Recap #235: Goosebumps Series 2000 #8: Fright Camp by R.L. Stine by

13 August 2019
Fright Camp Cover by Tim Jacobus

Fright Camp Cover by Tim Jacobus

Title: Goosebumps Series 2000 #8 – “Fright Camp,” a.k.a. “Return of the Go-carts from the Evil Kingdom!”

Author: R.L. Stine

Cover Artist: Tim Jacobus

Cover Tagline: Where the wild things are… out of control!

Ad Tagline: You’re not going to play baseball.

You’re not going to go swimming.

You’re going to get scared!

Summary:

I lowered my head and started to swim slowly, steadily out to the white, floating platform. I was four or five strokes away from it when I felt something wrap around my ankle.

At first, I thought it was a piece of seaweed.

But then I felt it grip me. I thrashed the water with both hands.

“Let go-!”

But the hard, bony hand held on, tugging me, tugging me underwater.

Initial Thoughts

So for this summer I picked one GYG book, a G2000 book, and an original Goosebumps book to review alongside the Graveyard School recaps.

I wouldn’t say “Fright Camp” is one of my favorites but I’m definitely fond of it. It’s one of the oldest of the 2000 books I own, which I acquired from a friend of my brother’s way back when we still lived in the basement apartment of the house.

I enjoy “Fright Camp” for the same reason I enjoy “Shocker on Shock Street” and “One Day at Horrorland,” the world building. There are a number of horror movies mentioned in this book and they’re all fucking ridiculous and I love them all.

Recap

Andrew Herman wants to know if you’ve ever seen any of the movies directed by R.B. Farraday. “The Revenge of Dr. Cruel,” “The Carnival of Disgusting Horrors,” “Crab Monsters Versus The Leech People.” Any of those ring a bell?

Well Andrew and his younger brother Tyler are big, BIG fans of R.B. Farraday. They love all things horror, but Farraday’s stuff is their favorite. They watch his TV show “Nightmare House” every night, they see all his films when they’re in theaters and then they buy them on video (Because it was the 90s, you see!). So you can imagine the boys almost had a conniption fit last winter when their dad brought them a brochure for [INSERT TITLE HERE], R.B. Farraday’s very own fantasy horror camp!

Andrew and Tyler were bouncing off the walls from excitement, because from the adverts it looked like the camp had everything. The Lake of the Water Demons, the Haunted Forest, it was awesome! Andrew’s dad warned the boys that the camp might be TOO scary for them, as if such a thing were possible.

But as the months rolled by and Andrew and Tyler waited for July, Andrew had no clue he’d eventually end up stuck deep in the Cavern of No Return.

On the bus ride to Fright Camp, Andrew and Tyler quickly made friends with Meredith Friedman and her younger sister Elizabeth. Although Andrew was slightly annoyed Meredith was calling him “Andy,” which he hates, and Elizabeth tends to blow big bubblegum bubbles that spray a little spit.

Everyone on the bus is super excited to head to THE R.B. Farraday’s summer camp. Rocking around in the bus, the Herman bros. and Friedman sisters wonder if Farraday designed the bus too. They start throwing out horror titles like “Camp Bus of No Return” and “Revenge of the Speed Demon,” but Andrew thinks Elizabeth’s “Camp Bus Monster from Outer Space” is WAY too tacky for an R.B. Farraday movie.

Uh, has this man NOT created movies like “The Revenge of Dr. Cruel?” Don’t be a snob, Andrew.

[Wing: Seriously, those two titles sound the same level of cheesy. The kind of cheesy I like for horror, but still.]

Anyway, while discussing what’s on the schedule for camp, Elizabeth asks if they’re also allowed to do non-horror related activities. You know, standard camp stuff such as arts-and-crafts? Like, she knows it’ll be scary, but will it be TOO scary?

Hey you can’t fault someone for wanting a little moderation.

Before Andrew could answer, the bus came to a screeching halt. The kids watched as a black-suited masked man forced his way onto the bus and fought with the driver! Unfortunately, because said driver was a frail looking older guy, he was no match for the stranger and got thrown onto the side of the road. Kids began screaming as the bus was effectively hijacked.

Well, most of them were screaming. Tyler, on the other hand, was laughing. Like HELLO, people! This is the exact same thing that happened in that classic Farraday fright flick, “Vacation of Endless Doom.” Jesus, and Andrew thought “Camp Bus Monsters” was too much. Andrew and the rest start to remember the plot of that movie, about a zombie that hijacks a bus full of kids on summer vacation and drives off with them. Just keeps driving and driving until the end of time, until the kids LITERALLY scream their heads off.

See, they haven’t even gotten to camp and already the fun’s begun!

[Wing: Man, I wonder if all the super interactive haunted houses that are so popular today were, in part, inspired by this book. Most of the creators are of the right age to have been Stine fans as kids. I’m delighted by this theory, whether or not it pans out, really.]

The screams turn to relieved laughter. They’ve driven past the Headless Ghoul statue letting everyone know they’re almost at Fright Camp…

And then the bus speed straight by the entrance, as the new driver announces he’s got other plans for his little captives.

PSYCH!

The bus quickly arrives to the ACTUAL entrance of Fright Camp, and the masked driver reveals himself as a young, blond haired male counselor. He explains the Headless Ghoul statue’s a phony entrance. He hopes they weren’t TOO scared by the theatrics. The two girls who’re still crying might have something to say about that. Welcome to Fright Camp everyone, hope you survive the experience!

