Title: Goosebumps Series 2000 #22 – Full Moon Fever, a.k.a. “The Worst Goosebumps Ever 2000” [Wing: Spoilers: LIES AND DAMN LIES IT’S GREAT.]
Author: R.L. Stine
Cover Artist: Tim Jacobus
Tagline: Hairy Halloween!
Summary: The blankets. The sheets. They were shredded.
Claws to bits.
Grunting, my chest heaving up and down. Raspy breaths escaping from my open mouth, I staggered across the bedroom to my mirror.
And stared at even more horror.
Tufts of short black fur grew from the back of my neck. Monstrous and ugly…
So I was having a lot of trouble deciding what book to pick for this fairy tale theme I decided on. “Legend of the Lost Legend” involved folk tales, “Beware, the Snowman” a nursery rhyme (sort of), and “A Night In Terror Tower” was about a prince and princess. What made me decide to recap “Full Moon Fever” is because it involves what might be considered a folk tale or a ghost story, it’s another entry most people don’t talk about, I had a commission from a friend I wanted to show off, AND I knew Wing would enjoy more werewolves.
Well, they’re sort of werewolves.
I should mention this book’s reputation of being the worst of the Goosebumps 2000 books, which already doesn’t have a stellar rep. In fact, this is essentially considered a rehash of “Chicken Chicken” which is considered by many to be THE worst Goosebumps book. But hey, I went with it because of my seasonal nostalgia for some of the 2000 books, the same reason I recapped “The Werewolf in the Living Room” last year.
[Wing: That is the weirdest werewolf illustration I’ve ever seen, so I hope they are only sort of werewolves. That looks more like were … I don’t even know what. Some sort of weremarsupial?
Also, huge thanks to Dove who handled our recent site hack. She’s a rock star.]
Robbie and his sister Alesha are playing and messing around with their pet dog Scruffy as they tend to do so, much to their mom’s annoyance as she doesn’t like them teasing the dog. Kids why you gotta howl like that? It’s not like you’re werewolves or something…
Anyway, Robbie and Alesha are kind of nervous because they’re gonna be spending the night at their Grandpa John’s cabin in the woods. They always hear all sorts of weird and strange creatures and howling and moving around outside his house, late at night. Kinda creepy. [Wing: I would like to stay there immediately. How come I don’t have any relatives with creepy houses in the woods? … Oh, wait, I am far more likely to be the relative with the creepy house in the woods. I should get on that.]
Their parents are confused because they thought the siblings LIKED spending time with their Grandpa, and honestly from how it sounds John is pretty cool. See, even though Robbie and Alesha both like scary movies and stuff like that, they both kind of feel John’s ghost stories might be TOO scary, even for them. Like his story about the Headless Fifth Grader, or the Bottom Feeders. The former was about a kid whose head got chopped off by his classmates who then buried the head somewhere, but he still went to class every day! The latter was about two girls who drowned in a lake, but now live at the bottom feeding off bugs and garbage trying to drown more people so they have friends.
But as their parents point out, since John lives all by himself and doesn’t have kids of his own to look after anymore, he always enjoys having his grand kids over. The kids attempt to stall for a bit, asking if they can bring Scruffy or they may be allergic to their grandpa. Sorry kids, you’re not getting out of this one. Robbie just hopes tonight won’t be TOO scary…
On the way to Grandpa’s house, Robbie and Alesha discuss what they want to be for Halloween. Their parents say they can’t both be giant furry alien bugs since where are they gonna get all that fur? God knows there’s not enough on Scruffy.
John is waiting for them outside his cabin, and is happy to welcome the little flies into his parlor, heh heh. They notice he’s got a new armchair, since a raccoon got in and scratched up the old one. He’s reasonably sure the raccoon’s not still in the house. Oh but hey, he tells Robbie he stocked up on these snack cakes he knows Robbie likes so much and is gonna make popcorn for some real pig-out time. Aww, he pays attention to what his grand kids like to eat.
