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Recap #101: Goosebumps: Haunted Library by R. L. Stine, A.K.A. “The Lost Goosebumps”

Cover of Goosebumps Haunted Library, door and Hershey's welcome mat with title informationGoosebumps Haunted Library back cover

Title: Goosebumps Haunted Library

Author: R.L. Stine

Cover Artist: N/A

Summary: Curly is not only the coolest of ghouls, he’s actually frightfully well read. He “freak”-quents the library often and gives “Goosebumps to all the browsers and loungers who dare to enter. The latest hair-raising additions to his private collection are three titles, “THE HALLOWEEN GAME,” “BAD DOG,” and “DON’T MAKE ME LAUGH” which have been written by R.L. Stine especially for Hershey, Pepsi, and Frito-Lay. Every Boo Dude will want to “check out” this exclusive “Thrillogy” Mini-book collection. Come back again real soon for more of the “Good, Clean, Scary Fun” that is Goosebumps!

Initial Thoughts

In the mid 1990s, Scholastic did a special giveaway partnered with the Pepsi, Hershey, and Frito-Lays corporations. They allowed people to send away for limited edition Goosebumps stories printed in tiny pamphlets, and were also given the opportunity to receive a special cardboard carrying case to store all three stories. The set was called “Goosebumps: Haunted Library,” and I shit you not I had not heard of them until a few years ago when someone updated the Wikipedia page. At first I thought this was some other scrapped project like “Goosebumps Gold,” and was pleased to learn it was not. As a major stroke of good luck, I was able to find and purchase the complete set off eBay. I even went out of my way to contact Troy Steele, the genius behind “Blogger Beware,” and offered to share with him the three stories so he could do his patented style of reviews for them. He never replied back, so like always, it’s now down to me to educate you poor schmucks.

Notice how the “books” in the library are either endorsements for products by the three corporations or are simplistic horror titles like “The Dark Basement” by Jen or “Goblins” by Kari.

Also, I got the set autographed by R.L. Stine at the signing last December. I think he barely remembered Haunted Library.

[Wing: I had never heard of this before. I am now delighted by it.]

Goosebumps Haunted Library signed editionGoosebumps Haunted Library signature close upGoosebumps Haunted Library plate

Recap

The Halloween Game

The first rule about the Halloween Game is we don’t start off the recap with a Fight Club reference.

Robbie and his friends Krista and Carl are celebrating what may be their last Halloween, since they’re almost teenagers. Krista has the best costume out of the group, a silver princess get up, while Robbie’s a chimp and Carl’s wearing a worn out skeleton costume that needs to be put out of its misery. While trick-or-treating, the group runs into their class’s obligatory creepy loner, Miles, who has a group of kids sitting in a circle at his house ala Jonestown. Robbie is about to tell Miles that they do NOT want Kool-Aid when Miles explains they’re merely preparing to play [INSERT TITLE HERE]. All the other kids are like “Trick or treating is soooo 1994,” so Robbie’s group buckles under peer pressure and agree to play the game.

THE RULES: The kids must venture to Miles’ Aunt Freeda’s (yes it’s spelled “Freeda”) house, which conveniently looks exactly like Miles’ (which is not a compliment, his house looks like the house Hitchcock wouldn’t use for “Psycho” because it was too fucked up even for him). There’s candy hidden all over the aunt’s house. Whoever finds the most candy and brings it back to Miles’ house in under a half hour wins. What’s the prize? NOBODY KNOWS. [Wing: Yes, yes, I’m totally down with searching a creepy house for secret candy in order to win an unnamed prize. 100% behind this game. Totally.]

What follows is the most fucked up Halloween anyone outside of Haddonfield has ever had.

The three kids venture to Aunt Freeda’s house by themselves, but suddenly sense they aren’t truly alone. Something is following them, and it’s… a panther. An honest to God black panther. The kids try to outrun this predator when Carl trips and seemingly breaks his arm. Robbie and Krista can’t do anything to help him so they scurry up a tree as fast as they can, [Wing: Because panthers can’t climb trees…?] powerless to do anything but listen to Robbie’s horrified shrieks in the distance. When Robbie’s death rattle fades away, Robbie and Krista cautiously climb down the tree… and continue to Aunt Freeda’s house.

I shit you not, they don’t bother to look for Carl or call for help from any of the houses, because something is compelling the former trio to move forward.

