they saw, but she doesn't believe them. Max refuses to play downstairs or play anything but cards. Brittany reveals that she brought her own deck of cards, but when they deal, she winds up with the joker again.

While at home later that night, she hears a strange hissing noise and sees the little figures in her house. They start chanting, and she realizes that they aren't gremlins but jokers. Though she gets away from them, she develops the black club on her arm.

The same jokers later attack her, Louisa, and Jeff when they go to Max's house. Realizing the jokers are threatening Frankie, they run off to help him. They find him at the bottom of some random hole and pull him out. When they get him out, they see that he now has all four suites on his arm. Right in front of their eyes, he transforms into one of the jokers. When he runs away, they run to Max's house.

After telling him what happened, Max's eyes get big and he starts rambling about how she finally did it. They tell Mrs. Davidson a short version of what happened, and she agrees to call the police. Louisa convinces Brittany that they should talk to the police and tell them what happened. They hear Mrs. Davidson on the phone, but when they get downstairs, she's nowhere near the phone.

Max finally tells them the truth. Mrs. Davidson is actually a wicked queen who turns kids into jokers. The more jokers she has, the more power she gains. Max has three of the four suites, isn't her son, and was forced to help her find more victims. Shadyside is actually the fourth town she hit. Before they can get away, she shows up in the doorway.

She puts 10 jokers in the deck and passes out cards, telling them that once they get the right amount of jokers, they'll become part of her army. Brittany is so nervous and scared that she keeps dropping the cards when she tries to cut them. Mrs. Davidson starts yelling at her. Everyone finally gets their cards, but no one gets any jokers. Mrs. Davidson then checks her cards and finds all 10 jokers staring back at her. The little jokers run into the room, surround her, pick her up, and they all disappear.

Brittany then reveals that she stacked the deck so the woman would get all the jokers. The jokers run back into the room, and Max shows them how to turn each one back into a real boy. His real parents later show up and take him home. Brittany goes home and talks to Frankie on the phone until Jimmy runs in with a new card trick. When she picks a card, she sees the face of Mrs. Davidson staring back at her. As the woman starts screaming, Brittany starts screaming too and realizes that she can't stop...

Monday, October 19, 2015

Fear Street: Night Games (R.L. Stine)


Diane is hanging out with her boyfriend Lenny, best friend Cassie, and Cassie's boyfriend Jordan when they come across the house of their math teacher. Mr. Crowell is the least liked teacher in Fear Street. After complaining about him for a bit, they move on and see a dark figure climbing out of a window. Though they think it's a burglar, it's actually Diane's old friend Spencer.

Spencer tells them that he abruptly left town because his dad lost his job and his grandmother got sick so they moved to Washington. They came back recently, but his parents put him in private school. He doesn't explain why he never called Diane who was supposedly his best friend. Spencer tells them that he likes doing something he calls Night Games and wants them to play with him. It really just involves him sneaking up on a couple making out and yelling at them. Lame.

Lenny is goofing off in math class when Mr. Crowell goes off on him. I think we're supposed to feel bad for Lenny, but I feel bad for their teacher. He points out that Lenny never pays attention in class and that he can't even hazard a guess as to what they're doing in class that very day. Lenny gets so pissed off that he starts to go after the teacher, but Diane yells at him and he instead runs from the room.

Later that night, they all meet up with Spencer again for some more lame Night Games. Spencer listens to them all rail about how Mr. Crowell is so evil before taking them to the teacher's house. He says they need to spy on him and get some dirt, but he actually gets close enough to peek through his windows. He then starts to destroy the man's Christmas decorations. Crowell hears them and comes outside, which leads to them all running away in a panic.

Diane imagines the police showing up on her doorstep, but everyone else just laughs it off. They all agree to meet up with Spencer again too. She gets home and gets a phone call from the guy she dated before Lenny. Bryan acts ticked off when she refuses to get back together and tells her that Lenny is bad news before hanging up on her. She then gets a new call from someone who tells her he saw what she did and he knows about her Night Games.

