Recap #239: Goosebumps #16: One Day at HorrorLand by R.L. Stine by

12 September 2019
One Day at HorrorLand Cover by Tim Jacobus

One Day at HorrorLand Cover by Tim Jacobus

Title: Goosebumps #16 – “One Day at HorrorLand,” a.k.a “TW: Pinching”

Author: R.L. Stine

Cover Artist: Tim Jacobus

Tagline: Enter, if you dare…

Summary: The Next Ride Might Be Their Last…

Lizzy’s family got lost trying to find Zoo Gardens Theme Park. But that’s okay. They found another theme park instead.

In HorrorLand there are no crowds. No lines. And the admission is free. It seems like a pretty cool place.

But there was before Lizzy’s heart-stopping ride on the deadly Doom Slide. And that terrifying experience in the House of Mirrors.

Because there’s something weird about the rides in HorrorLand.

Something a little too creepy.

A little too real…

Initial Thoughts

I started the draft for this recap TWO YEARS AGO when I first began writing for Point Horror. I never finished it because there never seemed to be an appropriate time for it, until now with the amusement park and vampire theme I tried to set up for August.

Wing because I know you better now I have to warn you there’s mention of spiders near the end of the book.

This has been one of my favorite books in the original series for as long as I can remember, because I love the concept of HorrorLand. I love it when Stine tries to establish there’s an entire world in his books even though it’s unlikely they’ll be visited again, because it leaves me wanting more. Surprisingly, this book has received a lot of attention over the years. It got a sequel in the 2000 series, a two-episode TV adaption, a board game, a computer game sequel, a graphic novel adaption by JILL FREAKING THOMPSON, a video game adaptation for the PS2 and the Nintendo Wii, AND an entire spin-off series (which was admittedly lackluster). [Wing: Well damn, that’s a lot! I don’t think I’ve read/seen/played this one before, so this should be fun.]

As much as the HorrorLand spin-off was subpar, the idea of doing sequel books taking place at HorrorLand provides ample fuel for the imagination and I have a whole list for potential sequel stories tying in with HorrorLand. I love coming up with ideas for rides and attractions in HorrorLand, and based many of them off things from video games like the Banshee Boardwalk (Mario Kart 64) and the Bramble Blaster Roller Coaster (Donkey Kong Country). I also thought of adding rides based on other Goosebumps books.

One thing to love about the TV adaption that I was not aware of for many years is that the role of Mrs. Morris was played by the late, great Kirsten Bishopric.

Kirsten was primarily a voice actress famous for her prominence in the original English dub of “Sailor Moon.” Her first role on the show was as reoccurring villain Zoycite. Now, in the original Japanese version of the show, the character Zoisite was an openly gay man and in a relationship with fellow villain Kunzite. Obviously that wasn’t going to pass by the censors during the 1990s, and since Zoisite was already rather effeminate (he even once dressed up as Sailor Moon) it was somewhat easy to present “Zoycite” as a woman.

ALL of that said, Kirsten honestly did an amazing job and was consistently considered one of the best elements of the original dub despite the controversy around the transition from Zoisite to Zoycite. So much so that she was repeatedly brought back to voice prominent villainesses in later season, such as Emerald, Kaorinite, and Queen Badiyanu.

So knowing one of my favorite voice actresses got a role in the adaption of one of my favorite books makes me love this even moar.

Recap

The Morris Family is on their way to Zoo Gardens Amusement Park. Trouble is, they can’t find it, because Mr. Morris left the map at home. [Wing: Aaaah, for the days of physical maps. I love a good map.] Lizzy Morris is stuck in the backseat with her brother Luke and their friend Clay. She’s also stuck between making Luke stop with his incessant pinching and getting her parents to stop arguing. Them’s the breaks when you’re the calm one in the family and your brother declares himself “The Mad Pincher.”

Mr. Morris has been driving for hours in the desert with no upcoming signs of civilization until they finally reach a stretch of woods. After driving for so long and encountering nothing, this is why Lizzy is so shocked when she sees the monster!

Ah, my mistake, it’s just a billboard advertising HorrorLand. The Morrises and Clay have never heard of HorrorLand, but Luke thinks it sounds fantastic judging by how scary and lifelike the monster on the billboard is. Mrs. Morris isn’t sure, but Lizzy says they might as well check the place out since they’ll never find Zoo Gardens. Clay hopes the park isn’t too scary. Boy is he in for surprise.