Walking around the corner from the yard they were hiding in, Robbie and Krista find Aunt Freeda’s house. Well, they most likely have, because every house on this block looks exactly like Miles’ place. Figuring the only sensible, and I use that term loosely, thing to do is check each house until they find Aunt Freeda’s, These kids can’t seem to catch a break, because the first house they go up to is on fire. No wait, the fire’s coming from the back of the garage, but it’s coming from…

A DRAGON. A FIRE BREATHING DRAGON I AM NOT FUCKING WITH ANY OF YOU. A GODDAMN FIRE BREATHING DRAGON LUMBERS OUT FROM BEHIND THE GARAGE. WHAT IS WITH THIS NEIGHBORHOOD?!

[Wing: THAT ESCALATED QUICKLY!]

Robbie and Krista spend too much time in shock because when they finally make a move, the dragon swoops up Krista by her fake wings in its mouth. Robbie has no idea what to do as Krista screams for help, when he spies with his little eye the metal sword sticking out of a nearby tree trunk. Because why not. Unfortunately, Robbie’s bravado is undercut by the fact that the sword’s a cheap piece of crap that shatters the minute Robbie tries to stab the dragon. And so, not for a lack of trying, Robbie loses another friend… and still he decides he must finish the game. Robbie, you a cold sumbitch.

[Wing: I would want Robbie on a team I put together to win something, so long as I didn’t have to also be a part of the team.]

Numb from disassociation or because he’s a sociopath, Robbie finally makes it to Aunt Freeda’s house and sees several other kids have started looking for candy. Not wanting to fall behind or mention that his friends are FUCKING DEAD, Robbie skulks around the dark house attempting to find candy before the others and wanders into a bedroom. He sees some candy of the dresser but realizes once again he’s not alone when a ghoul springs out from the closet. Several more ghouls surround Robbie in the bedroom and then, and THEN… everything just stops. Robbie is simply frozen in place, as are the ghouls surrounding him and the entire world around them. Robbie is now terrified beyond belief. He has no idea what’s happening or what will happen to him? What is going on?

We then shift to a busy board room full of busy business men and a busy young video game programmer who has just shown off the beta version for his Halloween style video game. The executives seem amused by how the programmer named the three kids after their kids in real life, but they decide not to buy the game. They feel kids won’t think it’s scary enough. While I feel kids are gonna think the game MAKES NO DAMN SENSE.

But hey I would’ve played the hell out of this game if it was real. But don’t include just one weapon if it’s not gonna work, that’s just cheating.

[Wing: I’m so confused. Are they supposed to be fighting the monsters? Running and grabbing candy? Do the executives need more blood and guts? WHAT, STINE, WHAT?]

Bad Dog

No dog! You go dog somewhere else to dog!

Cathy and her brother Sean love going to school. They think it’s soooo much fun, better than Disneyland and hot chocolate combined. They always take a shortcut through the local cemetery to go to home, but today something’s a little different. The kids have attracted an unwanted guest. Cathy puts it best:

A big, mean-looking dog stepped out from behind a tombstone. The dog lowered its head and growled again. It had mangy yellow fur. One eye was swollen shut. But I could see the other eye clearly. It was a sickly yellow color.

Just so we’re on the same page, this is clearly a [INSERT TITLE HERE]. Cathy displays a backbone and tries ordering the dog to leave, but all it does is glare at her and Sean, who is already scared of dogs as is. Cathy notices two classmates, Judy and Martin, nearby, and asks if this is their dog. Judy vehemently says no. As Cathy continues scolding the dog, Sean breaks away and runs for home. Cathy follows her brother, and when they turn around, they see the dog is gone.

That evening, Cathy and Sean are doing their homework with their beloved cat Fluff skulking around the table. Sean finishes his homework and says he’ll go for a bike ride, but soon Cathy hears screaming from the garage. The dog is back and has Sean cornered, so Cathy grabs it by the collar and drags it outside when she once again notices Judy and Martin spying on them. The pattern repeats the next day, the dog cornering Cathy and Sean in the graveyard while Judy and Martin spy from a distance. The dog gets more physical this time, nudging Sean with its head and forcing him up against a gravestone before Cathy hauls it away.

Cathy decides their best course of action is to take the dog far away enough that it’ll get lost and won’t find them again. [Wing: That only works if you can then leave in a way that doesn’t put your scent everywhere, but nice try, Cathy.] Despite the dog’s angry protests, Cathy drags the dog deeper into the woods with Sean behind her. After walking for an eternity, Cathy and Sean manage to bring the dog to the town on the other side of the woods. A staring contest ensues between dog and girl, and the dog eventually lops off down the street. Giddily the kids make their way to school an hour late, but too overjoyed at getting rid of the dog for good. NOT! Because when they leave school, there it is waiting for them at the front steps.

It’s at this moment Judy and Martin return once more and, I, the only way I can do this sequence justice is to just let you read it for yourselves.

“Dogs always know,” a girl’s voice said.

“Huh?” Startled, I glanced up to see Judy and Martin standing at the side of the walk.