The book then jumps to last winter.

Spencer had a massive crush on Diane and assumed that once she dropped Bryan, she'd go for him but instead picked Lenny. Spencer invited everyone up to his uncle's cabin. Lenny and Diane had a fight later about how he didn't want to be there, to which she told him to sleep outside and he raced off to the car. Diane and Spencer wound up talking outside while bring in wood, which led to them kissing. Lenny caught them and punched Spencer in the face, as he should have.

Back to the present day.

Diane and Cassie are hanging out and eating pizza when Lenny comes in with a bloody hand. Turns out that Crowell turned him in for failing algebra and got him kicked off the basketball team. Instead of blaming the guy who doesn't do his homework, everyone blames their teacher. When they meet up with Spencer that night, he decides that they should get back at the teacher.

Since he isn't home, they sneak in through one of his windows. The guys want to trash the place, but Diane convinces them to just move some stuff around. She freaks out because she thinks she sees their teacher's dead body, but it's just his pajamas. Crowell really does come home though and almost catches them.

The next day, they all keep freaking out during his class. Diane is sure he knows they were in his house, especially when he asks her to stay after class. He really just wants to find out if she needs help with her midterm project. Man, he's such a horrible person! She later hears someone following her and flips out until she realizes that it's Bryan. He tries to talk to her, she screams at him for calling her all the time, he denies it, and she runs away again.

Lenny shows up at her house later that night pissed off once again. This time he's mad because Crowell called and told his parents he was in danger of failing. Just as they start making out, Cassie shows up with a note someone left her about the whole Night Games thing. Spencer then shows up with a similar note.

Back to last winter.

Cassie, Diane, and Spencer were playing in the snow when Lenny decided they should have a snowball fight. Still ticked about getting punched in the face the night before, Spencer made an iceball and flung it at Lenny but hit Jordan instead. Lenny and Jordan then teamed up on him, shoved his head in a snowdrift, and packed the snow around him. Even though Spencer couldn't move and was clearly in pain, the guys convinced the girls to leave him and then just took off. WTF?

Present day again.

Crowell calls Lenny in for a meeting and supposedly called him a loser. I don't know about all that, but Lenny is so mad that he demands they play one more Night Game. They all meet and sneak into his house once again. Diane freaks out when she thinks he brought a gun but he really just brought a can of spray paint.

She and Cassie wind up alone with Diane wanting them to leave. They then wander around some more and really do find Crowell dead. Lenny freaks out because he already spray painted the man's house and will probably be found guilty of killing him. They start to run outside but see headlights coming towards them.

It's really just someone next door, so they all sneak out and head home. Diane thinks she sees Bryan's car parked in front of her house but isn't too sure. She then gets up the next day and gets a call from Cassie because they found Crowell dead of a heart attack. Unfortunately, because of the spray painting, they think someone broke in and literally scared him to death. Diane later finds a note on her front porch that says she's next.

Cassie and Lenny both got similar notes, so they head out to track down Jordan. They find him laughing with Bryan and accuse him of setting Lenny up. He confesses and then laughs at them for thinking he could do something like that. After he yells at them, they go to find Spencer. They find his house completely empty and his dead body in the middle of the living room.

While they freak out over what happened, Spencer suddenly rolls over and starts talking. He tells them that they killed him and rises off the floor. Turns out that he really did die in the snowdrift last winter. He blames Diane, grabs her, and strangles her. She tries to fight back before giving in and hugging him. He starts flipping out because he needs his hatred to “live” on. When they all hug him and say they love him, he disappears.

As everyone celebrates their victory, Diane feels incredibly cold and can't get warm. She then realizes that Spencer killed her. Lenny comes over to hug her, but she gets really angry at the fact that they all did nothing while he killed her. She then wonders if she should tell them the truth or have some night games of her own. Um, okay?