As the Morrises pull into HorrorLand’s parking lot, Mr. and Mrs. Morris are surprised by how empty it is despite the enormity of the park itself. Creepy organ music is piped into the parking lot through various speakers, and a sign on the front gate reads “THE HORRORLAND HORRORS WELCOME YOU TO HORRORLAND!” Mrs. Morris wonders what a “HorrorLand Horror” is, but forgets all about that moments later when, after everyone has exited the car, it blows up!

Mrs. Morris is relieved everyone’s not hurt, and Mr. Morris rushes to the gate to call the police (Cell phones? What are those?). Inside the ticket booth is one of the aforementioned HorrorLand Horrors, a park employee dressed up as a green, horned monster. Yeah, “dressed up.”

Mr. Morris frantically asks for a phone, but the Horror reveals there are no phones in HorrorLand. Even as Mr. Morris sputters and gestures to how THE FREAKING CAR BLEW UP, the Horror calmly assures him the staff of HorrorLand will properly take care of the situation. As compensation for the car, they can enter HorrorLand free of charge. [Wing:…yeah, that’s not nearly enough compensation, my horrors.] The Horror promises the Morris Family will be well taken care of…

Mrs. Morris suggests they simply go inside since there’s nothing else they can do, and that way the kids blow off some steam while Mr. Morris can try to find a phone. Mr. and Mrs. Morris decide to let Lizzy, Luke, and Clay go off on their own while they search for a phone, the Missus saying she might have to make the calls if her husband can’t calm down. Luke immediately falls in love with the place, their first stop being WEREWOLF VILLAGE.

“WELCOME TO WEREWOLF VILLAGE. PLEASE DO NOT FEED THE WEREWOLVES. IF YOU CAN HELP IT.”

[Wing: I  A M  N E V E R  L E A V I N G.]

Lizzy and the boys see Horrors inside the small, dark houses adorning the village, and pass by what they assume to be animatronic wolves. They’re very realistic and you could easily believe they weren’t robots.

HorrorLand is very clean and except for the Horrors, has few guests. What families the kids do see consist of parents trying to console their crying children. There’s also a number of “NO PINCHING” signs set up, which Lizzy jokes was set up just for Luke. Leaving the village, [Wing: But why would you ever?!] Lizzy and the boys find more rides and buildings, including a stand where a Horror’s selling black ice cream. Lizzy and the boys find themselves in front of a building shaped like a large, purple mountain, and decide to try out their first ride, the DOOM SLIDE.

“DOOM SLIDE. WILL YOU BE THE ONE TO SLIDE FOREVER?”

Inside the building the kids find ten slides. The Horrors managing the attraction warn Lizzy and the boys not to pick the Doom Slide or they’ll slide forever and forever. The slides turn out to be super fast and loopy, but only Lizzy and Luke pop up outside the building. Wondering if Clay got out first, the siblings run back to the entrance and ask a Horror if Clay came out through here. Since this is the entrance, the Horror says no, but then Lizzy can’t figure out where Clay could’ve ended up. The Horror ominously wonders if maybe Clay picked the Doom Slide and will be sliding forever and ever and ever…

Lizzy decides the only way to find Clay is to follow him down the slide he took, Slide #10, which is obviously the Doom Slide. Lizzy and Luke slide down together for what feels like an eternity, surrounded by nothing but darkness and silence. They then slide through hot, sticky cobwebs before a light appears below them. Only it’s not a light, it’s an inferno of flames, and they’re heading straight towards it…!

And then past it. Lizzy fears the ride truly will go on forever when an opening appears and they’re dumped onto a smooth lawn.

“WELCOME TO DOOM. POPULATION: 0.”

Standing next to the welcome sign for Doom is Clay, who thinks they’re now in the other end of the park. Luke wants to try more rides, but Lizzy is worried their parents might be looking for them. That doesn’t stop Luke from insisting they go on another ride first until they find them. While she won’t admit it, Lizzy’s relieved to see Luke’s enthusiasm is back. He was genuinely frightened while they were on the Doom Slide, and seeing her brother in such a state bothered Lizzy more than she thought it would.

The siblings and Clay pass by a group of kids in bathing suits on their way to a ride called HORROR RAPIDS, and nearby is the HOUSE OF MIRRORS.

“HOUSE OF MIRRORS. REFLECT BEFORE YOU ENTER. NO ONE MAY EVER SEE YOU AGAIN!”

Before they go inside, a Horror approaches the kids and frantically warns them to get out of the park before it’s too late.

Suddenly, I felt someone tap my shoulder.

Started, I cried out and turned around.