The dog turned to them too. And uttered an angry growl.

“What did you say?” I called to Judy.

“Dogs always know,” she repeated.

“Know what?” I demanded angrily. “Dogs always know when people are afraid of them?”

Judy shook her head. She and Martin both narrowed their eyes at us. “Dogs always know when people are ghosts!” she exclaimed.

[Wing: WAIT, WHAT?]

What a twist!

But wait, it gets better.

Cathy and Sean admit they ARE ghosts, and beg Judy and Martin to call their dog off. They can’t, because it’s not their dog, and because they’re ghosts too! It’s like that movie “The Others” only without Nicole Kidman shooting kids. [Wing: No, really, WAIT WHAT?]

The kids worry about what they can do to stop the dog. They don’t want people knowing they’re ghosts because then they won’t be able to go to school anymore, or do anything else. They’ll lose all contact with the living world. Suddenly, Cathy has another idea. The four kids head back to Sean and Cathy’s house, the dog chasing after them. Cathy orders her cat Fluff to go after the dog. The dog practically shits bricks when it sees Fluff and scampers off, Fluff following after him. The kids all start to laugh.

After all, the only ghost that can scare a dog is a ghost CAT!

A-ha.

A-ha-ha.

Shut up.

[Wing: WAIT FUCKING WHAT?!]

Don’t Make Me Laugh!

Trust me, you won’t.

Luke and Josh are assholes who like to grab kids and tickle them until they cry. They pride themselves on this hobby, and call themselves the Laugh Police. Seriously. Just read this:

“No—please!” Billy begged. “Please, don’t!”

A lot of kids beg Josh and me. But we don’t pay any attention. We tickle them anyway.

“You can go first, Luke,” Josh said to me. He held Billy’s shoulders to ground. And I started to tickle his ribs.

“Stop—please!” Billy begged. He started to kick both legs.

But you can’t squirm away from Josh and me. We know what we’re doing. I tickled Billy with both hands, digging my fingers into his sides. He started laughing, and begging, and kicking, and squirming, all at the same time.

Sure it’s mean. But it’s also fun!

Because who needs consent, am I right? [Wing: Future rapists, right here.]

Luke and Josh congratulate themselves on assaulting another victim and look for more around the playground when the alien shows up. [Wing: WAIT WHAT?]

The little guy stood about two feet tall. He was kind of purple, the color of a purple onion. In fact, his face was round and blank—just like a purple onion!

He wore silver overalls, which bulged over a round belly. He was barefoot with three long purple toes on each foot, and three long purple fingers on each hand.

A number of aliens emerge from a nearby spaceship and drag the two boys inside against their will. The alien captain, called “Crog,” claims they need the boys’ “Special powers.” That is, the way they make people laugh. Crog explains on his planet no one has laughed for centuries. It’s been so long they simply don’t know how, so they want Luke and Josh to make them laugh. Luke and Josh must make Klandor III and Klandora, the king and queen, laugh. If they can’t make them laugh, then they dead.

Not even bothering to describe the arduous journey through space or what the alien planet looks like (or is even called), Luke and Josh are taken to a throne room decked in purple and filled with thousands of aliens. The king and queen stand out for being dressed in gold instead of silver. Klandor III says he and his queen shall have the privilege to laugh first. Whatever happened to democracy, amirite? Anyway, Luke and Josh try to tickle Klandor. Nothing. Desperately, they use both hands. Still nothing. They try to tickle the queen. Still nothing again. Klandor orders the guards to take Josh and Luke to the disintegration room where they will be disintegrated with disintegration in the disintegration room. Sorry, I don’t usually get to use “disintegration” in a sentence.

Luke and Josh beg for another chance and scrambling to save their sorry asses they start making funny faces. Oh that does NOT end well, and Klandor once again orders them to be disintegrated. At that moment, Luke and Josh lose it and burst into tears. That, surprisingly, does the trick. The aliens seem to find crying the funniest thing ever, so the boys keep crying as long as they can. Then the aliens stop laughing and the sound of anguish fills the throne room. Klandor finally remembers why his people don’t laugh, because it cause pain. He orders the boys to be disintegrated.

Luke doesn’t know whether to laugh or cry.

*Whomp-whomp*

[Wing: NO.]

Final Thoughts

The story I enjoyed the most of the three was, as you can tell, the Halloween Game. The other two were just kind of bleh, but at least Stine’s consistent with his use of dogs being able to tell when someone’s dead.

I still think someone needs to make an actual game of the Halloween Game. Someone on Newgrounds needs to get on that.

[Wing: My theme was clearly WAIT WHAT and I stand by that. STINE! WHAT WERE YOU DOING?]

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