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Goosebumps

Goosebumps: Say Cheese and Die!

Say Cheese and Die!

  Cover Line: One picture is worth a thousand screams.

  Back Line: Every Picture Tells A Story

  Rating: 3 out of 5 stars in alignment

  Book Description: Greg thinks there is something wrong with the old camera he and his friends found. The photographs keep turning out wrong. Very wrong. Like the snapshot Greg took of his father’s new car that shows it totalled. And then Greg’s father is in a nasty wreck.

But Greg’s friends don’t believe him. Shari even makes Greg bring the camera to her birthday party and take her picture. Only Shari’s not in the photograph when it develops. Is Shari about to be taken out of the picture permanently? Who is going to take the next fall for… the evil camera?

Autumn is her folks and with the fall season comes the best month of the year, October, which in turn brings two very awesome holidays, Halloween and … my birthday. Ok so my birthday might not mean much to anyone else, but for weirdos like me All Hallows’ Eve is the best holiday year round. Maybe it’s the hoodie weather, scary movies, candy, the creative costumes, or the display of wild yellow and orange trees contrasting with the blue sky. I don’t know. It’s like Christmas, but in October, and I say that mainly because I get presents this month… so it’s basically early Christmas for me. Yah know?

Anyway. You know what October also brings? The long-awaited review of Say Cheese and Die! #4 in R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps series. I know I mentioned that this was next back in April, after I posted my thoughts on Monster Blood, so after a long summer and few days of procrastination, I’m dusting off the right side of my brain and getting back to work.

The story begins in Pitts Landing, a place with a great motto, Pitts Landing is the pits. We find our main characters, Greg, Shari, Michael, and Doug a.k.a Bird, bored and looking for trouble. Not really, but that is what happens when a group of kids get bored. Eventually someone gets the idea to break into the old Coffman house where supposedly a homeless man named Spidey lives. See I told you, breaking and entering.

While exploring the abandoned home they find themselves in the basement where Greg discovers a secret compartment that is hiding a peculiar camera. He asks one of his friends to strike a pose on the stair case leading upstairs when suddenly the railing breaks and sends Michael plummeting to the basement floor. The loud crash disturbs something upstairs as the gang hears footsteps heading their way. They narrowly escape out a cellar door leads to the back yard. Once away from the house, or after achieving a successful break-in, Michael demands to see the photo. Everyone, at first, is shocked but then decide the camera must be broken because it took a photo of Michael as he was falling from the stairwell.

Everyone splits up for the night and goes home. Broken camera toting Greg is excited to see a brand new Station Wagon and can’t help but try another picture. The polaroid-like camera spits out the developing picture. When finally upstairs Greg is confused to see that in the picture the car looks totaled. He is then nervously gathered with the rest of the family to go for a ride in the new wagon. Thankfully everyone arrive back home safely, barring a close call with a truck, but Greg is just not sure what is up with the camera. To prove one more time to see if it’s broken he asks his brother if he can take his photo. The result is completely different, Terry, his brother is standing outside in the photo and not inside where he took the picture and he has a terrifying expression on his face. This reassures Greg that the camera must be broken, because what kind of camera takes a picture with different backgrounds….

After another weird incident at his friend Bird’s baseball game and Greg’s sees his brothers terrifying expression and finds out his dad actually got into a wreck and totaled the car after all, Shari asks Greg to bring the camera to her birthday party because she thinks it will be fun. Why? I don’t know. But after a couple of shots of Shari standing by a tree, the pictures develop without Shari in them. Everyone brushes it off and decides to play hide and seek, when Shari actually disappears for real. The cops come send Greg home after he tries to explain how his broken camera might be magic because of the things that are happening after he takes photos of people.

