Friday, May 20, 2016

Goosebumps HorrorLand #5: Dr. Maniac vs. Robby Schwartz

Robby, his brother Sam, and his annoying little sister Taylor are going on a camping trip with their parents. Since he writes his own online comic strip, he just wants to whine about how there's no Internet connection in the woods. He comes up with an idea of his main character Dr. Maniac forcing a boy to eat a poisoned squirrel, which turns him into an enormous chipmunk. Later that night, Robby sees Dr. Maniac in the woods and screams.

Turns out he's actually just sitting in his parents SUV as they head off on their camping trip. Sam likes his new story idea, but Taylor thinks it's lame. They get to the woods, set up camp, and Robby then finds a piece of his character's cape hanging on a tree. Dr. Maniac suddenly appears, shows him a poisoned squirrel, and tries to make him eat it before announcing that he needs his help to fight his arch nemesis.

This is also just another story. He's actually sitting around with his friend Brooke and Sam. The two decide they want to play chess and use his computer while he's downstairs. Brooke begins screaming and shouting about how Sam completely disappeared. When everyone runs upstairs, Brooke says that Dr. Maniac flew in through the window, grabbed Sam, and left. They try to convince her that he's just a character, but the cops then arrive and say they found Sam.

Actually, the cops found some completely different boy and refuse to believe Brooke's story. Robby sees the Purple Rage, his story villain, on television. Though he runs to tell the adults, when they get back, the reporter is interviewing a congressman. Since they won't listen, he grabs Brooke and runs to the TV station. They find the talk show host who tells them it really was the Purple Rage they saw.

Robby ditches Brooke to try and find the masked villain, but he winds up falling off the roof. The Purple Rage catches him and saves him but then flies away, which leads to him following. Purple Rage accuses him of working with Dr. Maniac and the Scarlet Starlet, which is another character from the comic book. Purple Rage then takes him back to his hideaway and threatens to feed him to his scorpions.

He says that he'll help him find Sam but actually puts him on live television and throws him into a pit filled with seven and eight feet long scorpions. Purple Rage says Sam will see it happen and run to help. Robby cons him into helping him out and then runs away. He manages to fall into a sewer and gets home to discover that Brooke is now missing too.

When he goes to his room, he finds that someone created a new comic book that shows Brooke and Sam with Dr. Maniac in the abandoned ice skating rink. Though he grabs his parents and the cops who just got there, but the time they get upstairs, the comic book is empty again. Since they still don't believe him, he goes to the skating rink by himself.

Robby finds Dr. Maniac there and a ton of kids out on the ice. Dr. Maniac threatens him and makes a big speech about how he needs to fill the rink. Scarlet Starlet then shows up ready to appear on his television show. The two of them fight, Robby gets in the middle of it, and Scarlet Starlet tells him that he will never see his brother or his friend again. Dr. Maniac forces him to put on a pair of skates and join his live show. I really have no words.

Purple Rage then skates into view and announces that he's tired of always having to save kids like Robby. He tells Dr. Maniac to let all the kids go or else. Purple Rage keeps getting angry and then suddenly pops like a balloon. Maniac just laughs because he always knew that if Rage got mad enough, he would explode.

They make Robby skate with the other kids, but he comes up with a plan for them all to escape. Before they can, Maniac runs over to a computer, types some stuff, and the ice all starts melting. Robby rushes over to them, grabs Maniac, and his face comes off to reveal that he's actually Sam. No surprise, Scarlet Starlet is actually Brooke. They tell him that he can either be bad with them or be good and go against them. The cops then rush in and save the day.

Cut to Robby showing his new story to his mom. She says that him being an only child is why he's so lonely and writes so many stories about having siblings. When she leaves, he notices a new panel in his story that features Brooke, Sam, and Taylor. Just as he starts freaking out, the characters come to life and tell him that they'll see him in HorrorLand.

HorrorLand Story:

Robby is at HorrorLand when he gets stuck in Werewolf Forest. Just as he finally finds a way out, he runs into Sabrina and Carly Beth. They catch him up one some of the weird things they experienced since entering the park. A bunch of werewolves come out of the woods and chase them, but they dig a hole under the fence and get out. Carly Beth briefly gets trapped before realizing that it was just her shoe caught on the fence.

They tell him about some other kids they ran into at the park and decide to split up. Robby heads to the arcade and discovers a game based on Dr. Maniac. Though he refuses to believe it's his character, when he puts in a token, he sees Maniac come to life in front of him. He decides to play a second time, but when he goes to quit, the game won't let him. It feels like there's something holding him to the game. Two girls walking in stop and help him.

