Friday, June 3, 2016

Goosebumps #10: The Ghost Next Door (R.L. Stine)


Hannah wakes up after having a nightmare that her room is on fire. So grateful that it was just a dream, she's actually nice to her younger twin brothers and helps her mom clean the kitchen. Later, she goes outside and meets a new kid named Danny. He tells her he moved into the house next door, which she thinks is weird because the house has been empty for so long. He thinks it's weird that she lives in her own house for some unexplained reason. Well, I know the reason because I watched the Goosebumps movie not too long ago!

Her parents didn't have the money to send her to camp this year, so she writes a passive aggressive letter to her best friend at camp and then tries to find ways to keep herself busy. She tries talking to a few neighbors, who act really snobby or outright ignore her, before walking into town. Mr. Cheney, the head of the post office, screams at Danny and his friends. He apparently even threw rocks at one kid's dog and threatens to call their parents. She also sees a dark figure gesturing to her from the street and calling her name, which causes her to run away in fear.

Danny later tells her that those guys were his friends from school. She thinks it's weird that he already has new friends, especially when she finds out that he goes to the same school as her and yet they know none of the same people. When he accidentally throws his ball on the roof, he climbs on the ladder to get it. She warns him about going up there and then screams when he suddenly falls head first off the roof.

Though she can't explain it, Danny manages to land on his feet. He tells her that he's something of a daredevil and just laughs it off. Her mom, who calls her home, claims that she didn't see her playing with anyone. Worried about what that means, she decides to follow him the next day. The same creepy figure comes out of nowhere and causes her to fall down. Danny helps her up and claims he didn't see anything weird.

Hannah writes another letter to her friend and goes over everything she knows about the new kid. Danny suddenly appears to her with light shining through him and hovers a few inches off the ground. He tells her that since she now knows his secret, he has to destroy the letter. He gets closer and closer until her little brothers wake her up and she realizes it was just a dream.

Still convinced that he's a ghost, she goes to his house and knocks on the door. Even though she can see his mom inside, the woman doesn't get up, not even when she pounds on the glass. Hannah suddenly realizes that this must mean his mom is a ghost too. This doesn't slow her down too much though. She just decides to follow Danny again.

This time, she sees him and his new friends run out of an ice cream store with the owner following them. He hits her from behind, knocks her to the ground, and doesn't even apologize. He just starts complaining about kids not paying and wanders back inside. The boys get a brief scare when they think they see the cops coming, but it's just some guy who needs directions. They go to Mr. Cheney's house and dare Danny to steal his mailbox, which is shaped like a swan.

Hannah sees the dark figure coming towards her again, only this time it has glowing red eyes. The figure gets closer until she runs away and hides in the bushes. Mr. Cheney catches the boy and threatens them again, which causes them to run away. Hannah finds Danny, warns him that he shouldn't hang out with guys like that, and then tells him what happened with his mom. He gets really quiet and then says he wants to tell her a secret. His secret is that his mom is actually deaf.

Still not sure if she believes him, Hannah finally confronts him the next day and asks if he is a ghost. He seems really confused, so she just changes the subject. While playing soccer, Danny falls down. When she tries to help him up, her hand goes right through him. She thinks it's proof he's a ghost until she tries it again and he gets a scared look on his face.

Finally realizing that she's the ghost, she runs home and sees a real estate agent and a grumpy woman in her driveway. The agent says that the house burnt down five years ago and killed the whole family who lived there: parents, twin boys, and a little girl. Hannah realizes that she's dead, which is why no one ever talked to her and why her friends never wrote her. She runs inside and finds her whole family missing.

After feeling depressed and falling asleep, she wakes to find her house empty and dark. Still depressed, she goes for a walk and sees Danny and his friends breaking into Cheney's house. Something grabs her and pulls her back, but she just got caught on a garden hose. The kids goof around with matches, accidentally light the house on fire, and run outside. Danny is still trapped inside.

Hannah runs in to save him and sees the dark figure come after her. It finally reveals itself as Danny's ghost, which will become real once he dies in the fire. She fights him off, tracks down Danny, and helps him get out. Danny tells his mom and others that Hannah saved his life, but they tell him that Hannah was the girl who died in a fire years ago. Hannah's mom then calls to her from the beyond and she leaves, hoping that Danny will always remember her.