It was a green-costumed Horror. His bulging eyes stared into mine as he leaned close to me. “Get away while you can!” he whispered.

He turned his eyes quickly from side to side, as if making sure no one was watching him. “Please – I’m serious! Get away while you can!

Luke thinks the Horror’s acting is fantastic, but Lizzy and Clay think he was a bit too nervous to be acting. After the Horror disappears behind another building, the kids go inside the House of Mirrors. Or rather, Luke drags Clay inside leaving Lizzy in the dust.

Lizzy has to run down a dark tunnel, yelling for Luke to slow down. As Lizzy’s eyes adjust to the darkness, the tunnel leads into a corridor with mirrors on both sides and on the ceiling. Lizzy can hear the boys giggling, daring her to try and find them. With mirrors all around her, Lizzy has to move slowly to avoid running into the glass. It’s like there are endless versions of her on all sides. Listening for the sound of her brother’s giggling and footsteps, Lizzy finds an opening but runs smack into a mirror.

[Wing: Mirror mazes are such creepy things to have in horror stories, and I love them.]

Getting her balance again, Lizzy moves slower and enters a room that’s nothing but mirrors. Walking on her reflection disorients her, making her feel like she’s about to fall into herself. Lizzy calls out to Luke and Clay, but receives no answer. No matter how much she calls out to them, she gets no response. Lizzy’s starting to get worried, wondering if the boys got lost or if there was another secret gimmick like in the Doom Slide. She wonders if HorrorLand is a joke after all or it really is serious when the boys can’t help themselves and start laughing. Pissed off AND disoriented, Lizzy’s not in a good mood.

The next room doesn’t help, because the mirrors are angled to make everything look weirder. The light’s getting dimmer too. Luke tells Lizzy to hurry up, and Clay’s starting to wonder how they’ll be able to get out. Lizzy finally locates Luke inside a room with only glass walls. Luke’s all “FINALLY” and wonders what took his sister so long. Lizzy tells him to find Clay so they can get out of this dump.

Wait.

Where is Clay?

Luke turns around and sees Clay really IS gone and has no idea how that happened. Clay gets their attention, saying he’s in a different section of the room. The boys have no clue how Clay got inside another room, and he can’t figure out how to leave. Not only that, but now Luke and Lizzy are separated by a wall of glass as well. Luke thought for sure they were in the same room, but Lizzy tells him not to move so she can find the entrance.

If only she could leave.

While Lizzy was focused on her brother, the opening to the glass room sealed shut. She trails her hands along the walls and goes in a complete circle. There’s no way out for any of them!

Luke starts banging his fists on the glass while Lizzy remains calm. She wonders if there’s a trapdoor or something while attempting to make sure Luke and Clay don’t panic. They have every right to panic, because now the walls are closing in on each of them!

Lizzy, Luke, and Clay see the walls sliding closer towards each of them. It seems they weren’t just separated by a panel of glass, and each room has its own separate walls. Clay’s screaming for someone to help as the three of them are compressed tighter until they can’t move. Nothing they do stops the walls from moving closer, and Lizzy cries out in pain from the tightness. Now it’s getting harder to breath and it’s getting dark. Lizzy can’t do anything but watch as Luke and Clay are slowly crushed to-

WHOOSH!

Lizzy falls through the floor into endless dark before she lands outside the House of Mirrors next to Luke and Clay. There are no words to express how relieved Clay is, while Luke is laughing from joy. Lizzy can’t get the image out of her head of being crushed in a car compactor when Luke asks what they should ride next. Of course this gets Lizzy to wonder what the fuck is wrong with him and why Luke would want to stay in HorrorLand after what just happened. Clay and Lizzy argue the ride was too scary to be enjoyable, but Luke thinks this is the point. The rides are designed to look like you’re gonna get it but at the last second you’re freed. It’s timed and everything. Like, why would an amusement park try to kill you? The whole point is to get people to WANT to come back and enjoy the rides over and over again.

They wouldn’t hurt anyone for real.

Clay sort of agrees with Luke, but Lizzy ponders what would happen if the mechanisms got screwed up. What happens if something malfunctions? What would’ve happened if the trapdoor in the House of Mirrors didn’t open when they were being crushed? Luke thinks his sister’s over analyzing, assuming the park workers have everything under control. Clay asks if they could actually be scared to death in this place. Luke, having had enough of Lizzy’s doubts and Clay’s nervousness, figures they should ask one of the Horrors.

A nearby Horror carrying a bouquet of black balloons is stopped by the kids so they can ask if anyone has died in HorrorLand.