They introduce themselves as Britney and Molly, which he thinks sounds familiar. The girls tell him that they came back from the other park – Panic Park – to help the kids stuck in HorrorLand. All three walk to the other part of the park. When Robby pulls a token out of his pocket, it tries to suck him inside. The girls once again help him and then freak out when they see Slappy, the dummy come out of nowhere.

Though Robby says it's just a dummy, Slappy jumps on his back and tries to bite his ear off. He yells at them to get the token, which then sucks him inside and knocks him out. When he comes to, he sees Carly Beth and Sabrina watching over him. They have no idea what he's talking about and claim there isn't another park. Robby suddenly looks down and realizes that he still has the token in his hand...

*Robby is one big reason why I'm not a fan of so many kids today. He whines and moans about how the trip will suck because there's no Internet. When I was a kid, I would have loved going on a camping trip in the woods!

*I don't remember Molly and Britney, even though I'm pretty sure I read all the Slappy books.

*I wasn't really a fan of this book at all. After like the 16th time it went from being real life to being a story, I was ready to skip ahead to the end.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Nancy Drew Mystery Stories #82: The Clue in the Camera (1988)

Nancy, George, and Hannah are off to San Francisco. Apparently Hannah has an old friend named Emily who is an award winning photojournalist. As soon as they get there, she takes them to their hotel and then on a whirlwind tour of the city. Emily tells them about the new series she's working on, Children of Change. It's all about kids who grow up in the big city. As they make their way around town, a man comes out of nowhere, grabs her camera, and knocks her to the ground.

Though Nancy gives chase, she can't catch the thief. Emily's close friend, Lieutenant Chin, shows up. Though he doesn't believe Nancy is a detective, he is impressed at how much she can remember about the thief. After taking their statements, he warns Emily to be closer before leaving. The group then heads to Chinatown for dinner and to relax.

When they head back to Emily's house, she introduces them to her pet bird Tripod and talks a little more about her project. Nancy sees an image of a man named Harold Kesack and comments on the unique Buddha necklace he wore. Emily says it was made from ivory and was kind of his trademark before he died five years ago. I only mention this because it seems like it might be important later. She then gets a call from someone threatening her to stop working on her project or else.

Nancy uses this as an excuse to take a walk around the block with George. They see a shifty looking man following them who then seemingly disappears in the night. When the women go back to their hotel, they hear Emily screaming and run back inside to discover that someone tried to break in through her skylight. Needless to say, they decide to spend the night with her rather than going back to the hotel.

Two strange things happen the next day. Hannah almost gets hit by a speeding car, and someone nearly drops a shipping crate on top of Nancy and Emily. The only person Emily suspects is a rival photojournalist named Pete Stine. Nancy goes to visit him and learns that he's working on a big story about the “syndicate” operating in town. To cap things off, some breaks into Emily's apartment. Lieutenant Chin comes back and finds that the only thing missing are a few photos, including the one of Kesack. He tells them that their description of the car that almost hit Hannah is one that belongs to the syndicate and warns Emily to be more careful in the future.

In the hopes of finding more information, Nancy goes with Emily to her next gallery showing. Emily is less than happy to find out that Faith Arnold, her gallery rep, didn't hang all her work. Faith then meets Nancy and acts incredibly cold when she finds out she knows Emily. Hearing a scream, Nancy rushes outside and sees several men dragging Emily into a car and speeding away. Though she gives chase, the car has mud smeared over the license plate.

Lieutenant Chin shows up at the gallery, as does Pete Stine, who conveniently just happened to hear about what happened. Chin agrees to do a background check on Faith because she seems suspicious. Nancy and George go for another walk and see the crane operator from before chatting with some weird looking guys. Suddenly, she feels a gun against her back and turns to see another random guy watching her.

He says he's name is Louie and that he's a friend of Emily's. He even claims that he's been trying to track her down because he has some information for her and worries that she's in danger. Chin tracks Nancy down to tell her that Faith has a rap sheet for stealing artwork, filing false insurance claims, and selling the pieces on the black market. What, did her employer not do a background check? Nancy and George head over to the apartment to check things out and hear Tripod chatting away, which means someone is inside.

That someone is Pete Stine. He nonchalantly walks out of Emily's darkroom, reveals that he went through her things because they were working on the same story, and then leaves. Nancy and George do some digging and learn that Kesack was the big mob boss in town and was followed by his number two, Blane. They later see Blane wearing the same necklace as the one Kesack wore in his photograph.