Worried about Shari, Greg gets home and finds his room has been destroyed. He quickly figures that Spidey has been looking for the camera. He quickly gathers Bird, and Michael to plan a way to get rid of it, when they are harassed by two bullies who try to take the camera and accidentally take a photo of Greg during the struggle. After escaping and making it back home, Greg goes nuts for a moment after he sees the photo taken of him portrays him and Shari at the baseball diamond cowering under a tall shadow. In a sudden rage he tears up the two photos of the tree sans Sheri, because as if puberty isn’t rough enough the poor kid is dealing with supernatural forces too. Two hours after they are destroyed, Shari calls Greg.

Happy his friend is alive he asks to meet with her the next day at the baseball diamonds… for some reason he wants the picture to come true obviously. Once there they try to make a plan to get rid of the camera, but are interrupted by Spidey, the tall shadow in the photo, who chases them down until a neighbor sees them and threatens to call the cops on the creepy guy chasing two children, good job neighborhood watch!

Safe and sound they decide to just meet at the Coffman house the next day to get rid of the trouble for good. Of course this happens while a storm is building in the background. Naturally, to set the mood and give you goose bumps. Inside the house they confront Spidey, who actually explains that he is pretty much a mad scientist named Dr. Fritz Fredrick’s. He makes the classic villain mistake of telling his whole evil life story, down to when he was just an assistant to a dark arts master/scientist who created the cursed camera to take souls… yeah souls. But it gets confusing when Spidey, now Dr. Fritz, explains that he stole to camera for his own prosperity, but after it killed so many people he dedicated his life to hiding it so it could not do its evil anymore. So does that make him kind of a good guy? Maybe, but then he tells the kids that they cannot leave because they know too much, implying he is going to kill them too… so I guess he’s not much of a good guy after all. A déjà vu struggle over the camera occurs which leads Shari to accidentally snap a photo of Dr. Fritz. The kids run away but stop when they see the good Dr. is a senseless heap on the floor. They go back down and review the photo, showing Dr. Fritz lying on the floor, eyes bulged, dead.

From breaking and entering to murder, see how fast kids can progress. As far as I am aware, at least so far, this is the only human bad guy that gets done in by kids… the only human character that gets killed.

The cops come and the kids lie and say that they went into the house to escape the rain and found the Dr. Dead. And the local P.D. buys it, forever assuring these kids to think they can literally get away with murder. The friends are all happy again, and alive. But before the big THE END, after the gang rides off into the sun setting on the town of Pitts Landing, the two bullies from before jump out and have the camera. The book ends with one of them taking a picture of the other. FIN

I remember this book being one of the scarier ones when I was a young hoodlum looking for trouble. I’m looking forward to seeing what happens way down the road in the sequel, Say Cheese And Die–Again!. Either way this one wasn’t as bad as Monster Blood, and in some sense I still kind of liked it.

Below I found the full version of Say Cheese and Die! Featuring a very young Ryan Gosling. Not a whole lot of difference really from the book, except the ending. Enjoy!

Next up on the list is The Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb

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Goosebumps: Monster Blood

  Monster Blood

  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.

*Side Note*

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.


Goosebumps: Stay Out of the Basement

  Stay Out Of The Basement

  Cover Line: Something’s waiting in the dark….

  Back Line: Live Plants…Dead People?

  Rating: 3 out of 5 stars in alignment

  Book Description: Dr. Brewer is doing a little plant-testing in his basement. Nothing to worry about. Harmless, really. But Margaret and Casey Brewer are worried about their father. Especially when they…meet…some of the plants he is growing down there. Then they notice that their father is developing plantlike tendencies. In fact, he is becoming distinctly weedy–and seedy. Is it just part of their father’s “harmless” experiment? Or has the basement turned into another little shop of horrors?

Margaret and Casey are confused. Their dad, Dr. Brewer, hasn’t been himself ever since he was fired from his job at PolyTech. He hardly speaks to them, he’s wearing baseball caps, he stays up late, he spends all day in the basement, and he puts all his time and money into his hobbies. But what Margaret and Casey don’t know is that dad is probably going through midlife crisis. Or at least that’s what I thought.