*Ugh, why do all these like 10 to 12 year old girls get so obsessed over guys? Hannah writes to her friend about how she hasn't seen a single cute boy all summer and wonders if her friend hasn't written because she's surrounded by hot guys. I'm pretty sure I was still playing with dolls at that age!

*Her second letter is even worse. Not only does she threaten to kill her best friend several times for not writing to her, but she even threatens to drown her in the freaking lake.

*What kind of ice cream place lets four kids place an order without paying? The owner deserves to have them run off.

*I love that the house burned down, everyone died, and yet someone still rebuilt the house. Who was it? If her parents were the owners and they died in the fire...Plus, why rebuild it if it's just going to sit on the market for five years without a buyer?

*I didn't post about it before, but if you haven't seen the Goosebumps movie, see it. I personally cannot stand Jack Black but thought it was really good, and there's even an R.L. Stine cameo at the end!

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

The Nancy Drew Files #122: Strange Memories (1997)


Carson is off to San Francisco for some rich white man legal convention and decides to take Nancy and George along for the ride, though he does let them stay by themselves in a completely different hotel. While wandering through the park, they see a woman in fuchsia, who looks nothing at all like the woman from the cover, drawing in a sketchbook. A few minutes later, they hear the woman scream, run back to help her, and see a guy running away with her purse.

Nancy and George call the cops and go to the hospital to see her. Officer Hayes, the man in charge, doesn't really seem to believe that Nancy can do anything, but he does agree to let them see the woman. She wakes up with no memories of her life, which leads to the hospital and cops classifying her as a Jane Doe. Lieutenant Antonio, who worked with Nancy before, shows up, acts super grumpy, and actually snaps at her for not giving a better description of the mugger.

Since they were smart enough to grab the woman's sketchbook, Nancy goes through it and sees a drawing of a boat. She and George later see the same boat in the harbor but notice the name on the real one is different from the one in the sketch. Nancy also discovers a recreation of a famous painting and goes to the museum where the painting is, but no one remembers Jane Doe. Her and George invite the poor woman to move into their hotel suite with them until she can recover. Jane confesses that the only thing she can remember about her life is seafood. That's a great clue for someone who lives in San Francisco...

Jane starts to remember really lame stuff about her life like how she loved wearing hot pink. She also recalls being in an earthquake but that it didn't scare her. Lieutenant Antonio brings Nancy in for a lineup because he thinks he caught the mugger. Even though she can't identify him, the lieutenant is convinced he has the right guy. Jane, who still remembers only bits and pieces of her life, somehow thinks she knew the guy who attacked her.

Nancy goes back to the museum and meets a security guard named Jerry. Jerry not only remembers Jane Doe but knows that she works in this trendy little restaurant called the Earthquake Cafe because she sometimes wore her uniform in the museum. There, Nancy meets the very young owner Arch, the manager Corie, and a waiter named Jack.

Though they give her Jane's real name, Lilly, they don't reveal too much more. Corie seems really hesitant to talk, and Jack just wants to flirt with Nancy. On the way out, Dinh, a waiter, stops her. He tells her that Lilly was actually dating Arch, which pissed off Corie because she liked him. Dinh also says that Corie pretended to be Lilly's friend while secretly trying to take her down.

Nancy goes to Lieutenant Antonio to reveal her research, which annoys me because there's no mention of it. She goes to the library, we see what she finds, and then she does a shit ton more before meeting with him. Apparently, Lilly's family owned a very famous seafood business. Her brother Eric started working for the company and she was supposed to help after going to business school. Instead, Lilly moved to Berkeley, changed her major from business to art, and got cut off by her family. She took a job as a waitress to pay her way through school, but she's about to inherit her trust fund. Nancy thinks that's motive for someone to keep her from getting her money.

Lilly isn't ready to see her family yet, so Nancy agrees to met her brother for her. Eric is your stereotypical frat boy rich kid. He thinks she deserved to get attacked for neglecting her family duties and says that art is a waste of time. When Nancy brings up the trust fund, he makes it clear the he will never let his sister walk away from them with the family money. I really don't get rich people.

After finding out that she lived on a houseboat, the same one from the sketchbook, George and Nancy take her home, only to find that someone ransacked the place. Lilly has absolutely no memories of the boat but does remember where she hid her diary. It gives them no information except that she apparently really liked the way Arch stood up for himself and that he has a violent temper. He even flipped out on Dinh from the restaurant for spilling a tray once.