“Only once,” [the Horror] told Luke.

“One person died here?” Luke asked.

The Horror shook his big green head. “No. Not what I meant.”

“What did you mean?” Luke demanded.

“A person can only die once here,” the Horror said. “No one has ever died twice.”

…well that wasn’t helpful.

[Wing: And yet delightful.]

The Horror walks away as Lizzy asks if people have really died in HorrorLand. His tone of voice when he answered Luke’s question makes her believe he was being serious.

Over by the House of Mirrors, Lizzy sees two parents trying to sooth their crying kids. Lizzy’s further unnerved by how many crying children she’s seen in this park, but Luke thinks they’re all wimps and can’t handle it. Luke wants to go another ride, but he’s outvoted by Lizzy and Clay who want to find Mr. and Mrs. Morris. Lizzy thinks Clay really desires to get out of HorrorLand as soon as possible, even though Clay’s trying not to let Luke see how unhappy he is.

The kids head for the main path to try and return to the front gate. They pass a wooden roller coaster.

“OUT OF ORDER. DO YOU DARE TO RIDE IT ANYWAY?”

Luke ACTUALLY wants to go on this one despite the lack of attendant, but Lizzy and Clay stop him. The path takes them under some heavily shaded trees, near another warning sign.

“BEWARE OF TREE SNAKES.”

The moment Lizzy hears the slightest hissing, she tells the boys to haul ass. Looking behind her, she can’t tell if that shadow is a branch or a snake. Beyond the trees are rows of evil, grotesque looking statues. Their arms are stretched towards the kids, and faint laughter can be heard coming from their mouths.

Running further down the trail, the kids don’t see anyone on the path with them. No other kids, adults, or Horrors. But nearby is an arrow pointing to the entrance.

“FRONT EXIT. DON’T BOTHER. YOU WILL NEVER ESCAPE.”

Another joke. Sure.

Lizzy tries to assure Clay the sign’s not for real when Luke jumps on him, asking if he wants to dare another ride. Now Lizzy has to stop the boys from fighting as they wrestle on the ground. Once the fight is broken up, the kids continue down the path. On one side is a garden made up of nothing but black flowers, and the path goes through a big red building. It’s a barn, and they can’t move around it. Seeing as they can only go through the barn to get to the over side, Lizzy stops when she sees a sign above the doors.

“BAT BARN”

Lizzy immediately stops, worried about what might be inside. Luke doesn’t wait and tells her to get a move on. Lizzy and Clay hesitate before entering, noting the sour smell of straw. At least the doors on the other side are wide op-

Annnnnnd all the doors slammed shut the moment the kids get inside. Great.

In total darkness, the kids soon hear the fluttering sound of leathery wings. Something scraps against Lizzy’s neck. Lizzy screams as a swarm of bats descends on her and the boys. All three kids are screaming in the darkness as the wings scrap their faces and smother them. Lizzy’s eyes can only make out dark shapes flying all around her. Lizzy tries to fight her way through the storm of bats, figuring out where the exit is when something starts tugging her hair. The bats! The bats are in her HAIR!

Surrounded by hissing and fluttering in the dark, feeling her hair getting yanked and tangled, all Lizzy and the boys can do is scream for help. Lizzy falls to her knees, sobbing in the darkness, when a shaft of light appears. Luke made it to the other side and started to pull the door open!

In the afternoon sunlight, the bats suddenly vanish. The rafters in the barn are empty. There’s no sign of them at all, like they vanished with the darkness. Lizzy is relieved to be out of the barn, screaming she hates bats. She HATES them.

That sound you just heard was Dorrie Morrow shattering a ceramic mug with her bare hand because she realized someone is badmouthing her cousins.

Lizzy can still feel the bats scratching her skin but Luke somehow thinks that was fake, saying they were special effects. Clay screams that was all real. It was too scary to be fake! Lizzy’s getting especially pissed at Luke’s fake bravado, when he claims he was “almost” scared when she knew he was screaming too.

Clay for once plays the sensible one and suggests they hurry and find Mr. and Mrs. Morris. Lizzy agrees with him, wondering what the hell is wrong with her brother. Luke haughtily exclaims at least he didn’t get scared of “pretend” bats like she did.

Moving on, the kids are rudely snubbed by two Horrors who ignore their question about the front gate. They walk past some kids hurrying over to the shore of ALLIGATOR POND.

“ALLIGATOR POND. FEEL FREE TO SWIM HERE.”