George and Nancy go to see Faith. She confesses that Blane blackmailed her. He told her to get him all of Emily's pictures or he would go to the police and tells them about her background. They also see Blane with some random people and follow them to an old curio shop. After the guys leave, they break in and find that someone rifled through the office but didn't really take anything. After going back to the apartment, they realize that someone stole a bunch of her negatives, including all negatives relating to Kesack. By the time they go back to the gallery, Faith is out cold. Someone broke in and almost killed her. Lieutenant Chin comes by and doesn't do much except warn them to be careful.

Someone calls and tells Nancy to meet him for information later that night. When she gets to the meeting spot, she finds the crane operator waiting for her with some other guy. After threatening her, she fights back and then realizes that they lured her out there in the hopes of killing her. She throws herself into traffic, darts between cars, and manages to get away. When she hears them rush by, she follows them long enough to see them enter a warehouse.

After conferring with Hannah and George, the housekeeper agrees to call the police while the two younger girls check out the warehouse. They see Stine enter and follow him, but he knows his way around way too well. Not only do they lose Stine, but they get caught by Blane. He takes them to meet Kesack who is not at all shockingly not dead. Kesack tells them that he faked his death to get away from his old life but that Emily took a picture that showed him in the background.

Kesack wanted to work with the authorities but wasn't sure how to do it without the mob finding out. Just then, two well dressed men show up who are the new bosses of the mob. They make it clear that they'll kill everyone in the room before Kesack can get to the authorities, including Nancy and George. The guys blindfold and gag them, take them down to the pier, and toss them on a fishing boat until they kill them later. The guys are nice enough to untie them, which lets them see that Emily is there, alive and well as is Kesack.

Nancy comes up with an idea where they throw themselves over the boat and swim for help. Emily gets lost in the commotion, but Kesack saves her. Lieutenant Chin and the cops show up to save them, and Stine pops up long enough to take a bunch of pictures and gloat about how he scooped her for once. Everyone is so happy and relieved that they spend the night in her apartment again.

Chin stops by the next morning with some big news. Kesack agreed to turn state's evidence against the mob and the guys from the night before. All he asks in return is that Stine be banned from seeing him. He also requests that Emily be the only one who can photograph him and interview him. Emily then reveals that he actually respects her and always treated her like a fellow professional. Since the mystery is over, Nancy has just one more thing in mind: take a tour of Alcatraz.

*Nancy feels bad because Hannah seldom travels and never gets out of River Heights. Maybe she should talk to her dad about giving the poor lady a raise?

*Emily has her own bed, a daybed, and a pull out sofa. If she had so much room, why didn't she ask them to stay with her?

*Nancy gets annoyed that Pete Stine won't stop everything to sit down and talk with her. Yes, because all professional photojournalists would stop working on a story to sit down and have a chat with some random teenager.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Fear Street – Fear Park #2: The Loudest Scream (R.L. Stine)

Dierdre Bradley is at her boyfriend's funeral with Robin Fear. As they talk and walk, Robin has all these vivid fantasies of killing her or taking out her family while trying to keep a smile on his face. She keeps talking about how Paul was such a great guy and nearly faints when she sees him walking across the field. Robin starts freaking out too because he totally killed Paul. It's actually Paul's brother Jared who makes some mean comments before leaving.

Robin catches his reflection in the car window, sees that half his face looks rotten, and makes up and excuse about having a migraine. When he gets home, he does a quick spell to restore his looks and freaks out when he thinks he hears someone entering the house. It's only Meghan, his girlfriend. He thinks back to how he brutally killed all her friends and then made her think he wanted to save the Bradley family. He also thinks about how he cast the spell on her to keep her as a teenager too.

Meghan is still head over heels in love with him, even after decades. She thinks it's super sweet that he gave up his life to protect the Bradley family, not knowing that he would rather kill them all. Meghan points out that he missed a spot on his face and quietly leaves the room. Robin quickly pulls out the spell book to restore his youthful looks again.

Dierdre visits her dad's office to talk with him and sits around feeling sorry for herself. Jared stops by and asks for her help in getting a job. When her dad arrives, Jared asks to take over his brother's old job. Her dad refuses and then tells him that he has absolutely no jobs available. Jared screams at him about how he doesn't care about anyone and takes off. His friends meet him outside, he bitches about Mr. Bradley, and then makes it clear that he'll stop him somehow. Jared picks up a rock, throws it, and hears something cry in pain.