Once the parents leave, John gets a roaring fire going and brings out the snacks and apple cider for story time. Lighting his pipe to settle in, John notes Halloween is coming up soon. When they hear the sound of the howling wind, John asks Robbie and Alesha if that sounded like someone who caught a case of [INSERT TITLE HERE]. The kids have never heard of such a thing, so John takes them back to last year when he was hiking in the Canadian woods. Cold, but pleasant. And he was totally alone except for the sounds of nature. However, one night he wandered too far from his campsite and got lost.
Searching for hours, the batteries in his flashlight dying, surrounded by the sound of hungry forest animals, John got lucky when he stumbled upon a cabin in the woods. Despite how messy he looked, the old woman living in the cabin invited him inside. Warming by the fire and offered some soup, John’s company was welcomed by the woman since her hunter husband was out. [Wing: I’ve heard this urban legend! Her husband is out hunting for humans! I love this story.] She gave him directions back to the path so John could find his campsite, but warned him to keep his head down and not look up at the full moon. That night was a sure night for Full Moon Fever.
See, normally the full moon is harmless, but not on Halloween. The light changes, and becomes dangerous. If you look up at the full moon on Halloween night, if you look at just the right moment, you catch Full Moon Fever. It starts like a sudden case of the flu, only it doesn’t turn you into a werewolf per say. The creature you become is half man, half beast, but the beast part could be anything really. You’re overcome by powerful hunger and rage. You can never live among other humans again. The only cure is to wait until the next full moon, when you must raise your eyes to the moon at the right moment.
Of course, no one ever survives until the next full moon…
[Wing: CHALLENGE ACCEPTED.]
John left the cabin, thankful for the directions but thinking what a wild and unbelievable tale that was. He was able to find the path alright, but then he looked up as the clouds departed to reveal the full moon. As the light washed over him, John felt cold and dizzy. He started to sweat. He fell to his knees. And then the… change began. His whole body itched as coarse black fur began to grow on his skin, and his teeth became fangs and his nails became claws. He turned into a monster! He caught Full Moon Fever!
AND NOW HE WANTS TO GIVE IT TO ROBBIE AND ALESHA!
John CAN’T believe they fell for that. Like come on guys, it was just a story! Robbie, Alesha, you guys are TOO easy.
Robbie has trouble falling asleep that night and watches the pale glow of the half moon from the cabin window. When the kids leave the next morning, John cracks a joke about the next full moon appearing on Halloween. Hope they don’t catch Full Moon Fever!
Too bad they didn’t listen…
The week before Halloween, Robbie and Alesha caught the flu and were stuck in bed for days. They were so sick they didn’t even have the energy to work on their costumes and had to rush. Robbie put together a quick Zorro costume that everyone teases while Alesha decided to go as a Yellow Teletubby (Because it was the 90s, you see!)
Before the kids leave, their mom warns them not to leave their candy lying around like they did last year. She reminds them how Scruffy got into their bags last year and got sick from eating their candy. You know how Scruffy will eat anything off the floor. Anything!
While leaving the house Alesha keeps trying to adjust the funnel on her head, wondering if she should be using baby talk to complete the ensemble. Robbie jokes she always talks like a baby when he realizes there really is a full moon tonight. As they joke about Full Moon Fever, they got attacked by a werewolf!
Who is actually their friend Maggie in a great costume! See, she’s wanted to dress up as a wolf ever since she did that awesome report on wolf packs in school. But she’s not sure what kind of fur was used to make the costume.
[Wing: Aww, Maggie, let’s be BFFs.]
Maggie officially joins Robbie and Alesha as they trick or treat throughout the neighborhood, and they get a pretty good haul. The girls can’t wait to get home and start digging into their loot. But Robbie had to spoil the mood when he suggested they go to THAT house. You know, the one where Mrs. Eakins lives.
Alesha reminds Robbie about how Mrs. Eakins totally hates them, ever since they kicked a soccer ball through her front window (Wow I made the right choice to recap this considering what happens in “Jack and the Beanstalker”). Mrs. Eakins was totally terrifying, threatening to call the cops on them and looking positively demonic. She wouldn’t even give them the ball back! Robbie feels that was ages ago, she probably doesn’t remember them. And besides, they’re in costume. Maggie agrees with Alesha and refuses to go near that house, saying she’s heard Mrs. Eakins is a crazy witch who curses people. Like Mrs. Tavers down the block, who got on her bad side and now she can’t stop blinking.