As the story goes, After Dr. Brewer is fired from his job at PolyTech, due to some experiment gone wrong, he moves his work to his basement at home. There he establishes a lab that he locks and forbids anyone from entering. And already you have to think that even Mrs. Brewer might be a little suspicious of what her husband’s really up too. But oblivious to her husband’s change in personality she leaves town to help her sick sister.

When their parents leave to the airport, Margaret and Casey, along with their friend Diane, debate taking a look at Dr. Brewers work. Finally cracking, they all decide to go take a look and as they descend the stairs into the basement, they discover dozens of tall, fruit bearing plants. They find this odd considering that their dad only started work down here a few weeks ago. It’s hot down there and for some reason Casey takes off his shirt. As the kids continue to look around, they begin to hear heavy breathing coming from the plants.

After being freaked out by the human sounds emitting from the plants they decide to leave the basement. As they enter back into the kitchen they notice Dr. Brewer pulling into the driveway, and that’s when Casey realizes that he left his shirt downstairs. As he hurries to retrieve it, Margaret notices that Dr. Brewer gets caught up talking to a neighbor, leaving Casey more than enough time to hurry back up with his shirt. Right? As Dr. Brewer wraps up his chat and starts to come inside, Margaret starts to scream to Casey who in the process of grabbing his shirt, is grabbed in return by one of the heavily breathing plants.

Hurrying downstairs Margaret rushes to help Casey so they can run back upstairs in time before their dad returns. But as they begin to trot up the steps they see Dr. Brewer in the doorway. Instead of freaking out, he sits them down and calmly explains that someday he will explain what he is doing in the basement, but until then, he insists the children stay safe and out of the basement. To be sure they follow this decree, the next day locks are newly placed on the basement door.

Later on Margaret talks to her mother on the phone and tries to explain her concern. But Mrs. Brewer isn’t buying it (because she realizes that Mr. Brewer is going through mid-life crisis, and Margaret is growing into her rebellious teen years). Anyway, after Margaret hangs up, she heads downstairs to talk to her father. When she enters the kitchen that leads to the basement, she is startled to see her father at the sink. Curious of what he’s up to she watches him from around the corner. As she spies him, she notices that he is eating something and quite ravenously at that. After finishing, throwing something in the trash, and heading back to the basement, Margaret creeps out to investigate. When she opens the trash she discovers a freshly emptied bag of plant food!

Soon after finding this, she tells Casey who seems to not want to put the obvious puzzle together. But a few days later as the two are playing Frisbee, Casey excitedly sails a throw to his father who isn’t paying attention. The Frisbee knocks of his Dodgers cap revealing a balding head with tiny leaves sprouting from the scalp. Pretty freaked out, the kids are sat down, and Dr. Brewer explains how it’s a side effect from the work he’s doing in the basement.

What big daddy Dr. Brewer tells the kids is, that he has been working with both plant DNA, and animal DNA, and pretty much trying to play God. Basically. And though Casey gets sold on this, Margaret still feels that something’s not right. Later that night, while lying awake, she hears her father walking in the hallway and decides to try to confront him again. Finding that he is in the bathroom, she peeks in and is frightened to see her father unwrapping his hand and revealing a gash oozing green blood.

The next morning, while explaining what she saw to Casey, Dr. Brewer announces that he has made them lunch. Suspicious the two sit at the table and quiver as they are served a dish of what is best described as green mashed potatoes. Saved by the door bell, Dr. Brewer goes to answer it giving the kids enough time to scrape their plates clean, only to announce they ate it all.

At the door is Mr. Martinez, Dr. Brewer’s old boss. Feeling somewhat guilty for firing Dr. Brewer, he wanted to swing by and see how his “work” was coming along, and if it was good enough, maybe he could get his job back at PolyTech for him. Surprised, Dr. Brewer guides him downstairs.