Clay wonders if there really are alligators in the water, but Lizzy doesn’t care about HorrorLand anymore and wants to leave fast. The kids finally head back to the plaza area near the Doom Slide and can start looking for Mr. and Mrs. Morris. They briefly mistake a couple of people as Lizzy’s mom and dad, and thus keep looking near Werewolf Village. With no other options, the kids try to ask some of the Horrors for help. Lizzy describes her parents to two Horrors, and FINALLY get some help. It seems Mr. and Mrs. Morris were here a while ago…

When they left.

“They left about half an hour ago.”

“Huh?” I gaped at [the Horror] in disbelief.

“They asked me to give you a message,” the Horror said.

“Message? What message?” I asked.

“Good-bye,” the Horror replied.

Well now!

Lizzy exclaims her parents wouldn’t just leave them, but the Horror insists she was at the front gate when she saw them leave. The two Horrors depart into a small white shed and lock the door behind them. Lizzy tries to remain calm, believing the Horrors were lying to them just to be scary. She’s pretty sick of how unhelpful the Horrors have been, remembering what they said about no phones and such. Luke keeps trying to make it sound like this place is cool because it’s so scary, but the bloom’s off the black rose for Lizzy and Clay.

The search for Mr. and Mrs. Morris takes forever. HorrorLand really is gigantic, but even though it’s so empty the parents are nowhere to be found. There are a number of monster villages, including VAMPIRE VILLAGE, and a MONSTER ZOO that’s currently closed. Lizzy can hear all sorts of horrible noises coming from inside the building. There’s a carnival area and a tall yellow building called the GUILLOTINE MUSEUM.

“GUILLOTINE MUSEUM. PLEASE HOLD ON TO YOUR HEAD.”

[Wing: I just laughed out loud at this. Damn you have your moments, Stine.]

Lizzy stops Luke from going inside.

Lizzy and the boys see a few more Horrors, and any other family they pass by include more crying children. The rest of the rides are running empty. Luke’s even beginning to lose his enthusiasm for the park. They make it back to Alligator Pond, wondering what happened to the four kids they saw earlier. Were they eaten alive?

Lizzy’s trying to determine where they can look next, even though they’ve gone through the entire park and haven’t found Mr. and Mrs. Morris. She figures if they aren’t in the park, then maybe something happened to her mom and dad. Maybe the Horrors did it. Luke says that’s crazy, but Lizzy doesn’t see what else could’ve happened. She knows there’s no way her parents would’ve left without them behind, and something is really wrong with HorrorLand.

And that’s when Lizzy’s pushed into Alligator Pond!

No wait it’s someone grabbing her shoulder!

THE PARENTS ARE BACK!

The kids and the adults are asking where the other was. It looks like Mr. and Mrs. Morris were searching for the kids in the areas they had already left, and vice versa. The kids are just happy to see them. Mr. Morris reveals there really are no phones at all in HorrorLand, but the Horrors told them to go back to the ticket booth when they’re ready to leave. Luke mentions the kids went on a couple of rides, but the parents were so busy running around trying to find a phone they haven’t had any fun at all. Lizzy simply wants to leave, but Mrs. Morris suggests they all go on at least one ride together before they leave. Mr. Morris diplomatically suggests going on a ride that can take them to the front of the park. Luke teases Lizzy for being too scared.

The Morrises and Clay hear screams in one direction, howls in another. The parents quip it’s like being in a horror movie, and wonder how they never heard of HorrorLand until today. They should really advertise better. Mr. Morris jokes they can try out the FREE FALL.

“FREE FALL. THE ONLY BUNGEE JUMP WITHOUT A CORD.”

Luke suggests the parents can ride the Doom Slide while Lizzy remembers how terrified he was when they went on it together. The group’s walking along a river bank and see a small boathouse with a sign for the COFFIN CRUISE.

“COFFIN CRUISE. A RELAXING FLOAT TO THE GRAVE.”

Dad thinks the river flows towards the front of the park, so maybe the Coffin Cruise can bring them down there faster. By the dock, Lizzy can see actual coffins made from sleek black wood bobbing in the water. The insides are lined with soft red velvet. The coffins are only big enough for one person. Mrs. Morris assures Lizzy the water’s nice and flat, the ride won’t be too scary. Luke can’t get inside his own coffin fast enough. The two Horrors managing the ride tell everyone to have fun.

“Lie back. Enjoy the ride,” one of them said.

“It will be your last,” the other Horror added with a low chuckle.