The kids are greeted by counselors in matching slime green colored tees and shorts. Andrew and Tyler are amazed by how much the camp is based off Farraday’s movies. They see the Spin-And-Scream from “Carnival of Disgusting Horrors,” the race track from “Go-carts from the Evil Kingdom,” and even the lake from “Lake of the Water Zombies.”

Can I just say “Go-carts from the Evil Kingdom” sounds fucking AMAZING. Like, this might be the Mario Kart 64 fan in me talking, but I’d watch the hell out of that movie.

Andrew and the kids have to sign some registration forms in the Meeting Hall, what activities they’d like to participate in, allergy stuff for the nurse, things like that. BTW, Andrew chooses swimming, movie appreciation, and horror poster art. Although, I mean I’ve never attended sleepaway camp, isn’t this the kind of stuff you fill out BEFORE you arrive?

[Wing: I can maybe, maybe buy signing up for activities when you arrive, but all that allergy shit should have been dealt with way before this moment. If it’s a legit camp. Which it may or may not be at this point, so.]

Anyway, Andrew and Tyler are assigned to Cabin Three with two other boys. Their bunkmates are already out exploring by the time the brothers get to the cabin, but they do meet their counselor Gus. Gus is super excited and exclaims Cabin Three’s the best cabin around, before asking if Andrew and Tyler met Jack and Chris yet. The boys decide to do some exploring but before they leave Gus tells them not to go into the Cavern of No Return. They joke about the obvious reasons, but Gus becomes serious for a moment. He gives an uneasy warning that the camp’s not what it seems, and leaves after Tyler asks for elaboration.

[Wing: Because why would you ever want to give a real warning with actual details? I hope this is him playing into the game of the camp, because if he is trying to give an actual warning, this is a shit way to go about it.]

Well the boys walk around for a bit, get a feel of the camp as the other kids settle in. They come across some signs pointing out other Farraday attractions like:

  1. The Haunted Forest
  2. Bottomless Quicksand Pit of Screams
  3. The Mine of Lost Souls
  4. Ghost Cabin

Tyler still can’t believe they’re right in the middle of all of R.B. Farraday’s creations when they hear someone screaming for help!

A redheaded boy stumbles out of the woods begging for someone to help him. Andrew and Tyler look on in horror as the boy raises his hand, which has become jammed inside a wasps’ nest! The shouting gets the attention of Meredith and Elizabeth as the brothers hurry to help the kid. The boy’s in so much pain he doesn’t have the energy to elaborate how this happened and keeps pleading for help. He can’t get the nest off because his hand’s too swollen from the stinging.

Andrew tries to help, despite fearing he’ll be stung too, and attempts to tug the nest off no matter how angrily the wasps buzz inside. He tugs and tugs and… the kids pulls his hand out like nothing.

PSYCH!

No irate insects come swarming out, and the boy’s hand is blemish free. Upon closer inspection, Andrew realizes the nest is plastic and has a tiny speaker inside it simulating the sound of wasps. The boy laughs saying he and his friend got here earlier and found the fake nest. Andrew tries to throw it away but discovers it’s wired to the tree. The little prankster introduces himself as Jack Harding, explaining he and his friend Chris are staying in Cabin Three which means he’s one of Andrew and Tyler’s bunkmates.

Jack mentions he’s been exploring Fright Camp since he and Chris arrived, and it’s full of lots of awesome, scary stuff. Elizabeth tries to ask him if everything in the camp’s fake when Chris (full name Christian Kretschmer) appears and asks if Jack did the wasp joke. Not deterred, Elizabeth again asks if everything in the camp is a joke. Jack and Chris look uncomfortable and hesitate to answer that no, some of the stuff they’ve seen IS real. It makes the camp even scarier, trying to figure out what’s movie magic and what’s not.

For example, Jack points to the quicksand pit mentioned on the sign. Chris says supposedly, a week before the camp opened, a counselor got sucked under. Andrew doesn’t believe him and thinks the guys are pulling another joke. They’re all yeah, sure, a joke…

Maybe.

While doing more exploring, Andrew keeps thinking about the quicksand pit and believes Jack was only shitting around when someone on the camp loudspeaker announces a meeting in the main lodge. The lodge is built like a log cabin only it’s two stories, and inside are multiple rooms. The main mess hall and meeting room is decorated with numerous Farraday posters for flicks like “The Beast With Three Brains” and “Kunga the Animal Vampire.”

After Andrew is seated at one of the long row tables, a counselor immediately tells him to put his hands on the table. The moment he does, Andrew has his wrists strapped with a thick black cord. All the other kids are getting the same treatment, and Andrew can feel a tingle of electricity humming through the cords. No one’s sure what’s going on, but Chris is freaking out and has to be held down by the counselors. As the counselors demand to know Chris’s name for future reference, Andrew thinks he’s overreacting. I mean, this is probably just part of the show right?

Right?

Before Andrew can dwell on this new development, a large man in a white lab coat enters the room and heads to the front to face all the campers. The new guy demands silence and bids all the “Prisoners” welcome. The counselors who restrained Chris head to the front to explain what happened, and then the stranger introduces himself as Alonso, the “Assistant warden.” Andrew doesn’t like the sound of that as he assesses the nasty scar on Alonso’s bald head, and his nose that looks like it’s been broken and reset several times.

