A new podcast has enslaved my ears and left my mind craving more. The Double Shadow Podcast, a podcast revolving around the life and works of author Clark Ashton Smith. Lead by Phil, Tim, and Ruth (a.k.a Cthulhu Chick) we learn, in the first episode, about Smith’s career and life, and a little insight on his stories.
The Double Shadow is sort of framed up like the H.P. Lovecraft Literary Podcast, and shows the same potential for expanding an audience for an author who never got the recognition he deserved. I am a firm believer/supporter in spreading the weird around so when I saw this podcast I jumped to it. I am appreciative that someone is putting this together, and I am very excited to continue listening to what Phil, Tim, and Ruth have to teach me. Listening to things like the H.P. Podcraft and The Double Shadow, make me want a Robert E. Howard, or Frank Belknap Long podcast.
Episode one is up and running over at iTunes, so hurry and check it out! Cheers to these guys.
**If you are interested on learning ahead of the class, then check out The Eldritch Dark: The Sanctum of Clark Ashton Smith, and quest for knowledge of his live and read his works.
Cover Line: It’s a monster blood drive!
Back Line: BLOOD, BLOOD, EVERYWHERE…
Rating: 2 out of 5 Stars Aligned
Book Description: While staying with his weird great-aunt Kathryn, Evan visits a funky old toy store and buys a dusty can of monster blood. It’s fun to play with at first. And Evan’s dog, Trigger, likes it so much, he eats some!
But then Evan notices something weird about the green, slimy, stuff – it seems to be growing. And growing. And growing. And all that growing has giben the monster blood a monstrous appetite….
Another great entry in the long (and I do mean long) series of Goosebumps books. This is the third book in the original series, and I am happy that I did not decide to journey through all the Goosebumps books that follow the original 62 books. The plot is nonsensical, the characters (except one of them) are terrible, and the ending has got to be the worst ending in the Goosebumps repertoire. So… with that in mind here we go.
The story begins with whiney Evan Ross, who is twelve of course, pleading with his mother to make him stay with his aunt Kathryn, who is eighty years old and deaf. Unable to hear, read lips, or sign with her hands Kathryn greets the two at her front door while gripping a bloody butcher knife she’s using to cook. And at this point I thought, at first, was pretty bad parenting, but then I realized that his folks were smart in dumping the whiney brat on the doorstep of someone who can’t listen to his crap.
After meeting his aunt, Evan is even more convinced that his life sucks and that he and his dog, Trigger, are doomed for the summer. Especially after Kathryn orders Trigger to be tied up outside for the remainder of their stay so that he doesn’t scare her cat, Sarabeth. The cat is an unessential character so just forget about it.
Now left alone with his aunt, Evan takes a tour of the old house and then decides to take Trigger for a walk around the unfamiliar town. Along his tiny journey he meets Andrea, or as her friends call her Andy. Let me just side note that if Stine would have just made Andy the main character, this story would have been 13x more enjoyable. As they get acquainted, calling each other stupid, they head off toward down town so Andy can show Evan around some shops.
In need of a gift for her cousin, Andy leads Evan into one of the two, yes two, local toy stores for a look around. As the two look through the must shelves of Wagner’s Novelties & Sundries the come across something that peaks both their interests. In the back lies a can with the label, ‘MONSTER BLOOD: SURPRISING MIRACLE SUBSTANCE.’ The “substance” intrigues the two so much that they begin to fight over who gets the only one available. At this time the shop owner shows up and sternly tries to dissuade either of them from purchasing the Monster Blood, but breaks down and gives it away to Evan for two dollars.
After leaving the shop, Andy and Evan head back to Kathryn’s house to check out the Monster Blood. Does anyone remember GAK? You know, that stretchy, goopy stuff that Nickelodeon came out with in the 90′s. Well that is monster blood, or at least what it starts off as. As they play around with this stuff they have sort of a Flubber moment and discover it’s extremely bouncy. But it leaves stains on the ceiling and the carpet, so they decide to take it outside, where they begin to toss it back and forth. And of course one of them drops it and the dog Trigger, in a total plot shocker, eats part of the monster blood.
The next morning Evan gets dolled up in his denim cut offs, and a red GAP t-shirt to go see Andy. On the way he comes across the Beymer twins. While being pushed around by the two thugs Andy comes to Evans rescue. Though she seems to not be much help when the two push her in the dirt and steal her bike. To which she calmly replies, “I’ll get it back. They’ve done this before. They’ll leave it somewhere when they’re finished.”
The two take the walk of shame back to their houses, where Evan finds Trigger being strangled by his own collar. It’s clear that the dog has grown as a side effect of devouring the monster blood, but a very concerned Evan kneels down to ask his dog, “What made this collar shrink like that, boy?”
Understanding the dog has grown a little, and may have something wrong with it, Evan does nothing about it. The next morning Evan wakes up and wonders around the town to find Andy trying to let a cat, which had been tortured by the Beymer twins, go. Instead of helping the jerk just stands around and watches, then they head back to Evans room to check out the monster blood.