When they get back to the hotel, there are two messages waiting for her. One is from the lieutenant letting her know that he hasn't found anything yet. The other is a photograph of Corie passionately kissing Arch. Before she can do anything, someone calls her room and threatens her to drop the investigation. Since this is Nancy Drew we're talking about, she makes plans to meet with Arch the next day and then goes out on a date with Jack.

Jack turns out to be a wannabe actor who woos her and then comments on how sad it is that they live so far apart. Though he keeps flirting with her, he gets cold and a little cagey when she starts asking questions about the restaurant. He won't even admit that Lilly and Arch are dating. Why does Nancy keep going after guys who aren't Ned??

Arch is nearly as cagey during their meeting the next day. He admits that he knew Lilly had amnesia and was in the hospital because he has friends who work there, which is odd because they didn't find out her identify until after the hospital released her. After learning that she isn't ready to see him yet, he suggests they grab a bite to eat. Nancy makes up an excuse to go back to his office, goes through his stuff, and finds a document with Lotus Flower on it, which is the name of Lilly's boat. She manages to get a copy and sneak out of his office.

Arch reveals some great stuff over lunch. Corie had a criminal record when he hired her to work in the mail room of his head office. They fell in love, started dating, and dated for more than a year until he met Lilly. He dumped Corie for Lilly, and Corie agreed to keep their relationship a secret for who knows why. Arch also planned to propose to Lilly and made plans to sweep her away to a romantic trip to Mexico that weekend. He keeps asking if he can see her, and they keep changing the subject. According to Arch, he encouraged Lilly to give up her trust fund because he could support her once they married.

Since George went to San Francisco for a vacation and not a mystery, she demands that Nancy go with her to Alcatraz. Nancy checks with the harbor and learns that there is no record of the Lotus Flower boat anywhere. After looking over the document she copied, they find it contains a list of Asian and Hispanic names but can't figure out what it means, even Dinh is on the list. Am I the only one who knows where this is going?

Nancy hangs out a little longer on the island until someone comes up behind her, bashes her on the head, and starts punching her. I should really start keeping track of how many times she gets smacked on the back of the head or attacked. She gets away, runs back to the hotel, and starts putting things together, which leads to her breaking into Arch's office.

Not only does she find the number to the hotel, which means he knows where Lilly is, but she also discovers a way to access saved voicemail messages. One is from Corie warning him that she caught Lilly eavesdropping on their last conversation. The second message is from Lilly telling him that she knows his secret. Lilly asks him to meet her in the same place she was attacked. Nancy calls the hotel and warns George to get Lilly out of the hotel right away.

After stopping by the Cafe, Nancy talks with Jack, who tells her that they have a lot of foreigners working in the kitchen and a lot of turnover. She then talks to Corie and figures out the whole story. Arch has a shady corporation called RSI that he uses to smuggle illegal immigrants into the country and gives them jobs in his kitchen. Dinh is one of them and even tells her that he only makes $1 an hour. Corie freaks out and cries because she's still in love with Arch.

Nancy learns that George and Lilly left the hotel in the company of a man who looks just like Arch. She heads to his house and sees Eric there. Eric doesn't believe that his sister was kidnapped but does say that he realized he was being an ass and wanted to make up with her. When she wasn't in the hotel, he went to Arch's house because he heard they were dating. They then hear a scream that sounds just like Lilly.

They run inside and find Arch holding a gun to her head with George tied up next to her. To make a long story short, he confesses everything and says that he only wanted to marry her to get to her trust fund because he needed more cash. When she found out about his secret, he tried to kill her. The only problem is that she didn't know he was a criminal, she only knew he wanted to elope. He's so shocked that Nancy and Eric overpower him and tie him up. Lilly agrees to move back in with her parents to recuperate, Carson has a friend who can help Dinh get legal status, and Lieutenant Antonio has to admit that Nancy is a pretty good detective.

*George has apparently never been to San Francisco before, and a comment at the beginning makes it seem like Nancy hasn't been either. Then, she outright says she's not only been there but solved a case in the city before!

*Nancy makes a comment about how the lieutenant should gather evidence before making a decision, and he rightly points out that he does have some evidence and that she's not a cop.

*Jane/Lilly has enough sense to make fun of the way George dresses and the clothes she lent her. She does it in a joking way, but it's still pretty bitchy given that they could have just left her in the hospital!

*This mystery is so confusing! All of Arch's restaurants are turning a profit, and he's called one of the top young business owners in the state. He's making people work under the table for so little to make even more money, plus he's making money off the people he brings into the country. Why would he need her trust fund?