Alonso welcomes everyone to Fright Camp, announcing they’re gonna do their best to scare the campers out of their wits before the summer’s over. Jack immediately ask why their hands are strapped down, and Chris loudly exclaims they can’t do this. Alonso zeroes in on Chris and Jack, wanting to know their names and cabin number. When told who they are and which cabin they’re in, Alonso smiles as he decides that Cabin Three will be the “Lucky” cabin.

Yet now’s the time for the main event, as Alonso announces the grand arrival of the man they’ve all been waiting for. The man who redefined horror as an artform. The man whose thirty-five films got him dubbed “Scariest Man on Earth.” Boys, girls, and enbies, we present to you R.

B.

FARRADAY!

The kids all cheer and scream, but can’t clap because you know, they’re strapped down. Andrew’s surprised because he’s never seen Farraday before and he’s not what he expected.

For one thing, he was very short. He only came up to Alonso’s shoulders. He wasn’t just short. He was tiny. A small, slender head topped with slicked-down black hair. A closely trimmed black beard with a streak of gray down the center.

He wore a black T-shirt, black shorts, and sandals. His legs were skinny as toothpicks. So were his arms.

I saw something sparkly against the front of his shirt. Squinting, I saw that it was a silvery skull on a chain, with glittering red eyes.

Farraday steps to the front of the room, taking a clipboard from Alonso and thanking everyone for the warm welcome. He does a short speech about his directing career and his near three dozen hits, but to him those are just movies. Fake images of color and celluloid. Fright Camp is different. It gives him a chance to bring his movies to life, and all the kids have the honor to be his actors.

The kids are still reeling from meeting their idol, but try to get back on the topic of why the fuck have their hands been bound? Farraday smiles and asks if anyone has recently seen or remembers “The Revenge of Dr. Cruel.” Unfortunately, Andrew’s apparently not as big a fan as he thinks he is because he hasn’t seen that one in a while. Farraday reminds the kids of something from the movie called “The Fear Meter,” and the cords are connected to the real working version.

Andrew struggles to remember what the Fear Meter did when Farraday asks for a volunteer to help with a demonstration. Alonso helpfully singles out Chris, one of the “Troublemakers.” Chris immediately panics and begs Farraday not to use him, and a number of kids are growing uncomfortable and nervous. Farraday presses a button on a control panel in the front of the room, and Chris is electrocuted! He’s writhing and jerking around in his seat trying to get out of the cords as jolts of electricity go through his body and then-!

Nothing.

Chris slumps forward on the table as Farraday’s smile disappears and tells the counselors to cut the power. After fiddling with the controls, Farraday joins the counselors as they inspect Chris’s unconscious body. Alonso reports he survived and then tells two counselors to get him out of the room. None of the kids are able to say anything as Chris is removed, and Farraday notes they’ll have to turn down the energy for the next group. Of course, Alonso argues that wouldn’t be very fun. Farraday’s disappointed in Alonso’s sadistic streak, and thinks maybe he should’ve left him in prison…

Jack and several other kids ask if Chris gonna be okay, reminding Farraday of the potential witnesses. Farraday waves the question away saying he has some bugs to work out of the camp (like Alonso) then mutters how Chris’s unfortunate mishap is EXACTLY what happened to some poor kid in “The Revenge of Dr. Cruel.” Isn’t that strange, Wing?

“Lots of kids think my camp is a fake,” he told us, tapping one hand against the clipboard. He leaned toward us. “But I think horror has to be real.”

He seemed to stare right at me. His dark eyes burned into mine.

“I think horror has to be real – or else it isn’t scary,” he said in a low whisper.

At this point Andrew wonders if Farraday is a few scenes short of a complete movie, not knowing if this an acting job or if Farraday’s crazy. [Wing: Nice, Andrew. Real fucking nice.] The kids wait for Farraday to start laughing this off when they hear a rumbling sound and see a cage being brought into the room. Inside the cage is an actual live gorilla. Farraday totes this gorilla’s a special guest, and Tyler quickly recognizes him as Rocko, the star actor from that smash hit “Conquerors of the Gorilla Planet.” Farraday fondly reminisces on what a good job Rocko did as the star. He was always in character and his pay was cheap.

That Stine doesn’t make a banana joke is astonishing.

Farraday mutters that Alonso better keep an eye on Rocko since he mauled his last trainer, the poor bastard. Oh R.B. why you gotta worry abou-OH SHIT HE’S LOOSE. WE HAVE A GORILLA IN THE HOUSE REPEAT, WE HAVE

A GORILLA

IN THE HOUSE.

CODE KONG, PEOPLE!

As Rocko breaks out of his (unlocked cage, THANKS ALONSO), Alonso and the counselors try to subdue him but he swats them away like flies. The kids are screaming and can’t escape because they’re still strapped to the tables. Andrew especially is helpless as Rocko tries to grab him before Andrew ducks out of the way. Rocko keeps roaring and sets his sights on a different kid when one of the counselors pulls out a gun and shoots him!

Everyone is horrified as Rocko slumps to the floor. He’s turned over to reveal tranq darts buried deep in his chest. Farraday laughs saying he’s not killing his best actor.