The next day while Dr. Brewer is out helping a neighbor fix a sink, the siblings get bold again, and go down in the basement. Although not very smart, we get to see Casey’s bright future as he picks the lock to the basement. I do believe he’s like 11 years old. Anyway, while snooping they come across Mr. Martinez’s neatly folded suit. Realizing they never saw Mr. Martinez actually leave the house yesterday, the two begin to speculate what actually happened to Dr. Brewer’s boss. Suddenly they hear footsteps upstairs, and rush up to the kitchen but are caught once again by their father. Startled to see the siblings holding the suit, Dr. Brewer explains how yesterday Mr. Martinez got hot in the warm climate of the basement and took off his suit coat and left without it. Fully understanding this, especially because Casey had done the same thing, they accept their father’s lame excuse.

Upon awaking the next day, the kids are excited to hear from their father that their mother is coming home that day. As Dr. Brewer leaves, Casey becomes so happy that he insists that he and his sister fly kites until their mother returns. Sounds like a good idea, but the kites are in the basement. So after they break in, again, they go in search of the kites, and stumble upon Mr. Martinez’s shoes and pants. It is then they begin to realize that Mr. Martinez probably didn’t leave the house half naked. Suddenly they hear a bunch of thumping and knocking coming from a supply cabinet close by. After breaking into that too, they find some pretty disturbing plants, some with faces, and some with arms.

Through the anthropomorphic foliage though, Margaret spies a couple pairs of feet with human legs attached. Pushing past the weird plants they find Mr. Martinez, who we must think is gaged in his boxers, and their father! As the two help the captured men out of the closet the one that looks like Dr. Brewer quickly tells the kids that he is their real father, and that the other man on the way to the airport, is a plant clone of himself. After being untied the new Dr. Brewer leaps to a corner grabbing an axe and heads for the stairs. But as he does the “imposter” Dr. Brewer comes rushing down the steps with Mrs. Brewer.

Ok, this is where it gets a little confusing to describe. So, the Dr. Brewer with an axe has no hat on, so he’s cap less Brewer, and the other is capped Brewer. Okay? Okay, so, cap less Brewer with the axe tries to convince he’s the real father, the same for capped Brewer. Finally Margaret charges cap less Brewer and retrieves the axe. Then she is faced with the choice of who is her real father. To make it quick; she gets a knife from Casey and she slices cap less Brewer only to see his red blood. So that automatically makes him the real dad supposedly. She gives him the axe and he splits cap wearing Brewer right in two down the middle.

The book is concluded with Dr. Brewer explaining that some of his blood got mixed with the plant DNA and started the whole mess. Completely sold on that, even though he has leaves growing out of his head, the family goes on with its happy life. Dr. Brewer destroys the mutant plants and actual plants a few normal ones in the backyard. One day as Margaret is in the back yard she becomes frightened when she notices a small yellow flower actually nudging at her ankle. And it spoke “Margaret, help me. Please — help me. I’m your father. Really! I’m your real father.”

Wow, a natural M. Night Shyamalan stuff right there. So what do you think? Yes, yes, I know it’s a children’s book, but it is quite fun to go back with adult eyes and re-see and re-read these things and how you interpret them now that your older. I initially thought this one was better than Welcome to Dead House, but still found some parts pretty cheesy.

But on the contrary there are some pretty funny passages that I found, and makes me wonder if R.L. Stine was trying to get a few chuckles in there as well.

“Why do you want to do this?” Margaret asked her friend. “Why are you so eager to go down there?” Diane shrugged. “It beats doing our math,” she replied, grinning.

“So what are you trying to say, that Dad is out of his tree?”

There are many others as well but you will have to give it a read and find them for yourself. I did this review differently from the last. Its longer, and more in depth in the story, and I was wondering if this is better, or if I should keep it shorter and smarter. What do you think? Let me know by dropping a comment below or email me at unspeakablegibberer@live.com. All in all I kind of liked this one, I just hope they get a little better down the line. Cheers!


Goosebumps: Welcome to Dead House

  Welcome to Dead House

  Cover Line: It will Just kill You.