Once the Morrises and Clay are inside the coffins, the Horrors send them off down the river. Lizzy can’t relax even as she hears her mom saying how nice this is. Flat on their backs, the group watch the sky roll by and Luke finds this incredibly boring. Up above a bird starts to circle around the river. Is it a hawk or a vulture? Luke morbidly jokes it’s a vulture waiting to descend and feast on their flesh. Mr. Morris comments Luke could get a job at HorrorLand since he’s so mor-

And that’s when the lids on all the coffins slam shut.

Lizzy starts banging on the lid, trying to get the coffin open. The lid won’t budge, and the air inside the coffin’s starting to get hot so it’s making Lizzy even more uncomfortable. She can faintly make out the sounds of Clay and even her mother screaming, muffled by the wood. Lizzy does her best to remain calm, thinking this is all part of the ride and the lids will open again soon. She counts down to ten. Then to twenty. In that time it’s getting harder to breathe, and the coffin’s getting hotter. Since there aren’t any clouds in the sky, the sun’s beaming directly down on the coffin and is probably heating it up.

That’s when Lizzy felt the prickly sensation on her legs. [Wing: And I’m out. I’ll see y’all in a few paragraphs.] The tingling, itching sensation as something started to crawl up her bare flesh. Spiders! There are spiders in the coffin! Lizzy’s arms can’t reach to her legs, and she starts coughing and feeling hotter as spiders are on her leg-

BOOM LID’S OPEN.

Lizzy starts gasping for air and sees the rest of the group is equally traumatized as she is. There aren’t any spiders in the coffin. Luke is pale and silent, Mr. Morris is outraged, Mrs. Morris is disgusted, and Clay’s screaming he wants out now. The group scrambles out of the coffins and make their way back to the ticket booths. Lizzy yells that she hates this place and doesn’t care how they did whatever the fuck they did, the Horrors went too far. Mrs. Morris agrees, saying a ride’s not fun when it’s that scary since they all could’ve suffocated.

Luke remembers they still have no car, but Mr. Morris recalls the Horrors said they’d help them leave. Uh no, they didn’t. The Horrors said they’d be “Taken care of.” Finding a Horror proves difficult. If the park wasn’t deserted before, it is now. All the ticket booths are closed with heavy metal shutters pulled over the windows. Above one of the booths is a sign saying there’s no way to leave.

“NO EXIT. NO ONE LEAVES HORRORLAND ALIVE!”

Everyone thinks maybe they’ll find an attendant in the parking lot.

Unfortunately, they can’t get to the parking lot because the front gate’s been locked with chains and a heavy padlock. Lizzy bangs on the gate, while Luke thinks this is another “Joke.” Mrs. Morris wonders if there’s a side exit for people to leave through, but Mr. Morris doesn’t ever recall seeing one while they were searching the park for the kids. The parents try to make sure the kids remain calm so they can figure out how to leave, assuring them no one’s in any real danger even if the Horrors have a disgusting sense of humor. Lizzy thinks they should climb the fence, but it’s too high. Mr. Morris still thinks they need to find one of the Horrors.

But the Horrors have found THEM!

Lizzy points back to the plaza, as she watches a veritable horde of costumed park workers running towards the group! Horrors of all shapes and sizes, hundreds of them coming from every building, have begun to surround Lizzy’s family and Clay. The group is backed up against the iron fence as the Horrors have closed in. Panic starts to grip Lizzy’s chest and she fears what the Horrors are going to do to them.

Why, they want to thank everyone!

One Horror steps forward, calling herself the HorrorLand MC, and wishes to thank Lizzy and the rest for being their special guests in HorrorLand today. Because it turns out they’ve been today’s stars of HorrorLand Hidden Camera!

Horrorland MC by Bill Walko

Horrorland MC by Bill Walko

The Horrors cheer and applaud the group while the MC gestures to two poles in the plaza. Lizzy can see there are cameras atop the pole. The MC explains the Horrors have been filming everyone since they arrived in the parking lot. Everything was staged, from the car exploding, the adventures in the Doom Slide and House of Mirrors and Bat Barn, the Coffin Cruise, all of it filmed for the audiences at home. The MC can’t praise enough how terrified everyone was, saying Lizzy and the rest gave the viewers a lot of laughs.

Mr. Morris is understandably perplexed that this was all for some TV show. The MC mentions it airs every weekend on the Monster Channel. She adds the Morrises will be given a brand new car to say thanks for appearing on HorrorLand Hidden Camera and for being such good sports. The MC points to a nearby yellow door in a green building, saying that’s the actual exit for them to leave.