Maggie bolts before the siblings go near the Eakins house, so Robbie goes up to her door regardless even as Alesha pleads with him not to. He knocks on the door, it slowly opens, and Mrs. Eakins is nothing but polite and courteous. Robbie’s secretly relieved she really doesn’t recognize them as Mrs. Eakins puts two big candy bars each in their bags, wishing them a Happy Halloween and complimenting them on their costumes.
Heading home, the kids start to eat some of their candy and they really like the stuff Mrs. Eakins gave them. “Best Bars” it says on the wrappers. But then Robbie stops and remembers Full Moon Fever, daring his sister to see if John’s story was true. They argue for a bit before Robbie dares Alesha to join her, accusing her of being scared of John’s story. So brother and sister stop and look up at the full moon…
And are immediately wracked with pain! Robbie and Alesha stumble to the ground, their vision blurring, stomachs aching, and then the world is swallowed by darkness.
When Robbie comes to, he has no idea where he is. It’s agonizing trying to get up, but once he fully awakens he realizes he’s in his room. It’s morning, and he has no idea how he got home. He thinks what happened was only a dream, until he sees his bed has been ripped to shreds and is covered in coarse black hairs, leaves, and sticks! And there’s a trail of muddy, claw-shaped footprints leading to his bed!
Robbie is left reeling as he gets up and sees his reflection in the mirror. He’s a monster! He has a wolf snout and fangs, coarse black fur is growing on his arms, legs, neck, face. The only things that haven’t changed are his eyes and the hair on his head. He really has contracted Full Moon Fever!
But that means…
Robbie stumbles out of his room trying to find Alesha. He bangs on her bedroom door but can’t say her name; it comes out as a growl. And a growl is what he gets for a response. Slurring his words, Robbie bursts into Alesha’s room and is horrified to see his sister’s become a monster too. Alesha swings her fists at Robbie, angry and crying, making it clear she blames him for this. Robbie accepts the blame but says he didn’t really think the story was true! The two start fighting and wrestling each other, throwing themselves against the walls before Alesha struggles to ask what they can do. Robbie thinks they have to get their parents and Alesha starts calling for their mom. They find her in the kitchen, and she flips out! Who are you?! WHAT are you?!
Robbie and Alesha can’t get her to understand they’re her children and their mom is understandably scared shitless. Their mom grabs a broom and swings it at them, enraging the two because of their new monster temperaments. The kids are trapped in their own heads as they ransack the place, getting especially mad when their mom tries to call the police. Robbie realizes the two of them have to get away before they hurt one of their parents, dragging Alesha away as she tries to rip off the fridge door.
The kids start running through yards, losing themselves in the exhilaration of being outside before Robbie fears someone will see them. Now their monster appetites are taking over and the siblings get distracted by some squirrels. WHICH THEY EAT. They finally calm down after eating two and stop to bury the bones like dogs. It takes a lot of effort but they manage to communicate with each other, discussing how they can fix themselves. Robbie knows they need their Grandpa John, but how will they get to him? Hiding behind some bushes, Alesha proposes they get Maggie to help. Her older brother Clay can drive, so he can bring them to John to find out if there’s a cure. But Maggie should be in school right now. How long can they wait without getting caught or going ballistic again?
The kids try sneaking to Maggie’s house and watch as she gets driven to school. They decide they’ll have to hide by one of the houses near the school and wait for her to leave. The sight of some kids heading to school makes Robbie think about last night, and candy, and suddenly he’s hungry again. Robbie stops to dig up some worms to eat before Alesha tells him to get moving. They make their way into someone’s backyard, but Robbie trips over a rake and stumbles into the garage wall and he LOSES HIS SHIT.
Robbie and Alesha start wrecking shit which catches the attention of the home owner, and he’s got no idea what he’s looking at. The kids turn on him, so the man grabs the rake and whacks Alesha in the side of the head! She goes down like a sack of candy bars! Now Robbie is especially mad and he’s prepared to kill the guy even if he dies too. The man manages to pin Robbie against the garage wall, but Robbie is able to snap the rake handle in two and bites the guy’s arm!