Well not yet, anyway.

Farraday’s quite pleased and starts asking the traumatized young children if they’re really scared yet, if they really believed in the terror of what just happened.

“Believe!” Mr. Farraday cried, his eyes wild, gesturing with both hands. “Believe in terror!”

Andrew is left fearing how far his idol would go to scare someone, and didn’t realize he’d learn pretty quickly.

Back in their cabin, Andrew and Tyler discuss whether they should call their parents and leave now because Farraday’s going over the top. Andrew reminds Tyler they’re stuck here since their parents will be on vacation until August, and besides, he figures Farraday was just acting. Tyler reminds his brother that gorilla was the real deal, and they all felt actual electricity running through the cords on their wrists. Not to mention Chris’s accident and that creepy Alonso.

Andrew tells Tyler to lighten up because, duh! This is FRIGHT CAMP, the camp that’s SUPPOSED to be scary. It said so on the brochure. This is the kind of summer they wanted, right?

And just then Jack bursts into the cabin, looking extremely nervous and worried about Chris. He says the electrocution messed Chris up pretty badly, that he was babbling nonsense in the nurse’s station. Andrew’s freaked the electricity was real as Jack tries to tell them about the things he and Chris heard about the camp. Before Jack can elaborate further, the boys are shocked when they see Alonso is watching them through the cabin window. Jack quickly orders the brothers that if anyone asks, he said nothing. NOTHING.

Jack leaves the cabin in a hurry after Alonso departs. Moments later, Andrew and Tyler hear Chris’s voice coming from outside. They see him running through the woods trying to dodge the counselors, but is tackled to the ground. Chris begs them to let him go, saying he won’t tell anyone what he saw.

The boys don’t see Chris until after dinner when he returns to the cabin, and he won’t tell them what happened with the counselors. During the night, Andrew wakes up and sees Chris staring out the cabin window just looking at the moon and stars.

The next morning is rainy so after breakfast the kids stay in to watch a Farraday movie. By noontime the sun is out, and the rain has made everything look rather new and refreshed. Andrew and Tyler both have a free period and Gus mentions they can try out the Spin-And-Scream. Andrew waxes philosophical on thrill rides, saying he loves roller coasters and rides that simulate the feeling of spinning out of control. He likens them to horror movies in that they make you feel like you’re experiencing real danger but you know everything’ll be okay when they’re over.

The Spin-And-Scream is a large carnival ride made up of red-and-blue cars. The attraction is packed with kids, including the Friedman sisters. The person operating the controls is named Duffy but he’s not dressed like one of the counselors. He’s a huge redhead with a powerful, muscular body inside a red muscle shirt and a pair of tight black spandex shorts to show off them buns and thighs.

He also has a tattoo of a grinning red-and-blue skull on his arm.

As the kids get settled in, Duffy asks if anyone remembers from “The Carnival of Disgusting Horrors” why this ride’s called the Spin-And-Scream. Well they’re gonna experience that firsthand.

Duffy pulls the lever down and the cars start to spin. At first it’s fun, and Andrew can hear everyone else screaming from enjoyment as the cars spin around faster and faster. Duffy then pulls the lever down further and the cars start to pick up more speed. Andrew’s starting to get dizzy and wonders how long the ride will last when he sees that Duffy is leaving!

The Spin-And-Scream’s going too fast as Andrew and Tyler are thrown into one another and have to hold onto to the safety bars to stop from getting slammed around. The screams of delight turn to screams of anguish as kids beg for someone to stop the machine. It goes faster and Andrew feels like he’s about to throw up as he’s thrown back and forth against the car. Andrew starts to hear retching sounds mixed with the screaming, looking up to see several kids puking in the air as balloons of yellow vomit burst from the cars.

Andrew can only barely make out Duffy casually making his way back to the Spin-And-Scream, not disturbed by its transformation into a fountain of puke. Oh but he does try to shut the machine off.

Too bad HE BROKE THE FUCKING LEVER.

Duffy comically scratches his head in confusion as kids beg for him to turn the machine off. Andrew looks over and Tyler has practically passed out when FINALLY the ride begins to slow down. Once the ride comes to a halt, Andrew and the rest stumble onto the grass. He looks up to see Duffy had unplugged the ride.

Elizabeth screams that was awful, and Duffy laughs asking if they had fun. Meredith wants to complain to Mr. Farraday and Duffy’s confused. After all, don’t they remember “Carnival of Disgusting Horrors?” Don’t they remember this is Fright Camp, where the movies come to life? Elizabeth doesn’t care about a fucking movie, shouting that was horrible and went WAY over the line. Andrew remembers what happened to the kids who rode the Spin-And-Scream in the movie, how it went so fast the riders all had their skin and organs torn off leaving their skeletons behind. Seems Andrew and the rest got lucky.

Duffy’s visibly disgusted as the kids continue to demand they talk to Farraday, accusing them of being unable to take a joke. Y-yeah, considering Andrew and Tyler were thrown around in their car despite the freaking safety bar and they only JUST avoided getting a fucking concussion. So yeah, write it off as a joke ya fuckin’ nipnub.