The Morrises and Clay leave amid another round of applause, Mrs. Morris still amazed they were on TV the whole time. Luke eagerly hopes they’ll order the Monster Channel when they get home, because it sounds awesome. Well, they have to get cable, first.

And they’ll have to survive the HorrorLand Challenge first!

PSYCH!

It turns out that yellow door did NOT lead to the exit. Lizzy and the rest are now inside a large white room, locked inside as a voice tells them to get ready for the Monster Obstacle Course. Even worse, this time they really can die!

Mr. Morris tells everyone to run as the clock counts down from sixty seconds. The lights dim and monsters appear in the room. The first is like a gorilla with red fur, four arms, and purple lips and fangs. The announcer screams at the Morrises to keep moving. Lizzy’s pulled out of the way by her dad before the gorilla monster can grab her, while the boys are screaming their heads off. The monster makes a grab for Mr. Morris, but the group gets away and runs into the path of two giant bird creatures. More monsters appear and try to swarm Lizzy and the others, the bird creatures trying to smother her while her dad wrestles with the four-armed creature.

Some fur-covered snakes begin trying to wrap up Lizzy’s legs but she kicks them away, twenty seconds left.

More monsters loomed in front of us. Disgusting yellow lizardlike creatures with dark, flicking tongues like bullwhips. A hopping furry ball that roared as it hopped, sharp teeth poking out from three mouths.

Hissing snakes, enormous, buzzing insects with glowing red eyes, more grunting pig monsters. Then a giant bearlike creature came at us on two legs. It tossed its dark, round head back, and laughed like a hyena as its paws punched the air.

Ten seconds left and Lizzy saves Luke from one of the bird monsters, but she gets tossed across the room by another creature. The fall hurts more than Lizzy thought it would, and she almost gets crushed to death by a giant, elephant-like monster. The monster presses it’s foot down on Lizzy and TIME!

The buzzer goes off just as Lizzy was about to killed, the monster removing its foot. The rest of the menacing menagerie depart the room as the HorrorLand MC congratulates the unwilling contestants for a great race. She counts down the survivors and says three. Repeat, there are only three survivors. Lizzy sees Luke and Clay holding one another on the other side of the room, and can’t help but scream in despair as she fears her parents are dead.

Oh wait there was a slight mistake FIVE, there are actually FIVE survivors. Mr. and Mrs. Morris were in a darker part of the room. Lizzy has never been so happy to see her parents. The MC’s certainly happy, because they’ve never had an obstacle course where EVERYONE survived. Lizzy, Luke, Clay, and the parents huddle together as the full realization hits them that this was all real. The Horrors enter the room to clap and applaud their unlikely survival. The MC hurries to greet the group, at which point Lizzy loses whatever restraint she had and attacks the MC!

“You can’t do this to us!” I screeched.

I was so angry, I didn’t know what I was doing. I just totally freaked.

I leaped at the woman, grabbed the top of her mask, and started to pull it off with both hands.

“You can’t do this to us! You can’t!” I shrieked. “Let me see your face! Let me see who you really are!”

Using all my strength, I gave the mask a hard tug.

Then I screamed and let go as I realized the truth.

…Lizzy of course it’s not a mask, what did you expect at this point?

Lizzy backs away from the MC, who explains how HorrorLand Hidden Camera is watched by over two million monsters all over the world.

“People don’t always take us seriously,” [the MC] continued. “People come to HorrorLand and think it’s all a big joke. People laugh at the signs around the park. They laugh at the rides and attractions. But it’s all very serious to us. All of it.”

Mr. Morris tries to shield Lizzy, saying the Horrors have no right to do this to innocent people, to trick them and torture them. The MC doesn’t care, cutting off Mr. Morris as she mentions they’ve reached the part where the Horrors say goodbye to their special guests. Don’t worry, they always make their goodbyes entertaining.

The Horrors grab the Morrises and Clay and start pushing them out of the room, out past the plaza to what appears to be a thick purple pond beyond the other rides. The supposed water in the pond smells noxious and makes a gross sucking noise. The MC explains their goodbyes are always sad, so the Horrors try to make them fun. She picks up a rock and tosses it into the pond. It gets sucked underneath like quicksand.

“See how easy it is to say good-bye?” the Horror said, turning to us. “Now, will you jump in – or do you want to be pushed?”

As the Horrors advance on Lizzy and the others, Mr. Morris is practically in tears as he begs everyone to forgive him. If he’d known what HorrorLand truly was he wouldn’t have brought them here. Lizzy tells her dad this wasn’t his fault, because how could he have known what would happen? Everyone’s holding hands as the MC coldly repeats her question, but then Lizzy gets an idea.