The man stumbles away, clutching his arm in pain and retreating back into the house. Thankfully Alesha begins to stir but hopes for a moment it was all a horrible dream. It’s not. The two hurry since the guy is obviously calling the police, but as the siblings head for Maggie’s place they accidentally cause a car crash. More people are seeing them and there are police officers nearby! Their only hope is to hide in the sewer.
Robbie and Alesha crawl into a manhole near Maggie’s house and spend hours waiting for her to come home, passing the time by eating bugs and worms in the sewer water. When they’re sure enough time has passed, the siblings exit and search for Maggie. Sucks to be Maggie because she has NO idea why two monsters are calling her name and chasing after her!
Alesha tackles Maggie and screams she has to help them, pleading that they’re friends. Maggie begs the two to let her go until Robbie says to look into their eyes to see it’s them. Doing as they say, Maggie is horrified when she realizes it IS Robbie and Alesha, understandably asking what the fuck happened?! Maggie brings them to her house so they aren’t scaring anyone else. The siblings try to explain they caught Full Moon Fever and need Maggie’s brother to drive them to their grandfather for help. Maggie says she’ll see what she can do and Alesha almost hugs her before realizing that would just freak her out more.
But once again Robbie HAD to ruin everything when he starts eating the fish in Maggie’s aquarium, so now she wants them out of her fucking house! As they got forced out of the house by Maggie’s screaming, Alesha rips up the big jack-o’-lantern on the porch and heaves it at the door. After the siblings eat the rest of the pumpkin they’re left stewing in horror at what they’ve become. Now they have to get to Grandpa John’s cabin on foot.
Forced to hide until dark, it takes forever for Robbie and Alesha to get to John’s cabin. Hidden by the tall grass near the highway, they stop briefly to eat roadkill while being totally disgusted by their actions. [Wing: Dude, this is pretty disgusting for a Goosebumps book! I love that they keep having to scavenge gross things to feed their hunger, and that they’re struggling not to destroy people they actually care about.] They finally reach the cabin by early morning and freak out John as he wakes up. However, when he recognizes their eyes, he immediately thinks this is a Halloween joke they’re pulling. Robbie and Alesha scream this isn’t a joke and they caught Full Moon Fever. John is left stammering that’s impossible because it was only a story. He says of course there’s no cure for a fictional disease. The kids are all “DUDE DOES THIS LOOK FICTIONAL TO YOU?!”
John attempts to calm the kids down saying the old lady’s story DID mention you’d have to wait for the next full moon, but that pisses off the kids more. They can’t wait another month for the full moon in the state they’re in! They eat everything they can get their hands on! Their tempers are out of control! They’re MONSTERS! And they’re so angry they try to kill their grandpa!
Robbie is only barely able to restrain himself and Alesha before they hurt John, when Robbie declares he can take them to that old woman! She knew about Full Moon Fever, maybe she knows how to help. John wants to aid his grandchildren but asks what they’ll do if it turns out they can’t find her? The kids figure they have to try.
While the kids eat in John’s cabin, he’s able to call their parents and assure them Robbie and Alesha are okay. Sort of. He’s taking them on an impromptu trip and says he’ll give them all the details later. Well he’s trying. John calls an airline to schedule a flight, and then arranges to get cargo carriers so the kids can safely ride in the plane without being exposed.
The kids are loaded into the cargo hold of the plane, and they’re getting more and more anxious surrounded by all those dogs and pets. But then Alesha confides in Robbie she is absolutely terrified and wishes they were home. Robbie feels the exact same way but lies to his sister they’ll be fine.
John rents a jeep and drives the kids to the woods he hiked in the previous year. They have to travel the rest of the way on foot in order to find the cabin, John struggling to recall any landmarks from the last time he was in the area. It seems they’re lost and have been wandering forever when Robbie spots an orange glow in the distance. A fire? The cabin! Is it the same one? Only one way to find out. They knock on the door…
And the old lady starts screaming at them to get away, brandishing a rifle!