The kids go looking for Farraday, Andrew figuring since they’ve arrived this whole place has been going overboard in the scary department. Suddenly, Andrew notices what looks like a camera hidden in one of the trees. They discuss if Farraday could be watching them right now, filming their every move. That convinces Elizabeth they have to complain because if he IS watching them, that’s just sick. They reach the mess hall and are startled by a raccoon rummaging in one of the trash cans. Nice way to work in the cover art, I guess. Well Andrew doesn’t appreciate how jumpy he’s gotten after barely two days in this joint.

Inside the mess hall, Andrew and the others make their way past rooms of kids working on crafts projects like monster masks. When they reach Farraday’s office, Andrew’s about to knock when they hear screaming coming from behind the door. Hesitating, Andrew still knocks to find out what’s going on. Farraday sticks his head out the door and something’s definitely wrong. He’s red faced and sweating, like he’s exhausted or something. Telling the kids he’s just working on some movie stuff with his “Library of screams for every occasion,” Andrew doesn’t buy it and forces the door open.

And it looks like Farraday’s committing yet another human rights violation. Well he’s violating the rights of SOMETHING.

All four of us gasped when we saw the two creatures hunkered at the back of the office. Were they human? Were they animals?

They had round, bald heads as green as melons. Tiny black eyes above long lizard snouts. Fat green bodies with bulging bellies.

They lowered their heads and made loud, snuffling sounds as the door swung open. Were they crying?

I gasped again when I saw that their arms and legs were chained, chained to the wall.

Farraday coldly tells Andrew he shouldn’t have done that. Of course he tells the kids the creatures are just special effects. It’s not like he’d chain REAL monsters up in his office or anything, that’d be ridiculous. Farraday reminds Andrew he doesn’t like snoopy kids any more than he likes troublemakers, and since Andrew and Tyler are sharing the same cabin with Jack and Chris, well…

If Andrew and Tyler like to stick their noses where they don’t belong, Farraday figures they deserve to see what Fright Camp is REALLY about.

The kids hurry out of the mess hall without telling Farraday about the Spin-And-Scream incident. They’re so rattled they still can’t tell if he was being honest about those monsters since nothing like them ever appeared in Farraday’s movies. Andrew and the others go in circles trying to figure out what’s wrong with this place. All of them came to Fright Camp because they wanted to enjoy some scary fun. But when is it actually gonna be FUN?

Dinner that evening’s pretty normal, and later the campers all watch “Cavern of No Return” which sounds like Stine predicted “The Descent” in some way. It’s about teenagers who explore a cavern out west, but attempt to leave fairly early since the cave’s too dark to properly explore. That’s when they realize they can’t leave because there’s no way out, and discover they aren’t alone in the darkness.

Under the full moon, as the brothers head back to Cabin 3, Andrew stops when he spots another camera set up near one of the girls’ cabins. Andrew and Tyler wonder if they’re security cameras or if Farraday’s filming them. Later in the cabin, Andrew can’t sleep because of all the weird moans and howls coming from the woods. Jack and Chris don’t think they’re special effects, and the boys look outside to see those things from Farraday’s office are loose and are howling at the moon.

The next morning, Andrew can’t get any answers about those creatures because no one except the people in Cabin 3 heard them. Andrew’s still puzzled over how no one heard those howls while heading for his free swim period. Tyler and several other campers are close by for their instructional swim period (the counselor’s demonstrating stuff like the butterfly stroke). Meredith and Elizabeth are catching some rays on the sandy lake shore and some other girls are swimming to the platform out on the lake.

Andrew’s good mood is soured by bumping into Duffy, his muscular body shoved into a black spandex racing suit with a silver whistle around his neck. Ugh, of course he’d be the lifeguard. Duffy cheerfully welcomes Andrew to the Lake of the Water Zombies, and tells Andrew to shout if he sees any of the aquatic undead.

Andrew recalls the plot of this particular movie involved a boat that sank to the bottom of the ocean. The people inside it drowned, but came back to life as the Swimming Undead and terrorize those who go near their ship.

…wait, so if they died in the ocean why did the movie take place in a lake? Did the ship’s remains get shifted through the ocean and wash downstream into a lake or something? Oh my God why am I analyzing a fictional horror movie inside a book for nine year olds.

*Remembers who I am*

FUCK.

Well, this isn’t one of Andrew’s favorites because underwater horror flicks aren’t his cup of tea. And thinking about underwater monsters was the last thing he needed after the last couple of days.

The cold water feels really good as Andrew swims out towards the platform, which is when we get to the part mentioned in the summary and something grabs his leg. He thinks his leg’s snagged on some seaweed at first until the thing pulls him beneath the water and starts to trying to drown him. Andrew’s horrified by the sight of the creature tugging his leg. It’s all bones and torn skin floating in the water. He keeps trying to break from its grip when the creature pulls Andrew closer and lifts up its head, revealing IT HAS JACK’S FACE.

Jack’s face on the monster is green and bloated, like he was drowned and left under the water for days. Andrew’s so scared he doesn’t even notice the monster’s let go until Andrew realizes he needs air NOW. Breaking for the surface, Andrew frantically swims back to shore out of fear the water zombie’s after him. Reaching dry land, Andrew stumbles onto the sand and looks around. Everything is so… normal. No one’s panicking, no one’s scared. No one but Andrew. He does notice Duffy’s gone, again, so Andrew begins screaming for everyone to get out of the lake before the monster tries to drown them.