Monday, May 30, 2016

Tales to Give You Goosebumps Volume 3: Even More Tales to Give You Goosebumps (R.L. Stine)


The Chalk Closet:

Travis is so distracted by stuff happening around him that he never seems to get his homework done. And it's not hard work either! He can't even write down five reasons why he would want to be a pilgrim. So, he winds up in summer school. Mr. Grimley, their teacher, warns them that if they don't do well, they'll wind up in the chalk room. One kid gets sent to the chalk room and is never seen again, and then the same thing happens again. Travis tries calling their homes and finds their numbers disconnected. After failing his next test, the teacher takes him to the chalk closet, opens the doors, and slams it shut behind him. He turns to see all the missing kids and hundreds more in the room with their hands over the ears. Then he hears the noise of chalk screeching across the board and realizes he'll spend eternity the same exact way.

Home Sweet Home:

Sharon is 12 and stuck sharing a room with her seven year old sister and her sister's large dollhouse. Alice, the sister, is always complaining about the stuff she does to her dolls like putting one upside down in the sink. One day, Alice asks Sharon to go to a garage sale with her. It's at Mrs. Foster's house, a creepy woman from around town. No one is there, but there is a sign saying to leave money for anything you want to buy. Alice finds a dollhouse lamp that she pays for. Sharon picks up a bowl, sees a big spider, and drops it on the ground. When she sees it shatter, she hops on her bike and takes off. She has a dream that night about the creepy old woman spending a spider after her. Sharon then keeps seeing the same spider all over town until one day she sees it in her room. The spider jumps on her head, says she's small now, and shrinks her. Sharon ends by saying that the dollhouse is actually pretty perfect for her but that she wishes her sister would stop putting her head in the sink.

Don't Wake Mummy:

Jeff lives with his parents and his annoying sister Kim. His dad is a curator at the Natural History Museum and accidentally has a mummy delivered to their home, which they store in the basement until the company can pick it up. Kim convinces Jeff to go downstairs and then locks him in when he gets scared. He keeps thinking he hears the mummy coming to life and coming after him, so he spends $20 on mummy dust to protect himself. Jeff completely freaks out, which causes his parents to rush in and check on him. When he tells them about the noises he heard, his dad turns pale and says there's a rumor this mummy comes to life. His museum got it because the guards at another museum refused to be around it. As long as the chains are in place though, it's perfectly safe. They run downstairs, see the chains missing, and throw the chains back on. Later, Kim bangs on the basement door after getting locked downstairs playing a joke on her brother. She looks over, realizes the chains are missing off the mummy and then hears a thumping noise coming closer and closer to her.

I'm Telling:

Adam is out playing in the woods by himself because his best friend Nick decided that sixth graders shouldn't play pretend anymore. He imagines himself as a warrior trying to take down a huge monster. He reaches for his water gun and shoots the statue of a monster in the woods. Green slime suddenly pours of the monster's mouth, which he uses to fill up his gun. When he shoots a tree, it suddenly turns to stone. That's when his little sister Missy catches him and keeps screeching about how she'll tell his parents he was out playing instead of working on his art project. Adam shoots her, she turns to stone, and then he feels so bad that he puts her in a wagon and tries to take her home. His teacher sees him, thinks he made a sculpture of his sister, and puts it in the art show. After winning first prize, he hears his sister begging him for help. A large gargoyle comes out of nowhere and tries to attack him, he sprays it with his water gun, and it drops to the ground as it turns to stone. He then sprays his sister a second time, which turns her human again. Missy immediately starts chanting I'm telling and threatening to go to his parents, so he apologizes and sprays her again, turning her back into stone.

The Haunted House Game:

Jonathon is stuck at home babysitting his siblings Annie and Noah with his best friend Nadine. He suggests they play Haunted House, which makes everyone groan because they play it all the time. The game involves players working their way around a board shaped like a haunted house. Every time something happens in the game though, it actually happens to them, including a creaky stair, a knock on the window, etc. When someone lands on the Scared to Death square, the lights go out, they see ghostly hands, and everyone starts screaming. Jonathon goes to run out the door and comes across a newspaper article about four kids dying in an unexplained fire. He suddenly remembers that they died years ago and keep forgetting about it. Jonathon then goes back into the room with no memory of what he saw, suggests they play Haunted House, and they have the same conversation they did in the very beginning.