A stupid idea.

A desperate idea.

If all the signs in HorrorLand are true, does that mean…

Lizzy steps forward, grabs the HorrorLand MC by the arm, and pinches her!

“The Mad Pincher strikes again!” I shouted, remembering Luke’s annoying cry.

[The MC’s] yellow eyes rolled around crazily. “No!” she pleaded.

Harder. Harder.

And then, I was the one to cry out as her mouth opened wide, and, with a loud whoosh, a rush of air escaped her lips.

…okay.

Lizzy jumps back as the MC deflates before her eyes. The rest of the Horrors freak out, screaming for someone to inflate the MC. Lizzy starts yelling at everyone to pinch the Horrors, pointing to the “NO PINCHING” signs and understanding they were for real too. Lizzy and Luke deflate a couple of Horrors, and it sends the rest running away.

“See?” I always come through in a pinch!” I said, amazing myself by making a joke.

[Wing: NOPE.]

Seeing their opportunity, the Morrises and Clay make their escape. The Horrors arrogantly left the front gate open now that they figured Lizzy and the rest would die. They still have to figure out how to get home since the car blew up. Mrs. Morris points to the other end of the parking lot, where there a few purple-and-green HorrorLand buses. Now they have to hurry because the Horrors have come back, screaming they won’t let anyone escape.

Lizzy and the rest manage to get inside one of the buses, with keys left in the ignition. They close the door shut and get the engine going, as the Horrors swarm and scream no one ever leaves HorrorLand alive. Well these guys did!

Mr. Morris drives for hours before he finally manages to get on the right road to home. It’s incredibly late as the bus pulls up to the Morris abode, everyone relieved to have gotten out safe and sound.

Hey, there were always six of you, right?

Oh shit! A Horror had been clinging to the back of the bus this whole time!

After all, he just wanted to give everyone free passes for next year.

Final Thoughts

It’s actually been a few years since I re-read this, so yeah I can sort of understand how this is the point where the tone of the books changed.

I still love HorrorLand though, and I love Lizzy as a main character because of how hard she was struggling to remain the calm one despite how horribly things were going. I also appreciate how this was one of those times where the parents weren’t technically useless or incompetent, just that they were WAY out of their depth. I also enjoyed the ambiguity about all the other HorrorLand guests. Did the rides kill them or did the Horrors drown them? If it was the rides, then Lizzy and the boys really were lucky.

[Wing: This was pretty great. I love the world building Stine did here, and I’d never leave the werewolf village. Never. Still, #needsmorewerewolves.]

The TV show adaption condensed the plot a lot within two episodes. Clay, the car exploding, and the “No Pinching” thing were written out, and the kids only went on the Coffin Cruise and House of Mirrors. Mr. and Mrs. Morris were more immediately aware that something was wrong with HorrorLand and tried to get the kids out as soon as they could. The second part had the Morrises put on a game show called “Raw Deal” which ended with them almost being killed by a monster called Ripper. They get saved by the Horror who warned the kids to leave, but unfortunately the episode ends with the strong implication the Morrises were killed thanks to the Horrors controlling their car.

The TV show also made it perfectly clear the Horrors are murderers. Lizzy even found BABY TOYS among the belongings left over from Ripper’s victims.

But hey, they had this fabulous queen of a make-up artist so you can’t hate them too much right?

Horror Make-Up Artist

Horror Make-Up Artist

Because they may be monster, but they’re not MONSTERS.

Categories: Goosebumps Recaps
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1 Comment

  • Spongey444 says:

    I will always love the concept of the GBLU (Goosebumps Literary Universe), and how Stine got to do a whole mini-series based on the idea. If there’s one thing I can credit that series for is being at least ambitious compared to what we usually get. Tons of different characters in a pre established setting, a mystery, viral marketing including a couple websites, that fear fire stuff, it was kinda thrilling and I give credit to Stine for putting some thought into the layout of the park and all the stuff within. Considering the kind of franchise this is, gotta give points for some level of “ambition”

    (Side note to that, interesting how Return to Horrorland first teased the shared universe thing….even if it was with freaking Evan)

    I’ve always liked the TV episode more than the book, just cuz I’m a sucker for the weird humor it has, including the monster commercials. Shout out to the PC game for having Jeff Goldblum as a vampire. Still disappointed that the movie sequel was not Horrorland, nor were the horrors in them at all. (Although they are in the 2nd draft script for the first one at least)

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