Meredith and Elizabeth hurry over to Andrew and ask what happened. He attempts to explain what happened, how he was almost drowned by something that looked like Jack. At first Andrew thinks he’s not making sense, but the girls assume Jack was fooling around with him under the water. Andrew exclaims it wasn’t Jack because this thing tried to drown him and Jack wouldn’t do that. The sisters both think maybe Andrew should go to the nurse, like he’s been out in the sun too long, but Andrew knows what he saw.

Andrew heads back to his cabin intending to dry off and calm down first before he tells one of the counselors what happened to him. He wants to think about what he went through and try to figure out what happened, but he’s in for another shock when he sees the message scrawled on the cabin wall in red paint.

THE HORROR IS REAL. GET AWAY – WHILE YOU CAN.

Did… did this fucker take the time to actually dot his sentences???

[Wing: Now that’s dedication to punctuation.]

Andrew immediately thinks of Farraday and if he’s trying to scare them all to death with his special effects, if they even ARE special effects. Are his life and the lives of Tyler, Jack and Chris in danger just because they’re in Cabin 3 and they’re “Troublemakers?”

At lunch Andrew tries to find Gus, but he’s nowhere so he attempts to speak to another counselor named Claire. Because the mess hall’s so noisy Claire pulls Andrew into another room to talk, and Andrew asks her what’s going on. The scares the first day with the Fear Meter and Rocko, than the Spin-And-Scream, the howls, and the monster in the lake. Is all of this real or fake? Claire hesitates before reminding Andrew that Farraday told everyone he believes horror must be real, but that makes things worse. Does that mean the creature in the lake wasn’t someone in a costume? Claire’s too afraid to say anything else because of the camera in the hall and leaves.

Andrew’s about to follow Claire when he overhears Jack and Chris. Chris begs Jack to call his parents so they can get out of here. Jack’s too afraid, but Chris is more afraid of what the camp is doing to them when Andrew bursts in on them. Andrew demands to know if Jack was in the lake. The boys think Andrew is joking when he screams at them to finally reveal the truth about this place. He knows they know something’s going on, but Jack tells him it’s too late.

Whatever they’re scared of has already begun, and it can’t be stopped.

And that’s when Alonso showed up.

Jack and Chris frantically tell Alonso they didn’t say anything, but he doesn’t believe them. He tells Andrew to stop causing trouble, and reminds him that Cabin 3’s being watched.

Andrew’s barely able to eat the stew served for dinner. Tyler, Meredith and Elizabeth are chatting and having a good time, but Jack and Chris are nervous wrecks. Andrew can’t tell if he’s simply being a wimp and letting his imagination run wild, or if something evil’s going on in this camp. While wishing he could call his parents to rescue him and Tyler, Andrew and the rest of the campers receive some bad news. Alonso informs everyone that tonight’s meal may have been accidentally tampered with, that poisonous mushrooms somehow got into two trays.

Yeah, “Accidentally.”

Initially some campers think he’s joking, but Alonso’s dead serious. Elizabeth gets angry and screams that Alonso waited until all of them were nearly finished eating to mention this tidbit. Which is when Jack and Chris start to succumb to the effects. Alonso doesn’t even bother to hide his smile as he announces they figured out who got the poisoned stew, while the boys grab their stomachs and double over. Andrew shouts at Alonso to do something when Jack and Chris fall to the floor.

All the other campers freak as counselors haul Jack and Chris away. Andrew makes his way to Tyler and announces they’re leaving camp NOW. Too bad because no one’s leaving, as two gray-suited guards appear in the doorway and prevent the kids from going anywhere. Andrew turns to Alonso and asks if they’re all prisoners now, and soon the rest of the kids are asking similar questions.

The new guards herd the kids to their respective cabins. Andrew and Tyler try to discern what to do, like if they should leave through the woods when everyone’s asleep. Tyler remembers those guards look like characters from another Farraday movie, but Andrew doesn’t care. He never wants to see or think of R.B. Farraday and his movies ever again. Looking up, that’s when the brothers hear and see the camera planted in the cabin rafters. Andrew shouts at the camera in defiance that he and his brother are gonna figure out how to escape.

After Tyler asks if Andrew thinks their friends are okay, Andrew looks outside and sees more of those gray suited guards patrolling the grounds. They decide to try and escape in the morning, but later that night the boys wake up and hear someone moving around in the dark. A flashlight beam darts around the dark cabin before the figure bursts out the door. Andrew and Tyler turn out the lights and are shocked to see whoever was in here just stole their shoes!

Other campers emerge from their cabins because their shoes were stolen too. Meredith and Elizabeth figure this is to keep them from escaping through the woods. An angry voice on the camp loudspeaker orders everyone back to their cabins. Before they do, Andrew and the rest are relieved when Jack and Chris return. The boys are miserable saying their stomachs were pumped, but they have to escape the camp. They finally reveal what the purpose of Fright Camp is, that the people in charge really ARE trying to scare them to death!

Jack and Chris explain that the camp’s designed to invoke as much fear in a child as possible until they can’t take it and die. They want to see what a child’s limit to being scared is before it kills them. The boys aren’t sure if Farraday is really complicit in all this or if even he’s being controlled too. But Jack got lucky while in the infirmary. He found a pay phone and called his mom to get here tomorrow.

If that’s not too late.