Upon re-inspection, they see that the blood has grown. It’s no longer gooey, more liquid, and is warm instead of cold. So of course instead of being worried of making a big mess with the stuff they have a monster blood fight. And again we have a couple pages of them playing with it again, which in Goosebumps pages is a chapter sometimes two. When they stop Evan points out the window to show to Andy that Trigger has grown considerably. Suddenly they watch the dog break through the fence and start running down the street. As Evan is running after the dog he sees that it is transforming into a terrifying monster. Then he wakes up. And finds that he himself is way too big for his bed, and has grown like Trigger. Then he wakes up again.
Im not exactly sure where the dream starts. So for my own amusement I decide to do a little dream analysis for everyone. Andy saving the scared cat is actually how Evan sees himself in Andy’s eyes. As a scardy cat!, and when Trigger gets so big and runs away is a simple comparison of the responsibility that comes with taking care of a dog, and how Evan is not very good at taking care of his. Hence the eating of the foreign substance, and being choked in his collar. But what do I know?
*End Side Note*
Anyway after the dream scare, Evan and Andy take Trigger to the vet, who says that the dog is experiencing a late growth spurt and sends the kids on their way. Andy heads off to piano practice, and Evan buys himself an ice cream. Enter Beymer twins. On a mission to make Evan their bitch, the twins make an attempt to ruffle his feathers. Trigger doesn’t agree with the new attention Evan is getting and begins to hound… sorry chase after the twins.
When Evan finally catches up to Trigger, the twins are gone. Back home he finds he has a bigger problem and calls Andy immediately to meet up at her place. As he shows up Andy is surprised to see how full the bucket is with the monster blood, the stuff is growing. Realizing that the stuff is alive, they figure out, finally, that this must be what’s behind Triggers “growth spurt”. Andy agrees to help and take some. Satisfied Evan leaves only to once again run into the Beymer twins.
Not very happy, and ready to officially execute that bitch owning idea, the Beymer twins actually, in detail, beat up Evan. Now I know no one should be excited when the protagonist gets his ass whooped, but I was clapping at this point. Once again Andy comes to rescue Evan, and the twins run away, further proving that Evan is a pussy cat.
Andy helps Evan scoop the spilled monster blood back into the bucket and comes up with the most amazing plan so far; to go back to the toy shop and inquire about the monster blood. Genius. When Evan gets home he realizes he needs to find something bigger to hold the monster blood. After a little looking he finds a bathtub just sitting in the garage. While filling the tub Sarabeth, the cat, jumps on his back and knocks him into the makeshift vat of monster blood. After a really tense struggle, Evan frees himself from the grasp of the green ooze.
The next morning he tries to tell his aunt about the problem but she just scoffs at him, as would anyone else. Following through with their plan, him and Andy head off to Wagner’s Novelties & Sundries, dragging along two trash bags worth of monster blood. I had to pause at this point again and wonder how many hours have these two spent scooping and placing this stuff in different containers, and how come no one has noticed. In my city that would look pretty suspicious. Bad news though, the store is closed. My guess, one toy store bought out the other. Fail.
Upon their return back at Kathryn’s, Evan sees his mom has sent him a telegram telling him she’s on her way! Evan freaks out and rushes to go tell his dog. When they see Trigger, they see that he is actually doubled in size, and of course he runs away. As he runs away Evan and Andy give chase, and on the way knock over the can that held the monster blood bags. The spilled monster blood begins to chase after Evan and Andy, and while it does the Beymer twins show up again only to be inhaled by the blood. Not slowing down while eating the twins the blood follows the kids, but stops when Kathryn pokes her head out to see what’s up, causing the monster blood to change course toward her.
*Warning This Ending Might Go Fast*
So the kids rush in the house to save Kathryn, and find her backed into a corner. Suddenly she screams that she is responsible for the monster blood, and that it won’t stop till she’s dead. Just to get one last word in, as usual with him, Evan begins to accuse Kathryn of almost killing him and potentially destroying Trigger. Then Kathryn pulls a reverse and says it wasn’t her and points to Sarabeth, the friggin cat. Sigh
And then just like that the damn cat turns into a pretty woman who admits to spell casting the monster blood, and begins to threaten the kids and Kathryn that she will kill them all. Trigger, the still doubled in size, jumps through the door and pushes Sarabeth into the undulating mass of monster blood. Then POOF! and the monster blood shrinks to a puddle and the twins fall out, run away and Trigger turns back to his normal size.
There I got through it, wow the pain.
The twist: As Evan and Andy are saying their good byes, Andy asks to keep some of the monster blood as a souvenir. Evan agrees to it, probably hoping she will use it as a token of remembrance of him, and when they go to collect, they see the monster blood vanished.
So there you have it, that’s Monster Blood. Really. I know when I was a kid I really like this one, as I am sure a lot of other young readers did. Once again, as it will probably be for them all, im sure looking at it from an older perspective changes the way I read these things. I may have been harsh by saying it’s the worst book, or even the worst ending. Even if it IS the worst ending, I’ve still got a long way to go.
Next up on the list is Say Cheese and Die
Found the T.V. episode of this book and thought you might like to see some differences.