John steps forward and pleads with the woman they need her help. The woman recognizes John and he gestures to Robbie and Alesha, saying they have Full Moon Fever. The woman doesn’t believe him, saying it was only a story. She’s terrified of the kids and demands to know what John wants from her. Full Moon Fever doesn’t exist, she says, so how can she cure the kids?
Panicking as the kids get angry, the woman says someone nearby might be the one to help. She directs the kids and John to a Dr. Thorne, a weird old doctor who’s lived in the woods for seventy years. He’s got a cabin with his son and they’re both rather creepy. If anyone might be able to help…
Well it’s clear the woman’s trying to get rid of John and the kids, but they don’t have any options so they figure they’ll check out Dr. Thorne. Robbie mentions this is when their nightmare really started.
The kids and John follow the forest path to a ramshackle house that’s basically a bunch of shacks stuck together. There’s a boat and a bunch of fishing nets strung up on poles. The group is confused by how weird everything seems when they meet a chubby redheaded guy in overalls. He’s surprised, but not terrified of the kids and asks what happened. The redhead says he’s Dr. Thorne’s son, Dr. Thorne Junior. Actually his name’s Roger, but goes by Wolf. He has no idea why.
Oh and the boat is for when the rains come and the world gets flooded.
Um… is this when we start to learn about the seven signs of evil?
Wolf gets too grabby and puts his hand on Robbie’s neck, yanking his fur to see if it’s real. Up close to Wolf and his chubby belly, Robbie declares he wonders what wolf meat tastes like. John intercedes and says they need Dr. Thorne’s help. Wolf leads them into the house, where the main room is full of ropes and nets.
Oh and SURPRISE! Wolf was Dr. Thorne all along! He rips off his hair to reveal it was a wig, pulls off his double chins to show he’s slender and wrinkly. You can’t judge a man for being so lonely he decided to pretend he was his own son, right?
No seriously Wing do we judge him? Because I feel like I wanna judge him. Or Stine. Or myself for putting us through this.
[Wing: Well I’m judging him. If he’s pretending to be his own son, he needs to really invest in it and carry it all the way through to the end, not give up the trick as soon as he gets people inside his home.]
The kids and John try to explain they need help with Full Moon Fever. Dr. Thorne thinks for a moment and Robbie feels himself getting angry again, wanting to tear the place up. He can see Alesha feels the same way. Thorne pulls out some books from his shelf and goes to his desk to read, complaining Wolf had an easier time reading the tiny print. Unfortunately, he can’t find anything about Full Moon Fever in the books, but Thorne promises he’s going to help them.
Cue the nets coming down from the ceiling on Robbie, Alesha, and John.
How is Dr. Thorne gonna help them? He’s gonna help them by making them into stars!
Robbie says Dr. Thorne’s been keeping him and Alesha prisoner for three weeks, making them live in cages while he keeps their grandpa handcuffed in a trailer. Thorne’s turned them into sideshow freaks, “DR. THORNE’S MONSTER KIDS,” as part of a traveling carnival. People pay money to see the siblings, to laugh and gawk and grab at them and throw things at them. It’s horrible. Oh sure there are other freaks, but they’re fakes. No one cares about them. Robbie and Alesha have nightmares about people laughing at them no matter how angry they get.
Jesus this took a turn.
On the night the moon was finally full, Robbie told Alesha his plan to get out of there. Because the old lady’s story said they had to wait for the next full moon, remember? In order to get out of the cage to bask in the full moon’s light, they have to pretend to be sick. So when Thorne brings their usual meal of raw meat, he’ll open the door wider and they’ll surprise him. Alesha asks why they didn’t think of this before.
But Thorne doesn’t show up, so maybe he knows they need the full moon to be cured, and it’s almost at its peak! Robbie is overwhelmed by the thought his life will be like this for good; the banana peels, the garbage, the laughter, the grabbing, it’s too much! IT’S TOO MUCH! Feeling angrier than they’ve ever felt before, Robbie and Alesha lose their shit and throw themselves against the cage bars until they finally bend. Once they escape, the kids make quick work of Thorne when he tries to whip them into submission. Tackling Thorne, they throw him in an empty cage and slam it shut so he can’t interrupt them…
Too bad nothing happens. The moonlight has no effect.