Change for the Strange:

Jane and her best friend Lizzy are completely different. While Jane loves track, Lizzy only cares about new clothes. Even though she didn't make the track team, she wants to keep practicing and maybe make it next time. Lizzy convinces her to take a break and go to this new clothing store, Change for Strange, with her. Jane finds a super cool red and yellow snakeskin jacket that she buys, and Lizzy buys a pair of bunny slippers. She loves the jacket so much that she puts it on right away and wears it around. Jane starts feeling a little strange and finds herself transformed into a snake. Lizzy runs away in fear, so she keeps trying to do things to prove who she is like dancing to their favorite music and turning the television to the show they always watch. Lizzy yells for her brother Ivan to come in and get one of his snakes that got loose. He says it isn't his but puts her in with his own snakes before seeing a tiny zipper on her stomach. When he pulls the zipper, Jane becomes herself again. A few days later, Jane is on the track team because she can now jump so high. As she and Lizzy talk, she thinks about how much she loves her new bunny slippers.

The Perfect School:

Brian is such a pest that his parents decide to send him off to boarding school. On the bus, he meets another new student named CJ. On his first night, he thinks he hears voices in the vents and gets told to shut up by a guard. The next day, they take him to the Pattern Room and he hears a voice tell him not to go inside. They take a bunch of measurements and make him take a test that asks random questions like his favorite food, what he calls his parents, and his Halloween costumes from the past few years. Brian then hears voices in the vents, investigates, and finds a bunch of kids there. They tell him that the school makes a robot of each child, sends the robot back home, and keeps the kids locked up. Brian runs to get CJ, who then takes him to the same room, and informs him that he works for the school. His parents come the next day to pick him up, and he thinks about how he'll act just like a good robot should. It's only because he doesn't want anyone to know that he threw CJ in the room and switched places with his robot. Besides, he can be good. All he's done so far is torment the dog, spill food everywhere, and act like a giant nuisance.

For the Birds:

Kim is extremely unhappy because her parents dragged her on a bird watching vacation with her older brothers who also love birds. Mr. Dove, the owner, puts the older kids and parents in these huge and elaborate rooms before putting Kim in a much smaller room on the opposite side of the hotel. He also tells them to put off the hedge maze outside until the next day. Kim accidentally sits down on a pair of hedge clippers, and Mr. Dove thanks him for finding them. He asks her if she wants to pay her parents back for taking her on such a boring vacation. Kim just brushes him off. The next day, they enter the hedge maze. Mr. Dove shows up with his clippers, makes a few jokes, and snaps the clippers at each one, which turns her parents into love birds and her brothers into mockingbirds. He then tells Kim that he's ready to help her get revenge. When he snaps the clippers at her, she suddenly transforms into a cat.

Aliens in the Garden:

Kurt is outside by himself when Flip the bully comes at him with his dog. Flip only leaves him alone when it stops raining. The next day, Kurt finds a tiny little spaceship outside and sees three little aliens climb out. Flip comes over, tries to take it from him, and one of the aliens shocks him. He returns with his dog and his friend, but Kurt and his friend Jenna go to great lengths to get the aliens off the ground and save them. He even tosses one in his pocket. They get two, and the other gets the spaceship started. The aliens zap Flip once more before taking off. Later, Kurt realizes that he has a piece of one of their uniforms in his pocket. They put it under a microscope to get a better look at it and see part of a flag with red and white stripes and little stars. Is it weird that it took me a few minutes to realize it was an American ship and Kurt et all were our aliens?

The Thumbprint of Doom:

Trisha and her friends Harold and Jeremy are hanging out when they meet the new girl Carla. She's incredibly superstitious and keeps warning them of all this stuff. Like they can't go out in a blue canoe on a certain day of the week. She even makes Trisha strike out during a ball game by screaming at her that she can't hit a ball at that certain time. She also warns them of the thumbprint of doom and how it will ruin their lives. Trisha and her friends ask her to go to the carnival with them, but she says that she can't go because the stars aren't aligned right. They drag her out of her house and take her anyway. When they find a fortune teller, they all of inside. The fortune teller looks deep into her crystal ball and flips out. She shouts at Carla and gives her the thumbprint of doom. Carla and the other kids run outside. That's when Carla tells them the woman is crazy because only she has that power and then does the thumbprint of doom to each of them. As they run away screaming, the fortune teller steps outside and gently scolds her about lying to them like that. Carla says it's fine and that they learned their lesson before thanking her mom for her help.