But Andrew has every reason to doubt the sincerity of Jack’s claims. Inside the cabin, Andrew notices something on the back of Jack’s head. Andrew grabs Jack and sees some sort of metal chip implanted behind Jack’s ear. Chris has one too. Andrew asks what the camp has done to them, but neither of them realize there’s anything on their necks.

The next miserable morning, the campers are herded back to the mess hall for breakfast. Everyone is quiet, though a few may be crying. Suddenly the entire room is bustling with noise once Alonso appears. The campers start asking why their shoes are gone and why they’re being treated like this. Many of them want to go home. Alonso gives some bullshit excuse about the shoes being taken for their protection, that there are supposedly strange creatures in the woods. No one believes him and the kids start throwing food at him. One kid even throws a ceramic bowl at Alonso’s head.

Over the shouts of the kids, a woman’s screams are heard and Jack realizes that’s his mom! Andrew looks outside and sees two counselors running AWAY from the screaming.

Running away from the quicksand pit!

Andrew and the others find Jack’s mom sinking below the quicksand and screaming for help. Jack has to be restrained from getting too close before he goes under the quicksand too. The kids try to search for something to pull out Jack’s mom, but there’s nothing around. No loose tree branches or anything. At a loss and panicking, Andrew somehow thinks Farraday will help them. They had back to the mess hall and go to Farraday’s office, past the guards, but find the room is empty.

And outside, Andrew hears the sound of an engine starting up!

Andrew looks out the window and sees Farraday driving out of the camp in a black car. Farraday left a note that says:

I CAN’T DO THIS. I CAN’T DO THIS TO THESE KIDS. I FEEL SO GUILTY. I’M SO SORRY. GOOD-BYE, EVERYONE.

Which is when Alonso appears. He’s had enough of Andrew and the other “Troublemakers.” Andrew’s told Jack’s mom is gone as the guards grab him and drag him out of the mess hall. Along the way Andrew demands to know what the cameras are for, but Alonso’s not talking. No, he’s going to toss Andrew into the Mine of Lost Souls alongside Tyler, the Friedman sisters, Jack, and Chris.

Andrew’s pushed into the mine entrance and goes tumbling down a dark, long shaft. When Andrew stops falling, he’s able to make out the voices of Tyler and the others. Andrew tries to tell Jack about his mom, but Jack already knows. Jack attempts to explain he and Chris tried to save her, but is cut off by the sound of growling.

They aren’t alone in the mine, because-

SURPRISE!

Lights flash on and Andrew is blinded for a moment before he sees they’re not in a mine shaft after all. They’re in some kind of round room and all of the Fright Camp staff is there. The counselors, guards, Alonso, and Farraday. Farraday’s ecstatic, congratulating Andrew and the rest on how perfect they were. How TERRIFIED they all were. After telling Alonso to cut the cameras, he asks everyone give a round of applause to “Jack” and “Chris.” They did such a great job of fooling everyone into thinking they were real campers.

No one suspected they were actors hired to help Farraday pull all this off.

Andrew slowly grows more and more livid as he realizes everything really was fake the whole time. There were no electrocutions and nobody was poisoned. “Jack” was in a costume when he scared Andrew, and the thing behind his ear was a microphone to receive instructions. “Chris” explains the two were set up to terrify whoever shared their cabin.

Farraday asks everyone applaud “Duffy,” whose real name is Max, “Margo” who played “Jack’s mom,” as well as Farraday’s brother Ned who played “Alonso.” Andrew and the rest want answers, and Farraday explains this was all a documentary. He used all his movie making skills and everything in his arsenal to create REAL terror, and boy did Andrew and the rest deliver.

Jesus H. Christ.

Andrew’s beyond pissed that Farraday traumatized everyone for a documentary and asks if ANYTHING in this shit hole is real. Farraday makes vague mention of some things that ARE real at the camp, but that’s not important. What’s important is that Andrew, Tyler, Meredith and Elizabeth, you all got to star in an R.B. Farraday movie! You’re gonna be famous! Meredith screams this wasn’t fair because they had no idea what they were getting into, but Farraday ignores their complaints. Relax kids, the movie’s over! Now you can enjoy the camp for real and instead of worrying about all those doctors you’ll be needing for how he scarred you for life.

[Wing: Ummmmmmmm, where exactly are those waivers, Farraday? Because otherwise, the horror movie is going to be their parents suing the fuck out of you.]

The kids leave the “Mine” and are enraged over what Farraday did to them. He used them, victimized them, exploited their adoration and lured them to this camp with the intention of terrifying them for a fucking movie. They’re not gonna let him get away with this, but Andrew is worried when he realizes Alonso, uh, Ned, is watching them from a distance…

Andrew and the others at least TRY to relax after what Farraday put them through since they obviously can’t do anything now. They at least have the benefit of enjoying the Spin-And-Scream and the go-cart track without any tampering since filming’s over. During dinner, Andrew gets some cheers and applause after word got out about the “Lucky cabin,” and apparently none of the other kids are particularly upset that Farraday used all of THEM too.