As Thorne screams the kids can’t leave because they have no other place to go, Robbie and Alesha are at least able to rescue John so they can go home. They have that much to look forward to, at least.
Returning home the same way they came, John wires Robbie and Alesha’s parents to inform them the kids are okay. But be prepared for a shock. [Wing: You mean beyond the shock of their kids and someone’s dad going missing for nearly a month? That shock? Which no one seems to really care about?] Robbie wonders what their parents will do this time. What are their lives gonna be like? John gently coaxes the kids to come inside their house so he can explain to the parents what happened, but they haven’t come home from work yet. The kids receive small comfort that Scruffy is happy to see them, though.
Robbie tries to restrain himself from eating Scruffy by wondering if there’s any Halloween candy left in his room. The bag is on his chair and Robbie digs in, ripping open the candy wrappers and devouring the treats. He stops long enough to tell Scruffy not to eat any of it, until one wrapper catches his eye and suddenly everything makes sense.
Screaming for Alesha, he tells her he knows what happened to them. It wasn’t Full Moon Fever after all! It’s something worse! Alesha enters the room and Robbie reminds her of how they went to the house of Mrs. Eakins. Well, it turns out she didn’t give them “Best Bars” after all. He misread the label because it was so dark out. Robbie holds the candy bar wrapper to Alesha’s face, who sees the wrapper actually said BEAST BAR! [Wing: HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.]
THIS WAS REVENGE FOR THE SOCCER BALL YOU SEE ROBBIE YOU JUST HAAAAAAD TO GO TO HER HOUSE.
Robbie and Alesha fucking lose it knowing Mrs. Eakins is the one who did this to them, running out of the house and ready to murder her. They burst into the old woman’s house and tear the place apart screaming her name. Mrs. Eakins calmly appears in the room, pleased to see her little beasts had a fun Halloween. Alesha lunges at the witch and pins her to the wall, so, you know, maybe DON’T tease the kids you turned into murderous monsters. Robbie goes to join his sister when he stumbles into a cabinet and out fall more candy bars. Only these say “Cure Bar!”
Robbie tells Alesha to hold off because he found the cure! Alesha lets Mrs. Eakins go and the two start devouring the candy. Only then Eakins declares they’re gonna grow smaller and smaller. Like they care what she has to say!
The siblings run out of the witch’s house, happy their nightmare is over, until they feel a tingly sensation and realize they really ARE shrinking. Alesha holds up one of the bars and realizes Robbie did it again. The wrapper really said…
[Wing: ROBBIE WOULD YOU FUCKING LEARN TO SLOW DOWN WHEN YOU’RE READING CANDY BAR WRAPPERS?!]
That’s it. T-that’s the ending.
And I mean all that over a fucking soccer ball, not even Basement Bart or Dr. Morthouse would’ve been that cruel! THEY would’ve just murdered the kids.
Two things though. First, I wanna give props to John for how hard he worked to try and help the kids, even if there wasn’t much he could do. I’ve always felt it’s genuinely scarier to show parents TRYING to help their kids in these stories but are left unable to do so because they’re so far beyond their abilities to fix. Because unfortunately, that’s a part of life. I’d rather have parents who do their best instead of oblivious, abusive parents.
Second, wow the pettiness of that woman! No really, she goes out of her way to make cursed candy bars and makes sure they’re individually wrapped with the names on the wrappers. T-that takes fucking balls. That takes commitment to your craft.
I’ve long had an idea for a sequel to this book called “Halloween Moon,” because really Robbie and Alesha didn’t deserve to be left like that. But it ties into “Chicken Chicken” so I’ll wait until I recap that one to give the details.
[Wing: I love the hell out of this book, especially the ending. It’s delightful to see a petty, vindictive woman, and the monster parts were delightful. I also choose to believe that Maggie is a for real werewolf what with that whole weird bit about her not knowing what kind of fur her costume is made of. There are a couple of legends about someone becoming a werewolf because they’ve donned the right furs or other skin.]