  Back Line: Look Alive!

  Rating: 3 out of 5 stars in alignment

So a few months ago I was looking for something, that of which I can’t remember right now, and came across some old boxes from my childhood. It’s always fun to rummage through old keepsakes and memories, and as my wife and I went through them we came across my old Goosebumps books. Yep those cheesy horror pre-teen novels that everyone had to have. My selection spans the first 49 books in the “classic” series, and it got me to thinking about what any of them were about.

Although I don’t remember reading them all, I remember reading a few of them for sure. A few that stand out in my mind are; Monster Blood, The Haunted Mask, Night of the Living Dummy, and my favorite The Beast from the East. Typically plot based around one to three child protagonists who endure some evil/supernatural downfall, and are forced (usually without the help of able adults) to conquer it.

I guess im bringing all of this up because I plan on rereading through the series. And although I am missing the last twelve or so books, I think if the series is going good after 49 of books I might pick them up. Besides my kids my like them someday. So I began with #1 Welcome to Dead House, and decided to log this little challenge as I go and review each yarn as well.

Book Description: Amanda and Josh think the old house they have just moved into is weird. Spooky. Possibly haunted. And the town of Dark Falls is pretty strange, too. But their parents don’t believe them. You’ll get used to it, they say. Go out and make some new friends. So Amanda and Josh do. But these new friends are not exactly what their parents had in mind. Because they want to be friends… …forever.

So the new kids in town just don’t quite fit in with the rest of the folks in Dark Falls. By the way, who the hell would pick up leave their old life behind to move to a town called Dark Falls, seriously? Anyway, as the family tries to settle in, make new friends, the kids can’t help but feel a sense of dread, which turns in to paranoia for young Amanda. That was kind of annoying, but I guess it guilt up the suspicion in the story that the reader endures with the protagonist.

The story proceeds with strange encounters with what sound like pale emo pre-teens, who become Amanda and Josh’s friends. The family dog Petey seems to dislike everyone in the town including the real-estate agent that turns over the house, Mr. Dawes. No foreshadowing there. One day the dog runs off and the kids spend all day looking for it.

While the parents head off to a neighborhood party, the kids decide to head to the cemetery and look for the dog. On the way they encounter Ray, one of the emo pre-teens, who warns them that it’s dangerous to go to the cemetery at night. Duh. But they go anyway and discover more than their dog. Turns out the town is dead, and they find this out when they stumble upon the tombstones of the “friends” they’ve made the last few weeks. As they turn a flash light on Ray to inquire about this the kids face melts off from the bright light. Learning that everyone is dead including their dog, Petey, they realize that they are probably next.

So in a mad dash they head home to find their folks, but no one is there but the dead kids. Mr. Dawes shows up looking like a hero gaining Amanda and Josh’s trust and whisks them away in a car supposedly to see their parents. But it doesn’t take long to find out that Mr. Dawes is one of the town’s ghosts… zombies… vampires. I’m not sure what they are cause they’re out in the day, they just can’t be in direct light of any kind, they need fresh blood, but they appear and disappear like ghosts.

Anyway, the kids find their folks after melting Mr. Dawes, and crash a tree through a shaded area to expose sun light melting all the towns’ folk awaiting their bound parents sacrifice. So the kids save the day, and everyone is safe. They decide to move again and as they are leaving after everything is packed up, a new family rolls up the driveway and announces that they are the new owners of the house. But the worst part is that as they pull away from the home, Amanda sees who she believes is Mr. Dawes ushering the new occupants in the house. So she pretty much condemns the new family to murder. Nice.

Definitely not the best one in the series I can tell already, and im not entirely sure why or how this story kicked off the series, or helped in its popularity. The writing is obviously meant for younglings and I appreciate that. I’m hoping that the future books are at least a little better. Below is a little desert for those who want a mental refresher, I found the Welcome to Dead House episode that aired on Fox quite a while ago. Enjoy the commercials!