It turns out that he just scared the monkeys. I guess the middle of the Fear Street Woods is the perfect place for a monkey preserve. Gunther, the man in charge of the monkeys, warns them to leave. There's a big fight before the punks storm off. Robin shows up and tells them that he knows how they can get Gunther back. They should come back later that night and make him think they're going to push him into the lion pen, which is totally safe I'm sure.

Jared and the gang do show up that night. They taunt and tease him until someone notices a weird smoke coming up from the lion pen. Since it's purple, it's not a fire, but they don't know what else it could be. They start to run off but see Gunther get a zombie like look on his face. He climbs over the fence and throws himself inside the pen. They run off in fear and run right into a group of security guards who let them go.

Robin and Dierdre are off taking a walk when they come across a bunch of people around the lion pen. Mr. Bradley warns her to leave because he doesn't want her to see what happened. When she sees the meat, she says it's gross but not that big of a deal, which is when he tells her that meat is what is left of Gunther. Dierdre immediately starts crying and asks if these are signs the park shouldn't open. Robin calms her down just as a gunshot rings out.

Her dad had to bring in some guys to put down the lions. He explains that since they got a taste for human flesh, they'll never be the same again and will start attacking people. I don't know if that's true, but it sounds like an old wives tale. Robin once again calms her down and takes her for a walk, but he brings along a hammer. Just as he goes to smack her over the head, she races off to rescue a poor dog.

Jared is back at a friend's house and watching the news. His friends think they got away free and clear, but he worries that they left behind some evidence. He's also worried the Robin will tell on them. They all go back to the park, but when the attendant refuses to let them in without tickets, Jared grabs him by the neck and basically strangles him for doing his job. Security guards show up and throw them out.

Meghan is sitting home alone and thinking about Robin. She feels so bad for him and everything he has to go through to stop the Fear curse that she decides to help him more. Meghan heads to the park and finds him kissing another woman. Furious for all the times he made her stay indoors and for how he ruined her life, she vows to get back at him no matter what.

Jared finds an old green box and comes up with a new way for them to get inside the park. Robin then sees the four guys sneaking in through the house of mirrors. What, is the house of mirrors right next to the entrance or something? How can they get inside when they couldn't even get through the front gate? Anyway, they set off a bunch of firecrackers, and Robin figures out how to make their little prank a lot more deadly.

Robin uses his magic to make those firecrackers become bombs that explode all around the hall of mirrors. Limbs start flying off, a body drops down without a head, and people go berserk. Dierdre is so shocked that she can't move, but her dad convinces her to go home and rest. Like sleep will make it all better. Robin then rushes over and tells Mr. Bradley that he saw who did it and can describe them to the cops.

Dierdre goes home and finds an envelop for her on the front porch. Inside is a clipping from the 1935 disaster that shows the kids who died. Right in that picture is Robin himself.

Jared keeps flipping out, especially when one of the group doesn't show up. They hear on the news that someone identified the bombers and that park workers are trying to get the place cleaned up. He becomes obsessed with the idea of getting to Robin as soon as possible. Jared assumes that because the other man saw them that night that he knows they didn't set off bombs.

Meanwhile, Robin gets home and finds Meghan waiting for him with a knife. She attacks him and stabs him multiple times in the chest, but he just points out that he's immortal and can't die, which means she can't die either. Meghan says she saw him with another woman. He tells her that the woman is a member of the Bradley family and that he had to get close to her. Robin throws himself into being the perfect worker and assumes that Bradley will close down the park any day now. Dierdre shows up with the newspaper clipping, but she feels a lot better when he tells her that it's just his grandfather and that people always thought they looked similar.

While walking through the park, someone grabs him from behind. Before he can freak out too much, he turns around and see that it's Jared. Jared and his friends beg him for help. He agrees but then locks them in a storage shed. When he returns, he lies and says the cops wouldn't listen to him and that they believe the guys are bombers. He somehow convinces them that they should show they mean business and take Dierdre hostage.

Robin then gets her alone, which is actually pretty easy. She got a call earlier in the night from someone warning her to stay away from Robin Fear. She's so freaked out that she agrees to follow him into a random equipment shed. Jared and his friends jump out, knock Robin over the head, and then knock her out too. When she comes to, she finds Robin barely conscious. Though she attempts to get to a window to escape, Jared stops her just in time.

Suddenly, there's a dark purple smoke in the room. It takes over everything, and all she hears are the sounds of people screaming. Just as she thinks the smoke will kill them too, it suddenly disappears. All that's left in the room are body parts like someone's arm and Jared's eyeball. Dierdre starts crying about how her dad has to shut down the park now. Robin comforts her as he tells her that he'll always be there to help her and will do whatever it takes to get her dad to close the park.