However, it seems Farraday’s not done with the scares because Tyler’s gone. Andrew asks Meredith if she’s seen Tyler, thinking he was right behind Andrew when they entered the mess hall. Farraday overhears the commotion and asks what’s wrong. Andrew explains Tyler was starving before, so he should be in the hall with everyone else. Farraday suggests Tyler’s back at the cabin, but Andrew’s in for another shock when he checks. Someone tore the place apart! They even ripped the window screen open. Andrew finds Tyler’s watch on the floor, which he never takes off. Farraday claims he’s not doing this, the movie’s over.

Is it though?

Farraday tells the counselors to look for Tyler, but things get more complicated when Meredith reveals that Elizabeth is gone too. Elizabeth was last seen at the beach, and Meredith thought she went back to their cabin. Farraday’s trying to stay calm as he assures Meredith they’ll locate Elizabeth. The situation escalates quickly when Meredith finds Elizabeth’s bathing suit strewn on the sand by the lake. Farraday’s about to head to his office to call the police when they hear a weird sound. The Spin-And-Scream! Who turned that on?

Andrew can just make out Tyler inside one of the cars the closer they get to the carnival ride, but when the machine’s shut off all they find are Tyler’s empty clothes. Meredith and Andrew turn on Farraday, screaming at him for doing this. Haven’t you victimized them enough, Farraday? Farraday again claims he’s not doing this and brings the kids to his office so they can call the police.

Too bad the line’s dead. Of course no one has cell phones, because it was the 90s you see!

Two counselors enter the room, exclaiming they think Tyler and Elizabeth’s voices were heard in the Cavern of No Return. Farraday has no idea how they could’ve gotten in there, but Andrew quickly says they need to help them. Farraday tells his brother to grab some flashlights so they can get the kids out of the Cavern.

By the time everyone reaches the cave entrance, Farraday’s worried it’s too dangerous but Meredith wants to save her sister and do it now. She runs into the cave with Andrew behind her, so Farraday and Ned follow after. Andrew gets ahead and tumbles down into the cave before the others catch up to him. Their flashlights on, Farraday starts calling out for Tyler and Elizabeth when they hear it.

A moan.

A soft moan.

PSYCH!

Tyler and Elizabeth flash on their lights and surprise Farraday and Ned, who are taken aback. The kids cheer that they pulled one over on their former hero after what he put them through. This was all a set-up the kids planned during the afternoon as revenge. Ha! They scared the Scariest Man on Earth! How’s it feel Farraday.

Farraday knows when to admit he’s been beaten. Trouble is, remember how he said some things at Fright Camp are real?

Well they’re in a very real hornet’s and wasp’s nest, and the insects are close by. That’s why Gus told them to stay away from the cavern when they first arrived. Andrew hears the insects buzzing and coming closer, closer…

PSYCH!

Andrew and the kids discover the sound is coming from another speaker built in the wall. Farraday then cheerfully reminds them Fright Camp doesn’t end for another two weeks.

R.B. Farraday’s Filmography

  1. The Beast with Three Brains
  2. The Carnival of Disgusting Horrors
  3. The Cavern of No Return
  4. Crab Monsters vs The Leech People
  5. Conquerors of the Gorilla Planet
  6. Go-carts from the Evil Kingdom
  7. Kunga the Animal Vampire
  8. Lake of the Water Zombies
  9. Night of the June Bugs
  10. Prisoners of the Vampire King
  11. The Revenge of Dr. Cruel
  12. Vacation of Endless Doom

Final Thoughts

You probably saw through Andrew’s trick in a heartbeat, right? It probably would’ve helped if he hadn’t been the narrator. I’m betting Farraday and Ned saw through it too. I mean come on kids, the man’s a famous director he hangs around actors practically every day of his life you’re not exactly Neil Patrick Harris.

That said, Farraday genuinely is awful for how he set all this up. These kids merely thought they’d get to have a fun summer based around their favorite movies with a chance to meet their favorite director. Instead he lured them here with the goal of terrifying them and making them believe their lives were in danger, all for a documentary. It’s like how that piece of shit Kubrick apparently traumatize Shelley DuVall for “The Shining.” I’d like to spit on the fucker’s grave.

I refrained from referencing last year’s “Scream School” recap because I figured any of you would immediately make the connection and guess this was all fake. Yet isn’t it funny that two books about famous horror directors don’t have any actual supernatural elements in them? I wonder if Farraday and Emory Banyon have a rivalry going on.

SEQUEL IDEA: “Return of the Go-carts from the Evil Kingdom!”

Man I haven’t done one of these in forever.

Okay look I said I love that movie title and I meant it. I had an idea tying into the second “Horrorland” arc where kids bring a haunted souvenir back with them from the theme park. Two kids purchase an unpublished script for what would’ve been the sequel to “Go-carts,” with the idea being Farraday’s career tanked after the parents filed lawsuits when they learned what Fright Camp really was. There were massive protests and eventually he was blacklisted from Hollywood, and now makes money doing signatures at conventions.

The plot for the original “Go-carts” would be about a group of racers that drove through a time warp and ended up in a medieval kingdom at war with an evil king backed by his evil sorcerer. The sorcerer transforms some of the go-carts into metallic monsters, so the good sorcerer has to enchant the others to fight. The script for the sequel is about the evil go-carts emerging in the present day and causing havoc, and the owners of the script fear the movie is coming to life ala “New Nightmare.”

[Wing: Now I am really curious if this book inspired the creators of some of those interactive haunted houses that really push the envelope. Come on, people, inquiring minds want to know.]

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